I added a foam, wedge seat from the dollar store to make the seat more comfortable in mine, but my husband doesn't seem to mind his. Adjusting the seat back and the foot pegs is very simple. I've recommended the Vapor to a lot of folks looking to buy a rec boat. They're solid without being cumbersome, and even after a couple of years in the rental string, they don't show much wear beyond scratches on the bottom of the hulls from repeated put-ins and take-outs on the concrete ramp.
If I were going to replace mine I might go up to a Camden, another nice Old Town boat, but I have no plans to do so any time soon.
This is my first kayak and from what little experience I have, I like it. I do agree that the seat is a bit on the uncomfortable side, after about 4 hours in the kayak. You kinda get bleacher a$$. To solve, I bought a pad which has pretty much solved the problem. There is plenty of room in the yak. The storage in the back for my dry box, misc ropes and odds and ends. Behind the seat, I have little room because I installed the rod holders. In front, plenty of room. I can fit my gear bag, utility boxes, cooler and small odds and ends. The drink holder in the front it useless. You have to get up from the seat and in the water, I do not recommend that.
The kayak is stable. Tracks well, again, I am a novice so with no comparison, it is hard to say. And I have paddled the Susquehanna, app 15 miles in a little under 5 hours, mostly dead water. So it moves pretty nicely. All in all, I would buy again.
The XT has some features missing in the base model, including a day well cover (more on that shortly) and a really nice, padded adjustable seat. The integral paddle keeper system is a nice touch, but brings its own issues also.
First, the good points: this kayak is well-constructed and fairly well thought-out. The cockpit opening is huge at 48 inches – pay attention when you’re kayaking during warmer weather or you’ll get an unpleasant surprise when you find your legs have been sunburned because you are used to smaller cockpit openings and forgot to put sunscreen on your lower body. Otherwise, the large opening makes for really easy entrance into the kayak and fairly easy exits – you can almost fall down in the general direction of this kayak and make it into the seat, which is perfect for those like myself that tend to be a little klutzy.
The seat is very comfortable – I am sure an aftermarket pad would make it even more so, but I have spent upwards of five or six hours at a time in the seat with no ill effects.
Stowing gear is a breeze also, and with a hauling capacity of up to 325 pounds you can comfortably fit a lot of gear in there, even with the floatation at the front and rear of the kayak. This is a perfect boat for overnight adventures with ample space for a small tent, sleeping bag, and the other goodies you will need for kayak camping.
The boat is ridiculously stable in the water – the running joke among my friends is that with a 28.5 inch beam and the Vapor’s inherent stability, the only way to fall out of this kayak is to stand up and jump (with scant few exceptions mentioned further below).
The boat cuts through the water well, though obviously not as smoothly as a longer, narrower boat.
Next, the not-necessarily-so-good points: the hatch cover on the day well in no way impedes the flow of water, so anything inside the day well had better be in a dry bag or box. That said, there is no attachment point to tether a dry bag or box to inside the day well, so if you use it I would advise that anything you put in it floats. I have seen the small shock cord retainer allow the hatch cover to come open during a capsize (note to self: don't get caught crosswise in a fast-moving stream and freak out, as you are only inviting trouble and a lot of good-natured ribbing from your fellow kayakers). The hatch cover makes it impossible to carry anything in the day well larger than the interior dimensions of the well, so in retrospect a bungee system around the well might have been the better choice for stowing bulky items in a dry bag, etc.
The built-in rest is OK for a quick place to drop your paddle, but storing the paddle crosswise to the kayak makes it difficult, nigh impossible, to pull alongside another kayaker (or anything else, for that matter) without removing your paddle and stowing it somewhere else, which (for me, anyway) kind of defeats the primary purpose for the paddle rest. I added a side paddle bungee on my Vapor and use it 95% of the time instead of the factory rest.
A quick note: don't get it in your head like I did that you're going to add a deck bag to this kayak. The front deck area of the kayak is miniscule due to the massive cockpit opening and most normal deck bags won't fit. Add to this the distance of the deck from the actual seat and a deck bag turns out to be pretty impractical anyway.
Overall impressions? I love this kayak, perceived shortcomings and all. As mentioned, to combat the paddle rest issue I installed an aftermarket bungee system. I plan to remove the hatch and add a bungee kit around the day well to better secure a dry bag. I’ll probably add a small (four point) bungee kit to the bow sometime down the road, but it really isn’t a big deal.
I will say that in retrospect I would have purchased the Vapor 10 model instead of the more expensive XT. The few additional amenities of day well cover and upgraded seat the XT model offers aren't really worth the additional $90 or so I paid for them, at least in my opinion.
