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Mamba 8.5

by Dagger

Reviews

This is the first whitewater kayak I have ever owned, I come…

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This is the first whitewater kayak I have ever owned, I come from a Bass Pro Shop fishing model and wanted to get in to whitewater. So far I am very impressed. This is a creek model so I have the creek seat, which for longer paddles is very forgiving and very comfortable.

I have used smaller kayaks that I rented before. I am 6'5" so comfort has always been an issue for me mainly in the bulkhead, except for this Dagger. I have plenty of room to spare in this even after adding some foam. I try now to go out every weekend and get a little paddle time in on a local river. I feel very confident in this boat safety-wise and comfort-wise. Not having a skeg is an issue on calm waters but that is not what I got this boat for.

Excellent boat, easy to roll, easy to adjust. Good for beginners and…

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Excellent boat, easy to roll, easy to adjust. Good for beginners and for big water. It surfs and carves ok. The only problem is that watermark is not careful regarding finishing details. The boat came without water bottle and with rivets missing from the seat velcro. A shame.

Folks, this is a BIG boat - a bit too big for…

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Folks, this is a BIG boat - a bit too big for me (6ft, 210 pounds). But this is what the dealer insisted was right for me. Well, so much for that. I have since paddled a 7.5 and found it to be more to my liking. My biggest preference for the smaller 7.5 is that I can lean it much better for more precise peel outs and eddy crossing. My boat came complete with the plastic shavings mentioned by another reviewer, but enough carping.

This is a well made boat with almost infinite outfitting adjustments. It is the most adjustable boat I have seen, with very comfortable footrest, thigh pads, and seating. There is even enough front to back adjustment on the seat to make a significant difference in the trim of the boat. Spend the time up front and be picky about every aspect of the setup and you will be rewarded with as comfortable a ride as you can find anywhere. I set mine up to my preferences with standard adjustments without having to use any of the generous supply of padding and shims that come with the boat.

If you're looking for a solid boat to do big water down river, this is it. You're not going to do a lot of playboating, but surfing and hole shots are solid. Combine that with its stability and ease of rolling, along with its speed and turning ability and I got pretty much what I wanted. I can cover a lot of rough water, carry some extra gear, stay comfortable, and do some surfing and other fun things while I'm at it. Not a bad deal.

If judged as an all-round whitewater boat, it gets high marks.…

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If judged as an all-round whitewater boat, it gets high marks. Positioned between the GT and Nomad series, it's kind of an RPM with a planing hull. I was looking for a good downriver boat that would easily carry 215 lbs. Even though I and others in our paddling group have had quality problems with Watermark boats, the Mamba's design snared me. It spins and draws easily, and has decent speed for a planing hull. The ends aren't slicey, so it's no acrobat. But, they have the volume to surf well and they readily shed water. The seat and thigh braces are adjustable. The boat features a movable bulkhead instead of pegs. There are four rescue bars, counting those for carrying at the ends. The boat came filled with drill shavings from mounting the hardware, which I consider a reflection of a lax attitude. The deck aft of the cockpit is recessed, making it impossible to grasp a paddle shaft and cockpit lip for dock or similar entry and exit. The feeling of the boat is very predictable and stable. So, for getting downriver at a good clip and playing the eddys and waves, the Mamba would be a very good choice.