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Only issue I have with Walrus was that they had a delivery problem with one of their specific glue suppliers that caused the 3-4 week expected delivery time to slip to a 9 week wait from order to delivery. That said, the folks at Walrus could not have been more apologetic, kept me informed of the issue and then gave me a discount on the order to offset the delay.
All in all a great company to do business with and they build an excellent boat! I recommend them!
The Griffin is beautiful, well-balanced kayak with sleek lines, raked bow, and a moderate v in the hull. It is a low volume, symmetrical kayak with a hull that flares slightly above the waterline.
Paddlers above 210 lbs. will want to look elsewhere, but for small and medium-size paddlers, the cockpit is comfortable -- and provides excellent control for edging and rolling. The Griffin is extremely solid when on edge. It can be turned without being leaned and provides an instantaneous response when on edge.
The Griffin is an ideal boat for smaller paddlers, and for medium-size paddlers looking for a compact boat for day trips, rough water and surf. The low volume and snug fit also make the Griffin an excellent choice for rolling and for Greenland style paddling.
For this 5'11" 165 lb. paddler, the Griffin provides an exceptional fit and is as easy to move from edge to edge as any boat I have paddled, Importantly, it feels very secure on edge, even in chop and waves. The one drawback of the snug cockpit and thigh braces is not being able to paddle in knees up style.
Due to its lower profile and shorter length, when paddled in chop and waves, the Griffin provides a wetter ride.
When conducting GPS trials of the Griffin in 13 - 15 knot winds, and using a wing paddle, I found that I could cruise at 4.1 knots going upwind and 4.9 knots on the same course when I turned and headed downwind. The Griffin had very little tendency to weathercock and performed well without lowering the skeg..
As a strong, medium sized paddler who has grown partial to the Walrus Jaeger, I can see choosing the Griffin for rock gardening, surf play, winding creeks and rivers, "quickies," and for rolling practice. For smaller paddlers and for those for efficiency is more of a priority than top-end speed, the Griffin is likely to become a favorite for all-around use.
*Note: After test paddling the Griffin, I recently became a dealer for Walrus Kayaks. I have since paddled the Griffin 4 times in a variety of conditions.
I contacted Walrus through their website, got a somewhat-delayed response and an invitation to stop by their factory and borrow a boat to try. A friend and I took them up on the offer and tried out the Griffin and Griffin LT. Giving us the opportunity to paddle the boats for a few hours was brilliant selling on their part... We went back and placed an order for two new boats. After a few months in the boat, I feel that I've had more than enough time to give a fair review...
Things I like:
-The boat's darn light! It feels much lighter than my Eliza ever did and the shorter length makes swinging the boat around a whole lot easier. I have a black car and had an Eliza with a white hull. My car's paint around the trunk area has quite a few white streaks from collisions with an unwieldy kayak. My Griffin is all lime green; there isn't a single lime green scuff on my car. The few pounds of difference between the Eliza and Griffin seem to make all the difference. I used the boat much more, often went out for longer, and just generally enjoyed kayaking more. Much of the hassle-component was taken away.
-I don't think I'll ever break it! The Griffin feels much more solid than the Eliza with no "softness" anywhere. On many of the boats I've had, the floor deforms a bit if I sit on my deck on dry land. Despite its weight, the Griffin is much "stronger-feeling" and doesn't at all.
-The seat's comfortable for long paddles. The seat is hard (fiberglass, I think) and I was initially skeptical as to its comfort. I mentioned this after first ordering the boat and the Walrus guys gave me a seat pad that can be stuck on the hard seat. At their suggestion, I waited and didn't stick the pad on immediately. Even without the seat pad, the seat doesn't seem to cause any pressure points or sore spots. I never ended up sticking the seat pad in but have never felt any discomfort in the seat even after paddling for 6 or 7 hrs straight. The entire cockpit is very comfortable, with padding everywhere I make contact with the boat. It did take me a bit to get the backband dialed in, but love it now. I usually keep it ratcheted pretty tight to force me into a better paddling position, but loosen it when I'm lazy and feel like slouching.
-It's fast! It may be shorter, but the Griffin feels just as fast as the Eliza. I seem to paddle at the same pace I used to and have no trouble keeping up with anyone. The Griffin definitely accelerates faster than the Eliza and seems to be at least as fast.
-It's stable. I still haven't learned to roll but have never unintentionally flipped. It's not a barge, and it still feels like a slick and athletic kayak, but it's predictable when you lean it. As the boat leans over, you feel stable all the way onto the edge. There's no twitchyness or wobbliness that makes you feel off balance.
-It's made in Vermont! If you're looking to buy a boat and live nearby, you should stop by their shop. We watched the guys working there for a while and though we had little idea of what they were doing, the work had a cool mix of craftsmanship and space-ageyness. They're working with amazing hi-tech materials, but they work like carpenters or artists or something that's not at all like what I imagine a factory to be like.
Things I don't like:
-The hatches on my Eliza were a lot easier to pack big things into. The Griffin's hatches aren't tiny, but they're not huge. If you're used to huge oval hatches, you might have to pack differently, but it's a pretty easy habit to get into. I've actually grown to like it and think it's great having several smaller and more-specific/organized dry bags. The smaller hatches are also more waterproof and I get virtually no water in my hatches.
-Nothing else I can think of!
So, short story long, I couldn't recommend it enough!
The Griffin weighs about 36# and is solidly built with great workmanship and attention to detail. There's no oil canning in the deck, and the whole boat is very stiff. The hatches are high quality, very dry and easy to get on and off once you know the trick (pretend it's a tupperware lid).
On the water, the boat tracks solidly and haven't needed the skeg in any conditions (beam seas, high winds up to 20 knots, etc.). This is a surprise because I thought that the relatively shorter length would be pushed around a lot. For its length, the Griffin is very fast and its light weight allow it to get up to speed quickly.
I'm 6' and 150# and the cockpit is snug enough that I feel very connected to the boat. The thigh braces are in just the right spot with plenty of padding, the backband is high quality and very adjustable, and the foot pegs are easy to adjust and comfortable. I can still get in butt first and bring my legs in one at a time.
The best part of the Griffin is its responsiveness in the water. It can carve turns faster than any sea kayak I've been in, and is very responsive to leans and paddle strokes. It's also very easy to roll. It has moderate primary stability and fairly secure secondary stability.
Lastly, I can't say enough good things about the customer service that this little company delivers. My boat was a custom order and all of my communications with them were great. They arranged a special drop off time to meet me when I picked up the boat, and have been exceedingly pleasant to deal with throughout the entire transaction. When I had a question about how to adjust the skeg, I got a call right back from the craftsman that actually put my boat together. I recommend them highly!
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