I researched for a few weeks and narrowed it down to the Vapor 10XT and a Dagger Axis 10.5 footer. Both GREAT boats. These reviews helped me tremendously!! I demo'd the other boat and a simple Old Town kayak (not near the quality of the Vapor) and liked both boats. For price point I chose the Vapor XT; that and the fact that the cockpit is larger and I hope to take my grandson with me next summer.
The other boat had a movable skeg whereas the Vapor didn't. I thought the tracking might be better on the more expensive boat with the high tech skeg, but the Vapor actually felt a bit more true when I gave it its first voyage. Perhaps it was the water conditions when I tried the other boat, but in any event, I took my Vapor out tonight for the first time, and it went straight for any pin point I kept my eye on, even going cross current.
I bought the 230cc paddle (as recommended in these reviews) and found that I still banged the side of the boat on occasion. Perhaps that is due to my novice paddling form.
I was amazed at how easily it went into very shallow water and over submerged trees that I didn't see until I was on top of them. As I went over several bogs, it only hung up once. Easy enough to back my way out, too! It sits nice and high on the water.
I love the covered day well feature. Because it doesn't have a water proof seal, I bought a $20 waterproof floatable bag to put my cell phone and keys in. Easy enough.
Having a bum knee that is not supposed to bear any weight for 6 months, I splurged for the strap-on 2-wheeled cart that hooks onto the boat so I can push or pull it wherever I want without carrying it. Great for getting it up and down the hill to our boat landing from our truck bed. And yes, I was able to get it up into the truck of our Superduty Ford (pretty high off the ground), so I count that as a blessing being that I'm a 5'5" female with a bum leg. That speaks volumes to me as I look forward to getting healthy again.
The foot pegs are easy to adjust and though the padding in the seat isn't as thick as the Dagger, I was comfortable for my one hour ride. I bought a kayak life vest and I think the shorter vest helped in that respect, too.
Love the molded in paddle rest with the bungie strap. My paddle seemed secure though it crosses the cockpit when strapped in. The other boat straps the paddle along the side which would seem a bit less likely to get hung up on tree branches, etc. if resting in tall grassy areas or by tree branches.
I wish the cockpit edges were just a tad bit thicker or rounded, as it is not comfortable to pick up w/bare hands... my only true gripe but I can live with it.
The boat was VERY stable even going against the winds and cross the current. I felt very safe, even as a novice. Now I just need to work on my exit strategy!
Can't wait to spend a good portion of my weekend in it. Though I love both the Vapor XT and the Dagger Axis 10.5, I'm very happy with my choice.
A word of warning...buy LONG paddles with this boat. Not only is it a typically wide recreational boat (28.5"), it's higher in the front. We're used to the Otters we've typically rented, which have no rise to the front of the boat. I bought two 220cm paddles and regretted it. We kept bumping the sides of the boat while paddling. I've since bought longer paddles. We'll use the 220cc's as back-up paddles.
The reason the boats are taller in front is the pointed shape of the boat allows it to really slice through the water, providing truer tracking. We like that. The cockpits are more open than we're used to. I bought a couple of half-skirts/splash decks to close up some of the front of the cockpit to keep us a little more dry. We haven't tried them out yet. If you like a very open cockpit, you'll love this boat. We're used to a more enclosed cockpit, so these will take a little adjusting to.
The seat is very comfortable. I did purchase an extra seat cushion, but haven't felt the need to use it yet. The basic model has a lesser seat. It was worth it to us to upgrade to the XT model to get the better seat and hinged hatch.
The paddle rests are terrific. I like to take photos while paddling and it's great to have a place to quickly rest the paddles to get the shot. The food pegs adjust easily and have sufficient settings for the tallest of paddlers. The carry handles are great for attaching the bow and stern lines when the kayaks are in the roof carrier, but we found them rough on the hands when carrying the boat. I wish they were padded or made of a softer plastic.
I can't imagine carrying my IPod or GPS out in my kayak, but we still found the bungie supplied for this purpose to be very useful. I clipped my keys there. You could also attach your paddle leash to that loop. I'm sure we'll discover even more uses as we take the boats out more. The thigh pads are great, but really tall paddlers may not benefit because their legs are likely to hit too far forward. If that's a major issue, the XT comes in a 12' size. It wasn't a big deal to us.
Color selection is limited on this boat. We ended up with two lime green boats. We like the color (don't see too many lime green kayaks out there), but it would have been nice to get two different colors. We just didn't like the other colors available.
For the money, these are great boats. We've always rented Old Town Otters, so I had in mind that Old Town made durable boats. If they can stand up to beginners in rivers, hitting rocks and getting caught in downed trees, they must be mighty forgiving!
At 48 pounds, my 16-year-old son and I can load and unload the kayaks from the roof of my SUV. We purchased a Thule Stacker system, which was significantly less expensive than purchasing separate carriers for the two boats.
We're happy with our decision and would recommend these kayaks.