Name: FTCricket

Most Recent Reviews

Simply the Best. When we started doing off-shore paddling and kayak touring which require spray skirts we needed a good deck bag to hold all of our safety gear near at hand. The low profile GearLab Deck Pod fills the requirement admirably without adding to the windage common with most deck bags. On every trip it holds my bilge pump, paddle float, maps inside a rolled map case, flares, headlamp, garbage bag, small first aid kit, spare gloves, spare batteries for GPS and camera, toilet kit, cell phone, and snacks. When it's time to get off the water I stuff in my GPS, camera, and VHF radio and with 4 quick clips it separates from the boat (you leave the straps attached to your boat) and grab the HD strap to carry it away with me. I do NOT recommend using it to carry a full 3-liter water bladder as that's a tremendous amount of weight and strain on the stitching although a bladder will fit inside it. You can also buy extra straps (about $8 per set) to attach to each of your boats so you're just moving the bag itself from boat to boat. A much better solution than any other deck bag mounting system on the market. You can definitely tell this bag was designed by paddlers for paddlers. It's not water-proof, just highly water-resistant, so anything delicate that you stuff inside the Deck Pod should be inside a waterproof case or at least a zipper lock bag.

Update 12 years on. I published a previous review in 2014 when my 15.5 Expedition was a little over a year old. I've put a lot of kayak touring miles on her since then and have paddled a number of other boats in that time, but my Delta and I are still happy together. Do note that the 15.5 Expedition is a boat built to carry a load and handles best when loaded up with gear. She can be a bit "squirrely" paddled empty, so when doing day trips I place a 5 gallon bag of water in both the bow and stern hatches which helps tremendously in wind and chop. A paddling partner and I started section paddling the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail last year and I had planned to purchase a new, longer boat for the more open ocean paddling. But then Covid hit and the supply of good new and used sea kayaks simply dried up. So I started with my 15.5 Expedition and she has handled everything the CT has thrown at her - shallow water chop, winds from all directions, head winds up to 25 mph, 4-7 days of camping supplies including gallons of fresh water at a time. My paddling partner with her sleeker FG 17' boat has to slow down a bit for me since the 15.5 is NOT a speedster, but we manage a consistent 2-4 mph, for 6-10 hours a day in almost every kind of sea and wind condition. Over the 12 years I have done hardly any maintenance and no repair. I added some hip and thigh pads and KeelEazy early on and I keep her clean with a garden hose spray out after each trip, some cleaning and polishing a couple of times a year, and keep her in the garage between paddles. My 15.5 Expedition has not disappointed me yet and I feel very safe in her since we know each other so well by now.

An update on my 2013 Eddyline Skylark 7 years in. We still go out together about once a week year-round. I've bought other boats since for the ocean and kayak touring, but it's always my Skylark when we head out for day trips on the creeks, spring runs and rivers here in Florida. As my knees and hips have aged, the moderate-sized cockpit opening continues to accommodate ease of entry and exit. She tracks straight as an arrow yet is lively, she is light that if necessary I can load and unload by myself, and she's stable enough for my nature photography. I'm still in love with my Skylark and would still purchase another if anything ever happened to her.

After paddling two straight days in all-day rainstorms on an invasive species survey, I realized it was time to retire my 6-year-old paddling jacket. Shopping around I found a Level Six Torngat jacket on sale. Having previously purchased sun protective shirts from Level Six I knew them to be a quality company, so I ordered the Torngat about a month ago. This past week I again was forced to paddle for a couple of hours through one of Florida's torrential summer downpours and I can report that the Torngat lived up to it's description of being both waterproof and breathable. Although a woman, I am long-waisted and have long arms, so I ordered the men's Torngat model rather than the women's Ellesmere model. I love the double wrist closure - an inside adjustable cuff of neoprene and an outer adjustable cuff of the eXhaust fabric - which does a great job of keeping paddle drip from running down your sleeves. The quarter-zip makes it easy off and on, even in the kayak. The waist secures with two large velcro tabs and worked well with my nylon spray skirt, I have not tried the hood yet. The hood rolls up inside the collar and I found with the padded collar snugged up against my neck and wearing my big sun hat I got no water down the neck. In colder weather the hood would be very nice, not only to keep the water out but the warmth in. Sizing is about normal for a loose fit so I have plenty of stretch, even wearing it over a shirt and a light fleece vest. I can recommend this jacket to anyone looking for a waterproof, breathable, 3-season paddling jacket.

I bought these boots about 3 years ago for cold weather paddling and they are still in great condition. They keep my feet dry and therefore warm up to just below the knees and are not so big and bulky that they cause problems inside the boat. There is a plastic shim in the insole that protects my feet from oyster beads and sharp limestone rocks. They are just about perfect for me but I can only give it a 4 since they are only available in men's sizes which are wide for most women's feet.

