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Reviews for Arctic Hawk Pro Kayak by Wilderness Systems


Rated: 8.92/10 Based On: 13 Reviews

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09-30-2013
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     My Arctic Hawk is a 1993 model that I recently bought used and then rehabbed. I took it out on the water today for trials. It is a very fast kayak. It turns easily when leaned, tracks well on the straights and did not disappoint.

As mentioned by others here the seat could be more comfortable (maybe some foam will help,) and it is by design a low volume boat (so it is not ideal for carrying a lot of gear) despite it's size.
Overall I am quite impressed with it.

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07-08-2008
Submitted by: CCSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I have had my glass Arctic Hawk for over ten years now. It is not constructed like my Nordkapp with the glass lay up, watertight bulkheads. It is lighter though and I love the hull design! A fast and fun boat, the secondary stability makes it a comfortable boat in all conditions. This boat makes me a believer in hard chine (I want a Valley Q-boat now).
I just replaced the deck bungies, and it looks like a new boat.

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02-21-2006
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I have owned this boat for about 8 years, though I am still pretty much a beginner (it was my first). I continue to find it fun and exciting, and am nowhere near its equal yet. The comments about it not being for beginners are wrong if the beginners want to paddle for excitement. I put my nephew in it and he struggled for about 15 minutes, and then get the primary stability under control. It is the fastest and most nimble boat I have paddled (though there are many worthy boats I have not paddled). It handles wind and moderately rough conditions very well.

Things to worry about:
In launching into surf, I have had the front hatch blow off completely in a 4 foot swell. Bummer! I got to watch my sandals float away. Glad I was in So Cal and not the North Sea.

The Deck fittings arent (or werent at that time) recessed. When your fingers are cold, striking the deck fitting can be really painful.

Still a fast and fun ride, even new kayakers bond with it when they see how fast they can come up to speed even with lousy form.

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07-25-2005
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 8 of 10

     An update:
Took my Kevlar Arctic Hawk out in wind and waves yesterday and regrettably must concur with a previous reviewer - it does weathercock quite a bit.

I had to resort to sweep strokes, rudders, edging, etc to keep on course in a stern quartering 25kt wind with windblown waves at 1-2 feet. I must admit I had no extra load in my Hawk other than me, and I am about 195lbs. I have heard that you can negate this behavior with weight in the stern of the boat, but would rather put a skeg on it.

I just wish I had the skill or bravery to put a skeg into this thing, but I don't so may have to find someone to do it for me.

Still LOVE this boat, though! So very wickedly fast, and despite my top heavy frame, very stable!

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07-11-2005
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 8 of 10

     Swapped my Outer Island for this boat in Kevlar. It gave me more room for my feet and easier turning as well as slightly more speed I believe. The speed issue may be an offshoot of the AH 40lb weight vs. the OI 55lb weight in glass. It just comes up to speed s-o-o- fast!!

I am having a little issue with getting used to hard chines vs. soft though, with my "no edge" or "all the way edged" reality that results from this design.

I thought my Outer Island was sexy...but the hard chines, flat decks, and great lines of this boat blow the OI away in looks!! Guess that I like the "Greenland" looks - so this is not taking away from an OI, believe me.

Now - the down side, which EVERY boat has.

1. The rear hatch leaked about 2 gallons the first time I did some pool rolling. I come to find out that Wilderness Systems held back the kevlar top deck edge for you to be able to force/wedge the Valley hatchcover to make it more watertight. This is a ROYAL PAIN IN THE A _ _!!! I have never known the Valley hatches to need this type of wedging to work well, so this really stumps me.

2. Seat and Outfitting - The seat is one of those "all inclusive plastic bottom and back" seats that does not allow laybacks. Also note that WS used three glops of rubber/cement to secure the bottom to the hull, and none of them held so the seat slid side to side. Yuk. As to outfitting - there was NONE. No padding on the thigh hooks, none inside the boat. NADA...

3. Coaming - The rear coaming makes putting a sprayskirt on a real chore as there is very little clearance, hence don't use skirts with good sized bungees as they won't go on.

