Tracer 165

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Tracer 165 Description

The Tracer 165 is a kayak brought to you by Hurricane Kayaks. Read Tracer 165 reviews or submit your own review to share with the paddling community. Check out a few other kayak recommendations below or explore all kayaks to find the perfect one for you!

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Tracer 165 Reviews

Read reviews for the Tracer 165 by Hurricane Kayaks as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!

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Great yak. I used to paddle…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 10/6/2018

Great yak. I used to paddle Sydney Harbour from Parramatta around Fort Denison and back. It has speed, and is stable for a user with a little technique and experience. Ive been in some good seas with this yak and it is very stable. Ive had a another boat, a Nautilus that was way more stable but had little speed. Thats what you trade for, stability or speed, tge more speed the less stable. Ive been up the Hawksbery river in this and was impressed greatly. It was loaded to the gunwalls, and felt ever more stable. In short a great touring Yak with clean lines and a turn of speed. Great boat and highly recomended. Cheers.


The Tracer 165 by Hurricane…

Submitted by: jrmashburn on 8/12/2015
The Tracer 165 by Hurricane is a great all around boat for river, lake & ocean touring. Even though it is sensitive when tracking without the skeg, once the skeg is lowered, it tracks true...straight as an arrow. This kayak is fairly fast & has a little extra room in the cockpit for ease of entry & exit while still allowing you a good fit for edging & bracing. This boat is lightweight for its length as it only weighs 46 lbs. & comfortable enough to stay on the water for the day. I have had this boat for several years & it has proven itself many times & got me home safely each trip.

I've owned my Tracer for 5…

Submitted by: donniepizza on 6/24/2013
I've owned my Tracer for 5 months and was immediately aware of the low initial stability. Otherwise everything else performed great. The hull design accelerates and turns quickly. I have paddled her in different conditions and have no qualms with wind, or current conditions. What I have found is that by moving the seat back 1 1/2" and the backband adjusted to near the rear of the coaming, the initial stability increased.

I am 6'1" 190lbs with a 33" pant length, strong paddler. My g/f also has one, she is 5' 125lbs and says initial stability is great, but has to use ballast on windy days. We love the boats and as far as Trylon goes that stuff is tough! I was carrying my Tracer on my shoulder, fell off a dock onto a stone boat launch and face planted into the cockpit. The Tracer suffered scuffs, that's it! I am giving the Tracer a 10.


I paddled this boat on slow…

Submitted by: prospector_rich on 3/15/2013
I paddled this boat on slow moving river probably 4 times I found that it doesn't track very well and the initial stability isn't very good, by putting the skeg down it improved the stability and tracking. I wouldn't recommend this boat you shouldn't have to rely that much on the skeg for flat water paddling plus the seat was a little small. I'm 195# 6'0, 30" inseam, maybe it's good for rough water but not calm I've paddled many different kayaks narrower than this and more stable.

I have a Tracer 165 coloured…

Submitted by: paddler233820 on 3/12/2013
I have a Tracer 165 coloured orange with the SmartTrak rudder system. This rudder raises and lowers so easily and is spring loaded when deployed to keep it from flowing out behind. The rudder is small but works very well. This is a very smart looking fun craft which seems to be well built. It moves through the water at a reasonable pace with very little physical effort and increasing the paddling effort gives only a marginal increase in speed.

A great little boat which is easy to handle off the water and a great fun boat for protected waters. First timers may want a bit more initial stability. Secondary stability seems good. If you are in a confused chop the kayak seems very unsteady and was no where near as reassuring as other boats I have paddled. It seems to handle bigger waves better than chop. The hatch covers go on and off almost too easily and I wondered how secure they were at sea during capsize or rolling.

In short a great boat with its light weight and maneuverability for protected waters but you should have another for the tough stuff. I have rated it 8 but would be 9 in quiet water and a 6 in the rough stuff.


Two years ago I purchased the Tracer 165. Prior to this kayak I…

Submitted by: Chris_H on 2/27/2012
Two years ago I purchased the Tracer 165.
Prior to this kayak I was paddling either my Chesapeake 17, or SOF of my own design. I like both of these kayaks, yet I was toying with the idea of making something shorter than both in length and a a bit more agile. Time consuming pressing house projects canceled a kayak build project. At this time I came across the Tracer on-line and liked the specs.. The things that appealed to me about the Tracer was it had a nice rocker, a good sign of agility. The length an width looked good for keeping up when paddling with fellow paddlers. The overall weight and price also were appealing, yet didn't quite add up. I had the feeling that something might be smelling rotten about this kayak. At that time there was not a lot of reviews on the internet on the Tracer, yet I was able to find a paddling store a county away that carried the Tracer. I gave them a call and arranged a test paddle. a few days later I made it to the store to look over the Tracer prior to taking it out on the water. On the rack I noticed the oil can effect at about mid keel distance, (as mentioned by TS below in his review). Since I know a few people with polyp kayaks, and their experience with the oil can effect, I knew of a custom fit that would probably take care of the oil can issue. I insisted on carrying the kayak out of the shop to get a feel for the weight, sure enough it felt about 48lbs. in weight. On the water during the trial it performed as expected in a lively way, not that it was a problem to keep on track, it was just that it responded well to a leaned turn, and this kayak had no chines, so this did impress me. I'm not a fan of kayak with a skeg, and this kayak tracked fairly well in the slight wind of the conditions that day, yet just for the kicks of it I dropped the skeg about half way, and the Tracer appeared to be riding on a rail, yet it still responded well to turns. The water that day was a tad cold due to it was early spring. I brought along a neo skirt that fit the tracer and had a dry top, so this allowed me to put the Tracer in a balance brace. If the water was warmer I might have tried a roll. I didn't expect any issues here since I haven't come across a kayak I have tried that can't be sculled or rolled. The seat was cold and thinly padded, can't say I liked it. Adding padding to the seat was a thought, yet this would raise the center of gravity. Back at the shop with the kayak on the rack I noticed the seat could be fairly easy to remove, this would work well with my plans. I didn't think I would be sold that day, yet I was. The sun was shinning onto the orange deck of a nearby Tampico, the iridescent orange metal flake look just sold me on my color choice, and to my surprise I ordered a tracer 165 in orange.

