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Submitted: 06-11-2014 by cardinal
As currently configured, my OT Pack would rate a 10/10, but as supplied, it has some issues, and I gave it a 7 out of 10. First of all, I knew to drop the seat a few inches for stability. I tested the Angler version of the Pack, which has a dropped seat, but it is not nearly as comfortable as the webbed seat with a sit-backer. So I bought a seat drop kit (best price I found was $9.99 + s/h at www.essexindustries.org) and lowered the seat by 2 inches (note of warning – most seat kits have 4-inch dowels, but you will need to cut them down to 3-1/2 inches to fit the Pack). The dropped seat was an improvement, but the aft (rear) factory seat location is a serious buoyancy, navigation and wind problem, especially for taller/heavier folks (I am 6'2", 220 lb). I knew I could add weight to the bow to offset this – but I bought this boat for it’s light weight, so it offends me to have to carry extra weight that shouldn’t be needed!
OT likely located the seat to allow kneelers to be more weight-centered in the boat. Due to my bad knees, I am a sitter, and unfortunately there is no seat adjustment or "sitter" model that you can buy to fix this. So modification #2 was for me to move the seat forward. Since the middle of the canoe is wider, you can't simply move the seat forward – you need to buy a whole new seat and cut it to fit. Thank goodness for eBay, where you can get a quality webbed seat for just $19.99 + s/h. I moved my seat about 11 inches forward (and moved the bow/front thwart forward just enough for knee room, and installed a new stern/rear thwart using the rear-most holes from the prior seat location). In retrospect, another inch or two forward for the seat may have been even better, but this is splitting hairs – the new seat location is 100x better than the factory location.
The third and final modification I made to the Pack was to add some foot pegs (I chose the Yakima pegs after reading of problems using the all-plastic pegs). Yes, it hurt to drill holes through a new canoe for this, but I made sure these were all well above waterline, and siliconed the bolts for good measure. Being able to "lock yourself in" with the footpegs makes all the difference in the world, and with the centered and lowered seat, the Pack feel like an entirely different canoe from what I originally bought.
I've had it out on several multi-day overnights – handles all my gear easily, and I am not a light packer! Sturdy fishing boat – I had no problems pulling in a 28" northern pike while fishing in it (though the pike did tug the Pack around a bit before he tired and I could get him in the boat!), and I have also had the canoe out on large lakes in more wind than I like (25-30 mph), and was surprised how stable it handled.
Note that you WILL need a long kayak paddle – especially for those windy lakes! You cannot survive with a single blade paddle under those conditions. I use a 260cm kayak paddle that suits me well.
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