your paddlesports destination

Kestrel 120 Reviews

See all reviews for Current Designs

Average Consumer Review:

(41 Consumer Reviews)

Read reviews for the Kestrel 120 by Current Designs as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!

First... the bad. My wife...

First... the bad. My wife and I just purchased two 2017 Kestrel 120 Kevlar kayaks a few months ago. We've put 20 hour on each, so far. On my maiden voyage, I developed a 12"-14" crack along side the seat on the underside of the cockpit. There was a loud snap when I sat my 180 pounds down. The dealer has fixed it already. Though, I won't get a chance now to test it out until spring. Quite an inconvenience since the dealer is about 2-1/2 hours away. I am not convinced that hanging the seat from the top rim of the cockpit was a good design. Seems that the seat should mount on the bottom (strongest part) of the boat like some others do. I guess it was a way for the seat to be able to swing back and forth like it does, though we always keep ours in the upright position. Reclining this seat is not comfortable, plus it takes away from the little room available for your knees. Though it has been designed to keep your knees tucked under, the cockpit is so wide and the seat sits too high that my wife cannot begin to get her knees under. I have skinny legs and no bum. I can get my legs under, but don't find it very comfortable because of the wide spread and can't last more than 10 minutes. So, we both ride with our knees out. Unfortunately, the Kestrel was not designed to do that. There is no padding that wraps around the bottom rim of the cockpit and the sharp edge digs in the legs. I did remedy the situation by purchasing a set of Eddyline Sandpiper comfort knee pads. I had to grind them a bit to contour to the Kestrel cockpit so they stay on. Then, I tore out the original padding to be able to glue the velcro for these adjustable knee pads. Though the seat seems better than other kayaks, it still lacks padding on the bottom. We purchased 1" foam pads for the 3-5 hour long rides. I do like the adjustable backrest. You can raise and lower on the fly and its ratchet system easily changes the angle of the backrest. However, once we both found the right settings, we don't see a need to ever change them again. The paddle holder hooks catch your hands once in a while, especially if you are a high angle paddler. So, I clipped off at least 1/4" and sanded them down smooth. They really need to be moved to a lower position. My last complaint is that there is no beverage holder, or a good place to put an aftermarket one. So, now the good. I love the looks. They track well, have good speed and quite stable. The Kestrel needs very little water to float. I really like the Swede hull. It makes sense to be wider near the back where you sit. They seem to skim across the top of the water rather than cut down through. They don't turn as easily as others that I've tried, but it's the compromise for a shallow "V" and good tracking. Great sealed front and rear bulkheads with one of the nicest hinged hatch covers I seen. Current Design started doing this on their 2017 models. Lots of storage both on top and inside hatches. And, room between the legs for a small cooler. Very easy to adjust footrests from inside the boat. They are very lightweight for being 12-1/2 feet long. My "white on white" is 36 pound, yet my wife's "red on white" is 40 pounds. Quite a bit of difference (10%) . I noticed right away loading each on the rooftop of the SUV. Overall, I am pleased, but feel that for the price could have done better.

I have a Current Design,...

I have a Current Design, 12' Kestrel 120 Kayak. I love its stability on lakes and streams, easy to enter and comfortable seating. Can adjust the seat to fit me or my son who is 6'1". Also adjustable feet rest for any size paddler. Lightweight so I can load in my car, and carry to any boat ramp or dock easily.

Can paddle for 4 or 5 hours without developing sore muscles or cramps, and I am a 71 year old small, woman. Can even fish from this kayak, since it is more stable and can control more easily. Large dry box makes taking along lunch or dinner so easy. And it is a beautiful, bright yellow color.

I am enjoying my first...

I am enjoying my first season with a Kestrel kayak, made of kevlar and 12' long. It has a nice sized dry box in it and an adjustable seat back. The seat is comfortable. I am a 5'2" elderly woman who loves the outdoors and has been limited on getting on the water due the inability to load and unload my own paddling device. I have found that the Kestrel 120 weighs about 32-35 lbs. and I can load and unload it! I found it to be easy to maneuver, and to paddle. The cockpit is plenty wide, comfortable and the feet rests also adjust to suit your height. I like the fact that I can wear shorts and have my legs somewhat protected from the sun by the cockpit. I would, however, suggest a lightweight towel in the cockpit on a sunny day to protect the thighs! I paddled for 5 hours and didn't have sore shoulders- a first for me! I was able to control my kayak easily and enjoy my time on the water. I haven't been white water paddling, I have been in tame rivers and on lakes thus far.

I purchased 2 used Kestral...

I purchased 2 used Kestral 120 kayaks at the beginning of the summer - 8 and 10 years old. This kayak has been wonderful. It's easy to get in, it tracks well, it turns easily. I have had many offers from kayak owners who want to purchase my 2nd one. They realize the quality of the Kestral and want to replace theirs. This is an excellent kayak both for beginners and experienced recreational kayakers.

