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I rated it a 7 because it's not quite the right kayak for me at 6' and 250 but it's the prefect Kayak for my wife who is 5'7" and 140. She would probably give it a 10 but I'm the one reviewing it.
I am very impressed with how durable the prolink 3 material has been. It has been dropped off cars, drug over rocks, rammed over beaver dams and even got hung up on a submerged piece of re-bar that left a nasty scratch but nothing more!
Overall I'm happy with the Castine but my wife loves it.
It's rated at 50 lbs., it's actually 64 lbs. (I weighed it). It also leaves a wake when I'm pushing it as fast as I can (never a good sign).
Nevertheless, it's a superb boat for beginners, so I'm keeping up at my Adirondack cabin for guests.
Bottom line, this yak is like a great beginner ski, but when you're ready for a racing ski, it just doesn't cut it.
In summary I would definitely recommend this boat. Its width of only 26.5" making it faster than most boats under 13'. It's stable, has beautiful lines, great for overnights and long trips, and fun to paddle. You also stay dry without a spray skirt. This is not a good choice for fishing. For the money this is a really cool boat.
Cowboy and paddle float re-entry work fine even at my arthritic, 59-year-old 199lbs. HOWEVER, and please note for safety: The high, rigid factory seat back make both rolling and re-entry techniques extremely difficult. Even though the thing folds forward, imagine climbing back in and maneuvering around the thing to quickly get your center of gravity low...bearing in mind the conditions under which you would have wet-exited in the first place. I took mine out and installed a backband, augmented by a portable camp seat for long trips. Thus, the 8 vs 10 rating.
BTW, those who think that kayaks under 18 feet are toys should have a look at Tappan Adney's The Bark And Skin Boats of North America. In it they will find Inuit kayaks in the 13-14-foot range. The Greenland tradition wasn't the only one...
I looked hard at the Dagger Crossover, but all things considered, who really camps on class 4-5 anyway. I'll use my RPM for the day trips, and my castine for when I'll see you next week. This is a great crossover boat, check it out.
I love the way the Castine tracks and glides throught the water. The rivers I have been on have had a lot of fallen trees and tight corners to negotiate and the Castine was a breeze to turn through these obstacles. I have had many compliments on the maneuverability and the over all looks of my Castine. I commend Old Town on the clean lines and performance of the Castine kayak and would highly recommend this model to anyone.
I never capsized in this boat (except when practicing wet exits), and its stability and good tracking allowed me to simply enjoy the sights as I paddled. It was also easy to maneuver around obstacles. The surprising thing was how much fun it was to play in the motorboat wakes!
Another unexpected nicety is how well-insulated the hull is. Spring through late fall, I never got cold legs even when paddling with only a Farmer Jane shorty on. I started hankering for more speed and better fit for my build, so I'm selling my Castine. But I'll always have fond memories of my earliest kayaking jaunts, and this is the boat that sold me on kayaking.
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