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Submitted: 01-27-2014 by Mike S.
My wife and I have both a 2012 Sea Eagle FastTrack 385 and a 2013 Explorer 380X model kayaks. Both are excellent boats that easily store in our small hatchback and are built tough but we are very careful about which one we use on our trips. While both are capable of traversing flat water and whitewater neither one is perfect for every adventure.
The FastTrack 385 is excellent for flat water lakes, bayous, reservoirs, or any body of water that doesn’t become shallow but not the best for whitewater. When you install the included skeg and air up the front keel it tracks dead straight and is a pleasure to paddle but gets stuck easily in shallow water or around underwater rocks and trees. If you plan to take the FT 385 into whitewater you'll need to remove the skeg and not inflate the keel. Unfortunately the keel sticks about 4 inches under the water even while un-inflated and makes traveling over shallow water more difficult It also hangs up on rocks, sandbars, and any other object that you may pass over.
The FT385 Classic that we own has 4 self drain valves that drain water quickly but the new 2013 model only has 2 and drains water slower. For these reasons I don't recommend the FT 385 if you plan to do lots of whitewater trips.
The FT 385 will easily seat two passengers with a large kayak cooler plus other gear so long as they are 5'8" or smaller. If either passenger is taller than this I highly recommend you buy the longer FastTrack 465 for the extra leg room. If you plan to paddle solo you'll have more than enough room no matter how long your legs are. Width wise the FT 385 has plenty of space even for those with "extra cushion" if you know what I mean.
The included inflatable seats and 8' paddles are ok but I highly recommend you buy the tall back seats and make plans to buy a quality paddle at a local kayak/canoe or sports store. The inflatable seats are great for anyone weighing less than 125 lbs but they do not provide much back support for those weighing more. The backs tend to bend or collapse as they cannot support much weight. The Sea Eagle paddles are heavy, have lots of vibration, and are not very efficient. They are best used as an emergency backup rather than you main go-to paddle. If you plan to do short 1 hour or fewer paddles they would be ok but if you plan to paddle for longer periods of time you'll appreciate a lighter, more efficient paddle. The only good thing about the SE paddles is that they can be broken down into 4 sections for easy storage.
To recap, the Sea Eagle FastTrack 385 is a sturdy, lightweight, fast, extremely portable kayak that is best used in flat water and very light white water. It can easily hold two kayakers, lots of gear, and tracks very straight. It does not take much effort to get the kayak moving and going fast. Solo kayakers will have plenty of leg and storage room while larger (i.e. longer) kayakers who paddle tandem would be better served with the larger FastTrack 465 model.
For those who are looking to paddle lots of whitewater I highly recommend a Sea Eagle Explorer model as they are better equipped to handle shallow water, rocks, and sandbars.
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