Submitted: 02-17-2003 by nelson_l
I've had the plastic version of the Shadow for 2 and a half years now. Here are my impressions.
Pros: feels very comfortable for the smaller/lighter paddler although the cockpit may need more padding to get better contact if you want to learn any skills; - its plastic, takes lots of abuse; - easy to roll, especially with the low back deck; - have not noticed any weathercocking and I've paddled it in winds up to 20 mph; - has a rudder if you need it, but I've only had to use in strong following seas; - large hatches and the neoprene inner covers work very well if they are on just right; - if you don't have a roll this boat is fairly easy to do a cowboy scramble if you're by yourself and don't want to use a paddlefloat; - the extra straps above the rear hatch are perfect for a foam paddlefloat which I always have with me.
Cons: it's plastic, making this boat heavier; - it doesn't like to be edged very far compared to most other boats, so an edged turn is not as quick and I'll never be able to do a balance brace in this kayak; - the stock seatback is too high and interferes with putting the sprayskirt on, but I noticed that perception has fixed this problem in the newer versions; - the cockpit required quite a bit of padding for me to get a good contact fit.
I've seen many comments (usually bad) about the metal bar that runs along the inside along the keel. Yeah, it's there but I don't think that its presence automatically makes this a bad boat. It hasn't bothered me and I don't worry about it.
Overall, this boat has done most everything that I have asked it to do and done it well. I'm 5'6" tall and weigh 140 lbs. It can be difficult to find a kayak designed for the smaller paddler but this boat is fairly common. Would I buy this boat again today? Maybe. There are newer boat models designed for the smaller paddler that I haven't tried yet! And of course if you increase how much you can budget for a kayak your range of choices also increases. Buying used can help too. Above all, try before you buy. I assume that you are reading this because you are considering a purchase so I'll list other seakayaks that are designed for lighter or smaller paddler: CD Squamish, CD Squall, Perception Solé, Perception Avatar, CLC 16LT, P&H Vela, Prijon Catalina, Wilderness Systems Tempest 165, Necky Looksha IVS, Impex Montauk, VCP Avocet. I'm sure there are others I've missed or don't know about. Good Luck!