03-18-2013Submitted by: DK
Reviews for Kestrel 140 Kayak by Current Designs
Based On: 13 Reviews
- Rating: 9 of 10 My 70 year old 6'2" body didn't like bending into the tight cockpit of my 16' Swift touring kayak so I searched and searched for an equal kayak with a longer cockpit. The Kestrel 160 was my first choice, but it's no longer produced, so I bought the 140 composite summer of 2012. Needless to say, it takes more paddling effort, but I really like this kayak. I feel more comfortable turning around looking at wildlife through binoculars, my knees don't have scrapes from squeezing in and out of the cockpit, it's light weight, I've found no flaws with the finish, hatches seal 100%, seat is extremely comfortable, and I use a half-skirt to keep paddle drips and spray out. The only negative is that I thought it was American made, but it was made in China. But they did make a good boat! I totally recommend it.
04-29-2008Submitted by: tedcar
- Rating: 8 of 10 This review is for the Kestrel 140 poly version, without rudder and after having this kayak for a little over a year now, I feel like I am able to give a fairly accurate review on it.
First off, I probably broke the cardinal rule on buying a kayak. I bought this kayak sight unseen and never had even taken a test paddle in it much less even had seen a Current Design kayak. I based my purchase on the other reviews on the Kestrel and hoped these reviews were fairly accurate and also by looking over CD‘s catalog to gain some information. Also, I was able to purchase this kayak brand new for $629.00! Had to drive 250 miles to pick it up, but I figured if I didn’t like it I could resale it and make a little money on it.
Now for my biggest complaint. When I first sat in the kayak my knees were sticking out above the cockpit even with the footpegs moved all the way up and the shoes that I normally wore kayaking wouldn’t even fit inside. I do have big size 12 feet and they were very cramped. Well I though to myself, since I had already bought it sight unseen and had paid for it I would have to make the best of the situation. Had to look around and find other paddling shoes that would fit inside and that wasn’t to bad of a problem to work out. After quite a few trips paddling with my knees sticking out and finally getting tired of that I moved the footpeg rails forward about 2 3/4" until they were almost touching the bulkhead. What a difference that made. I can finally stretch my legs out and I could probably move the footpegs back one notch and still have room. That also gave my feet a little more room. If the deck was about 1” higher everything would be fine. My feet still feel a little bit cramped at times, but it’s not all that bad and usually it’s not to much of a problem.
- Quality - The quality to me is very good. The plastic has no thin spots, the hatch covers fit good and the rigging is more than adequate. Extremely pleased with it.
- Storage - Only do day trips so I have plenty of room to pack my spare clothes, food and drinks with room left over.
- Seat - When I first saw the kayak and the seat I thought “What in the world have I done!” It looked like it would be the most uncomfortable thing in the world to sit in, much less to spend hours out kayaking. But I have been extremely surprised how comfortable it is. I did put a 1” thick piece of foam rubber in the back rest to give a little more padding. I have never been uncomfortable, had a sore back or butt, legs gone to sleep or anything bad to say about the seat. It sits a lot better than it looks.
- Cockpit Size - I am 6’ 4”, 185 lbs. with long legs and have no problem getting in or out. Plenty of room.
- Tracking - Seems to be fairly good, although at times it does want to be hard to get along with. But this could be due to my paddling skills or lack of and /or water and wind conditions. Can’t really complain to much.
- Speed - Pretty decent. I can average 3-3.5mph doing my easy casual paddling. Have done 3.8-4.5mph, but wouldn’t want to do that for a whole trip. Have really pushed it and have got up to 5.6mph but that takes all the fun out of going in the first place. All speeds were with my GPS.
- Stability - Very good. Seemed a lot tippy the first few times, but after a few trips it’s not even a problem.
- Weight - CD lists the weight as 54 lbs. Able to load and unload by myself onto my 4Runner without any problems and I am not blessed with muscles.
So, after this long review, I give the Kestrel an overall rating of 8. If I had more room for my big feet I would give it a 9. Very good kayak for the money.
11-29-2007Submitted by: sloboat
- Rating: 9 of 10 I've had my Kestrel 140 TCS for about a year and a half now. We have paddled under a wide variety of conditions. I have only had one problem and that was coming back from a gulf side paddle going upstream against an outgoing tide. We did it, I just had to work a little harder than the skinnier boats.
