Material: Thermoformed ABS Plastic (Trylon)
Class: Performance Touring
Length: 16’ 6”
Weight: 50 lbs
Cockpit Size: 33 x 18 inches
Hull Type: Moderate V
Rudder/Skeg: Rudder Optional, Skeg Standard
One of the most affordable performance touring kayaks available, the Hurricane Tracer 165 offers a British-inspired design for half the price of a traditional composite sea kayak. I personally paddled the Hurricane Tracer for over two years as an instructing/guide kayak and for recreational, day tripping, and skill development. As my first touring kayak, the Hurricane Tracer helped me develop important skills as a paddler and provided both performance and stability in a variety of conditions.
At 16.5 feet, the designers at Hurricane developed a hull with a moderate V-shape and subtle rocker. This type of hull is most commonly found on British-style touring kayaks. The moderate rocker hull offers great final stability while allowing for effortless carving. New paddlers may feel overwhelmed by the handling of the Hurricane Tracer because it has a fairly tender initial stability. Upon first sitting in the Tracer, one may feel that its initial stability is very twitchy and may even discourage some novice paddlers. After becoming familiar with the handling characteristics of the Tracer, its performance is impressive. With rock-solid final stability and graceful maneuverability; the Tracer provides paddlers with a playful ride.
The Tracer 165 is outfitted with a plastic molded seat, Mountain Surf back band, fore and aft bulkhead/hatches, an elongated keyhole cockpit, and an integrated drop-skeg. Unlike many performance touring kayaks, the Tracer comes with Hurricane’s own hatch covers rather than Valley Canoe or KajakSport brand hatches. The Hurricane hatch covers provide a water-tight seal, and are easily removed and put on. If one needs to replace the factory hatches or prefers a more traditional look, the Tracer hatch rims are compatible with KajakSport hatches. The drop-skeg is effortless. Although the drop-skeg is cable controlled, it has a smooth action and has a very reliable construction.
In terms of performance, the Tracer handles rougher ocean conditions very well, and even provides a fun, enjoyable ride in surf. The Tracer 165 is prone to weather-cocking (when a forward moving kayak points into strong wind), making the drop-skeg a necessary feature in windy conditions. The Tracer is not the fastest kayak in the fleet although it offers both comfort and efficiency.
Overall, the Hurricane Tracer 165 is a great option for those who want dependable touring performance without the price tag. The stiff, durable construction has both the look and on-water feel of a much more expensive boat…at half the price. Although the Tracer’s primary stability is rather unforgiving, it offers great performance for a diversity of kayaking skills. This touring kayak would be best fit for medium to larger sized paddlers weighing between 150-220lbs.
Pros: very affordable price point, lightweight and durable thermoform design, maneuverability, quality skeg system, spacious elongated cockpit, comfortable seat and back band, Made in USA
Cons: Initial primary stability is tender, prone to weather-cocking
Demo Notes: I have test paddled the Tracer 165 in a variety of conditions ranging from clam flatwater to rough open-ocean conditions.