Most Recent Reviews
It continues to be a very satisfactory kayak. I still use it about 3 times a week (isn't retirement great). I have been out with my kayak buddies in a variety of other brands and it never fails to impress them with its speed and tracking ability. As I mentioned in my original post, I had pretty much come to the conclusion my next kayak would have a rudder or skeg...but hated the idea as the complexity, weight and issues with weeds fouling them (a very big problem in my favorite lake) put me off. After owning the Tampico I have come to the conclusion a WELL designed kayak doesn't need a skeg or rudder. It also has no issues with weather cocking which is a big point for me as my favorite paddling lake frequently has winds in excess of 25 mph. With proper weight distribution and trimming the Tampico is dead neutral in winds. I suspect the low deck height is the secret as well as the Swede form hull design. That being said it can carve corners with the best of them even though it doesn't have any rocker.
Stability...yeah...those who have tried it said the initial tippyness (23" width) is a bit more noticeable but that isn't an issue after 5 minutes paddling. And in fact I found it to be able to deal with chop and waves better than a lot of other less tippy yaks...I think it is the "feel" you are getting through immediate feedback....sort of like the response of a sports car vs. a big soft riding car. Secondary stability is very good. I have never felt it was in danger of rolling unintentionally.
Finish of the Trylon hull remains flawless (although I baby it compared to my OLD TOWN Dirigo which is my "bomber" kayak for rough river runs). There is no sign of any oil caning, bad seams, etc. The seat is pretty comfortable...as long as you keep it in the low back position. I am 150# and 6' tall...I think it could take a person up to 6'4" or so but if you have large shoe size you may want to make sure you have sufficient toe room....the length is fine though. One thing which I came to appreciate is the large size of the rear hatch which is just large enough to allow me to fit my Wheelies kayak kart. Some other brands of kayak have smaller hatch openings which would be an issue.
The cockpit opening is just the right size...not overly large but large enough to get in and out of easily while still allowing a good drip skirt fit around the excellent coming. The shape of the cockpit allows me to brace my knees against the underside of the cockpit effectively without Micky Mouse thigh brace add on's... I did put some 1/4" high density foam on the inside to place my knees against. Hurricane might consider including a piece of the foam so buyers can decide if they want to use it or not. The cockpit opening is also large enough that you can get in easy enough that you don't have to use the standard paddle float rescue method...the cowboy method is fast and less troublesome. The fact that the rigging hardware is all recessed below the surface gives you a smooth surface that won't catch your PFD as you reenter.
The hatch covers keep everything dry and I like the "leashes" on them to prevent them from getting lost should they ever come loose. I have memories of a fellow practicing his rolls on a kayak without a cover tether, loosing a hatch cover and he never did find it again.
Everyt ime I take it out people comment how attractive the color (blue top white bottom) is and how shiny it looks (Trylon). That may be its one negative. It is so pretty I am reluctant to treat it rough like I do with my Dirigo!
The length of this kayak is a good balance giving speed without a big weight or maneuverability penalty. It has enough storage space in the two bulkheads to carry gear for a couple of days trips.
The river had some class 1-2 rapids including a few areas where the river was "necked" down to go through corrugated culverts. The speed picked up and it was a wild ride with some banging and crashing into the side of the culverts. But the real test was when I had to go over downed trees and big limbs knocked down by recent storms that were in several areas that were in rapidly moving water. The trees and limbs were above the water, and were situated that you didn't know they were there until almost on them..and due to the bank condition you couldn't get out to portage around them.
The short length of the 106 Dirigo makes it not so good at tracking and the high deck height makes it more susceptible to wind cocking on open water... but that wasn't an issue here and the ability to turn on a dime was a big plus. Several of the trees required my buddy in his kayak and I to push and pull to get over the obstacles... often it meant going full bore to counter the current and than trying to pick the cleanest point to bomb over the trees and branches.
