First let me say this is my first kayak and my very first time in the water in a kayak. I've canoed for over 30 years off and on but, never kayaked until this moment so, I cannot give you the review of a seasoned veteran but, I can give you a full beginner's review! This is long and if you want the short version just scroll to the bottom for the pros and cons section.
For nearly a year I read reviews of so many kayaks on this site. I was trying to find one that I thought would meet my needs both physical and purpose-wise. I am 6'-2" tall and weigh around 225lbs with a 36" inseam and a size 12 shoe (thank you to all the reviewers who included that information as that really helped me with my decision!). I wanted a kayak to travel local lakes and rivers. I wanted one with maximum travel for minimum effort expended. I'm not doing this for exercise but, for relaxation and pleasure. Exercise is secondary. So, I decided on a sea kayak. I browsed CraigsList and when I would find one I liked I would come to this site and read reviews and more often than not I would read "I'm 5'-10" and it's a bit cramped for me" and obviously, that killed it for me. Then I found the Necky Looksha 17.
My particular one is in great shape! It has a rudder but, the cables were frayed and I replaced them with 200lb test monofilament. The rudder is practically useless for me though because when seated, my feet touch the front bulkhead which means the pedals have nowhere to go when using them. I was able to spread my knees outward and gain a little space to use it a little and it worked rather well but, the webbing straps that adjust the pedals are old and stiff and won't hold their position so, the pedals kept slipping down until they again had no travel. I will be replacing these as soon as I can.
I bought a handmade greenland semi-shouldered paddle based on the information I learned on this site. I like it very much! I did not buy a spray skirt as I didn't have the money at the time of our trip and I was told it would be a lazy trip down river with no big rapids. LOL!
The seat is fairly comfortable. I like the back adjustment as I can get it up higher on my back where I need the bracing. I do wish it would be able to move backwards about 4" as I think that would really help with my legroom and allow me to use the rudder better.
I wish the area just forward of the cockpit was slightly taller as I'm more comfortable with my knees bent a little bit and I feel more in control. Mine came with what I assume are thigh braces but, I honestly have no idea what species they would be designed for as your hips would have to be 3' wide and your legs 4" in diameter to fit. I'm sure I am doing something wrong but, I couldn't figure out any way to fit without them digging into the tops of my thighs. So, I took them out. I have a 34" waist and I feel a much larger person would be a tight fit in the cockpit. I didn't touch the sides but, it's close.
I didn't use the storage compartments as I didn't need to haul anything for our trip. The straps on them are somewhat stiff but, the rubber covers are still flexible and seem to seal well. I didn't check for leaks afterwards but, will try to remember the next time I go out on the water. I added a little uh...loop mount..omega looking thingy in front of the cockpit to attach my paddle lanyard and I'm thankful for that!
From the moment I hit the water it was obvious how much faster it was than the guys I was with. They all had 9' sit on top kayaks. The boat glides so well! At one point I told the others to go ahead as I was going to pull over and drain the boat. They got several hundred yards ahead of me and with very little effort I was able to catch up very quickly. I didn't use the rudder for the first part of the trip as I didn't think I could use it at all. The boat steered rather well and I found that I could make instant course corrections by braking on one side or the other more accurately than I could by paddling. At the first rapids which were class 1 or a low 2 I was able to get fairly close and back paddle and easily hold my position while I watched the others choose their lines and decided which route was best for me. I found in most straight-on rapids I had the advantage as I could go straight through where the waters were moving in multiple directions and the smaller boats would get moved around and they had to fight more than I did.
However, when the rapids had a turn to them I struggled. Two of the rapids were in bends in the river and one was along a rock cliff and these were low to middle class 3. The first one got me turned and I lost balance and went in. I'm sure a more experienced paddler would have been fine but, this was my first time. There were several large submerged rocks but, the boat sustained no damage as it got tossed around. I swam to the shore and drained the boat and hit the water again. Oh, I didn't lose my paddle thanks to my lanyard!
The second rapids went along the rock wall and were very fast! I was using the rudder at this point and right as I entered the rapids, one of the peddle straps slipped and my foot slammed into the bulkhead and the rudder turned sharply and I went straight into the wall between two rocks which put me crosswise to the flow which didn't end well. Again, the boat sustained no damage whatsoever. I did a little bit. Throughout the trip, the boat was quite stable except when water got over a couple of inches in the bottom from going through the rapids but, a spray skirt would have cured that. I'm not that comfortable with the secondary stability yet but, I never felt tippy or at risk of flipping except in the worst of the rapids and even then only when they were turning.
There were several sections of the river where it was shallow and I was sliding over lots of rocks. The boat sustained no damage and I was thankful the seat doesn't actually sit on the bottom of the boat! With the rudder I think it weighs around 70lbs. It's not too hard to carry by myself but, I'm not a small man. I drive an F150 SuperCrew and I used a hitch extender in the vertical position to haul it. Loading by myself is extremely difficult but, can be done. Even with help it's not the easiest task.
Overall, I'm very impressed with the boat! The others who I rode with were sure I would sacrifice the boat to the river gods when they saw the size of it but, at the end of the trip they all said they were incredibly impressed with it especially since it was my very first time on the water in a kayak! They made sure to note they were impressed with the boat, not me! :)
I wanted a boat that I could do a variety of things in. After my experience on the river I know it will be excellent on the lakes!
The pros: Maximum travel with minimum effort.
The cons: It's not a light boat and the length make loading and portage challenging.
I wish it were lighter and had more knee room and the storage was easier to access but, other than that I am very pleased with the boat and would happily recommend it to anyone that could tote it!
A great family touring kayak, Very stable, tracks beautifully, easily carries gear for an overnighter or multiday trips. We often go to the San Juan Islands with our family and have taken our now thirteen year old boys there since they were 6 years old. Durable, affordable, a great kayak all around!
I have an old Necky Looksha 17 in glass and my friend has the plastic which is also a nice tracking and packing out boat. They are fast and stable in the ocean.
On the water it's fast and turns really well and on land it's light and easy to load onto my truck without any help. My only issue was the price, it was a little on the high side for what you get but I'd make the same purchase again, you pay for quality.
I truly believe it is a well thought out touring boat. It blends speed, durability, stability, comfort, and the ability to carry a load into a durable affordable package. There are many other boats available. Some of them may edge out the Looksha in one category, but taken as a whole, I say nothing else comes close. I believe it so strongly I bought one, TWICE!
All in all I would recommend this boat especially if you're a larger paddler or if you want a good boat you can paddle all day and stay comfortable.
The New 2011 Necky Looksha 17 incorporates the ACS seat which puts the manufacturer way ahead of the bunch with its multiple adjustments points such as the thigh support feature, easy customizable backrest and solid feeling on a seat that really seems one with the boat. The little pull up strings that release the adjustments tabs are also an excellent idea.
Overall a roomy cockpit able to harbor a large range of body types allowing for great comfort as well as excellent control on rough water. When the wind picks up badly a solid rudder system aids on tracking. Adjustable foot pegs could do better on such a great high performance boat. Carrying capacity is almost obscene for you have so much room in each of the pantagruelian hatches that it is hard to find a complaint on that one. The cross lock hatch cover system with the well proven neoprene covers allow no water in even when rolling.
Rolling; for a boat of these specs one would think rolling would require a lot of effort yet it does it easily once you pass the high secondary stability point to flip it.
To finalize, I liked the boat a lot, roomy yet controllable, big yet nimble, fast fair tracker even with some wind, excellent craftsmanship in a boat that can do a lots of things better than just right. I even used her to fish for stripers with no stability worries.
Now I want one!