I've been reading a forums for a while now, but this is my first time posting. So first I suppose I should give a little background info:
I'm an American living in Japan. My wife and I just started kayaking last year in September. Needless to say, we caught the bug.
Until recently we have mostly joined tours or schools. We've been out about 10 times and attended a roll school once. Our longest tour was 18km.
This summer I'm planning on buying my own kayak. My wife made up her mind early when she fell in love with a Seabird Designs XP480. I'm a little slower to decide.
Since we live in Japan our choices are more limited I think, but I've been looking a few different kayaks and test paddling as many as I can.
Right now I have in mind 3 different kayaks:
Seabird Designs XP507 (or XP480), Seabird Designs Nordr S, and the Tahe Marine Reval Mini LC.
I've paddled the XP507 and a couple of tours. I like it, but it feels a bit... what's the word?... "heavy" to me. Maybe it's a bit too big and stable. The Seabird Nordr S is new this year and looks to be a little more playful than the XP507. We have a relationship with the Seabird distributor in Japan, so I'll have the opportunity to paddle the Nordr in July.
The problem for me is the Tahe Reval Mini LC. I've read some good things about it online, watched some videos for it, and the guy that sells them here in Japan swears by the quality of Tahe kayaks. However, I'm not able to test paddle one. It's not really a standard practice here in Japan to test paddle kayaks, so the shop is unlikely to agree to let me do it.
Has anyone owned or paddle one?
I'm about 5'6 and 165lbs (167cm and 75kg). My experience I would describe as an aggressive beginner. My wife and I will use the kayaks mostly for day trips, maybe the rare overnight trip, and working on our skills. I would also like to keep the kayak as close to 5 meters (16.5 feet?) as possible due to traffic rules about cargo length here in Japan.
Any advice you gurus have would be much appreciated.