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What Muscles Does Kayaking Work?

Many people believe that a very small range of muscles during canoeing-mainly the arms. This however, is false and as a qualified canoe coach, I can confirm that there are many muscles used while kayaking. If you feel like your arms are hurting the most, there may be something wrong with your beginning technique and I would advise you to ask your coach, instructor or a senior member why and how to improve your paddling style and technique.

The three main areas that I will be writing about are the shoulders, glutes, and core.

1. Shoulder Muscles: The Connection Between Your Core And Paddles

First of all: the shoulders. Your shoulders allow you to connect your core to your paddle and provides connectivity between you and the water. Your shoulder is a major joint that does a lot during kayaking and needs to be strengthened. Often in the sport, your shoulder may be put in an unusual or strained position, yet it is still required to preform at maximum output providing strength and stability for you and your boat. One of the most common injuries in kayaking is a dislocation in the shoulder, however with good training to promote strength and flexibility, there should be no need for concern. I would recommend doing small flexibility and strengthening exercises with resistance bands and the like of which you can find many examples of on platforms such as YouTube. Your shoulders are one of the most important areas of your body in kayaking, yet it is one of the most fragile joints in the body. As long as you do not put excess strain on an underprepared or not fully healed shoulder, small resistance exercises of increasing difficulty and intensity should work to improve your strength and flexibility of the joint and surrounding muscles.

2. Glutes: Underrated Muscles That Need Training!

Next: the glutes. Your glutes are an underrated in the kayaking world. These large muscles are what connects you to your boat and allows you to seek the movement of the water underneath. The glutes are also used as a stabilising muscle and can help connect your core to the footrests commonly found in most boats. As an important connector between you and the boat, these muscles also need training to provide the most efficient and easygoing passage of energy that transfers from you into your boat to bring it to life and move. These muscles are perhaps the easiest to train as it takes little effort and time and doesn’t intrude on your day to day life. The easiest method to train your glutes is to whilst seated driving, working, or relaxing, clench one glute at a time and repeat for however long you want. Start at a slow pace for a short amount of time and slowly build up the exercise by quickening or participating for a longer duration of time. This will seamlessly integrate a great routine into your daily lives without the restraints of time, equipment, or concentration.

3. The Core: The Most Important Part To Train

Finally: the core. The core is perhaps the most important, most crucial part of the body for a kayaker to train, and yet is rarely thought about. Almost all  power and connectivity whilst kayaking comes from the core. As the centre of mass whilst in the boat, the core is often used as a gyroscopic trunk to stabilise you whilst on your boat. This engages almost all core muscles including but not limited to the abs, pelvic muscles and diaphragm. All these muscles help stabilise you and your boat whilst paddling whether it is on white water, the sea, or simply a lake. The engagement of the core muscles is crucial. Even while performing a basic forwards stroke, the core muscles are engaged through the rotation of the body for extended reach and efficient retraction allowing you to glide through the water. The rotation of the core whilst forwards paddling is an essential part of the stroke so if you don’t think that you are rotation enough, ask your coach, instructor, or another paddler. To train the core, general balancing and strengthening exercises are key. These could be exercise a such as sit ups or balancing on a balance board or exercise/ yoga ball.

In conclusion, I hope that you have learned about the 3 key muscle areas that are used in kayaking, what they are used for, and hopefully how to train them for future use.

Seylor Canyon SC320 Inflatable Kayak Review

When my partner and I decided to make a move from the city the coast, there was a whole lot to look forward to. I had grown up beside the sea but had lived most of my adult life in landlocked cities. So, I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be able to avail of everything the sea has to offer in the way of sport and leisure. The only issue was that my ‘significant other’ was a rookie when it came to watersports. She had never kayaked or canoed in her life. But she was anxious to learn and was pushing me to teach her the basics. I felt that the best option was a two-person craft but I didn’t want to spend a fortune of one. I had no idea if this little venture was going to be successful or not and, if it wasn’t, what was I going to do with it if she didn’t take to it? I couldn’t really use it on my own! Reselling anything sport-related that’s designed for use by two people is notoriously difficult, especially if it’s an inflatable product, and I didn’t want to just throw my cash away.

So, we visited our local Decathlon, which is a French sports superstore with outlets all over Europe. They have a reputation for selling affordable, quality sporting goods at a reasonable price and I felt it was a good place to start. Insofar as budget was concerned, we didn’t want to go over about €300 just in case the kayak ended up rotting away in our garage. I hadn’t been on the market for any type of kayak in a long time and I was surprised to see that there was a pretty decent range of products available. The whole world of kayaking had clearly come a long way since my days of flimsy fiberglass K1 sprites when I was in the Sea Scouts in my hometown of Howth, Dublin. Decathlon sells inflatables produced by a company called Sevylor, which began business in the late 40s in France and made a name for itself in PVC and vinyl inflatables. It’s now a US company that operates out of Huntington, CA.

Seylor Canyon Kayak Features

The range of inflatable kayaks was pretty impressive: they had single-user crafts for €200 and, on the other end of the spectrum, three-person kayaks for a little over €1,500. Most of them were sea blue with a dash of sunflower yellow and, to be honest, I couldn’t really figure out why one two-person kayak or canoe was priced differently to another, in spite of them appearing to be pretty much the same thing with slightly different designs. For us, the choice was easy: we were going to buy the cheapest one! That was the Canyon SC320 model, which retailed for €249 and for that price, you got the following:

  • A 320cm x 90cm (when inflated) kayak
  • Two surprisingly decent paddles
  • Two mesh bags that attached to the inside of the kayak
  • A removable fin ‘for maneuverability’ (useless)
  • A PVC floor beam that slots in snugly
  • A transport bag
  • Pump and repair kit
  • An air-pressure gauge

My Experience With The Seylor Canyon

Fast-forward a couple of weeks and we’re pulling the kayak out of its storage bag down at what was now our local sandy beach (El Arenal, Xàbia – Alicante, Spain). When I saw how compact the deflated product was, I wondered if I was going to be capable of squeezing it back into that bag once we’d used it. We unfurled it, set up the pump (a two-handed plunger) and unscrewed the cap where you connect it up for inflation and inserted the pump nozzle. I did the gentlemanly thing and insisted on doing the hard work. It was early August, temperatures were in the very high 30s (centigrade) and it wasn’t long before the sweat began pouring off me. This, clearly, was the first downside of having an inflatable kayak: the unwanted workout. It took me the guts of 20 minutes to inflate the kayak and the floor beam. The fact that the pump doesn’t have a built-in pressure gauge is another issue because you have to stop pumping, disconnect the nozzle, insert the pressure gauge, take the reading and then reinsert the pump to continue the hard slog until you have the required pressure. I wanted our kayak to be as rigid as possible. There are, of course, electric pumps available that you can connect to your car but that would have meant an additional cost, which we didn’t feel was worth it in the case of the Canyon.