A few weeks later it arrived at the shop for pick up. Once I had it home I removed the seat and added the closed cell formed happy bottom seat from Chesapeake Light Craft, with the help of some large Velcro pads added to the seat bottom and the floor of the Tracer. This seat is practically weight less, and personally comfortable. Two other added benefits to this seat is it lowered the center of gravity a tad, and most of all it solved the oil can effect by placing my body weight in direct contact with the bottom of the kayak. Any oil can effect would have to work against the weight of my minimally fat ars.

In the few weeks after the pick up, I also order custom neoprene hatch covers from Reed Chillcheater. So from removing the seat and the rubber Hurricane hatch covers and replacing these with the foam seat and neo hatch covers I removed about 6 lbs of weight, bringing the kayak to a little over 42lbs.. I'm not getting any younger so the loss of weight is best noticed in the carry to and from the car. I also added a bronze pad eye on the deck behind the cockpit for the use of a tow rope and a theft/locking point. The foot pegs were okay, yet I like the ability to correct on the water if needed, so I replaced them with the Duckworks adjustable type.

Now after a few years of paddling my handling characteristics are these.
Tracking: Generally fine, strangely a slight breeze appears to effect tracking more than a wind. Just half a skeg drop is what I use if I feel the need, this still allows for quick sharp turns if needed.
Stability: on flat water or mild chop I don't notice a stability issue at all with the Tracer, yet I have a feeling this is only due to my jaded and demanding aspect of paddling my 20in. width SOF. Paddling into more steep wind/tidal driven waves in the bays or Atlantic ocean this kayak excels. It breaks through waves well and holds a course well with or without the skeg. On following wind/tidal seas is where I find a negative aspect with the Tracer. I find even a full skeg drop has me giving this kayak my full attention. It appears to have a strong tendency to want to broach. My guess is the Stern is rising high enough to be a bit out of the water on a wave negating even the skeg, placing the bow deeper in the water where even a slight cock one way or the other gives the bow a very disconcerting bow rudder action. I compensate a lot with paddle strokes in high following seas basically to limit surfing and letting the bow to deep in the water. The sad fact is I enjoy surfing in my other kayaks, yet the Tracer I find demanding in these conditions. Added weigh in the rear compartment might help, yet I have yet to put this together under following seas conditions. Hull strength: Well I timed a few surf entries wrong a few times and went practically vertical, which resulted in a big slap coming over these waves. It appears to take a pounding and keep on ticking. My spine is another story.
Rolling/sculling/balance brace: I'm very comfortable above or below the water with the Tracer, yet I would say that about most kayaks.

I'm giving the Tracer 165 a 8 rating only because of the following seas broaching issue I have. If I could tweak the design of the Tracer I would add one to three inches in the stern behind the cockpit and sharpen the bow a tad to limit the bow rudder effect. However, to have a solid bulk headed kayak at a custom weight of about 42lbs, with the good looks of this kayak, and at a very, very fair price, is a big plus for me.


I have been taking note of…

Submitted by: paddler234338 on 10/25/2011
I have been taking note of many comments about kayaks on the market that have been manufactured out of Thermoformed ABS. I have now paddled two such kayaks 1) Barracuda Beachcomber 2) Hurricane Tracer 165. These kayaks were put through their paces in surf, wind v tide chop and flat water. I found both hulls to be extremely flexible with alot of sag from North to South. The claims by the manufacturers of these kayaks that they are light and stiff when comparing them to traditional composite kayaks is absurd. How can you have a sea kayak weighing 17kgs and still stiff through the hull. it would have to be made out of full carbon. I have a fibreglass sea kayak that is almost 14 years old and it is much stiffer than both of these kayaks in the hull. You wouldn't cycle on a bike with a frame made out of licorice would you.

Don't get conned first time buyers!! Kayaks made out of thermoformed plastic are nothing but cheap rubbish that cost the earth and deliver very little. They are good for one thing though. You can depress the centre of the hull with your hand and make them sound like a Rolph Harris wabble board.


I have two boats, both about…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/29/2011
I have two boats, both about 17 feet long: a Current Designs Squall and this Hurricane Tracer 165. Both are excellent kayaks. The Tracer is faster, lighter, and prettier. I love this boat, though my wife has commandeered it, so I get to use it only when she is not with me at our beach place

Attended a Paddling event in…

Submitted by: paddler234001 on 5/20/2011
Attended a Paddling event in Port Gamble, WA to test out the last boat on my list - The Hurricane Tracer 165. I have paddled a number of different boats rentals in the SEA area: Necky Looksha 14 and 17, Chatham 16, Eliza Eskia; Eddyline Equinox, Journey, Fathom and Fathom LV.

I'm a beginner, so I wasn't trying execute rolls or anything and have a pretty good feel for what I want out of a kayak.
Now that I've qualified myself...

