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As a single, the boat was much faster than anticipated for such a wide heavy boat, glide was also better than anticipated. As a single the boat is very controllable, and tracks on rails, turning is not a huge problem for those with proficient paddling skills, non experienced paddlers may need to install a rudder for assistance in turning. A rudder is not needed in my opinion as a tracking aid.
With experienced paddlers, as a tandem it again, is faster than anticipated but glide suffers with the additional weight. For such a short tandem a small paddler may not interfere with the strokes of the rear paddler, so when a child is in the front synchronized padding is not essential. Both tandem and single this boat offers a very dry and "quiet" ride not splashing when cutting waves, or pushing a noisy bow wake often associated with SOT tandems.
As an entry level recreational tandem it is (in my opinion), in the top of its class. If it offered back band seating, a front sealed bulkhead, and was 10 pounds lighter I would have given it a 10. As it stands I am very happy with the boat, it does exactly as intended.
There is a large storage area in the rear, which is spacious enough for a few large dry bags. I usually put coolers between my legs on the floor behind the front seat. It comes with a third child seat but I usually remove it after travel as it seems to take up space I could use otherwise. It's a nice feature though, as it has a small storage compartment in it.
The only things I would like to see changed are a drain plug put in so removal of water is easier, and hinged compartment lids.
This is a great kayak for lakes, rivers, and sea.
The construction is very solid. I'm not particularly gentle or easy on my toys. But this kayak has no problems with my rough handling. I have bottomed out on shallow rocky rivers and bounced off of boulders on the river or lake shores, no damage no problems. I have a rudder but I haven't had much need for it yet. The boat tracks well without much effort.
Although it is a tandem, I often use it by myself and it's absolutely no problem. I can cruise very well solo. The rear seat will adjust to allow you to balance the weight better for solo paddling. The initial stability is very high (as expected). On a slow moving river I can pretty much kick back and the boat just glides down the river with no effort from me. It has two hatches and a center removable console for additional storage if needed.
For a recreational tandem I think the Necky Manitou II is hard to beat.
I am over 6 feet and there is plenty of room in the back. The front is tight for someone my size, however the wife is very comfortable up front and she is 5 and a half feet. We have navigated on strong tidal rivers as well as very tight creeks. The rudder is a must as it is so easy to use and keep you tracking straight. All you have to do is coordinate your stroke with your partner as you will klunk paddles otherwise. The rear hatch opens and closes easily, but would be difficult to get to while in the boat. There is plenty of room in the back seat area for a small cooler to fit in front and out of the way. Tracks very well and takes waves nicely.
Loads easily into the back of a full size pick up bed. It sticks out, but travels well. We also load it on top of our pickup using the Thule T-bar up front, which can also be used in the back and a single Thule load bar on the roof. We do this when towing a 5th wheel trailer and works well. The rear is somewhat heavy with the rudder and I would not want to go any larger as the weight would most likely be too much.
I bought this kayak sight unseen as it seemed to me to be the best for us. I was not disappointed in the least. It moves really well in the water. We have not tried it out yet as a single. Very easy to adjust everything and the seats will lie back and stay in place when traveling upside down on the roof.
Pluses: Hatch is watertight; seats are comfortable; foot pegs are easy to adjust; kayak is easy to turn when we're not going too fast; both paddlers' seats adjust forward or back; jumpseat is removable; bow has foam flotation; kayak is very stable.
Minuses: It's heavy (75 lbs!); it seems to track to the left (we didn't get the rudder, which might have alleviated this); it's more difficult to turn when we're going fast; I am 5'4" and when I sit in the bow, the foot pegs are too high for my feet - I have adjusted the seat and the foot pegs over and over, and there's no way I can use the thigh braces and the foot pegs at the same time; speaking of the thigh braces, they have no padding whatsoever (I'm guessing this is because since the seats are adjustable, there's no one place to put padding).
Overall, the Manitou II does what we expected of it and we will enjoy it as our family grows. When our 4 year old son is old enough to paddle in the bow (probably about age 6), we will graduate our 10 daughter (who will be about 12 by then) to a solo and permanently remove the jump seat; then when our son is ready to graduate to a solo (probably about age 8), my patient husband can finally enjoy a solo, too!
But for anyone reading this who is deliberating between a tandem or two solos, I have to agree with everything I've read - solos are definitely the way to go unless your life circumstances (e.g. having a 4 year old) necessitate a tandem. Tandems are heavier, turn with more difficulty, and just aren't as enjoyable.
