A little bit of history: How did Hurricane Kayaks start, and why did you get involved in the kayak making business?
Pat Renfro, co-owner and founder of Hurricane, has been in the plastic molding industry since 1989. An avid waterman, Pat became intrigued with the kayaking industry in the 1990’s and quickly recognized that the real growth opportunity was in thermoforming kayaks out of ABS. He launched Hurricane Aquasports in 1999.
What is a kayak for you?
We are a small company composed of true outdoor enthusiasts. We view kayaking as a wonderful way to explore the natural world, as a sport that’s good for both mind and body, and as an activity that offers opportunities to disconnect from the digital world.
What distinguishes Hurricane Kayaks from other businesses in the kayaking industry?
Our size and our focus: we are a small, intimate company focused on making the lightest, best-performing recreational and day touring kayaks in the market. We care about your paddling experience. If you call Hurricane, you’ll talk to a human who is committed to helping you in your quest to enLIGHTen your on-water experience.
Currently, what’s your business biggest challenge?
Cheap kayaks flooding the market and confusing consumers – folks buy these poorly made boats because of the price; then abandon the sport of kayaking because the performance, comfort, and customer service they had hoped for simply isn’t included. We sell more than kayaks at Hurricane. We sell on-water experiences and strive to make those experiences positive.
What’s the most popular kayak that you sell?
Hands down, the Santee 116 Sport – a lot of our customers are older, many are women, and all appreciate a lightweight craft. At only 36.5 lbs, the Santee 116 Sport is easy to handle (both on and off the water), and the kayak’s Swede form hull is stable and tracks well. As a bonus, the oversized Sport cockpit is easy to get into and out of, and (at $999) the price doesn’t break the bank.
Are you still improving your kayaks? if yes, how?
We’re always looking for ways to make our kayaks more comfortable, more beautiful, and more user-friendly. Hurricane kayak design is driven by customer input. Customers asked for more comfortable seats, so we designed four models with frame seats and updated our standard Airestream seatpad with a more cushy fabric. Customers asked for a super stable sit-on-top, so we designed the Sweetwater 126. They asked for a smaller Skimmer, so we designed the Skimmer 106. We listen, then we improve.
Which of your models would you recommend to a beginner paddler that’s looking for an entry-level kayak?
The Santee 116 Sport (if you want a sit-inside) and the Skimmer 116 (if you want a sit-on-top). They’re stable, comfortable and track well. All the things beginners love.
Which model is more suited to an advanced paddler?
Our Sojourn series day touring kayaks (Sojourn 135, 146 and 146 LV) were designed with more experienced paddlers in mind. They handle chop well, carve and edge nicely, have room fore and aft to pack for overnight trips, and they cruise at a nice clip. They are stable enough for beginners, however, so newbies who strive learn more advanced paddling techniques can certainly start out with a Sojourn.
Do you have any news you can share with us about 2020’s new products of Hurricane Kayaks?
For 2020, we introduced our Skimmer 106 – a 10.5 foot sit-on-top made to fit a wide range of paddlers and easily fit in the back of a pickup
We introduced a new deeper hull on our popular Santee 140 Tandem that gave it more freeboard and better performance
We improved the frame seat installed in our Santee 110 and 120 Sport models
Tell us something people might be surprised to learn about Hurricane Kayaks.
Our products are made in the USA (in southeastern NC to be specific) and the vast majority of the parts used in our boats are USA-made as well. We are committed to quality and make every effort to find that quality as close to home as possible.