I love my kayak. I am 5 ft...

I love my kayak. I am 5 ft 6in female, weigh 160 lbs. I like the weight at only 50 lbs I plan to carry it myself once I'm more familiar with loading and unloading. It has a perfect size cockpit for me to get into and out of, but most of all, it handles fantastic on the water. I plan to have this kayak for years!

Of the many kayaks I...

Of the many kayaks I tested I loved the Kestrel. It was smooth on the water, the turning was fantastic. I am a female paddler 5ft 6in tall and the size is perfect. Entry and exiting the kayak is a breeze and it is light enough to handle. I am new to kayaking and look forward to gaining experience in a boat that I will still love for years to come.

I purchased the Kestrel...

I purchased the Kestrel 120 last summer to float the lakes and slower rivers in western Montana. It has meet all my expectations and more. It handles well on the rivers and tracks across lakes with little effort to keep it in a line. I like it well enough that I purchased a second used one. Current Designs backs up their products

I purchased the hybrid at...

I purchased the hybrid at the end of the season last year on a deal. I took her out on her maiden voyage last week in high winds and strong current. I was seriously impressed at how well it handled in these conditions! I was expecting to have to work harder and end my first trip out with some stiff shoulders and forearms.......not the case at all! This boat is going to be like my favorite pair of shoes, a perfect fit as I am a small paddler. Tested it out in some small rapids and again I was impressed.
My only recommendation would be is to be sure to get the skirt....your legs will be wet without it.

I bought the 12 ft....

I bought the 12 ft. Kestrel as my first kayak 3 years ago. We love it, but as my first purchase and as a rookie, it took some practice. It tracks great. All ages have used it in our very smooth creek and love that it's fast and reliable. I hope to take it out in the river soon where it's more challenging.

I have owned my Kestrel...

I have owned my Kestrel for two seasons now, and I love it. This is my first kayak, but I have been paddling for years and have used many different boats. What I like about it is that it tracks well, is easy to paddle considering the width of the beam and the weight, has lots of storage, and has a very good initial stability. What I don't like about it is that it does not turn well when weighted down. I do a lot of camping and usually have lots of gear with me. This is not a problem on flat water, but on swift, winding rivers or class 1 or 2 rapids it becomes very slow going trying to manuver back and forth.

It is a good all around boat for beginners, easy to turn if you have nothing with you, fast and stable, and therefore good for ocean or touring. You can even do some mild whitewater. It also has a fantastic seat, hard foam with an adjustable back. The cockpit is pretty large, easy to get in and out of, I am 5'6" and 140, I am very comfortable but this yak is suited for larger people, i would not recommend it for a small person.

This is a very good kayak for the price, and I would suggest it to anyone new to this sport.

This is a follow-up on the...

This is a follow-up on the Kestrel 120X roto I bought last year. I'm still very impresses with it. On calm waters it glides forever, steers fast for a 12 footer. Only been in class 2 rapids so far, but it took them without any problems. Even in 2 half ft waves its very secure. I let my wife use it this spring on the Flambeau River. I had a hard time getting it back. Now she wants to upgrade. She loved the seat and stability. Current Design has a winner here.

great little kayak, quite...

great little kayak, quite stable, very maneuverable and great tracking. Not very wind sensitive. Comfortable cockpit. Best of all Current Designs stands behind it's products: One of my hatch covers cracked after only 2.5 years, even though it was never used and the boat stored covered (the back one was fine). Upon contacting CD, they shipped a replacement - no questions asked! Now that's a great company!. Looking forward to my next boat a CD Vision 140!

This is a update on a...

This is a update on a Kestral 120 XC roto. I finally got this yak on a faster flowing river, the Flambeau river in WI. The more I use this yak the more I like it. I was surprised at how fast it got up to a steady cruz speed. Very stable in class 2 rapids. Love how you can adjust the seat, back rest and the angle of the seat. I packed a lot of gear and a collapsible cooler in the dry storage. Only complaint is that it's a little heavy, but it's a sweet paddle.

Love, love love my...

Love, love love my Kestrel. I am a more than middle aged woman who is new to paddling last summer. I have had my Kestrel for about 9 months and it has taken me from being a beginning paddler to a good paddler. I have hundreds of miles in all sorts of conditions and the Kestrel has never let me down.

Tried out a kestral 120X...

Tried out a kestral 120X roto the other night on a lake. It was a demo ride. Conditions were 25-35mph wind, 1 1/2 to 2ft. waves running tight together. I thought I'd take a dunking. It proved to be very stable, smooth ride, and I stayed dry. Very fast acceleration and maintained speed easy. Love the 2 dry storage compartments. I ended up buying it. I'll have more to report after a few trips later this year.

Many think of Recreational...

Many think of Recreational boats as stubby, 55 pound poly tubs, not for "real" kayakers. I thought that till I got my Hybrid 12 ft Kestrel. Sweet boat! Light, tracks well, comfy seat, and reasonably fast (for a 12 ft boat).

