My bro-in-law and I just purchased two Big Critters. We took them out onto the local reservoir lake for the first try-out. Here's the specs , according to the Wilderness Systems brochure: Length: 12', Width: 29", Depth: 14", Cockpit: 57½ x 22½, weight: 50 lbs., max capacity: 400 lbs.
The boats come equipped with stern hatch (not waterproof), deck rigging, an adjustable backrest, floatation fore and aft, and adjustable footpegs. There is a molded-in cupholder in the seat bottom.
Initial stability was enough for me (novice) to be comfortable right away. I was surprised at the ability of the boat to be leaned during a sweep stroke to facilitate turning. There is good secondary stability. I was able to lean the boat almost to the point of water coming in over the side during some maneuvers and not feel like I was out of control. Tracking is very good through lake water that had a few 4-6 waves due to some wind. My previous boat is a 9'6" s-o-t so turning this craft seems slow in comparison, but still much easier to maneuver than a 138 Loon I have tried.
My bro-in-law and I are both "big fellas", 6'3", around 275-300 lbs each, thus the reason for choosing this model. The wide and long cockpit makes entering and exiting simple and the weight capacity allows us extra carrying ability. With the 12' hull we can pack all our goodies for a day trip with ease. A Little Playmate 6-pack cooler just fits under the stern and can be shoved up beyond your feet, or behind the seat. The stern hatch is roomy enough for extra gloves, camera, phone, etc. but not accessible while on the water unless you have another boating buddy to reach the stuff for you. I have lots of room in the hull for goodies and grill, extra clothes, etc., even the dog, if she behaves.
The seat is very basic. With adjusting straps for the angle of the backrest, it's comfortable for the first couple hours, but later in the trip I was wishing for a little padding on the lower back.
It's too bad the Big Critter, as well as the Critter, are deleted from production this year. Seems the Pamlico and Pungo are filling the same niche. So, if you can find one, the Big Critter is a great boat for larger paddlers on a budget.I already have a WS Mallard, which I think is the very best small pond, creek or stream fishing kayak out there. But I wanted something a little bit larger and faster for longer stretches of water. The Big Critter turned out to be just what I was looking for.
It's remarkably fast. And, it tracks well even though it doesn't have a visible keel. Instead it has two channels that keep it moving straight. Very effective. The boat is also incredibly stable. I really, really like this boat and it rigs out nicely for fishing.
The only thing I don't like is the seat back. I found it a bit uncomfortable. I wish they would put the Phase-3 seat in it and they certainly could as they have it in the Critter Expidition and the seat bottoms are the exact same. That would make it perfect and make me rate it a 10 instead of a 9.