I researched and demoed a fair amount of kayaks prior to purchasing the Stealth. I felt that I had picked the perfect kayak for my style of fishing. The Stealth would allow me to stand and fish the flats and also give me plenty of room in the front hatches to store my rods when doing beach launches and prevent them from getting drenched.
The boat has great stability and ample storage.
On the down side the side hatches leak terribly. I had heard of issues with the side hatches leaking. So I inquired with customer service prior to purchasing my kayak and was assured that all issues had been resolved. Surprise there not!! My Malibu Stealth took in approx 3-4 gallons of water on a beach launch. The waves on this day were maybe 1-2.
I contacted Malibu right away to resolve this issue. Well lets just say that customer service is not Malibu's strong point. Their CS rep is Milo Duarte. He had first offered to send me new side hatches. Being I just bought the Stealth for almost $1400 with tax, I did not really feel like having to do fixes on a new kayak. So he agreed that he would drop ship me a new kayak to replace the one I was having issues with at no cost. He explained that it was going to take approx 3 weeks to manufacture the kayak being they had none in stock. Wasn't crazy about the 3 week wait however if it meant I was getting a new replacement I was willing to wait.
Well 3 weeks has come and gone. We are now on almost 3 months. I have heard almost every excuse you can imagine. From I didn't receive the email or phone call to they ran out of resin to produce more Kayaks. I would call Malibu and leave endless messages with no return phone calls.
Finally I call up and Milo tells me that my kayak is ready and they will be shipping it as soon as I pay $200 for shipping. Are you kidding me. I purchase a product that was not right from day 1 and you want to now charge me an additional $200 because you didn't get it right the first time. Milo stated to me that he had been told by upper management that I was to pay shipping. (Being Alfa Feliz) I get this if I had had the kayak for 6 months or longer, but not for a kayak that was never right to begin with. I asked Milo to speak with someone else about this issue and was told that know one else was willing to speak with me. So if I wanted the replacement kayak it was going to cost me an additional $200.00.
Bottom line BUYER BEWARE. If you have problems with your yak then the night mares will begin. I have many friends in the kayak community and most of them will agree Malibu's CUSTOMER SERVICE SUCKS.As a professional kayak angler I have fished from a number of kayaks out there on the market and while they all have their pro’s and con’s I have to say the new Malibu Stealth 14 makes it difficult to find a con. For the last year I have been fishing out of the Malibu Stealth 12 which is an amazing platform in its own. Since I have recently started fishing out of the Stealth 14 I am in shock with the improvements that have been added (they fixed things I didn’t even know needed it). The Stealth 12 I previously fished from was an older model that I enjoyed thoroughly and I only got the 14’ for a little extra stability since I find myself standing 90% of the time (on the 14’ I can walk all the way up to the bow and stern) and I like to bring my 80# chocolate lab out in the front hatch. The most recent model now has added some of the following features (from bow to stern):
I have attached a link for you to view the leakage on my kayak
- Flush front and rear handles: no more of those handles attached to a riveted loop with a little piece of rope, now they have strong durable rubber handles front and back.
- No more rivets: Most of the hardware is now mounted with heavy duty stainless bolts and screws, no rivets will be breaking or pulling out on you with this new model (not that it happened much on the previous model with anyone).
- Upgraded Gator Hatch: You may have read about some leakage issues with previous models… most of that was user error due to not affixing the gator hatch bungee over the provided hooks on the left and right bow of boat. The new Stealth now has more streamlined posts instead of the plastic hooks, it’s stronger… easier to use…and just plain good looking! The new gator hatch also has a much better seal to keep any water from getting in. The other day I was out and took several waves over the bow where I would have taken on a few teaspoons of water in the previous model, when I got back on the beach… totally dry.
- While talking leakage… the side hatches have a much better seal since that is where many have the problem of taking on water. In the older models when closing the hatch if you had the latches undone and you closed it, the door would already sit flush, on the new model if you do this the door needs a little force applied to be able to latch it closed…this is because of the amazing seal it now has. These side hatches also now provide access to the interior of both sides of the kayak, in the previous model only one side was accessible (at least on the 12’ it was). The red bags that insert also sit just above the base of the interior and the hooks to hold it are positioned just right where if you did take on water when the hatch is open the water still won’t go in to the bag unlike other brand name kayaks I have used. Just make sure you keep the hatched closed when taking on rough water, yes some water will pool around the hatch and when you open it some will get in, but this is less than a teaspoon, and a compromise I am willing to make for all the added interior storage.
- Live-well drain: the drain plug has a thicker easier seal and has been offset in the live-well to prevent from any damage to what drainage system you may install. My Stealth 12 is plumbed, but I will not plumb the 14 since I rarely use live bait, and when I do all I have to do is open the plug and let the water circulate through on its own. I picked up a mini strainer piece from a pressure washer hose that I place in there to keep small bait or shrimp from escaping on me.
- Rear Hatch: The hatch behind the seat is amazing now since it’s on a hinge and only requires one latch turn instead of the previous models that had four latches and then you had to find a place to set the hatch cover. With all the storage on this kayak I rarely even need to take out a crate, I can store everything inside which makes it great for beach launches.
- Just in front of each flush mount is an internal thread, I didn’t know what this was at first, but it’s there for a trolling motor mount! Malibu has listened to all their fans and actually put in to action the suggestions they receive, good to see this from a kayak manufacturer.
- Tank-well: This thing is WIDE! When and if I take a crate I use a large shopping basket instead of a milk crate, it’s very easy to carry and the elongated shape tends to fit more into it. The tank well is so large I can store 2-3 baskets back there perpendicular to the kayak (if I ever had to). I have a 5 year old daughter that likes to get back there and just crawl around…she couldn’t do this as easily in my Stealth 12… and she definitely could never do this in my WS Tarpon 14 I had.