The Hurricane Tracer 165 is a good boat I think for the price. The Thermoformed ABS is my favorite material, and although there was some flex in the hull when pressing down on the back, it felt solid. The cockpit was snug. I'm not a fan of the seat as it would get uncomfortable fast, and the foot pegs are hard to adjust. I needed to get out of the boat to adjust them. This wouldn't be a problem though if you own this boat, because you probably won't be changing the foot pegs at all.

On the water, it does feel a little unstable. The wind had picked up for a time and I don't think the boat was too affected by that. It is definitely maneuverable, and just a little bit of skeg changed that. It wasn't sluggish, but its not a racer either.

Overall, as I said above this is a good boat for the price. Its very entry level. I think it provides a good platform to learn from. If I had been wearing immersion gear in the wind and current of my test paddle, I would've felt more confident about putting it through the paces a bit more.


(All ratings are based on a 1 to 10 scale) Speed: 6 Primary Stability:…

Submitted by: alexrusso12 on 6/11/2010
(All ratings are based on a 1 to 10 scale)
Speed: 6
Primary Stability: 4
Secondary Stability: 8
Maneuverability: 7
Seat comfort: 9
Carrying weight: 10

I owned the Hurricane Tracer 16.5 for a summer season in which I did a moderate amount of assorted kayaking; coastal, open ocean, lakes, and ponds. Prior to owning the Tracer, I had plenty of experience in all types of sea and recreational kayaks, so I had much to compare it to. I found that the Tracer handled relatively well in most conditions. It's defined rocker made maneuverability simple on a slight lean.

The Tracer is a good alternative to a high-end composite sea kayak, it is light weight (46lbs), and proves to paddle very smoothly and respond well to forward and reverse strokes. One of the few issues which I found to be inhibiting to the boats overall performance was its noticeably tender primary stability. If a novice paddler, the Tracer will feel highly comfortable and acts as though it foundations on a much narrower hull design. The overall speed of the boat is unimpressive for one of its length (16'6"). While it capable of keeping up with its composite companions, it requires much more effort of behalf of the paddler. The built in drop skeg is very useful in the Tracer as it is highly susceptible to weather-cocking, and will often change direction at the caprice of a head wind. The seat design is exceptional, and proves to be unrestricting on long distance paddles as it provides reliable support.

Overall, I rate the Tracer as a 7, in that, it performs well in most conditions but its overall lack of primary stability coupled with slow handling notches the Tracer 16.5 down the competitor scale.


I bought the Tracer a couple…

Submitted by: paddler233197 on 4/30/2010
I bought the Tracer a couple months ago and am extremely glad I did. I had been looking to upgrade to a sea kayak for quite a while and the Tracer seemed to be the best out there for my price range. When I first tried it I noticed it was extremely tippy for me but my old kayak was a 12 ft. fishing kayak so I was expecting that, after about a half hour though the tippy feeling was completely gone.

The boat edges well and is great to have in surf of 3ft. waves. I have not done larger than that but will soon (just waiting on conditions to be right). I don't understand the complaints for the uncomfortable seat that I have been seeing - I'm 5'10" 165 lbs. and this boat fits me great.

The greatest feature of this boat I must say is the drop skeg. Very simple to control and it makes a world of difference for me when I'm out on Lake Michigan. If you're looking for a fast entry level sea Kayak I highly recommend the Tracer. I plan to be keeping mine for many years to come.


I gave this boat a low rating…

Submitted by: ca71447 on 12/16/2009
I gave this boat a low rating due to the seating. As most have stated here, the initial stability is rather tippy. Once you get going it improves. This boat is fast and responsive. I let several members of the kayak club I belong to try it out. All of them really liked it a lot.

My problem with it was the seating. In spite of trying many things I could not get comfortable in the seat. I could only last for about one hour before I had to take get out of the boat due to a lot of pain. I tried many different seating configurations, and none helped. Reluctantly I had to return the boat to the dealer.

In all fairness, this is a good boat, as attested to by the other members of the club I paddle with. It just did not work for me. And for the record, I am 6'2" and 220 lbs.


Ive had my Tracer now for a…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 12/8/2009
Ive had my Tracer now for a week, and have put around 30 miles or so on it.
Solid boat, no problems with workmanship or anything else. It windcocks a bit, but no more than any other kayak over 16 feet would, and touch of skeg helps that tremendously.

I was actually quite shocked how maneuverable this boat is, I have an Expedition Sport as well and there is no comparison. The Tracer seems to really offer the best of both worlds. With the skeg up you can carve and turn with great ease, with it down you go as straight as an arrow.
I don't see myself looking to replace it any time soon.


This review is from the angle…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 10/7/2009
This review is from the angle of a (5'10" 130 lbs) person new to sea kayaking. I may be unqualified to rate a sea kayak but these are some of my observations.

I've had the boat out 31 times in a 6 week span of time w/ no previous experience. The boat has been used only on high elevation Colorado reservoirs including 2 camping trips totaling 3 nights. Don't know how it handles in moderate seas.

Edges well. Maneuverable. Affordable, light weight is welcome and She's cute.
Weathercocks; from what I’ve read about sea kayaks, the Tracer may weathercock a bit much but the skeg works like magic. I work at times to practice and use paddle strokes to point the boat where I want it to go and it works with effort but after reassuring Myself that I can do it, when the situation gets stressful, I use the skeg and conserve energy for when I may need it later.