This is a GREAT boat and has performed well.Easy to paddle, stable, nimble, sturdy and durable. Wind, sliding over logs, open water, twisting streams, spring fed run currents (up and down stream) are no problem at all. I even stayed upright when a manatee surfaced underneath my boat lifting it out of the water! Scared us both, but I stayed upright.
I would highly recommend this boat to anyone. Plenty of storage, cockpit is large and I can move around reaching the rear hatch without a problem. I use a half skirt on the cockpit most of the time because of the Florida sun, also have a full spray skirt that I have used in poorer weather.
Hardy and feisty this boat lives up to its namesake.
09-14-2007Submitted by: mflash980
- Rating: 10 of 10 I began kayaking about four years ago and consider myself an "intermediate" paddler. I kayak most often on Lake Michigan along the Illinois/Wisconsin border and on the Des Plaines River in northern Illinois.
My first kayak was a Wilderness Systems Pamlico Excel. This is a large, stable boat that I thought my whole family would enjoy. I was wrong, and I was left with a 17' behemoth that weighed in at almost 80 pounds! This boat was too big for me to handle alone and I quickly realized that if I was going to do any serious paddling, I would have to get a different boat.
After doing all the usual research, I settled on the hybrid version of the CD Kestrel 140. Initially, I was sold on its great looks and light weight (under 45#). This made it easy for me to load and unload it from the top of my van myself. Also portaging around dams in the Des Plaines River can be tiresome in a heavier boat, but the Kestrel can be picked up with one hand and carried over your shoulder with ease.
On the water, the boat performs very well. It felt a little "tippy" when I got in it for the first time, but once you paddle it for a little while, you realize what a stable craft it actually is and the "tippy" feeling goes away. It is quick to accelerate, very responsive and tracks very straight, even with a pretty strong cross-wind. The version I bought came with a rudder, but I have never used it.
The inside of the boat is very roomy. The cockpit is very large, making entry and exit very easy. The bulkheads are fiber-glassed in place and provide structural stability as well as watertight storage. The hatch covers fit well and keep things dry, but can only be accessed when you are outside the boat. This boat would have benefited from a small access hatch that is accessible while seated in the boat.
I primarily use the boat for exercise and touring, but I also have used it for nature photography and fishing. The boat has lots of room for gear and equipment, but most paddlers probably use theirs for day trips. I have used mine for weekend camping trips and I have had plenty of room for a small tent, sleeping bag, food and other gear (within reason). I have always had enough space as long as the turkey frier stays at home.
My 12 year old son loves this boat and learned how to paddle this summer. In fact, we like this boat so much, we just bought another Kestrel 120 HV (poly) for him. We plan on taking the boats to Florida this winter for some coastal cruising and fishing on the Inter Coastal Waterway.
In summary, what is the best kayak to buy? The answer is the one you will use the most. I have found the Kestrel to be a boat that one person can easily load and unload and use in a variety of water and weather making more usable than my behemoth that sat unused in my garage for several years. I have not been disappointed with its performance yet.
06-06-2007Submitted by: seark
- Rating: 7 of 10 I first tested the Kestral 140, both the rotomold and composite versions, at a demo day at the city park lake. I was looking for a light touring/transitional kayak in the 13 to 15 foot range. I mostly paddle Class I/II rivers, bayous and lakes with occasional trips to the coastal salt marshes and estuaries.
I'm short and wide, 5'5" and 200lbs. I've been kayaking for 8 years paddling using a wide variety of recreational and touring kayaks - always searching for the ever elusive perfect boat.
I liked the ease of getting in and out thanks to the larger cockpit. The boat accelerated easily. It was stable but was easy to edge slightly for steering. The rotomold has a narrower bow than the composite. The ten-minute paddle on the lake was enjoyable but I wasn't completely sold. Yesterday, a local outfitter allowed me to paddle a rotomold Kestral 140 in a 4 mile Arkansas River canoe and kayak race in the Little Rock area. (This kind of service is why I highly recommend purchasing from a local outfitter!) Paddling that distance with an attempt at speed showed me that, while the Kestral 140 has nice stability and easy in/out, the cockpit is too open for me. The cockpit's XL size and low-cut profile leaves nothing for knees to brace against. The narrow/flat bow also tended to plow. In white caps, I would have been taking on water. When I stopped paddling briefly to take a photo, the Kestal immediately lost momentum and began to veer off.
