The Old Town Vapor 10XT kayak is likely the last boat I will personally need for recreational kayaking. The construction is heavy roto-molded polymer, the boat is 10 feet in length, and the weight is 48 pounds. My particular boat is molded in the limited edition black cherry color and is one of the singularly most attractive kayaks I have ever laid eyes on. I have gotten a lot of comments on the color from other kayakers due to it being so unusual.
The XT has some features missing in the base model, including a day well cover (more on that shortly) and a really nice, padded adjustable seat. The integral paddle keeper system is a nice touch, but brings its own issues also.
First, the good points: this kayak is well-constructed and fairly well thought-out. The cockpit opening is huge at 48 inches – pay attention when you’re kayaking during warmer weather or you’ll get an unpleasant surprise when you find your legs have been sunburned because you are used to smaller cockpit openings and forgot to put sunscreen on your lower body. Otherwise, the large opening makes for really easy entrance into the kayak and fairly easy exits – you can almost fall down in the general direction of this kayak and make it into the seat, which is perfect for those like myself that tend to be a little klutzy.
The seat is very comfortable – I am sure an aftermarket pad would make it even more so, but I have spent upwards of five or six hours at a time in the seat with no ill effects.
Stowing gear is a breeze also, and with a hauling capacity of up to 325 pounds you can comfortably fit a lot of gear in there, even with the floatation at the front and rear of the kayak. This is a perfect boat for overnight adventures with ample space for a small tent, sleeping bag, and the other goodies you will need for kayak camping.
The boat is ridiculously stable in the water – the running joke among my friends is that with a 28.5 inch beam and the Vapor’s inherent stability, the only way to fall out of this kayak is to stand up and jump (with scant few exceptions mentioned further below).
The boat cuts through the water well, though obviously not as smoothly as a longer, narrower boat.
Next, the not-necessarily-so-good points: the hatch cover on the day well in no way impedes the flow of water, so anything inside the day well had better be in a dry bag or box. That said, there is no attachment point to tether a dry bag or box to inside the day well, so if you use it I would advise that anything you put in it floats. I have seen the small shock cord retainer allow the hatch cover to come open during a capsize (note to self: don't get caught crosswise in a fast-moving stream and freak out, as you are only inviting trouble and a lot of good-natured ribbing from your fellow kayakers). The hatch cover makes it impossible to carry anything in the day well larger than the interior dimensions of the well, so in retrospect a bungee system around the well might have been the better choice for stowing bulky items in a dry bag, etc.
The built-in rest is OK for a quick place to drop your paddle, but storing the paddle crosswise to the kayak makes it difficult, nigh impossible, to pull alongside another kayaker (or anything else, for that matter) without removing your paddle and stowing it somewhere else, which (for me, anyway) kind of defeats the primary purpose for the paddle rest. I added a side paddle bungee on my Vapor and use it 95% of the time instead of the factory rest.
A quick note: don't get it in your head like I did that you're going to add a deck bag to this kayak. The front deck area of the kayak is miniscule due to the massive cockpit opening and most normal deck bags won't fit. Add to this the distance of the deck from the actual seat and a deck bag turns out to be pretty impractical anyway.
Overall impressions? I love this kayak, perceived shortcomings and all. As mentioned, to combat the paddle rest issue I installed an aftermarket bungee system. I plan to remove the hatch and add a bungee kit around the day well to better secure a dry bag. I’ll probably add a small (four point) bungee kit to the bow sometime down the road, but it really isn’t a big deal.
I will say that in retrospect I would have purchased the Vapor 10 model instead of the more expensive XT. The few additional amenities of day well cover and upgraded seat the XT model offers aren't really worth the additional $90 or so I paid for them, at least in my opinion.