Something else I didn't address in earlier review is tracking. For the record, I as an amateur have no frustration keeping this kayak on track for a target so although I thought I might buy the feelfree skeg now I am sure I won't.
Another thing absolutely worth mentioning is the side handles on the Feelfree Kayaks are true handles and very much appreciated. Compared to the wimpy grips I have seen on other kayaks that are really just frustrating, the feelfree has handles you can totally wrap your hand around. This means a lot to me as I handle, load and unload this kayak all by myself. I don't need frustrating loss of grip on wet plastic trying to turn my kayak over or guide it onto or off the car. I kn ow that as long as I position myself to be able to reach the handle, I will be able to control the kayak.
I was worried when I first bought this kayak that it would be too difficult for me to car top and unload alone! Glad I didn't let that stop me! It takes a little practice and determination to learn but now it is a mostly smooth process for me. I put it up on a kia soul with a roof rack, upside down so there are four points of contact instead of just two, no problem. I use four cheapie foam blocks, the type that wrap around the roofrack bars and straps every trip. Bow and stern lines if I am going on the highway or far. Again, the feelfree handles truly help for fLipping the kayak before putting it up aND for controlling it as I guide it up or down.
So I have upgraded the rating from 8 to 9 out of ten because of these features. Bottom line, I am happy with my purchase but a tiny bit bummed it handles so tippy with 430# or more of weight while capacity is 550. Luckily, I wasn't counting on this being for two large adults most of the time! Mainly just me and my daughter or me alone while kiddo paddles a youth kayak.
All that said, I think it is a great little boat for me and my daughter especially once I get longer paddles and scupper plugs. The downside of the boat came today when my father and I decided to take a tour of a nearby large pond with lots of marshy areas, beaver lodges and fun places to explore. We both got seated in the boat, my father in front, and though we are both full size adults, we were still over 100 pounds under the weight capacity. There was no trouble with the boat floating but it was super sensitive and tippy feeling to the point my father was not comfortable leaving shore, and he is an experienced boater, mainly in canoes, which also require balance. I admit, it really did feel like it would be easy to capsize when the two of us were in it and it surprised me. Needless to say, he got out of the kayak to fish from shore and I paddled around a bit solo. That extreme tippiness was gone with only me in the back of the kayak. Soooo, if you are looking for a boat for two large adults, around 200 lbeach, my only warning is it turns this boat into a supersensitive balancing act. Would it be different with scupper plugs in place? Very possibly and I will try with this variation. I do love it for kayaking me and my daughter or me myself. I look forward to trying it solo with the seat in the middle position and see how that goes.
I would recommend this kayak to anyone that was thinking about starting kayaking.
With my fiancee on the front and no paddle I gave the kayak a spin. The kayak paddled decently quick with two people and only one paddle. The kayak was dry and VERY stable with her turning around and moving in the front but the kayak is too wide for my liking and the paddle blades will strike the sides if you're a high angle paddler. Turning was great on this kayak and seemed better than my Necky Dolphin and Perception Prism but still kept a straight course while moving from point A to B. The tupperware type hatch covers didn't stay on very well but they sat high enough that it really didn't matter. The seat was comfortable but it didn't have a seat back. I paddle without one on my other SOT kayaks anyways.
Just for reference I'm 6' tall and 235lbs and my fiancee is 5'3' 106lbs. We both fit the kayak OK and had no problems fitting the footwells properly.
The good: it is a rental kayak and seemed to hold up well, even the lifeguard got up and walked around on it and it appeared pretty stable watching him.
The bad: A little too wide at the top and the hatches didn't fit well and are too small
The ugly: The designers could have added a little more style and functionality rather than making it look like a molten blob of plastic, A pretty ugly kayak but that's just my opinion...
For starters it leaked like a sieve. Not only are the storage hatches in hard-to-get places, they let in lots & lots of water. The rear hatch actually sits under water most of the time. I wound up gluing them shut as so much water was coming in that it effected the handling of the craft after only a couple hours. It didn't matter, their position rendered them worthless anyway. The molded eyelets under the gunnel (where the rope runs), to my surprise had holes in them! Small holes, but they let in water none the less. This is clearly a manufacturing issue related to bubbles in the molding process. The gunnel ropes were a nice feature too. I took the ropes out and plugged the eylets with washers and screws and then caulked over them. This helped keep the boat at least dry enough to fish in the ocean for a few hours without adding several gallons of weight.
As far as tracking goes - it's reasonable, about as good as any other yak (I've fished Tarpons and Cobras to compare with). It's a decent/stable single as it is light weight (but excellent payload for it's class). In calm water it is a pretty stable tandem. In anything over 2-3 feet surf it becomes very unstable in comparison to other tandems. The rudder you can attach to the back is a must if you are going to tandem in rougher water.
All in all this yak gets the job done. It floats after all. It's a good yak if you're not too serious about your business. I must say it has taken me miles out into the Pacific and back every time. But if you asked me would I buy another one? Not on your life. There are too many other models out there today, in the same price range, that are made better and are more stable platforms for two people. Best thing I did was buy the Tarpon 130.
