Good Kayak, for medium to small sized individuals, with experience in "tippy" kayaks. Rudder helps to turn quite fast for it's length. Very agile and quick (Gained from it's narrowness opposeed to only average length), water proof compartments are pretty good. I will repeat this is not a boat though for a large indivdual, but it is very comfy for a medium-small sized individual. Good for medium sized rivers and lakes.
This is my third year kayaking... love it! My Calypso tracks well, is stable and comfortable, although I could use a little more padding in the seat.
The Calypso is inadequately geared for for challenging conditions or technical maneuvers and as stated already, it is not fast. Since there is only one bulkhead IMO it isn't suited to rough water or waves since it will pencil easily and is difficult to empty in an on-water rescue.
This boat will not satisfy someone who wants to work on building technical skills. I was bored with it in under an hour. But it does occupy a market niche. If all you want to do is amble around calm water in a stable craft, you'll be pleased with it.
To add front flotation, a large foam barrier has been placed down the middle of the kayak, making stretching the legs or scratching an ankle itch with the other foot a bit difficult, if not impossible. Also, there is no front hatch, which means that to go on an overnight, any gear that does not fit in the rear hatch would have to be placed in even weights on both sides in the front of the kayak. Also, the thigh braces are not adjustable and I found that they were too thin to be of much use for me.
Although the kayak was fine on the Niagara River, easily riding over waves, I still found it a bit more effort to track and paddle than the other kayaks I have used, as well as when on the Erie Canal and on local creeks.
I have narrow hips and thighs, so I fit easily into the cockpit, though at 5'5"" and 140 pounds, I am not skinny. My 6' 155 pound son found it too snug, as did my 5'7" daughter.
Since I wanted to use the kayak for camping, I returned it to LL Bean in exchange for a 12" Wilderness, that has two storage compartments, as well as a much more comfortable seat and usable thigh braces! If the Calypso flotation was added in just the nose rather than as a "wall of foam" separating the entire front of the kayak, it might have been workable. Either way, it is not a light touring kayak, as the LL Bean website stated when I bought mine; rather, it is a recreational kayak. For that use, it is fine. For light touring - not.
I recommend it to anyone I know who is thinking of buying a kayak.
I would recommend the Calypso to anyone who wants a good boat for lakes and class 1 or class 2 easy streams and rivers.
Bottom line: a great beginner kayak!
The seat is comfortable, changing seat and foot pegs while moving on the water is easy and fast. I take it out on large lakes and slow rivers 2-3 times a week. I've taken it out on windy days when there is 1-2 foot waves and it handles itself well though does get pushed around a bit. This is a great kayak and I would recommend it to anyone. If it helps I'm 5'6" and 145lbs.
I transport my kayak with a THULE Glide and set kayak carrier and have never had any problems. I've gone down the highway at 65 mph and never feared loosing the kayak (only down side, no way to lock the carrier or kayak).
This kayak has some nice features for the low price such as the comfortable seat and the bungees. The weaknesses of this kayak for me are the weak initial stability, only one storage area (though large) and lack of a bottle holder. Also, the cockpit edge is sharp, not rounded smooth, so you need a towel on your shoulder for carrying.
The boat is 38lbs and 24" wide and a perfect fit for me at 5'5", 26 years old, and 135lbs. I can carry it decent distances easily and I can lift it above my head. The proportions and lines on the boat are nice and it’s a very "pretty" boat. My fiance is jealous.
I got the deluxe package with paddle and cockpit cover. DEFINITELY worth the extra $50. The paddle is a $40 paddle and the quality is equivalent to a $50-80 paddle at your local kayak shop. The cover is made by Harmony and fits perfectly, although a little too tight at first. The hatch cover is difficult but gets easier in the sun.
Tracking: almost perfectly straight. I can paddle as fast as I can and the nose barely moves more than an inch or so left or right. The keel in the rear keeps it straight but makes turning a little more difficult than in my fiance’s Dagger Blackwater 12.0. You can still turn around within an extra 2-3' of the boat.
Stability: this is not the most stable boat. I am just moving from canoeing to kayaking but grew up on the water and I think I have great "sea legs". I haven't turned it over, but almost did a couple of times. It's definitely a light touring boat instead of recreational in that it doesn't have that extra flat area that keeps you from rolling a little bit. I plan on rolling it on purpose when it warms up some. If you are a beginner or the least bit uncomfortable/unstable on the water, I would consider something else.
Seating: The Zone seat is great. It’s super adjustable, easy to adjust on the go, and the back part moves up and down. It’s a very comfortable seat even with the minimal padding (actual ergonomic fit versus just squishy, kind of like Toyota versus Ford seats). It would be nice to have some thigh supports for long trips.
Leaks: so far so good. The drains/gutters move the water away from the cockpit and hatch very well. I haven’t noticed any leaking screws and the hatch seals well.
Summary: This is a great boat for women or experienced teens. This plus LL Bean’s amazing customer service and unrestricted return policy make this a perfect fit for me knowing that if anything goes wrong I can just send it back, no questions asked. You don’t get that with any other kayak dealer as far as I know.
A++++ would buy again
First problem, it was advertised as having adjustable thigh braces, but in fact it has none at all. May or may not be a big deal for some people, but it was at best misrepresented. (This has now been changed on the llbean.com website, probably in response to my wife's complaint)
Second problem, it does not track well at all. The thing is just all over the place. I tried paddling it, too, and had the same problem, so it's not just my wife. She can paddle my Carolina straight as an arrow.
On the plus side, it does seem pretty stable, even for me at 5'11" and >200lb. However there are probably many better choices for a smaller paddler, which is the target. My wife may go with the smaller Carolina, or similiar boat.
Some have guessed that this is a re-branded Acadia. I'm not sure about that, but it is made by Perception. In addition to the LLBean logos, it has the Perception logo on the seat and hatch cover, etc.
Since this boat is exclusive to L.L.Bean, you can't go into your local kayak shop and look at it or demo it, so you just have to order it and hope that it works for you. It didn't work for us.