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.
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.
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.
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.
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.