If you are wanting a large cockpit for fishing/photography on flat water and aren't concerned about speed or distance - the Kestral would be a fine boat - although I prefer my original kayak, an Old Town Loon 138 - now 8 years old, for that sort of outing. For long distances and competing in the fun divisions of canoe & kayak races, I chose a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 instead. It gives me just a little more room to wiggle in and out and for comfort over the long stretch than the Tsunami 140 my nephew 5'6", 165 lbs. is happily competing in now.
06-04-2007Submitted by: Jimbo
- Rating: 10 of 10 I bought a Kestrel 140 in TCS yesterday and went out this morning. I could not believe how smooth, and how fast the composite material is!! I have always paddled poly boats (Kestrel 12, perception spectrum, and Prion Seayak). They have been fine boats, but this one is so sweet!! Mine does have a rudder, and I used it only once. It is helpful, but only when really needed. I literally can light this with one arm, and now even enjoy walking farther distances to the put in spots. I have enjoyed other Current Designs boats, and now certainly have fallen in love again with this new boat. It's even a fun color... Caribbean Blue/Turquoise. My wife and daughter especially like the color and gel coat shine!!
10-10-2006Submitted by: DaveMc
- Rating: 10 of 10 I've been kayaking for approx. 8 years and have owned a number of kayaks, including sit-on-tops. I primarily kayak in wide rivers for fitness and just to be outdoors. I also paddle the smaller rivers and creeks of central Fla. My last boat (Hurricane Tampico XL) was, for me, very unstable. Not sure if it was that the kayak was only 23" wide or that I'm not a small, light person, but I never felt steady in it. Big chop and boat wakes were always interesting... Exasperated by a year of not being comfortable in the Hurricane kayak I demoed several other similar length boats including the Kestrel. I was immediately impressed with the stability of the Kestrel. It tracks well and I've not noticed that it wants to veer off course in strong winds. I purchased the kayak with a rudder and have not yet found too many instances where I needed it. The cockpit is comfortable for me and the seat works fine, even for all day trips.
I purchased the TCS composite version and greatly appreciate the weight savings -- only 46 lbs. with rudder. At the end of a long day on the water it's nice to not have to hoist a lot of weight onto the Jeep. Not sure over the long run how durable the TCS will be, so I'm being careful to not abuse the hull.
I'm very pleased with this kayak as it's stable, performs well with or without the rudder, responds to my input with the paddle and while leaning, and is visually a knockout (white hull, red deck). This is one sweet kayak, definitely a 10!!
09-25-2006Submitted by: overtheside
- Rating: 8 of 10 We bought the roto 140 this summer as our first kayak. We tried several ought and selected this one because it worked well for everyone, from the 90 lb middle schooler to the 6'1" 225 lb old fart. We got it with the rudder also based on past rental experience.
In general we have been pretty happy with it. The pegs easily adjust for whoever is using it. The seat is comfortable. It paddles smoothly with good speed and isn't phased by the hoards of inconsiderate speedboaters we are often exposed to.
The reason I give it only an 8 is that both storage compartments leak. Not while paddling, though we haven't had it out in rough seas yet. The leaks have only occured during capsizes (not all were on purpose... :-) . The rear leaks through it's cover and the front through the bulkhead. The rear compartment probably never collected more than a gallon, but the front section usually ended up between 1/2 and 3/4 full.
I called the dealer about the bulkhead and they called Current Designs. The word I got back is that improperly tying the kayak on my roof could break the factory seal. I suppose it is possible, though I haven't damaged my Wenonah foam core canoe in more than 10 years. The dealer suggested I just get some silicon caulk and re-seal the bulkhead myself....
In summary, a nice boat that we have all had fun with, but we are disappointed in both the dealer and Wenonah.