All in all, the boat performs well though I haven't had a chance to take it out in rougher conditions, so will have to see if it is the "nightmare" that a previous reviewer mentioned in rear quartering seas. I love the low weight, incredible looks, high speed performance, and good stability. (moderate initial)

As to the outfitting and seat, I cut the entire seat out, built a "very nice" foam seat and back, did knee, thigh, hip braces in foam, took out the footpegs and put in fitted foam bulkhead and put in a vertical pillar of foam behind the seat to stiffen the rear deck. The comfort level is now 100% perfect for me with about 8 hours of work. (1st time) I also rerigged the deck bungees "Greenland style", added carved caribou toggles, protective deck tape, and other little niceties. Now, this boat is really "mine" and with the outfitting and extras I would give it a "9".

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10-20-2003
Submitted by: HawkmanSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     another year with the Hawk has passed, I really got a chance to show her speed in the great river race on the norht river in mass. I am 14 in the adult mens division 4th place. my time was 1 hour 5 min 26 sec for a 6.5 mile course.
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02-10-2003
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     I own a glass Arctic Hawk and love it. It has an great blend of speed, stability, and manuverabilty. And at 18 ft and 42 pounds it is an easy carry. I work as an instructor in plymouth ma. and have had to had 9oz glass tape to the undersides of the decks around the cockpit to stiffen it up, but the build is other wise very good. The Arctic Hawk in my opinion has no weathercocking problem, and I don't think the greenlanders(or inuit in srostaker or who evers words) would have died from it. Also Mark rogers wouldn't produce a boat that weathercocked that bad. I do think that the front hatch should be recessed, because of the way it shoots water in your face. Over all this is the top boat in my top five list, and it makes any instructor look good in front of their students.
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02-06-2003
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I own two Artic Hawks. I have put retractable skegs on both. E-mail me for pictures and directions. Pack light and simple, I taken extended trips in my boats. Fast and stable. Hang on when it broaches while on a surf. Almost rolls itself. Redo stock outfitting to improve control (seat, back band, thigh braces, deck), you will like the difference it makes. Great looks, speed and control.
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02-06-2003
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     I've had my Arctic Hawk for about 6 years. I positively live in it, and that includes teaching some pretty strenuous rescue classes. Regarding the weathercocking problem - 1) if it's sitting too high in the water, I could see that happening. It's meant to take weight. 2) I removed the seat it came with, and sit on a foam pad, which lowers my center of gravity. 3) I did have an episode of weathercocking when I first got it. It was cured after paddling with Maligiaq Padilla at the 1998 Delmarva Paddlers Retreat, and copying everything he did. That came out to taking long, slow strokes, instead of the short, choppy ones we're taught here. And, of course, using a Greenland style paddle! I like this boat so much that I built my skin boat to the same measurements!
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02-03-2003
Submitted by: BenSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have owned my hawk for about a year and I love it! I tried out multiple boats and this one was the certainly the tops. It is very fast and has exiptional tracking. Anyone who thinks it weathercocks and needs a skeg is crazy. However at my job as an instructor I find a thicker deck would be nice. But that is easly fixed by adding glass tape to the underside of the deck.
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07-12-2002
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 7 of 10

     I've had my Kevlar Hawk about 5 months now and with certain reservations I love it. I wanted a low volume Greenland style boat and the Arctic Hawk certainly has the look. Kevlar was a fluke and purchased only because I got a great deal on it. Fits my 6' 200 lbs. beautifully and is well constructed. Kevlar is a bit flexable on the decks so I've reinforced the area about 3 feet around the cockpit with foam and glass and it makes me feel better if nothing else. Very stable in my opinion primary and secondary. So if I love this boat why the 7? Simple the hull has too much rocker to track in a quartering sea. I wouldn't take it more that a mile off shore in its as delivered condition unless I was looking for an epic tale to tell. Add a 3 foot skeg tapering from zero to 1.5 inches at the stern and the boat changes its whole personality for the better. At this point, it's a low vol., ! daytrip, fun, sea kayak that is capable of handling the normal conditions found in the open sea. After the glass work was all done, it could easily be a 10 depending on your wants.
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04-17-2001
Submitted by: NS
Rating: 8 of 10

     I've paddled this boat for about 3 1/2 years and I love it for most of my paddling. When I bought it, I tried a ton of different boats, and then I sat in this one, paddled it around,and didn't want to get out of it. I love the aesthetics of greenland designs, and the fact that I'm paddling a kayak that's very close to a native kayak. It's a hot rod, very fast and responsive. I love carving turns in it: the hard chine hull is easy to get on edge, and the secondary stability lets me crank it over confidently, even when I do sculling braces with only my head above water. It's very seaworthy, certainly more seaworthy than my paddling skills, even in spots when the wind and waves are up and I'm totally pooped. It wil feel twitchy in waves, but it will only twitch to a point, and then the rock solid hard chine stability kicks in. The low deck is great for me because I keep a very low stroke.

