Research Kayaks in the Buyers' Guide!
Select Kayak to View in Buyers' Guide
I gave the boat a "9" because the high sides catch a lot of wind, and might make a wet entry interesting. One benefit of the high sides, though, is they help when entering and exiting the yak. I have several kayaks, but on most paddling days, I load the Native Ultimate and leave my other kayaks safe at home in the rack!
The main problem we had with the first one is terrible tracking. Like a previous post our boat also tracked hard in one direction. With two paddlers pulling hard 6 times on the same side we could keep it straight. One pull on the other side and we were drifting hard offline. Once it started off line it was nearly impossible to get it back. Basically we would serpenting across the lake. We returned the boat to our local dealer with no problem and the new boat works great. Obvious defect in the twin hull.
So to the person who posted with this similar problem. Go back to your dealer and demand a return. If they don't believe you, let them paddle it for themselves. My dealer had no problem exchanging it for us. Why would they or the manufacturer want an unhappy customer. There isn't many problems worse than bad tracking. A leaky boat comes to mind but the tracking problem will ruin your day on the water and for a beginner will either send them for lessons or dry land forever.
I recently started standing in it, and it's actually easier than paddle boarding...much easier. You can haul an absolute ton of stuff in this boat...there's no way you'll ever run out of room. I do have the anchor trolley on it and although I've only used a few times in windy conditions on a lake, it works great. You can rotate your boat 180 degrees using this. It floats through some pretty skinny water without dragging, too.
I don't have a front or rear skirt for it, but may buy the front skirt, although I've never really needed one. I would say you don't really need one unless you are in pretty choppy water. Even when water does come in, it doesn't get you wet, because the seat is elevated. The seat is unbelievable, by the way. I have a bad back and I can sit in this thing all day with no issues at all. You can even sit sideways and hang your feet out the boat and it doesn't waiver. I could go on and on about this boat, but I won't.
Basically....anything anybody in another review says bad about it....they're wrong. It's not heavy, either. It's 58lbs without the seat and you don't haul it on your car with the seat in. I load it on my car by myself and have no problems. It's not heavy, it's just a matter of balancing it. Buy this boat, or you'll wish you did when you settle for something else. It's pricy, but I'm in the mindset that I like to buy something one time and never have to buy it, again.
Last week took it to Grand Isle, La and fished the marshes hard for four days. Can't say enough good about this Yak. I (67 yo computer worker) was able to go all day in relative comfort. Could keep up with, and sometimes outrun, my 37 yo policeman son in his SOT. Traveled through tides, chop, and very shallow oyster beds with never a problem. When we hit the super calm water needing stealth to avoid spooking the reds, could make the yak move like a ghost.
All in all the Yak did what I wanted. Highly recommend this to anyone wanting a comfortable day fishing.
It's not a bad fishing boat in quiet water, like small lakes, protected bays, or streams. Like others have noted, the sides flex easily, both in the plastic and the composite models, and most of the accessories they offer that attach to it are cheap plastic gadgets.
Tracking is good, it's relatively easy to stand in, and the composite model is plenty light enough to carry for short distances. However, if it's a canoe you want I'd recommend a conventional canoe over an Ultimate. If it's a kayak you want, I'd prefer to be in a conventional sit-on-top kayak.
Honestly, I can hang out in this boat all day and still be comfortable. Holds my ice chest with no problem and you can actually move around in it to stretch. I recommend the front skirt as I did take on a little water in heavy chop. I would buy it again, it is well made, great seat and even for short trips to get a little exercise I choose it over the Old Town because the seat is so comfy. Did I really mention comfort three times in this review? Well, that says something, does is not?
