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Name: seark

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My first SUP, bought as a repaired demo board. Light enough to carry easily, good learning board on flat small lakes or staying near shore. Sold because I want a longer board with more glide, carrying capacity and tie downs for touring. Beginning tip: I thought I needed to "get good BEFORE paddling with dog, turned out board was much more stable WITH dog. Small child, dog who can sit still actually serves as ballast and offsets your inadvertent weight shifts as you are learning. (My 50lb dog is an experienced kayaker and good at keeping her weight centered. She loves supping!). Our combined weight was 230 though which was max for this board. Pros Good learning board. Weight easy to carry. Length good for storing and transport, paddling close to shore, calm water. Cons No tie downs, not much glide. Bought a demo that had been repaired. Beware punctures. Usage Great family fun at lake or bay. Not for racing or touring. I towed behind touring kayak on kayak camping trips to play with at our swimming beach.

Tried the Versa out this past weekend as well as a NRS Big Earl inflatable SUP. Compared to the inflatable, the Versa was much more stable - and much heavier. The Versa has greater versatility and I liked the sculpted sitting area. I was on a lake and really liked the Versa. I see it has a real option for paddling my dog and I. I like the options of being able to alternate between sitting and standing (and laying down for a nap!).

The inflatable SUP required greater balance and did have more flex. Had lower weight capacity and I can't see paddling the dog and a cooler out to my favorite island on it. I could see doing that on the Versa.

I have been a touring kayaker for several years and have done some races. Paddle mostly big rivers, swamps, lakes, bayous, estuaries and occasionally mild surf on trips to the coast. I could see using the Versa in almost all those conditions. Really like the idea of an inflatable that I could carry in the trunk for spur of the moment trips, but think I would probably use the Versa more often.

I first tested the Kestral 140, both the rotomold and composite versions, at a demo day at the city park lake. I was looking for a light touring/transitional kayak in the 13 to 15 foot range. I mostly paddle Class I/II rivers, bayous and lakes with occasional trips to the coastal salt marshes and estuaries.
I'm short and wide, 5'5" and 200lbs. I've been kayaking for 8 years paddling using a wide variety of recreational and touring kayaks - always searching for the ever elusive perfect boat.

I liked the ease of getting in and out thanks to the larger cockpit. The boat accelerated easily. It was stable but was easy to edge slightly for steering. The rotomold has a narrower bow than the composite. The ten-minute paddle on the lake was enjoyable but I wasn't completely sold. Yesterday, a local outfitter allowed me to paddle a rotomold Kestral 140 in a 4 mile Arkansas River canoe and kayak race in the Little Rock area. (This kind of service is why I highly recommend purchasing from a local outfitter!) Paddling that distance with an attempt at speed showed me that, while the Kestral 140 has nice stability and easy in/out, the cockpit is too open for me. The cockpit's XL size and low-cut profile leaves nothing for knees to brace against. The narrow/flat bow also tended to plow. In white caps, I would have been taking on water. When I stopped paddling briefly to take a photo, the Kestal immediately lost momentum and began to veer off.

If you are wanting a large cockpit for fishing/photography on flat water and aren't concerned about speed or distance - the Kestral would be a fine boat - although I prefer my original kayak, an Old Town Loon 138 - now 8 years old, for that sort of outing. For long distances and competing in the fun divisions of canoe & kayak races, I chose a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 instead. It gives me just a little more room to wiggle in and out and for comfort over the long stretch than the Tsunami 140 my nephew 5'6", 165 lbs. is happily competing in now.

We have ten rental kayaks at Cane Creek State Park, (Arkansas). These include a Wilderness System Bandit, a Perception Swifty, and a Dagger Zydeco. I believe the Zydeco is easily the best of the lot. It has a more comfortable seat, more of a ww kayak look, and its outfitting has stood up to the test of rental use by a bunch of beginners. It's fun to paddle, surprisingly fast for a short boat, and fits a wide range of people from kids to xl adults. Plus its really light and easy to carry and load. I plan to add one to my personal collection of boats.

Respectfully disagree with Linda and Allen - Extra floatation won't hurt but it isn't necessary. My Loon 120 sits right where its suppose to even with a full load. Speaking of which, I just bought a second kayak, a Loon 138, solo model. It has much more stowing capacity than the 120 - nice for fishing tackle, camera, binoculars, etc. The difference in length however does make it harder to carry and load onto a rack - especially if you are travelling solo! The 138 doesn't feel quite as easy to manuver as the 120, but it is slightly faster and tracks perhaps a little better. If you are trying to decide between the two - PADDLE THEM BOTH FIRST. The fit is different and I've found that friends have formed a quick and definite personal preference between the two. I like both, depending on where I'm going and what I'm taking with me.

I purchased a Loon 138 in August as my second kayak - my first being a 120 (see review under Loon 120). I really like the extra room of the 138. I have the single seat model which gives you lots of room for storage. I carry a dry box with my camera, binoculars, lunch, birding field guide, cell phone, etc. and there is plenty of room for it between my feet where it is easy to retreive and take things in and out. Have taken my dog and also children out with me, they can either ride in front of or behind the paddler. The boat is very stable - my Chesapeake Bay Retreiver can climb in and out and hardly rock the boat. It is a little harder to load and unload due to weight and length, but I can and have managed to do it by myself. "Ethel" has a few scratches already, but she does handle falls well.

After trying several kayaks over the past six weeks, I decided on an Old Town Loon. I am paddling it on lakes and flat rivers. It is stable, maneuvers well and is a convenient size for cartopping or tossing in the back of the pickup. It has a little more initial stability than an Acadia and feels stiffer and a little faster than the Pungo or Manteo. The price also compares favorably.