The inflatable seats are secured by back-straps and take about an additional five minutes to inflate. There’s also a strap dividing the paddlers that pulls the mid-section of the kayak together to make it more aquadynamic. It’s worth noting that the maximum load capacity for the Canyon is around 165kg.

Once all the pumping was done, we carried it to the shoreline. I have to admit that, once it’s inflated, the Canyon feels pretty solid and at just under 13kg, it’s not at all heavy. We decided to pass on the mesh bags because we had our own 10-liter airtight containers and I didn’t want any clutter inside the kayak that could potentially have an impact on comfort and paddling. The bags are supposed to clip onto the inner left side of the Canyon. It looked like too much of a squeeze. Plus, anything you store there could get wet so, what’s the point of them? Those mesh bags never saw any use and, quite frankly, I think they’re a waste of time. The kayak has bow and stern bungees for storage but we opted for squeezing our containers under the spray covers. It made more sense and they fit quite snugly.

As soon as we were on the water, the first thing I liked about the Canyon was its comfort. I mean, it’s like sitting inside a blue, carved-out banana made of foam. It’s incredibly comfortable! This was my partner’s first time on the water in a kayak and she was up front, receiving the occasional instruction from me, the back-seat driver. It wasn’t long at all before we had synched our paddling and were heading out of the little bay to hug the coast for a few kilometers. My area only has one sandy beach. Everything else is rocky and pretty unforgiving. I was concerned that we might damage the material of we pulled up into any of the local coves. If you swim around here, solid footwear is essential as the coast is mostly limestone, which can be very pointy. You also have to factor in the Sea Urchins – they’re everywhere and their spikes are very tough indeed. So, a certain amount of precaution is required when using anything inflatable in that kind of environment.

With respect to the removable fin, I genuinely feel that it’s completely useless. We actually forgot it on a couple of occasions and it made absolutely no difference to the Canyon’s performance.

A Durable Inflatable Kayak

The Canyon is not a flimsy craft. As long as you don’t ram it into anything sharp, it can stand up to a surprising amount of punishment. We used it all summer and were delighted with its performance. The Canyon’s stitching is very resistant and the PVC floor beam insert gives you an extra inch or so of elevation, which adds to the overall comfort. Given its canoe-like design. You feel quite ‘cozy’ and secure because you’re literally sitting inside it and not on it, as you would with a ‘normal’ sit-on kayak. We were extra-careful not to attempt to pull it onto anything that looked pointy or sharp to avoid punctures. Although it doesn’t take on much water, if you do end up in slop and get some inside, emptying it out is a bit messy due to the spray covers, which tend to actually trap the water inside. Having said that, it’s not a deal-breaker.

By the end of the summer, we were managing to squeeze our two air-sealed containers and a tent into the canyon and we spent quite a few nights camped out in the different coves along the coast. When we had visitors, the fact that it’s a two-person kayak meant you could take rookies or a kid with you and feel quite safe and comfortable. Capsizing the Canyon would take some effort, as it’s almost a meter wide at the mid-section and quite stable.

We became quite attached to our Canyon and did manage to squeeze it back into its bag after every use. However, once we were at home, we had to pull it out again to hose it down. Letting salt water soak into the outer layer would undoubtedly have caused it to rot and eventually fall apart.

Conclusion: Last Words On The Canyon

Inflatable paddleboards are becoming increasingly popular in recent years and some of them are incredibly well designed. Manufacturers have invested in technology and design to produce a variety of quality products to meet the increasing demand for this type of board. The same cannot be said of inflatable kayaks, in my view. I live in a part of the World where watersports are the norm almost all year-round and I have observed how this type of kayak has not exactly come on in leaps and bounds. The basics seem to have remained the same: inflatable bladders inserted into shells designed for use by one, two or three people. Sure, some of them now have fancy colors, rudders and smaller bladders to reduce inflate time but unlike paddleboards they’re essentially the same as they were ten years ago.

I would recommend the Canyon if you’re planning on doing a bit of kayaking on your local lake or bay during the summer. It really is value for money and you get what you pay for: a cheap, easy to use kayak that won’t stand up to too much abuse, requires a bit of general care but is perfect for some summer fun.

Trip Report: Kayaking in Las Caobitas’s Bay, Domenican Republic

Early in the morning is the only real opportunity you will have to see the tip of the coral reef due to the heavy waves that crash there. At this time, the strength of the current is sufficiently weak as to paddle close enough enabling us see the true colors of the corals.

After delighting ourselves with the vivid reds and yellows of the corals of the reef and watching the playful multicolored fish, we paddled out to the first mangrove island. The water was so clear and calm that we could see almost beneath us all the colorful crabs and small jellyfish thanks to the slimness of the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two.

After crossing by the Punta Barreras tip, we got to the second mangrove island called “Cayo Agua Dulce”. This mangrove island has a small passage between it and the chain of protective coral reefs. The feeling of kayaking through a corridor of gushing water that came from the sea through the reef was impressive. Imagine yourself crossing a low-level river with a medium current pushing you constantly towards the mangroves. We soon learned, by over a third of the distance into the passage, that it was pretty shallow and full of coral lumps. Thanks to the flexible and resistant material of the hull we were able to get though in a somewhat harsh way, but indeed we came through. One of the things that makes the Malibu Two a MacGyver type of kayak is the design of its hull which balances performance and stability. If in that unexpected situation we would have being riding a sharp keeled kayak, we would’ve been forced to retreat and go around, or face a high probability of damaging the hull.