My kayaking had gotten progressively complicated and too gear-oriented. This little boat gets me back to the simple, pure enjoyment of it all.

The Kestel 120 Kevlar/FB...

The Kestel 120 Kevlar/FB is my first yak. Went to a local outfitter to check out a Pungo 120 but the Kestrel was so beautiful, and it was a 2007 model at 30% off the '07 list. Who could resist? The first trip was today on the Monongahela River near downtown Pittsburgh. Within half-dozen paddle strokes I was at home in the cockpit. The Kestrel is fast, stable, comfortable, turns easy, tracks better than I do (the paddling skills need work for sure). There were plenty of power boats in the area and the Kestrel handled the wakes just fine. The feeling was confidence-inspiring; you'd have to make this boat tip over. Facing a steady breeze on the downstream leg and the Kestrel never weathercocked. The cockpit stayed dry, too.
Next trip will be to a local lake for some kayak fishing.

After 1st paddle I feel...

After 1st paddle I feel this is a super rec. kayak. Am an int. paddler and have a CLC 18 ft touring kayak also. The 120 hybrid handles like a smaller touring kayak - and is very smooth and quick for it's size. It is a bit tippy at first and is not your typical rental barge - so for a new paddler it may take a few times out to acclimate - but it's well worth the effort. By the end of the 2 hr trip, I was very happy with the boat. Oh yea, buy the skirt - size 2.5 sealskin.

We had an opportunity to...

We had an opportunity to buy two used Kestrel 120's (one of them the HV), our first kayaks. I agree with everything good that's been said about this kayak. I'm not knowledgeable enough to be sure of terms, but what I would call the "glide" is amazing. I've had no paddling lessons, but with each stroke I'm amazed at the glide, and the speed I can reach so quickly. so very smooth! We use them on our local lakes and rivers.

My husband's first experience in the 120 felt too "tipsy." He said he felt "it was trying to throw me out." I don't think he gave it enough chance to see that it is very stable, think it was more psychological and he was "over correcting." I had none of these problems from the beginning (but then I'm the athlete in the family....) But he went and bought an Old Towne Vapor. Now we have an extra Current Design for friends to use.

I'm trying to get him to race, which he hasn't been willing to do. I know it's because he can see how my Kestrel 120 MOVES! Not cool to have your 57 year old wife beat you!! I would like no skid strips or something in the center of the boat to allow me to keep my knees bent and feet on floor, for change of position. Will check if something like this exists! I love this kayak!

Just to let you know, I...

Just to let you know, I just bought this today - but I've had it out for a couple of hours just to test it and plan on taking it out first thing in the morning, again. So far I love it.

I bought the Kestral 120 TCS in Red. I like the color, some say it's too bright. I had gone to buy a WS Tsunami 145, but it weighed in at 54 lbs. My Kestral just under 40. At the end of a day of paddling, that makes a difference. I will update this (or add a new) review when I've had it for a month or so, but I'm really sold on this one. It has most of the things I was looking for; tracks great, ample storage in the rear, enough room for additional storage up front, stable and easy to get in and out of - again, after a long day of paddling you don't want to have to struggle out of a tight cockpit.

I bought mine from Blue Mountain Outfitters on the Susquehana River near Harrisburg, PA. Great people there, and I really want to thank them for being patient with me. I spent over two hours trying to make up my mind on what to buy. Still in the testing phase, and that is why it gets a nine, but I will let you know how it holds up.

The Kestrel’s excellent...

The Kestrel’s excellent features have been well covered here. So this is mostly about speed.
At high speeds a longer boat has an advantage. At low speeds, however, friction and weight favor a smaller, shorter boat. There are plenty of web data available on this subject comparing various touring and racing kayaks. Not much for rec boats. How hard does one have to paddle before "hitting the wall" (more effort does not produce more speed) with the little Kestrel?

Here is what I have found out so far: Measured with a GPS, my 2007 Kestrel 120 Kevlar fiberglass/kevlar hybrid goes 4.7 mph for my normal 9 mile flat water river run, and 4.5 for 14 miles (half upstream, half down, to average out the gentle current). As far as I can tell after experimenting with a borrowed 18’ long 22" wide Eddyline Falcon, the "crossover" point is at about 4.5 mph. That is, below 4.5 mph, the Kestrel is easier to paddle. Above 4.5 mph (about 4 knots), the Falcon starts to get easier. The difference at 4.7 mph is quite subtle. And although I can only sprint at about 4.9 mph with the Kestrel, I got to 5.2 mph in the Falcon relatively easily (the Falcon is classified as a "fast sea kayak", for racing).

These things are difficult to estimate, because there are so many variables: Current, wind, fatigue, and the fact that I’m unfamiliar with the Falcon. I hope if other people have different data they will post them. If you’re planning for flat water exercise and are trying to decide between the recreational Kestrel 120 and something longer, remember that given a lower paddling "horsepower" the shorter boat is quicker. And much, much easier to get onto the car. If you’re a beginning paddler and you can demo the boat before you buy, find a way to measure your speed for at least 15 minutes. That will tell you if there’s some ceiling for you to grow into. If you’re near 4.5 mph already (and if speed matters to you), you might want to consider a longer boat.

