Most Recent Reviews
I'm 6' even and 210 pounds. This boat isn't only large enough for me but would probably fit me better if I put on 30 pounds. There is plenty of leg room. I've got a 32" inseam and there is about 6 more inches of adjustment left in the foot pegs. This is definitely a boat for large and tall paddlers. I'm thinking about putting some padding on the sides of the seat to make the fit a little more snug.
My fear about such a long boat being difficult to maneuver was unfounded. Now that I've learned to edge, turning isn't at all difficult. The Nighthawk doesn't track as easily as my 15 foot sit on top but I just drop the skeg and it holds a straight line with no effort at all. On calm water I don't use the skeg but it does come in handy paddling upstream or in windy conditions.
The primary and secondary stability are both excellent. I've actually put it up on edge far enough to get water in the cockpit without tipping over and I'm not an advanced paddler. The Nighthawk is not a racing boat. It doesn't accelerate as fast as sleeker kayaks but once I get moving I have no problem keeping up with other boats. I glides along really well.
My Nighthawk is a 2006 model with a hard plastic seat and backrest (not a back band). The first couple of times I took the boat out the backrest irritated me but now it doesn't bother me even after 5 hours in the boat. I'm completely satisfied with the backrest and have no plans to change it. The seat is another matter. My butt, specifically in the tailbone area, gets sore after about 3 hours of paddling. After 5 the pain becomes pretty intense. I just bought a gel filled seat pad to help with this. I know someone that has a Nighthawk 17.5 and like me, the hard seat is his only complaint. The gel pad worked for him.
The new Nighthawks come with an integrated seat pad. I might very well rate that a 10 of 10 but I give my 2006 hard seat model a 9.
I just bought a Dagger Reflection 15 after renting various canoes. I tried big aluminum Grummans and a 17'4" Old Towne. These canoes from the outfitters always seemed very heavy and stabile, because they were! I actually went looking for a bigger boat, but the salesman convinced me that for what I wanted to do with it, a smaller boat was better for maneuvering. He was right.
My wife and I decided to buy a canoe so we could launch when we wanted, since our main interest in a canoe is wildlife photography. We want to launch at sunrise and the outfitters usually aren't open that early. The first thing I noticed about the Royalex Reflection 15, is the weight. It is only 55 pounds so it is a breeze to put it up on the roof rack.
We took the canoe out to a slow moving river and noticed quickly that the primary stability isn't as good as the heavy canoes we rented. That isn't a problem since we quickly adjusted to it and also found that the secondary stability was excellent. We intentionally rolled the canoe sideways to test it and it is very solid when leaning a few degrees to either side.
It doesn't track as well as a 17' canoe, but that is to be expected. It didn't take long for me to adjust my J stroke to keep it straight. By the time we'd been paddling an hour, we found that it is an excellent boat for our purposes. It turns quite well which is nice for exploring the marshy areas. We moved into an area we never would have tried with a 17' boat and saw a rare bird that we would have otherwise missed.
The boat moved quite well both upstream and downstream. There is no whitewater around here, but we did ride over some power boat wakes and it handled them effortlessly. In fact, we enjoyed it enough that we were deliberately crossing over the wakes. I'm delighted with the Reflection 15. Primary stability and tracking could be better, but it would certainly degrade performance in another area.