I love fishing from a kayak mainly because you can catch more and bigger fish. I know it sound crazy but it is actually true. I use to fish B.A.S.S. tournament for a living in the 1980's and won 4 tournaments and placed 2nd 12 times. I have also competed in some professional musky tournaments and done quite well. I have learned more about fish and fishing from fishing from a kayak than the other 45 years combined. Fishing from a kayak makes you fish all of the water around you. If you are not catching anything you can't just fireup the motor and fly across the lake to the next spot. It forces you to fish everything and you would be surprised at what you'll find. I have found that really big muskies are generally not in the deep water. In 2010 I boated 89 muskies total. 42 muskies were 40" or more and 5 were 50" or more. I would say that if I were still fishing out of a regular boat I would have only caught 20% of those muskies. The reason is simple with a kayak you can get to water that regular boats can't. I take my kayak up into small stream and deep lily pads where no boat could ever go and I catch tons of fish. Fishing from a Native Ultimate kayak is the best investment you can make!
Love the space in them...way more then my sit on top kayaks I own. Love the stability... can't beat it. Love the way I can transport it... like a canoe... way better then my sit on top, very much harder to move around with them.
For the weight after your seat is out... just the hull is not bad at all. It's fast on water... stable. Tracks well. One little thing is hull flapping sound... when it's windy to to the hull shape... but it's minus... to all the good stuff you get. so i am very happy wit them.
Pros: great for fishing and very stable. Only con so far is one of my footrests will not lock but fixed myself in a few minutes. FYI - Buy the paddle holder that sits on top of the kayak and not the one that clips on as they fall off and are more expensive. Get a milk crate and tie in some 2" pieces of pvc in each corner for rod holders. I can carry 5 rods easily on lakes but do not suggest for rivers stick with a pole or two. Instead of the fancy anchors that get stuck and lost. I drag a 3-4 foot length of chain off the back of the canoe wrapped in duct tape to avoid the noise of the chain. The great thing about this is you do not have to pull it up every time and you can still move the Kayak and make your casts, great on lake too in the wind. The cheap man's way.
I've had this out about 50 trips and I go from 4 to 7 hours at a time. I'm a strong, fit guy, age 43, so the extra heaviness of this boat and the extra power needed to overcome extra drag this boat has isn't noticeable to me. It may be to you. It's a kayak/canoe hybrid...and they added extreme stability to the mix.
I usually paddle on class I and ATTEMPT class II. I have swamped it only once when I went sideways over a 3' drop, and even completely full of water it still floats.
I use it primarily as a fly fishing vessel and sight seeing tandem. If you are a fly fisherman...just suck it up and pay the extra $ on this kayak because this kayak is the most practical fly fishing small craft I can imagine.
PROS: Extremely Stable (Yes you can stand in it but that's like standing on a floating log. The boat won't flip but you might eventually) The longer length 14.7' cuts water much better than the 12' version (I've used both). Tracks very well (skeg or rudder would be a waste on fresh water). It has TONS of room for 2 people plus gear plus massive cooler. Built tough. Very comfortable seating for long days. Lots of available add ons (great spray skirts, holders, great fitted coolers, storage cases, etc). Travels in 8" of water. Lots of people will stop you at gas stations and on the water complimenting this kayak.
Cons: It's heavy. It takes two strong people to portage without dragging (me and my athletic 11 year old daughter struggle at times). Needs a car loader to safely load on top of SUV if you are alone. The Ultimate is way too expensive, but no other kayak does what this one does. The stable W hull adds extra drag surface compared to typical kayaks. It tracks so well that you won't avoid all Class II water boulders. The stabilization cross bars are a mild pain to remove (I change their positions around every trip and in transit). Front passengers feel unstable and 'slightly' cramped until they get used to it.
Hints: Forego the Angler model and add the anchor trolley and rod holder mounts (actual rod holders aren't included) where you want them yourself. It's much cheaper. Also, buy the rear cooler. It is amazingly practical. Finally, get the front bow skirt. It makes front passenger feel secure and it keeps them dryer when a ski boat throws a wake over the bow.
If there is a more versatile boat I haven't found one. I live on a lake and use the boat all year. I have even broken thin ice with the boat. The only problem I have is I hit my knuckles on the rear seat arm rest plastic support.
