The Ookpik is a very agile recreational kayak. It is ideally suited to exploring winding rivers, lakes, and coastlines. With a larger coaming, the Ookpik will appeal to mid to large-sized paddlers. Check out the Kasko if you are looking for a tighter fitting kayak. Both Ookpik and Kasko are equipped with thigh braces and a smaller rudder system to maximize ease of control.
Good: Nice color, looks really nice on the water-like a proper sea kayak that got shrunk down, rides very high and dry, has storage space, easy to handle on land (fairly light). Cockpit is tall, deck is high, wide and flat, lots of room for size 13 waffle stompers. Nice kneepads to grip the boat, nice seat with tall, adjustable back. Sort of like a kayak for someone who would be more comfortable in a canoe-you're high up off the water.
Bad: I bought two, and each had some missing hardware. Fortunately, different things were missing from each, so I could see what was supposed to be there and was able to improvise with some stuff from the garage. Might be a good one to have a shop set up for you so you don't have to worry about it. The rudder works, but it's very small and it rides mostly in the wake of the kayak, so it doesn't afford positive control. Kind of a steerable skeg. Pedal adjustment is with straps and buckles. Again, it works, but seems pretty half-baked.
The weirdest thing is that it doesn't like to sit level on the water. I wouldn't call it "tippy", more like "lopsided." Kind of disconcerting the way it wants to be a few degrees either side of level. Maybe this is a "feature", but it seems like a bug. :)
To help put my review in context, I've paddled kayaks since the late 1980s, and I'm getting back into it after having been boatless for the last several years. 6-foot, 230lbs.
It is easy to carry and load on the roof rack. The rudder is an added bonus although it is rarely if ever required as controlling this boat with leans and paddle strokes is very easy.I only use it when I feel lazy. The stability is excellent.
I took the PH out to compare the other day. It was dead calm so I didn't get to compare the sea keeping attributes but I did note that it seemed only marginally faster than the Ookpik under cruising speed.
I highly recommend this little gem.
I bought the version with the rudder and am impressed with how easy it is to keep the kayak straight even in strong crosswinds and quartering waves. The rudder is smaller than many other rudders and allows easy turning with a sweep of the paddle, but keeps the kayak straight in the tough stuff.
The narrower width, 24 inches for the Ookpik as opposed to the 28 inches on the Pungo, does not make the kayak feel less stable. In fact, it has good initial and secondary stability. I have felt extremely safe even in some very windy and rough conditions. I expected that since it was 1 foot shorter than the Pungo that it might me slower, but it is just as fast as the Pungo, and I have no trouble keeping up with many other 16 foot kayaks.
The kayak is also one of the prettiest boats on the water. Mine is purple with a flawless finish. It has an upswept bow for riding through waves, forward and rear hatch covers, and plenty of deck rigging for gear. It is hard to believe that it is only 13 feet long because it feels like a much longer sea kayaks. I have paddled more than a dozen different kayaks and owned several, and this is the most fun, easiest to paddle and maneuver, easiest to car top, and overall the most enjoyable kayak I have ever paddled. This is a truly great kayak for flat water, smooth rivers, coastal shores and estuaries, class 1 & 2 whitewater, and is good on almost anything accept severe whitewater and long ocean crossing. Affordable, comfortable, enjoyable...it truly is a small sea kayak that fits people of all sizes. I don't rate anything a 10, so I give it a 9.
On the water the Ookpik is very nice. Tracks well even with a quartering tailwind. Turns nicely, just a little knee for the lean, sweep the paddle and it turns on a dime. It is faster than any other 13’ boat I have paddled. Initial stability is just right, the boat will lean several degrees either way with just the touch of a knee, but stays upright otherwise. Secondary stability comes in very strongly after that. The Ookpik comes in four trims, Basic with just a rear hatch and no bulkhead, Option 1 with rear bulkhead, Option 2 adds a front hatch and bulkhead, and Option 3 adds a rudder.
I bought the Basic with just rear hatch and no bulkhead. I will add some flotation since I do a lot of open water and my boat has no flotation, not even a foam plug to prevent it from sinking. It has a lot of volume fore and aft and will need flotation bags front and rear to keep afloat enough for a wet entry.
After using the Ookpik for a while now I think it will replace the Sealution II XL for anything short of a long open water paddle. At 13” and 50 lbs it will stay on the car most of the time looking for that elusive free moment to go paddle. It is highly recommended by me as a first boat, primary boat for the moderately serious, or as a second boat for someone with a larger sea kayak.