Cruising speed effic. - Caribou

-- Last Updated: Jan-07-04 9:44 AM EST --

Wondering what people who have owned or
paddled the CD Caribou have to say about
its efficiency at cruise. The reviews
compliment the speed but I was wondering
if there was a penalty at lower speeds. I am
5'8" 160 / athl. male and am consider. the Caribou for longer yak but am also considering
Kajak Viking Exp. as a shorter yak. I want to be able to workouts and cover distance on long day trips effeciently. THanks. Ray

One test paddle
I only have had one test paddle in a Caribou, and loved it. I would not call it fast (a relative term), but it cruises easily at a good clip. Fairly effortless and very nice at lower speeds to.

I did not want to get out of it. Smooth, responsive, predictable. Great primary and secondary stability. Hard to beat. Probably my second favorite kayak.

After trying a dozen, I ended up buying a QCC Q700. Only other kayak I’ve paddled that matched or exceeded what I liked about the feel of the Caribou, and it’s a good bit faster. It really has all the good points of all the other kayaks I liked (except that great low rear deck height on the NDK!) Q700’s only 2" longer, 3/4" narrower than the Caribou “S”.

Have not paddled the Viking - just the larger Vivianne. Nice boat, but feels BIG. I’d guess the Viking a bit more nimble and good paddle too.

Tough choices. Hard to goo too wrong with them.

A couple notes to be fair:

  1. I’m 5’9" 205# so kayaks will feel different to me.

  2. I cannot really comment on anything called a “penalty at lower speed” as I don’t think it is significant in ANY kayak. ALL are easy to paddle slow! At anything under 3 kts all kayaks are so similar that the drag differnces are VERY small. Also, I don’t tend to paddle slow enough to notice such things even if they were significant.

I 've had a Caribou for about 6 years

– Last Updated: Jan-07-04 11:58 AM EST –

I have the original pre-skeg. I've also have had an explorer for about 3 years. All things being relative, the Caribou excelerates faster and holds cruising speed easier than the Explorer. It also weighs considerably less. I have never noticed any low speed issues. It maintains plenty of glide and is very quick off the line. Since it does have a hard chine planing hull, you will top out sooner than a more rounded hull. I'm 5'10" and about 175'bs. Haveing only paddled the Kayaksport a few times, I subjectively feel you'll find the Caribou a more responsive and more playful boat at any speed. Either way, both great choices. If you plan to play in surf, the very comfortable rotating foot pegs on the Kayaksport can lead to some surprises. I've seen it more than once where coming down the face of a steep waves, the foot pegs rotate enough that your feet will slip over the top and you'll end up with the coming under your armpits!

I’ve owned a Caribou
for two years and find no low speed issues (5’10" 205 lbs., couple decades of experience). Very stable and predictable. Hard chines help it carve like a champ. Lots of glide but a tad slower than a round-bottom of the same length. Seems to be less affected by the wind than most sea kayaks. The quality is quite high and I like the hatch lashing system. An easy self-rescue or roller.

Thanks… now, skeg or no skeg?
Thanks for the replies … they are reassuring; I can make a decent deal on a pre-skeg model Caribou - any thoughts on whether I must go with the skeg? It can get windy down here ( S.Fla) …

Thanks again…

At 160 pounds I’d get the skeg

– Last Updated: Jan-07-04 11:05 PM EST –

You are in a really good weight position for that boat, and it will not be too often that you will be desperate for the skeg. On the other hand it's noce to have it ther when you need it. Do they even make that boat without the skeg? NO doubt the caribou will be faster than the viking.

The viking will turn much easier. Less waterline and soft chine. Even the millenium turns easier for me. In general, I think that hard chine boats do not turn well without an inside lean. My caribou did not for me, but I had 80 pounds of paddler and gear more than you are likely to be carrying. See Caribou reviews.

Nearly new.
It’s a lightly used no skeg caribou … at a savings over new.

