Read reviews for the Journey 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 started with a 10 foot Sun Dolphin sit in as a starter kayak after several years of canoes and jon boats due to having kids, needing the extra seats/capacity. I have owned this kayak from the beginning of spring and outfitted it with 2 extra pole holders for depth/fish finder and camera mounts. I also installed a storage box behind the saddle with 4 pole holders. I have plenty of storage and carrying capacity for a short weekend trip. It is very stable while standing and tracks well during rowing, I cant wait until my wife wants to upgrade so we can both enjoy a weekend camping.
When deciding on which Kayak would best suit my needs, I used Paddling.com to compare the many options that were available. I decided on the Journey SunDolphin 12 SS because it offered both covered and open storage, rod holder, and paddle holders, it was a sit on which was needed and the price was affordable. This kayak steers easily in both calm and choppy water and I felt secure when paddling in the latter. It's maneuverable and I'm able to load it onto my SUV roof with just a bit of effort. (I'm a 58 yr old woman) . The only reason I gave it 4 stars is because I wish it had additional handles on it for dragging and loading.
This is a great starter boat that accommodates a person over 6' tall and over 200 lbs. It has adjustable foot pads and plenty of storage for day trips or overnighters. Center console has a port great for mounting your electronics (or anything) and puts the device right in front of you for easy access. The rod holder can serve 2 purposes (hold poles or outriggers). I purchased a box ( sits between rod holders ) with rod holders so if I want to take more than 2 rods for different fishing styles and also lets me install outriggers when I take my dog out hunting or just for ride, just undo front bungee that opens up an area for my dog to lay or sit without falling off the boat. The boat tracks well and does not take a lot of energy to propel.
Have had a few problems with the kayak.At least tracking is better than average.I'm in the process of ordering an anchor quick release system,and anchor float for it for safety sake.I added two handles port and starboard as the kayak didn't come with them(you'd think Sun Dolphin could've added them)I put on my own anchor trolley system,with anchor.The lettering(Sun Dolphin Journey 12 SS)is peeling off on it's own possibly from moisture/water splashing on it.I'll just peel it off.You'd think the boat was made in China,cheaply made.Otherwise,it gets me in the water.I almost returned it to buy a better kayak because the seat,the worst part of it,is very uncomfortable.I bought my own seat which is much better.I bought it because the price seemed right,$359.You get what you pay for.Altogether it's just a little less than average.
Despite what you are reading in other reviews, this kayak is not stable at all! It wobbles back and forth from left to right with the slightest movement or shift in weight, or even paddling and I mean it wobbles A LOT. It does however take a good amount of tilt to tip it over in the water, but when every second you are using it it's wobbling back and forth in the water, it makes for a horrible experience.
And fishing kayak? Sorry absolutely not! If you load gear on to the front or rear to go fishing, such as a crate with fishing supplies, or a small cooler to the front, it becomes even less stable! Yes I even tried just front, just rear, and then rear and front matching the load weights. It will not work! You can see people talking about standing in this kayak, there's no way, you'd end up in the water instantly. Do not be fooled like I was by these reviews!
Also if you do buy it, buy a kayak cart at the same time, or at least buy a carrying strap to install on the side so you can carry it by yourself. The plastic this is made out of is so soft, it'll be scratched to pieces if you drag it through the dirt, much less across sticks or rocks which are quite common on your way to good fishing spots in creeks/rivers.
Now for a cheap fishing kayak, I didn't find the seat that bad at all. It also tracks pretty well, especially for not having a rudder! You can get going pretty fast in it as well. The foot pedals are nice and deep, the adjustment is excellent. The pedals even come completely off if you wanna really stretch out and you are a tall guy like me (6'1). I put a couple cheap scupper plugs in the front two holes by the feet and the only water that comes in is from my paddle.
After buying this product based on the reviews on this site, I wondered if something was wrong with my particular kayak. I flipped it over, and can see no symmetry problems or damage to the hull. Maybe there's just a few things that are slightly off in the production run I got? It's possible.
But if you are an adult 6' 200lbs+ do NOT get this kayak. My friend who is 5'8 and 165lbs even tried it out and found it very unstable. Trust me when I say this! Invest in something better. Yes it'll cost more, but you'll actually be able to fish out of it.
Enough said I love the boat. Been a kayaker for 30 plus years have 4 canoes and 3 kayaks and the Sundolphin 12ss is one of them. Use a life jacket and happy boating!
