The Vital is a true British style sea kayak made for play boating and rough conditions. It is playful, speedy and stable, yet easy to edge and roll. This craft is a great all around sea kayak with good storage for both day trips and camping. The high rocker profile is truly made to catch and play in the surf. These kayaks comes standard with retractable skeg, front and rear hatches, front and rear fiberglass bulkheads, recessed deck settings for safety lines, chart holder bungees, keyhole cockpit with hip and knee braces and a comfortable low profile seat. With the skeg up, the Vital is very maneuverable. Put the skeg down and it tracks straight even in side wind conditions where most kayaks weathercock (turn up wind).
At 110 lbs. I am at the lower end of the ideal displacement weight for this boat, but I have only found slower kayaks under 16 ft. that have better displacement for my weight. None of those equal the performance of the Vital. The ONLY real problem was the too deep recess under the front edge of the cockpit coaming, that trapped my skirt bungee. I installed a piece of tubing or hose underneath, which cannot be seen, but makes the skirt OK to pull off in a wet exit.
Small women won't find a Perfect 10 kayak, but I'm giving the Vital a 9.
It was at Sea Kayak Carolina in Charleston, S.C. where I discovered the Maelstrom Vital 166. I already owned the NDK Pilgrim - but the Vital is everything the Pilgrim offers, and more... it surfs like a dream (even small following seas!), tracks, is incredibly maneuverable, easy to lift, and is approx. 18" longer than my Pilgrim, so I can travel faster and work less to cover the same distance. Rolling the Vital is amazing...the kayak almost rolls itself yet is extremely stable. The design is brilliant...in all my years of kayaking, it is the only kayak I've found that does everything well! And attention to detail is evident in the bungeed hatch covers, reflective deck line, and the choice of a backrest or foam block... the skeg works flawlessly as it should... if you can only have one kayak, this is the one!