With all this hard treatment, I was surprised at how well the Dirigo did... no hull damage and never a hint that it was out of control. I never planned to put my Dirigo through this type of punishment and was amazed at how well it did. I was also REALLY happy that I didn't have my "good" kayak on this trip...its Airolite hull most likely wouldn't have liked the treatment!
So overall the Dirigo impressed me with its ability to survive such hard treatment. I don't plan on doing this on a regular basis...but it is nice to know it can take a beating and survive non the worse for wear.
The pluses...huge cockpit opening gives lots of room for fishing gear, seat adjustments for back tilt and seat tile are adjustable from deck...even when I use a spray skirt. Note however that the latest version no longer has this function (big mistake to eliminate it). The older style seat was better than the latest version in this regard. Large opening hatch and dry bulkhead in back is excellent. Dry well in front "dash" is great for cell phone, wallet, keys, etc. Very durable three layer hull construction is step up from standard roto moulded hulls...much more rigid.
Negatives....sits high and since it is short and smooth bottom it doesn't track as straight as a longer kayak but once you learn how to paddle correctly this isn't really an issue. Bigger issue is that the short length/high height makes it a bit more susceptible to wind weather vaining. The short length makes it more susceptible to getting wet from waves crashing over the bow. Where I paddle (lake) we often get very high winds in the afternoon...25-30 mph and the chop from that will get you wet...that is why I will use a spray skirt those times. For me the stability is very important for my family as it includes three kids down to a small 10 year old. I don't want to worry about a tippy kayak when they are out using it. It can handle some big waves...my wife got hit by a 3' power boat wake last week (don't you hate those thoughtless jerks) that I fully expected her to get dumped...no problem. If you want a fast kayak that tracks straight as an arrow...this one isn't it. I also own a new Hurricane Tampico 135 which is a sports car in comparison but there is no way I would put my 10 year old into it until he gets a lot more experience.
For fishing it is excellent although if I were only going out in warmer waters only I would probably have gone with a sit on top. I have a friend that has the same Dirigo as mine and also a Hobie sit on top. He prefers the Hobie for warmer water (we live in Michigan so cold water lakes are an issue part of the year). We have often paddled together and both Hobie and the Dirigo paddle about the same speed and track the same way.
The foot pedals are a nice design and can be adjusted when in the kayak...something that often can't be done on other kayaks due to the restricted opening.
Final comment about ALL kayaks...do not go by the stated weight of a kayak for comparison purposes. I have yet to find ANY kayak that weighs what the specs say...my Dirigo weighs 49#...not the 43# in the specs.
I would rate this as a 9 or even a 10 if you are mainly going to use this as a recreational kayak...but I knock off a point or two due to the latest seat. If you can find the older version with the deck adjustable seat knobs I would get that one first.
I have two of these Skagits. They are both the carbon fiber shaft and carbon fiber reinforced blade. The first one I bought 4 years ago. It had a feather system with holes and a locking pin. I drilled a few more holes to gives some more positions. It has had no issues of reliability or premature wear...still like new.
I recently bought a second kayak and wanted another paddle so that my family could take out both kayaks at the same time. I was so happy with the first I bought the current model which now has an index system so you can select various feather angles set at 15 degree increments. The joint on both are tight and no flexure in the joint or the paddle shaft or blade. Both are the same length 220mm (I am 6' tall). Besides the much improved feather indexing system I didn't see any changes in material or shape which I thought were always perfect for me. The handle is slightly oval...just enough to help you maintain a good grip and know where the paddle is oriented. The color of both the blade and handle is black. This color is OK but if given a choice a non black color on the handle might be preferable as when sitting out in the hot sun the black can get fairly hot. I sometimes will put it in the water to cool it down before starting to paddle.I also thought that a brightly colored paddle blade might be useful as an emergency safety "flag". I am thankful that they resisted going to an oversize blade. The blade enters the water cleanly and pulls straight without feeling you are dragging a huge "barn door" through the water like an oversized blade does.
I give the older model a 8 and the new one a 9 based on its excellent feather index system and it would have been a 10 if they had made the whole thing bright yellow or at least the blades. But I wanted this version and features so I decided I could accept the color.