I purchased my Inuit 12.5 looking for a small general purpose boat that is easy to throw on my truck and go for a short (3-4 hour) ride. It is equipped with a rudder.
In flatwater and creek running it rewards steep angle paddling with straight tracking and quick acceleration, also having pretty decent glide for such a short boat. It turns on a dime in tight areas. On lakes it cuts through chop with little to no spray. On windy days (over 25mph) the rudder made tracking and wind cocking a non issue. On most trips I have found that edging will adjust tracking enough to make the rudder a luxury and not a necessity.
I was not expecting the amount of primary stability that the Inuit has, making it a good boat for a beginner. Secondary stability is also good, I have not pushed this hard as the water is still a little cold for rolling.
Overall this is a very fun boat that is easy to control, very comfortable, and easy to adjust to multiple paddlers with the velcro side pockets making it easy to add foam to adjust the fit of the seat. I give the Inuit a 9 because in is a good boat over a wide range of conditions. For a day tripper recreational boat it is a 10.I bought a Native Inuit 12.5 in October. It's a new boat for 2010 so I thought I'd add my 2 cents. The Inuit is wider around the cockpit than a lot of the kayaks around 12 feet, and it gets narrow in the ends faster than most boats. The cockpit is big enough it's easy to get in and out. But it doesn't feel like a big barge. I feel this boat has good stability when you are learning, and I haven't outgrown it yet. The Ends get narrow sooner than most kayaks and ride over waves and chop really nice. I don't get any spray in my face and I can edge turn this boat and still feel stable. I think it tracks fine and goes straight when I want it to but also turns faster than the other boats I tried.
I chose not to get the one with a rudder, just didn't need it, but I think it would help if you had trouble turning it yourself or paddled in tight corners. It has nice storage areas that are watertight in the bow and the stern and the hatches are really stretchy. Easy to get on and off, even on cold mornings. I haven't gotten any water in them yet, but I was told to always use dry bags just in case.
The Inuit has recessed fittings that you don't knick your hands on and deck perimeter lines and nice grab handles, the T-grip style carrier handles easy for carrying. I learned a lot about deck rigging in my kayak class, you need deck rigging that is strong for hauling the boat up the beach when its loaded and it's good to have if… when you swim… You will have something to grab onto.
I got to try a lot of boats in my lessons and at the pool I thought the Inuit was a little easier to roll than other boats around 12 feet. My instructor helped me with the outfitting and I think this really sets the Inuit apart from other kayaks. The Inuit has padded everything and thigh braces that can adjust. The instructor said the outfitting was all made from recycled materials and not foam. Its blue-ish gray fabric feels good against your skin and is all water proof. It is holding up fine for the first 5 months I've had my boat. My instructor was very patient as we "fine tuned" my thigh braces and added the right shims to the hip pads. We moved the thigh braces back so my thigh and knees would get a better grip in order to roll the boat. Other boats just didn't have as much outfitting or weren't adjustable nor comfortable enough. I felt like the outfitting was a lot like having my ski boots fit. I was either too tight or too loose in other boats I tried.
I felt like I got a custom fit with this boat, that the other boats didn't have. I can tell you having learned recently that the outfitting can make a big difference in how your kayak will perform for you. I think it's helping me progress much faster than if I had boat without the custom adjustments.
I'm enjoying paddling this boat on lakes, some slow moving rivers and have had it in some down winders on some waves. On longer paddling days I can raise the back rest for more support. The Inuit tracks just fine without a rudder, and it feels really playful and responsive in the chop and waves. As my roll gets better I hope to take it on some coastal trips.