Submitted: 08-24-2012 by Graham
I've been surfing on sit on tops for 4 years and bought the Tootega Pulse as I wanted a small, light and maneuverable kayak that would really work well in the surf – the Tootega seemed to fit the bill.
What is positive: The kayak is stable in small to medium surf. It tracks pretty well on flat water for such a short craft. It is generally predictable on the wave face in the sense that it goes where you point it and turns on a sixpence without losing stability.
What is negative: The seat pan is quite small and the back is relatively high and angled at 90%- this makes it impossible to lean backwards to rise over a steep waves when punching out through the surf or when flying down a steep wave. As a consequence, the kayak ploughs into the wave rather than over it. This is a serious design flaw and really limits the kayak's pretention to be a serious contender in surf. The second issue is that for a smaller paddler like myself (10 stone and 5'7") I have to sit with my legs out like a bull frog in order to get sufficient purchase on the thigh straps, which are necessary for serious stuff in the surf. The third issue was that one the metal clips fell out of the decking fittings the first time I tried to roll the Tootega, though the basic fittings seems robust enough. The fourth issue is that the non-slip plastic finish is very hard on the bare skin, but OK if you are using neoprene boots. The manufacturer would do well to look at the finish employed on the Perception 5-0 (though in fairness that it so comfortable and smooth I end up having to apply wax for traction).
In summary, the Tootega Pulse 85 is a good, light sit-on top that provides a fun, stable platform for someone new to kayaking in the surf. The overall quality of finish is good, but it is let down by a couple of serious design flaws that limit its functionality in the surf.