Submitted: 10-20-2005 by wjlatsha
Carbon/Kevlar, Impex Assateague: First I want to apologize for the length of this, but I can’t just say a few words. I am a big guy, somewhat muscular, 5’-10” tall, but with a 54yo belly. I weigh 270 Lb, wear a 42 jean, and a 2XL shirt. I have canoed for years with the Boy Scouts, and just completed my 4th year of Kayaking. I have taken one on-the-water course on kayaking, paddling, plus self and group rescue. Call me advanced beginner, or intermediate…your choice.
I paddle mainly flat water areas like the Chesapeake bay, and local wide (1 mile plus) river, and large lakes. My longest paddle has been about 10 miles, and I don’t like winds over 15 mph. My favorite time on the water is when the sun is peeking over the horizon, the water is calm, and the wildlife is just stirring. But I do enjoy some rough water once in a while, for some excitement.
I started with an Old Town Adventure XL-139 Kayak. A great “Rec” kayak, but wanted something lighter and longer. I next got a Lincoln, “Chebeaque”. I was pushing the weight limit for the kayak, and the cockpit opening was too small. But otherwise a fun, good, composite kayak. I traded it because the cockpit opening was too small for me, and I hurt my “bad knee” getting into it one day. Next I tried a Boreal, “Nanook”. Biggest mistake in my life. You can read my review here on P-Net if you want to learn more. Ok, enough about me to help you understand the review.
I had looked at “Impex” before, and tried their Serenity. It just felt too big, with too much rocker for me. I thought their quality was tops, and heard about their great service, but just didn’t know about the Assateague until fall 2004. At that time I put a post on P-Net asking about the “best” composite kayak for the big guy. Most of the responses told me about the Impex Assateague. I was impressed with the replies.
When I heard that Impex was showing at Paddle Sports show in NJ, I e-mailed Danny to see if he would have an Assateague at the show. He replied “yes”, so I was there Saturday morning, and I finally got to see one. Right away he got it down off of the rack, and let me sit in it. 10 minutes later my wife asked me when I was getting out, and I asked if I “really had to”! The cockpit fit me very well. Slightly loose, but that was better than tight. One thing I liked a lot about the cockpit opening is the width at the front of the opening. There is plenty of room between the thigh braces for my bad knee and I to get out very easily, the seat, foot pegs, and back band seemed to be designed for me. The model was actually designed from the start just for the bigger person. I fell in love with the Orange deck, Yellow trim Carbon/Kevlar model at the show.
I like buying from my local shops, and I really wanted to paddle it before I bought it, so I asked Danny how we could do this. He asked me if I wanted to meet him at the nearby river EARLY the next morning before the show. Since it was MARCH, and I lived 3-1/2 hours away, I declined the offer. I thought that was terrific for him to offer this, as I know how tiring Shows are. I asked him if he could get one to my local shop, so I could Demo it there, and buy it if I liked it. He said fine, and we parted ways with him working on a plan.
We e-mailed a couple times, and a plan developed. Soon after, he had these two kayaks at a show in the New England states. After the show, he drove about 100 miles out of his way going home, to drop them both off at my local shop. One was to be their Demo Kayak, and the other was the one for me to buy if I liked paddling it. I took a vacation day in early April, and went to the shop to Demo it. I took my Orange/Yellow kayak home with me that day. It only took me about ½ hour to realize this was the Kayak I had been looking for the last 4 years!
After paddling it since April (It is now mid October), I am more and more impressed with it. It is a “Keeper” for sure. My friend has a Brand X, model “700”. He is smaller that I and his fits him well. I needed a kayak to keep up with him. The Assateague does a very good job. With minimal effort I can keep up a pace of 4 mph (GPS) all afternoon. With more effort I can keep up 5 mph for a little while, and have pushed it to 6.3 mph. I can’t keep that up long. On flat water, we paddled to speed, and then coasted. Our glide was side by side. I was impressed with this, as the Assateague is wider, carrying me (more weight).
