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Submitted: 06-02-2005 by mrybicki

Since I was interested in a kayak primarily for open water with occasional weekend camping trips I knew I wanted an efficient high-volume touring kayak. Because I had to lift the kayak to the top of the carriers on my van I insisted on a maximum weight of 50 lbs. Those criteria led me to these ideal specifications for my touring kayak:

  • Length - 15 17, typical touring kayak length
  • Width - Less than 24 for better efficiency
  • Weight - 50 lbs maximum for easy lifting and portaging
  • Cost - Less than $2000 for budgetary reasons
  • Capacity - 185 lbs + Camping Gear (I weigh 185 lbs)
  • Volume - 11 Cu Ft Minimum for Camping Gear Space
  • Tracking Aid - Skeg Aesthetics, Personal Preference

    Trying on the Kayaks
    Dimensions, specifications and theories are one thing but how a kayak fits and feels in the water is another. To get a better handle on fit and feel I tried on many kayaks at outdoor shows and local dealers. Some of them I tried on 2 or 3 times.

    Bering Sea Observations
    The 16.5 wide cockpit fits me well and I found the optional high back seat to be much more comfortable than the standard touring seat. The 14 deck height results in generous foot room. The built in thigh support fit me like a glove. The large bulkhead storage areas can be readily accessed with the oversized rectangular hatch covers. The easy to lift weight of 47 lbs is achieved with Kevlar reinforced fiberglass and an ABS nose cone which protects the bow from damage. The amount of skeg engagement is precisely set with a sliding control knob to the right of the cockpit. The flared hull improves secondary stability and the long waterline relative to the overall length makes it easier to paddle at cruising speeds. A co-worker told me that he was very satisfied with a Swift warrantee claim and the owner, Bill Swift, makes regular visits to the Swift dealers.

    Bering Sea Paddling Feel
    The Swift Bering Sea glides through the water with a smooth forgiving stability. It tracks well and yet, with a little lean, turns easily. The skeg is effective in minimizing weathercocking in cross winds. Its wonderful gliding characteristics, great tracking, good efficiency, smooth forgiving stability and comfortable cockpit combine to make it very easy to paddle for long distances. The Swift Bering Sea is a winner!

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