Read reviews for the Yukon Expedition by Prijon Kayaks 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!
I frequently take week long trips on rivers that often start in mountainous regions and end in flat areas. The need for a boat that can handle everything while loaded down from small, quick, tight rivers and creeks to raging class 4 wave trains and then the flats of lowland rivers has left me with absolutely no alternative than the Yukon Expedition. The plastic is widely regarded as the best in the business. Durability is unbelievable. Basically, this is a 14.5' whitewater kayak with a rudder.
The Yukon is really unmatched in maneuverability for 14.5' touring offerings. This is a major concern for my trips as the beginnings of rivers would be a nightmarish deathtrap (broach-fest) for most touring boats. With the rudder down, it will hold a great track. Rudder up, and you are in a long whitewater boat that looks to pearl off at any chance.
This boat is as indestructible as a plastic kayak can be. Of course any boat will not last forever, but these really are built like tanks. Rarely do I see a Yukon hull in bad oil-canning or warped shape. The stresses from low volume loaded runs will forever alter most plastic boats for the worse. My yukons do not have this problem.
As my trips are mostly or entirely unsupported and in remote areas, I need places to put things. For a 14.5 the volume of capacity is great. at 350lbs, the weight capacity is fine. The hatch openings are big enough to get larger items in as well. I add some additional outfitting to the decks to offer more tie down points as well. The under deck net makes a great place for a map case and my solar panel when not in use. Lots of room for everything I need. Always, a little more room is needed...like a backpack. The problem is, more room turns into more stuff. The capacity is more than ample for week long trips.
It is akin to a bathtub fit...spacious and comfy. The deck is high enough to move the legs about without the straight leg of death syndrome found in some lower deck boats. I actually will put comfort as a con as well and let me explain. The stock seat is not great at all. Prijon is function over comfort. To fix this, I take out the stock prijon backband as it is NOT comfy. I build a custom 1/8" x 1" aluminum bar and minicell high-back seat formed to my back. This seat back fits into the receivers for the prijon backrest. In the seat pan, I have a wilderness phase 3 pad with the leg-lifters for the most comfy sit you will have in a performance boat. I can go all day with this set up.
Well, it is fast enough to not lose sanity on a large featureless body of water. It will keep up with longer, faster boats as long as they are not actually paddling as hard as you are. The whole issue of speed is VERY subjective in kayaking. I gps test all my boats in this regard. The all-day (8 to 10 hours) cruise speed I can paddle in this boat is around 3.5 mph not factoring current or wind. While the yukon is not a poke boat, this is not a fast boat on flat water. The max speed will be hit fairly quickly. There is a big diminishing return on the effort you put in to the speed you get out after about 4 mph. But that is not the intended purpose. It is a net-speed boat for rivers. Where this boat excels is in moving current. In current, the maneuverability of the boat affords down-river speed. Very little time will be needed in slowing for set-ups, unbroaching yourself, etc...
This boat offers the most defined and relaxed primary stability of any performance tourer that you will find. The width and the hull shape create this. The secondary is rock solid as well. Rolling is easy as the boat basically falls into the upright after about 2/3 roll stroke. I have literally napped in this boat while deploying my kayak sail. It is a rock star in current as well. Again, this is where the boat excels. The looseness of the hull which one might cuss without a rudder becomes your best friend in heavy current. Without a keel, you are free from the normal anguish and current-slavery of normal 14.5' touring boats.
Now the Cons:
If you intend to use this boat on flat water, just be aware that the width and design limit the speed somewhat. It is not the fastest boat on the water.
The stock seat and backband are not the best for all day use. Some simple, easy modification makes this boat comfortable.
Flat water tracking
There are those who wish to say that super attentive paddling will alleviate the lack of tracking. Bottom line: you will always be fighting this boat to track straight without the rudder. Drop the rudder and you are going to enjoy this boat much better
Part of the design of this boat for whitewater performance causes the boat to plunge through the wave or rapid rather than lift over it. A good skirt will be needed to stay dry in waves or rapids. Somedays in the summer, we will paddle sans skirt...we just keep our sponges handy. A deck bag will deflect the water rushing over the deck and help keep you dry. Not that one should be alarmed at the prospect of getting wet while kayaking, but there will be some water washing into your chest in big features.
