Santa Cruz kayaks are built for one purpose, to catch more fish without the balancing act. Fast, unmatched stability and light weight, a great combination not found in any of the competitors’ models. The Founder, Jim Martin has been fishing and diving the California coastal waters since 1975. Spearfishing, abalone diving or just exploring the underwater world. “I wanted a kayak that suited the sort of conditions that I fish and dive in, so I had to build my own.“ Friends wanted one, soon after, the Raptor was born.
Read and submit reviews for the Raptor G1.
This kayak has an interesting design that leads to it's pro's and con's. Starting with the look it is definitely cool and a head turner. The construction and material is substantial. This is average weight for it's size but you won't find it flexing anywhere. The rear twin pontoon hull adds more than average stability. Leaning over to pick up your catch is no issue. I had no fear of tipping (actually leaning outboard). This also adds to exit, entry or re-entry. Overall buoyancy is excellent. Depending on your balance and of course water conditions you can stand and site fish. As a fishing platform the rear deck is ample for carrying more than enough gear. You will find a center pod for storage or more. The Front hatch is good, large enough with fair amount of storage space. The bow in my opinion could be designed a bit deeper.
For punching through waves/breakers it is excellent(expect to get wet). But I experienced some bow slap. Add some gear to drop it down. Because of the shallow bow design it flattens out on the bottom where it meets the two rear pontoons. In my experience this causes the kayak to push too much water, slowing it down and cuts down on glide. Didn't experience wind cocking and I find you actually point down wind. The accessories for this kayak are excellent including the comfort seat and cart which are well worth the add on. Overall I enjoy paddling this kayak. You may not keep up with the Jones' on a club paddle down stream but they miss all that they're there for...
I have to say for the money the stability and comfort are unbeatable. I was also very surprised with the weight of the Raptor at just 66lbs I am able to handle the kayak without any problems especially with the cart dolly. The Raptor is not a sharp turning kayak but what you lose in maneuverability you more than make up for in comfort and stability. Besides, for an angling/fishing kayak, being able to turn on a dime is not that important to me.
Basically for me the Raptor checks all the boxes... light weight, comfortable, stable, and economical!!!
This kayak is amazing. Its faster than most any of the stable kayaks and more stable than the fast kayaks. Look also at the cart. The cart is easily the best, simplest and most all terrain cart made. It weighs right at 5 lbs so its easy to just bring with out on the water without noticing it being there. The quality of this kayak is noticeable just looking at the thickness of the hull. The narrow front allows for a high angle paddle stroke which is the most effective stroke.
This kayak is among the best for fishing in my opinion. Definitely worth a test paddle.
Works very well thru surf, and tracks good even in wind. I would recommend this boat to any user.
The boat is insanely solid in the water. I did several days that were 10+ hours and several miles offshore. I opted to get the comfort seat and can honestly say that I've been in more pain on long car trips than I've ever been in my raptor. At 267 lbs I am not a light guy, add in all my kit and I probably sit at around 310+ lbs. fully loaded. That's not counting a full 30-40 lb. stringer of fish that I occasionally come in with. Compared to my Hobie It's about as dry and comfortable as standing on a boat deck.
I recently injured my right shoulder and am almost completely unable to paddle now. I bought a Hobie Outback so I could continue fishing until I can have corrective surgery. I forgot how wet you can get in some kayaks and our water is pretty darn cold. I had to buy new surf booties and splash gear to keep myself warm. I have not sold my raptor because I want it for the rough days when I can paddle again.
There's a lot of positives to the Raptor but I want to point out some things I've had issues with as well. It's not a speed demon by any means, however I don't know any boat that's 34" wide that can outrun longer more narrow boats. I don't mean to say it's a pig only that it is a big wide stable boat and the price for stability is usually speed. I've had issues with the front hatch leaking during surf launches (mind you I typically launch through 3 to 6 foot waves). When I told Jim Martin about my issues he told me they had recently designed a new hatch that corrected the issue and would fit my boat.
Bottom line: I'm very happy with my boat and would happily recommend it to anyone. It's a solid boat and the company listens to feed back and takes care of it's customers. (Thank you for the replacement hatch Jim, I promise I'll try not to lose a 3rd one!)
I paddle 200-250 miles offshore every season along the choppy Texas coast, and I can tell you that this kayak is perfectly suited to offshore paddling and fishing. I'm a big guy at 6'4" and 240lbs, but even with my gear and 60lbs of fish in the bag, the kayak tracks and paddles better than most yaks. When it's time to run back through the surf, I know by experience that the Raptor will keep me stable and upright as I make my way back to the sand. The stated weight capacity had me concerned when I first paddled the Raptor, but I quickly realized that I was near (or sometimes over) that number and the boat still handled well. Some kayak manufacturers overstate their carrying capacity and some understate it. The Santa Cruz Raptor is able to comfortably support every claimed pound and then some, within reason.
