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Submitted: 02-17-2014 by Jeffrey Robinson
This review is by a very experienced paddler: over 30 years; having paddled on various waters around the world. (I have owned and paddled well over 50 different fiberglass/kevlar and folding kayaks, including: Current Designs, P & H, Necky, Feathercraft, Klepper, Folbot, Nautiraid, Nigel Foster, Dagger, and Wilderness System ...among many others).
I am 5' 10"; about 210 lbs with very big legs and (regrettably) a somewhat aging back. This review is after paddling one time on my local fresh water lake in fairly windy conditions.
Recently purchased the lite version of the NC Excursion kayak, by Novus Composite Kayaks, made in Tacoma, WA. The Excursion has one large aft hatch. (However, you can get the same boat with an additional hatch in the bow.)
Ordered this kayak over the phone (after finding it online) at a fantastic sale price. This on a beautiful 39 lb, 15' 9" fiberglass kayak. Communicating with Doug at NC Kayaks was easy and the shipment itself was impressive. They also have a nice website, which is very useful.
Boat arrived in Raleigh, NC in just 6 work days. It was custom boxed and padded, arriving perfectly, without a scratch. Thought the shipping charge ($275) was also reasonable, considering it traveled all the way across the country (and in the middle of the winter). Have paddled it just once but here are my initial impressions:
This boat is fairly fast -- especially for its' length. It also has excellent initial stability. Have yet to test it too much on edge, as the water here is still close to freezing. However, I think it will edge just fine. The two things that really make this boat standout are the weight -- (yes that's right, just 39 lbs!) and its' tracking ability. Keep in mind this boat has no rudder and no skeg. I paddled it in 15-17 knot winds and incredibly, this boat would not weathercock -- at all. In fact, I later told Doug that I could never remember paddling a boat that tracked like this one -- even in pretty significant winds.
Apparently there has been at least one paddler review concerned about the strength of the fiberglass layup -- in the 39 lb version. However, unless you are looking to do big time expeditions and do lots of pretty hard surfing, I would not be concerned with this boat at all. I find the layup just fine and plenty rigid. It is strong enough for probably 99% of the paddlers out there. The seat seemed placed a little more forward than any other kayak I've ever paddled. That, combined with a relatively short (slightly) square stern, should make it very good, if you ever plan to paddle through any surf.
The seat is well designed and I felt no numbness in my legs-- even after my initial 4 hour paddle. It was designed with a pretty low back, which should help if you are interested in rolling. However, for me I would have given this up for a slightly higher back design and more support. Not a big issue though, as I use a pad, wedged behind my back and the seat, for the additional support I desire.
Fit and finish of this boat is very good. Just a couple of very tiny rough spots on the interior, but nothing I couldn't sand out in a few minutes. Quality of gel goat seems exceptional. These are truly some of the more beautiful boats I've ever seen. Hatch design appears fine -- has the typical knobs that rotate (to open and close); then you lift it straight out. It does have a pretty large hatch area; so for those interested in camping, if you pack carefully, you should be able to do a couple of nights w/o too many issues. Another nice feature of this kayak is the paddling position. I found the cockpit just the right size for me -- not to difficult to get in and out of, but also pretty ideal contacts points (with my knees and hips)once inside the boat. In terms of where the seat puts you relative to the water line and your paddle -- which I think is a critical component of any kayak -- I thought it was ideal. I used a 23 oz, 215 cm, two piece adjustable, all carbon Epic paddle - and I felt no extra effort required in my strokes.
One seemingly odd aspect of this kayak is what NC Kayaks calls its "performance flange". Think of this as a kind of rub rail that goes around your boat. It is a kind of hard plastic, and they claim it will never come off. This flange seems to create more lip than any other kayak I've seen, but it did appear to reduce water splash onto the deck (one of the reasons for the design, I believe). Just looks a little funny, but on the other hand is fine -- once you are used to it. My paddling buddies seemed to like it right away though.
I can add more information later, as we will see how the boat holds up over time. Right now, however, I feel pretty confident in saying that I doubt there is a better all round paddling, light weight composite kayak, on the market, at this price.
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