See Current Kayaks from Ocean Kayak
in the Buyers' Guide
Select Kayak to View in Buyers' Guide
For it's length-width I was very surprised how easily it paddled and it has good speed to. Like many of Oceans older designs there's a good bit of rocker fore and aft. That's sadly lacking in most boats these days. I guess they're trying to squeeze as much speed out as they can. A mistake if you paddle big waters or where big wakes can be an issue.
This is another boat Ocean should not have dropped from their line. If you're the right size and find one used it would be well worth trying.
So why did I give the Drifter a 6 out of 10? The #1 fatal flaw with any Ocean Kayak product is the design of the hull. (Is anyone from OK listening?) The scuppers are totally exposed to hazards. I guarantee you will blow out a scupper hole on a rock, eventually, and it will be the scuppers under the seat. Make sure you know how to do emergency repairs or you will be stranded. Other manufactures have figured this out. They place the scupper holes in channels to protect them from damage. It is a fairly simple design change and OK needs to implement it. (Is anyone from OK listing...?)
Why did I buy a Drifter knowing about this design flaw? There is a fix - strong resins and kevlar skids plates to close up the scuppers under the seat. Once you do this repair, the Drifter (in modified form) is possibly the best 12 ft. SOT for river running on the market, if you can find one.
tons of them but here goes one to say it all: you go & try to flip her...harder, try harder, nothing yet? you still on her? IT'S A DRIFTER!!! Stability is the drifter's main feature along with an excellent cockpit layout, tank well doesn't fit a standard milk crate but there are several other options for gear junkies.
Forward hatch is enormous to say the least and comes with one of the best hatch cover OK ever made, it's easily accessible when on the water with plenty of room for goodies and/or fishing stuff.
Speed is good, more than good considering the width of this booty lady, she is not intended to be a racing kayak but keeps a nice pace if you know what are you doing.
If you can find a zero mile model it'll probably come with two flush mount rod holders angled for trolling which is a plus for storage & trolling techniques.
Have read the Drifter is a wet ride, scuppers, thick pad under the seat, etc. I wouldn't go there, for better or for worse these craft are designed with an optimization of possibilities, adding stuff jeopardizes balance & performance. When in cold weather some waders will keep you dry & safe, warmer picture in place, who cares for a wet behind?
In days that money is lean the OK Drifter is a good chance of having a good, safe & versatile craft for shooting the breeze, fishing & diving, even surfing for which she is no shy.
Might be a bit on the awkward side to handle due to her width, other than that I don't see any other downside.
Mark my words: they are going to make her again sooner than later. Let's paddle!"
I love the huge forward storage compartment; Iím able to fit a 30-liter gear bag in it with no problems. I have to use the 240 cm paddle because this kayak is very wide and Iím not very tall, but I can still paddle very fast. Iím also able to paddle against 15, or even 20 mph winds (though, not very fast). Itís not as fast as other kayaks. For example, when kayaking against the wind, I could not keep up with my brother-in-law (a first time paddler) using a WS Tarpon 120. However, we tried both kayaks and the Drifter was by far, more stable.
It is a wet ride (up to 1 1/2" of water in the foot well), but I donít mind because the weather down here is very warm. I bought the scupper stoppers and they do the job. Once installed, the only water that I saw was from the overwash from waves and the paddle itself. The other thing I don't like about it is the small tank well. However, I bought a small Igloo cooler and it fits perfectly. The Drifter also has 2 flush-mount rod holders, so I don't need a milk crate with PVC pipes to hold more rods.
I took the Drifter to the surf just to see how it handled the big waves. I was totally surprised to see how well it cuts through 4-5 foot waves. It was incredible! Iíd never thought I could see myself jumping over big waves with a kayak before. I beat the hell out of this kayak for about 2 hours in these waves and I was actually able to surf with it at the beach. After I was done surfing, before I loaded it back onto the truck, I checked how much water was inside; surprisingly, there was almost none (not even 1/2 cup). I was able to dry the inside with a small rag. My brother-in-lawís Tarpon 120 had about 2 cups of sea water inside. He also wiped out in the surf about 10 times; on the other hand, my Drifter only threw me overboard twice. Next time, Iím going deep-sea fishing!
The boat came rigged with flush mounted rod holders, and more padeyes than I could probably find uses for... A nice bonus! This is the hull that had been redesigned a couple years ago to create a dryer ride than the previous Drifter mold. At about 230 pounds, I had heard that I would probably still have a bit of water in the footwells, as I did. This can easily be solved by use of scupper plugs (Which of course I make from Nerf balls.). Just remember that this way any overwash you get will not drain out.
As for handling, the boat was surprisingly fast for the less-than-sleek hull. By the way, I really love the classic Ocean Kayak lines! It also tracks quite well, and handled very well in about one foot chop. The handling was great for a kayak in the 12 foot range.
I am very impressed with this kayak, especially for the MSRP of $699. This is a great SUV kayak, and a very capable fishing platform. As with all Ocean Kayaks, the workmanship is also top-notch. If you want a great recreational sit-on-top, or a handy fishing kayak, this is a great choice.
