My son (6'1", 250 lbs) and I (5'8", 175 lbs) had the Viper 10.4 out this afternoon and we're both impressed with the bang for the buck. The water was a 5 acre private lake and the wind varied from still to moderate. I had over 2 hours of seat time and my son spent 4 or so hours afloat and we both alternated between fishing and paddling around to different areas.
The seat is comfortable and although it is adjustable, the range of positions is somewhat limited. We both noticed that while in the kayak that we essentially didn't really notice where we were, simply that we were in the water, and I think that speaks for the kayak feeling very much just like an extension of ourselves.
The paddle works well and while there is a little bit of give at the connection, it isn't noticeable. We both used the paddle in the long position with both blades parallel (it also has an offset setting but it felt so good as is, that we never changed it). The rubber shaft rings keep the water from running down the paddle and out of the kayak.
The bungee cords work well and the front one works quite well for holding the paddle in place with one end slid under if you want to free up your hands. The back compartment is quite spacious, though it is open into the cockpit, so is not waterproof (a dry bag would be recommended if in splashing water or if you think you might take as spill). The cover is easy to put on and take off, and the rear bungee provides a bit of extra security. The adjustable foot rests work well, though just a bit more difficult to adjust then my Wilderness Systems are, and they stay in position well when placed.
The front cup holder is relatively deep and works well. I also used it to hold my rod, which it seemed to do securely as well as being a handy spot to toss a few things. There is also another cup holder in the front of the seat. The front and rear carry handles are quite comfy and the kayak is easy to lift and move (easily loaded in the back of the pick-up by just one person).
Stability was great and we both felt quite comfy & safe, without even a thought of tipping. My first impression was that the kayak felt like a speedster and moved along very well in the water. I'm well satisfied with the tracking and while it may sway a little (depending on how you paddle), keeping a straight bearing isn't bad at all. The kayak can also turn on a dime. The stern sits a little lower in the water then the bow but felt and handled quite well. The beaver have been busy at the property and we went over several slightly covered beaver dams with ease. A two hour stretch of continuous kayaking is fine, though it can be nice to take a stretch at some point after that.
The kayak worked quite well for fishing and between the two of us, we caught 18 bass & two crappie (catch & release), including one just under 20" and one well over 20", without a problem.
I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one (especially at the $150 price for kayak and paddle) but already have a Pungo 120 & Tarpon 120 and don't really need another (the main reason I bought the Viper was to allow friends & family to join in kayaking).
I'd recommend the kayak and if you are interested in getting on the water at an affordable price, this would be a great way to do so.
YakCatcher Rod Holder
Kayak & Canoe Outriggers
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