I would give this boat a 10 because of the unmatched performance abilities that are offered in this platform. However, since there is no perfect boat, a 9 it is.
Here is a link to a series of videos from a trip my group took down the length of the Greenbrier River in WV...I was paddling my mango yukon and there is a green one as well. enjoy and go get a YUKON!
I can't believe its been 14yrs with the Yukon. Hats off to Prijon for putting out such a quality product, too bad the model seems to have been phased out. I'm still beating it on the rocks, pounding it in the bays/ocean, and catching my limit of different piscatorial species.
Plastic on the hull is still sound, netting and tie downs need replacing, but are still viable, searching for replacements. Deep red has faded to light, to be expected on a yak used with frequency.
This kayak has performed above and beyond my expectations, it gets me where I want to go, more importantly, it gets me back, almost lost her in an unmarked low dam which appeared as we flew out from under a bridge on a creek in high water conditions, sucked us under, churned us, I dove deep and shot out the outer lip, the Yukon washing machined flipped a few times, then shot out as well, carrying me the next couple of miles without a whimper.
If you see this kayak for sale, buy it. I never did buy the rudder, paddle it right and tracking is a non issue.
This boat was left outside, in the sun for about 10 years according to the guy I bought it from. That would be death for most plastic boats but not this one. It shows a lot of spidering in the plastic but I worked the plastic from front to back and got 0 cracking. I was very surprised by the plastic not being brittle.
Durability, stability, agility, and ample storage.
Not really a great boat for a smaller paddler.
Not really a fan of the hatch covers. They are a bit flimsy although I do like the fact they are so flush fitting!
All in all I would say if you find one, buy it.
The drawbacks? Mainly the snubbery when you're on trips with others and their questions - "Is that a sea kayak?" when you're on whitewater trips; and "Isn't that a whitewater boat??" when you're on open water trips. It's neither, both, or more likely, in a class all of it's own. It's not perfect at either, but what is?? I own one boat and don't need any other for the water I paddle. Come on a 4 day trip on the Flambeau River in Wisconsin with me, and you too will be jealous at the beauty and handling of this boat! Oh, and eskimo rolling? Have a good hip snap. It's long, heavy, and deep. I can do it about 60% of the time, so have your paddle float and pump handy.
On the positive it was a great creek boat, had fun in class 1's etc. But as a sea kayak of any kind it failed. BTW: I am swift water trained, and an avid whitewater and sea kayaker. I have owned and paddled many boats and this was by far the worst. I had other experienced paddlers jump in (to see if it was me) and their opinion was sell the boat! I did!
Again, a great creek boat but a total failure as a touring boat. Hence the 5 rating.
It does have a tendency to not want to go straight if you do not have a paddle in the water, but that is because of its great ability to turn when asked to. I have taken the boat down small whitewater rivers and have been able to catch eddies. It ferries well. It is unparalleled in its ability to punch through holes.
The only complaints that I have are that the seat mounting has not stood up to wear. I have torn the plastic at the side mount and have had to repair it, and the hard plastic hatch cover were torn off and lost while surfing.
One advantage for me personally is being able to sit on top of the hull just behind the cockpit, providing good visibility for drifting and casting a flat. Some of the reviewers go without a rudder; I gotta have one, it just makes maintaining direction so easy, and lets you concentrate on paddling and/or fishing. I also can confirm the seat mount problem, mine is broken and I can't get it apart to maybe get a new piece and fix it.
The way the seat is fixed to the boat is unstable and weak: no matter how hard one tightens it down, the seat slides around when doing hip snaps and rolls -- and once in class III water the seat actually popped out of its housing. When rolling this boat or when in rapids and doing hip snaps and bracing, both the base of the seat, as well as the back rest, easily come loose and move backward toward the stern, sometimes popping out of its housing. This is not good. I have another Prijon, purchased for my daughter: a Capri. It's a great boat, but its seat housing presents the same issue.