Kayaking Las Caobita’s Bay, Domenica Republic

Up to this point we are entering the mid-section of the bay and all we could see around us were mangroves and an impressive turquoise and calm sea with spots of deep blue; perfect for fishing and kayaking. Paddling through such a mirror like surface in a streamlined kayak such as the Malibu Two takes almost no effort at all. The contrast of the blue-greenish sea with the intense yellow of the kayak sure must render a great picture moment.

As we paddled along, we came across the most extensive patch of mangroves called “Cayo Puerto Viejo” or “Old Port Keys“. There are three nice things to say about it. First, it has two gorgeous newly formed beaches. You can say they are newly formed because there are a little shaky and loose and are manly held by the mangroves. Second, it has a kind of secret mangrove channel that is even more calm and crystal clear than the bay. You can see it’s like the nursery of the bay, because we had the opportunity to spot baby rays, baby barracudas, and small jellyfish. Not to mention the swarm of small scardy little fish that jumped out of the water with almost every paddle we took. Once we came out of that passage of mangrove, we hit the second beach. This beach had the third nice thing of “Cayo Puerto Viejo”. It had a nice area of solid dry land between the mangroves, large enough as to set a BBQ and at least 4 tents. It would be the absolute camping spot being in an island of an island surrounded by water and mangroves with only the sea as an escape route. The mangroves serve as protection from the winds and wave of the fierce Caribbean Sea and the Caobitas bay at our foot served as the ultimate snorkeling playground. Boy did we snorkeled in that spot.

But the Trip wasn’t over, up to this point we were only half way of the point of return, so we hit the paddles right away.

We paddled alongside the coral reefs up to the tip of the bay. At this point things got real. Experience, courage and a stable torso had to be recruited for this new scenario, we were in open sea for the first time on the trip.  Two things were in our favor, the sea was calm at that time of the day and the design of the kayak didn’t make balance an issue. The waves were like sluggish giants coming slowly at you. They gave us a small thrill, just enough to remind us of the sleeping monster that it could turn into. We had a good reminder of that potential watching the break of the waves at the tip of the coral reef.

Although the waves at sea weren’t breaking, they were rising and almost tubing at the tip. I mean surf like waves. A total paradise for short board surfers. In my case, as a long board surfer, I was having my second thoughts. My girlfriend and I watched the break from a distance. Although the anatomy of the break was pretty interesting, from where we were filming, we were getting hit by the same wave that 50 meters from our right was breaking after tubing. That’s a rare view. We knew better so we kept paddling to the other tip of the bay, leaving behind the stretch of open sea which promised many other adventures. We will leave that for some other time and with other type of kayak. We had to remind ourselves that if things went wrong, meaning a splashy sea, we were going to be in a though spot, because these kayaks are not designed to cruise under those conditions. So, having that on mind we headed back closer to the shore.

Nonetheless, kayaking that strip of open sea in the Malibu Two injected a good amount of adrenaline and rouse our alertness like any other part of the trip. Not even watching the small rays got me so excited and gave me the feeling of defiance of the elements as that part.

At the other tip of bay, which was already connected to the mainland, the same scenario of the breaking waves of surf grade was happening. Except for the part that there was no formation of tubes. By this part my girlfriend, her cousin and I had already 3 hours kayaking. The breakfast we ate in the morning was long gone. In their case, they were feeling the hunger. In my case, being overweight, gave me an extra energy reserve that took me through the whole 7 hours round trip. We spotted a nice little beach and stopped to get some shade and some rest. As soon as we got to shore, they devoured the little snacks that were left.

If it wasn’t for the fatigue my girlfriend and her cousin would’ve enjoyed that small and pristine beach. While they rested, I took a brief exploratory walk. The walk inland quickly came to a halt due to a small lake is formed due to the high tide. Around it you could see “chivos” or goats grazing the few grasses that grew there. The view didn’t last because, although not being wild goats, those weren’t used to seeing people around and ran away.

When we were heading to the point of return, we saw something to our right that immediately caught our attention. It was the most beautiful stretch of pure white sand beach. We couldn’t believe it because gray and rocky sands are predominant in this area. How come there could be a strip of beach of such quality and beauty, similar to “Bahia de la Aguilas” or “Eagles’ Bay”, so close to Santo Domingo. As tired as we were, we were compelled to beach in that marvel of nature. Its beauty extends a little more than half a kilometer of white sandy beach with a sea floor of pure soft white sand and no algae. We were in a mini remote and off the radar paradise.

The winds were rising and the small snack refuel were slowly withering away. More to our reluctance we left that beautiful beach behind and headed to the point of return… “Playa los Negros”.  If we had a little more experience we would have known not to go into that beach under those rising conditions. Having the wind in our back and the surf of the waves helping us to get faster to the beach should’ve told us something in that point…. that getting out of that beach later on would be a hell of a fight. 30 minutes later and a couple of more knots in the wind delivered that fight. Oblivious to what was about to worsen and with the increasing hunger of my girlfriend and her cousin we beached at “Playas los Negros”. We hoped to get something to eat there, taking into account that this was a crowded beach. There was a small problem with all of that…we took no money with us. When we departed, we swore in our minds that this was going to be a 3 hours trip tops. But the thing that we didn’t account for was the 2 pm wind which scrambled the sea. Thanks to the hospitality that is characteristic of all Dominicans we grabbed something to eat and refueled ourselves.

Being hit in that beach by the wind and seeing the never-ending rows of crashing waves coming at us foreshadowed the fight ahead. Everything became a struggle from that point on. What by that time had being a seemly effortless two and a half hours kayaking trip will become into an almost American Gladiator challenge trip.

I will leave it at this… if it weren’t for the lightness and aerodynamics of the Malibu Two my girlfriend and I would have experienced the type of capsize that her cousin was experiencing, because his kayak although more stable for having a broader hull, also meant that it was going to be hit harder by the waves. In total he capsized 3 times, at least that we saw, losing in the first occasion all the seashells he had collected by that time on the trip. He fell behind for most of the time and was way more exhausted than we were. To get back we had to literally strategize, but such tales will be told some other time.

Overall… kayaking “Las Caobitas’s Bay” was a great and humbling experience. Up to the point of return the trip is an experience that I truly recommend to those how love being in contact with the greatness of nature.

