Submitted: 08-17-2005 by Mitch
The Tracer's greatest attribute is value: for the price of a rotomolded barge you get a good-looking lightweight kayak that performs like glass boats that cost a thousand dollars more.
Fit and finish are only so-so: there are other boats assembled with more care -- but not at the Tracer's low price.
Performance is good. The Tracer is fast and turns well, but it's a little short on primary stability: it may not be the best choice for beginners.
In our household, the Tracer is my boat, while my wife paddles a fiberglass Current Designs Solstice GTS. Fit and finish on the Solstice is better, and it's a prettier boat. The Solstice (for almost a thousand dollars more) is faster and holds a line better, but it's much harder to turn. The Tracer turns more readily, and it's a bit lighter. I prefer the Tracer's skeg to the Solstice's rudder. The Tracer's more fun; the Solstice is the boat I'd take on a long-distance trip with headwinds.
For some reason, I can roll the Solstice more easily than I can roll the Tracer. I can bring the Solstice back up most of the time with a sweep roll. With the Tracer, my sweep roll usually fails, and I have to resort to a Pawlatta roll (which is slower but has more leverage).
All in all, I like the Tracer and think it's a great value. I'll give it a "9" for now. If the folks at the factory will stop daubing the adhesives on with such a heavy hand, I might raise that to a "10."
To any of my kayak-shopping friends on a budget, I'd say, "Put the Tracer high on your list."