I have two inflatables (one pontoon and one kayak). Both are good boats, but they take forever to set up and I often get out and portage at some locations.
I ordered a 420x, and took it out with my wife. We live in Iowa, and are used to high winds. Well, I learned going downstream on a slow moving current into a 20-25 mph wind is not a good idea. There are times, when we were going upstream. Was that the boat's fault... no mine. The waves were 2 feet + high, and at no time did I ever have concerns. So I agree with others that these kayaks are not speed demons or masters of handling. What they are, is bombproof, extremely well built kayaks that come with everything you need.
I have to agree with the company that sold me the kayak. The deluxe seats will be better than the pro over half the time. If you plan on going on Level 3+ get the pro seats. However, with the inflation tubes so large, it was hard to paddle. Why, because the deluxe seat I sat in, and I was sitting on the floor. I re-inflated the seat while riding down the river no problems.
One other thing. The newer drop stick floor is awesome. You can actually stand (not recommended), but it is an awesome improvement. I saw one review "the master of all things, not the best at one." Well there is one thing ... The capacity of these boats has to put them at the top for extended trips to the backcountry.
I love this boat, and probably should have given it a ten.I too am new to the world of kayaking, as is my family. We were looking for an activity that we could ALL do together and the 420x seemed to be the best answer for us.
All in all, I am pretty pleased with the HULLS construction. I was at first frustrated with the inflation valves, but once I gathered how they functioned, I am pleased as punch. The electric pump is not necessary (imo) as it didn't take long at all to have the boat completely inflated and ready to go. Space wise, I am able to fit me, my wife and my daughter (as well as necessary gear AND the dog) I am over 6' and the wife is a couple of inches shy, so the added length of the 420x was essential.
One thing I would suggest is to go with the DELUXE package as opposed to the PRO if you plan to have this boat on open water. The pro seats I think would be better suited for whitewater excursions as they put you LOW in the boat and it makes it a little more difficult to paddle on open water. That and the fact that the flag snaps are cheap (I broke 2 of them within the first 2 days). Of course this isn't a 'speedy' kayak but you can get and maintain comfortable speeds with 2 people in sync. (and of course the skeg is essential on flat water)
All in all, we are very pleased with our purchase of this kayak and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to one of my friends.This is my first kayak/canoe or any boat for that matter so this review might not carry much weight with more experienced paddlers. I've enjoyed my explorer in a variety of conditions this past year and would definitely recommend it as a starter boat / camping boat for the storage space challenged individuals such as myself. I ordered the 420x Explorer as the 'Pro' package which has the upgraded seats and such, and I will say that I have not been dissapointed in the overall comfort the boat has. I researched many boats and read through Theboatpeople.com website, which has great info and isn't all that keen on these Sea Eagles, but still decided on this boat for what I needed to use it for -
1)It's a helluva load hauler at a listed 855lbs and I have no reason so far to believe this wrong - I've placed 2 giant coolers full, all of my not-so-compact camping gear, my girlfriend up front and my small dog with no problems. I haven't read of another IK in this price range that can claim that.
2) I needed a VERY stable boat with some versatility since my girlfriend isn't much of a swimmer and is just overall afraid of the water (She's slowly getting more comfortable since being in this boat with me). I also wanted to be able to try out different conditions paddling, which includes some whitewater - and this boat, while not too maneuverable, has fit my needs.
My only complaint is the speed it paddles and difficulty in a stiff headwind / crosswind, however with 2 paddlers we've been just fine with 20kts wind - didn't move fast, but reached our destination.
No inflatable can fill all the needs, but if camping, load hauling or just a friendly stable boat that is extremely rugged is tops on your list, this might be the boat for you.