Advanced Elements Airfusion EVO Review

If you never heard of Advanced elements brand maybe you need to know one thing: One of the founders is Charlie Hall who invented the waterbed. He met his partner Clay Haller and both founded the company in 2001. Almost 20 years later they are part of the big three leader companies in inflatable kayaking. Their products are very well designed thanks to Ryan Pugh and their water crafts are price accessible and sturdy.

Why I Choose The Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayaks

I am a casual paddler which likes small distance daily trips during warm months of the year.I live in a city apartment and i own small car too so this made me fan of inflatables and foldables in general. In 2016 i bought my first AE kayak (Expedition) and I became huge fan of their products. The next year I had that itch to step up my kayak game and there was hesitation between hard shell and inflatable.When Advanced Elements announced their flagman kayak Airfusion Evo I was really impressed so i decided in their favor. Few months later in July 2018 the long awaited box was delivered to my door. The next day I made a test paddle in the nearby lake, then in the Black sea. and after more than a year and 250 km later i am amazed how well designed an inflatable kayak can be. Lightweight and fast, compact and sturdy owning an EVO helps me really well with the decision to postpone previous intention to buy a hard shell one.

The Specifics Of The EVO

This kayak have drop stitch vinyl v shaped hull, aluminum frame poles and all its wrapped in Polyurethane tarpaulin which is very tough. EVO is 13 feet (4 meters) long and 24 inches (60cm) width. Weight is 32 LBS (14.5 KG), and has load capacity of 235 LBS (106 KG).

The 5 air chambers are inflated with three types of inflating valves:

  • Main chambers have two Military grade Halkey Roberts type valves (maximum 6 PSI)
  • There is also 2 Boston valves for front and rear air thwarts and twist lock valves for coaming and 2 smaller additional airbags located on bow and stern. I guess sounds complex to inflate but actually its quite easy and relatively fast.

Evo is a hybrid between foldable and inflatable.The aluminum poles makes a long barebone from bow to stern and gives you sturdy watercraft that doesn’t twist in the currents and wind.Also there is skeg for improved tracking.

Another great feature is the rucksack or backpack that comes with the kayak. It is quite roomy and it can fit the kayak, skeg,4 part paddle, PFD and a drybag which is very convenient for storing in your closet and transporting it with any car.

EVO Assembly Time

In terms of assembly and inflate time you need around 25 minutes despite what manifacturer advertise. Because of the high pressure dropstitch technology the two main chambers are the easiest part of inflating.The hardest one is assembling and dissasembling the aluminium poles. There are small sand particles that during a paddle fall between the joints and if you don’t put vaseline or lubricant in general before that, you gonna need pliers to put the kayak back in the bag.

And let’s not forget the skeg which adds up to the assembly time. But it’s worth it…

Pros And Cons Of The EVO Inflatable Kayak

If you have paddling buddies with hard shells and you are with an inflatable, it takes more paddling strokes because you’re the slower paddler and most of the times you chase them or they wait for you. But if you are in an Evo you won’t have such problem. This is the main feature that outshines every other inflatable kayak especially the classic air chamber ones. Airfusion EVO is fast as a hard shell, tracks well and is very maneuverable. Not only because of the great design, but the skeg makes the real difference. You feel completely different when every stroke is efficient, especially when you are tired and the arrival point is not near. The skeg keeps your course straight and you’re prepared for every wind or current change. Evo is light and without it in windy conditions paddling is not very pleasant. Tracking in calm water without a skeg is bearable but you’ll never know when and how the weather will change.

The skirt and skeg are those features that really helps in fast changing weather conditions and i recommend not to be cheap,buy them and have them always in your disposal.

The downside is that EVO doesn’t have much capacity for all your camping gear.You can fit the pump and few water bottles in the rear hatch which is not waterproof, also a small drybag in front, but overall the load capacity is not enough.You can put two more drybags attached to the outside hull straps but the weight affects the speed.

Also if you don’t have experience with narrow hull types of kayaks I recommend a few test paddles because there is balancing learning curve. In the begining I capsized on purpose few times just to know where my tipping point is, and on the third paddle i surfed the waves like a pro. Great for bracing and not so great for eskimo roll.If you are beginner i recommend EVO as watercraft to grow skills , not a stable recreational kayak for an easy peasy paddle close to the shore.If this was a car – it’s definitely a sports one, so you don’t play safe.

The PROS of AE Airfusion Evo are:

  • Great speed and tracking.
  • Good build quality.
  • Rugged boat that no rocky shore gonna do a damage.

The CONS:

  • It needs longer drying time after use, no drain cap so inside drying is really slow
  • It’s too small and uncomfortable for big, tall and heavy paddlers
  • Not enough cargo space

Despite the few cons overall I think this is an awesome watercraft for an inflatable, Evo gives you the freedom to be fast, adventurous without the hassle of having storage and special transporting gear.

Jem Racing Vanquish 2 Slalom C1 Review

I am a division one UK based paddler and level 2 slalom coach primarily for intermediate paddlers. When I compete, I use the Jem Racing Vanquish 2 C1 as oppose to the more popular and predominant Vajda model. While a smaller company, Jem Racing has shown to still be one of the more predominant makers for slalom boats even amongst the top level slalom athletes whilst still getting recognition from the veteran paddlers. Unlike Nomad (a previous brand) Jem Racing is still seen in almost all levels of the competition ranging from a local to international level.

Vanquish 2: A Kayak For Intermediate and Experienced Paddlers

Although a controversial model, I personally love the Vanquish 2 and would recommend this boat to intermediate and experienced paddlers. The reason as to why I would not recommend this C1 to beginners starting in the C1 slalom world is due to its twitchy and narrow nature that, whilst it can be more manoeuvrable to a more experienced paddler, can seem very unstable and frustrating to a novice. In place with slalom’s common reputation for manufacturing narrow boats, the Vanquish 2 is almost 8cm more narrow across the widest part of the boat to it’s more popular Vajda counterparts.