The split rear of the kayak is the source of its fantastic stability. The "pontoons" are designed to reach several inches into the water to provide solid tracking, and I have found that it also does something very useful in the wind. When you stop paddling, the kayak turns to drift with its nose pointing downwind. This allows me to drift baits behind the kayak without bothering to adjust the kayak with the paddle. I just paddle upwind of a structure, deploy baits, and drift past as my baits are passed in front of the fish. It works great and I have not found another kayak that allows this attitude while wind drifting (unless you deploy a drift chute).
The center pod that is available allows for plenty of storage between your knees, and the Comfort seat option makes even the longest days on the water comfortable. I have paddled for 18 hours (except for a couple of breaks to heed nature's call) and when I came ashore I wasn't sore at all. After several years of searching I'm so glad that I found the best design yet for paddling and fishing open water! Try one out and see for yourself.
My hat is off to Jim Martin and his design prowess as a boat builder. One of my buddies saw ours and he's ready to snag one for himself. One more addition to the fleet.
My main complaints are that the gaskets are junk and don't cover the whole space (I will be replacing mine) and that there is limited access to the rear hulls. A 4-inch hatch is the maximum size allotted. It would really be great to put some big items back there for camping trips and such, as there is almost 2x the storage of the front hatch.
Modifying a 48-60qt cooler is probably your best bet for the space behind the seat. No need to settle for a milk crate anymore! I am even thinking about building a second swivel-seat attachment for mine. The possibilities are really endless with the amount of deck space you have here.
I have been paddling on a fairly small lakes in pretty smooth water sometimes with a fairly stiff breeze. I have noticed very little wind resistance and the Raptor tracked beautifully and is very quiet on the water. It is a longer yak than the sit-in I have been using the past two years, by a foot, and I felt it was a little slow to turn compared to my sit-in. I haven't paddled my Tarpon for a few years so can't compare to that. After using my Raptor a few times, I don't feel that anymore. Unfortunately, since I brought one home, the weather has been nasty on the east coast and we have only been able to get out and fish six or eight times, on a couple of different lakes, but I love the Raptor. It is very stable and easy to get back into from hip high water. Being an older female, and a little out of shape, I might have trouble getting back in from deep water but plan to rig something up that I can quickly get to, and snap between the pontoons, that I can step on if I need to. If I have difficulty getting back in from deep water, it's because of me and not the Raptor. The yak is that stable!
I love fishing out of the Raptor and it is so easy to paddle with the narrower front profile and easy to sit sideways, backwards, stand up, just about any way you want without any indication that it is going to roll/turtle. My husband paddled it with me sitting on the tank well with my legs dangling off the back. Another thing is that even weighing 62 pounds, which is unbelievable to me that it weighs that much, I can handle the Raptor on land, and it is easy to load. Carrying my half from the pontoon end (two hands), or shoving it up an embankment by myself, is easy compared to using one handle on the other yaks. Because of the way it is designed it seems very well balanced and doesn't want to get away from you when loading. I can't wait to get the Raptor on the water in Florida next winter or sooner.
I have been rigging the Raptor with mostly RailBlaza accessories and a few Scotty that I had, and some GearTrac tracks. Very versatile. Right now, I'm using a crate but there is a live bait tank that is available and fits right in the tank well with an Atwood pump. I may be tempted to get one to have on hand. I also installed the 4" hatches, in the rear recesses on the pontoons, designed for that. Gives good access for securing accessories, to get something out that has slid back, and to carry small items in the available pouch. There is a lot of available storage and you can easily carry rods inside the hull. The "glove box" in front of the seat area is great for storing all those small items you want easy access to.
I remember when everyone said that the number one peddle kayak would never become popular; if people will give this Raptor SOT, or sit-in, a try I think they will be very pleasantly surprised.
Once I got back to shore I removed all my gear to give her the true stability test. Once I stood up in the cockpit I turned and was able to step into the seat, and walk back to the storage area without falling in... I'm not a small dude!! So I was beside myself on how that all turned out.
The design of this craft is a cross between a catamaran and a kayak. With the two sides designed in the shape of a catamaran running parallel to the craft allows the craft to stay very straight with very little correction from my paddling. The design of the bottom being flat allowed the craft to jump up on top of the water and glide with little effort.