So I managed to snag an Aventura 140 before they ran out again and it’s currently sitting in my garage. I know Seals sells spray skirts for the Aventura (I’m looking at the Sea Sprite) but will one actually fit over the seat back? It’s a little higher than I anticipated. For those of you who’ve put a skirt on one, is it worth it? Or should I just wear the neoprene myself until it’s warm enough to go without? (I do own a set of NRS Hydroskins I bought on sale at the end of last season.)
Skirt or neoprene? …the two are seperate purpose. The skirt keeps water out of the cockpit. The neoprene you wear keeps you warm when you swim. Sure you might be able to use a skirt if you had a bullet proof roll to keep from wearing neoprene pants but you likely don’t have a roll like that if you are asking the question. Some would say yes both.
Others would say where are you and when are you planning on paddling? If you are in Florida the water is already in the 70s. If you are in Canada, neoprene is not enough.
Seat back…depends upon the height of the seat and flexibility of the skirt (dome).
I’ll be paddling on the Ohio River near Cincinnati starting sometime next month depending on the weather. If I end up buying a spray skirt, I plan to practice rolling it in our pool first. I’m hoping that decades of flip turns (which, when done properly, are initiated by your core with your hands at your sides) and swimming 10-15 yards underwater off each wall will help with that learning process (or at make it less stressful). As for cold-water immersion, I have done open-water swims down into the low-60s, both with and without wetsuits.
Check the water temperature, not the air temperature. The air temperature is largely irrelevant once you are in the water. Current river temperature is only about 45°F now and snowmelt may still be a factor.
The seat back doesn’t look all that high in the manufacturer’s photos of the boat. You might be able to replace it with a back band (and might want to anyway, a lot of us find them way more comfortable and less restrictive to good paddling form). A regular nylon “touring” type spray skirt would probably fit over the existing seat back. I have a kayak with a “convertible” set back that folds in half to create a low profile backband (how I use it) but some of my friends prefer to unfold it so they can lean back in it when I lend them that boat – the Harmony nylon skirt I have for it fits even when they have it in “Barcalounger” mode.
I am with @willowleaf - the seat back doesn’t look that high. Here are some pictures from a West Coast retailer’s web site: https://aldercreek.com/shop/kayaks/touring-kayaks/day-touring-kayaks/feelfree-aventura-140-2/
If yours looks differently, mind posting photos of yours? Also take a look to see if the height is adjustable - some boats do have adjustable seat backs.
A spray skirt wold definitely be a help for a variety of reasons (keeping water out, keeping the paddler warm, etc.). Even boats with high seat backs can use skirts, but they are often more of a challenge to put on.
If your seat back is taller than what we see in the manufacturer photos, that will make learning to roll harder.
That does look far higher than in the catalog shots I’ve seen. Also too high to allow a lot of movement and techniques of good paddling including torso rotation and many styles of self rescue. If you can’t lower it you may want to consider swapping it out for a backband.
I dislike any seat back that is so high it reaches above my PFD back. Unless you have a really long upper body, that will happen to you with this seat and even a nylon skirt (which is worn under your PFD) is not going to fasten securely onto the rear of the coaming, even if it reached.
I reached out to the Feelfree rep and he said the seat back height can’t be changed. Given the difference in height compared to what we’ve seen online, I’m wondering if retailers are still using photos of the first generation model because the seat on the 2nd-generation boat definitely looks higher in person.
I’m going to give it a shot; I’m just hoping it doesn’t interfere with my PFD, which is an Astral Layla. How complicated is it to switch to a backband if I decide to go that route?
Just looking at your photo, agree with willow that a backband change out is needed if you want to use a spray skirt. Usually easy to change out once you figure out how you want to remove the chair back that arrived with your kayak and then locate a couple securing points for the backband.
Like most projects, planning the job and assembling the parts is the hardest part. But it’s rewarding once you figure it out and complete the work - it also allows you to have a better idea of what is involved in case you want to tweak the alteration down the road.
Probably won’t help you now, but it might be worth complaining to the company pointing out that the high seat back makes it nearly impossible to use a spray skirt. After all, a spray skirt is an essential part of a sea kaya, not an optional accessory.
Feel Free’s target market is the fishing and rec boat folk. I’m surprised they even attempt anything like the Aventura, which is unlike the rest of their line though hardly a sea kayak and barely a “touring” one. I doubt they are much concerned with “performance” and paddling efficiency, even buyer’s concerns about open water safety.
You could take a hack saw to the seat to shorten it. I’ve done that in the past successfully and covered the seatback in neoprene.
That seat back is high enough to bother a spray skirt, unless you get a really big one with an adjustable bungie cord, AND rolling. Probably worse on the rolling since if you want to spend the money you can likely find a large coated nylon spray skirt with a bungie cord you can retie.
Replace it with a back band or built up minicell glued into the back of the boat.
If you’re just looking to keep the sun and some splashes off your legs you can use a splash deck - I use one frequently in the summer here in Florida as it is easy to overheat wearing a skirt when the heat index is 100+ and the water is 90. In cold water you’ll need to wear appropriate clothing regardless of whether or not you are using a skirt - this is a very common misconception that using the skirt negates the need for proper immersion wear. Definitely not the case! Your Hydroskins are great for cool water - I wear mine when water temps are below 75, down to 60. Below 60F I’m in my drysuit.
If you do have access to a pool, definitely take the opportunity to try some wet exits and also try some self rescues. There are plenty of videos online that will show you how to do a paddlefloat re-entry and several others. If you don’t already have a paddle float and bilge pump now would be a great time to get them. Trying to teach yourself to roll can be extremely frustrating and tiring and can set you up with a lot of bad habits - I’d take a lesson for that but honestly learning to self rescue should be the first priority anyway. Also the Aventura, even with a more appropriate seat back, will be a difficult kayak to learn to roll it - not impossible to roll, but once it gets upside down it will want to stay there. Take a lesson and learn in a skinnier kayak that almost rolls itself back up!
I do have a paddle float and bilge pump already. Picked those up at the end of last season. I’ve watched lots of videos on re-entry, wet exits and storm rolling but as soon as the river’s warm enough to take the boat down to our river camp, I’ll practice reentry using the float.
The Aventura is 26” wide (the Dagger I tried to get was 24”) and I’m outfitting it with some hip pads to fill in those two inches. It has a v-shaped hull. So while it’s not a skinny racing boat, it’s not a recreational barge, either.
The problem with rolling that boat is not only the width and the back rest. Neither of which are helpful.
But the the shape of the full means it will want to rest upside down more than a rounder sea kayak. Agreed it is more featured than a pure rec boat, but be ready to get thru a point where the boat will have a powerful inclination to stop rolling up.