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Pamlico Excel

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Pamlico Excel Reviews


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Wilderness Systems
Pamlico Excel Reviews

Read reviews for the Pamlico Excel by Wilderness Systems as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!

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This is yet another follow-up…

Submitted by: paddler236612 on 12/16/2015
This is yet another follow-up on this great boat [see my initial review 03-13-1999]. I have owned it 17 years & done several camping trips and lots of varied situations. For a long time it saw use about twice a month. My son and I paddled the Roanoke River on a two day 27 mile paddle with his Scout troop and it seemed to outpace any of the other typical rec boats. Its great working against the flow in our slow coastal rivers. It tracks good but you need a 240-250 cm paddle for effective sweeps for turning.(i don 't typically use the rudder on solo paddles).

For big guys its a great solo camping rig. A sail would have been good. I may still get one. It can't be easily destroyed. My wife and daughter ran gentle rapids on the New River with it . It's been a great way to get out in the water with no signs of quitting. Loading it solo is an acquired skill. Plastic still flexible. Last year I finally replaced the deck rigging. Now I'm renewing the faded surface with mineral spirits and boiled linseed oil


The Pamlico Excel is the…

Submitted by: paddler231357 on 10/19/2005
The Pamlico Excel is the first kayak I have ever purchased. I often refer to this kayak as "The Beast". This boat is not light by any means, and loading this boat solo is no easy task (80+ lbs).

I have taken this boat on numerous fishing trips, camping trips, and Class III whitewater runs. In all scenarios, this boat is AWSOME. I have tipped this boat, but only under extreme conditions. If you roll this boat on flat water, you may need to up-grade to a raft. It is VERY stable. Stable enough that I have gotten hung up, right in the middle of a Class II+ rapid, rotated the boat, and took the rest of the run backwards.

I highly recommend this boat. It's great for taking a friend, or pet, along for a relaxing weekend. Plenty of room for a week of camping, if you pack right. Fishing is a dream. A buddy and I just returned from a trip to the Watauga River, and both of us were catching trout all day long w/o getting in each others way. I will NEVER sell this boat. It will be my big ol' baby until it falls apart, and that will be no time soon.


After much waffling (several…

Submitted by: paddler233800 on 1/4/2005
After much waffling (several years) of borrowing boats for day recreation and several day camping trips, my wife and I purchased the Pamlico Excel, used - we picked it up for @ $600.00 with 1 float bag and a new seat tossed in. Bottom was scratched up and keel had a few 'curves' from sitting on the rack but it floated good and was easy for us to paddle together or solo. The front seat slides back to the middle for solo paddling. We then purchased the rudder kit which I installed myself. Easy to do and much cheaper then having a shop do it. We have used it extensively on a variety of waters: ocean waves, small ponds and smoother rivers. What has been best about it is the open cockpit so we can take our one year old daughter along. She loved watching the paddle strokes and touching the wet paddle. Also watching people and wildlife along the shore and in the water.

Plenty of room to spread out in (I'm 6' 4"), carry tons of stuff (literally the SUV of kayaks) yet still paddles well fully loaded. Suprisingly stable, even in waves and wind. Downside is the weight. I could barely load/unload the boat from our car roof by myself, a bit easier with my wife's help. With a combination of an easy lift system and a kayak cart, there would be no problem.

Additional fun has been had downwind sailing with an old octagonal tent fly held up between two paddles - yea-hah!

Next up will be the addition of an outrigger/mast and sail system (I have an old windsurfer sail and mast ready to go...)

Bottom line - great boat if you need tons of room, carrying capacity, versatility and no concern about scratching/denting. That being said, be prepared for the weight... Looks and feels like a combination of a kayak and canoe with better features from both.


Tandem. Quite a stable boat…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 3/18/2004
Tandem. Quite a stable boat and tracks well if properly balanced with gear fore to aft with no need for rudder, in my opinion. If you don't want to load the boat properly then you need a rudder. Very heavy. Does not track as strong as a Folbot of any length. Keel developed a permanenent vertical curve which may have no effect on performance. Nice boat, but too heavy. Like wooden kayak much better.

This is my first kayak. …

Submitted by: paddler230197 on 6/16/2003
This is my first kayak. After doing the research, I purchased the tandem Excel because it seemed like it provides the best mix of features. After a dozen trips, I still think so. Pros: The boat is large and has pretty good storage room for an "open" kayak. I've stretched a bungie cord across it to hang goodies just behind the front seat. It's an extremely comfortable boat. My first trip was a 7 hour drift down the Edisto River with my teenage son and we felt great afterward, a tribut to the great seats. With the rudder attached, it tracks great (not so great without a rudder). Even got it out on the waves and had some fun but quickly discovered the "thrill factor limit" of the boat.It does handle great as a solo boat. Cons: It's a heavy beast. Trying to put this boat bak on top after a solo trip is a bit of a challenge. Bottom line: This boat does exactly what it's supposed to do. It's great for lakes and easy rivers, handles well with a rudder and for the price, you just can't beat it.