09-05-2006Submitted by: gutwrencher
- Rating: 9 of 10 I bought this kayak just 4 months ago. It was my first kayak as I was and still consider myself to be...a rookie. I had never even been out on a river, in any boat. 4 months later I have logged nearly 400 miles on rivers. That does not include lakes. However, rivers are my joy, especially my local Raccoon. I think I made the perfect choice in a starter yak. Sure, I could have saved another 8 or 900 bucks and bought the lighter and sexier version, but as a rookie...on rivers with small rapids...getting one I can beat up a little with less stress(on yak and me both) and get used to was a the right choice. I plan on upgrading in a year or two but for now, my 140 rules. I too am a large man, 6'2" and 250, and with very long legs. I tried the 120HV but the 2 hatches and longer boat were essential. I love overnighters on sandbars and my 140 holds my gear just right. That weight combined with my body weight, at first, was a concern. Even with all the weight....it's just now running almost perfect with the boats waterline. Yeah, it's a little on the heavy side, but if I'm this big...then I should have no problem lifting it. Even after a 30 mile river run....I can still lift this badboy with one arm and a shoulder and found 2 or 3 ways of hoisting it onto my pickup wrack with ease. Great boat folks...and even when I upgrade to another and then another kayak...this will always be in my personal fleet.
06-07-2006Submitted by: runthetrail
- Rating: 9 of 10 I have only had my Kestrel 140 for a few weeks, but so far I am very impressed. I bought the rotomolded polyethylene model, and while not super light, it is still easy for me to lift it up onto my Ford F-150 with Yakima rack (read: way up there!).
My biggest concerns as a novice paddler were stability and afforability. The Kestrel 140's stability had me feeling like a pro in the first 100 yards from shore. Once I found my center of gravity, I picked up speed and even tried some sharp, leaning turns. And the price was right (around $800, no rudder, at REI).
As a guy who weighs in at 270 pounds, I also wanted a boat ample enough to fit my big ol' butt. I'm happy to report that large cockpit is easy to enter and exit and fits my butt just fine. I was also concerned with weight capacity, but my heft is no match for this boat's carrying capacity. And it doesn't look like a total beginner's boat. Style points count, right?
Other boats I looked at had much more elaborate seating systems, with air bladders and four-way adjustable seatbacks. This boat's simple molded seat and adjustable backrest are bare bones, but I have yet to be uncomfortable even after long hours of paddling.
I'm anxious to take it out on some overnight trips. I don't know how the carrying capacity in the hatches compares with other boats in this class, but as an ultralight bike and backpacker, everything I would possibly need would fit just fine.
The calm lakes and reservoirs north of Denver, Colorado are my playground. I primarily explore every inch of the shoreline as I relax before work, but I also get in some interval training and sprints when I can. Even though the boat is wide and stable, it glides fairly quickly through the water. Probably not as quick as those super narrow boats, but that brings us back to my big ol' butt.
I have to give this boat a 9 out of 10. As my first kayak, I have nothing to compare it to, however, I was instantly comfortable and pleased. Highly recommended for beginners like myself who want an atractive, stable, manueverable kayak that will provide years of enjoyment.
02-01-2006Submitted by: SergioO
- Rating: 10 of 10 I bought the Kestrel 140 (TCS) about a year ago. I was looking for a comfortable, stable boat for a variety of paddling conditions, from calm rivers and lakes to coastal areas. I live right on Biscayne Bay (Brickell Rd., Miami) and also have a home in North Florida, so I wanted a boat I could use on the Bay and in the Keys, as well as the many Florida rivers and lakes further north.
I bought the boat at Florida Bay Outfitters, Key Largo, Florida. They are great folks to deal with, they have a good selection of boats, and are located in the most beautiful kayaking waters in the US. If you're in the area, stop by and check them out.
They let me paddle a bunch of boats before I settled on the Kestrel 140. This boat just felt right. It was stable, light, responsive, well-made, comfortable to get in and out of, roomy (I'm 6'2", 190 lbs., with size 13 shoes), and it was just about the prettiest boat in this size range I had ever seen.
Every place I paddle it I get compliments on the Kestrel. The TCS material has a very nice, glossy finish and the lines look wonderful; it's much more attractive than the plastic boats, yet not as expensive as Kevlar.
Durability seems quite good; I've beached it on lots of rocky and shell-covered shores and the bottom looks pretty good after a year of use. It's very light, easy to carry and I can lift it onto my vehicle with ease.
I do mostly day paddles for fitness, and also like to fish and photograph wildlife. I use it mostly in the waters around Key Biscayne, the upper Keys, and many of the spring-fed rivers and coastal areas of North Florida. So far, it has met all my needs and expectations, and the Kestrel has allowed me to progress from a beginner to a confident paddler with ease. I'd highly recommend this boat as a first kayak to anyone with similar interests and needs. I've taken several friends out paddling, letting them use my boat while I rent and try out other models, and everyone has commented on how easy and comforting the Kestrel is to paddle.