I picked up a 2008 Drifter Angler a couple of weeks ago and added scuppers, a foam seat pad and the yellow OK seat back. I picked it due to max weight rather than fishing rod holders, etc. Using a baling sponge for paddle drips keeps me totally dry (5'10" 200lbs) and I've loved every trip taken in this yak so far (about 7).
Good tracker and maneuvers well - it just feels right no matter how much I load it up. The longer paddles are a better fit, but I've personally had no problems with our 220 cm ones either. Since I got the Drifter, I've been looking for any excuse to head for the water even if only for an hour or so.
Now i'm a pretty big guy, 6'3" and 310lbs. and this thing is very stable, took me all of about 2 minutes to get used to it. let my kid try it out (she's like around 100lbs if that) and she handles it just fine.
So big or small, if you want a stable kayak, the Drifter is it.
For some reason, people always comment on the wet ride. Plugged scuppers and a sponge for paddle drips keep my yak dry and it has a low profile which is nice in the wind. The front hatch is accessible while on the water, and the stability is very good. You can crawl all over the yak with perfect safety.
Speed wise, it is not that slow. The boat is used for fishing and was a replacement for a SIK which was faster with the paddle. The Drifter is three times the SIK when it comes to fishing. Try a high angle paddle if more speed is desired, but for fishing, a more comfortable low angle paddle suites my style.
People worry about the small tankwell. A soft side ice chest solves that problem readilly. Access to the front hatch enables carrying all the tackle you might consider for a days fishing, raingear, etc.
The boat has met my expectations. It does what it was designed for very well.
Next I tried the Scrambler XT, the Tarpon 120, and the Caper. Finally, after fighting it for as long as possible, I took the Drifter out for a spin, and I was instantly hooked. This yak is not the fastest in the fleet, nor is it the most maneuverable, but it by far the most stable yak I tested and is great for fishing, which is what I was looking for. It was a little quicker than the Tarpon 120 and the Caper, but lacks the speed of the Prowler.
I did try out two Drifters, the older version and then the newer one. Without a doubt the newer version offers a dryer ride and after adding the scupper plugs, it is as dry as any yak I tested. You can tell the new version by the oar holder line on the side and the mini tackle box line holder in the middle of the yak.
I ending up purchasing the new model of the Drifter and have had a couple of chances to fish it on a local lake. It holds more gear than I would ever need, offers a pretty dry ride (with the scupper plugs), and isn't hard to move around the lake. I haven't tested a yak that I like nearly as much as this one.
It is a pretty big kayak and is not the easiest to load and unload, but again that is one of the prices you pay to have a yak that is this stable.
Overall, if you are a big guy looking for a stable fishing platform, check out the Drifter before you buy anything else.
This boat is the first of the fleet I am planning to acquire, but I feel like a sit on top is great for summer use when you want to be out in the sun and have the option of swimming and paddling. I would recommend the drifter to everyone. Having a boat over 12 feet makes for streamline tracking, which is important on longer trips. Anything shorter may start to feel like it is going from side to side.
Finally, the people at Ocean Kayak are great, and were very helpful in making my buying experience great! A+.
If you are looking for a relatively cost effective fishing platform with a huge weight capacity -- the drifter is the kayak for you. If you are looking for a happy medium between the short 9' yaks and the huge 15' yaks that still tracks relatively well -- the drifter is the kayak for you.
The drifter is a no-nonsense, extremely roomy kayak that is very stable. Is it perfect--NO! Is it relatively good at what it is designed to do--YO BET! I recommend the Drifter to my fellow "big boyz" who want a yak that will safely take them anywhere and give them the room to play. I just wish Ocean would address the two design issues I pointed out.
I use mine for costal fishing and have been in everything from calm 1-foot seas to blowing 3-4 foot seas, and have never had a problem with stability. It tracks pretty well. Im usually anchored in some pretty strong currents/winds and am thinking about getting a rudder to help control the angle of the boat for casting.
There's enough room for a cooler in the back (yeah!) and plently of room to pack a folding chair and some other non-fishing related stuff for when I just want to paddle out to the sandbar and crack open a cold rine to relax.
Writing this review has me stoked for the weekend. I would suggest this boat to any paddler who likes to have, or needs to have, a little extra room. Buy a longer paddle, it's wide. I jusr recently bought a seabound expedition paddle and it seems to move the boat pretty well.
Very stable kayak. Even in somewhat choppy water I can stand up in it with ease. I can do tricks for the ladies and the kids while offshore at the beach. Backflips into the surf and if calm enough, handstands. After all that, I can reach into my cooler that straps on the back a crack open a beer. It's like a party boat and as you can tell, I have lots of fun with it.
Constructional details are good; seems to be a rigid, solidly-built boat. Needs the usual accessories if used for fishing (paddle/rod clips, holders etc.) I would have rated it a 10 if not for the wet ride.