I like my Pungo so much that…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/13/2002
I like my Pungo so much that I made my wife rent a Pamlico Excel with me. We liked it so much that we bought one a few days later. It is very comfortable even after a full day of paddling and the quality is excellent.

I also agree that a rudder is necessary for all tandem kayaks of this type. It really is worth the extra money. Even though the boat weight almost 90 lbs, it is very agile in the water. I can control it very easily by myself when my boss/navigator/wife wants to take a break.

If you are looking for a recreational tandem kayak, compare this one (or the regular Pamlico tandem) to any that you are considering before making your purchase. I bought the Excel model because it has a greater weight capacity.


I purchased the Pamlico Excel…

Submitted by: paddler229784 on 7/5/2002
I purchased the Pamlico Excel this spring (without the rudder), and absolutely love it. I’ve been using it on our calm sections of Idaho rivers and lakes. I found our Keowee was very popular whenever we went out with a large group that included rafts, canoes, and kayaks, and that the kayaks were very stable, very fast, and able to handle the wind much better than the other crafts. After hours of research on the Web, I concluded that the Excel would be the best replacement for the canoe, allowing me the ability to carry two adults, very stable, lots of storage room, and able to go up the Snake River or down the Snake. I’ve been out 4 times in the past 2 weeks, in a variety of conditions, ranging from no wind, no current to 20 mph wind and chop. The Excel was perfect in all of those conditions. We were able to go 3 miles up stream, and then come back with the current and against the wind. I’m 200 lbs, and with about 75 lbs of gear in my Excel, and riding solo, I was able to go the same speed as my 13 year old in a Keowee with no gear. The Excel handled great, and was totally dry. All of my trips have been in fairly slow moving water, or still water, with one section of faster water—but still not any white water. As I mentioned, I have split all of my trips between going up stream and down stream, so I could start and stop at the same point on the Snake. The only disadvantage is the weight of the boat out of the water. At 87 lbs, it’s a lot for one person, but no problem for two. On the water, it’s fast solo or tandem, very stable, and the best kayak or canoe I’ve ever used. The new Phase 3 seats are very comfortable, there is plenty of room, the foot rests are great, speed is excellent, it goes straight and smooth, it is well made, and the hardware is very good.

About three months ago, I…

Submitted by: paddler229783 on 7/4/2002
About three months ago, I bought the Pamlico Excel without the rudder, my wife and I enjoy paddling, but to keep the boat straight, we would take turns paddling and steering. My neighbor refers to tandem kayaks as divorce boats. I bought the rudder kit, very easy installation, marriage is safe and I would recommend, if buying a new Pamlico, invest in the rudder. If you have a Pamlico without the rudder, buy the rudder kit, the difference is unbelievable. We absolutely love the boat and have to fight off our three kids for first dibs on the kayak.

I just purchased a new 2001…

Submitted by: paddler229736 on 6/13/2002
I just purchased a new 2001 Pamlico Excel leftover for $650.00 and wanted to offer my observations to anyone who is looking for a tandem recreational kayak.

I am fortunate that one of the local shops holds numerous demo days at a local lake. My first experience with paddling a kayak was in a Loon 160T. I had a lot of trouble tracking straight and came back to shore a little disappointed with the whole kayak experience. Then the staff sent me out in a Keowee 3. Wow! It tracked straight and was a pleasure to paddle. I took my wife out to one of the next demo days and got her to paddle the Keowee 3 also. She enjoyed it and had no complaints. Decision made...right?

Wrong! I stopped by the shop to look at one of the demo Keowee 3's that they were selling at a discount. I wasn't impressed with the condition for the asking price. The owner then showed me the leftover Pamlico Excel and offered to bring it out to the next demo day. I took one kid in the Excel while she took one kid in the Keowee 3. We paddled for a while and then switched. My mind was pretty much made up to go with the Excel but I wanted her thoughts. She paddled it and felt it handled much better than the Keowee 3. She even thought that it was much lighter althought it was actually a pound or two heavier.