This can make for a new experience for many paddlers but I find it very beneficial in many ways:

  • The overall narrowness pf the boat can promote a higher connectivity with the boat and help the paddler on controlling difficult C1 manoeuvres such as quick up-gates or staggers.
  • A better control of the boats edge comes hand in hand with the Vanquish 2’s more rounded sides and smaller side surface-area. Compared to the Vanquish 1, the Vanquish 2 has a more rounded body work which makes edging a lot smoother and helps in the vital transfer of energy during a race.
  • A narrow boat makes for an excellent roll as there is less distance between you and the surface along with a shorter contact period with the side of the boat and the surface whilst rolling up. This again is assisted with the rounded nature of the boat. In fact, the rolling in their boat is so efficient, I have taught a fair few paddlers to roll using this boat when using their Vajda counterparts (iscream etc) it was an unrealistic and uphill battle.

The Vanquish comes in sizes of every 5-5 kg starting from 45-55 up to 75-85 kg paddler weight. These usually come with only a minimal seat block and front knee block along with additional foam to sculpt for your personal tastes. The boats themselves apply to all international and Uk official BCU and ICF racing standards regarding nose and tail diameter, safety holds, and weight weighing just over 9 kg and also come with strap loops but no straps which is common for most C1 slalom boats.

The carbon fibre it is made of is more flexible than other models I have tried in the past making them more robust andhence an ideal boat for intermediates as they begin to progress onto larger water and more man-made courses.

In the past this C1 has served me well and I would certainly recommend it in the future. I have found that it feels a lot faster and visually more sleek than many other boats in the business and generally makes for a faster sprint along with more control over the edge lines. Due to its fast and sensitive nature however, I would ideally recommend a lower seat standing to compensate for a more stable experience and obviously straps go a long way in this type of boar; especially due to the narrowness, the straps go all long way for a speedy roll which may not be as detrimental to the race as in the past. I would personally recommend the Vajda C1 straps as I find that the layout suits the boat best and their Velcro grips last a long while.

Last Words on The Jem Racing Vanquish 2

Although there are some faults in the Jem Racing Vanquish 2, I personally feel that this boat best suits my paddling style as a slalom athlete and coach as it makes for a quick and easily manoeuvrable experience at the cost of some stability but not to the point of in-capability.  I would strongly recommend this model for intermediate and experienced C1 and slalom paddlers despite its unpopularity and reputation.

Rainbow Oasis Review: An Incredibly Stable Kayak

Rainbow Kayaks are a subsidy of the Italian thermoplastic company Euro-Tank Nord Sr, are the first Italian kayak company and have been in production for 20+ years. While most Americans are probably unfamiliar with the brand, they have a steady following and are especially popular as rental kayaks, thanks to their durability and stability.

One Thing I Love About The Oasis: Stability

The Rainbow Oasis is about 14’5” and 25” wide. As such, it is an incredibly stable kayak, best suited to beginners. They are decent all around sea kayaks, best suited for sheltered water, but can handle windy days if they have to. As far as for fit goes, just about anyone can sit comfortably in these kayaks. They are spacious and have decent legroom, although larger paddlers and taller paddlers may struggle. However there are several larger models available, though I would advise any rental companies to perhaps just spring the money to buy Wilderness Systems Tsunamis instead, you would get bigger boats that offer more bang for the buck.

The Oasis is a rigid thermoplastic kayak, which is why it is so popular with rental companies. You would be very hard pressed to damage these boats. While the Oasis has no adjustable foot pedals, they do have different placements for your feet so that most people will find a comfortable way to sit. However an experienced paddler would find this probably pretty terrible. The seat is molded plastic with a padded backrest, it isn’t terrible….but it is a far cry from a Wilderness System’s boat. In addition, the Oasis has no skeg to adjust. Yet surprisingly, the Oasis tracks reasonably well and is actually quite fast in calm water. Still, for an experienced paddler, this would be most likely considered a fault against the model. At only around 44 lbs, this is a pretty light kayak and is easy for just about anyone to haul. As such, it would be a great starter boat for young people, or even just something to keep at the lake house for messing around in.

Storage Space On The Rainbow Oasis

The Oasis has decent storage, with stern and bow bulkheads. You could probably store a couple days gear in it, but definitely not more than that. I would never consider this to be a touring kayak, but then again, it doesn’t pretend to be.  It is best suited for day trips and quick paddles around.

I would honestly have a tough time comparing the Rainbow Oasis to another boat that I have used, but I guess just about any paddler who has used a basic rental kayak would probably be reminded of the experience. I would only recommend this kayak to beginner paddlers and businesses that want a durable, stable and cheap option for primary rentals. These are not kayaks for experienced paddlers and anyone who wants to improve or practice will be very bored, very fast. They really are not bad boats by any standard; they are just very, very, basic. Anyone who is serious about paddling or just wants to have a bit more fun in the waves or playing in rocks should absolutely get something else. Although at an MSRP of only around $750 they can be an awesome entry level kayak.

I work as a professional Kayak Guide in Finland, we typically rented Rainbow Oasis kayaks to just about every customer that walked through our door, although we would tend to steer the more advanced paddlers to more advanced kayaks. These are safe and easy kayaks to paddle, we have used them in everything from very calm waters to very windy days. While they are a crucible to paddle in big surf and wind, they remain super stable. I am a qualified Sea Kayak Instructor and an EPP3 in Sea Kayak.

My Galaxy Fuego Review After Paddling In The Mediterranean

When I made the move from the big smoke (Madrid, Spain) to the small coastal town where I currently live (Xàbia, Alicante), I was keen to get back to a sport I had practiced so much as a young teenager: kayaking. My new home is just 100 metres from the sea and although I love to dive, paddleboard and snorkel, kayaking is a must on this particular stretch of Spanish coast. The waters are crystal clear and sea conditions are usually perfect for this sport all year round. There’s also an added advantage: EU and local legislation prohibit access to caves and coves if you’re using anything with a motor, so the only way to really enjoy the nooks and crannies is on a paddleboard or a kayak.

Choosing the right kind of leisure kayak for these waters is essential. Sure, the waters are usually calm and you’re never too far from a small bay or cove if you do need to get out of the wind or wake but the coast is also very rocky. Millennia of sea action on its 20km limestone coast has resulted in extremely abrasive surfaces on all most of the coastline. I grew up using fiberglass Sprite K1s and K2s and was used to patching them up after pretty much every competition or weekend kayaking with my local troupe of sea scouts. The slightest blow to them and you had a nasty hole. Of course, you rarely see those flimsy craft now. Seamless plastic molded hulls now mean you have very little maintenance to do on your kayak if it’s just being used for pleasure. One thing most plastic hull kayaks have in common is their durability, and that particular feature would top the list of ‘must haves’ when it came to purchasing one for use around this coast.