Doesn't track straight; it trades tracking for easy maneuverability. When I stop paddling it veers / turns; pretty much almost never glides straight. Sometimes when I stop paddling to observe something, I wish it would just glide straight but I accept that in exchange for the maneuverability which is more important. Requires corrective stroking which is normal. I can do that. The good news is that, like today, I was out for 3 hours on a 3,000 acre lake (reservoir) at 9,000 feet above sea level with healthy winds, waves, swells, whitecaps etc. At one point with quartering waves (which want to move Me into the irregular rocky shore) that seem about 1 second apart and 1 to 1.5 feet swells the boat can easily maneuver to angle away from the rocky irregular shore when there's a few smaller waves, momentarily exposing the beam and then when noticing bigger waves approaching turn it back so I'm only exposed to quartering waves which the boat can deal with well allowing Me to relax.

The boat is fairly quick.
Secondary stability is right there. Primary stability is good; when I got the boat I felt tippy for a few but now the thing is easy. This is a good example of a boat a beginner would enjoy if the beginner was going to actually use it often and get to know it, rather than a beginner who may use it for a few times each summer. An enthusiastic beginner may not want a beginner boat.

I've been very happy with the Tracer. Rating it high. Feels like a 10, but what do I know with nothing to compare it to.


I am moving up to the…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/2/2009
I am moving up to the Hurricane Tracer from a rec boat (CD Kestrel OC.) While I appreciated the Ketstrel's stability I soon felt (after 2 months and trying several other touring/sea kayaks) that the Kestrel was not challenging enough. While I have a had a bit of a challenge adjusting to the initial stability of the Tracer, I am making good progress (for a novice) in controlling the boat. The boat has plenty of challenges left for me to explore and that is what I was looking for.

For some novices paddlers it maybe too big a jump to go from a beamy rec boat to a sea kayak. So far, it working out really well for me and I love the boat. It will probably be the last boat I buy.

Note to others thinking of taking up kayaking from my experience: Take lessons FIRST before buying a boat, preferably from 2 different sources. Go to all the local store demo days and try every rec and touring kayak they have. Can't decide? Rent a boat you are interested in for a weekend. Try a Hurricane Tracer, I think you'll like it.


I've been paddling my Tracer…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/14/2009
I've been paddling my Tracer for a few months and love it. The skeg allows a customized balance between fixing weathercocking and maneuverability. With it up the edging ability feels a bit like skiing and flipping it down makes her fly true and straight despite the wind or my imbalanced forward stroke.

At 6'0" \\ 175 lbs the cockpit is nicely sized and the knee braces are right where they ought to be. The rear hatch does leak a bit in splashy conditions but it usually doesn't let in more than what looks like a cup of water. The front hatch is very water tight.

So far my biggest beef with the boat is how the skeg actuator protrudes out the side of the boat. It's only about 3/4" but enough for me to bang my hand on a few times per outing. I'd much prefer a recessed handle.

So overall a great boat for the money. Looks great, handles well, and after a long day of paddling isn't too hard to hoist up on the car.


This is really a follow-up…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/23/2009
This is really a follow-up review/post to a review I did on this boat well over a year ago.
Folks, you either know how to handle this sea kayak or you don't (and it's really not hard--give it time). She is a GREAT kayak with endearing attributes. Extremely maneuverable without the skeg (and that comes in very handy in whitewater/washing machine conditions) and tracks true and FAST with it down. I mean fast. Her hull design, sleek lines, that super slick Trylon hull make her sexy and capable. I took her into a race off Ft. Lauderdale this weekend competing with larger glass boats (and one surf ski) and my Tracer 165 and I won that race coming in 20 minutes ahead of the 2nd place finisher (he was a determined and capable athlete as was the 3rd place finisher). It was a really cool race and this is not at all meant to demean the other competitors. But after a year of taking my Tracer through rough water conditions and endurance paddling her and now a win in a 12 mile race... I love mine and I owe her!

I bought the Tracer 165 just…

Submitted by: a234142 on 5/27/2009
I bought the Tracer 165 just before leaving for 5 days in North Carolina's Core Banks - just below the Outer Banks.
As many others say, the initial stability is low, but I got used to it within two days and did not notice it. I was hopping in and out of it near sandbars to avoid oyster shells and barnacles, though I did hit a few. Barnacles left small scratches on the hull - less damage than I would have expected. The secondary stability is incredible, and once I fit in some foam in the hip area (also covering up stainless screw heads) it will be snugger.

If you lean hard to one side and paddle on that side, this boat turns quickly - very impressive for a boat this length. And the boat 'stops' when you lean hard, as it is hard to tip it over, unless you really try. In high wind I used half or more of the skeg and it eliminated any weather cocking.

I got water in my front hold somehow - the hatch cover seemed to be snug - I'll test this out more by putting water in the cockpit and seeing if any leaks into the front hold. Or if the hatch cover does not totally seal - by spraying a hose directly at the cover.

The 46# weight made loading and unloading much easier than my rec boat or shorter rotomolded sea kayak. I drive a 4Runner and have Yakima J style cradles on the roof. I could load and unload this boat alone, but it was super easy with a helper.

The only negative I found was that the seat seemed to move a little bit when you leaned hard. I did not expect any movement and it made a popping sound when it did move.

I plan to put the included foam on the thigh braces, add foam where my knees hit, and on the sides of the seat, covering the screws. My wife also paddled it and will likely buy one soon for herself - a different color of course.


The Tracer is a great kayak…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 12/4/2008
The Tracer is a great kayak for someone who wants a performance sea kayak but doesn't want to spend thousands of dollars.

I've had mine since May 2007 and have no plans to move into another kayak any time soon. I purchased it in mint condition from a friend who had it for a very brief period of time because he wanted to try it out. I consider myself an intermediate paddler, actively in the sport for more than five years. I upgraded to the Tracer from a Carolina 16.