On the other side of the coin, if you’re trying to decide between the Kestrel and a heavier, wider recreational kayak, I’m pretty sure I can’t get much above 4.0 mph in your average wide plastic rental. I originally considered getting a less expensive boat. I’m so glad that I didn’t. If you’ve "topped out" in your boat and more effort doesn’t give you better results, exercise sessions get boring.

Also, now that I’m more into paddling, I have considered joining a paddling club. But most of the trips are on the ocean. If I want to be social, I need a more "sea worthy" boat! I’ve taken the Kestrel on the ocean, but only with adult supervision and a very quite sea. It has good primary but poor secondary stability. Not bad for a rec boat, though.

Bottom line is this: For a recreational kayak, the Kestrel is excellent. I chose the Kevlar version to encourage myself to paddle often, like going to the gym. I can swing it onto and off of the car, and get in with an ease that the narrow sea kayak paddlers envy. Even if I get a longer boat for speed and to use in the ocean, I intend to keep the Kestrel for impromptu fitness runs on my local river until I’ve completely "topped out" in it. Not there yet.

I recently bought a...

I recently bought a kestrel 120 rotomolded. It is a nice kayak I took it through some rapids with some very large rocks and it only has a couple scratches on the bottom so it is very durable. The tracking is ok but the bow does seem to go back and forth with each paddle stroke. I am not sure if I need to learn to paddle better or a skeg I will see. The hatch leaks but I am not using it for rolling so thats not too big of a deal. It is a bit heavy but I can transport it fine enough by myself and it is much better than transporting canoes. This is my first kayak and I am only 17, so I wouldn't take my opinion as an expert, but overall this kayak is pretty good. Easy to get in and out of. The reason it is a nine is because of the leaky bulkhead and its funny tracking. It also will turn to one side or the other when gliding. Overall a nice kayak.

My wife wanted to move...

My wife wanted to move into a better 12 foot kayak, she tried Old Town, Perception, Widerness System and Necky, but went with the Kestrel poly 12'. She is extremely happy, the Kestral is light, stiff and tracks like a dream. She commented about the great glide the kayak has. I also tried the boat and she is right on. GREAT DESIGN!

I have paddled my kestrel...

I have paddled my kestrel 12 for a full season this past summer. I found it to be a very versatile and user-friendly boat. It is easy and light to transport, and responds very well especially in flat waters on smaller lakes. It is a good mix between a rec and a touring boat. I like it, but my 11 year old daughter loves it! We fight over who gets to paddle it. I did have some trouble tracking/gliding on larger lakes, with waves or chop. A skeg or a rudder would really help. I have since purchased another larger, sea kayaking boat for bigger waters, but still like my Kestrel for early morning glides and quick trips during my lunch hour!! Good value on a solid, stable boat.

I've got the Kestrel 120...

I've got the Kestrel 120 in TCS. It's super-light at 39 pounds. This is not a recreational kayak, in my opinion. It's more a 12.5-foot touring kayak. You can easily use it as a light touring boat. I tested the plastic version, but found that the TCS Kestrel 120 is stronger on stability, tracks better, and is faster than the plastic model. For me, the plastic one wouldn't track straight at all, and I'm an experienced paddler.

It's almost unbelievable how well this 12.5-foot boat performs as a light tourer. I wanted to use it in rivers though, and it was fine until I ran a solid Class III rapids with it in the fall. My stern spanked a rock hard and cracked. A fiberglass patch on the inside made it good as new, but a boat that can crack just isn't a good application for Class III's. TCS just isn't made for rock-bashing. Small bumps aren't an issue.

The tracking on the Kestrel 120 is absolutely amazing. It seems to ignore wind entirely. It just goes wherever you want, almost as if by thought. A rudder would be a useless appendage.

I can't imagine anyone not liking the TCS Kestrels. (I've got the Kestrel 140, too). Anyone who paddles them is favorably impressed. My hat is off to the Current Designs hull designer on these boats. However, I will sell the 120 since I can't use it as my river boat, and the 140 fulfills all my desires as a light touring boat.

Still, I have to rate the Kestrel 120 as a 9.9, which rounds up to 10.

We have had this boat (120...

We have had this boat (120 TCS kevlar/hybrid 30# Kestrel) for about 3 or 4 months now. A couple hic-cups in the beginning, the first about 5 minutes into the first paddle, a rudder pedal broke off. I still paddled the boat for a half hour, and my wife did the same. The dealer said there was some problem with a few of the pedals, and gave us a complete new set including tracks, from another kayak company. I re-drilled the tracks and fit them up in my garage. They work fine now. On the second trip out, I leaned back in the seat to get a cup of coffee offered by my wife, and heard a loud crack. When I got out of the boat an hour later, I found what another gentleman described in his review. My seat had broken with a 5" tear in the right side.

