Submitted: 09-01-2005 by macase
For reference, I am 5'6" in height and weigh 150 lbs. Having paddled a few "recreational" sub-10 foot kayaks at a friend's cottage, I knew I wanted to get into kayaking, but was well aware that I wasn't impressed with the tracking or efficiency of the "toy" boats. At a trial day at a local paddle shop I tried boats that ranged from $300 to $1800. I noticed that the longer more expensive boats tracked a straighter line and glided better, but would also severely dent my pocket book. After trying several longer and more expensive boats, I tried the Manitou.
Once out on the water I found that it would glide nearly as well as the longer boats, but turned easier. I decided that it matched my value point and purchased one. That was June of 2004. Since then I've paddled countless miles on lakes and rivers. It still tracks as straight as the day I bought it.
Once I was cutting the mouth of a small bay up the Door Peninsula (Wisconsin) and a terrible storm swept up. I wasn't skirted and the waves grew to nearly 5 ft. The Manitou was completely swamped but kept me high enough out of the water to successfully paddle inland to take cover. Had I been in a boat without the sealed stowe in the stern and the float beam in the bow, I wouldn't have made it to shore with the boat. I owe my quick learning curve and skills to the exceptional behavior of the Manitou. The extra $200-$300 cost to get into a Manitou over a short purely recreational boat will pay for itself quickly because the experience will be so much more enjoyable and rewarding that you'll be out on the water more getting more use out of your kayak.
I highly recommend this boat to anyone who is a beginner looking to learn true kayaking skills. The rating of 9 is a result of two gripes I have about the kayak. 1. There is no drain plug. 2. The hull is curved deeply at the point where my feet rest and after a long day out on the water my ankles become fatigued. I can eliminate this fatigue by wearing water sport shoes and in cooler weather I just wear my mid-top hiking boots.