I’ve spent the past few weeks scouring the various buyer’s guides in preparation for the Spring paddling season and the opportunity to demo some of the new-to-2013 touring kayaks. Here are eight new models that I will travel far and wide for the chance to try and why:
The lines of the new Necky Elias series remind me a lot of the popular, women’s-specific Eliza. I’ll always remember the first time that I took the Eliza out for a spin. I was actually early to work for once (I know, right!!) so I decided that it was a great time to test her limits on edge. That was before a perfect storm of calamities found me upside down and half-drowned in front of a few awe-struck customers…her tender edges had caught me by surprise! However, I’m willing to wipe these memories clean and give the Elias a try. The specs (15’6”, 22”, 47lbs, low deck) make it seems like it could be a nice day-touring boat for the smaller paddler.
Full Review (Updated: 8-22-2013) – Necky Elias Review
Current Designs Storm GT:
I’ve been in the market for a rugged tripping boat for a couple of longer trips that I hope to do in the coming years. The Current Designs Storm GT (rotomolded polyethylene) seems to be just what I’m looking for with its purportedly solid stability, high gear capacity, and affordable price point. The feeling of security provided exceptional quality of a Current Designs kayak is priceless when you’re weeks away from home!
North Shore Ocean 17:
North Shore Sea Kayaks has always been at the cutting edge of British-style sea kayak design. The new Ocean series promises to take the next step with an innovative “wing”-lined hull design. The designers report that these “wings” result in a fast and stable hull with excellent edging. Otherwise, the Ocean 17 promises to be an excellent, full-length, full-featured sea kayak good for anything from day-tripping to multi-day trips. I have a feeling that this one is going to blow my mind!
Arrow Nuka GT:
The Danish manufacturer, Arrow Kayaks, has further expanded their lineup beyond “play-the-sea” with their new Nuka GT touring kayak! As a smaller paddler I’ve always been a huge fan of these smaller (16ft-long, 20.5in-wide) boats. The Nuka GT appears to be full-featured and the designers claim for it to be both fast and nimble on edge. The lines remind me of the Impex Mystic which would make my Hall of Fame list if I were ever to compile one. The only problem will be trying to find a Nuka GT in the States. I may just have to take a trip across The Pond…
Valley Gemini ST:
I’m absolutely giddy over the chance to try the new Valley Gemini ST (Sport Tour)! At only 37.5lbs, the 14’10”-long Gemini ST could provide some real competition to the Current Design Vision line which I believe to be at the top of the light-touring class. Valley prides itself on their kayaks’ reputation of superior performance and craftsmanship. I doubt I’ll be disappointed with the Gemini ST and will probably have to resist the temptation to add one my fleet!
Point 65 Freya:
The days of ultra-fast touring and chopping down 30+ miles are not as interesting to me now as they have been in the past. However, who could pass up the chance to at least try the limited-quantity production model of the same kayak that Freya will be paddling on the second leg of her historic South America Circumnavigation. If you can’t step into her shoes then step into her kayak, the Point 65 Freya, if you can find one!
The Biscaya, by the German kayak manufacturer Lettman, is an intriguing new touring kayak for many reasons. To be honest, I was initially attracted to this kayak by its bold color options (I’m a sucker for lime green…terrible, I know!). Discovering that it’s a bit of a ghost online has only added to its mystique. All I really know about it is that it looks cool and has a funky, under-stern, skeg/rudder hybrid that I’d love to check out. Anyone up for a trip to Germany??
P&H Aries 150:
I’m a huge fan of the P&H Delphin 150; the hybrid whitewater play boat/light touring kayak that has helped to change the play-the-sea landscape. The P&H Aries 150 is basically a composite version of the Delphin with an added day hatch. I’d probably be adverse to hammering in the rock gardens with this expensive composite kayak but its maneuverability and unimaginable secondary stability would certainly make the Aries 150 a nice choice for coastal day-trips or an overnight.
Impex’s newest design screams playfulness and versatility. Designed as a specialty touring sea kayak, the Hatteras is packed with plenty of rocker to provide paddlers with a playful and maneuverable cruise. The large cockpit is bigger than most in its class but this feature makes exit and re-entry easier for larger paddlers. Although the Hatteras would make a fun surfing kayak, its three hatches and spacious cargo space make the Hatteras fit for a day tripper.
The Raven is a no-nonsense sea kayak. Original designed and introduced in the late 1980s, the Raven was an award winner from the its inception. Today’s design blends modern thermoformed technology with the original design features and performance of a classic sea kayak. Designed with versatility on the drawing board, the Raven is a smart choice for a paddler looking for a multi-day touring, day tripper, or ocean play sea kayak.
Check back later this season for full reviews of these kayaks (we already have plans to demo the Valley Gemini and North Shore Ocean in May)!
Note: This article, authored by Kayak Dave, first appeared as a two-part series at Kayaking.org entitled “Check out these New-for-2013 Tour Kayaks!”