This one is a must have, if you can find one. Necky is of course gone now, I guess to promote Old Town boats, but the Looksha was a hull they should have hung onto and rebadged.
Lets start with me. I'm 6'3" with big feet, and a 35" inseam and 235 lbs. Touring boats and I are generally at odds from the meet and greet. CD, Jackson and Dagger are all out in the 14' range. I just cant get my legs and feet in. That leaves the Tsunami and the OT Castine really. Both feel enormous inside.
I have two Looksha boats, a 12 and a 14. They're both accepable for my size, in other words I'm not stuffed in but there isn't loads of addition space either. They're the most comfortable seating boats I own, and thats by a long shot. My WS Tsunami and my Dagger Zydeco arent even close.
The Looksha is a pretty athletic hull. It moves along quite nicely , in fact my daughter was paddling the 14 against me in demo Eddyline Equinox (dream boat) recently and it held right with me. The Looksha has really hard chines and it will sit on its edge like it's on tracks. Primary and secondary stability are amazing. The boat handles really well and its predictable.
The post 2010 models have the better hatch covers, both lengths have 2 bulkhead and 2 hatches. They don't leak at all, ever. The overall fit and a finish is quite good with excellent rigging, handles, thigh braces and seat quality.
You really cannot go wrong with having a Looksha in your fleet, it wont be quite as athletic as a Manitou or an Alchemy, but it will be as stable and capable as any boat you buy in its size range and certainly will win the award for all day comfort.
Necky made some really phenomenal rotomold boats towards the end of it run and the Looksha is one of them.
Here is how I would rate the boat now:
• Tracking - outstanding
• Turning - very good
• Carved turns - fair - (you do have to lean pretty far because of the stability.)
• Speed and glide - good, considering the weight of the boat.
• Seat comfort - outstanding
Overall, a very good boat with no bad habits.
I bought the Looksha to gain some leg and foot room. I am 6' 3.5" tall, 175 lbs and wear a size 12 shoe. I picked up enough leg and foot room to be comfortable. I do have to have the footpegs in the all-the-way-forward position. However, if you are taller than me and have a larger shoe size, you may need to go to a longer boat. The forward hatch bulkhead limits the leg and foot room.
At 59 lbs the Looksha is fairly heavy for a 14ft boat so it is harder to get it on and off our truck and into the water. Hope I will get use to this. Our other kayaks are a Necky Manitou Sport and a Manitou 13. These boats weigh in at 45 lbs. I think the extra room in the Looksha and the ability to brace properly in the boat will offset the extra weight over time. All of my experiences with Necky kayaks have been good. That is why I keep coming back to them.
I guess I will start with the BAD, as that is what most people read reviews for before they buy a boat, the potential downers.
Ok, so grumpy pissy BAD side over, now for the GOOD.
I rented the of these and paddled Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, CA with it. My goal for the day was to paddle calm water and maybe play in the swell outside of the harbor mouth. This boat was a good rental.
I did not like the rudder kit on the boat. I have quickly grown to like the gas pedal approach of my Tourya, so sliding the pegs front & back to steer was clumsy for me. It was too touchy for my novice level and I constantly over-steered. Since the day was calm I kept the rudder up most of the time.
The seat design is OK. The pan feels OK, but not as well formed as the P&H Easky or the Prijon. The back rest stood out as stable, well fiting, and easily adjustable.
The stability of the Looksha is what stood out to me - initial and secondary. Leaning enough to break the keel free to turn tight was not easy for a novice like me.
I did play in the swells outside of the harbor mouth, but got spooked when caught between a swell and a reflected wake that hit at a 45 deg angle. The boat and I rode right through it, but the chaotic after currents unsettled me, making the boat feel out of control, so I headed to the safety of the harbor to test my speed.
The boat gets up to speed quickly, but I felt like I could be going faster. She glided well, tracking straight, but slowing sooner than expected.
I love the look of this boat and I like the outfitting. I did not capsize on this trip, so wrestling items out of the rigging was not needed. Casual grabbing of my drink bottle from under the front deck webbing was simple.
Overall, 7 out of 10, using my other experiences in my Touryak, and the Easky & Delphin.
I would not buy this boat, as the looks are the best thing about it to me. But it is probably a boat better experienced by an intermediate to advanced paddler.
It has proven to be exceptionally stable, maneuverable, fast and fun. I load it on top of my Ford Explorer all by myself and have had no problem with it at all. I live in Florida and have paddled the Gulf waters, Weeki Wachee River, Silver River, Crystal River, Homosassa River, Rainbow River, Hillsboro River and the Peace River. Went on two camping paddling trips and my only regret is I didn't do this many years ago. I get nice comments on my Cloud blue kayak everywhere I take it.
My only negative of the Necky Looksha is that I have a heck of a time getting the neoprene hatch seals back on, if that can really be a negative. Not one drop of water have I found in either the forward or aft dry compartments. Even in windy choppy gulf waters, I have never capsized. I weigh 220 lbs and am 6'1" and am totally stable in my Necky. My Necky is Rotomolded
I found the seat back a bit high - though very comfortable. Might agree with the prior review that the seat back gets in the way during rescue. Though I am perhaps advanced novice or beginning intermediate in skillset, escape was easy, and with the large cockpit rentry as well. Have not worked with the spray deck other than escape .. no issue, but with the seatback (not necessarily a Looksha review, but seat review) it's difficult to reconnect the deck to the boat.
The boat tracks very well. The lower back deck makes the wind affect it very little, at least in moderate winds. Longest paddle thus far was a trek down the sound side of navarre beach, in light winds, maybe 1 1/2 with a rare 2 foot wave ... no issues whatsoever... tracks well, slight adjustment to strokes to maintain track (I don't have a rudder on mine).
Very stable - didn't try to edge much for turning as I didn't use the spray deck, but I would agree with previous reviewer that it would take a bit of lean to create the edge turning, given the stability of the boat.
I think this will be a great boat for my day / overnight touring...(I also picked up a Prowler 13 for fishing... like that too, for its intended use)
I would suggest getting the back band rather than the seat back. In doing rescues, the seat back was always in the way and got tangled. The back band was much easier.
The boat tracks almost too well. It does respond to an edge to turn, but you need to put it up quite a bit. The lower back deck makes the wind affect it very little, at least in moderate winds. I'm ordering three of them for a teaching fleet, sans rudder. Each will have the 'outfitter' seat back.
I prefer this boat to the Looksha 17 (V) that I tried earlier. The 14 is a good combination of a shorter sea kayak that can track as well as an easy to transport and store kayak.