Since this is my first kayak, I am writing this eval based on what I have experienced compared to what I believe the high end kayaks would be like.
The Journey 12 SS does track better than a raft! It paddles easy enough and tracks decent. It comes with two flush mount rod holders which, in my opinion, work better for carrying your rods in transit than for actually providing a rod holder while the line is in the water. The center rod holder in front of me works fine, but it is noisy when adjusting the rod. If you need stealth, I doubt this is an advantage.
The Journey 12 SS comes with at least one waterproof insert to place in the bow (under the bungees) or in the stern (under the bungees). For a short trip, I don't think they are beneficial. Perhaps they could be beneficial for longer storage but the access ports are small and the triangular shape does not assist organized storage.
The seat that comes with the Journey 12 SS is probably what you would expect for a low end kayak. It is fine for an hour or two, but after about 4 hrs, my legs and lower back are aching! I have not looked into replacing the seat with a better unit.
Another thing to consider is that there are no self-baling scuppers. Any water taken on board must be baled manually. Since I fish primarily on lakes, this is a minimal problem.
I think the biggest discouragement is that the customer service from the manufacturer is severely lacking. I called to ask about replacing a couple of the bungee holders. They would not give me a recommendation and said any alterations void the warranty. I should have expected that!
While I have commented negatively on what I purchased, the next section will record how I have adjust to make the Journey 12 SS more effective for my use.
I have resorted to using a fishing backpack instead of a tackle box. I stock and organize the backpack according to my daily needs. When I am in transit, I place the back pack in the stern so I can row more effectively. Once I am ready to cast, I place the backpack in front of me for easy access.
I have also used a Sharpie to mark at least 24" of length on one side of my kayak. This allows me to measure the length of my catch quickly and eliminates the need to carry a tape.
I have rated the Journey 12 SS compared to what I imagine a high end kayak to be. On a scale of all kayaks, this one is probably a 2. If I were to rate it based on my experience related to my expectations, I would give it a 5.
I especially appreciate the light weight, the ease of handling and the tracking ability of the kayak. It has plenty of storage, portable accessory carrier and paddle holders. The Sun Dolphin Journey 12 SS is very stable. I'm really getting my money's worth!
So, my review of the Dolphin Journey 12 SS is this: It is a budget kayak, quality isn't superb, and it isn't a kayak to take out on big water or long trips involving big water. I purchased this kayak with the expectation that I was getting a budget kayak to play on small lakes, rivers, and ponds here in northeastern Wisconsin. It fit the bill for me. I am a big guy, and had no issues with performance from this boat.
Keep in mind I didn't buy a $450.00 kayak and expect it to perform like a $1000 kayak. This boat does everything I need it to. I can relax and paddle it, I can fish out of it, and I can take it on short trips down the river without any hesitation. In fact I plan I buying a second one next week. The other thing that is great about this kayak is that you don't mind getting a few dings and scratches in it as you would with a more expensive boat.
I would recommend this kayak to anyone looking to get into kayaking without spending a pile of money. You can always upgrade to a better boat later on if you decide kayaking is something you really enjoy.
Hope this review was helpful and clear.
I took the kayak out the same afternoon and being new to kayaking except for rentals had to get used to the 10ft length. It seemed tipsy at first but as I improved so did the stability. I was out for about 40 minutes on the Swift Creek Reservoir and got fairly close to a couple of Blue Herons that were fishing. The kayak did not tire me out like the rental one did.
Now for the positive, Wal-Mart realized that there were issues and offered to take it back or give a discount on the price. I took the discount as I generally liked the Kayak. A call to KL Industries was very positive as I explained the problems. One of the problems with the rod holder I did not notice prior to calling them. They agreed to send the missing parts and a touch up kit. So, I do recommend this kayak with reservations. It is a good starter Kayak but be prepared to send it back if the one you get has issues.
As it has a deep seat well and no scupper holes, if water gets into the boat it tends to pool up in the seat. The supplied swivel mount rod holder is a little flimsy but can easily swapped out for an upgraded model. It could also benefit from a side mounted carrying handle for times when you're going out alone.
Overall it was a pretty good purchase and I have enjoyed using it, it tracks well and has a 395 lb. capacity enabling you to bring plenty of gear. I have recommended it to friends and would again.