Read reviews for the Manteo by Wilderness Systems 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!
After paddling this kayak for 15 years, I have made use of it in Lake Michigan, Lake of the Ozarks, a camping trip where the tent site was on an island and everything had to be transported by kayak, Wabash River, Wildcat Creek, Torch Lake, Chain of Lakes, a Colorado glacial lake, and several places in between. I even proposed to my wife in this kayak. It has suited our needs for all of these adventures, so I would recommend it to anyone with beginner to intermediate experience, as the polyurethane hull is forgiving when crossing creek logs. But the weight, length, and hull design will limit those seeking a truly advanced experience on long distance, open-water trips.
The cockpit perimeter has a sufficient water guard to keep most choppy waves out of it within reason. It is open enough to launch easily, yet it a little too wide that I would recommend a useful spray skirt. Seat is padded, but I'd recommend extra padding unless you are an avid bicyclist with a "durable" posterior. Cup holder is shallow and only fits one size, so it can feel in the way unless you have the correct size bottle.
Although I've mentioned many negatives here, these are based on my experiences with it for 15 years - anyone who keeps a kayak THAT long has got to love more things about it than feel anything else. At 6', 200 lbs now & approx 5' 140 lbs when I got it, this kayak has been the best multi-purpose vessel for everywhere I've chosen to go.
Lots of space where you need it the most, and one of the most comfortable seats you will ever encounter in a kayak of any kind. Wonderful tracking and speed!! I was able to keep up with my colleague and he was in a QCC composite. Unlike the higher priced composite, or kevlar boats she is very durable and can take whatever punishment you can give her, including the water moccasins of Texas!! She handles the waves with ease, and has lots of storage space for overnights, or fishing. I love that I can take pictures of local scenes while seated inside without the fear of rolling. Too bad they don't make this one anymore.
The down side: heavy...heavy...heavy, especially if there's gear in it. At 60 lbs. it's a beast (thus the sturdiness of it). I can carry it only a very short distance (and I'm strong for a girl). My friends like to carry the heavy one (mine) first to/from the put-ins. I am seriously considering a little 2 wheel cart to tow it along. I use the Yakima Hully Roller/Mayo saddle system for loading/hauling my kayak which is a must for me. I do not use thigh braces but have thought of installing some decent ones, not the thin foam pads they supplied with it. Because of the high cockpit I am not sure how they will work. I maybe could use some hip pads but I have not had much of a problem thus far. A smaller paddler would much benefit from some. I have not tried to roll it yet though may participate in a clinic soon. The high cockpit is a definite advantage in rough seas but a bugger to get back into during a T-rescue or a self rescue as I found out during a safety class. During the T my partner had to lean my kayak almost even with the water before I could get up on the deck. However, it is possible. Those with lower decks have a definate advantage.
I am starting to shop for a second kayak and have no idea what I'll end up with but I will definately keep my Manteo. It's versatility for my area can't be beat and it's a wonderful kayak to put a beginner in.
So I got a chance to re-review my old Manteo! Yes, initial stability sucks, but trust me, after the Cape Horn, it's like trying on Oprah's skirt. It's so wide don't worry about tipping over! There's more secondary stability than you could possibly need in reserve!
I was also surprised that I could keep up to my buddy who although is a novice is in great shape (we did 35 kilometers!). So believe it, the Manteo does move fast for it's size. For some reason, 4-5 ft waves from behind did not bother me (so disregard previous complaint).
It would just be so much better if it came with knee braces and the new Phaze 3 seat! Is that too much to ask for WS? Anyhow, I still love my Cape Horn, it's way better looking, better comfort, yada yada. I guess my point is: THE MANTEO IS BETTER THAN I THOUGHT!!!!! So this time it's an 8 and not a 7!!!
I've also taken it Surfing. Now that is more of a challenge. As long as you keep it straight, or side surf then the Manteo does well, but it does have a tendency to to wanna get twisted. But with some practice, I think it would make for a fairly decent surf kayak.