I love this, and use it mostly in saltwater, in both tandem and solo configs. I'm a fisherman, and find this great for holding all of my gear, landing fish, and standing up comfortably. The design of the seats is great, but also not for the serious paddler... I think of this as a boat for people who use boats as a tool to do other things... not those who want to zip around in a trim little yak.
One concern: I've yet to capsize this (knock on wood), and wonder how it would handle being swamped... an awful lot of volume to pump out for a little hand bilge. It is so stable, that I wouldn't worry about being able to get back in it though.
I tested many yaks before buying, most were to small, to wet, or would not turn. The Native is very comfortable, stable, and sturdy. Have caught well over 100 fish in it so far and counting. Only complaint is the paddle holders that snap on the sides fell off. I have had no problems w/ the foot rests, they lock very well for me. No problem with flexy here.
So, even tho I had been prepared to love the Ultimate 14.5 for a photog. platform (and there is plenty of space for gear), I didn't like the yak itself or the way it paddled.
I have a Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 pro that I like for general paddling(except that it has gotten a tad narrow in the seat/ cockpit). I wanted a yak w/ a wider seat that was more stable for a photog. platform; ended up buying a LiquidLogic Manta Ray 14
I really love this kayak; it is my first, however, so I cannot compare it to much (unless a comparison to the 16 foot aluminum canoe we used when I was a kid is fair!) I can hoist it myself onto the top of my SUV, and it is very comfortable, so much so that I imagine I will need to remember to sit up to improve my paddling form. I agree with reviews elsewhere that the molded cupholders and trays are really un-useable, they even collect water from the paddle after you're on the water a while.
I plan to use this at the GA coast and the FL panhandle as well, so I imagine that the bow skirt would be a good addition. Based upon the amount of flotation foam in the bow and stern, it seems that if it were completely swamped that you would have no way to pump it out or otherwise empty it unless you had someone along with you in another boat (I have not tested this, however).
For the paddling I plan (lakes, river floats, coastal "backcountry") it is perfect. I haven't tried to stand yet, since I have always had a little one along in the front seat. I am very happy with my choice at this point; I can't see that changing.
PS: the previous reviewer is correct... the straps make an un-Godly roaring sound so we will try the criss-cross method to see if the noise is abated.
Conditions were quite windy, so this was a good test of how a boat with more freeboard would behave on all points of sail. To my surprise, I was easily able to turn and point the boat wherever we wanted to go. Tracking was never an issue.
Pressing a foot against the easily adjustable (though somewhat flimsy looking) footrest and slightly "edging" brought the hull about smartly. Speed was not a requirement for us, but I noticed that we were moving about as well as any of the "rec boaters". Our fore and aft separation was enough to prevent all but an occasional out-of-sync paddle clash. Our paddles were a bit short for the beam of the boat, so I splashed in a bit more water until I slid the drip rings further out. The seats are WONDERFUL! I could sit in them all day long with NO discomfort whatever.
So why didn't we buy the boat on the spot?
Simple. Even with the seats removed, the 60-plus pounds of the hull was more than my wife and I wanted to wrestle to the Yakima Hull Raisers atop our Honda Element on a regular basis. A spoiler mounted at the top of the rear door prevents the use of the suction cup mounted wheel accessory for rear loading.
We are waiting for the chance to demo the new light material version (composite) of this boat.
reasonably quick (especially with two strong paddlers), extremely stable, maneuverability is great, the seats are very comfortable and can be removed for transport or reconfigure solo/tandem
freeboard is minimal, capacity is relatively low, during transport on the roof rack the hull shape makes the straps roar in the wind (criss-cross them to reduce this), the foot rests need to be tightened with a phillips head screw driver or else they slip (no longer truly adjustable).
100,000+ people can't be wrong!
The Paddling.net Newsletter is a must if you like to canoe or kayak! Each week it is packed with great articles, photos, product reviews, and special features. Better yet, we promise not to sell your email address to anyone; that's right ZERO spam! Sign up today and find out what you've been missing!