Most Recent Reviews
I am 5'2. We bought a Nissan Xterra. Obviously, carrying the boat on top of the car was simply not an option for me. I researched trailers and it seemed that in terms of durability and road-worthiness, the Rack and Roll was the only choice.
It made the trip to NC and back in great form. The manufacturers make it clear that if the trailer is going to fail, it will fail in the tires, so I was very particular about checking the pressure and inflating every morning that it was being driven. One tire held the pressure pretty consistently, the other was always down by 7 lbs after sitting overnight. We will be taking that tire to be checked for a leak. I'm sure it can be fixed, and given that this trailer was a year old when I bought it (it was a demo), this cannot be held against the manufacturer.
It follows the car very closely so there is no need to compensate with wide turns, etc. I normally take a 14-foot kayak on it, but for the NC trip I had a 15' boat on it.
Yes, this trailer is expensive, but isn't reliability on the road, and therefore your safety, worth a little extra expense? I highly recommend this trailer.
I am a 5'2 woman of normal weight. This is my fourth kayak, all of which have been different widths. The one prior to this was the same length and one inch wider. What a difference that inch makes, along with the other differences in the design of the Mystic. I sit in the others to paddle--I *wear* the Mystic, it's like an extension of my body ("fits like a glove" is often used to describe the feel of the Mystic). This must be a large part of why it feels so stable to me, and felt that way from the first time I put it in water. There was literally no adjustment period with this kayak, no learning curve. THIS is what a kayak is supposed to feel like!
This is the only kayak in which I have been able to make use of the thigh braces. In every other one, it has been like sitting in the center of a couch and finding the arms of the couch to be so far away as to be useless, and then moving to a narrow easy chair with the arms nestled on either side of you. Oh, so this is how thigh braces work! And the Mystic's are padded underneath, just one of many details that make this a kayaker's dream boat.
As for performance, this is one very speedy little 14' craft. It laughs at river current as it effortlessly slices through it. It has an easily-deployed skeg for use in windy conditions (I haven't yet needed it). The seat back is perfectly positioned for comfort and support. Which brings me to one of my favorite aspects of this boat. I have been kayaking for about 3 years, this is my 4th kayak. In every other kayak, I have suffered from what I refer to as "kayak butt"--a condition that causes my right hip through the back of my right thigh to become increasingly uncomfortable after 30-40 minutes on the water--to the point of pain if I do not find a place to get out and stretch. I have attributed this to an old bout of sciatica and assumed it was part of the kayaking experience for me. My paddling trips were limited to places that offered stopping points at which to stretch and relieve this discomfort. I was very pleasantly surprised (this is an understatement!) to find that I can paddle the Mystic for 4 hours without getting out and not feel one trace of "kayak butt." It's taken several trips to get used to not always seeking a stopping point--it has also enabled me to paddle the four miles to the top of my favorite river and back, something I could never do before because of the lack of places to get off the water to stretch. It must be the seat dynamics--whatever it is, this has changed kayaking for me.
It sits low in the water; the boat is 11" deep rather than the 15" I have become used to in my other kayaks. I like this very much and I think it contributes to the stability.
The Mystic is a pricey boat but if you can handle the cost and you fit the size recommendation (80-190 lbs), I can't possibly recommend it enough--it's worth every penny of the cost (even at full price!). I'd also like to mention the unbelievably friendly customer service you will get from Impex, which is based in NC. Ask them anything via email and you will receive a reply almost immediately. Their website has a message board that is monitored by the owners, unlike other kayak sites that are left to fend for themselves.
My kayak buying days are over; in my opinion you just can't do better than the Mystic. And if you don't fit the size or weight requirements, I suggest you look into other Impex models. These people know how to build kayaks.
The Sylva is 14'1" long and 22.5" wide, quite different from my Santee. It weighs 49 lbs, which is the upper limit of what I can load and unload (I carry it *inside* the car (a Honda CR-V) rather than on a roof rack, which makes it much easier to load and unload, but I still have to get it from the car to the water). My first trip with it was to a nearby river where you put in at the headspring, at a boat ramp in shallow water with a hard sandy bottom. It was a little trickier to get into gracefully than the wider Santee, but not a problem and I'm sure I will perfect my technique over time. I spent a fair amount of time in water a foot deep just rocking back and forth to get a feel for the secondary stability, which kicked in when it was far to the side. I did not attempt to take it all the way to capsize since I did not feel like getting wet that day. It seemed unlikely, based on my experiments, that conditions at my paddling sites would ever force it over far enough to capsize. I practiced getting out, and it was extremely stable during that maneuver.
So I left the ramp and headed out into the river. It took me about 5 minutes to adjust to the stability of the new narrow width, and I was aware of it only while gliding--it seemed extremely stable while paddling. And I finally learned what tracking really is! The bow did not have any side-to-side wiggle with my strokes, just kept pointing straight ahead.
I practiced small turns of the sort to avoid logs or clumps of aquatic plants. It was very responsive to both leaning turns and ruddering using the paddle. Turning 180 degrees was a little more difficult in the Sylva than the Santee, but that's a function of its length, and possibly the chines, and an expected trade-off. It doesn't spin on a dime but it also is not overly tedious to turn around. Also, I was turning against the current and against the wind, less than ideal turning conditions.
The seat ratchets easily into position while you are paddling. The cockpit is shallow and since I am short, the seat back, which of course comes to the top of the cockpit, hits me between the ribs and hipbones, a soft area that was not overly comfortable. This would be the case with any kayak of this depth, and was easily remedied by adding a higher cushion behind my back. If I was taller than 5'2, I would be leaning back on my hipbone area and it would be more comfortable. The footrests were easy to adjust while on the water and I had more than enough foot room top to bottom.
Since that first ride, I have taken it out twice more. The last time was to a river that had almost no current in parts. This is when the Sylva really showed its stuff! This kayak moves beautifully and swiftly through flat water and glides forever! It felt very easy to propel and came up to cruising speed quickly. A couple of power boats went by me at low speeds (this is a no-wake river); the small waves from their motors came at me diagonally from behind and they were completely undetectable, the Sylva seemed to glide right *through* them as if they weren't there. But these were minimal wakes. By the end of this trip, I was no longer making small balance corrections while drifting and was becoming familiar with the feel of the boat around me. It felt very stable with no "tippiness."
It has front and rear hatches with rubber covers. I found the covers a little difficult to apply, but once on they were tight and appeared to be well-sealed against leakage. The cockpit is long and I had lots of room for easy-to-access storage inside it as well.
The finish on the hull is semi-glossy and very attractive (I got a compliment on the boat within 15 minutes into its maiden voyage). It is currently available in orange, yellow, and blue. I got the orange one for visibility. It came with a signed Manufacturers Statement of Origin with the serial number and date it was made along with other info, and also a warranty card; the Sylva is warranted against manufacturing defects for the life of the kayak (within the normal lifetime of a kayak). It also came with a neat little bilge sponge in the shape of the company logo.
I gave this kayak a rating of 9 out of 10 because there is no "10" kayak being made and I have no complaints about the Sylva. It's a sleek, attractive boat that is very well suited for flat water trips (someone else will have to review it for rougher water). I'm very pleased with it and I recommend considering the LiquidLogic Sylva when you are kayak shopping.