I find the seats comfortable, and making some adjustments throughout the day can keep you stay more comfortable than keeping the seat in one position. The seat adjustments work well -- I think the straps are a better solution than the cords that Old Town uses for adjusting these same seats. And being able to raise and lower the seat back is really nice. The foot pegs are easy to adjust and work well. I wish it had some thigh padding inside like the Manitou 13 does, though -- although it's a wider cockpit and you might not always want your legs pressed against the sides in the Manitou II, it sometimes is helpful, and would be more comfortable with some padding. I might try to add some to it.
The hatch works well; the roomy cockpit is nice for fishing or fitting some extra gear in; the recesses for paddle float rescue work great -- we've tried it out just to make sure we'd be able to get back in if we ever capsized; the bungies are nice for strapping in some gear like a bilge pump; the drink holders in the seats are great to hold a bottle of water instead of having it roll around on the floor. The kid's jump seat is easy to remove to give yourself more cockpit room, and we've never used it -- three of us have gone out in it a couple times, but the kid just sat on a boat cushion on the floor.
We tried several tandem kayaks at a few different demo days, and this one seemed the best fit for us, it tracked the best, and seemed the easiest to paddle. At one demo I tested the Pamlico 145T and the Manitou II side-by-side -- both had rudders, but I flipped them up to also test without rudder, and the Pamlico 145T that we tried did not track nearly as well as the Manitou II -- it seemed to turn back and forth a lot with every stroke, while the Manitou II went much straighter. And the Pamlico seemed to me to just move slower, though I don't know how true that really is. I do know that on the Pamlico we tested, the seats were somewhat stuck in one position and were hard to adjust, and I believe when we did get the seat moved forward, the foot pegs would not move far enough forward.
We opted to buy the Manitou II without a rudder, and we're happy with it -- we're paddling lakes and rivers and I think the rudder just would be more weight and hassle to care for than it'd be worth to us. For some people in other circumstances, I'm sure it's well worthwhile. There have been very few times when I've been in heavy wind that I wished I had a rudder to help keep going straight, but being someone who's used to canoeing more than kayaking, I find if pretty easy to compensate for the wind by just changing paddling technique a little (and I'm not a highly accomplished paddler). And turning the kayak sharply and quickly would be easier with a rudder, but again, that wouldn't be worth it to me -- I can turn it easily enough just with some simple paddling technique -- for my recreational use, it's fine without a rudder, but someone looking for more serious performance than me (or using it in coastal conditions certainly) would probably want the rudder. I'm just starting to learn to "edge" the boat to help turn more easily.
The Manitou II is fairly heavy to move around and load (compared to a solo kayak, but all tandems are), but I can load and unload it by myself on our SUV using a Thule Glide-and-Set rack. By placing a bath mat over the back edge of the roof, I can lift the front end up on the mat, then move to the back of the kayak still on the ground, lift and slide it forward onto the rack easily. I'm tall and thin, not terribly strong, and it hasn't been difficult for me. And I made a cart out of an old jogging stroller axle and wheels that makes it easy for me to cart it by myself -- carrying it by myself any distance without the cart is very tiring.
Our family has had a great time kayaking many lakes and rivers in these kayaks, and I'd highly recommend the Manitou II for anyone looking for a tandem that probably handles a little better than most other recreational tandems. If it were just my wife and I, we'd probably have two Manitou 13's instead, but for the three of us this is a great solution.
Only gave it a 9 because I'd prefer if the boat had a sealed bow bulkhead instead of a foam insert. Otherwise, my wife and I love it, and have taken the boat out onto lakes, rivers, and coastal areas with great success.
I'd recommend getting this boat with the optional rudder. It has helped immensely. Worth the extra money.
I was torn between other tandems (perception sundance ii, WS pamlico 145t) but after looking at the local shop, the manitou ii just made the most sense and had the most room. (worth the extra $)
I had it out for the first time today, on my own. It was great even with the wind today. The boat is very stable, took the waves well and got moving if I really paddled. I didn't adjust the seat before I headed out (move rear seat to center) but it was simple enough to do in the water. Conditions weren't great but the boat handled awesome. Very stable. I couldn't be happier with performance...
Not too difficult to load or unload on my own (I'm 5'11, 197). Everything adjusts easy and theres footpegs for front and rear passenger (unlike WS 145t, just front). This gives a future option for rudder, but i don't think I'll need it.
Overall 9, but its still early. I'll make sure to write another review once the wife and kids come along. Happy paddling!
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