If you're new to kayaking, the Tracer may not be the most stable boat for you. It's better suited to paddlers looking for the next step in a performance sea kayak after becoming comfortable in their first kayak.

That said, I've read many reviews that criticize the Tracer's tracking. This kayak is maneuverable, considering its size. You can make quick turns, spin around and do many things you can't with comparable sea kayaks. If you want to paddle in a straight line -- and you've got a bit of wind -- drop the skeg to your liking and your so-called tracking problem is solved. Good technique makes for good tracking with any kayak. It's also quite speedy. My wife tells me I have two speeds with the Tracer -- bored and fast.

I've paddled the Tracer extensively in varying conditions in Southwest Florida, both in open water and back waters on short and longer trips. The Tracer's profile makes it well suited to most conditions. It handles big waves well. If anything, the kayak's maneuverability makes it more forgiving in confused seas, sloppy seas or challenging currents and quick-changing conditions. I have not paddled the kayak fully loaded for trips.

The Tracer is relatively light and made of Trylon. I load mine alone with relative ease. The previous owner added a thin foam liner inside the cockpit for additional padding under the deck. I added Wilderness Systems hip pads, which make a big difference in fitting the boat around you (especially if you're a smaller, thinner paddler). The pads help me feel like I'm wearing the kayak, which affords more control.

Overall, the Tracer is a solid, performance kayak for people who cannot afford more expensive brands.


I've owned the Tracer about…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/25/2008
I've owned the Tracer about two months now and so far I'm very pleased with both it's overall performance and construction. I picked this boat up for about $250 below MSRP and believe it's an excellent choice for those of us do not have a composite budget.

My only complaints are that the seat tends to shift side to side when edging but I will try and stabilize that soon with some foam wedged on each side. I also found that the Tracer tends to weather cock and spin out when I stop paddling. It has been mentioned by others that a little skeg helps to correct this and it's true. I also must mention that even with the skeg down the Tracer still responds very well and turns on a dime.

This is a lively boat which makes it fun to paddle and I think that's a good thing. The initial stability is a bit touchy but I can't complain since I'm just getting out of a transitional boat and need more time to adjust. My Wife, who is very petite, found it much more stable that I. For the price of a roto mold the Tracer is not only beautiful but performs more like a high end composite. I would prefer a little better tracking but otherwise, I really enjoy this boat and didn't have to go broke getting it.


My wife and I have been…

Submitted by: paddler232807 on 8/25/2008
My wife and I have been taking an interest in kayaking, so we have been renting a LOT. We live in north Idaho and there are two very large scenic lakes very close to use, not to mention all the other smaller lakes and rivers around us as well, in short, a kayaker’s paradise.

I have had my eye on the Tracer 165 for some time after trying the Tampico 135L, which is a great boat, fast, stable and comfortable. I like the way you can adjust the foot rest on the fly without having to be out of the boat on the Hurricane’s. When I went to pick up the Tracer, having seen it only in small internet pictures, I wasn’t sure what it looked like up close. When it was pointed out to me I about fell over. The pictures do NOT do it justice, it looks fast sitting still.

I have paddled six different kayaks before this one and after reading all the reviews posted here, I had a few concerns, after all I still consider myself to be a novice. When setting off, the wind was blowing and the waves were a little on the large size. The Tracer seemed tippy and was suffering some weather cocking so I couldn’t get it going very fast. Time to try out the skeg I thought and after dropping it down the weather cocking went away like flipping a switch but it was still a little tippy. I thought I would be taking a swim and practicing my wet entries a few times before the day was up. There are a lot of big boats making big waves where we’re at and some of them like to try to sink you. Once I saw one large boat going out of his way to head right toward me. As he got close, he turned his boat and gunned it and I heard one of them say, "That should sink him." Every time a boat would go by leaving a big wake, I would think, "This could be it." After a half hour in the Tracer I found myself looking for big waves, the bigger the better. My tippy feeling was gone, I feel, thanks to the perfectly placed thigh supports. It’s amazing how much control I had over the Tracer using them. I’ve used them in other kayaks but never with such good results as with this one. I could lean the Tracer over like my sport bike and it would just pop right back up. By the end of the day I was thinking it an impossible task to tip that thing over and if you did, it would probably roll you back up so fast you wouldn’t know you went down.

I found the tracking is very good and when the skeg is up it turns very quickly especially when on the top of a good size wave. The Tracer is so light that after stopping at the shore for a quick snack, you can just pick it up and turn it around and you’re ready to go, without any help. The short of it is, don’t just take it out for a quick spin, you’ll never have enough time to fully appreciate it. Spend some time in it, but bring your check book, you may not want to bring it back.

The only problems I found with it was the seat, after being in it four hours straight, it became a little uncomfortable. (Was having too much fun to get out) Easy fix with a seat pad. And although it has a 325lb weight capacity, it’s very slim and sleek not giving it much room for a lot of stuff. For these two things I deducted 1 point. I think it’s a great kayak that anyone would love, unless its your first time out, you may want to try more of a beginner kayak.


It may be unfair to rate a…

Submitted by: Patuxent on 7/15/2008
It may be unfair to rate a boat based upon a demo day paddle - so that's a big caveat to this rating.
I wanted to like this boat. First, it's easy to carry & lift onto or off a roof. The construction was fine and it was well finished. The seat was comfortable. Upon launching from the demo beach, the factory rep warned that it was "a bit tippy"; I found it to be very stable for my 5'9"/188. Turns easily with skeg up and has expected speed for its dimensions. My complaint with this boat was its surprising tendency to leecock in very mild wind, and this takes many points off for my rating. Some skeg helped a little, but not enough. Compared this model at same conditions with CD Oracle, Solstice GTS and Cypress and those boats did not exhibit leecocking in the same conditions. Maybe it was just this particular boat - so test paddle the one you are interested in buying.