I found the Caribou turns better for me than the Viking. My wife thinks the Caribou turns better also. She is now paddling the Caribou as it is less affected by wind, is faster in it and the thigh braces fit her better. She was always afraid of the length as she is 5’2" and 115 lbs but she paddled it for two weeks on a trip and she loves it now. Now I have to consider getting another Caribou as it is now her boat. We have the original Viking model not the expedition. Since I got down to 165 the Viking is behaving a lot better for me. It is a fast boat for its length, actually about the same waterline length as the Caribou.

If it is windy, you will want the skeg

– Last Updated: Jan-08-04 2:14 PM EST –

I love my pre-skeg boo, but the trade off with the high degree of manueverability is that she weathercocks quite a bit in winds under 20 knots. Since I have an Explorer as well, I always paddle the boo when out with friends using my kayaks. I've learned how to handle her in the wind, but you will find you need a lot of corrective strokes in a strong quartering or beam wind. One trick is to over compensate on your corrective stroke, then you get to take about 10 regular forward strokes before applying another strong sweep stroke overcorrecting again. Just tell newer friends not to follow you. They won't understand why your path is a large S pattern. You can also pack quite a bit more without the skeg box taking up space.

Boo with skeg
I recently sold my 10 year old boo, and the skeg was great in winds. However, if the no skeg version is a great deal, I would not pass it up. The boat is managealbe without using the skeg, just requires more corective strokes in windy conditions.

Without skeg…
it can be a bit squirrelly in a following sea.

Ok … advice much appreciated…
Thanks again. Tommorrow I paddle both boats. ( S.Florida… we can do that this time of year )Hopefully will click with the boat.

Tough question

– Last Updated: Jan-08-04 9:53 PM EST –

I love my Caribou but I do use the skeg a lot. Not that it weathercocks badly or anything, but it's just nice to have.

It would be a very tough decision to get a bou without a skeg. I think you could paddle one without the skeg and be comfortable in it in most conditions. If it was a really good price I think I'd go for it. You can always sell it if you find you don't like it.

It's a sweet boat with good speed, nice handling and it leans and rolls very well. In tough conditions you'll find yourself out in the front of the pack taking on big water with a smile on your face. The only drawback of this boat is the crown in the aft deck, it's hard to do decent layback rolls. The forward deck is super low and doesn't get in the way of paddling (Greenland style). The thigh braces are excellent the seat is hard and not very comfortable but the hatches are extremely watertight.

I'm 5'8" #160 and my Bou is a 2001 model with skeg.

Not a planing hull!
Sea kayaks are not planing hulled boats, and even when surfing are in a semi-planing mode for the most part. It is a great boat!

you’ll want a skeg eventually
I’ve been on three trips with a friend in a range of conditions with his unskegged Caribou and it was a penalty for him to hold a course for a long distance compared to the rest of us. Me in an Express or Pygmy Coho and another friend in a ruddered CD Pisces.

Over a foot of waterline difference!

– Last Updated: Jan-10-04 12:52 AM EST –

That seems pretty significant to me both for turning and for speed. Caribou is documented at
search for carabou (sic)

viking is documented at:

So how often is a kayak with over one foot more waterline and hard chines easier to turn than a soft chine kayak? Not too often, in my opinion.

How often when are two kayaks of the same overall beam, and resonably common design is the one with 15 inches more waterline not significantly faster? Well this time the hard chines tend to negate the speed advantage of longer waterline but I still hold; not too often.

Tested Caribou & Viking Exped.
As expected … the Caribou awesome boat, a great fit, stable and relativ. easy to turn. However, the boat was in rougher condition than represented so I will focus on finding a nice used deal. The Viking Exped. was a sweet boat too.

Thanks for all the advice.

The Caribou Waterline is 15.1’or 15’1.2"

The Viking waterline at 165 is 14’ 8"

We have the original Viking which has a more plumb entry and less rocker. Hull design also makes a difference in turning ability.

My mistake!
Sorry, I carelessly read the qcc table. I mistook decimal places for inches. You are right the lengths are quite close. Once again sorry about my error.

Probably the turning difference is explained by my 235 pounds and the gear I carry.