Otherwise it's a great boat. This boat is easy to roll, is highly maneuverable, can take a great deal of gear, is tough as buffalo horn, is fast, can travel upstream brilliantly even in fast rivers, but when it comes to snapping your hips in a high brace or rolling, the seat will pop out.
To remedy this, I have tied ligatures of paracord between the foot brace mounts and the seat mounts. This is not an ideal solution but it's a temporary fix until I can find a better way to brace the seat to the gunwale and hatch coaming.
By the way, I paddled this boat half way across the state of Missouri (on the Missouri) last June -- it was fully loaded with about 150 pounds of gear, food, and water (I weigh 170) -- and it performed brilliantly in a 5 mph current around wing dikes etc, *without a rudder*. If you learn how to edge this boat, you do not need a rudder. That said, it WILL broach on you, especially in a river without a rudder, if you don't learn how to edge it.
Prijon: fix the seat.
This is easily countered if you
(a) pay attention to the boat's bow wake, keeping both wake flows even in shape,
(c) learn how to edge.
If you learn these simple skills, you will find this kayak will handle with extraordinary grace. This attentiveness will eventually become second nature.
I purchased this boat for river touring and have used it extensively for both upstream and downstream travel. It handles extraordinarily well. It is FAST. Not as fast on a straightaway as a typical sea kayak, but its net speed on a river or in any highly dynamic mix of currents is -- because of its rocker, long length, and high volume -- much faster than longer, slimmer kayaks.
Its durability, stability, speed, and volume (including its storage capacity), make this, in my opinion, the ideal boat.
Have no qualms about taking it in rough water. Took it on a flooded river recently. Felt very very safe at flood stage with a strong spray skirt: downed trees, strainers, fast and high water, complex eddy lines, boils, holes, drops: No problem.
It also looks like no other boat, except the old Kleppers, I've ever seen. Slightly looks like the early (1970s) whitewater yaks of yore.
It's also bomb proof.
The Yuke was a better recreational kayak then my current sea kayak and lets face it we use these things for recreation. There is a need for a good sea kayak that has some of the qualities of the Yuke. I wish the Mariner Coaster came in blow molded plastic. The Yukon is great boat if I didn't trip with fast sea kayaks I would still have it.
Since then I have paddled it at least another 500 miles of rivers in northern Sask, as well as class III in Idaho and Washington, and a 4 day trip in the saltwater San Juan Islands.
It's currently in my garage.
I have the rudder, but I took it off once I learned how to paddle this boat. The key is to NEVER allow yourself to get offline. Use 2x the strokes at 50% power, and steer with part of every stroke. The best use for the rudder would be on a open water day with a loaded boat and fighting a wind. Otherwise, paddling technique will keep you moving straight.
Are there faster boats? Yep. Boats that are easier to turn? Sure.
This boat is the Kawasaki KLR 650 of kayaks, and the Skidoo Tundra 250 of snowmobiles. (both of which are equally fun touring vehicles) It will get you there, and get you home, in one piece.
I find the boat easy to paddle, 20 miles in 7 hours, on class 1 low water. Not real speedy, but handles well, turns well even without leaning, is stable, and has lot's of storage space. I found the rudder effective on flat lake water, but have not used it twice on the floats I have been on. I am not sorry I added it to my boat, but it is not needed if you paddle enough to perfect your technique. Any yak will change direction when you stop paddling, as it sets in the water not on it like a canoe, and you need to keep in mind where you are headed, and what the river is doing when you stop paddling.
I have been caught off guard and the boat does go off in a strange direction, as stated in the other reviews, but have been watching and contribute this to various currents, and hydrulics in the river. Totally my fault, not the boat,IMO. The trihedral hull with the slight rocker, combined with the stiff HTP makes the boat feel like a composite boat. Does not scratch easily. the boat does plow a bit, but a crossover boat cant have all the best features.
