Boat Reviews: Kick that dead horse!!!

Once again I have been annoyed by a review on! I have read far too many reviews that begin with the following (or some variation:) “This is my first boat and I have only had it in the water once but it is great! I love it! It is the best boat ever!” Do people really feel they are offering something of value to other potential buyers? More and more I am seeing referenced as THE best source for boat information, and it is! However, I feel that if we (the members and participants) are going to be used as the premier resource for sea kayak information, then we have an obligation to be fair about our reviews. I understand not all of us are experts. I understand that we all get excited about our new boats and want to pat ourselves on the back for a great decision. I understand we are all passionate about the sport of paddling and the boats we used. Most of us have been guilty of reviewing a boat, then in hindsight questioning the rating we handed out. We’re human, we make mistakes. Were this simply a group of ten paddlers hanging out chating and bragging about our boats, that would be one thing, but P-net is getting a lot of exposure everywhere on the net so the ante has been raised.

It is not my intention to bash our review process or sit around and complain. It is my intention to improve our process so that we can maintain the integrity of P-net. We all have a lot to offer and I hate to see it wasted by not regulating ourselves.

Let us all start to create a criteria for a boat review. Not all of them should be exaclty the same, but they should all have some very important things in common. Please add to my list as we go. I’ll get this kicked off, you folks decide where to stop.

Never review a boat until you have spent a minimum of 30 hours in it, paddled it 100 miles, or sold it. It is interesting how much more fair we can be about a boat after we have sold it.

Always include your skill level and/or years paddling.

Always include your height, weight, foot size, and ther measurements you feel are relevant.

Include the condtions you have paddled the boat in.

Include the reasons you purchased the boat in the first place.

Please don’t buy a tiny british style boat after looking at it in the store for six months, then complain about something silly like foot room.

Please do not make all-encompassing comments like “This is the best kayak ever made,” or “This boat is crap!” Qualify your statements with real information.

I could go on for hours about this. This is a FORUM, so it is up to all of us to improve the system. Please chime-in on this topic to help make P-net even better.

Hopefully I haven’t pre-empted Bret on this one.

Paddle well…

way too much to ask…
Do the reviewers of Sea Kayaker magazine (or any publication for that matter) test kayaks for 30 hours, 100 miles, etc.? Of course not. You typically can get a good idea of what a boat is capable of within the first 10 minutes of paddling it (assuming outfitting/trim isn’t an issue). I’ve played in many kayaks and although I probably don’t spend more than 10-20 minutes per kayak, I feel that I probably could give a pretty good (not comprehensive) review on the various performance characteristics. In a public forum like this, you have to take things in context. Is an OT Loon a 10/10 as well as a NDK Explorer a 10/10? Sure! For the paddler skill level and the type of paddling that person is doing, that might really be the ideal boat. It would be nice to have a rating system on the reviews on usefulness (sort of like Amazon), but it’s unfair to expect the highest skill level paddlers reviewing all the boats. Heck, the beginner paddling a small pond is much more qualified to talk about the Loon than a seasoned paddling veteran as they can better relate to the fears, skill requirements, etc. associated with that kayak.

That is why I suggested the other criteria such as the reasons for buying the boat and your skill level. (I.E. "I am a beginner and bought the Pungo because it offered stability while paddling small lakes.) I realize that the reviewers in SK don’t paddle each boat for 30 hours but their format is well known and well defined, P-net’s is not. If you are an experienced paddler and only paddle a boat for 20 minutes, either qualify that in the review, or hold off until you spend more time in the boat. Each time I paddle a boat for 30 min. I don’t feel compelled to post a review, and I know that you don’t either. I’m just looking for suggestions. It is up to each individual whether or not they take them.

Well, …

I suspect that you could substitute the a rather different boat in many of the reviews and not create any contradictions.

The Sea Kayaker review analogy isn’t relevant because they are practiced in reviewing many boats and use somewhat standardized criteria.

In fact (if not in intent), the primary purpose of the reviews here is to enthuse about a new hobby and justify an expensive purpose.

I agree about hobby/enthusiasm
And I don’t really see that as a total negative. A lot can be learned from someone who is enthusiastic about a particular boat. Not so tru if one is justifying an expensive purchase.

To clarify, I do believe there can be place in the review section for “initial impressions.” If there is a lack of information about a particualr boat, then the first impression by a moderately experienced paddler can be beneficial to potential buyers. Again, we should simply qualify that in the review.

skill level

– Last Updated: Oct-27-05 11:55 AM EST –

I believe that when you read the lines..."This is my first boat and I have only had it in the water once but it is great! I love it! It is the best boat ever!" you already have the skill level etc stated and the amount of time paddled....and judging by this statement, I also think I know what kind of conditions it was paddled in

every thing seems to already be there except the paddlers size/weight shoe size body style (pear/apple/beanpole)

just a thought

Presidential Appointments
don’t even get that level of scrutiny … you are dreaming.

Buyers should treat what they read on the internet with healthy distrust.

Take a chill pill. You ask too much.
Most boat owners probably don’t spend 30hrs in their boat throughout an entire year. If more experienced paddlers would paddle a wider range of boats and place their reviews, us beginners wouldn’t have to be relied upon for our reviews.

How many Pungos, Swifty’s etc have you paddled lately?

Get real. Are you venting because you haven’t paddled for a while?

