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Name: kayakmichael

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Not for open water use

Like all Recreational kayaks without bulkheads, this boat does not have enough buoyancy to support your weight when it is full of water. In other words, if you capsize and roll it upright, it scoops in a great deal of water...too much to climb back in and paddle to shore. If you try to, it sinks. Moral of the story? Do not paddle this kayak or others like it further from shore than you can swim in the clothes you are wearing during the conditions on the day you are considering. Near shore, gentle lakes and rivers is its safe and hopefully, intended use.

Lets set the stage here a bit. I teach paddling for a living. I have for over 30 years and have paddled just about everything that floats. A lot of reviews of this boat seem to get hung up on its lower top end speed or its capacity. That's not its design goal...its not meant to be a fast cruiser or a tripping sea kayak. Its meant to be a comfortable day boat and weekender that has a reasonable cruising speed and can be a sport play boat in rougher water. It fills that niche exceptionally well. I've been teaching students in both sizes of Stratos that last two years and I find that I'm getting much better skill building success from them much more quickly. Stratos outfitting is such that you can get a connected fit for a large variety of body types and sizes allowing a better feel for what your strokes are doing. Students have been going from "I don't get it" to "AHA!" much faster in these boats than they ever did when I was teaching in more traditional sea touring kayaks.

If someone is looking for a boat that they can enjoy on flatwater, fish out of, do weekend trips in or use a surf play boat, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. Its a great first kayak that will encourage your learning curve and continue to be a Swiss Army Knife of kayaks. You can paddle it down the Grand Canyon or simply work on your bow rudder in your back yard pond. If you doing extended trips or looking to go straight and fast with minimal energy expended, then you need a different boat. The Confluence design team really did a fine job on this boat. I do hope to see one with a day hatch up under the deck or another truly S size (smaller than the current S...which fits me at 185lbs and 5' 9") if I were to give them my wish list. The Stratos really hits a lot of usage points for your investment.

Lets set the stage here a bit. I teach paddling for a living. I have for over 30 years and have paddled just about everything that floats. A lot of reviews of this boat seem to get hung up on its lower top end speed or its capacity. That's not its design goal...its not meant to be a fast cruiser or a tripping sea kayak. Its meant to be a comfortable day boat and weekender that has a reasonable cruising speed and can be a sport play boat in rougher water. It fills that niche exceptionally well. I've been teaching students in both sizes of Stratos that last two years and I find that I'm getting much better skill building success from them much more quickly. Stratos outfitting is such that you can get a connected fit for a large variety of body types and sizes allowing a better feel for what your strokes are doing. Students have been going from "I don't get it" to "AHA!" much faster in these boats than they ever did when I was teaching in more traditional sea touring kayaks.

If someone is looking for a boat that they can enjoy on flatwater, fish out of, do weekend trips in or use a surf play boat, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. Its a great first kayak that will encourage your learning curve and continue to be a Swiss Army Knife of kayaks. You can paddle it down the Grand Canyon or simply work on your bow rudder in your back yard pond. If you doing extended trips or looking to go straight and fast with minimal energy expended, then you need a different boat. The Confluence design team really did a fine job on this boat. I do hope to see one with a day hatch up under the deck or another truly S size (smaller than the current S...which fits me at 185lbs and 5' 9") if I were to give them my wish list. The Stratos really hits a lot of usage points for your investment.

Great Touring ISUP that can travel, track and be very durable. Pros User friendly, fast, light, fairly straight-tracking and very well outfitted. Cons Pricey, needs a longer fin and a tow ring on the nose. Usage Snorkeling platform, exercise and touring in salt and freshwater. ACA SUP Instructor.

Visually striking, the build quality is excellent with a very smooth finish and few visible deformities. The model that Lendal was kind enough to lend used a previous year's shaft. We also had a Cadence to test that utilized a newer shaft that retained the same overall shape but seems to have a slightly larger diameter and may be a bit lighter. This same shaft is used in the current Storm. Both of these shafts have a pronounced triangular feel in the hand leaving absolutely no doubt as to non-visual orientation of the blade.

On land holding the paddle with a relaxed handgrip would result in the paddle's sloughing into a low brace position without a firmer grip. Left me wondering if I would need to "muscle" it more in use than my Werner.

The paddle joint is Lendal's proven carbon padlock system. This joint is stable and has the plus of having non-corrosive parts. Downside? You need a tool on your vest to lock the joint...the Lendal Key...lose it and you now own a one piece paddle. The current Lendal wrenches also don't hold up very well to saltwater.

Notable is Lendal's large beautiful graphic on the back face of the blade and the power face sports a "Storm" graphic that doesn't quite live up to the Lendal name, but it’s just a sticker; so let's go paddle.

On Water:
First impression was that blade size and its 24 oz. weight made for very pleasurable all-day touring. It feels very "strong" despite its low weight and seems to have just enough flex. As for the balance issue I experienced with the shaft on land; it was simply nowhere in evidence once the blade was in the water. In forward strokes the stiffness of the shaft made for smooth power transfer with the blade catching smoothly and exiting quietly with no flutter at all.

Despite the lack of drip rings, the paddle was quite dry to use. The blade also gripped well through sweep strokes and draws...that nicely shaped shaft coming into play again allowing very precise control with little ventilation. The blade worked predictably and felt completely natural through a whole litany of strokes, except one. When using a blended stroke that involves slicing the blade forward from a vertical orientation, as in a sculling draw... I found that with the bottom of the blade oriented forward it would try to dive under my hull if I didn't open the blade aggressively.

Overall? None of the others I passed it to noticed it and it certainly wasn't any sort of deal breaker for me. The Storm is light enough yet durable enough to hold up under extremes.