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Had it out this weekend on a mountain lake with light winds and just a little chop and it did fabulous. It was stable and easy to turn, tracked just as well with the dog as without. Of course the USA label was a bonus as well. I'd definitely recommend this for a beginner (as I am). I did get a Malone Seawing rack for the van so loading isn't as much of a problem (just couldn't afford the fancy Thule). I did add some velcro tabs inside to secure my bilge pump and extra paddles in the back.
The only reason it didn't get a 10 was I am going to need to put some foam protectors on the bars of the foot pegs so I don't get scraped up on them. Will also be adding a splash deck for when I am "dog-less".
I added a seal sneak spray skirt to the boat and have taken it through numerous rapids of class III designation and lower (although I would certainly start small and work up to class IIIs if you are new)
This is a wonderful rec boat, it handles well on flatwater, and does well in mild whitewater. I have taken it over 4 foot ledges, and 5 foot haystacks and never felt it would let me down.
I have taken this boat on a 35 mile flatwater overnight trip and felt it was comfortable the entire way.
The only things this boat loses points for is that the dashboard is very tough to reach (I'm 6 feet 185) for me but the between the legs beverage holder works well. The thigh pads are also quite thin but that can be easily remedied by spending a few dollars at the hardware store. Also I would recommend installing a drain plug in the boat.
In conclusion, if your into big whitewater, get a whitewater boat. If your big into sea kayaking or touring, get the appropriate boat. If you are new to kayaking and don't know what you want or you'd like to try aspects of everything, this is a good boat to start out on. I would recommend getting 240cm paddles as the boat is quite wide as well as a decent skirt if you plan on doing anything bigger than class I as the boat's massive cockpit allows it to take on a lot of water quickly.
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