- Performance: Comparing this to the 12 I find that the 12 can quickly get up and going very fast, however requires more work to keep up with the others. In the 14 it will get up and going with little effort, but once you are going it just cruises with no effort at all. Last weekend I was in a tournament that had 20 mph gusts of wind, I launched with someone in a Jackson Cuda, an Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 and a Native… once the wind was coming at us I just kept cruising with minimal resistance, the gentlemen in the Ocean Kayak fell slightly behind and the other two were unable to even go any further.
In conclusion, the Malibu Stealth 14 is the best kayak on the market. As a professional kayak angler I have fished out of some of the best including Wilderness Systems (Tarpon 12/14, Ride), Hobie (Outfitter, Revo, Pro Angler), Jackson (Coosa, Cuda), Native… you name it. All of them have their strengths and weaknesses and I find them all to be great in their own way. However, when I was looking for the most well rounded kayak that I can stalk the flats for tailing reds with and the next day launch off the beach in 2-3 ft waves to go out for kingfish and tarpon... the Stealth can stand up to the challenge.
Negative: Some of you may be reading this thinking the Stealth 14 is too good to be true…well it’s not… however I am an honest person and can only find two negatives, even though they don’t bother me a bit.
1) Size/Weight: With a kayak of this size you are going to have to deal with some additional weight. It weighs in at 64 pounds and once loaded down with everything can be around 80 lbs. I like that I can store all my rods, lifejacket, seat, tackle, anchor, stake-out-pole, etc in the front hatch during travel (so it tends to be a little heavy at the ramp. I can load it all up the night before, load it in the truck, wake up and go. I would not recommend this kayak for a 90 year old man that needs to put it up on his roof, however if you are fishing with a buddy (which you always should be) then it won’t be a problem. I have seen some creative ways out there to slide a kayak from the hood up on to the roof. If you have a truck then weight should not be a concern. If you just have a sedan… this kayak is soooo worth it I would check out craigslist for a jet ski trailer or the Harbor Freight site ($300-400 for brand new trailer).
2) Hull Slap: Since this kayak is capable to take on 550 lbs (which I would argue it could carry more) if you are a lighter person it will sit a little higher in the water and cause some hull slap if the wind is blowing over 10 kts and you are stalking a flat. First off, if you are trying to be stealth on a flat in a 10kt wind then it doesn’t matter what kayak you are in…it’s going to slap. If this is a major concern of yours simply distribute your gear weight properly and don’t position your kayak in a direction that will create this resistance. It all comes with experience; this reason should absolutely NOT lead you not to consider this kayak. I also had some custom SeaDek put on the kayak and it has practically eliminated this issue completely. A company in Florida has scanned the Stealth and can cut up a custom SeaDek kit for you at a VERY reasonable price.
If you are looking for a great seat to put on this please consider the Crack of Dawn Spider Angler Seat, Google it you should find my video review, it’s the best thing out there and worth every penny.This is my first Malibu Stealth 14 and I couldn't be happier. I have been kayak fishing for over 7 years and have owned 4 different brands of kayaks. My Stealth 14 is unsurpassed in stability and storage room. I've felt closed in on other kayaks, they never felt like they had enough room in the lap area and I'm not a big guy at 5'8".
The Stealth has more than enough storage room. I really enjoy the wide cockpit area and I use the live well on every trip. I don't even have to use a live well kit, I simply undo the plug in the live well area and the well refreshes itself all day long. I've had a 20" trout live all day in that live well. I also love the pocket bags in the kayak. It makes cleaning the kayak so much easier. I no longer have to worry about spilling Gulp juice in my kayak. I simply take out the pockets and wash them in the sink. I've never had so much storage area before.
My favorite feature is the ability to stand and fish. Sight fishing has opened a whole other dimension to the areas I fish. I have stood up in 30mph winds to take a picture of my fish on a measuring board with no problem. Now, I stand just as much as I sit.Overall: 7.5
I am 6'5, 220# and have used the Stealth 14 primarily for river fishing in PA for about a year now. Functionally, it is a great boat for me. Comfortable, stable, room for my dog, versatile, perfect. You CANNOT tip it (you will fall off first). I also love peoples' faces when I float by them fishing while standing up. As far as the design and function of the boat, I love it and give it a 10. My dog loves it too.
As far as the manufacture quality of the boat's design, I give it a 5 for Two major reasons:
In summary, I love using the boat, but draining several gallons of water after each use and having NO dry storage outside of drybags is annoying.Purchased and paddled this kayak for the last 3 months. It looks like an X-Factor with a re-designed deck. It's a great fishing kayak, and great for taking out kids. The three hatches in front of the seat are brilliant for fishing gear and bait. I had myself, 180#, two 70# boys with me, stable as a rock. Easy and comfortable to stand in for sight fishing. It paddles much easier then it's large size would suggest. Once up to speed it glides effortlessly and tracks straight. She's a heavy boat to cartop, but experimentation with your technique will help. I take the hatch covers off to lower the weight and provide handholds to load it.
- it had a pinhole leak from the factory. This spring it developed another. Easy enough to patch, but I have had the boat for less than a year. I am worried about longevity.
- The various hatches are basically WORTHLESS unless you are on a calm lake. They all leak water, even just from me getting in an out on a calm day. I recently took it through some class 1 (maybe 1.5) water. Let me tell you, whatever water gets on the deck drains directly into one of the hatches or the boat's interior.
I had a couple gasket issues but an email to Mailbu and the problems were fixed very quickly. MK's customer service is second to none! I got a call from the president of the company and a rep to assure everything worked out. Thanks for standing behind your products! I'll probably buy a couple of Mini-X's for the boys next summer so Dad can go solo next year...