Most Recent Reviews
This kayak does some things well and misses the mark in several other areas. What I like about this kayak is that it does not feel big and heavy like you'd expect from a tandem. It maneuvers well in the water and tracks surprisingly well. With two average/larger size adults, I was impressed with how stable it was - we were able to jump on and off into the water for swimming with ease. The carrying capacity was also impressive. At 450 pounds between passengers and gear, it never seemed like it was 'loaded up', and other paddlers commented it was still riding high in the water. Despite not being truly 'dry seats', we never managed to get our butts wet (we kept scuppers in under the seat pads, and removed them in the foot wells). The seat pads are comfortable and provide a surprising amount of support, perhaps the best in this class of entry recreational sit-on tandem kayaks, although adjusting them out on the water is not the easiest of tasks (especially as the straps age and become stiff). One of my favorite features is each passenger gets their own generously sized dry hatch (we were able to fit snorkel masks and flippers in each one). One of my favorite and least favorite features (at the same time) is the front dry storage well. Despite being insulated and very large, it has no liner/tray to prevent things from rolling into the very back of the kayak (this can be frustrating). The scuppers are essentially the only separation barriers inside the hull. The open rear storage area also felt like a wasted of space: It's not deep enough or flat enough to where you can comfortably stick anything tall without fear of it falling over (like a medium size cooler). All things considered, I believe I would have preferred another dry storage hatch in this back area (keeping in mind this is not a fishing kayak (at least not any serious fishing); this kayak is ideal for recreational/light touring setup, so another dry storage would make more sense to me). The small side net pockets are nice for keeping things like a can of bug spray or sunscreen, or even dry box with your phone/keys handy. The paddle holders are also well placed. Other considerations are the molded foot rests felt 'shallow' to me, where I could not get full foot placement, although I have large feet so this may not be an issue to everyone. The rear stern design also means you will never be able to mount a rudder to this kayak (at least not without any serious custom fabrication); and even then figuring out pedal tracks is another issue. Not having a rudder, or rudder capability, really takes a big hit in its potential to exceed on open water and coastal environments. Also noticeably absent on this kayak are track rails and hold downs, except for the bungees in storage areas. One thing I would have liked to see on this kayak is molded carry handles. The carry handles are comfy, but molded handles just offer more secure hold options, and are found on much cheaper competitors these days. Lastly, transporting and mounting this kayak can be a bit tricky. This kayak being an older design, it does not have a true 'flat topside' for mounting it upside down on a set of racks/crossbars, but mounting it right-side up against the hull (either by foam blocks or straight onto crossbars) has produced quite a bit of 'oil canning' over time (although these older Hobie designs always seemed to have a 'soft' hull in my opinion). Overall this is a great kayak for its intended purposes. With direct competitors in this segment potentially costing half the price (i.e. Perception 13.5T), this is a tough value proposition for a few luxury upgrades. That said, if you plan on using this very often, you will notice the small details and improvements Hobie brings to the table.
Exactly what you need
This boat is exactly what you need, not want. I took one of these out for a weekend, and now I need it. It is perfect for me in every way. There's tons of dry storage and the seating configuration is so adaptable. I can move the stern seat forward and paddle this kayak by myself, or I can slide it all the way back and paddle with a partner. I can even slide the stern seat into the middle position and place my 85-pound Labrador retriever into the bow cockpit and take her on a solo trip with me. There is even a jumpseat option for a little kid in the stern cockpit. Heck, there's even enough room for me in the stern to fit a smaller dog and place a second person in the bow.
The boat I tried had the optional drop down rudder too, which was terrific for slower-paced waters. The only con to the optional rudder is the turning radius isn't very sharp (you probably want to pull it up for smaller rivers and only use it in open waters). Stability was fair, either with a light load or heavy load. I cannot think of any disqualify thing about this boat, except for maybe the price: It is very expensive. But you do get a lot of boat for your money, that's for sure. There's a reason you don't see these on the second-hand market...everyone wants them.