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Submitted: 08-26-2002 by salooksha
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I have been paddling a plastic Looksha IV with a drop-skeg for almost three years. I have used it in a variety of conditions--calm inland lakes, big waves on the Great Lakes, Lake Powell, etc. I have also used it on many camping trips. It has provided excellent performance and comfort in all cases. To be fair, some modification and customizing was necessary to get the comfort.

The performance is hard to beat (it turns and rolls as well or better than any boat I’ve tried) and no other plastic kayak is going to be any better at covering distance. As would be expected, a boat so easy to turn does exhibit some weathercocking, but the skeg takes care of that--when the skeg is down, the boat tracks extremely well. I intentionally didn’t get the rudder because its only real purpose (maintaining course in windy conditions) is satisfied by the skeg, which is simpler and cheaper. In addition, the foot braces are more solid without a rudder. If you have only paddled ruddered boats, please do yourself a favor and try a boat without sliding foot braces. After you feel how secure the non-sliding braces are, it will be difficult to go back to the sloppy feel that a ruddered boat has. Its initial stability is good (but loose enough that it is very easy to lean) and its secondary stability is very good—when edging, there is an angle that the Looksha IV will settle into that feels very secure.

Storage space is very good, though not as voluminous as a true expedition boat. It’s simple--if you’re not very comfortable with a Looksha IV on trips less than a week long, then you’re not packing efficiently. The hatches do a good job, too. Rarely does more than a tiny amount of water get in--and this is after the boat has been capsized for some time.

I initially had some problems with comfort. Even though the boat was a good match for my size (6', 194 lb), it was common to get aches in my hips after long sessions. I finally traced the problem to the position of the backrest. My legs and hips were forced into an uncomfortable position and I had to tense them to maintain a solid connection with the backrest. Replacing the backrest with a back band made a huge difference in comfort. The back band is also better in that it allows for lying back much further than the backrest did—a more comfortable position for resting as well as bracing. It was easy to add the back band and it greatly improved the fit and feel of the cockpit. I strongly recommend you try it. If you want to know how I did it, just send an e-mail and I’ll be glad to pass it along. The addition of a thin layer of neoprene where my legs contact the thigh braces and cockpit also improved the comfort of the boat.

I gave the Looksha a "9" because, as great as it is, it can still be improved. Welded plastic bulkheads would make it better because they are stronger than foam, absolutely watertight (so far, mine have been rock-solid, but I’ve heard that foam bulkheads leak eventually), and would increase storage space. In addition, a day hatch would be very convenient and, for reasons stated above, a back band would be welcome.

To sum up, the Looksha IV is an excellent kayak—if it was a car, it would be a sport sedan. It handles very well, carries a lot of gear, is built well, and it looks great, too. It should be on your list of boats to demo.

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