I trained in the spring exactly the same number of miles with this boat and started my trip within 2 days of exactly one year later. At 45 pounds and a lighter gear load (getting smarter) it was around 100 pounds. My first two days I averaged over 40 miles on lakes, rivers and portages...a nice fast boat and loved the rudder vs skeg. On day three the white waters of the Saranac River in the Adirondack Mountains put me out of business, with two long hairline cracks and a 12" gouge that I could put my hand in.. I was taking on water crossing Lake Champlain and needed a new boat. I know I was foolish to even try a gelcoat boat, but that’s just me.
Now I get to the Squall GTS. Day 4 of my trip I got a ride back to Old Forge New York and with a huge inventory of boats, they had ONLY one sea kayak with a rudder. A 2012 Current Design Squall GTS. At 15'11", a foot shorter than my Tempest and Eclipse, I was concerned I would not be able to fit my spare paddles and touring gear. I was pleased with the storage capacity but immediately got rid of the big rubberband that went around the hatch cover? I needed to be able to strap my kayak cart behind the cockpit just like my other boats. The stock decking was all elastic, but the boat came with some deck lines that I needed to add so I could securely strap my wheel cart on. The GTS seat was OK but my Tempest gets the best grade for seat comfort. The foot peddles for the GTS are horrible compared to the Eclipse. I attempted to adjust them several times as my feet cramped up trying to press forward. NOTE: after completing my trip. I shortened the cable on both sides (Beyond factory adjustment) and it is better, but not good.
With a balance of 550 miles, I started out crossing Lake Champlain, then 175 miles paddling and tracking up river. This is where the GTS excelled over both of my prior boats. The cockpit opening for the GTS is much larger and easier to enter and exit and I was every bit as fast traveling up river. In the big lakes I was glad to have a deck mount storage as it blocked much of the water from breaking waves. This boat is a wet ride compared to my others....take your spray skirt. I was quite uneasy in the waves as it's stability seemed shaky and my hips were on a constant swivel that became a real stress on long stretches.
I would not recommend this boat in big water for long distances. The final section of my trip through the Allagash Wilderness let me test out some white water and faster current. High scores here as I felt comfortable for a sea kayak in white water.
Overall I wish I would have been able to shakedown the boat before my trip, but regardless, even with a day to find a new boat, I completed the trip in 22 days. I'm planning to paddle Northern Forest Canoe Trail again in 2017 and I think I'll give the Current Design Squall GTS another try.
Cons: This boat was not made for Michigan rivers and the hull is paper thin. I've had to repair 5 times with epoxy cement. The leaks from thin cracks to a finger size hole in the hull that flooded the front compartment and made it paddle so heavy in the water I had to call for an early pick up on a 3 day trip. There is a rigid plastic divider that separates each compartment and it has proven to be the area that is subject to hairline cracks left to right. This can result from simply passing over a log just a few inches under the water line.
My last kayak was not as easy to paddle and caused body stress in my wrists and shoulder, but I logged over 2000 miles and never had a leak.