Submitted: 09-25-2000 by Sam H.
I've owned canoes for over 25 years, but bought my first kayak - a Loon 138 - about 2 months ago, so that I could enjoy some solo paddling. I selected the Loon 138 after a rather rushed search made up of spec comparisons, a look at everything available locally, and some chats with salesmen. I wanted something small, maneuverable, and stable, with easy handling and reasonable tracking. I expected to use it primarily on a nearby reservoir, but also wanted to do some river runs, and even hoped to occasionally paddle along the shores of Lake Superior.
One major factor in favor of the Loon 138 was it's value. I bought it at Cabela's, and it was considerably less expensive per foot of length than anything else I saw or read about. I originally had a smaller boat in mind; but decided 13'-8" was a good compromise length for the multiple uses I had in store. I took it out on the reservoir as soon as I brought it home. Within just a few minutes, I was confident enough about paddling it (the first time I'd paddled a kayak) to invite my 12-year-old daughter. The large cockpit made things comfortable for both of us. I liked how well it tracked in some wind, and how easily I covered considerable distance.
Then, I read about the advantages of bulkheads for floatation, etc. So, I started to second-guess my purchase. Some more reading and shopping made it obvious that I would need to spend considerably more for any boat of comparable size with bulkheads and hatches. Still, I was most interested in getting the RIGHT kayak for me. Reading reviews of such kayaks, however, indicated that leaking is common with both bulkheads and hatches.
Ultimately, after more researching and MANY more paddles, I've come to appreciate my purchase more than ever. I think the Loon 138 is uniquely versatile, with virtues well beyond its entry-level price and catalog description. I'm completely sold on its laminated hull material for durability, rigidity, buoyancy, and insulation (water gets very cold here in Minnesota). The 138's design and dimensions render it roomy, comfortable, maneuverable, and easy paddling; and that's a good combination for the videography I like to do when paddling. I wish it weighed 20 lbs less; but it's no more than average compared to poly kayaks of similar dimensions. Tracking across water, the 138 seems to completely ignore the almost constantly windy conditions in this part of the Country. When I add the Loon 138's value, stability, comfort, capacity, tracking, and on-the-water confidence building, I come up with a 10.