I have had it on the Chesapeake Bay, and on the local 1+ mile wide river, and waves and chop don’t seem to bother it at all. Initial stability is fine, but not like a Rec Kayak. But Secondary stability is really solid. I like to lean to carve turns, and I have to work hard to get the boat on its side so water is near the cockpit combing. It is really solid. Waves and boat wakes have hit me from the side, and they just wash right under me. I like that a lot. In head-on or trailing rougher water, it does not tend to pitch violently up and down with the waves. It follows them in a controllable manner that gives me confidence in the boat.
The cockpit fits me very well. The seat base is comfortable for longer periods. After 4 hours I’m not a bit “sore”. The back band is OK, but I plan on replacing it. I don’t like a back band that sticks above the combing. With it in its standard position, the spray skirt hits the band and pushes it down behind my butt. I took off the band, and turned it upside down, with the top now level with the combing, and it is “ok”. I plan on putting a softer padded cloth back-band in the kayak over the winter. The Immersion Research is hard plastic padded with foam. I think the padded cloth ones are a little more comfortable. I like the solidness of the foot pegs with this kayak having a Skeg. I hated the foot pegs moving around on my last Ruddered kayak. I like the skeg!
The kayak tracks “fairly” straight all on it’s own. If I watch my strokes, and be sure to keep them even, I don’t need to use the skeg at all to keep it straight as an arrow. But after a while I get tired of being careful, so I put the skeg down about ¾ to 1”. That takes care of “me” well. On windy days I found the boat likes to point into the wind a little. This is better than away from the wind, but a little more down skeg takes care of the wind’s effects very well. I much prefer a skeg kayak now! The kayak is very easy to turn for a 17’-10” kayak. With a good lean in the opposite direction you want to turn, it will carve a turn that still amazes me. I can turn it as tight as the Adventure XL I had. Easy to turn!
I really love the VCP hatches. I have never had any leakage in them. I put 303 on them, inside and out, and they slide on and off no problem. The Day Hatch behind the cockpit is nice too, but I have a hard time twisting around to get in it, on the water. I just use it for storage of things I don’t want bouncing around in the larger compartments. It is nice for that. I do like the new carry handles. They are comfortable to have in the hand when carrying it.
The hull is made with a cloth that has Carbon fibers running one direction, and with Kevlar fibers woven into it going the crossed direction. It is an interesting cloth to see. The Hull is VERY stiff (not like my last one), and I like that. This cloth weave has the stiffness of Carbon, and the strength of Kevlar. I feel it is a good weave. The deck is reinforced Fiberglass, I guess they had to use finer weave glass cloth to go in and out of all of the deck recessed and shapes.
After 4 years of searching for the right kayak for me, I have found it. I am sure it will last me a long time. The fit and finish are really nice, and I am proud to be in it. I get a lot of nice comments on it.
“Negative” – No review would be complete without any negatives. I honestly can’t say anything negative about the boat, and the way it handles. But after I bought it, Danny sent an e-mail to me asking how I liked it. I thought that was a nice touch! I had a few minor issues, mainly questions, so I replied telling him how much I liked it, and explained the questions. Danny replied saying my e-mail was “too much” for him, that I should call. I never got to call, so he e-mailed me back about calling. By then I got a little frustrated after I had explained my issues in the e-mail, and just didn’t have the time to go over it again on the phone. I replied back saying thanks for the follow-up, lets just forget it. I guess I was disappointed that he was so good with e-mail before I bought it, but not good at all “after”.
I went to the dealer for help with one issue. The deck perimeter rescue lines were so tight that you could “twang” them like a guitar string. There was no way to get your fingers behind them if you had to. I untied the bow line, with the intent of loosening it with a knot closer to the fitting, and it stopped a full inch before it got it back to the fitting. That is how tight it was from the factory. After waiting over a month for the dealer to get new lines for me from Impex, I went and bought new deck lines and restrung it myself. Minor issues, but something to note.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask! If you are a larger person like me, or bigger, this Performance kayak was made for you!