As a review of which kayak offers the most enjoyable kayaking experience I decided to compare three distinctively different types of kayak.
In order to obtain a true reflection of each kayaks performance I used the same standard TGP paddles when using each boat. I also enlisted the help of two friends to compare notes.
The Sevylor Ranger KRC79 inflatable kayak (which is similar in design to a Canadian canoe and can be paddled from a kneeling position), Yak Sport by Ocean Kayak and the Sundance Perception Kayak were the kayaks used for this review. All three boats are of a similar size, class and price range but all three kayaks have their own characteristics, pros and cons.
Storage and portability - The inflatable kayak gets maximum points here due to its ability to be packed away in a cupboard space and also its portability requires no additional cost by having to buy additional kayak accessories such as expensive canoe trolleys and roof racks.
Both the plastic sit on top and traditional Perception kayak ideally used to be stored in a shed or garage and will need a kayak or canoe trolley plus a roof rack to be transported over any distance.
That said the Perception kayak was the easiest to carry over short distances and both the plastic boats do not require you to pump them up before the journey.
Performance and comfort on a river - Without doubt this is where the Sundance Perception kayak comes into its own for speed, tracking and manoeuvrability. On a calm river the Sundance out performs the other two kayaks in every way.
The sit on top kayak does have a lovely sense of space as you are not enclosed in a cockpit and you really do feel at one with the river but that is probably because you are!.
Unfortunately paddling a weed and algae full river on a sit on top kayak means you end up covered in duckweed and whatever else the river has to offer.
Also like the inflatable kayak the tracking on the sit on top leaves a lot to be desired. However, I would imagine if the river was fast flowing the Yak Sport would be much more enjoyable.
The inflatable kayak does have one distinct advantage on a long journey and that is the comfort factor. Whilst the Perception kayak and the Yak Sport are both comfortable kayaks, over a long river journey the inflatable kayak seats are easily the most comfortable.
The inflatable kayak also offers the best storage for your kayak accessories with space behind the kayak seats and at the bow. The bungee cords at the bow and stern allow even further accommodation for more kayak accessories to be loaded meaning this boat can be taken on extremely long journeys.
The perception kayak does have adequate storage for a day trip with both bungee cords at the bow and stern and also space behind the seat. Carrying any kind of kayak accessories on the sit on top is practically impossible and is a definite downside.
Performance and comfort At Sea, at sea the sit on top kayak has no equal. The surf conditions are what the Yak Sport was built for. Due to its stability and angled bow it can flip up wave surfaces and off the lip all day long and you will never get tired of playing around in the surf on this boat. Manoeuvrability and control are very good in the waves even without using thigh straps.
The inflatable kayak is too big and heavy to manoeuvre in any kind of surf and like the perception kayak is better suited for calm coastal paddles. The Ranger does have self bailing drainage at the stern and is quite stable in any water so white water rivers would be better than surf play. You will need to equip the Sundance with a spray skirt to avoid the spray filing the boat with water.
Conclusion, to separate these boats in order to determine the most enjoyable kayaking experience is virtually impossible as they all excel in certain areas and have significant drawbacks in others.
If I lived in an apartment or had no garage or shed I would have to go for the Sevylor Ranger inflatable kayak. If I had children and lived near the sea or as a second kayak I would plump for the Ocean Kayaks Yak Sport. It really does depend on what your requirements are.
Out of the three, and without the need to factor in any variables I would always pick the Sundance Perception kayak for its all round versatility. It has ample storage to take enough of your kayak accessories for a long journey. It is also comfortable with an adjustable kayak seat, and paddles extremely well with good speed and tracking for a mid range touring kayak.
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