I mainly river tour on class 1,2,&3 , and have been working my way up to #3 , correcting my bad habits,and learning about the boats habits. It does not take long to be comfortable in this boat.
The seat back is kinda strange, as it "Pops" out of the slots that retain it. The neoprene hatch covers, while keeping the water out, are awkward to get back on, and I wish the tabs were at 2 corners instead of being centered on cover. The boat goes through the waves instead of up and over so buy a skirt, either half or full. I can lean the boat to the coaming without tipping over, but I had to paddle it for a couple of trips to get that comfortable.
I am tall, 6'5" and am quite comfortable, and can reach the footpegs while setting, to adjust. Plenty of room. I think Prijon has made a great crossover boat for those of us who do several types of water, and other than the seat back I have no complaints.
I have been paddling for 40 years and have been kayaking for 5 years. I hope this helps anyone who is considering this boat.
The Yukon tracks much better than the whitewater boats that I'd paddled recently along the same track, quite a bit faster, and relaxing to paddle. (although certianly not as well tracking or fast as a 17' sea boat). She's stable as a rock, places that I'd been a little nervous in the WW boat, I paddled hard and blasted right through. Quite a lot of water comes over the bow, right up to (and in) the cockpit, but even with the extra water weight she was stable and easy to paddle right through the rough stuff (skirt is on order...)
I was comfortable taking the Yukon anywhere that the more experienced WW guys were going - while carrying all of their drinks, snacks and gear. Can't beat that.
The above reviews are accurate. I can only add that this is a very unusual boat and is not for everyone. I use it as my primary sea kayak now which is probably a bit of a surprise. It is very comfortable, very large, very maneuverable, and a lot of fun to paddle. It looks a little different, too. A friend told me it looks like a tug boat, which it does and I have used it to tow Brit boats off of rocks.
I do not have rudder, but I can see why folks might want one. You need to paddle the Yuke like a white water boat or even a canoe. You need to have a short paddle, bob your head and torso around, and link strokes. Once you get the knack of it the lack of lateral stability is a blessing especially in rough water which is where this boat really shines.
I can't give it a 10 because I like the number 7 better. The Yukon makes me giggle.
Strangely enough, I find that my Yukon (with the rudder UP) handles better in rougher waters than calm. On a calm lake it seems to prefer veering to the right. Rougher waters seem to produce a much straighter line. Again, I am almost positive that in calmer waters, I am trying too much/too fast and doing things very poorly. The rougher water forces me to stay more focused and slow things down.
For the most part, I really like (ok, love) my Yukon. I wish it was a little faster and lighter. While this might be viewed as a negative, I think of it as the opposite. The Yukon has provided me with enough pleasure/confidence/curiousity to WANT to pursue (in due time) a lighter and faster kayak. A lesser kayak would have had me selling my paddling gear all together and simply walking away from kayaking.
Rating anything for the first time is really a crapshoot as it is really a baseline for all other things to come. If somehow my Yukon had to rate me as a KAYAKER, I am sure I would receive much lower marks than I am giving it. I think a lot of shortcomings mentioned for this model are more the fault of the "yaker" and not the yak (as in my case). There is always something better if you can find and afford it. For me, the Yukon is a pretty good start.
1) My seat doesn't adjust front and back. I like it where it is - but I'd prefer to check it out a bit further back.
2) I prefer Perceptions foot keepers because I can move them forward and back from inside the boat with my feet. I have to get out and use my hands to adjust Prijon's keepers. If you're using a rudder then the gas pedal style is nice - but having to pull the center out and find the next hole is cumbersome.
3) The screws that hold the adjustable thigh braces on stick up above the rest of the coaming - and after a week of paddling they had really scratched up the shaft of my brand new carbon fiber Epic paddle.
I sent the paddle back because the blades were both delaminating anyway - but that's a review that I'll hold off on until after I get the replacement (so far I'd suggest you buy one you can inspect first rather than ordering one).