It is attractive, stable, fairly quick considering its girth and weight, pretty comfortable, and unsinkable. It is not too heavy at 26kg. I put it on the roof of my car on my own.
Could be better:
The seats aren't great. They are low and just a piece of nylon held between lanyards anchored at four points. I would like something a bit higher and stiffer. A company in the UK is selling "Universal Deluxe Backrest with Seat Pad" (GBP 45 ~ USD 100) and "Apex Deluxe Seat" (GBP 70 ~USD 150) and I may purchase one or the other.
The boat is not that long. I am 176cm (about 5'9") and I use the furthest foot stop. I like to row with fairly straight legs and my knees are only slightly bent when using the furthest foot stop from the rear seat. Which brings me to...
The thigh straps are interesting, but I have not worked out how to use them. In order to put the straps around my thighs to get a good grip I need to sit with my knees raised, whereas I would rather keep my legs straight. With legs straight it is difficult to get much purchase/feeling of security using the straps without tightening the straps to the point where they give me cramp (I guess that is to be expected when doing exercise with straps on your inner thigh). I bought the thigh straps as a option from the company, so the metal (dog lead-like) clips of my thigh straps are welded shut so I can not remove them. I would recommend purchasing the thigh straps separately so you can remove them if you don't use them. Fish hooks can get stuck in them. But I think that I will come to like them one day, especially in surf.
The self bailing system (basically holes in the bottom of the boat) seems keep my wife's butt wet. She is lighter than me (42Kg to my 72kg) but for some reason the water seems to come in more at the front perhaps when we hit waves. The after-part seats, or sitting on a life jacket both mentioned above, would cure this problem.
The front handle is great - I drag mine across sand. But it could use a side handle. I would like a hole or something for a fishing rod too but I can just about use the drink holder between my thighs.
All in all I am very pleased.
I found Malibu 2XL for $800 in local store that has pond and tried it for a couple of minutes. I was expecting much better from it (tried with my wife along). So I decided to go with FeelFree Gemini just because I found a really great deal - $500.
Fist try on the water was in a windy day with small waves for about hour or two near Honeymoon Island, FL. It was something new, good and fun. After that trip we decided we needed better seats (still looking). The stock seats have low back support and I was sitting in the water all the time (finally put my life jacket under the seat that helped me to dry).
Second time, I decided to research little creek. I tried the kayak by myself. Kayak was great in calm water. It was very easy to navigate between trees and on sharp curves. Still was not hard to keep it straight. On my way back I decided to move seat closer to the middle. It helped with forward motion, but was not that easy to maneuver. In that situation I decided to move the seat back to its original position.
During the trip I had to come out to open lake with waives from wind and motor boats (Tarpon Lake, FL). Calm water was much better, but it was still okay, no issues with stability at all.
Kayak has two hatches to store small things. It can be difficult to get something from hatch while on the water, but I don’t think you really should. I’d better have my things dry. There is a small cargo area - I did not like its shape. I have a small plastic cooler and had trouble putting it into that space. The cargo area has shape for something other then plastic box.
It is a little heavy for me to put it on top of my RDX, but it's not an issue if you have a companion. Also, kayak does not have good handles that can be used by one person. That makes it even harder to load and handle. Again, this is not an issue for two people.
Overall good buy. I’m happy so far. Things I would change or improve:
-seats with higher back and thicker cushion
-side handles to carry by one person
-change shape of cargo area
My only (minor) complaint is that the quick release buckles on the seat straps are two different sizes. I can't toss the side strap over a rafter in the boat house and connect it to the back strap to hang the seat to dry.
We haven't had it to the beach yet but are looking forward to warmer weather and water. The US distributor was great to work with and showed real concern and interest in making certain we were happy with the purchase. When we decide to add another boat, FeelFree will be at the top of our list.
Molded-in hand grabs on fore, aft and sides, as well as built in side ropes make grappling this large kayak possible and feasible. The fore-handle especially is most useful, for either the positive handling or even lockability, when you us a cart on this kayak, the handle makes it like suitcase with rollers, very easy and agile, and in complete control. Even down rough roads beaches, cliffs or anything. I portage my kayak from the back of my truck, lash the kayak onto the cart, and walk it down the street for about 1/2 mile, then down a 200 foot elevation drop down a bumpy dirt road and onto the pebble beach. I launch. When I land, I lug the kayak up the cliff road; I really enjoy the details that make this kayak most practical and easy to access the most inaccessible. The molded-in fore handle really helps.
This kayaks shape lets it turn pretty quick for a long kayak and its pretty good in surf, I ride solo in the back seat, and the kayak seems to pivot from there quite easily, since the widest part of the kayak is right at the back seat. It seems to track nicely, and goes the direction I want it to. I have no problem out in the windy open ocean around Cabrillo Beach or the rocky points around Palos Verdes Penisula.
It also has a 617 pound capacity, most excellent for fishing or diving platform, or even big campout picnics. I will gear up my kayak for some kelp bass fishing, and clear water cove diving. It is very roomy and has lots of capacity.
It is a nice kayak and I am stoked. I am ordering more kayaks from Feelfree. Definitely worth a go. It is too easy, too much fun. This kayak is excellent for any fun adventure. Very safe and very seaworthy, everybody likes them.