I've paddled the last year in…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 10/23/2007
I've paddled the last year in a Necky Manitou 14 "transitional touring" boat. I go out on Florida lagoons, rivers and the ocean--twice a week for about 4 hours each time. 2 weeks ago picked up a Tracer. I had read all of the reviews below. *I fully intend to post back on this boat after a few more months (maybe a year) of paddling it. But I wanted to add some comments now.

First: I LOVE the boat. Everyone loves their new boat. But I already have several, so I don't have to 'love' this boat. But I do. Yes, yes, it does yaw a bit and weather cock a bit in calm water--totally eliminated by just a little skeg. I was concerned about the posts about this as I waited for shipment. But I understand why this is so--it is (duh) a consequence of the design of the hull. It is a sea kayak, and it was obviously designed to excel in rougher conditions. I've had mine out in a variety of conditions in just short time I've had it. Yesterday I headed into a 15-20 knot head wind, 2-3 rolling waves on the Indian River and it was GREAT! Love the hull design--it spears (only word for it) through waves and was tremendously stable in this bad weather (raining/nasty and all). *The other day I had it on the Banana River in calm conditions and it needed a little skeg. Yesterday in bad weather it wasn't necessary until heading home with a following sea. What a great boat.

Very good construction. I may have given the impression that I'm able to buy boats on a whim when I said I had several. Not so. So I value good build quality. I love Hurricane's plastic/Trylon composition. It's 2 1/2 feet longer than my Manitou but 3 lbs lighter. And it is very durable. With less UV damage to worry about, I may never get another type of boat (less you give me one or I win one!).

Very maneuverable, turns on a dime, and I think it's handling characteristics will even change again when loaded. I've never paddled it (or my Manitou for that matter) loaded as a long marathon paddling day trip so far is the extent of my travels. But I bet the Tracer gets even more stable with some weight in her holds. I think I'll toss a sack of rocks in there once just to see.

I love my Tracer 165.


So, after deciding I would…

Submitted by: paddler232302 on 9/5/2007
So, after deciding I would actually use a kayak, doing a lot of research, reading kayak how-to books, opinions like those on this site, and generally noodling the whole thing out I've come to the conclusion that these reviews do not isolate and rate the kayak itself. We tend to rate our own (in)experience, our interactions with the sales people and manufacturer, our self-images, and how these elements integrate with a specific kayak model.

I'm Scottish, value-conscious, and a near-perfectionist to about 94% average accuracy. That said, here's my review of this relatively cheap and quite satisfactory product... also the other stuff around it.

8 of 10: Kayak
10 of 10: My basic kayaking skills from instructor's point of view as of this review (not when I got the kayak)
5 of 10: Dealer
6 of 10: Manufacturer

Kayak & Me - The replacement boat is generally shaped like one would expect a kayak to be shaped. Both ends point forward and backward along pretty much the same straight(ish) line. The stem and stern point mostly up and down. All the pieces are fairly well fitted and glued on. The boat floats both right-side and wrong-side up. Stuff in the storage/flotation chambers stays dry if I put electrical tape over the air pressure equalization holes in the bulkheads and/or if I'm bright enough to place the stuff in dry bags. The boat fits me well, and after adding the suggested padding in the suggested places, I fit it well. The color (yellow) is highly visible, and the materials are tough and light. After filing and sanding off the burrs and sharp edges, less blood leaks out of me and into the boat. I'm male, 43 years old, was recently 5 feet, 7 inches tall, and weigh 162 lbs (mostly water, bones, and muscle, with a little fat and some transitory internal tract content). Before I received professional training, the boat pointed generally where wind and waves pushed it and was not really easy for me to control while paddling it. I kept the skeg down a lot. The boat felt tippy. I suspected that the problem was not the boat. After receiving professional training and practicing a little, the boat does exactly what I want it to do, when I want it to do it, and without me thinking about it (or messing with the skeg, which now stays mostly up). I can roll it both ways, climb back into it if I bail out, keep it from going over, maneuver it in tight quarters, and move it pretty fast both forward and backward. The instructor observed that I had some sort of zen-like thing going on with the boat and the water. I'm not sure what that means, but I understand that most of what makes an object good or bad is me. Let me suggest that until we achieve basic kayaking skills, we consider not blaming our boats for unruly behavior.

So, I'm cool with the boat. It's cheap and does good. Fine. Boat and me get along now.
Dealer - Grrr with a smile the whole time. After taking delivery and getting to the house, I noticed that the first boat was quite bent, twisted, and unpleasant to behold after laying down $1432.42 in hard-earned cash (actually, I mostly sat on my butt in air conditioning when I was earning it). I kindly pointed this out and was treated with the assertion that the boat was just fine when the dealer received it. Out of respect for's Bytes I'm not going into the whole experience here. In the end, the dealership owner seemed to grudgingly discuss the situation with the manufacturer after I helpfully put together an easily accessible and easily postable website showing and describing the bent boat situation. Ahh, the power of potentially shared information... Also, be gently persistent and apply honey, not vinegar, in these situations. Pay for your boat with a credit card from a company that will wrestle with the merchant for you if the product is flawed. Don't leave the balance on the credit card. Tie your shoes. etcetera.

