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Submitted: 07-01-2004 by Ictalurus
After trying Ocean Kayaks Drifter and Prowler, I decided to buy the Outback. At 6'5", 215lbs, my choices for a SOT fishing kayak were somewhat limited. First the downsides. I think it is rather heavy for its size, however, the optional cart makes things much easier. I can load up my boat, roll it into the water until it floats, then grab the wheels and tuck them under the rear bungee. Furthermore, loading any kayak onto the roof of my old Suburban would be work, so I figured I'd get a boat I could move with my legs. Plus, after a couple of tries, and with the help of a Thule Outrigger, a step ladder, and a protective cover for the bow, I've gotten a pretty good system down for loading the boat by myself. Dry storage is lacking as the hatches are too small for anything but the smallest gear, and the inside of the hull will take on some water. One full size hatch in the bow or stern would've been nice. Another problem is that there is only one handle around the cockpit. A minor nuisance is that it isn't easy to paddle, and I found it almost impossible to paddle without the rudder, but I'm a beginner and I didn't buy a pedal boat to paddle in, so that isn't really a big deal. The last problem, and potentially the biggest, is that the metal bracket that the rudder lift line passes through has very sharp edges. I nearly wore through the line after only four uses. It could be that I had the rudder lines rigged too tightly, but I wanted to make sure the rudder was fully out of the water when I lifted it up. Why didn't Hobie put a pulley there instead of the metal bracket? The assembly instructions could be more explicit about how tight to make the rudder lift cable. I rigged a splice using some heavy snap swivels and fishing wire which will be easily replaceable. We'll see how that works.
Now for the good points. I find the boat extremely comfortable; however, I haven't spent more than 4 hours in it. The high back seat is really nice. It's very stable and seems like hit handles waves well. I haven't had it out in the real chop yet (it has been rather calm lately in my part of the Chesapeake), but I don't have any worries. I think it's also very maneuverable. Lastly, it is pretty fast. Without working too hard, I was able to keep up with a 13ft Dagger and a 17ft touring kayak. Admittedly, they weren't going full tilt, but I wasn't blown away by them either when they were paddling at a comfortable rate. Unfortunately, I didn't have a GPS to see how fast we were going. There is plenty of room for fishing equipment, and plenty of bungees. The detachable bag included with the seat is a nice touch and a good place to keep small tackle boxes. There's also a spot under where your legs would go for a larger flat tackle box. Fishing from it is definitely the best point. I can make all but the very finest adjustments to my position in the water with the pedals and the rudder without putting down my rod. That's a big plus. Meanwhile, my buddies in traditional yaks are constantly alternating between paddle and rod while I'm catching fish. In all, I think it's an excellent day-tripper and could be an overnighter with some dry bags. Given that you get a seat, a paddle, and a rudder in addition to the pedaling mechanism, the Outback is definitely money well spent, and I highly recommend it.