I work with glass/kevlar/ & carbon building radio control sailplanes, so I put it in my workshop and spent a few hours fixing it, then when satisfied with the repair, I glued support foam under the entire back edge of the seat. After many hours of paddling, I can report the problem is fixed. My dealer could have done it, but I would have had to wait, so I did it myself. The boat is a joy to paddle, and moves well for a rec boat. We use it for fun, fishing, photography, lending out to friends and first timers to paddle with us, and anywhere a good handling stable boat is needed. I would recommend this boat to anyone.

I purchased NRS split floatation bags, and using strips of 2" velcro to lock them in, put them in the inside up front. I had occasion to test them out when I lost a battle with a submerged rock and dumped on the Susquehanna River. They worked fine, and my wife did a T rescue to empty the boat, and just loved the 30# Kestrel in this situation. We have 6 boats, all touring kayaks except for this one. Four composite and two plastic, and are partial to CD boats. This little rec kayak fills a niche for us. I use Armoral auto protectorant inside and out on all rubber covers to make them go on and off easier, and seal up well. The rear compartment is nice and large for day trips. Even with having some problems, I rate the boat very high.

The Kestrel is a...

The Kestrel is a recreational kayak based on length. I choose the hybrid layup which is advertised as weighing 29 pounds by some vendors and 30 pounds by the manufacturer.

I bought this kayak after searching high and low for a 'swamper'. I've got a couple of 17+ boats and wanted something to do the tight and twisty stuff in, plus I wanted one that was less than 40 pounds. What I have obtained is now my most frequently used boat simply because of its weight.

Last month I traveled to Ontario to explore. I took 2 kayaks, a QCC 700 and the CD Kestrel. Both kayaks enjoyed Canadian waters but the Kestrel saw more miles because of the two it was the easiest to portage by far, not counting car topping.

I've collected kayaks over the years and have 15 now. The closest in the group to the Kestrel is another rec boat, the Acadia by Perception. It really is unfair to compare those two, in fact because of the layup and all the attentive details CD poured into the Kestrel it probably shines above all other rec boats with one obvious and glaring exception- that same layup that gives it the incredible lightness will not do well when dragged across a parking lot or ground into oyster beds.

Saying this, it should be obvious to any would be buyer that the Kestrel hybrid has an intended use and that use precludes punishment of the abrasive kind, but as far as paddling into a stump I have no fear that the kevlar will happily bounce back.

If you're looking for a fishing platform or a photography platform in a boat that you can grab and heft with one hand then this is a boat to consider. Fishing simply because of the integral fishing rod holders-one on each side, and they make good paddle parks too. Photography because this boat is stable, at 26inches wide it should be. Another niche is, believe it or not, those who paddle for exercise, and when I took it out for an exercise paddle I took along a GPS and was shocked to discover that it cruised at 4.3 mph!! I didn’t believe it so before paddling the Kestrel the next time I changed batteries in the GPS and compared the GPS used with the GPS in the vehicle...guess what? The little Kestrel cruises at 4.3 mph.

Storage? if you are an ultralightweight backpacker and can do 3 days on the trail with 28-32 pounds (and that’s with winter gear) then you can enjoy the Kestrel for a 2-3 day trip...differing from a Nordkapp or a QCC700 you will have to leave some items at home.

Some complained somewhere that CD didn’t include a forward hatch...well for the intended use and any honest person would admit that is day paddles, the one waterproof hatch rear is more than enough, but if you just have to do a multi-nighter remember that dry bags will fit forward of your feet on either side of the integral foam pillar CD provides.

The hatch....make note of it. I'm sure CD designers considered VCP or Kajaksport hatches but have you ever weighed one? To keep this kayak sub 30 pounds CD had to engineer their own, and since this boat (intended use again) is probably not on the top contender list for rolling, the hatch cover is just fine and its already tethered, another little plus.

The Kestrel Hybrids begs an interesting you truly love to paddle for paddling's sake or do you have to have the large sea kayak loaded for an expedition to have fun and excitement. The reason I ask is because for many of us there are little bodies of water we pass daily, maybe too small to warrant the effort required to get an 18 foot long boat to, but maybe not when its only 30 pounds you have to get from the rooftop to the water.

OK, so given the intended use why only a 9 for the Kestrel? there is a design flaw, the second time I sat in the seat it cracked where the seat back meets the bottom (its all one formed piece, and unfortunately formed into the cockpit coming as well), maybe it happened when I leaned back to stretch. When I looked closely at the seat design I noticed that there is no structure of the seat in its rear most aspect carrying the force of my weight to the hull so a fulcrum was created and the seat lost.

My solution was simply to place a 'carved to fit' piece of closed cell foam under that rear most aspect of the seat thus carrying the weight of the paddler to the hull where it can be dispersed.

