Read reviews for the Bali 12 SS by Sun Dolphin 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've had this kayak for a year, and I've put it through hell. At 6'2" and 350 I sit low in the water. I've scratched the hell out of it on rocky creeks and the Middle Youghigheny River in Ohiopyle, PA.
It is not that stable, but you get used to it. I didn't flip taking it through class 3 rapids. But I have flipped several times, so I know how to handle it.
It doesn't track well. Plastic is soft, injection molded.
Worst thing is your butt suits at the lowest point. Lower than the scupper holes! Prepare to sit in water.
This is a cheap kayak, but a 3 star overall. You can't hardly get in the hobby cheaper if you're a big guy. Paid $225.
So I have had the bali 12 SS for about year, and within that time I have grown to love it. It is more of a hybrid between a sit on top and sit in, as you sit low in the water but as the same time have all the conveniences of a sit on top. Which does have its pros and cons. By sitting so low, it makes it a very stable kayak. I have been through many different scenarios with this kayak and not once did I feel I was going to flip over. On the other hand by sitting so low, get ready to get your butt wet. But then again you should always expect to get a little wet when getting in a kayak. Sun dolphin does make the journey, which costs more, but the only difference between the Bali and the journey is the color and the fact it comes with a rod holder installed on the console. Other than that it is the same boat. It comes with two rod holders behind the seat, a small 4" hatch up front for small items and a removable sealed container with a 8" hatch in the back. Please keep in mind this kayak does not have scupper holes. So be sure to carry a sponge in case water starts to accumulate. Having had other kayaks( tarpon 120, pungo 120 ) I would give this kayak a 7.5. It is sturdy and reliable. And for the price, you cant beat it.
After a full season on the reservoir, bay and river here in the DC metro, I have to say its a fine boat.
Im 6'-4" and about 270lbs and new to kayaking. My wife and I decided to give it a try and the parks near us offered enough choices to get a fair idea of what we wanted in a kayak. We paddled Tarpoons, Loons a couple Daggers and came to the conclusion that we wanted SoT boats. The Bali SS 12 gives a little bit of both though from the Sit in and the SoT. While it is a SoT, it sits very low compared to others. Giving you a greater sense of "stability". And it is a harder boat to roll. The foot rests have enough adjustment that mine arent fully extended. The seat is, well just that a seat. Nothing to note about it. With the addition of a nice paddling cushion like the Jackson Sweet Cheeks (what we have) or the Surf to Summit Hot Seat, you end up with a very nice rec experience. Theres plenty of space in the molded dash area to mount all sorts of gear.
The fit and finish is a little less. But that should be expected with a boat of this price. The seams are rough and very noticable. And the first time we drained the boats, plenty of plastic shavings came pouring out.
The design is a little different to the other kayaks we tried. The haul is flatter than a traditional kayak so the tracking is more like a canoe. Which in the waters near us, isnt a bad thing. And its nice since it maneuvers the shallows better. So it makes a pretty nice and inexpensive fishing kayak. ANd it even has 2 pole holders just behind the seat. While its not a fast boat, it does turn very easy. And there plenty of space and ability to carry extra gear. All and all, Im very happy with my Bali SS 12.
I read all the other reviews and decided to buy this kayak. I took it out for the first time and was not able to balance in the water. I am a large guy. I am close to the capacity limit with a long torso and wide shoulders. This kayak was very tippy. It dumped my the first time I sat in it. There is no back support and no way of adding any support because of the seat being screwed into the kayak. I could not use it. My nephew that is about 170lbs had a difficult time using it. It kept going in circle when he was gliding. The seat should be about two feet forward to center your weight on the kayak. Tall and large guys should stay away from the Sun Dolphin Bali 12 SS.
For the money...
I would give this kayak a 9 out o 10. Its solid and stable, tho I do not stand up in it because your butt actually sits slightly lower than your feet. It is difficult to flip over and easy to get back into (yes, I do practice that). I fish often in lakes and we take group trips down the Clarion and Allegheney Rivers. I've had the Bali through class 1 and 2 rapids without any problems and have been on Lakes during storms with 2 foot chop. I did get wet, but never once felt out of control or as if the Bali would tip or become too water-logged to float. 4th of July weekend, my tackle boxes were floating from stem to stern and the Bali still handled well. There is plenty of storage area, especially considering that the rear insert is removable, waterproof and will float behind you in tow allowing for even more storage.
The "cons" of this low-end yak are that its not a great seat and your arse is going to wet on most trips. I bought a $20 gel pad and I'm fine in this yak for 6 hours and I've had blown disks. As for your arse getting wet, there are 2 things to consider; 1-you should ALWAYS plan on getting wet when kayaking, and 2-the seat is the lowest point on the deck.
When comparing this to a $1000 kayak, I would have to rate this a 7 out of 10. Its not the fastest. It tracks ok. And the seat is sufficient.
But for under $400, this has been a great SOT kayak, that I would buy again.
Two years ago I bought a 8.5' SOT kayak. It was an instantaneous revelation. I was free, liberated from the bounds of the shore. I could effortless paddle and fish anywhere on a pond. But, I realized I needed a bigger boat. Researched. Wanted low cost, light weight, 12', sit on top, for fishing. The Bali-12 was an easy decision. The lowest price was a national home improvement store, think orange. Free shipping, and they delivered it to my SUV at the store.
