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Submitted: 01-05-2004 by SZ
This is our first kayak, but we tried out several boats, including the Wilderness Systems Pungo, Old Town Castaway, and a Dagger model whose name I don't remember, before picking the Acadia. Our decision to go with the Acadia was based on it being the most comfortable for every member of the family to use (my very slender teenage daughter slightly preferred the Castaway, but said the Acadia was a close second) The Pungo was easier for a certain (ahem) oversized member of the family to get in and out of, but we all said after paddling the Acadia, trying to manuever the Pungo was like trying to paddle a bathtub; the Acadia just felt like it had a lot more zip. Our family likes paddling on flat water - lakes and slow rivers - and the Acadia is perfect for that use.
We now own two Acadias and an Old Town Otter (for the pre-teen member of the family to use - the rest of us think that at only 9' in length it's too slow and tracks poorly compared to the 12.5' Acadias)
Neither of our Acadias has a storage hatch - we just use a dry bag tucked under the front bungee cord if we want to bring some snacks or other items along, so we don't miss that feature a bit.
Our newer Acadia has a padded seat - actually I prefer the older seat that's just the hard plastic because if the padding gets wet, then your seat stays damp the rest of the day. It looks like I could just pop the padding off if I really wanted to though, so I'm not taking points off for it.
The only reason I give this boat a 9 instead of 10 is because we dented the top of our first Acadia when we initially tried tieing it down on the car top (the ding later came out, but I would hope a boat would be a little sturdier than that) We had the boat upside down on the roof rack and the cross bar just pressed in too much when we had it strapped down securely. Now when we car top it, we make sure the padded cross bars of the roof rack are supporting the boat just outside the cockpit opening (right at the rim, actually) so we haven't had a repeat of the problem.
The boat material is a little grainy-textured so you have to kind of scrub it to get any scum off after a day on the water - the Otter has a smoother, more glossy finish that seems to pick up less scum in the first place. So if you get an Acadia, have a bucket and a sponge handy at the end of the day because you are going to love your kayak so much you'll want to take good care of it. Enjoy!