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I just got a new Yakpads SOT Paddle Saddle with the…
The pouch holds everything I need it to (sunglasses, four fly reels/spools, headlamp) with room left over; it not only has two water bottle holders with elastic straps to keep the bottles in, but two bottles were supplied.
On to the seat itself. Besides being very comfortable on my seat bones ("What seat bones?" I wondered as I paddled back hours later ... ), it also holds my body heat. The first time I was out with the Paddle Saddle, I reflected that my feet were a bit chilled, and then I noticed that my butt was a very comfortable temperature.
The mesh back of the seat doesn't hold heat -- a real plus in warm weather. The sides of the seat hug my hips securely without chafing, and the Paddle Saddle, once placed, does not scoot or slide AT ALL -- welcome features that make me and my SOT that much more unified.
I was able to adjust the back support just right -- no more aching back! -- and it fit just under my PFD instead of pushing it up or creating a non-supporting space in the lumbar area like other seats I've tried to date.
Both the Paddle Saddle and back pouch appear to have high-quality workmanship and materials. My only quibble is that the excess front adjustment straps end up next to the snap. As a flyfisher, I'd prefer the excess hung close to the seat back instead, more out of the way of flyline on the boat deck, but for just paddling it hasn't been a problem. Because Yakpads was not trying to create a fishing-specific seat, I have to give it a 10 because as a SOT paddling seat, it IS a 10!
The Mini-X is not fast nor does it have much glide, but that’s to be expected given that it is intended for fishing in conditions where maneuverability is more important. It tracks surprisingly well for its length (9'3"), and I can turn it on a dime and stop it just about as fast. As long as nobody wants to race me (and as long as I don’t need to go very far quickly), I don’t notice the lack of speed.
The Mini-X has better initial stability than any rec boat I’ve tried, and although a LOT of effort and lean (with the help of thigh straps) finally caused me to reflexively use a brace to right myself, I was never able to actually tip it over.
For fishing, it is a nice size for me -- I don’t take a lot, and I like to be able to reach everything (the forward hatch is the only thing that really takes any effort). The Mini-X actually has more storage capacity than I need (at least right now ... I know how these things go ... voids demand to be filled ...). It is quite comfortable and stable to sit sideways on. I have stood in it, but haven’t tried casting while standing yet. My balance is not the best, and I decided it would be wise to work on that first. Others who have stood in it compared it to the X-Factor and said the Mini was not as stable. I do have to be careful when paddling that I don’t scrape the sides of this wide (33") boat with the paddle (my paddle is 215 cm, and I am a high-angle style paddler ... and would probably be better off low-angle in this boat). It is not normally a concern unless I fatigue, but I’m sure the fish are alerted by the noise whenever it happens!
There’s enough room in the Mini-X for me to straighten out my legs completely with space left over -- and I have looooong legs (in fact, lack of leg room put me off every kayak “designed for women” that I tried, and a few others as well). The foot wells are placed OK for me; placement may bug some people so I would definitely recommend trying before buying, and make sure the trial is long enough to judge your long-term leg comfort. I do prefer that the foot wells spread out support on my foot, unlike foot pegs and I’m also happy to trade the “just OK” placement (by my standards) for not having any footpegs to grab my flyline Speaking of which, the basic boat has very little to snag lines and such; any problems I’ve had in that regard were definitely user-generated (mindless accessorizing can quickly negate the benefits of the Mini-X’s clean design).
Being able to easily car-top the Mini-X on my minivan’s existing custom roof rack is a real bonus. I could handle car-topping a much heavier ‘yak, but a longer one would definitely cause overhang issues on my vehicle. In addition, the 38-lb bare weight is nice, not so much because 38 pounds is a cakewalk for me, but because it (naturally) ends up being considerably heavier once outfitted for fishing, and the fact that the gear is in it makes it awkward to carry -- the lighter weight is certainly welcome then.
I do recommend getting a pair of scupper plugs for the seat holes if you want to ride dry more of the time. Although it’s usually a dry ride (in the seat), any kind of rowdy paddling, plopping into the seat, leaning, and so forth gets me a wet rear end if the scuppers are open.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the Mini-X’s suitability to my purposes. I wouldn't change a thing about it. I have not used it on moving water yet, but intend to amend this review after I do.