Submitted: 06-02-2004 by mp
The XL139 is a great boat. The Polylink-3 hull material is strong, insulates you from the cold, and is very quiet through the water. The material itself has foam in it, making the boat extremely boyant (will not sink - period) The finish is a bit delicate though, I have accumulated quite a few scratches on the hull surface, but nothing detrimental to the strong structure. Since the hull is so strong, there is no need for any type of fram spars to get in the way. The seat is very comfortable and the back is adjustable from a very upright position, to a very laid back position. The fixed seat bottom is good but could use some padding for the much longer trips (a piece of closed cell foam works wonders). I really like the big, open cockpit especially for venting in hot weather. I can move my legs into several different positions, avoiding any stiffness or cramping. The footbraces are designed with the lock tabs up towards the paddler, allowing easy adjustment from inside the boat - no getting in and out until you get it right, and nice for variation on longer paddles. The real deal on this boat? Storage-storage-storage! You cold put enough gear in this thing for three or four paddlers. A sealed bulkhead in front and back, tons of room between your feet and the front bulkhead, and a generous space between the seat and the back bulkhead. Plus shock-cord deck rigging front and back. This is a great boat for long trips on class 1 or 2 rivers, big lakes, and along medium-calm coasts. Not a good boat for any kind of whitewater though. Turns fast for an almost 14' boat... but still too slow for rapids. Don't waste your money on the optional rudder, the boat tracks perfectly. The boat is "built for larger paddlers," but I wanted all that storage space and the quality material & construction. I'm male, 5'8" and weigh about 155 lbs., and I have no problem fitting in, and paddling this boat. If you don't mind giving up some cockpit space, the Castine is the exact same boat, just about a foot shorter (mostly removed from the cockpit area - bulkheads are about the same size) and a couple of inches narrower. I got a good deal on mine, $550 brand new, because someone ordered it and never returned to get it. It did not have the advertised paddle holder rigging, but the dealer threw in a kit for free. All in all, this is a great boat. Good for recreation and extended trips. Quality materials, quality construction, quality design, and very enjoyable. Now shut off that computer and get paddling.