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The load assist is a great idea, but does not work very well. Here are the pros and cons... Pros: 1. Hooks into most Malone j-cradles and can be used to load more than one kayak (one at a time of course). 2. Sturdy construction. 3. Still thinking...
Cons: 1. The cradle does not lower far enough to the ground. The height is awkward and I find it harder than just getting the kayak on top of your head and lifting it onto the roof with out the load assist. 2. Along the same lines as above, the "J" of cradle that keeps your yak from sliding off sticks up too high. This makes it more difficult to load than it needs to be. I might try using a hack saw to cut this shorter, but then risk it sliding off when I try to push the yak up onto the car. 3. Even when collapsed, the load assist XL legs are pretty big and take a lot of space in the trunk/cargo area of your vehicle. 4. The XL model has legs that extend all the way to the ground and you have to stand on the feet to keep the units from twisting while using it. 5. The units are not spring loaded or anything. The way it works is you sit your yak on the cradles and then lift on end at a time while the other end is supported by the other cradle. you alternate lifting ends until it is completely raised and then you push your yak up and onto the J-cradles for transport. The idea is that you only have to lift half the kayak at a time. The load assist cradles do not always slide easily, so you have to lift the yak and then raise the cradle which requires you to stand directly in front of the end you are lifting. The problem is while you are lifting one end the load assist unit at the other end wants to twist (because you cannot stand on both feet at the same time).
Ultimately I would not recommend this to anyone. Maybe if you have limited ability in your shoulder or arm it could be helpful, but I doubt it would be enough help unless you have a really light kayak (like 40 lbs or something).
As an FYI, I have used these to load a Viking Profish Reload (68 lbs) and an OK Malibu Two (54 lbs) onto a 2013 Toyota Sienna minivan. If you have a shorter vehicle and/or lighter yaks, maybe you will have a better experience. That said, what is this for if not to raise a reasonably sized yak onto a common height vehicle? It did technically work, but not well enough to be worth the trouble of using it and certainly not well enough to justify the price.
I'm a short but big guy (5'-9", 340 lbs) and started out with solo paddling in the center seat of an OK Malibu Two. That was a great kayak for a heavy guy to start with (great with wiggly kids too) but ultimately, I wanted something longer and more narrow: something faster. Viking had the answer with the Profish Reload. Long and narrow, but the seat is low but then rises under thighs for great support. The low seating makes it very stable with a heavier paddler (lowers center of gravity). I think it is as close as you can get to the ride of a sit inside, yet be a sit on top. You feel at home on the water in this thing. Not to mention it is very comfortable. I have flipped it once and that was at the boat ramp because I caught my leg on the tackle pod as I was getting on... completely avoidable and my fault. I paddle in marshes and along the Chesapeake Bay. Haven't tried it in the ocean yet but have been through some decent swells and wake without any worries. The company is from New Zealand, so you know it handles the really big water well, and I can attest that it is an awesome performer in everything form moderate bay swells to flat salt marshes. The rudder is different from others on the market but works extremely well and I am glad to have the short style that I do not need to worry about hitting bottom or snagging seaweed. The hull design is so efficient that stopping takes getting used to! You stop paddling and the boat just keeps going, even against the tide.
The other reasons I picked this over say the Trident 15 is that it is light for a SOT of this size. I car top and don't have a trailer, so being 30lbs lighter was important to me. This is because Viking uses MDPE instead of HDPE which made me nervous about durability until I found out that Viking has a 30 year warranty (many other companies only have a 5 year). Actually, it could just be in my head, but I think I can feel the hull flex a little bit when I hit a wave. Not a bad flex at all, but I think it almost acts as a shock absorber and is actually a good thing. Hard to explain, you have to feel it yourself. I consider it a benefit. Long story short, as long as you are not going down rapids and crashing into rocks. then you will not have any problems.
