Submitted: 02-04-2002 by MCAT
I am a rank beginner to paddling, I started last spring and tried out several boats before choosing the Callisto. I am very petite, 5' tall and about 100lbs. I have really short legs so the foot room problems that a lot people experience when boat shopping wasn't an issue for me at all. I looked for boats that were described as being for children or small women.
On the positive side, the Callisto has the ability to carry gear for an overnight or weekend better than some other children's boats, e.g. the piccolo by w.s. and the perception Umiak. The Callisto is however on the larger side of kids' boats compared to those. I've heard people say that the weight given for most plastic boats is a joke, and I gotta say I'm tempted to agree. The weight I saw listed for the Callisto was I believe approx. 50lbs. Granted this weight might be without the fittings and rudder, but I grew up on a farm lifting 50lb grain bags without a problem, and I can't carry this boat for more than a few feet at a time. I remedied this by buying a Paddleboy cart. I live near the water so I haven't had to deal with cartopping much, and when I do my husband lends a hand... Not a big problem for me, but something to keep in mind considering the boat's target paddler is small women and kids.
I've paddled the Callisto mainly out on the Chesapeake Bay, in a variety of conditions. I occasionally take it to some small marsh inlets off of the bay. I have found the boat to track well, I have not used the rudder at all because I want to be completely comfortable without it. The Callisto has expectedly excellent primary stability, but I've also found it to be forgiving in chop. I took it out twice on very windy days where the bay with frothing with whitecaps and after some initial trouble getting past the breakers, the boat was more than stable. On quiet days, I've picked up a pretty good speed. I agree with the other reviewer who commented that the Callisto was fast.
I haven't started rolling yet, but I plan to this spring and I will probably write a follow-up to report on how that goes. I am curious, I have a feeling that there is where I am going to find some problems with the Callisto. Because I am so tiny, I've padded out the cockpit but I don't know if my knees have the purchase they're gonna need to roll the boat. I might consider thigh braces...
Overall, the Callisto was a good choice for me because while it is small enough for me to handle, it's not so tiny that my husband or friends can't use it once in awhile. That was a primary reason why I did not go with a boat like the Umiak, which would work for me, but no one else in my family. If you are a small or medium adult, check out the Callisto. If you are buying a boat for a smaller child however, I would pass this one up.