Love the room too. Even as a large (female) paddler I can stretch out and not feel unstable. So roomy I could probably nap on it! It's low in the water so it's easy to get on and off, even in deep water after a swim. Make sure you get a long paddle due to the yak width. I had to switch from a 230 to a 240. It comes with all the bells & whistles already installed too. Will even hold a small ice chest and dive equipment.
I have only used the Drifter along our gorgeous south florida coastline in all the winter weather conditions it offers; waves, winds and spinner sharks, and have (probably unwarranted) a lot of confidence in using it. Its stability make me more apt to use it than worry about weather I am going to get rolled in the seas; its great. So many people have come up to me and asked me about it I can't help but think that its ease of use makes others wanting to get into this great sport.
I can't really say its better than other kayaks, except that I can't think that there is a better kayak which is such a pleasure to fish from, and yet is easy to handle and a great way to get out and excercise! Thanks again, Ocean.
Usually a stable, 12' 6" by 34" wide kayak would be as slow as a barge, but the Drifter somehow manages to defy the expected limitations. It's not as fast as a Scupper Pro or Wilderness Freedom, but the difference is not all that noticeable, especially in heavy chop. The Drifter also tracks extremely well. I was able to easily maintain heading in open bay, heavy 20-knot wind chop at any angle. For those who like rudders, go with the factory installed one. For my use, a rudder isn't needed since it tracks so well to begin with. It turns easily too. Ocean Kayak did a great job designing this hull. The only noticeable wave slap noise while anchored was when the waves hit it abeam.
This kayak is also about space. The big 12" x 22" bow hatch is among best in the industry, keeping the storage area very dry. The bow under deck storage is ample for everything up to overnight camping. There's plenty of room for an extra paddle, soft cooler, and much more. The tankwell is a must for fishing and is plenty large and deep. I attached a plastic milk crate with the straps above it for easy access to items like dry bags.
The one thing this yak has that no other has is a very roomy seat well. I'm not a big person, yet I don't get lost in it. It is a little deep, so scupper plugs are recommended in the Winter. Buy a really good seat and you'll be as comfortable as if you were in your dad's recliner! The extra width of the foot well area is nice for adjusting your legs to any position you may want.
There is plenty of room for accessories and attachments. You can rig this yak any way you want. The side carrying handles are perfectly placed. The light 56-pound weight and 12' 6" length make it a breeze to port around on land. A 240cm or longer paddle is highly recommended due to the wide beam.
This yak is rated at 500 pounds and has the widest seat around, so it would be perfect for big paddlers as well as beginners. Before you buy a kayak, try several that you think you might like... just be sure to try the Drifter before you decide and it might change your mind!
I guess if you were to FORCE me to say something negative about it I would comment on the fact that you sit in quite a bit more water than in other models due to the fact that the seat pan and deck are lower and closer to the bottom hull on this model. This design feature greatly ENHANCES the stability and sitting comfort of the kayak, and, for touring or anglers that aren't diving and don't want to get that wet, there are always scupper stoppers or duct tape to keep the cockpit dry (assuming no surf entries requiring draining).
I did my first two lobster dives of the 2000 season (both night dives) with the Drifter without making any additions to it and plan to use it most often now. I can't imagine needing a different kayak for diving unless I want to take three tanks out, in which case I might use the Scupper Pro TW. The superb stability and seaworthiness of the Drifter on a choppy, wind-blown, pitch black ocean made for the most comfortable night dive imaginable in such conditions. I also did a day dive with two tanks on the Drifter. I put the second tank in the forward hatch with the greatest of ease, leaving plenty of room for all my other gear, including wetsuit jacket, anchor, fins, etc... The extra weight up front did bury the bow a bit and slowed the boat a little, making it about as fast as a Scrambler XT, however it left plenty of waterline to deal with accessing the forward hold and didn't seem to affect the stability in the slightest. I found a 13 pound anchor on a recent dive and brought it back in through the surf on the Drifter.
Because of great tracking, even in a crosswind, I also can't imagine ever needing a rudder on this boat, however, the rudder mount made for the perfect place to sick my dive flag! I WILL add a few eyelets to further secure the tank in the tank well, to provide two attachemt points for the anchor, and to run a side line for attaching game bags, lights, cameras, etc., however, it was very doable without these additions by making creative use of the existing eyelets.
It looks like the Drifter could be destined to be one of the best kayaks on the market for the bigger diver. They have combined the very best features of their other models and put them on a totally new hull design that is just as wide and slightly longer than the Malibu Two, yet lighter than most kayaks in this size range. I already love the Malibu Two as a great, stable dive platform with a huge cargo capacity even without a tank well and good under-hatch storage. The cockpit of the Drifter is HUGE and the Scupper Pro type forward hatch provides easy access to a whole lot of storage below!
120,000+ people can't be wrong!
The Paddling.net Newsletter is a must if you like to canoe or kayak! Each week it is packed with great articles, photos, product reviews, and special features. Better yet, we promise not to sell your email address to anyone; that's right ZERO spam! Sign up today and find out what you've been missing!