Submitted: 03-27-2006 by donna4955
I picked up this boat two days ago, sight unseen (got a good deal online). However, I did do some research first. I am writing this review based on my maiden voyage (today), which took place on flat water (about 8 miles on a slow moving creek). I will write another review after I get it out on some Class I or II rapids.
First impression & handling: This odd-looking shallow arch hull (referred to by some as a "hybrid" or "crossover" style) pushes you upward, and causes you to sit somewhat high. It feels tippy at first. After 10 minutes, that feeling is gone; I got acclimated to it quickly. It moves through the water quite nicely. While I wouldn't call it fast exactly, it's not slow, and it has a "quick" way about it (similar in that way to the Manitou 13, and I think quicker than the Necky Zoar Sport LV), tracks very well, maneuvers okay. You can edge turn it pretty easily.
Comfort: I'm not real picky; it works for me. Nice foam under the seat, adjustable backband, easily adjusted footpegs. It's fairly lightweight - 45 pounds, an easy carry. I'm female, 5'7 tall and a tad on the heavy side, but I had no problem getting in or out. However, my shoe size is 7.5 or 8 (which would translate to 6.5 or 7 in men's sizes), and while my feet were fine in it, I wouldn't want them to be more than a size larger. Just my opinion, but I think a man with more than a size 8 shoe can forget fitting in this boat. Very nice for women, though, IF they have small to medium sized feet.
Storage: My boat is a 2004 model (bought it new, but it was a "leftover") and it has foam pillars in bow and stern for floatation, but no bulkheads. I've heard some of the Stealths do have a bulkhead or two (?) and that MAY be true of the later models, I'm not sure. The stern hatch opening is quite wide, neoprene with a cover. Goes on easily, and has attachments points to make sure you don't lose the cover or neoprene. The storage space is smaller than it looks, as this is not a high volume boat. Still, good enough for my purposes. Mine doesn't have a bow hatch, but has netting and is "hatch ready", meaning there is a molded place where I could put a hatch (and probably will).
That's all I can think of right now. While I'm trying to be objective and contain my excitement, I must admit my gut reaction is "I REALLY LIKE THIS BOAT, A LOT!!!". Just has a nice way about it, I can't explain it really.
I'm giving it a 9 for now just because I need to see how it does on faster moving water before I give it a 10, but I was tempted. All in all, NICE BOAT!