Have had for 2 years - paddled in Long Island sound + Connecticut river + one trip to Acadia - has handled all water comfortably so far. Replaces WS Sealution - Swift feels steadier in wind and waves - less apt to be pushed round. Have not paddled with loaded hatches to date - hence just the 4 stars.
I have had the Saranac 14 LV in Kevlar Fusion two months now, after picking it up used. It’s a 2014, with skeg. I almost dismissed it after having tested a new one, but realized I was testing it with an awful paddle that made it appear the boat had an issue. NOTE TO DEALER: Don’t hand the paddler a $50 paddle to test a $4000 boat. For reference I am a 180 pound 5 ft. 8 in. 63 year-old male. The Saranac 14 is truly a dream, and while it is fine without employing the skeg, I find that setting the skeg at half position makes a noticeable difference. My only complaint is that Swift continues to innovate, and I wished I had the newer carbon seat base that is epoxied to the hull, as the older style plastic base has an annoying squeak! The seat itself is the most comfortable one I have ever sat in, and is the low back version. I was on the water four hours yesterday with a 15 minute break. Workmanship is first class, and Swift has come a long way since their early thermoformed boats. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
ordered my Saranac 14 from Collinsville Canoe in Sept 2015 and it was picked up in November. This is my first Kayak but not the first I paddled. I borrowed and tried a few for a 5 years before I settled for a Swift. I admit that it was above my experience but now I feel so comfortable paddling it. The Saranac made me a better paddler. I feel completely in control. I use it mainly on the Delaware River and converted it into a fishing kayak. It's so light I carry it with 1 hand and other gear at the same time. The extra money will save my back over the long run. The first time i threw it on my Outback, it bounced back off at me. I'm use to 50 plus pound kayaks and this is just 34 pounds. Thank you Bill Swift for your knowledge. I made the right decision.
This kayak is a pleasure to paddle with excellent glide and maneuverability. The cockpit size enables me to enter and exit the boat comfortably in spite of a hip issue. Loading, unloading and portaging the boat is manageable due to the balance and weight. I have paddled the boat in both large and smaller bodies of water in upstate NY with confidence. In general I have found that the skeg is needed only in windy conditions.
My initial Saranac (14 LV) was problematic due to aging issues (mine not the boat.) Bill Swift worked diligently with me to resolve the issue. In the end the Saranac 14, standard volume was the best option.
Aside from thoroughly enjoying this boat (and the Kiwassa 14 in our household) Swift Canoe and Kayak get my '10' for outstanding customer service.
The boat handles very well, tracks straight, it was easy to paddle through a strong tide (it was over 10 feet this past weekend). It is a light touring model and the hatches fit quite a bit. The hatches easily fit our soft cooler and beach gear. I feel the boat can handle extended tours and was comfortable and stable in sea. I would recommend a Swift Kayak to everyone who wants a high quality kayak.
I paddle the open waters of the Hudson River, which can get tricky and windy. The Mohawk River, streams, and lakes that I frequent have allowed me to experience this boat in many situations. It tracks well, and I still use the skeg sparingly. It carves turns, has great secondary stability and looks great on my car and on the water. The carbon fusion is strong and light. I still try to be very careful with it, as I mentioned in my first review. But this boat has kept me happy and satisfied for 3 years now, even though my paddling skills have improved and the variety of destinations continues to grow. This is about as perfect as a boat can be!
I first found Swift kayaks when looking for a light-weight kayak that I could transport on my own. At 5'5" tall, with a damaged neck, weight and portability were my first priority. I can easily load and unload this kayak from my car and carry it to the shore or dock.
The Saranac 14 turned out to be a great fit physically as well. The seat is comfortable and the cockpit is designed with plenty of room for entry and exit, but not too high for hours of paddling. My typical trip is about 3-4 hours, with occasional day-long trips. The padded, adjustable seat and foot peddles allow to go on comfortably as long as I wish.
I have taken the Saranac on large and small lakes and tidal rivers as well as coastal ocean waterways, frequently in changing winds. In light winds and/or small swells, she handles well as is. In heavier winds, larger swells, or strong currents I find that she immediately tracks well with the skeg down. I have taken her out in some true waves just for fun and found her to be quite stable. In fact, in a recent rescue class I found it rather difficult to get her to actually tip, and much more stable than the other boat we were using in the class, making assisting with rescues much easier.
I was initially concerned about the durability of the boat and the finish with the number of shore landings I do and the rocky nature of the New England coast and lakes. Now, after paddling this boat frequently for the past 3 months, she does have a couple of light scrapes in the outside finish only, and none that appear to affect the function or durability of the boat.
I cannot imagine a more suitable boat for flexible use for light touring, coastal excursions, meandering along a river, and independence! Thanks to David Yost for designing this kayak, and for Bill Swift and Company for manufacturing it! I love my kayak! I can't wait for my next outing!
My prior boat was very heavy, so weight was a main concern. I also wanted a boat that would work well on lakes and rivers, but also short enough to explore smaller streams. 14 feet in length and about 33 pounds fit the bill perfectly. This boat is a pleasure to paddle. It gets plenty of glide so it can be great for a leisurely trip. But on those days when I want to race across a lake, the Saranac is fast and responsive. It will carve turns sharply, although I had to get used to the initial rockiness. Secondary stability is good and the seat is extremely comfortable.
I've paddled it in heavy winds, from many directions and with 3' swells, and in waters surrounded by many power boats with wakes creating "confused waters". The boat handled everything that came our way with ease. Since having a skeg is new to me I often forget to drop it, but when I do she stabilizes beautifully. Tracking is great, and waves and wakes handle with ease.
I am only 5'3" and weigh over 200 pounds. This boat fits me well, since the sides of the cockpit are lower so I don't feel like I am sitting in a hole and I don't bang my knuckles on each stroke. The hatches are very roomy and comfortably fit all my gear for a 3-day trip.
I did have a problem with the boat initially (hairline crack in the skeg box that leaked) but Bill Swift took care of it. His customer service was wonderful and he made several trips between his factory and where I live near Albany NY until I was completely satisfied.
On the downside, when you have a boat that is expensive you worry about it more. I saved my money for a long time to buy this kayak and so I have also invested in a good cable lock for it. The carbon fusion is strong, but if I go on a trip where I am apt to cross a beaver dam I take my plastic boat. The carbon fusion construction requires a little bit of TLC...but I am so happy with this kayak that I am happy to provide the extra care!
Furthermore, for a $2500(+) boat, the manufacturing is sketchy. For one thing, the bulkheads leak, which means that dry clothes, gear, and food become wet very quickly. In addition, the material is rough and unfinished, showing raw edges on the hull and cockpit, the latter of which actually scratch the skin of the paddler (a very irritating little problem).
Unfortunately, Swift isn't stellar in terms of customer service either, and concerns about these issues are received with hostility rather than interest in satisfying customers.
Overall, this is a company with good potential, but apparently slip-shod practices.