Just an update on my Skylark after a little over a year of use. It has become my go-to kayak for almost all my paddling here in Florida. It's just about perfect for the paddling I do 95% of the time - twisty spring runs, rivers, lakes, bays and estuaries. I can load, unload and carry her by myself which is a big plus. And after a year of not totally gentle use she looks almost as good as when I brought her home new. I've loaned her out to friends looking to purchase a kayak for similar use and at least two so far have also purchased Skylarks. I can't imagine a better boat for the day trips that we do.

My only real complaint in my previous review [07-25-2013] was about the seat and for the 2014 Skylark Eddyline has made some modifications that, for me, are an improvement.

If you are looking for a small, nimble, light boat for day paddles, you owe it to yourself to give the Skylark a test-drive.

I bought my Delta 15.5 Expedition two summers ago for overnight touring here in Florida. She handles big loads very well when properly balanced. While most of my kayaking is on rivers, I've had her out in some pretty big swells along the coast and also some rough surf. I stayed nice and dry with a Seals sprayskirt (don't know what the other poster's problem was) and she handled very well in quartering, beam-on, and following seas and wind.

The slightly larger cockpit opening makes it easy to get in and out when you can't find an easy launch site or want to snorkel. The extra inch in height on the Expedition model does make re-entry from deep water harder, especially in a PFD, but that just takes practice.

While not the fastest touring yak on the market, I paddle to enjoy nature not to race, so the large capacity for camping gear and the stability for photography suit my purposes. She's picked up some scratches over the past 2 years but still looks great. I know we've many more years of paddling adventures ahead of us.

Everyone in my little kayak group owns and loves these relatively inexpensive 1/2 skirts. We paddle in Florida where most of the year we roast in a full skirt. Beyond splashes, they provide sun protection for our upper legs so we don't have to constantly slather on sun screen while allowing some ventilation and access to items in the cockpit.

They are also very good for light rain and provide just enough side coverage for aggressive edging. The Regular size fits all of our normal sized cockpits (we own from 1.4 thru 2.5) and adjusting the bungee to fit each cockpit is easy. The X size fits the couple of large cockpit boats we own (Sandpiper & Santee), although not without some sag - which is to be expected even with 2 tension bars.

My oldest splash deck is about 5 years old and is still going strong although I store all my nylon gear in the house. (All coated nylon has a tendency to flake over time, especially if stored in humid conditions.)

I would give the Seals Splash Skirt a 10 except it is very difficult to find it in any color other than black which is too hot for our blazing sun. Even most of the custom colors (red, blue, orange, gray and brown camo) are quite dark and you can readily feel the difference in heat retention between the custom yellow and all the other colors. If they offered a pale gray along with the deep yellow we would be very happy campers.

I've had my Skylark a little over a month now and it is a pleasure to paddle. I have longer touring kayaks and a shorter sit-on-top, but I was looking for a short, lively kayak for day trips on local rivers and spring runs. After looking at and demoing several different models in the 10-13 foot range, I knew that in the Skylark I had found an almost perfect design for that purpose.

The cockpit is just a bit longer than many models which makes it easy enter and exit both on shore and in the water for a little swimming or snorkeling. It's wide enough to be stable yet trim enough to paddle efficiently. While only 12 feet in length, it tracks extremely well plus the hull design has a bit of chine which makes it very maneuverable on edge.

All in all, this is a great boat for a beginning paddler but one that will also enable them to practice more advanced skills when ready. And it's a great boat for intermediate to advanced paddlers looking for a little boat in which to relax. At 41 lbs it is easy to load, store, carry, and launch.

I got my Skylark without thigh braces so I could enter and exit more easily on the water, but I have no trouble jamming my knees & thighs up under the nicely padded hull in front of the seat for carving turns.

Based solely on performance and on providing a nicely designed boat for the day paddler who wants a lot more than a floating barge, I would give this boat a 10. However, I have to mark it down because the seat is fixed and therefore is not adjustable (or replaceable) and many will find the hard plastic seat uncomfortable for more than an hour of paddling. While you can always add a little bit of cushioning to the seat, the fact that you cannot adjust the seat bottom at all for trim is disappointing and should be considered before purchase. I also sliced my thumb open the first time I picked it up to carry on my shoulder due to a sharp edge on the cockpit coaming that should have been smoothed out before shipping. The Sandpiper is a great boat that bridges the gap between "recreational" and "touring" classifications, but a little more attention to finish and an adjustable seat are needed to get a 10.