Most Recent Reviews
I found the boat very stable, both primary and secondary felt good to me. Felt very comfortable putting it up on edge, which needs to be done to turn the boat efficiently. No skeg or rudder means the boat has to track straight, which it does. That also means turning isn't real swift unless you get it on edge. I was surprised how little it weather cocked even in 20mph side winds. It did weather cock some but better than I'd expected. I wouldn't want to paddle in very far in strong winds though. It was hard to turn when the wind was blowing.
Boat was faster than I expected when I grabbed the GPS. 4mph was too easy, 4.5 was my cruising speed, 5mph was a good workout and 5.5 was about as fast as I could paddle for any distance. An all out sprint was 6.5mph but that only lasted 10 or 15 seconds.
I'm 6'1" 165lbs. and the footpegs were nowhere near far enough forward for me. Even my girlfriend (who actually owns it) wanted them one notch forward (she must be around 5'10"). It was easy enough to drill a couple new holes and move them ahead about 4 inches. They feel like really cheap pedals, I don't think they'd stand up to a lot of abuse but I might be wrong. The seat and thigh braces feel comfortable.
Some complaints are that the rear deck bungees won't hold a life jacket and the hatches don't seem to be exactly water tight. Kind of a mickey mouse strap system over the hatches. No perimeter deck lines either.
In the wind and waves (small whitecaps on a small lake) it was a fairly wet ride. The V bottom seemed to cut through the waves and throw the spray out to the side, which the wind blows back at the paddler.
The boat is very lightweight for a fiberglass boat which is just what my girlfriend was looking for, but this comes at the expense of a less rigid hull. It flexes when pushed on and I think I heard it oil can a couple times while paddling when I'd quickly put it up on edge for a turn.
This is not a boat that I'd buy for myself but I think it will be a great boat for my girlfriend. For her straight tracking is more important than quick turning, light weight is more important than a stiff abuse taking hull, absolutely dry hatches aren't necessary. It's a nice boat to paddle in good conditions and should be able to handle some rougher stuff if necessary.
I got my Loon 138 a little over a year ago and have put a lot of time in it so far. It was my first kayak and I wanted something I could fish out of and also cover some water if I wanted and to take on smaller rivers and lakes. It's fit the bill very nicely and then some. The large cockpit makes it VERY easy to get in and out of and it's very stable. I can easily reach behind the seat to get things out while out on the water without feeling tippy at all. I've even stood up in it in calm water, and although it was tippy it was definitely doable. I've even taken people (and my big fat toad of a springer spaniel) along with me and it still performs well on short trips.
The boat tracks well and turns decent. It's no speed demon but it's no slouch either. Last night I went out with someone in a Prijon Capri, which isn't known for speed either, but it is quite a bit narrower and lighter. We switched back and forth a couple times and I wasn't able to paddle the Prijon any faster then my loon. When trying for absolute top speed the Loon does kind of feel like a toad but I couldn't keep up paddling like that for more then 100 yards anyway. I have no problem moving it at a decent clip for long periods of time.
In the time I've had it the Loon has seen a little of everything. It spends some time on local lakes (all smaller) and a lot of time on our local river, which is usually on the smaller side and slow. My normal routine is to paddle upstream a few miles before turning around and coming back down. Even this spring when the river was well over flood stage I was able to do this; though it was quite workout.
Last fall I drove from Iowa out to Maine on a 2 week camping trip and strapped the Loon to the top of my car. It saw everything from deep clear rocky rivers to the ocean and handled them all with out problem. Since I was alone I had no one to drop a vehicle on the rivers so I was forced to paddle upstream and many times had to paddle up rapids (smaller ones); which the Loon was able to handle.
I can't really think of any downsides for the kayak, taking into consideration what it's designed to be. I think it does a great job filling double duty between a little puddle jumper and something that can handle bigger water. I've never been in any really rough water with it so I don't know how it would handle it for sure.
Today I entered my first kayak race on our local river and won the whole thing with the Loon. It was a fairly short run and many people weren't that serious about it. But there were a few other people in Prijons and Daggers that were going for the gold as well and the big fat heavy Loon beat the closest one by 3 1/2 minutes. Not that the kayak is what makes all the difference of course. Much of it was knowing the river better then anyone else there.
All that being said I'm thinking of getting rid of the Loon next season. I want something a little lighter for car topping it on trips and fishing gravel pits and what not. But I also want something a little faster and sleeker for when I just want to get out and cover a lot of water. The Loon does them both decent but I think I'll be replacing it with 2 more specialized kayaks. But who knows, maybe I'll end up keeping it and using it for double duty afterall.
I couldn't have asked for a better first kayak for me. I really didn't know what I wanted when I bought it but it hasn't disappointed. It's given me a lot of pleasure and helped me see what I want and don't want in a kayak.
Definitely a kayak worth considering and not to be sneezed at. I'm giving it a 10 rating but that's taking into consideration where it fits into the grand scheme of things. There are faster, smaller, lighter, and more manueverable kayaks; but I can't imagine one filling the middle of the road any better.