I love this boat so much (and I'm overjoyed to hear that Abitibi & Co. is resurrecting the old Impex designs). My boat is an original fiberglass Impex Montauk, though I'm not sure what year. I recently purchased it on Craigslist. I'm a 5'8" woman weighing about 115 lbs. This boat fits me very well–the thigh braces are comfortable and I don't hit the sides of the boat with my paddle. In fact, the narrow width means I barely get any water in the boat. It feels like an extension of my body. At 50 lbs it's a handful but I can manage it on my own (carrying it & moving it on/off the roof rack). Aesthetically, it's stunning to look at. In the water it has great primary stability–I have no trouble getting in/out of the boat. I haven't rolled it, but feel very comfortable edging it on turns. This is my first touring/sea kayak (previously I used shorter rec kayaks) but I quickly felt comfortable with it. It goes fast, cuts upstream effortlessly, and tracks well. When it's windy or there's current the skeg comes in handy; I instantly feel the improvement on tracking when I lower the skeg. The seat is surprisingly comfortable, given how low-profile the back is (I have a long torso). I've paddled all day and been very comfortable, relatively speaking. The hatches are great! The curved bulkheads increase storage space. I really like that they are opaque which lets light through into the hatch interior. The day hatch is convenient and surprisingly roomy, like a Mary Poppins bag. I can easily fit a medium stuff sack, large water bottle, snacks, extra sweater, etc in there. There is plenty of room for longer trips too. My criteria for this boat were that it be large enough for open water paddling & storing equipment for camping trips, but lightweight enough for me to handle out of the water. Thumbs up! I recently went on a multi-day camping trip and was able to fit everything I needed, including: tent w rain fly & tarp, sleeping bag, clothes, food, assorted items (lightweight camp stove & fuel, water bottles, hammock). I strapped my foam sleeping pad to the boat and it didn't even get wet.
The little details of this kayak are nice, too. The grab handles are comfortable, the hatch openings have drains for water to run off, there's a paddle rest with metal loop behind the seat, etc. You will get many compliments when you take out this boat! I'm so happy with this kayak. Really the only "con" is the fiberglass itself–the compromise is that it is more delicate and scratches easier than plastic. However, that's just a characteristic of glass and not a design flaw. I absolutely recommend the Impex Montauk to women and/or smaller paddlers who want speed/stability/tracking combined with lower weight and the ability to store items for longer excursions.
So, 5 years down the road, this now 15 year-old kayak still makes me feel like I'm paddling a Ferrari. She's not the fastest, lightest, or most feature-rich boat out there (at least not my older, fiberglass-hatch cover version) but I love how she paddles. At 15' with a 22" beam, she is the perfect size for me. But my favorite aspect is her rocker, great for so many applications... turning in tight mangrove channels, surfing, and breaking through chop.
I always marvel at how 'springy' and lively she feels, especially after having paddled larger boats. She's also pretty easy to roll (intentionally) but I've only ever dumped her (unintentionally) when I was trying to surf some shore breaks. Fortunately, I find her just as easy to wet-exit and to climb back in.
The Montauk is actually a pretty stable boat, despite her narrower beam. I can even stand up in the cockpit on a calm day. I routinely go on snorkeling trips to the reef in this boat... there's just enough room in the key-hole cockpit for me to donn my gear, roll out, and then climb back in. She tolerates all my maneuvering around like a champ while at anchor.
I've done a lot of camping trips out of this boat too, the longest being the 100 mile wilderness waterway through the Everglades. I carried water and food for 5 days, along with all my gear. It was a squeeze, but quite feasible. The first day out on that trip did see me burying the bow in wind chop due to too much water stored forward, so you do have to be conscience of the balance.
The Montauk is the most comfortable boat I've ever paddled. Rather surprisingly, I can sit in the molded fiberglass seat all day without my butt hurting but my other kayak, with a padded seat, gives me bruises. I can't figure it out but it seems to ring true that sometimes simpler is better. The thigh pads are also very sparse (just thin strips of a neoprene-like material), but even these I find to preferable over the more padded ones. They make it easy to move my legs in and out of position against the bulkhead, so that I never feel like I'm putting too much pressure on my knees while still being able to maintain good contact with the hull. A quality Immersion Research backband completes the cockpit... no other padding and bells-and-whistles needed.
As for maintenance (and given her age), I've had to replace the skeg cable, hatch seals, bungee and deck lines. I mailed the skeg and hatch covers up to the Impex rep up in North Carolina, who did the custom repairs very quickly and reasonably priced. Customer service A+.
The skeg design is simple and it's easy to remove the cable, unlike some other designs I've come across. I also actually prefer the fiberglass hatch covers, as they are easy to remove and allow for larger openings by which to load gear. I usually get very little to no water inside the compartments, so the seals on the covers themselves do a decent job. Newer models come with the more modern rubber hatch seals.
She has more scratches and dings than when I bought her, but considering all that I have put her through, she has aged quite well. My only criticism is a weak spot on the bow, just at the waterline. I cracked the glass while trying to rescue a capsized 2 person SOT…70 lbs of rotomold coming alongside rather abruptly proved too much for it. I have patched the spot with some glass and epoxy...good as new.
I have no plans to upgrade to another kayak at this point because after 15 years of paddling, I finally feel like I've found my perfect boat.
If you want one boat that does a lot well (oh, it rolls nicely too) then get this one. The quality last a lifetime if you care for your Impex because it is built with pride.
Those are all topline boats. This is a topline boat. She won't win any races (at my mass that would take a pencil) but she's equivalent to the others with some extremely nice touches (carry handles! adorable! a locking loop! finally! bowed bulkheads! genius!), yet because of her modest price she's usually compared to boats nowhere close to her quality or performance. So let me just say this: She goes where you head her. (Equivalent to the others doesn't mean like the others. Montauk has quite a taut keel. Impex seems to think, and I agree, that with a waterline <4.5 m rocker isn't such an advantage.) She edges reasonably well, catches waves with aplomb, responds appropriately to the skeg but rarely needs it because the decks are low. She does everything well and has no discernible flaws. Best of all, she fits. I can get the Montauk down in the water where she belongs, even unladen, which is rare, and Montauk is not their least displacement. I'd also like to mention that while Impex offers a healthy range of sizes and styles, they do not offer a range of quality. They do not make plastic surrogates, they do not make cut-corner look-alikes. They make nothing but top-drawer, precisely designed, carefully engineered composite boats. If they make the shape you're looking for, I don't think you can do better.
They also offer wild color combinations. When you see mango yellow decks, burnt orange coaming and rails and a green hull, you can be pretty sure you're looking at an Impex.