I bought this boat used last year specifically to use in the MR340. This is a 340 mile non-stop race on the Missouri river. While there are checkpoints for resupply or sleeping and whatnot, I didn't have a ground crew so I needed to take pretty much everything except extra water with me for 3 days of mostly non-stop paddling.
The boat looks like fiberglass (smooth and shiny) but it's really thermo-mold plastic. This has it's pros and cons. The construction makes it a little heavier than fiberglass and my particular boat weighed in empty at about 67 lbs. on the plus side, boat ramps are a breeze, because plastic is so much more durable than fiberglass or kevlar.
At 24" wide, it's quite stable, and even though I got some 2 a.m. wobbles, I never felt tippy or like I was in serious danger of dumping it. It also handled the wind and some 2-3' barge wakes like a champ.
Due to its width, weight, and designed in stability, The boat isn't the fastest out there, but it has huge hatches and a ton of internal storage. It also has a very roomy cockpit and the seat is adjustable fore and aft with the front lip being adjustable up and down. The backrest is also adjustable fore/aft & up down and the rudder pedals have lots of adjustment as well. The key to this is that all of these adjustments are available to you while you're still in the boat. No stopping required to fiddle with changing position to get some relief after hours of paddling, or to swap out the empty camelback between my legs for the full one behind the seat.
Out of the 68 hours that it took me to finish that race, I was in the boat for over 55 hours. It was as comfortable as any kayak could be expected to be, was roomy enough for all of my stuff, and handled all the conditions I threw at it without letting me down.
I've used it in high winds, whitecaps and strong currents and have been pleased with the way it handles every time. It tracks great and provides confident handling through choppy conditions. Thermoform hull and deck not only looks great but is very durable. Lots of room for gear and well designed hatch covers and seals.
I particularly like the the ease of foot brace adjustment. the pedals spring back to your feet while adjusting. Awkward reaching not required. I've only had to use the rudder a few times and like the "gas pedal" foot controls. The seat is comfortable and supportive although I like the adjustment features of the seats in the newer models.
If you're looking for a reasonably priced all around durable boat for touring or day trips that you can feel confident in even as a beginner this boat is a great choice.
It is a great boat for camping/touring rougher waters. It has tremendous storage and great stability. On our return trip we experienced chop, then 1' to 2' waves facing about 10 to 12 knot winds with some really strong currents. Even loaded, the nose primarily road up the waves instead of plowing through them, providing for a drier ride than I expected. Since the Chinook has a rudder (aluminum that flips up or down and uses locking tilting "gas peddle type" foot pegs) the boat was exceptionally nice to use in these conditions. My regular boat, a 17.5' Eddyline Nighthawk only has a skeg, and it is much more work to avoid weathercocking in the same conditions. The rudder was much appreciated this weekend.
The Chinook is very comfortable and loaded with features. The hatches are hard shell that sit flush with the deck and are held on with elastic cords. Under the hard shell cover is a separate neoprene hatch cover. The two of them provide a very weather tight seal. If the hard shell hatch is lost the neoprene cover can be used without it, and if that is lost, a piece of plastic can be used with the bungie cords to improvise a hatch cover. I really like this hatch cover system. It is much easier than fighting with rubber hatch covers with tired fingers on cold mornings.
The rudder system works flawlessly and adjusts automatically for different paddlers when you adjust the foot pegs. A slide lever on the side of the boat easily flips the rudder up or down.
Behind the seat are two nylon straps mounted to the deck. They are for putting your paddle through when doing a paddle float reentry. They have a quick release so that your paddle is quickly released after you have re-entered the cockpit.
The boat even has a metal bar on the deck so that it can be padlocked for security.
The last foot or so of the keel just before the rudder has a nylon or kevlar drag strip to protect that part of the boat from rocks.
The seat is very comfortable and adjustable in a few ways.
The boat is not a "fast" boat, but it isn't "slow". It is a very well made, comfortable, touring boat that inspires confidence, has a lot of clever features, and has surpassed my Eddyline Nighthawk as my choice for camping/touring.
My age: Middle age
My size: A little over 6'1"
My weight: 260 lbs
Kayaking since: 1997
My other kayaks: Eddyline Nighthawk, Point 65 Sea Cruiser, Olde Town Loon 138