Also important to me, the people at Viking USA were EXTREMELY helpful and obviously believe in their product. Being heavy, I was nervous about stability and did not want to buy unless I could try. There are very few locations that stock these boats so I contacted Viking USA directly. They put me in touch with a pro-staffer who happened to be in Maryland. He drove close to two hours each way to meet me so I could paddle around and try it out (thanks to D. for making the trip). Viking is a small outfit in this country, so they might not have someone near you but it is worth asking if you need a test ride. As an aside, the gentleman who met me was quite tall and the kayak fits him well too. The pedals, even though it has the toe controlled rudder, were very easy to adjust.
Now on to the fishing aspect of this fine watercraft. It does not have a lawn chair or a pedal drive, but those are things that I do NOT want in a kayak. I am a paddler first and fisherman second. In fact I did not think much about the fishing, but after going out fishing a few times with it I found it to be excellent and cannot wait for warmer weather so I can go catch me some rockfish! The flush mounted rod holders are numerous and well positioned. I am a huge fan of the flush mount holders on the side near the seat. They angle your rod out front and away from the sides so you can troll and see your rod tip as you paddle without interference, yet close enough you can easily grab your rod when you get a bite (caught my first spotted seatrout this way). The hull quietly cuts through the wake and the tank well is huge. There are even brass threaded inserts on the sides so you can install an anchor trolley without having to drill any holes in your hull. Three of small hatches that have their own scupper and plug so they can drain through the hull, yet closed off to the hull. Several gear tracks came on mine. And the crown jewel of fishing gear... the removable tackle pod! It installs between your legs and has massive amounts of storage, a cutting board and a place to install a fishfinder. A portion of the tackle pod is a cavity like a tube (isolated from the storage portion) that opens up to under the boat for a transducer to be mounted. Here's the best part, the whole thing lifts out meaning you can load and unload the tackle pod with your tackle inside and fishfinder (including the transducer) attached in seconds. It is completely secure when on the water, then pull one pin and you can lift the entire thing out and load it into your car or store it in your basement. Installing it with all of your gear inside and your fishfinder attached is just as easy. Ingenious!!!!!
Any cons??? The biggest con is they are hard to find but look online and you will find them. The only other complaint is that the side of the yak rounds over where my leg rests, but the radius is not quite large enough (not rounded enough). It left my legs sore the first few times out. If I were not so meaty, I probably would not have noticed it. Now I am more aware of positioning my legs and it is not a problem. Also I would imagine that if you have circulation or nerve problems and need to reposition your legs while out on a long paddle, it could be difficult with the tacklepod installed. This can easily be solved by switching out the tackle pod for a low deck pod or kids pod instead both of which make the deck nearly flat or just don't install any of the pods if you want (although that would leave a uncovered hole that opens to the water between your feet - think oversized scupper for a transducer to enter the water). I have found that at times the area around my feet can stay wet, but a large scupper plug would solve that. If I were 50 lbs lighter it probably would stay mostly dry. FYI - The scupper valves at ACK fit the scuppers under the seat and work well to keep my rear dry, but are too small for the scuppers in the tank well and by your feet.
In summary: It is extremely well equipped for fishing, but is also a dream to paddle. I would recommend this to you even if you never fish in it. Incredibly stable (even for a fat guy), incredibly comfortable, incredibly efficient hull, great capacity, lightweight, right price, and awesome/extremely helpful people working for the company...SOLD! NO REGRETS AT ALL! I would definitely buy this again in a heart beat. PS - you will be met with looks of envy for being one of the few people to have a Viking in this country, if that matters to you. The company does not have flashy advertising like many of the other companies, but it is only a matter of time before the US kayaking scene catches on and everybody ends up wanting one. PPS- nope, I did not get anything (no money, no freebies, nothing) to write this review. I just love my yak and want to help others feel comfortable with buying it if they think it is what they are looking for. I had a hard time finding the right yak given my weight and if I can help someone else, then great!