Submitted: 04-11-2005 by kwikle
I reviewed the OuterIsland over two days on Lake Michigan.
First off The OI I paddled was brand new and was flawlessly finished. It is very light for a kayak of its length. It won't be quite as durable as a valley or NDK of course, but the weight savings are where it's at for this kayak anyway.
The deck rigging was good. My friend noted that he would prefer a better aft deck rigging for a paddle float rescue. But I didn't care too much about that. The hatches are valleyesque, and stayed dry even after repeated dunkings.
NO Compass recess. Well you can't have everything? I saw this kayak as a day touring kayak, so that didn't bother me, but it is worth mentioning.
Seat was ok. IR backband is terrible. The IR reggie is smaller and wouldn't stick out past the coaming. Laying back was a pain, and very stiff. I would replace that backband.
The thigh bracing was ok, would probably make it a little more aggressive. Also an option for a small round ocean cockpit would be nice.
Skeg worked flawlessly.
Pro's of paddling the OI.
This kayak is fast. Very fast, had no problem maintaining 3-4 knots in a headwind.
It does behave very predictably edge-edge.
It rolls pretty well due to the low windage. But the stock backband was a little tough on the body. (But it's obviously replaceable.)
It is not prone to weather cocking due t that low windage.
Con's of paddling the OuterIsland.
Poor maneuverability. When edged this kayak did not want to skid out. Coming up wind or downwind. Stern ruddering, stern draw, bow ruddering, or whatever made no difference, this kayak wants to go straight. This is great if you are keen on speed and tracking, but it is not a very loose kayak.
I would like to paddle it again in higher winds, I only had 5-10 knot variable winds on a relatively calm couple of days. But it was a fun kayak to keep moving, I did about 12 miles in pretty short order.
I have not paddled babina's strip built design, but I think it's pretty cool that an amateur builder came up with a design this fast, this low volume, and it is made by a great company.