I rate this kayak as an '8' not because there is anything wrong with it but because I have a limited amount of experience with other yaks. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Excel or the Keowee 3 to anyone who is looking for this type of kayak. Getting the Excel for the price of the Keowee 3 was a bonus! As far as the Loon 160T, I believe my problems were most likely due to technique. It just seems that the other two yaks were more forgiving than the Loon.

Just to be objective, I had a friend call the other day to tell me that he had taken a Pamlico Excel out with his wife and absolutely hated it. He couldn't get it to turn at all and was completely frustrated. Go 100 pound wife was turning it at will.


Have owned this kayak (with…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 11/28/2001
Have owned this kayak (with rudder) for about two years now and while it is large, it fits my needs perfectly. I use it for wildlife photography in the back bays, streams, and for open water paddling. Boat is very stable and has plenty of room for my camera cases, dry bags, and tripods.

Here in South Texas, The average wind speed in the spring and summer is 20 MPH, so the rudder is necessary for ease of use in choppy water. Tracking ability is enhanced also by the rudder with a broadside tide or wind. Rudder is also great for down wind sailing (I have mounted a small sail in the bow for downwind use). Don't have the boat strapped down onto a rack during a hot (98 Degree) day for too long, you will end up with a dent(s) in the poly hull.

Boat is great for fishing, single or double paddlers. Jump seat in the middle is great for small children or when removed, a large dog!!! Boat will hold a "LOT" of water if dumped so use float bags in the bow and stern. Boat is also heavy (87 Lbs.) for cartop transport, but I use Thule racks with a "outrigger" and can put the boat up and down by myself. Kayak dolly is a great investment if you plan to move the boat very far over ground. The optional 'double' spray skirt is well worth the money if the rear paddler wants to stay dry in the winter (or summer) months.

Kayak is well built and hardware is good. Bottom scratches and gouges (lots of oyster reefs here) can be repaired with 'p-tex' snow ski bottom repair sticks. For a recreational kayak - this one can't be beat.


I just returned from 10 days…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/2/2001
I just returned from 10 days at a large lake in NH with my recently purchased used Pamlico Excel with rudder. I did a lot of solo paddling, some paddling with my wife and a couple of short trips with small children. The boat handled beautifully--gliding smoothly and quietly on calm water, tracking well and staying dry when facing a stiff wind and two foot waves. I tried paddling solo from the shifted front seat but it worked almost as well (and handled the waves better) when I paddled from the rear seat. I had two minor problems--I couldn't easily dump out water alone, even when standing near the shore. I think I'll get a front float bag and see if that will help. More seriously, the rudder popped off when I hit a large wave. It seems I had cracked a small plastic part in the rudder when putting weight on the rudder assembly while the boat was turned over. Without the rudder the boat still handled well but, as one would expect, it was a bit more work to keep it going straight in a cross wind. If you are looking for a multi-purpose recreational family boat that is also fun to paddle solo, I would strongly recommend this boat.

I owned my Pamlico Excel with…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/5/2001
I owned my Pamlico Excel with a rudder (highly recommended) for 4 years. It was my first kayak. I have taken it to swamps, bayous, lakes, rivers, fast running streams with small drops and fast moving water and into the Gulf of Mexico. I paddled in rainstorms, winter and in 3' waves and in 6' rolling swells. I modified the sprayskirt to fit better and ride higher on my trunk and put on spring fasteners on the draw cords to snug it better in order to shed water. I put a large Voyageur float bag in the bow. I pushed this boat to its "recreational" limits and it never failed me. Allthough its bow wants to plow in big waves, the float bag always brings it right back up. It is stable, great for 1 or 2 people and I learned a great deal about paddling in it. I sailed in it using a Deluge downwind sail. The bottom got shredded from all the places I explored. Good hardware, solid construction and gets the job done. I added Pamlico style tie down bungees on the top in front of the cockpit to hold my spare paddle. I sadly sold it last weekend as my appetite now is leaning to coastal paddling. I have purchased a WS Tarpon. WS built a great boat in the Excel. You won't go wrong if you get this boat.

I am very impressed with the…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/28/2001
I am very impressed with the pamlico excel. My wife and I recently took the kayak down the schroon river in NY. The River dumps out into a very unpredictable schroon lake.Wwhen we left, the lake was glass like. By the time we came down the schroon river, and hit the lake, the wind had picked up enormously, and caused white caps that were at chest height. The boat handled beautifully through the massive white caps. The only regret I have, is not purchasing the rudder with the boat. We were with canoes, that couldn't get past the mouth of the river. The Pamlico went beyond our expectations. I would trust this boat on any slow river trip that we can dream up.

