Submitted: 08-06-2001 by davevan
I've been paddling 2-1/2 years and have had the Kodiak since the Winter of 200/2001. My first experience in the boat was in a pool in rolling class. I paddle it regularly on Lake Michigan off of beaches and out of harbors in Chicago. The Kodiak is a big boat for larger people. I believe that if you are less than 200lbs and have less than say a 36" waist, you could probably fit in Prijon's Seayak, their flagship sea kayak, and paddle it more efficiently and fit better than in the Kodiak. That said, if you ARE a bigger-heavier paddler, give the Kodiak a try.
The first thing I want to mention is how great the material is for a plastic boat. The blow molded manufacturing process really does yield a more dense, stiffer, thinner and lighter hull. The Kodiak, at 58lbs, is one of the lighter plastic boats of its length and only about 5 lbs heavier on average than fiberglass boats of the same length. The large keyhole cockpit is easy to get in and out of even with my 36" inseam. The seat contour is good and the seat is comfortable for me without padding. There's a cup holder in the seat like on typical rec boats and that has come in handy on lazy river paddles without a skirt. The back support is low, soft and comfortable and adjusts in angle easily with one hand while seated in the boat. The seat adjusts fore and aft a few inches and the thigh braces also adjust fore and aft a few inches making it easy to "fit" the cockpit. The adjustments are made using an allen key which is conveniently stored in a little socket in one of the thigh braces. All of the boat's hardware seems to be good quality stainless steel that holds up to lots of adjustments. No deforming of any screw heads or allen sockets yet. I found the thigh braces to be just a tad aggressive for me, the edges dug into my thigh a tiny bit but they are easily removed and filed or sanded since they are solid blocks of plastic. Additional braces can be ordered from Prijon's web site so you can have a go at reshaping them without worrying about wrecking you boat. I purchased the boat without a rudder. The footbraces are easily adjustable and generous in size but are really designed for use with a rudder. The rudder is controlled using the pedals in a gas pedal like fashion rather than sliding back and forth. If you want to get a boat with a rudder, seriously consider the Prijon boats for that feature. The cable ways and rear mounting block are stock so adding a rudder later is a no brainer. One downside to the rudder design is that it does interfere slightly with the rear carry toggle when stowed. The Kodiak has handy safety lines all the way around the perimeter laced through recessed plastic hardware that also act as places to attach additional rigging or lights or a compass. There are bow and stern mooring lines which can be reached from the cockpit to toss to someone already on the dock or to grab upon exiting the cockpit. Carry handles are sturdy plastic handles attached by a loop of nylon webbing. The webbing is short stiff enough to keep the handles from clunking on the hull while bouncing around in waves. The hatch system is nice too. Almost flush mounted thin thermoformed plastic covers over tough neoprene inner seals with 3/8" bungee rands have kept my compartments bone dry even through lengthy self rescue classes. The thin plastic covers appear to be high impact ABS or similar material and are held down by nylon webbing with fastex buckles. The covers are captured by the webbing on one side so they don't blow away when you take them off. Where the webbing attaches to the deck there are D rings so you can lash additional gear on top of the covers using rope, bungee or webbing. The rear hatch opening is huge and the compartment is too. Large enough to fit my cart (model name: Pop Cart) without breaking it down. The front hatch opening is much smaller but still larger than most other front hatch openings. Bulkheads are well sealed and keep water out. The Kodiak comes with stretchy netting type of rigging fore and aft of the cockpit. I found the netting a little difficult to quickly get things in and out of so I removed it and replaced it with the typical bungee deck rigging laced through pad eyes (inchworm eyelets) that I mounted with SS hardware. The flat part of the deck around the coaming resolves in an upward scoop toward the rear deck. While it's not likely that this contour was designed to do so, I find it helps steady the paddle during a paddle float re-entry which I've begun practicing without rigging the paddle to the rear deck. The coaming on the Kodiak could be taller and deeper. The Wildwasser skirts made from Prijon stay on just fine but I've had trouble with a couple other brands with heavier rands slipping off. Luckily the Wildwasser skirts are very nice skirts so this is only a minor negative. A more serious negative is the undesireable flexibility of the deck next to the right thigh brace. The boat could be stiffer there. I think my boat might be an exception in this case as the left side seems plenty stiff.
The boat paddles very nicely and is very easy to keep on track. The trihedral hull does what it is supposed to. Getting this boat up on edge is easy without going over too far and once on edge it stays there until you are ready to put it back. Edging to stay on track and turn the boat is not difficult and works well. Turning without some edging is a chore. This boat has little or no rocker when flat in the water and was designed to go straight. Initial stability may seem to suffer a small amount from this trihedral hull design but I have never felt uneasy in it. It's fast. Keeping up with more experienced paddlers in glass boats is no problem. Recently I paddled with 5 experienced paddlers all in glass boats on Lake Michigan in 3 foot waves plus serious powerboat wake and I could see in their eyes that they were surprised that I was staying on course and at one time was leading. One of these guys didn't want me to go due to my lack of experience but the boat and I together were up to the task. I would not have tried to go out that day without the others and I was impressed by the performance of the boat and proud of myself as well. The lack of an upswept bow does not seem to hinder the boats ability to ride over such waves. Weather cocking is noticeable in stronger tail winds but edging a little combined with one or two corrective sweep strokes keeps in on track but does slow me down a bit. I have not successfully rolled this boat (or any other for that matter) but have seen other class members do it successfully in pool sessions learning the C to C roll so I'm not giving up!!! Also, it's a very handsome vessel. Since I don't have even a full season in this boat and I'm not ready to take it out in really challenging water, and there are some things that could be improved I can't give her a 9 or 10 just yet.