My Choice Of The Galaxy Fuego

I wasn’t just going to need one. I needed a couple because I run corporate training courses that include all types of watersports. So, I needed a kayak that was not only resistant to the rocky shoreline but one that was also a good option for someone who had never used a kayak before. Ease of use and cost were also going to be two important factors.

After a couple of days researching on the Internet, I came across Galaxy, a UK-based company that specializes in fishing and leisure kayaks. Their products caught my eye primarily because of the range of colors available. After perusing their site, I opted for the ‘Fuego’ model, which is their most basic product. My view was that it would be a good starting point to get back into the sport. I could always sell the kayaks later on and get a fancier one.

In 2014, the individual price per kayak was €349 ($386) and with shipment (they have a base in Spain) the total amount was just over the equivalent of $870 for two. As per Galaxy’s web, this model now retails for slightly less, at about $350.

The price includes:

  • A small splash bag (fits into the hatch between your legs)
  • Standard, adjustable seat
  • A two-piece paddle
  • Eight D-rings (for clipping gear onto)
  • Stern and bow screw-in drainage plugs
  • Side, bow and stern handles for carrying it
  • Four scupper plugs
  • Paddle clips
  • ‘Clips’ (short bungees) on each side to hold your paddle when not in use
  • A three-year guarantee

That’s quite a lot of bang for your buck. The ten color options available were different varieties of camo from pink to black. I opted for ‘jungle’ and one called ‘desert storm’.

After placing the order, the kayaks arrived a couple of days later. I was actually pleasantly surprised. I was expecting a poorer quality product given that the Fuego is Galaxy’s most basic model. Compared to others I had seen online, this one looked like it offered a lot more and that was, in the end, what motivated me to buy it. I wasn’t disappointed. The Fuego seemed to be very solid; the different appendages were of acceptable quality – the seat and paddle looked like they’d last a few years as long as you took care of them and the bungees, handles and fittings were well made.

The Main Disadvantage Of The Galaxy Fuego

We were anxious to test them out so, we got our gear ready and prepared to load the kayaks onto the car. That’s when I discovered something about them that I didn’t like: they are seriously heavy! The Fuego has a fairly wide keel and a ‘chunky’ bow and stern, which all add to its stability, as I discovered. But the flipside is that the weight: 18kg (40lb) when dry. That might not seem like a very heavy craft but when you add the seat, airtight container with some food and water and the paddle, you’ve already done a workout by the time you walk the 100m from your car to the shore. In my current location, I have to walk down about 50 steps to get to the shoreline and it can be a bit of a struggle. We usually load one of the kayaks with all the gear for both kayaks and carry it down between two and then I carry the other one down myself by raising it over my head. It’s doable but it’s not an easy task, especially if you have to walk on rocks or stones. You can, of course, use a set of wheels as the Fuego is designed to adapt to most options available on the market for this type of kayak but that won’t help you on sand or going down slopes, etc.

So, the Fuego is a heavy kayak. Not good. However, once you’re on the water, you forget that particular downside because the trade-off is obvious: it’s incredibly stable even in slop. I’ve had them for five years now and when I bring a client out, even the rookies manage to stay in the kayak. Only one guy capsized and that was because he took a wave side-on – he’s well over six feet, so he was kind of top heavy. One dunking in about five years is not bad at all. I would say that 90% of the people we’ve had out in them (young teens to retirees) hadn’t kayaked before and they found the experience very enjoyable. No-one felt insecure or unstable, which, let’s be honest, is a common occurrence if you’re new to kayaking.

Like everything new, they take a little getting used to and a bit of tweaking. I weigh about 95kgs (max load on the Fuego is 150kgs) so I need to make sure my seat is straight to keep my weight slightly forward. Otherwise, water will come in the back if you have waves or wake behind you. The stern has a concave area with bungees to store a sealed container (not included). So, if you carrying that and it’s full of gear such as water and food, plus fins and a mask on top, you can end up pointing the bow upwards and sinking the stern. If you position your seat correctly and be sure not to slouch you won’t have that problem. The right type of lifejacket will also help you stay as forward to avoid getting a cool trickle of water between your legs from a wave coming in the back. The seat is adjustable in two positions: one set of straps will pull the lumbar area forward. These can be handled easily when you’re in the kayak on the water. Then there are an additional two higher straps that keep the backrest in an upright, semi-rigid position. These are better adjusted on land. Although we did upgrade our seats to the ‘deluxe’ version, the standard seats are pretty comfortable too.

My First Experience With The Fuego

The real test for the Fuego came brought them onto the shore. As I said, where I live the coastline is rocky and you can shred your feet on rough surfaces. I was worried the Fuego wouldn’t be up to it. It absolutely is. We’ve being beaching these kayaks on the sharpest of rocks for a few years now and the hull is completely gouge-free. Sure, they have a few scrapes but that’s to be expected.

We are using our Galaxy Fuego kayaks in the mediterranean sea 🙂

The Fuego’s 270cm length is perfect for maneuvering around rocks and anchored boats in calm weather and it’s just the right length to make you feel safe and comfortable if you get caught out in chop. There are four positions for your feet, depending on your height so it’s a comfortable craft for long journeys as you have a bit of leeway for stretching your legs without upsetting the kayak’s stability. Its 80cm width means that you’d need to be very tall and get hit sideways with a fairly sizeable roller to end up in the soup. The scupper plugs are handy too, although the ones that are located aft are too far under my hamstrings to pull out in any sort of rough weather. When I need to drain, I lean forward and pull out the bow plugs. These can be stored in the splash bag that’s under the round hatch between your legs. It’s a system that works very well although the hatch won’t close if the splash bag is not correctly inserted.