I've owned my polyethylene…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 5/29/2001
I've owned my polyethylene Pamilico Excel (no rudder) for about 6 mo., and love it. I use it on slow south Ga. rivers for overnight camping,tandem or solo. It will hold a ton of camping equip., is stable and one person can paddle two people. I use a receiver hitch bed extender on my P/U truck to haul this heavier boat. The extender doesn't require much lifting and works great for the extra weight. An all around excellent kayak.

This kayak is perfect for two…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 2/5/2001
This kayak is perfect for two people wanting to fish or for solo fishing. I bought the pamlico excel as a demo after renting one on the outer banks of NC. The boat handles the chop in the sound beatifully. Its also much more comfortable than a canoe and the stability is much better. I have owned 4 other kayaks and 3 canoes and this boat is at the top for stability and room.

Follow-up on Pamlico Excel…

Submitted by: paddler228015 on 12/2/2000
Follow-up on Pamlico Excel with Rudder-See review 1999. This Kayak has held up very well. I have had it out on numerous day trips in two years of ownership and on a coastal overnight camping trip with my daughter. It handles very well in choppy water, but I swamped it in Bear inlet when I ran aground in surf and flipped it. Even with the rear flotation bag and the tiny foam block in the nose it holds a LOT of water. Had to time my lifting move with an incoming wave to tip it over and dump the water. It has to have a float bag in the nose also before I put it in surf again. It handles well and is extremely stable in the coastal rivers and creeks I use it in 99% of the time. The bottom is fuzzing up here and there from roots I have hit but no leaks. Unless you stand up or ride breaking waves it will not tip over. You can make pretty good speed in it. The spray skirt is not worth much-can't keep it on. I may opt for a "mini-skirt" for it soon. If you want to go kayaking with a kid but know you will be doing a fair amount of soloing and you want a lot of room, if you want durability and don't care so much about maneuverability or beauty, if you want a hand powered pickup truck for the water and you do a lot of flat water, this is your boat.

Tried out the Pamlico (not…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/16/2000
Tried out the Pamlico (not the Excel) yesterday. It is very good at tracking, the maneuverability was OK. The big problem is the stability. Very wiggly, we ( the store owner & myself) with very little effort filled the boat almost half full of water with just one try. I would not trust this boat with children that may move around alot. Will say that even with a LOT of water in it, the yak still handled well.

My wife and I have had our…

Submitted by: paddler228101 on 6/1/1999
My wife and I have had our kayak for about two years now. we try to put it in the water as much as possible. it paddles well with two people and tracks relatively straight. we found that if one person gets tired and wants to rest the other person can propel the kayak with a little more added effort quite nicely. i too have had some trouble getting tha kayak on and off the car, 75 pounds spread out over almost 17ft does get awkward sometimes, but it is not unmanageable. i have enjoyed using my kayak for the last two years and hope to have many more years of use to come.

I have had mine for about a…

Submitted by: paddler228097 on 5/24/1999
I have had mine for about a year. I alos find it hard to car top by myself. I invested in Yakima Sweet Roll system, when combined with a wheel cart, solved most of my back strain. I reciently rigged it for fishing, with an anchor, rod holders, paddle holder, etc. It works great. Also lots of volume for camping gear when going solo.

15 feet-6 inches, Sand…

Submitted by: paddler228015 on 3/13/1999
15 feet-6 inches, Sand colored, polyethylene, double Kayak with optional rudder, capacity 475 pounds. This boat was intended to provide access to the water for myself and my daughter. Have had it out 6 times on Class B flatwater rivers and the Pamlico Sound and area creeks.

This is my first kayak and I enjoy the speed advantage this boat has over the canoes I have used. The rudder is useful for wildlife watching when you need to steer yet drift quietly. It also helps when you have trouble coordinating your moves with your partner and in the chop of the Pamlico Sound. The boat is a bear to throw onto a car single-handed, but most of my trips thus far have been solo.

The hull seems stiff and all parts appear to be well made. I have yet to get in really rough water, but I like the way it handles chop. I'm a little surprised at how easily polyethylene scratches, but I don't have any terribly deep gashes yet, just a number of annoying surface blemishes from gravel and cypress stumps. The boat is comfortable with two adults but really fine for an adult and kid. Worth the money.


A good compromise between…

Submitted by: paddler227946 on 10/8/1998
A good compromise between tracking and maneuverability, but a rudder is useful in choppy water. Reasonably efficient for a plastic K2. 70 pounds may be a bit much for smaller kayakers to cartop and launch. Spray skirt is designed to fit the Excel and the regular, but is too tight for the excel. High quality construction, and comfortable seats.