Other than that this boat is ever so sweet.

Also, I purchased the boat from Old Orchard Canoe and Kayak, they had it to me in three days via air freight.

I am 6'7", 220+ lb (~ 2M...

I am 6'7", 220+ lb (~ 2M tall, 100+ Kg). My inseam is 37" and my shoe size is 15. That's just to give you an idea of perhaps the maximum size guy who should consider buying the Kestrel 120 HV, which I got in the TCS layup. I'm an experienced canoeist and a beginning kayak paddler; this is the first kayak I've owned. I had been doing a lot of reading and research and paddled a couple of other kayaks before settling on the Kestrel. I have had prior positive experiences with WeNoNah canoes, too, and the same company handles CD Kayaks.

I am not disappointed. I haven't done any rough stuff with the boat; my paddling needs are for casual upstream paddling on my backyard river. I can go about eight miles before the river is too shallow and rocky. The boat seems to acquit itself well in winds from all quarters and in choppy powerboat wakes, and feels very stable.

This isn't much of a performance review, but I thought the size reference might be useful to other big paddlers looking for a boat. With the foot pegs all the way forward, I can brade my feet comfortably without my toes rubbing the underdeck, and the whole thing fits quite well.

This is my third kayak,...

This is my third kayak, but I’m no expert. I had read about the NEW Kestrel and I wanted to test paddle several kayaks before making up my mind which boat I wanted. The day was cold, windy and the lower Susquehanna River was somewhat high with some minor debris. Shank’s Mare was very accommodating, and I was very impressed with the Current Designs Kestrel, and took one of the rotomolded models home with me late last October.

I was only able to get out paddling once last year. So far this year I have had the Kestrel out on some small flat water, some big flat water, and last week, I had the chance to paddle on Penn’s Creek, in central Pa. This week I will be on the Susquehanna again. There is nothing I have not been satisfied with from this kayak on the water. This boat paddles very efficiently, and even with longer kayaks is pretty quick, for its length. Its stability is very comforting, and I can lean it pretty well to carve turns. I really believe its tracking will impress anyone who paddles, even in windy conditions, but it also maneuvered rather well on a low water Penn’s Creek.

As far as the construction of the Kestrel, I know its plastic, and Prijon is alleged to have the best plastic, but in my paltry estimate, Current Designs does not take a back seat to any one. The Kestrel is sturdy, and it’s pretty.

I really only have one complaint. Why didn’t Current Designs incorporate a bow bulkhead? I will add float bags. My only other complaint, if you can call it that, is this past week I had a change to demo the Kestrel 120 in TCS. I know it more expensive, but I was able to see a decided difference, an improvement in efficiency, and I guess I’d call it glide.

I also paddled the new Kestrel 140 in TCS, and this is an amazing kayak. It was the talk among the other dealer reps at that demo day. I will wait until next year, but I know unless something else comes along, this time next year I will be the owner of two Kestrels, because I won’t get rid of my Kestrel 120.

This is for those who've...

This is for those who've heard or noticed that the Current Designs Kestrel and Necky Manitou have similar specifications, and especially for those that don't know which to consider buying. I own both. The Manitou came first, and although I enjoyed it immensely once I got used to it, I decided I'd enjoy a lighter but similar boat so this year I bought the Kestrel (hybrid version: a 12 1/2-foot boat at 30 pounds!)

The Kestrel is available in three different materials: a hybrid layup, TCS, and rotomolded plastic. The rotomolded version is a bit shorter, narrower, heavier, and less expensive than the other two. In addition, the TCS and rotomolded styles may be ordered in "High Volume" versions for larger paddlers so there are really five versions of the Kestrel to look at (plus the new 14-foot version).

For beginning paddlers, the Kestrel will feel more stable. The Manitou is plenty stable but it takes more time to realize that; I was unnecessarily nervous in the Manitou for several outings. The Kestrel doesn't have that unnerving "tippy kayak" feeling and the larger cockpit makes for easier entry and exit than with the Manitou. On the other hand, the Manitou is more efficient when moving through the water. When I paddle hard, the Kestrel will make a noticeable splashing sound at the bow while it pushes the water out of the way. The Manitou slices silently through the water no matter how fast I attempt to go.

Storage capacity, for both you and your cargo, is similar in both boats; however, the Kestrel has built-in paddle rests on both sides of the boat (the paddle lays against a shallow groove on the side of the boat and a bungie cord-and-hook keeps it in place - very handy). The Manitou has no paddle parks, but the seat is adjustable while you're driving. You can only adjust the Kestrel seat while you're outside of the boat. Both boats have footpegs. The Manitou pegs are adjustable from in front of the pegs (while you're in the boat); Kestrel pegs are adjustable from the far side of the pegs (I can't reach them while seated).