The Yuke is promoted as a "crossover" or "multi-use" craft (please give the swiss-army-knife phrase a rest!), purportedly equally at home in white or flat water. But in reality, no design is ideal for two entirely different types of paddling. I'm a flatwater paddler who wanted the versatility of being able to use it in whitewater. Bad choice. Better you be a whitewater paddler who occasionally does flatwater if you want to enjoy your Yuke. If there is a paddling/bracing/leaning technique that will propel this boat in the direction you choose to travel, my varied attempts never stumbled on it. The dealer, of course, praised the boat & blamed my inexperience. I was originally determined to master the boat, but finally threw in the towel after 8 months. Spoke with other owners who admitted it is a humbling long-term "learning experience."
You will note reviews of other boats that identify a persistent veering to one side. The Yuke is more of a paradox, as it behaved differently every time I took it out. Sometimes quirky, other times downright contrary. Only once did it behave and I enjoyed my paddle. The one constant is, if you stop paddling it will immediately change course. Rudders, I'm told, are a big help. For touring use, don't buy one without a rudder unless you plan to add one.
On the positive side, the boat is very roomy for a large paddler. Tons of legroom, but the keyhole cockpit was a little tight for my long legs. Tank-like construction. I am a fan of Prijon's superior poly, but don't be fooled...it WILL dent if you keep it tightly strapped too long. However, it will easily bear my weight behind the cockpit. (Some boats feel like you'll break them when doing the shoehorn entry).
SUMMARY: My wife & I called it the "FOREST GUMP" boat. You never knew what you were going to get!!!
So far I've only sat in a Yukon - but the seat is the same as my Excursion's. Maybe Prijon should have the straps connect farther forward - and hinge the seat? Personally I'd rather just have the bulkhead all the way up next to the seat backrest so you don't put anything back there - but that space seems to be the norm for manufacturers...
Although the width and length is the same as the Prijon Calabria (25" wide x 14' 5" long), the Yukon is not as fast as the Calabria, which parts the water more gently. The Yukon plows water a bit due to the increased volume; however, it is not so slow as to be a dog. It'll keep up with the fastest rec boats.
In terms of stability, the Yukon is really strong. It's more stable than the Calabria, which is also a very stable boat, and in fact is even more stable (secondary) than a Dagger Cypress, which is a 26.5" wide recreational kayak. I love Prijon's trihedral hull design. Basically, it has three faces: a flat one about a foot wide on the bottom to offer strong initial stability; and then a single chine on each side, with another flat face at about a 30-degree angle from horizontal. When you lean the boat, you can just hang on that secondary face forever.
I mounted a rudder on my Yukon, though I basically use it as a skeg. I control the rudder with a trim tab from Cascade Designs, because I am a T7/8 complete paraplegic and needed hand control of the rudder. Actually, I really wish this boat had a retractable skeg instead of a rudder. The skeg blade could be made of a stiff, but flexible material, so that if you slid sideways into a river rock with the skeg down, the blade would just fold over and snap back.
The wind doesn't catch much on this boat, so ruddering in the wind isn't really necessary. A nice skeg is all it needs for excellent tracking without leans.
As far as weaknesses, they've already been mentioned in previous reviews, and they aren't major issues. The bow will dive under waves, so the ride is wet, and the backrest with the two pegs that slip into slots has a tendency to pop out of place. I'm going to screw cloth hinges into mine, because the popping out is quite the nuisance. As I'm sitting in the boat in the paddling position, the back of my life jacket is over the backrest, because I had to extend my backrest to reach up into my functional musculature. Any time I stop paddling and lean forward, say to grab my water bottle, the backrest pops out of its slots.
Overall, the Yukon is a great go-anywhere, do anything boat. The significant rocker makes for excellent maneuverability for a boat of this length, and with a rudder (or skeg), you can paddle straight lines with no steering effort. As a bonus, some say that she has sexy lines.