The arctic hawk turns immensly better when at speed, so the first time people try and turn it theyre' often frustrated. Ditto for weathercocking. It will rotate toward the wind when you're sitting there, but if you keep it moving you'll be fine. It doesn't need a rudder or skeg though-and a skeg would take a chunk out of the already-low storage volume.

The bad points? I find the seat kinda uncomfy, and as a result I sit with a paddle float under my knees.The initial stability when the boat is empty is pretty low, so it's not great for photography, or fishing, or playing yahtzee on deck, or whatever. And I wish the front hatch was recessed, since it throws up a lot of spray: the hawk is a wet ride. And hard chine hulls are never the best for surfing as they tend to plane back and forth while falling down the face of the wave, which means you can broach quickly in either direction if the tail catches. And one look at the size of the boat, and one lookf the hatches tell you its a tough boat for long trips. I've fit 7 days of stuff in it, but its not ideal unless you're ready to saw the handle off your toothbrush.

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06-22-2000
Submitted by: RM
Rating: 9 of 10

     The Hawk is 22" wide and 17'11" long. It is light: 38 lbs. in Kevlar, 42 in glass. Aside from the fact that it is a hard shell boat and wide enough for the modern build, it is very like some historical Greenland boats. This is true both above and below the waterline, and it makes the Arctic Hawk one of the best looking boats out there.

I am 6' 210 lbs. and still find initial stability light after almost two seasons. I find it hard to fish from and it feels tippy in small breaking waves. As waves get larger the boat feels more stable. The secondary stability is really good because of the hard chines. The downside to this is you expend more energy moving through the rough stuff. This is better than being upside down but I suspect that an advanced paddler would want a round chine boat with less secondary stability. I recently paddled with a friend (admittedly in better shape then I) in a heavy soft chine boat (Epic with rudder). I kept up with him fine until the wind picked up and some tight 3' waves made things more interesting. The Epic seemed to move through the waves with less resistance and I had a hard time keeping up. On the other hand, he stated he felt like he might go over a couple times, and I never did.

The Hawk carves turns nicely, as would be expected with hard chines. It does, in my experience, weathercock in stiff winds when empty. Sometimes edging is not enough to correct this, and you have to use a sweep stroke or, with a really stiff wind at a bad angle, use a stern rudder stroke. I would love to have a skeg on the boat, although the box would really cut down on what you could carry. A rudder would look too out of place and would add little over a skeg.

What the Hawk does not do well is surf. If you want to catch a ride in a decent size following sea it takes work to keep it at a right angle to the waves (that stern rudder stroke again).

The Hawk is a pretty low volume boat for an 18', with about 11" depth up front and 8" behind the seat. This cuts down on wind resistance and makes it easier to climb back aboard in a paddle float or assisted rescue. I am still learning to roll, but according to Seakayaker's review the boat rolls really easy. With a high floatation pfd I find that I do not end up completely upside down, a fact that makes the renter and roll easier. I have found a little leaking in the oval hatch after rolling class. The front hatch seems completely watertight.

The Hawk is fairly quick but not as fast as a boat with similar dimensions but round chines. It can be ordered from its designer, Mark Rodgers of Superior Kayaks, in mahogany plywood and epoxy. Rodgers makes several variations on this design. One of them, the somewhat smaller Sparrow Hawk, is also licensed to Wilderness Systems and would be a better choice for a smaller paddler.

In sum, the Hawk is an excellent boat for those looking to make the transition from a stable boat to a more performance centered boat, or for those who love Greenland style lines and handling. I get compliments on it everywhere. I would not recommend it for complete beginners as it is a little tippy and, as it has no rudder, takes a little skill to handle. If you like to camp you will have trouble carrying large items.

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