I purchased this for my daughter (5'7" 120#) who liked the larger volume. I am 5' 10" and 210# and find the seat very comfortable and has a reasonable amount of adjustment. The boat paddles easily through the water and tracks straight. The foot braces are a little on the small side but don't create a problem even on longer paddles. Stability is excellent and it maneuvers better than my boat. My boat is a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125. She is able to keep pace with me. The Kestrel is easier to get in and out of due to the slightly larger cockpit and higher deck.
I was immediately impressed with the quality of the Current Design rotomold, it was like nothing I ever felt before. Thick, with no flex to it, a real solid feel. You can easily see the difference in quality with the poly Current Designs uses over just about any other manufacturer, definitely made to last a long time. Within minutes, all the other boats I was considering were out of the question, I ended up buying the Kestrel 120 roto HV.
At the time, I was such a novice that a 25" beam was intimidating me, the HV is a roomy 27". All cords, bungees, straps and the hatch cover work as expected, again, all quality stuff here. Amazing seat, with the simplest of operations considering the possibilities you can choose from, so many that it took me several outings to find the best one. Tilting seat pan is awesome, from flat to maybe a 30 degree angle(dont quote me on the angle) lower back adjustment from low to high, and the best forward/backward tilt adjustment around, a small ratcheting level near your knee which can be set while you are cruising along.
Love the cockpit size at 37", not too big or small, easy in and out. I use this boat on mainly small lakes in the Finger Lakes of New York. Some calm days, some rough days. The Kestrel takes all in stride, and is very stable and fun in up to Two foot waves and swells, since that's all I encountered so far. On calm waters, I can easily maintain 4 miles /hr, with pretty good glide for a 12' boat. Although I'm new to this, it leans with confidence inspiring cooperation.
When I was in the market for a new kayak, my limit was set at $700, for $800, I do believe I picked up one of the best long term values available, fantastic quality, very fair price.
Probably really deserves a 10 rating, but I think a lot of kayak reviews come off over rated by enthusiastic kayakers, who mean no harm, just love their particular kayak, I'm one of them, Love my Current Design Kestrel.
Downside? No easy access to on-board storage when on the water. There is no day hatch or bottle holder.
I would recommend this boat to a friend.
The 120 is very maneuverable and light enough to push over partially submerged branches without getting out of it. It does ride low, I thought it was because of my girth, but it seems that others have the same observation. If there is any wind I use a skirt to keep water out. I’ve not experienced any problems with water leaking around the hatch, but I always keep accessories in a dry bag just in case. I did notice that this years model has an adjustable backrest, I will buy one soon.
This boat is an excellent choice for anyone that wants to have fun out on the water and see nature as you’ll never see it from standing on the bank.
Now for my review after owning it for a couple of months.
From what I can tell seems to be pretty good. It stays pretty much on course even into a head wind on open flat water. Easy to turn with some good paddle strokes.
I have taken it down some swift water rivers and rides nicely thru the choppy stuff.
The buckle that adjusts the seat back loosens up after a while. A little modification needs to be done by you to keep it from slipping through the buckle. As for the seat pad, while there is one there, they should design one with a little more padding, but all in all it is comfortable during a 3 hour trip.
Also a spray skirts is a must! The cockpit rim sits pretty closed to the water line when up on edge and without a skirt you will be bailing.
Not good! the seal around the top rim (where it meets the boat surface) is poorly sealed. I ended up taking it off and resealing the rim. The bulkhead wall is also poorly sealed. Needed to reseal it better with more caulking.
Nice amount of bungee rigging to secure your "stuff" to the front deck. More bungee rigging behind the cockpit. All the outside rigging has the reflective cord, nice touch!
It can take a beating! Going over rocks there is not much flex.
So for my first boat review, I give the Current Design Kestrel 120 HV a 8 out of 10. An 8 due to the small bulkhead problem which is an easy fix and the seat buckle designs.