Maintenance Of The Galaxy Kayak

After using the Fuego, you need to be sure to wash and rinse the seats and splash bag and take the tension off all the bungees. If you leave them taught, they will lose their strength quite quickly. The screws holding the d-rings in place are stainless steel so they don’t require too much maintenance but I’ve had these Fuegos for about five years now and I find that they do require an occasional scrub. They also need to be tightened ever now and then. When draining the kayak, its weight is, again, a bit of an issue. You need to stand it vertically for it to completely empty out and if there’s any wind, it can be a bit uncomfortable. You certainly wouldn’t want to lose control of it and drop it on a rock or worse. You need to make sure you have a good grip of both side handles and tilt it slightly towards you.

Last Words On The Fuego

All in all, I was impressed with what I got for my €349. Sure – it’s a heavy enough kayak but the upside is its stability. We’re used to relatively calm waters on our coast but if you happen to be get caught out in breakers or have to zigzag your way back home through oncoming motorboats, you won’t feel insecure at all. The Fuego takes it in its stride. As experienced kayakers, my partner and I do a lot of coast hugging, sometimes up to 25km in a morning and the Fuego is a trusty companion. When we head a few miles out to sea, perpendicular to the coast, it’s nice to know you’re sitting on something solid.

The Fuego is a good all-rounder and it’s a kayak you can enjoy with your partner or kids. The issue with its weight is offset considerably by the stability you get from its wide, stocky keel and its general feel of indestructibility.

Wilderness Systems Tsunami Review: The Swiss Army Knife of Touring Kayaks

I work as a professional Kayak Guide in Finland and the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 was a kayak I would use myself if I was doing longer trips with bulky items for camping and I would usually suggest this kayak to beginner paddlers who just wanted to try something a little faster. It was also a great choice for bigger customers who were maybe nervous about being in a more “tippy” boat.

Wilderness Systems is a US based Kayak Company based in South Carolina. They have made quality, thermoplastic kayaks since 1985 and are widely considered among the best Kayaks you can spend your money on. They are a terrific company with excellent B2B service and with so many different models of kayaks, you are sure to find the one that is perfect for you. As a company, I really cannot recommend them enough.

Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145: A very Versatile Kayak

Wilderness Systems describes the Tsunami 145 as “The Swiss Army Knife of Touring Kayaks“, I actually find this to be a perfect description of this boat. It is really like the Swiss Army Knife, it does many things pretty well but not amazingly well, and it is a boat that is a “jack of all trades but a master of none” so to speak. There is nothing wrong with that at all, providing that is what you are looking for in a kayak.

The Tsunami 145 is a rigid, thermoplastic kayak that measures 14’6” long, is 25.5” wide and is only 56 lbs.  Like all of Wilderness Systems’ boats, it is super durable and super comfortable. The Tsunami uses the same Phase 3 AirPro seating system and padded thigh braces that make Wilderness Systems Kayaks just so freaking comfortable to sit in. It also has Wilderness Systems’ TruTrak adjustable skeg system, which is super easy to adjust, even while paddling. All of these features combine to make a great all around kayak, for just about any new paddler.

Tsunami 145 vs 165 vs 175

While most people probably will find the kayak comfortable, Wilderness Systems also makes a Tsunami 165 and Tsunami 175 model for bigger paddlers, or those who want even more storage space.

The Wilderness Systems Tsunami is available is 6 colors and 3 sizes: 145, 165 and 175

What Are The Best Things About The Tsunami kayak?

Well, this is an exceptionally durable and stable kayak, it would be a great boat for a beginner to intermediate paddler who just wants an easy kayak to learn and paddle with. The fantastic primary stability allows you to relax and really enjoy being out on the water without any wobbling as you adjust your weight and look around. It is also surprisingly fast in calm water. With domed, spacious stern and bow bulkheads, it has an enormous amount of storage space you would honestly be hard pressed to fill it. However if you really needed even more space, there is a 165 and a 170 model available as well. I would sometimes take a Tsunami if I just could not be hassled about trying to pack things into another, quicker kayak and was headed camping for a few days with my dog.

The Disadvantages Of The Tsunami 145

I would argue that this kayak really does not offer you much in the way to develop as a paddler. It does not turn very well and although it tracks straight, it does not have a drop down skeg to make adjustments with the wind. I would say this is a great boat for sheltered water, rivers and bays, but not for more demanding weather or playing in the rocks and surf. It is easy enough to roll, but there are better options available for a paddler who wants a more playful kayak. At $1300, it is not overly priced…but if you spend a little more money you could get a kayak that you could really develop and improve as a paddler with.

If you are a newer paddler, or just want a VERY stable kayak, I would suggest this kayak for you. If you are an intermediate to advanced kayaker, I would say that this boat will probably bore you after a while. I think larger paddlers would definitely appreciate the legroom and wide cockpit as well. It is definitely a great kayak, but not right for everyone. I would advise someone to maybe try it out in person if it was at all possible.

My Wilderness Systems Tempest Review After Heavy Winter Use

I work as a professional Kayak Guide in Finland and the Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 was one of the boats I used the most, especially during very windy days and days that I was not working, when I had the time to do multi day trips out to the islands and go camping. It is an awesome choice.

Wilderness Systems is a US based Kayak Company based in South Carolina. They have made quality, thermoplastic kayaks since 1985 and are widely considered among the best Kayaks you can spend your money on. They have terrific customer service and a wide range of models to choose from, so that you get the best boat for you. The Wilderness Systems Tempest is an excellent boat, best suited for those who want to increase their skills and develop as paddlers.

Should You Get The Tempest Size 165 or 170?

The Tempest is available in a 165 (16’6”) and a 170 (17’) variant, both of them are solid, the 170 is just 4” longer and .5” wider. The right boat for you would come down to your size. Small paddlers would probably prefer the 165 and medium paddlers would probably prefer the 170. Larger paddlers may find this particular boat a little narrow. As they are both under 60 lbs, they are not too bad to carry from your car to the water either.

The Tempests are rigid, solo kayaks made from thermoplastic, the primary advantage of this build being that they are insanely durable. Damage to these boats doesn’t have to be a concern and you can be rest assured to own this for a very, very long time. It could easily be the last boat you need to buy.