It is wonderful, I can fish anywhere, that bond of boat, water, freedom to go, alone with your thoughts. And, I catch fish!
Large, spacious, lightweight, easy to paddle, good for fishing.
You sit low, feel safe, don't lose stuff overboard. High gunnels, awkward to sit and fish sidesaddle, difficult for a 76 y.o. to exit. You will get wet. The floating storage container - OK, but I can't find any use for it. Added the usual accessories for fishing.
Best fishing dollars I ever spent. I love my yak. A manufacturing defect appeared after 2 years. A thin spot about 1" round on the rear keel area wore through. My finger can almost push through the polyethylene. Water enters, but the boat won't sink. I repaired the HDPE hull using technique shown on YouTube and practice.
Wear your PFD, tether your paddle, enjoy the pleasure of your yak.
But if you intend to paddle the rivers, oceans and go touring then you should spend a little more for a lot more kayak, a touring/sea/ocean kayak is roughly twice the price of the sun dolphin Bali 12 SS but it is also three times faster and much easier to paddle, you will want to sell it and buy a touring kayak after the first paddle so just save up a bit longer and go shopping for a better boat.
I will use this boat while i build myself a 17' stitch and glue kayak over the winter and be ready for next spring but the Sun Dolphin has a place and that is with other slow boats that are hard to paddle. Just my $.02
As an owner of wood performance boats there are some places I just can't take them. I live near Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis and there are times when it is really a fun paddle. I had not gone down the creek in some years because I did not have a boat for that and got tired of driving around borrowing one. So I bought the Bali 12 and it is the perfect kayak for that creek. I started out on a lake to try it out before heading into the current, I was surprised at how zippy and agile it felt coming from a long 18' "cruiser" sea kayak. Since this is not a traditional SOT kayak, it has no scuppers.
I always get in my kayak with it floating, the thought of dragging the boat on sand or rocks makes my cringe. The seat is lower then the deck area for your feet, as a result, the water runs off your legs and feet, you quickly end up sitting in a puddle. A little planning and patience letting the water run off your legs will keep this to a minimum. My wood boats have homemade foam seats, I think I will make a seat for the Bali and build up the front to act as a curb to keep the water out of the butt area. The advantage of not having the scuppers is the seat sits lower in relation to the waterline. I like this lower center of gravity. Everything is a tradeoff in boat design, I think KL made some good choices with this boat.
Now some gripes. My boat has some quality control issues, The back band is attached with two 1/4" screws at the bottom of the back band. The holes for these bolts were drill a couple of inches off. Not even close to being centered with the seat.
The T handles at the bow and stern are not sealed. They don't even make an attempt to seal them, they just have some little plastic grommets to prevent wear on the handles cord. I will need to change them. The paddle holder on the side of the boat has such a short piece of stretched out bungee it is useless.
Great design but QC problems and KL only use minimal packaging so some of these bats get banged up in freight.
All in all this is a light weight nimble kayak that I would recommend with a few reservations. I got mine on deep discount because of shipping damage so the cost for my was quite reasonable. For the sot of renting for a few weekends, I have a very capable kayak I can use whenever the creek is at just the right level.
The Sun Dolphin Bali 12' SS is somewhat a hybrid kayak. Although it is called a sit-on-top (SOT) kayak, your body actually sits close to the bottom of the hull which gives you a lower center of gravity than standard SOT kayaks. I think of the Sun Dolphin Bali 12' SS as being more like a normal sit-in kayak but without a foredeck covering your legs.
There are no scuppers to drain the cockpit like on a SOT ocean kayak as this kayak is designed for flatter lakes and rivers. From my initial test ride today, I accumulated about 1 cup of water which was solely from paddle drip. The included free paddle from Walmart doesn't have the best drip guards so you might purchase better drip guards or use a better paddle. However, I didn't mind my legs getting a little wet as it was cooling. (After all, you expect to get a little wet in a sit-on-top kayak.)
As for tracking, I feel you normally need a 12' or longer kayak for halfway decent tracking. The Sun Dolphin Bali 12' SS does track well. It is also quite stable. I rocked it back and forth and never felt close to capsizing.
For on-board storage, there is a small watertight area in the bow that is only big enough to hold some personal belongings. I put my wallet and cellphone in there within a ziplock bag for extra protection. The rear watertight compartment is only a few inches deep. Don't expect to put much in there but I fit in a towel and some sun screen.
Here are my negatives (just a few) for the Sun Dolphin Bali 12' SS kayak:
Per the manufacturer, here are the kayak's stats:
Length - 12'
Width - 29.5"
Height - 13.5"
Weight - 48 lbs.
Capacity - 395 lbs.
Warranty: 2 years
By the way, this is my second kayak purchase. The other kayak purchased some years ago was a sit-in 14 footer. I bought the Sun Dolphin Bali 12' kayak in order to have more leg flexibility while seated as I'm still recovering from knee replacement surgery. For that purpose, this SOT kayak is great.