I have owned this boat for just over a year and have likely put more than 300 miles on it in a wide range of conditions. I am 6', 215 lbs, and have size 11 feet. The good: It is light. It is playful. Good primary stability. Turns very easy. Rolls like a log. It fits (barely) a bigger guy like me...wish I had just a touch more room for my feet. Day hatch in the center makes more sense than the traditional offset position. Good volume for camping without feeling like a cork on the sea when empty. The bad: It is light...to the point of sacrificing too much strength. I'm a little rough on boats and this one isn't up to the task. The overall build quality is lacking. Every hatch leaks, not a lot, but it pisses me off not having dry hatches. When I contacted CD about this and asked if they would cover repairs on the warranty (boat was only 1 month old) I was informed that this boat had been sold to the retailer as a demo model and the warranty was void. The retailer had not mentioned this and was liquidating all inventory and getting out of retail. BTW- this boat had never been so much as set down on the sand; it was brand new in a sleeve that I assume it was shipped in and had a document inside stating that it was brand new, first quality, with a spot for the first owner (me) to sign. This stated a lifetime warranty to the first owner (me) and was signed by the owner of CD. Go figure. I understand if they do not want to warrant a boat that has been used as a demo. but this had not, and honestly, that's between them and their retailer. The end customer shouldn't get stiffed. Whatever, the hatches all still leak. It didn't take too long to put a hole in the bottom of the boat (it's not brand new any more ;), and a bump on the side has cracked the foot peg mount. Instead of bolting through with marine grade SS, as most boats do, they embedded the bolt into the glass so it doesn't go through to the outside. This is not a strong system and the cracked glass around the mounting surface has allowed salt water in and the hardware is now bleeding rust into the cockpit. Poor design/build choice. The slider rod for the skeg is also beginning to rust a bit,..again, marine grade hardware people!
In summary, it's a fun boat to paddle with a great shape that is both playful and quick. Usually you must give up one for the other, but they have found a way to get both. The build quality and the companies commitment to their customer needs improvement. In all fairness, the company (CD) did send me a tube of glue and a new day hatch cover in spite of their position that there is no warranty on my boat, but they did decline to pay for professional repairs. They probably just should have honored the warranty and they wouldn't be reading this online right now. Maybe next time guys.
A fitted cockpit, great thigh contact, comfortable seat, yet roomy enough for me to move around at my convenience. How did they manage that? Anyway, the boat was very stable. I paddled out for a bit doing a sprint. It cut through the water with ease, tracked straight and did not create a bow wave to slow it down. Edging it was easy and stable. Bow rudder turns were executed with ease. Next, I put the boat up on it's side and with the hard chines, it was content to stay on it's side without requiring any further input from me.
Time to put it through it's paces:
Sculling braces, balance braces, storm roll, sculling roll, forward finishing roll and hand rolls were all achieved with minimal effort. At no time did I feel the need to readjust my seated position in the boat. I loved the amount of rocker in this boat as it makes it very responsive to the paddler's input. It did everything that I wanted and asked for more.
Amazing boat. Visually, the upper deck reminded me of the Tahe / Zegul boats. The hull design with it's hard chines and high rocker reminded me of a greenland style boat. It is polite enough for a newer paddler, yet they will not outgrow this boat. It has enough attitude to keep an advanced paddler entertained without fail. I paddled the kevlar version and it was fairly light and moved around on dry land with ease. It was after I got out of it when I realized that it has a forward deck day hatch. I never noticed it when I was in the boat as it did not impede my leg movements at all.
MY ONLY COMPLAINT WAS THAT I COULD NOT TAKE IT HOME!!! But at least I know what model my next boat will be.
When I was paddling upstream, the water was very choppy due to the winds. Without the skeg dropped, the boat had a bit of a hard time tracking straight through the chop but as soon as I dropped the skeg, the boat tracked like a charm. With the skeg down, the boat sliced through the water rather than bobbing up on top of it.
The fore deck seems higher, comparatively speaking, to most boats in the 16-17 feet range. My initial concern with a high fore deck was that the Prana might weathercock more than other kayaks. It did seem to turn a bit into the wind without the skeg down but with the skeg in the water, the boat paddled straight. The slightly higher fore deck was great for legroom. My feet and legs were happy with the extra room. My guess is that this boat would accommodate paddlers in sizes ranging from a smaller paddler (e.g., 5'3" and 100 pounds) to a larger paddler (e.g., 6'1" and 180-190 pounds). The aft deck is nice and low and would be advantageous in rolling. Three of the four hatches are well placed. The fore deck day hatch is a great place to store your sunscreen or snacks. The larger fore and aft deck hatches are good sized for a smaller sea kayak and could hold several days worth of gear. The aft deck day hatch is somewhat problematic; it's located in the middle of the boat and while I can imagine some people being able to turn around to access it, I found it uncomfortable to reach while paddling. To be fair, however, I can't imagine locating it in any other spot except the middle - the boat is just too narrow to place it on one side or the other. The deck rigging is typical and does the job of holding things like maps, a bilge pump, or an extra paddle. The fore deck has attractive and very functional defined angles instead of a more typical rounded fore deck; it resembles the shoulders of a tumblehome canoe. Since I tend to enjoy more of a high angle paddle stroke than a low angle paddle stroke, I found that the defined angles really accommodated my paddling technique.
The Prana reminds me of the Current Designs Suka; it's similar in shape and function but it's a slightly longer boat with lots of nice features, including a spot for your favorite aftermarket compass. Overall, I like the Prana a lot. It's a fun, agile, stable, and responsive boat with good primary and secondary stability. It's an ideal kayak for day paddling, 1-3 night adventures, and surfing. I think it will be appreciated in calm rivers, on flat water, and in the ocean. I'd love to test paddle it on the west coast; I think the Prana would be fun to paddle in and out of the surf zone, in rock gardens, and over kelp beds.