I've only paddled small inland lakes and slow moving rivers so there may be other concerns about both of these boats not mentioned here. For the beginner, fisherman, and photographer, my vote is for the Kestrel because of its roomy cockpit and stability. If you find you need to cross sizable millponds or river distances to get somewhere and want to be able to do so in a hurry, I'd suggest the Manitou.

Given the subtle differences, it's a close call. I have no choice but to keep them both. When someone makes a kayak with the recreational speed, functions and perks of a Necky Manitou, and with the sheer beauty, craftsmanship and lean weight of a Current Designs Kestrel, I'll only need one boat.

I totally disregard any...

I totally disregard any review based on a quick demo or even the first month of ownership. But that is what I am doing and here’s why. I recently won a Current Designs Kestrel 120 in poly. I planned to sell this boat as I have five other sea kayaks and this little one didn’t fit my needs.

I decided to at least paddle it once before putting it up for sale. I carefully launched it from my home in the Florida Keys and within 10 minutes I knew it was a keeper. There is a large mangrove flats area adjacent to me that I frequently take short paddles and this little boat paddled effortlessly and in the shallow water was as fast as the long boats and much more maneuverable. The Kestrel is now my main boat for playing in the mangroves.

This is Current Designs smallest boat. It’s made of high-grade poly and shares it’s deck rigging, including reflective perimeter lines, with its big brothers. I feel this a very capable boat for light to moderate conditions. I will use my sea kayaks for those long open water crossings, but this is a fun quality backwater boat. As previous written, it is the class in its class...

I purchased my Kestrel at...

I purchased my Kestrel at the March Paddlesport in New Jersey. Was back ordered so I did not get it until mid-July. Love it. I am 51 years old, 6 feet and 200 lbs. I leave the whitewater to others, but my wife and I enjoy lakes and rivers such as are in the Pine Barrens. The Kestrel handles all conditions so very well. It is comfortable to sit in. It is durable. I was sold on the weight. It is easy to carry. I still have my plastic pungo which can take quite a beating and keep on going. If you are a recreational kayaker, no need to look any further.

After much debate and...

After much debate and research I also chose a CD Kestral HV (high volume, 2" wider and an inch deeper). It's a great boat. I would have given it a 10 but I don't consider myself experienced enough to properly review a boat. I have multiple interests which include fishing. Most of my paddling has been in tidal rivers, shipping channels and breachways. One definitely experiences all that the water, wind and tides can do, quickly. So far I have not been let down. I'm short 5'4" and stocky 180# and my boat fits me just fine. The foward deck rigging can be a little tough to reach but thats it. I wanted a boat with good initial stability and some secondary for the obvious waves and wind. I have changed lures in 20-25 mph gusts with 1.5 ft of chop with a current. In it's class it is the class.

This is the first kayak I...

This is the first kayak I have ever purchased...or used for that matter. My very first time putting my new Kestrel 120 in the water turned into a beautiful seven hour voyage on the Brandywine Creek/River. What a great day. The Kayak and I went from being complete strangers to extensions of one another in the course of that time. The speed possible in this craft was completely new to me. I found it to be a great tracker, and extremely responsive. It handled chop very well, and can be paddled upstream with ease. The seat required me to shift often over the course of the seven hours, but that is probably to be expected. I did a lot of research and think I bought the perfect kayak for my needs. I can't wait to get back out on the water!

Perhaps I should add that at five foot eight inches and 180+ pounds, this kayak fits me like a glove. When on the foot pegs, my feet touch the bottom and top of the hull. Anyone larger may want to consider the Kestrel 120 High Volume which gives an extra inch of depth and two extra inches of depth.

Another guy who is happy...

Another guy who is happy with his polyethylene Kestrel 120. As a first time boat owner, not too familiar with the water and pushing 60, I found the kayak easy to learn and quickly feel quite comfortable in it. I was sold by the paddle and fishing rod holders, the metal security bar that I could use to chain the kayak to something and the foam bow block for its structural and floatation capabilities. It is easy to load and rope to the car and I have tried it on a couple of Rocky Mountain lakes in both calm and one foot waves.

The only draw backs may be the large cockpit opening. None of the spray skirts at Mountain Equipment Co-op would fit and the Current Design outlet, didn't have or carry the manufacturer's one. The other draw back I think will be its ability to carry enough gear to allow me to go over-night camping.

Anyway, an excellent kayak for the beginner.

Bought the 38 lbs. (acutal...

Bought the 38 lbs. (acutal weight via digital scale) 120 Kestrel High Vol. Like the big cockpit entry. Haven't learned the trick of getting the storage compartment hatch on easily. Any hints there? Love the looks, handles fine. Still learning when to use a dolly to get to hard to reach put-ins. Looked at other 12 to 14 foor boats, but they were all over fifty lbs. The weight savings on this sold it for me. Just use it for day trips, not camping, mostly small lakes, but have experienced some 1 to 2 foot waves and cross chop--it held its own. Haven't purchased a spray skirt yet, and haven't missed it.

Had refined my rec boat...