Manufacturer - Geez. I'm glad they offered to replace the bent boat. The replacement boat is a little bent, too. However, I don't have the energy or desire to continue the wrestling match or to consider defiling myself by invoking the professionals infesting our befouled legal system. How and why did they let the first boat out of the shop? I suggest that before you take delivery of your boat, level it with a carpenter's level a-thwart-ships across the coaming, then tape a weighted string from the centerline of the deck and hang it off the bow and stern. Step away a few paces and take a good, hard, critical look at it. If the string hangs off significantly to one side or the other, request a non-bent boat. Too bad you have to do this instead of trusting that it is done before it's delivered. I ordered and paid for the boat in October 2006, received the bent boat in November 2006, and received the mostly not bent boat in December 2006.

Let's put this in context. After I got my boat sorted out, I went and looked at some $3k-$5k kayaks. Very nice, very straight, high quality, attractive, solid, a few observable blemishes. It would bother me a little to scrape the hull against an oyster shell. I wouldn't get any more enjoyment out of it, and I've got $1.5k - $3.5k more cash in my pocket for important things like beer, sushi, and laundry machines. I'm taking it out tomorrow morning as the sun rises and will enjoy. Life is short. Pick a boat that pleases you, doesn't stress your budget, and get out on the water.


Paddled a Tracer on a demo…

Submitted by: paddlefar on 8/27/2007
Paddled a Tracer on a demo paddle with an instructor in a Wilderness Tsuamim 145. He was 29 and I am 50+. He could not keep up and it was the boat that made all the difference. I will be trading the poly boat ASAP

Purchased a 2007 model in…

Submitted by: ransrider on 5/22/2007
Purchased a 2007 model in March. Took it to Florida twice since then and paddle locally now. I have paddled it at least 150 miles so far, and it will probably be traded in soon. The price was right and the construction is fine, but it is so slow in the water. If you're not in a hurry and just want exercise, it will do fine. I can get it to the 6mph range if I really try hard, but a normal cruise speed is 3.5 to 4.5mph. My 15' Swift is easily faster.
Without the skeg down the boat turns more like a whitewater boat. If you stop paddling the Tracer spins out. There is no strait line glide. I leave the skeg down all the time.
I hope Sea Kayaker magazine does a review so I can see what more experienced paddlers have to say about the Tracer.

I have owned my Tracer for a…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 5/14/2007
I have owned my Tracer for a bit over 2 years. It is one of 4 boats that I have owned and one of two that I currently own. Overall, I am very happy with this boat and cannot think of another boat that I could have bought used that would provide as much bang for the buck. It is a boat that is still allowing me to hone my existing skills and learn new ones. I strongly suggest you consider this boat.

Good Points: Light weight, Good looks, Good secondary stability, Great value, Durable/easy maintenance (can still beat it up like a plastic boat but get weight/stiffness of a composite). Very responsive. Great glide (percieved by both me and paddle partners)

Negatives: Hatches let "mosisture" in -certainly don't flood but not bone dry either when edging/rolling. I had a small crack in mine where the skeg control is (fixed well with epoxy/glass) -I think it was damaged during shipping but noticed well after I took delivery.

Not so much a good/bad thing but this boat weathercocks (2005 model) substantially. The skeg does a good job of controlling the weathercocking and I can even steer the boat to weathercock or leecock in broaching winds.

I certainly do not have any doubts that buying this boat was a good decision and expect it to be in my fleet for a long time.


I bought a Tracer in spring…

Submitted by: paddler231259 on 8/10/2006
I bought a Tracer in spring of 2005 and rated it a "9" in a review here in August of the same year. Now, after another year and 30 or 40 more outings, I'll stand by that. The Tracer's still a great value. But I did have a big problem recently: the cockpit combing separated from the cockpit. I practice rolls in this boat, and I've probably done several hundred -- all on the same side, since my skills don't include an offside roll. So I've jammed my right knee upward into the kneebrace that's molded into the combing a few hundred times -- and that's where it separated. It's not difficult or expensive to repair: for $15 worth of epoxy and an hour's labor, it's good as new. Well, maybe better: I don't think the folks at the factory originally got the combing glued in quite as well they should have. I haven't tested my repair job yet, but I still like the boat.

When I unwrapped the boat I…

Submitted by: chpaton on 6/29/2006
When I unwrapped the boat I found everything to be in perfect condition. The fit and finish was fine. I was surprised to find a stainless steel rudder bracket factory installed.

As the boat is a 2003 model it did not have a skeg installed and supposedly has more rocker than the newer models (both of my other boats have some rocker, one considerably more than the Tracer so I'm a bit perplexed by the concern voiced by some reviewers). However, based on my experience with unruddered or skegged boats with rocker, and reviews here and elsewhere and advice from an aquaintence who has a Tracer, I decieded to it would be wise to add some tracking assistance over the winter.

I obtained and installed an Ocean Kayak rudder and Sealine foot braces with toe controls. Turns out to be a worthwhile investment.

My experience to date indicates the following: The Tracer is a well made, easily manoeverable kayak. The cockpit is generously sized making it fairly comfortable for a 6'1" 196#, size 11 shoe, not so limber 57 year old man to get in and out. The seat is nothing special but seems reasonably comfortable after several excursions. The way the seat is installed will allow easy modifcation (moving it fore or aft an inch or two either way) or removale and replacement.

Primary stability will feel a mite twitchy to those coming from wider rec. boats or SOTs. However that is just a matter of perception. It's primary stability is a about what you'd expect for a boat of this type and design. A friend of mine summed it up by saying it felt a little more tippy than his Cappella, but less tippy than his Sirus. It's secondary stability kicks in as you take the boat up on edge and seems fairly solid (I still have some learning to do in this area so be advised)

The boat is very manoeverable with the rudder up - you can turn it quickly. You need to mind your forward stoke to stay straight. It does have a tendency to weathcock easily. With the rudder down it's a different story, the boat tracks well, responds quickly to the smallest rudder corrections, and still turns well. Winds on the stern quarter are no longer problematic. Deploying the rudder does not seem to add any appreciable drag maybe due to the rudder blade's foil shaped cross section and limited wetted surface (it's short).

