Submitted: 10-10-2005 by MedicineMan
The Kestrel is a recreational kayak based on length. I choose the hybrid layup which is advertised as weighing 29 pounds by some vendors and 30 pounds by the manufacturer.
I bought this kayak after searching high and low for a 'swamper'. I've got a couple of 17+ boats and wanted something to do the tight and twisty stuff in, plus I wanted one that was less than 40 pounds. What I have obtained is now my most frequently used boat simply because of its weight.
Last month I traveled to Ontario to explore. I took 2 kayaks, a QCC 700 and the CD Kestrel. Both kayaks enjoyed Canadian waters but the Kestrel saw more miles because of the two it was the easiest to portage by far, not counting car topping.
I've collected kayaks over the years and have 15 now. The closest in the group to the Kestrel is another rec boat, the Acadia by Perception. It really is unfair to compare those two, in fact because of the layup and all the attentive details CD poured into the Kestrel it probably shines above all other rec boats with one obvious and glaring exception- that same layup that gives it the incredible lightness will not do well when dragged across a parking lot or ground into oyster beds.
Saying this, it should be obvious to any would be buyer that the Kestrel hybrid has an intended use and that use precludes punishment of the abrasive kind, but as far as paddling into a stump I have no fear that the kevlar will happily bounce back.
If you're looking for a fishing platform or a photography platform in a boat that you can grab and heft with one hand then this is a boat to consider. Fishing simply because of the integral fishing rod holders-one on each side, and they make good paddle parks too. Photography because this boat is stable, at 26inches wide it should be. Another niche is, believe it or not, those who paddle for exercise, and when I took it out for an exercise paddle I took along a GPS and was shocked to discover that it cruised at 4.3 mph!! I didnít believe it so before paddling the Kestrel the next time I changed batteries in the GPS and compared the GPS used with the GPS in the vehicle...guess what? The little Kestrel cruises at 4.3 mph.
Storage? if you are an ultralightweight backpacker and can do 3 days on the trail with 28-32 pounds (and thatís with winter gear) then you can enjoy the Kestrel for a 2-3 day trip...differing from a Nordkapp or a QCC700 you will have to leave some items at home.
Some complained somewhere that CD didnít include a forward hatch...well for the intended use and any honest person would admit that is day paddles, the one waterproof hatch rear is more than enough, but if you just have to do a multi-nighter remember that dry bags will fit forward of your feet on either side of the integral foam pillar CD provides.
The hatch....make note of it. I'm sure CD designers considered VCP or Kajaksport hatches but have you ever weighed one? To keep this kayak sub 30 pounds CD had to engineer their own, and since this boat (intended use again) is probably not on the top contender list for rolling, the hatch cover is just fine and its already tethered, another little plus.
The Kestrel Hybrids begs an interesting question...do you truly love to paddle for paddling's sake or do you have to have the large sea kayak loaded for an expedition to have fun and excitement. The reason I ask is because for many of us there are little bodies of water we pass daily, maybe too small to warrant the effort required to get an 18 foot long boat to, but maybe not when its only 30 pounds you have to get from the rooftop to the water.
OK, so given the intended use why only a 9 for the Kestrel? there is a design flaw, the second time I sat in the seat it cracked where the seat back meets the bottom (its all one formed piece, and unfortunately formed into the cockpit coming as well), maybe it happened when I leaned back to stretch. When I looked closely at the seat design I noticed that there is no structure of the seat in its rear most aspect carrying the force of my weight to the hull so a fulcrum was created and the seat lost.
My solution was simply to place a 'carved to fit' piece of closed cell foam under that rear most aspect of the seat thus carrying the weight of the paddler to the hull where it can be dispersed.
Other than that this boat is ever so sweet.
Also, I purchased the boat from Old Orchard Canoe and Kayak, they had it to me in three days via air freight.