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Stellar Kayaks S14 Review

Posted by on November 11, 2012

Overview

Unlike other boats of this length, the S14 has the speed of a much longer boat, but beginners can feel comfortable paddling it. A large hatch in the stern allows for ample storage for day and overnight trips, while the retractable skeg in the stern helps with tracking. Its short length and light weight make it ideal for those who want a high performance boat, but are short on storage space or frequently car-top their boat.” – Stellar Kayaks

Stellar S14 (Image Courtesy of Stellar Kayaks)

The Deets

Material: Four composite layups available (Sport, Advantage, Excel, Ultra)

Class: Light Touring

Length: 14’3”

Width: 24”

Weight: 42lbs (Sport), 36lbs (Advantage), 34lbs (Excel), 32 lbs (Ultra)

Cockpit Size: 33 x 17 inches

Capacity: 330 lbs

Hatches/Bulkheads: Bow and Stern

Rudder/Skeg: Skeg (cable operated)

MSRP: $1530 (Sport), $1940 (Advantage), $2590 (Excel), $3740 (Ultra)

Review:

The Stellar S14 is a high performance, light-touring kayak that’s suitable for all ability levels but would be most appreciated by the advanced-beginner/intermediate paddler. Paddling this 14’3”-long kayak makes you question whether you’re paddling something longer. It accelerates and holds a quick pace without much effort. Overall, the hull design is quite “playful” and weather cocking is noticeable but not bad. The drop skeg does a great job of keeping the S14 on track in beam and quartering conditions although using it is not necessary. The S14 comes in four lay-up options from the 42lbs “Sport” to the super-light, 32lbs “Ultra”. The “Advantage” lay-up, at 36lbs and lower than average $1940 MSRP, is probably the best bang for your buck.

The thing that I found most surprising (and enjoyable) about the S14 is its stability profile. It has very good primary stability (don’t get me wrong) but it’s not so rock-solid to become boring for the more experienced paddler! The transition to secondary is nice and smooth while the secondary stability itself is rock solid. Throughout my demo I had a hard time keeping this kayak off edge because I was having so much fun playing around! The wind picked up toward the end of the demo and I found that compensating for weather cocking while on edge was totally manageable without employing the drop skeg. This wonderful stability profile and the playfulness of the S14 make it worth its weight in composites!

I’m also happy to report on the excellent outfitting of the S14. The cockpit was arranged such that the back band and thigh braces fell in just the right spots to provide a comfortable, “wearing-the-kayak” fit. I was a huge fan of the smart-track pedals in this model because they were easy to adjust from the seated position and provided great purchase while edging. I like how Stellar extended the perimeter lines to the bow and stern on the S14 (these were missing on the S12). This kayak doesn’t use brand-name hatch covers (Valley or Kajak Sport) but the type that it does use are easy to get off and seemed to be watertight. My one real gripe in the outfitting department comes via way of the skeg control. I found the knob on the slide to be rather small which made deploying and retracting the skeg more painful than necessary.

Overall, I found the Stellar S14 to be a comfortably-outfitted craft with a playful stability profile that would be enjoyed by the advanced-beginner/intermediate paddlers looking to expand their edging technique. The S14 has the speed of a longer boat but some tracking is inherently sacrificed due to its playfulness. This is more than made up for with the impressive edging ability and the drop skeg.

-Kayak Dave

Pros: Excellent stability profile allows for impressive edge control. Great outfitting with a comfortable cockpit set-up. Light-weight “advantage” lay up is reasonably priced.

Cons: Initial stability may not be comfortable for beginners. Cable-operated skeg has small control knob.

Similar Models: Check out the Current Design Vision 140 if you’re looking for something with more primary stability and a little less playful.

Kayak Dave Rating:

Demo Notes: I tested the S14 (Advantage Layup) on flat water with intermittent wind up to 10mph and light waves. Special thanks to Stellar sales representative Vaughan Smith and Billington Sea Kayak owner Doug Gray for setting up this demo!

 

See Also: Stellar S12 Kayak Review

 

 

2 Responses to Stellar Kayaks S14 Review

  1. lov2play

    Dave, what is the best kayak in the 13 to 14 foot range for distance paddling ?
    Thanks…

    • Kayak Dave

      Hi Pete!

      I’m a big fan of the Current Design Vision series. They’re great light-touring boats which are well suited for near-coastal day trips. Check out our review of the Vision 140 for more info. If you’re really looking to do some distance paddling then you may want to consider something a bit longer(16-18) foot range.

      Happy Paddling!

      -Kayak Dave

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