For me, she's also good at overland kayaking. I get into my boat and leave my wheelchair on high, solid ground. Then I propel myself in my boat with carbide-tipped cross country ski poles with half-baskets. The rocker of the Yukon makes overland maneuverability pretty decent, and the Yukon works pretty good for seal starts, too.
If you're a person who wants to paddle every kind of water, but will be buying only one boat, you'll want to investigate the Yukon.
I have never been able to fill the boat up with stuff (with the exception of the time I loaded an 8" dutch oven, soft cooler, camping gear, and charcoal). I did read a comment about the drink holder that I think is correct. Put your bottle in the net under the deck (inside the cockpit), and it will stay in place. In the summer, I freeze a nalgene bottle and use a Outdoor Reseach padded cover to keep it cool longer.
If you like to surf, do be careful. Landing them loaded can be tricky. They will dive! Wake from large passing vessles traveling at "Squat" speed can be very dangerous in any kayak, but the Expedition tends to run into the trough real fast, torpedo the face of the second wave causing tons of water to pour over the deck. I started using a deck bag. It locks into place and you don't have to worry about anything being swept off the deck.
The Yukon-Expedition will let you explore, and it doesn't lock you into a particular type of paddling.
But, like I said, that's quibbling. This is one fun ride and, out of my eight, this one has become my favorite boat.
The biggest downside involves ocean kayaking. Without an upswept bow, the nose goes under waves and chop. The scariest experience I've had involved having the nose driven into a kelp bed as I was surfing a wave into a cove at Point Lobos. I had about 30 poinds of kelp to remove from eth deck before I could get into sheltered water!
Holds a ton of gear. Compartments seal very nicely. The seals I have however, don't fit quite right anymore, I think I need new ones, these have been used pretty hard. Not for the beginner though, could be hard to paddle straight. I can paddle it with precision in whitewater and flat water alike. I can paddle it like an arrow in open water (Lake Erie) without a rudder (as long as it's not windy!). I don't have a rudder, but I suspect it would help the wind problem.
Very roomy boat. I'm 6'5" and have no leg or foot room problems. My first two touring boats had no cockpit room. The boat rolls fine ... with some practice ... even with gear in it. My girlfriend even rolled it after teaching her to roll only 3 months earlier! I never HAD to roll it though! Very stable boat.
Highly recommend as the Sports Utlility of kayaking ...
I hadn't taken the research I had done seriously, I thought I could make a short, fat boat cook along like an arrow by dint of my amazing strength and skill. I was a paddler, right? Well, partly, I was a WW paddler. I was a canoeist. I was NOT a seayaker. Yet.
Don't buy the Yukon as a primary flatwater boat. If you need 1 boat to do everything doable in a kayak, don't even consider any other boat. From class IV with a weekends worth of gear to a 30 mile overnighter on a lake to a 100 mile, 5 day deep river trip - the Yukon will handle it well. You do need to learn the boat. No rudder is necessary if you are a good paddler and spend some time in the boat. Leans are your friend. Get subtle with your technique.
This bad boy will hold LOTS of gear and keep it bone dry. The seat is the most comfortable I have ever used by far. I am considering the purchase of a true-blue, 17' sea kayak, but I will keep my Yukon for the many, many times that it will be the best boat for the job - if I do my part.
The major reason for the lower rating involved the support that I received from Wildwasser -- the North American distributor. Over the winter, I bought a rudder for the Yukon. Early in the year, the cable on the rudder separated. It took me numerous telephone calls and 5 shipments (all but the last with the wrong length cable) before the problem was fixed. The people tried to be helpful but they were not every effective.
In short, if you are a learner or a big person or someone who is going to do a variety of paddling, this is a decent boat to consider. However, it does need a rudder. In my opinion, there are better boats out there.
I have used mine in everything from class 2 WW to the open ocean and find it to not excel in any one area, but provides suitable performance over a wide range. The statements of tracking problems with no rudder in windy and sea environments are familiar to me; I am going to get a rudder this winter. This boat does demand a fairly strong paddler in anything more than flat water due to it's volume. It is definitely a true multi-purpose boat. (remove nospam for email)