The boat seems to glide fairly well and has a fair turn of speed. It might not be the fastest 16 to 17 foot long sea kayak out there, but it's not the slowest either.

What I like so far: Cost; Material (Trylon seems very rugged and scratch resistant); Weight (at about 50# it's easy for me to cartop single handed); Fit & finish; Ease of paddling

Minor complaints: Cockpit combing rim is close to the deck making it difficult to use sprayskirts with thick rands or bungees. I had to modify the bungee knot on one of my spray skirts to get it to fit. No thigh braces - not a big issue for me as with my size and leg length I can brace my knees under the deck at the cockpit rim edge. Could be a big problem for a smaller paddler. I will add foam to get a more secure fit for my knees. Front bulkhead position is way too far forward. I have long legs (34" inseam) and on my other boats have my foot braces on the furtherst stop. Not so with the Tracer - there is at leat a foot between my foot pegs and the front bulkhead. I can streach out my legs full length and still can't reach the bulkhead (lot of extra water volume to pump during resuce practice,etc).

Final word - this is a great boat for the money. Even at full MSRP it's a bargain. If price were THE major rating factor I'd give it a 10!


An exceptional value, weight…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 4/18/2006
An exceptional value, weight 47lbs, comfortable seat, length, 16.6", width 22.75, very fast and roomy, a lttle short on initial stabilty, goes head to head with eddyline and perception airlite materials, at a much better price and is lighter. Make sure you get at least 2004 model they are updated lighter versions. I recomend this boat at anyone looking for real seakayak at great price.

The Tracer's greatest…

Submitted by: paddler231259 on 8/17/2005
The Tracer's greatest attribute is value: for the price of a rotomolded barge you get a good-looking lightweight kayak that performs like glass boats that cost a thousand dollars more.

Fit and finish are only so-so: there are other boats assembled with more care -- but not at the Tracer's low price.

Performance is good. The Tracer is fast and turns well, but it's a little short on primary stability: it may not be the best choice for beginners.

In our household, the Tracer is my boat, while my wife paddles a fiberglass Current Designs Solstice GTS. Fit and finish on the Solstice is better, and it's a prettier boat. The Solstice (for almost a thousand dollars more) is faster and holds a line better, but it's much harder to turn. The Tracer turns more readily, and it's a bit lighter. I prefer the Tracer's skeg to the Solstice's rudder. The Tracer's more fun; the Solstice is the boat I'd take on a long-distance trip with headwinds.

For some reason, I can roll the Solstice more easily than I can roll the Tracer. I can bring the Solstice back up most of the time with a sweep roll. With the Tracer, my sweep roll usually fails, and I have to resort to a Pawlatta roll (which is slower but has more leverage).

All in all, I like the Tracer and think it's a great value. I'll give it a "9" for now. If the folks at the factory will stop daubing the adhesives on with such a heavy hand, I might raise that to a "10."

To any of my kayak-shopping friends on a budget, I'd say, "Put the Tracer high on your list."


I purchased a used, one year…

Submitted by: paddler231074 on 5/12/2005
I purchased a used, one year old demo Tracer from a local Yak shop for $950.

I couldn't believe the price for such a light boat compared to fiberglass. The store owner did inform me that the skeg box leaked but that I could probably fix it with Marine goop. I did easily and so far no more leaks. I later learned that this was quite common with older Tracers. Compared to my old '89 Chinook, the Tracer is a Corvette. It glides through water like a hot knife cutting butter. Fit and trim is superb and it tracks well in all kinds of surf.

I would have rated it a 10 if not for the skeg leak.


The Hurricane Tracer will…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 2/23/2005
The Hurricane Tracer will appeal to most, but not everyone. The novice may find it tippy, and challenging to paddle a straight heading. All paddlers will really appreciate the 16 1/2 foot Tracer's light weight (46 lbs), owing to the special ABS thermoplastic, impact-resistant material called Trylon. Friends will be envious of the poly-boat price but composite-like appearance. Get used to the boat's directional sensitivity and center of balance and the payoff is great maneuverability and lightning speed. The boat rolls and edges like a dream, but don't look for conventional thigh braces, there are none. However, the cockpit coaming narrows a bit in front for adequate knee bracing. Just add a layer or two of quarter-inch minicell foam inside where your knees press and you're set. Go Tracer!

I have had my Tracer for…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 2/2/2005
I have had my Tracer for about nine months. Its fit and finish is great. I had a Caroline 14.5 for several years and the Tracer seemed a little tender in comparison but you get use to that. I have the skeg version and the tracking is good but not great, but that may be my style . . . The more I am in it the less the problems I have. The hatches are watertight but the storage in front seems a bit small. The cockpit is comfortable and there is plenty of leg and foot room for tall people with big feet.

The Trylon (thermoform) plastic is great looking, strong, and LIGHT. I have a bad shoulder and can still get the boat in the roof racks by myself. I can not say enough good things about Trylon.

If I had it to do over again I would still buy it . . . best investment I have made for a while.


If you are thinking of a used Tracer make sure it has a skeg or rudder. The first boats that were built (prototypes?) had no skeg, no rudder and more rocker. You really had to concentrate and have excellent paddling skills to keep from going large in circles.