Based on other reviews, I got lucky with my boat. I bought from REI on a slight sale at $2000, which is definitely sticker-shock level pricing. Despite how scary the price was and the occasional review citing quality issues, I knew REI would honor a return if I had issues. And I had no issues with the boat that I see others mentioning (missing pieces, leaks, misaligned pieces, whathaveyou) That said....
I've taken the boat out for a few mutli-day camping trips in the San Juan Islands with 0 issues. It packs gear so well I've ended up taking other people's overflow on every trip. The only time loading it has been an issue is when I stupidly put a gallon of someone else's water right up front (so we could hurry up and get going). That was a long hour paddle, I paid for that mistake.
I've also taken it out on lakes/in the Sound several times. Without any extra weight in it, this boat glides along quite well. I always use a float bag in at least the bow, which I think helps a ton.
It's pretty trippy feeling it flex going over waves, but not enough to be scary.
Myself and my partner (6'3" and 5'8") have no issues doing self rescues in a variety of methods, though due to the amount of water it can take on it can be really difficult to try to hoist it up to drain it before you get in. You're going to have to use a bilge pump. I've been able to do it without needing a pump in a few other boats.
- Obviously the portability/compact nature of the thing is huge. If you don't have a place to store a hard shell 'yak, this is a great choice.
- Storage is excellent - you can pack way more in this than your average hard shell.
- Very stable. I've yet to have a swim. Yet.
- Super easy access to storage. If you stop on a beach you can get to anything in the kayak in under 60 seconds and have it put back together in under 60 more.
- Pretty easy to assemble after you've done it a couple times. My average is under 10 minutes from box to boat.
- You'll have some interesting conversations while assembling/disassembling from curious onlookers.
- In and out is easy, cockpit isn't super restrictive (but does fit a regular large sprayskirt just fine)
- Seat is garbage. You're going to want to get more padding. MORE PADDING.
- No, really, the seat is utter garbage.
- No day hatch, so whatever you want easily accessible but not on the deck is going in your lap (which means popping the spray skirt to get to it)
- Seems more susceptible to degraded performance from a bad packing job than a hardshell - though that may just be because it's easier to shove stuff further out than normal
- Putting it together the first few times is worse than your average IKEA dresser, expect it to take 30 minutes until you get it down pat
- I can't manage to fit much in the way of waterproof shoes in the boat with my size 12 feet, anything with extra bulk is probably going to be an issue
- "Real kayakers" will probably give you a little bit of side eye when they see it
All in all, I think this boat is excellent for what it is. I still want to get a hard shell when I can, but for now it fits in my apartment and my hatchback and gets me out on the water. I'd give it 5 stars, but honestly the seat has caused me enough torture and the price is high enough to drop it a star.