Wilderness Systems Tempest: A Really Comfortable Kayak

Like other Wilderness Systems models, the Tempest has the same Phase 3 AirPro seating system and padded thigh braces. I have said it before and I will say it again, you would be hard pressed to find a more comfortable and adjustable seat. You can spend all day in one of these and you won’t suffer the same lower back pain that can be common in kayaks with hard plastic seats. The Tempest also has Wilderness System’s TruTrak adjustable skeg system, which is super easy to adjust and is very easy to fix. The Tempest’s ability to track in high wind is one of the first things you will notice, if you drop the skeg down in high winds, you will carry on as straight as can be. However your maneuverability will be greatly hampered. As far as foot pedals go, the Tempest uses the same sliding lock system as other Wilderness Systems Kayaks, super easy to adjust on shore and on the water.

The Tempest models have three bulkheads; on the bow, stern and midship. The midship bulkhead is easily reached just over your right shoulder and is a great place to stow some of the things you may need to grab as you paddle, like snacks or a hat or whatever.  The bow and stern domed bulkheads are very spacious, as you would expect from an expedition kayak, more so than the Wilderness Systems Zephyr. In fact, the Tempest has been the choice of many long expeditions and the design remains pretty much unchanged since it debuted. The Tempest has hard chines and a great V shape, giving you ample stability and a pretty easy time rolling it, though not as stable as the Zephyr. It is a phenomenal choice for a touring Kayak in that it has great storage, tracks like a dream and has great speed. However the length could make it problematic for something like rock hopping.

A Great Kayak For Intermediate and Advanced Paddlers

There aren’t too many cons with this boat, although some may find that it is tougher to turn at 17 feet. However if you are in the market for an expedition kayak, I would suggest giving this one a look. At its price, it represents a lot of bang for your buck and it would give a kayaker a lot of area to develop in. I would recommend this for intermediate to advanced paddlers, if you were after something more stable for newer paddlers, perhaps the Zephyr or the Tsunami would be better choices. If you were a bigger person, then you may find this particular model a bit too narrow. All in all, it is a fantastic kayak that is an absolute blast to paddle around in.

Wavesport Project x Review: A Fun Playboat For Any Level

The Project X by Wavesport is a full on playboat meant for having fun down the river or playing on your local wave. The kayak comes in the following sizes: 48 (small), 56 (medium), 64 (large) – and comes with adjustable outfitting for that perfect fit. The medium sized boat is 5’11” long, weighs 32 LBS, and has a volume of 56 Gallons. The project X has a supported weight range of 100 to 260 LBS.

My opinion of this boat may be biased but that’s because it was the first kayak I’d ever purchased. The boat I learned and developed in to become the paddler I am today. I was always on the tall and skinny side, which worried me because of the struggle to fit into most boats in my weight category due to my long legs. However the adjustable outfitting of the project X albeit a tight fit was comfortable, responsive and gave a feel of confidence on the water.

What I Love About The Wavesport Project X

Immediately one of the things that stands out about the Project X is just how responsive the boat is to the water. The outfitting being very tight and snug made the boat feel like it’s an extension of the paddler’s body. Every little change and movement of the current – you can feel through the boat thanks to the spectacular outfitting. Not only that but for a playboat it tracked very well in current, unlike some other boats. It moved forward like a river runner, yet could be thrown around on all features just like any other playboat. These features further built on my confidence and paddling skills in general.

When comparing it to other playboats, one of the more noticeable differences is Balance. As far as stability goes, playboats are pretty wobbly and meant to be thrown around. The Project X has that feeling of control and stability while yet maintaining the fun, rowdy, freestyle aspect all playboats have. When trying out other boats, I really got a feel of less control and having to put in more effort to perform basic river runner moves.

What I Would Change…

Honestly the only changes that I would like to see on the Project X would be stronger material for the surface layer of outfitting, slight reduction in kayak weight, and a drink holder between the legs for a water bottle. I say this because the material that is on the top layer of outfitting tends to peel after a bit though it doesn’t affect the overall comfortableness of it. Hydration is very important so not having a good spot for your water bottle to stay and letting it bounce around inside the stern is annoying. Overall the Project X is a great boat. The changes I would make are very minimal.

Typically the Project X can be seen at the local playspot or on any big wave. Most of my use with it has been on the big friendly waters of the Ottawa River surfing all the various play spots on the way down. Coming back in the spring when the levels are huge, I still felt safe and comfortable navigating the large rapids. The good tracking making it easy to navigate huge pushy whitewater, giving a slight sense of control while surrounded by bus sized waves.

The odd time I’ve even taken it to local spring time runs that would be more suited to a river runner or creek boat. These runs included various Mississippi runs in Ontario, small local creeks ranging from class 2 – 4. The seven sisters of the Rouge and Upper Petawawa River. The Project X made these runs possible with how well it performs in the water. As a playboat it allowed play all the way down the runs catching waves on the fly, throwing kickflips for days and ramping over rooster tails. Then when it became time to run the more serious rapids, it would cooperate and move where it was pointed.

A Great Kayak For Waves!

Overall I think the Project X is a fantastic kayak to learn and grow in. With how well it responds to the paddler, it will build confidence with basic river running, yet has all the features of a playboat. At first it may be a little shakey with how well it reacts to the water, but that will only speed up the learning process of any new paddler. The project X helps build core skills for new kayakers without that feeling of being pampered like a creek boat or river runner would.

Where this boat shines though is on the wave. I’ve surfed everything from holes, smooth waves, tall waves, trashy waves and rodeo holes. The Project X performs well in all of them, though where it’s best at is a wave. My fondest memories of this boat is coming screaming down the face of a wave bouncing and carving all over the place. You really get a huge sense of energy and speed with this thing even without throwing tricks. It feels exhilarating — no ride is ever boring. It’s the kind of kayak that makes you want to really give it and throw the biggest tricks you can and with how well it pops, it will allow you to do just that.

Last Words on The Project X

If I could go back and pick any kayak as my first, I wouldn’t change it. The Project X is my favorite kayak and what has made me into the paddler I am today. Its versatility in the water and roots as a full on playboat make it a play machine that can be used almost anywhere. Despite its age, it’s still worth buying and I highly recommend it. Buying it used now would be a really great bang for your buck, and if you’re worried about wear, the material for it is highly durable. My Project X has been through hell and still performs like it’s brand new. These things are tough and will last a long forever if you treat them well.