Had refined my rec boat search to the Necky Manitou and the CD Kestrel. $50 difference on the price tags. Similar lengths. Test paddled nearly the same. Most noticeable was the smaller cockpit on the Necky. Came down to deciding whether I wanted the larger cockpit or not. Sounds simple right? Like many, I had the long tourer mind, but the rec boat reality. The Kestrel won with it's ease of entry, smaller price tag, swift paddle and easier storage. I've paddled in light chop (winds ~10mph on large inland lake) and found it's stability to be very comforting. It is highly manueverable, but tracks suprisingly well. Negatives include the rather generic seating in the cockpit. With some minicell and home-made thigh bracing, it's been much better. It is a really great little boat....I would definately recommend it. If your looking to get the biggest bang for your money in a rec boat.

I sold my Pungo 14 which I...

I sold my Pungo 14 which I thought was a terrific kayak and replaced it with the airalite Kestrel 120 from Current Designs. Since I'm in the 60+ group,getting the larger yak on and off the car plus the weight made a difference to me,and it's been worth it. Tracks well,powers easily, drier and with a comfortable seat. Since the airalite is so smooth and shiny I put non-skid strips in the cockpit floor for getting in and out. Like this unit very much and pleased I made the switch.

My wife & I went to a...

My wife & I went to a kayak demo day as a first exposure to kayaking.We tried on the top & cockpit kayaks.The river was choppy,we were inexperienced,& the experience was less than satisfactoy.

After a beginners lesson,we went to a second demo.We first ruled out on-the-top designs.We initially thought of the liquidlogic sapphire,figuring the smaller the better.We knew we would only use it on lakes. After trying several brands,we decided the Sappire tracked terrible.We narrowed out choice down to the Seneca or the Kestral.After several rides back & forth,we will get 2 kestrels.It handles great.The kestrel 120 has a 25"width.There is an XL version at the same cost that is 2"wider & 1" deeper for a bigger person like myself.I'll get that & the wife will get the standard poly 120.They do make the Kestrel in a TCS composite.It costs twice as much & weighs 6 pounds less.I don't see the worth in it.

Follow up review on...

Follow up review on Kestrel: I purchased the Kestrel early March 2004. This was my first kayak. Since that time I've learned a lot more and thought now would be a good time to update my original review.

I paddle on a large (100 mile shoreline) shallow (12-30 feet) lake, Clear Lake, located in Clearlake, Ca., USA. If you've paddled on lakes before you know they can be very challenging. At times a lake is like a sheet of glass and in 5 minutes you can be in 3-4 ft. wind driven swells. The Kestrel is exceptional on calm waters, and it handles very well in headwinds and tail winds, but like most kayaks, a stiff cross breeze can be very difficult to maneuver the kayak. The Kestrel insists on turning into the wind.

I've been in some fairly difficult open water, with 17-20 mph headwinds, and gusts up to 25 mph. The only problem I've had with the Kestrel is getting it to track straight in high winds and to turn stern to the wind, the direction I needed to go to head home. The first time it happened to me it freaked me out because I was getting slammed with 3 foot broadside waves. I relaxed when I realized that it was NOT going to swamp or roll. I had to trust the boat. It took me 15-20 minutes of very hard paddling on one side of the boat to finally get it to turn. As far as the waves, the Kestrel is a champ. No matter the direction of the waves, bow, stern, broadside, it rode it out very smoothly, or sliced through.

The dealer I bought it from, as well as Current Designs sales rep., discouraged me from purchasing a rudder for this boat and told me to learn to paddle correctly Well I can tell you, I learned, and I'm glad I did.

In addition to the Kestrel, I now have a '95 15 foot fiberglass CD Pachena, with a rudder! I love the rudder, and I love this Pachena. If you get the Kestrel, and plan to paddle on open water, or in windy areas, invest in a rudder ... you'll be glad you did. I'm going to have one put on my Kestrel. As they say, a rudder is not a replacement for good paddling skills, but when you need the rudder in high winds and/or fast currents, it sure makes for a more enjoyable, less taxing, paddle. After all, the main reason we paddle is to have fun. It's not fun, and can be dangerous, if you get to the point of exhaustion.

I'm still going to give this kayak a 10 because it's such a feisty, solid little boat.

We purchased an OT Guide...

We purchased an OT Guide 147 last year and I didn't think I would love anything more than that canoe. I was wrong. I purchased a CD Kestrel 12' Mango this past weekend. Took it out for its maiden voyage this afternoon on our beautiful lake here in Clearlake, Ca. USA. I love it! I was concerned about tipping over, but as soon as I lowered myself into the cockpit I knew I had absolutely nothing to worry about. This little honey is so stable, easy to paddle, nimble and very responsive. We were only going to launch it and practice entering, exiting, getting the feel of it, but we had so much fun our very first time out that we paddled for over 2 hrs. I highly recommend this kayak. My hubby got the Necky Manatou (12'10"), but I'll let him write his own review. (hint: He loves it!)