I agree that parameters such as reviewer size, weight, boat usage, experience etc. are helpful and desireable, but sometimes and enghusiastic “wooooo hooooo!” isn’t all bad either. Sometimes that’s all an unenlightened paddler to be really needs to know from other beginners. They can grow from there.

“Buyers should treat what they read on the internet with a healthy distrust.” Yep, I agree, but they don’t always do so. If P-net is being used more and more as a resource, then we should take that as a compliment and try to get even better.

I mentioned earlier that I believe enthusiasm is a good thing. If someone is a beginning paddler, then we can assume that they are a beginner when it comes to reviewing a kayak. What’s wrong with giving them suggestions on the best format for an informative review. Why can we offer endless advice on the forward stroke and not on how to review a boat?

I don’t need a chill pill, though I admit I haven’t been able to paddle in 4 days. I was hoping this thread could be constructive on how to improve reviews. Let’s all make suggestions, and not expound on how it can’t be done. Maybe I’m “dreaming” but at least I’m trying.

Are you married?
Do you expect many middleaged female paddlers to post their height, weight and circumference? (Remember the Mean age of PNETTERS is ~ 47.)

Successfuly so far!
Your right about the measurements though…I suppose they can use and alias on the review! LOL!

I Agree,… A little…
I do agree a little that the reviews should have criteria to them, but if you have any experiance paddling, you can immediately tell if a review is done by an experienced paddler, or a Newbie. If you are an experienced paddler, and you believe a review is from a “newbie” just go to the next one.

Does the review I did on my Impex Assateague pass your criteria? I hope so.

I do believe every boat review should start with at least a small pargraph about the person who wrote it, and something that touches on their skill level. This would be helpfull to all who reads them.

But don’t discourage reviews done by new paddlers, as there are a lot of new paddlers out there, who can benefit from what is written by new paddlers, on thier boats. A review being read by a new paddler, that was written by a new paddler, can be helpfull to them. But the review would be more helpful if it was noted that is was written by a paddler “of less experience”.

All reviews can be helpfull in one way or another to “someone”. Several reviews I have read have been very helpfull to me, and “Thanks to all” who wrote them.

A little about ME? I have canoed for 10 years, and Kayaked for 4 more. Love it!!! :slight_smile:

I only sell the Crappy Boats

1 16’ Mohawk canoe… Dont need a canoe, not a bad boat though… slow & fat, stable barge.

1 WS ride Slow & fat. good solo fish platform, hull slap in waves

1 Necky Dolphin… It just sucked, Cramped cockpit, water didnt drain out of the cockpit, slow. tipper the my QCC 700s… it was also LIME GREEN any thing LIME GREEN Sucks unless its a LIME!!

I pay more attention to the Bad reviews, and even more so if several folks have complained about the same things. Like pay attention to how many folks complain about leaky broken skegs Vs Rudders!! but everybody LOVES skegs… L

Have you ever counted what percent of your responses have as a subject “Hmmm” or “L”? :slight_smile:

Another vote for “quick stats”.
If I can scan a table of stats (read all formatted the same), I can quickly see if the reviewer is built like me and prefers the same conditions/venues. I’d also add a rating table like Dagger’s showing their opinions of how appropriate the boat is for different conditions/venues. That way, a boat…say the Pungo140, can be a 9/10 for fishing and photography, a 2/10 for WW river running, 8/10 for lakes/ponds and a 3/10 for open water.


or recant as I did,

– Last Updated: Oct-27-05 3:00 PM EST –

I paddled a sot Ventura for months always in bad weather, just figured it was the conditions that made it such a wet boat. finally a glassy day came and the sot was just as wet a ride then too. so I submited another review, we learn as we go.

i think it happens on most outdoor sites
i mtn bike too and i get a good laugh out of the reviews on (mtn bike website). folks are always writing reviews on bikes and gear and they end their review by saying that they have been riding for a month. its just like anything in life you just have to use good judgement. as a big paddler 220lbs+,i do like to see how other bigger folks rate how the boat fits.

SOTs are wet, period.

– Last Updated: Oct-27-05 3:02 PM EST –

That's part of the fun for many of us, especially those of us who live down south, where a little wetness feels good. In the winter I just bundle up, long underwear, fleece pants, fleece jacket, sailing bib. Sometimes a sailing jacket. The wetness and the splash and spray is part of the excitement of winter paddling. With SOTs so stable and Galveston Bay so shallow, that's all you need in winter. The need to self-rescue is so rare, but we have a unique technique here called Standing Up.

Some years ago I tested for Sea Kayaker (for about 4-5 years if memory serves me), and yes we tested thoroughly. Chris had an outline of characteristics that we were to report on. Typically I would pick a boat up and paddle it on a trip to the West Coast of BC. I was guiding a lot then, and it was a great way to test boats. Several other paddlers would test the same kayak and Chris, or his staff would compile the data. While not perfect, it was pretty thorough. Chris did a good job of matching boats to paddlers as well based on interest weight etc. So much is subjective, and I believe people’s preferences change over time…I know mine did. Bottom line is, as others have said many times, take reviews with a grain of salt, paddle many boats, and buy what feels right for you. Beware of marketing nonsense as well. There are a lot of gimmicks out there designed for shelf appeal, not long term function. Also be aware that most boats will require some fine tuning for personal fit / comfort, and that is an enjoyable process.

I generally do not bother looking at reviews that are higher than 6 or 7. There is no perfect boat out there. My favorite boat I would not list any higher than a six or . However, I know my next kayak will be a 10!