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As I have progressed in my skills, the boat continues to satisfy me. Plus I can handle it outside of the water and get it on top of the car by myself--a real plus. Don't listen to people who tell you you can't keep up with longer boats. I've been with folks with Nordkapps and kept up with them just fine. This boat is my size, built for my body, and I can make it move more easily than some over-sized boat too big for my frame. It is also much easier for a small person to roll a small boat--and this one rolls easily.
All in all, I couldn't be happier. This boat is well designed, well balanced and also really fun to paddle. I give it a 10.
First impression: wow, what a light boat. I'm a strong enough guy, 5'11" and 150 lbs (so a little out of the typical size for this boat), but I still enjoyed carrying it 100m down to the lake to put in.
2nd impression: it seemed to have low primary stability, and I was a bit tentative about getting in it. The cockpit is small, so that added to the challenge. Once I was in, skirted up, and off paddling, it was fine. I tried holding on to the dock and rolling the kayak on its side, and I noted the excellent secondary stability. The hull has a very shallow V shape, with rounded chines (newer models may be different).
There was little to no wind, but I found no difficulty in tracking in a desired direction, especially with a little roll to each side while paddling. Much easier than the Necky Looksha Sport I tried last week, though less manouverable as an offset: it took several strokes to spin around into the opposite direction.
This kayak sits quite low to the water with my weight in it, and even moderate edging will lower the coaming to the water's edge. It's best paddled with a waterproof skirt or you'll get wet. Even when my wife (140 lbs) paddled it, it sat quite low in the water.
Another thing I noticed is that fore-deck does not have a high volume, so waves would likely splash across it. Again, use of a waterproof skirt would be recommended.
The molded seat was not padded, but I didn't find it uncomfortable in a half-hour paddle. My wife put a thin ensolite pad in for her turn, and I kept it in for my 2nd turn. That didn't hurt, either.
The seat-back was adjustable through a buckle on a wide strap, but I couldn't adjust the tension while in the boat as the buckle was behind me.
The cockpit is quite small, but by adjusting the footbraces (via a button on the backside of the peg), I was able to get a solid brace against the unpadded, non-adjustable thigh braces. I was then able to really feel one with the boat, which probably helped with the roll (see below).
I paddled to the end of the lake and back in a half hour, a distance of 4.0 km, so 8 km/h (5 mph) seems quite feasible in this kayak without pushing too hard.
I tried rolling it, and succeeded on the first try. I did 3 more for good measure. Now, the last time I rolled was 7 years ago, in a swimming pool where I took a roll course. I've never rolled since, and I've never rolled in a lake. So the Mystic must roll quite easily! (though I have been watching quite a few kayak roll videos lately on YouTube).
I quite liked this kayak and would consider buying one even though I'm not a "smaller and lighter" paddler.
The seat and back band are very comfortable, the deck lines are reflective (a nice touch), the foot braces are comfortable and easy to adjust, nice hatches, a smooth skeg (though rarely needed), and it has both handles and toggles.
I am a female, 5'4", 125 lbs. I don't believe you could find a better kayak for a small paddler. I still enjoy my Pygmy and the Nighthawk, but they are both higher volume and not as responsive.
Perhaps as important as the kayak is the company's customer service and I have yet to find better. I have had experience with good, bad, and mediocre but Danny and Impex have shown me why their customers are so loyal. Add me to the list.
The retractable skeg is a great feature that enables the boat to track beautifully. The only problem here is with use in saltwater the wire connecting to the skeg regularly binds making the skeg unworkable. We've tried everything, set the boat to the factory, replaced the while skeg unit and its still requires constant maintenance.
While my wife still loves the way the boat paddles she wishes she'd take the dealer up years ago on his offer to replace the boat with another model.
I am a 5'2 woman of normal weight. This is my fourth kayak, all of which have been different widths. The one prior to this was the same length and one inch wider. What a difference that inch makes, along with the other differences in the design of the Mystic. I sit in the others to paddle--I *wear* the Mystic, it's like an extension of my body ("fits like a glove" is often used to describe the feel of the Mystic). This must be a large part of why it feels so stable to me, and felt that way from the first time I put it in water. There was literally no adjustment period with this kayak, no learning curve. THIS is what a kayak is supposed to feel like!
This is the only kayak in which I have been able to make use of the thigh braces. In every other one, it has been like sitting in the center of a couch and finding the arms of the couch to be so far away as to be useless, and then moving to a narrow easy chair with the arms nestled on either side of you. Oh, so this is how thigh braces work! And the Mystic's are padded underneath, just one of many details that make this a kayaker's dream boat.
As for performance, this is one very speedy little 14' craft. It laughs at river current as it effortlessly slices through it. It has an easily-deployed skeg for use in windy conditions (I haven't yet needed it). The seat back is perfectly positioned for comfort and support. Which brings me to one of my favorite aspects of this boat. I have been kayaking for about 3 years, this is my 4th kayak. In every other kayak, I have suffered from what I refer to as "kayak butt"--a condition that causes my right hip through the back of my right thigh to become increasingly uncomfortable after 30-40 minutes on the water--to the point of pain if I do not find a place to get out and stretch. I have attributed this to an old bout of sciatica and assumed it was part of the kayaking experience for me. My paddling trips were limited to places that offered stopping points at which to stretch and relieve this discomfort. I was very pleasantly surprised (this is an understatement!) to find that I can paddle the Mystic for 4 hours without getting out and not feel one trace of "kayak butt." It's taken several trips to get used to not always seeking a stopping point--it has also enabled me to paddle the four miles to the top of my favorite river and back, something I could never do before because of the lack of places to get off the water to stretch. It must be the seat dynamics--whatever it is, this has changed kayaking for me.
It sits low in the water; the boat is 11" deep rather than the 15" I have become used to in my other kayaks. I like this very much and I think it contributes to the stability.
The Mystic is a pricey boat but if you can handle the cost and you fit the size recommendation (80-190 lbs), I can't possibly recommend it enough--it's worth every penny of the cost (even at full price!). I'd also like to mention the unbelievably friendly customer service you will get from Impex, which is based in NC. Ask them anything via email and you will receive a reply almost immediately. Their website has a message board that is monitored by the owners, unlike other kayak sites that are left to fend for themselves.
My kayak buying days are over; in my opinion you just can't do better than the Mystic. And if you don't fit the size or weight requirements, I suggest you look into other Impex models. These people know how to build kayaks.
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