The Boat is holding up fairly well, did have one of the foot peg tracks spread, but it was just a matter of popping it shut with some pliers (too much torque on peg from trying to Roll). And it does have a few scratches on it, but hey that only gives the boat character ;-) My rating, can ya give it a 11 out of 10 ;-))?
Prior to buying the boat, I tried a number of kayaks out (and read the reviews found here) as extensively as possible. My greatest concern was that I wanted to get ONE boat that could handle the wide variety of activities that I wanted to do other than extreme whitewater (from class I-II+ rivers to shorter sea kayaking stints). The Manteo has performed excellently on all occassions.
Most notably, I took the Manteo out on Lake Superior into 3 foot waves for a paddle around the Apostle Island Sea Caves and it had no problem! In fact, I was passing some folks in sea kayaks (who seemed shocked that such a smaller boat would even be out on that water). Furthermore, many of the sea kayakers had given up on the trip that day due to the weather, but my Manteo sliced right through those waves without a problem. Celebrating its versatility, I paddled down the National Scenic Namekagon River the next day.
On the rougher rivers it is a bit of a challenge, but I have never had a problem with the milder drops and chutes that I find around SE Ohio and Nearby West Virginia.
Thank you Wilderness Systems!
I also looked at a Sun Velocity and a Dagger Cypress. Being 6'4, 250lbs the Manteo was the hands down winner! Sun Velocity was a tight squeeze and quality wise it felt kinda cheap. Cypress, I just didn't fit in :-( I fit into the Manteo nicely, and I've found it's very comfortable for a two hour paddle (longest I've been on so far). It does tend to be a little tricky to keep straight with any kind of cross wind, but by raising the knee on the side you want to point (digs the left or right chime farther into the water) it straightens out nicely. The Manteo also has a fair bit of storage room in the stern. Wouldn't be no problem taking this on an overnighter. I do plan on playing in the Surf once I get a lot more experinced, so I'll let you know how the Manteo is for that. For the time being, I'll be sticking to Lakes and Rivers.
The trade-off to the sure tracking is that it turns a bit hesitantly and has some choppy lean-steer characteristics due to the hull design. At only 13' feet though, the Manteo is maneuverable enough and will turn around in creeks that would necessitate backing out in a longer boat.
On top of all this, the Manteo has a lifetime guarantee, is well finished, and is available in a variety of colors.
Anyone looking at a "recreational kayak" should strongly consider buying a Manteo instead since it is stable, will do everything well, and the novice user won't outgrow it. Get the [optional] high backrest if you buy one.
The only downside is that the double-chine hull runs a little deeper and thus runs aground earlier in shallow riverbeds. Great first or only kayak.
Anyhow, the Manteo weighs only about 50 pounds, and meets all my requirements. It has a rear hatch and bulkhead, which is large enough for me to get stuff into (tent, sleeping bag, etc.) for an overnighter, although (as with any hatch compartment) one should not rely on the watertightness of the cover -- always use dry bags too, if you want to be sure stuff stays dry. It's stable, fast (I do about 3 knots average, 5 if I sprint), and seems to track pretty well. There's room behind the seat and in front of the rear bulkhead to stash plenty of stuff, I carry my bilge pump and paddle float there, and there's lots of room for more.
I was out on a lake in North Carolina when a powerboat decided to play "sink the kayak." The powerboat gave up after circling me for a bit, but I hardly got wet.
It has bungee cords on the deck fore and aft. I mounted a compass on the front set, and there is still lots of room.
So why a 9 instead of a 10? Simply because there is some "sculpting" on the front deck that gets wet. Not real wet, but just enough to irritate me. That's why.
I like the boat a lot, it's light, tough, and cheap. I can attest to its toughness. I've thrown it off the top of my truck lots of times, although I don't recommend that sort of way to get it off a car.