The only trouble I had at first was when paddling open stretches on Biscayne Bay, with moderate to heavy winds and following or quartering seas in choppy waters. The Kestrel 140 would tend to weathercock and it was a chore to keep it tracking straight in such conditions.
Having rented other boats with either a rudder or skeg, I decided to add the Kestrel's rudder package several months after I got it, hoping it would help the situation. I ordered the kit and installed it myself without too much fuss.
The addition of the rudder system really made this kayak a pleasure to paddle in the open waters around Biscayne Bay. Had it not been for this addition I likely would have rated the Kestrel at an 8 or 9; as it is now I would have to give it a 10 since it handles all conditions with ease.
I cannot say much about the hatches since I do not really use them. The front hatch is very unobtrusive and follows the deck contours smoothly. The rear, rubber hatch is well-positioned when I carry fishing or photo gear. Both seem reasonably water-tight. The deck rigging also seems adequate from my limited experience. The cockpit is plenty large, probably larger than I need, and I found I had to add a half-skirt to keep annoying paddle drips to a minimum. The seat/backrest is OK for my build; I find I can paddle for hours without getting sore or tired. My only complaint about the seat is that it tends to creak at times when I shift my weight around.
These days I'm looking for a racier boat, something slimmer and longer and more challenging. I'd also like to try multi-day touring and camping. So I'm looking at some 17' kayaks in kevlar, though I'll definitely keep the Kestrel.
But for a quiet afternoon spent paddling on the Santa Fe or Wakulla rivers, poking around the mangroves in the upper Keys or Biscayne Bay, or cruising the tidal flats of the Big Bend area, the kestrel 140 cannot be beat. I spent one magical day ghosting along the Wakulla River, paddling among and playing with a group of about twelve manatees for several miles. It was an experience I'll never forget.
Do yourself a favor and try out a Kestrel. It's really a great boat.
01-06-2006Submitted by: DJJ
- Rating: 10 of 10 I bought a new Kestrel 140 last summer. The TCS material has good wear resistance and is very light, with the boat weighing about 43 pounds. In short, Current Designs hit a home run with this boat.
Speed is good for a 14-footer. You'd swear the boat isn't over 24 inches wide, the way it goes (it's 26 inches wide). Primary stability is quite comforting, and secondary is very strong, even for people with a high center of gravity. I'm a T7/8 complete paraplegic, so I'm top-heavy, but this boat gives me confidence even in choppy water. I made an extension for the factory backrest and I brace it up against the inside of the rear coaming.
Maneuverability is decent, and tracking is excellent for the most part, though some winds cause weathercocking. Still, I don't recommend bothering with a rudder.
In my opinion, a 37-inch cockpit rather than 39 would be ideal for this boat, but either way, it's fine for its intended light touring purpose. Easy butt-first entry. For me, this is a multi-purpose boat, usable on Lake Superior, inland lakes, flat rivers, and even up to easy Class II. I can't recommend the TCS material for heavy-duty rivers though. I bought a Kestrel 120 in the fall and ran a solid Class III rapids with it. My stern spanked a rock hard and cracked. A fiberglass patch on the inside made it good as new, but a boat that can crack just isn't a good application for Class III's.
Other than that, I can't imagine anyone not liking the TCS Kestrels. Anyone who paddles them is favorably impressed. My hat is off to the Current Designs hull designer on these boats. I don't like to give out 10's, but this boat is much more than a 9, so I had to round up.
01-02-2006Submitted by: boborich
- Rating: 10 of 10 Myriad medical problems, including back problems, limit my kayaking to flatwater/slow rivers. After testing many kayaks at several demo days, I absolutely loved this boat. Its initial stability is outstanding and its ease of paddling and speed is exceptional. I have not had an opportunity since purchase in March of 2005 to make an extended trip, but the hatches are roomy and have stayed dry on daytrips. This kayak maneuvers well with the rudder up or down and tracks well no matter which direction the wind is from. 12 inch waves and boat wakes pose absolutely no problem with this jewel of a boat on rivers or lakes. I have the thermoform version of this boat, and after 9 months, It still looks and handles just like new. I am anxiously awaiting warmer weather to again take to the water in this boat. Definitely a 10 out of 10 on my scale.
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