Current Designs Kestrel 120

hello, new here and new at Kayaking, but have done a lot of research before buying my first boat. As of now I have an eye on a Kestrel 120 from current designs.

I want to navigate a calm rivers, small lakes, and some day tripping/camping on small islands inside lakes. No rapids, no rushing rivers, no oceans or big lake cross country stuff(not yet)

However I want a lot more than a typical rec boat that is more of a toy than a real kayak. I want a true kayak feel and something more advanced than a standard rec kayak. I want a good tracking, fairly quick and smooth paddle across lakes. Also a boat that I won’t get bored of within a few outings. I want to build up some skills in it before I decide to go more advanced.

So I’m looking at a Kestrel 120 and I like the look, smoothness of the hull, great seat, a bit longer than most rec kayaks and I have heard it’s a great all purpose boat that tracks great and accelerates nicely.

So my question is… Am I on the right track and should be looking at this boat? I know it’s a rec boat, but seems more advanced and higher performance.

So yes, 30 mile day trips and overnight camping, plus calmer river excursions as well as moderate fitness runs, is what I am looking at. Is the Kestrel 120 a pretty good choice?

Thanks so much…I look forward to speaking with you.


Which one?
The RM or the composite? The RM has one hatch. The composite, two.

Rm version
Oh the RM from a price stand point. Dicks sporting here has a sale going on all this week. 725.00 for the RM version.


While looking at Current Design boats add this one to your list.

Read the reviews here on this site.

Good Luck and enjoy!

I agree with HiBob, take a look at Current Designs Whistler, Breeze and Pachena (discontinued, but come up used). These are all good light touring boats that will work well for what you want. Definitely look at used boats, you can get a used composite boat for the cost of new poly.

your metrics

– Last Updated: May-22-16 12:39 PM EST –

What's your height and weight? That has a lot of bearing on what size boat is best for you. And will you potentially be paddling with other people in longer boats?

I won one several years ago.
And was going to sell it… until I paddled it, I still have it.

It is a very nice rec boat but still a rec boat with no forward bulkhead. For 30mi/day I would at least look at a 140R for not much more $$.

I was with you until…
…you mentioned 30 mile trips. That’s a fair distance in a rec boat and as good as a Kestrel is, I would also point you to a Whistler, Breeze or RM Vision. With the slightly longer and narrower hull you’ll lose just a tiny bit of initial stability but gain a lot in terms of tracking and speed.

My wife and I have been paddling CD Visions for the last 3 years on our local calm lakes and bays and we’ve been very happy with them.

longer, at least 2 hatches
Most folks with your rather specific aspirations would ultimately be happier with a significantly longer kayak with at least two hatches and maybe a day hatch. A kayak with narrow beam will feel tippy at first, but soon feel comfortable. On the other hand, long, wide kayaks tend to quickly feel like barges.

Probably the best advice is to rent and take lessons from a competent sea kayak outfit. You’ll quickly learn what you think you really want and actually save money by not buying the wrong boat. Next, buy a well cared for used kayak, not new. If you get hooked, the grim fact is that this will not be your first kayak. Most sea kayak addicts work their way through a series of kayaks to arrive at a set of several kayaks.

Traditional Question: Why do you have 3 kayaks?

Answer: Because I sold my other one.

In my own case, I ended up with a 17’x22” kevlar kayak (only one!) as I bumped my way up the used kayak chain. Being both small, puny, and elderly this $1600 used kayak is perfect for me. Perhaps in a few years I’ll get a wooden kayak to use for my funeral pyre.

these these still made in China that they had problems with?

The composite ones…
…(fiberglass and polyaramid) are Made in China, but I’ve certainly had no problems with our two Visions.

The rotomolded ones are all USA made.

My weight
I’m 5’ 7" and 180 pounds. I need to lose a few, but I’m still a medium size dude I guess. I’m also 41 years old.

Looking used
I read all the responses and thank you for inspiring me to look for a longer, more efficient rig. Also I am seriously looking at used boats right now and found some really nice ones in my area. I actually called about a Perception Carolina with a rudder in excellent shape for 700.00 Looks to be a fairly long boat with lots of storage spaces.

Next thing is sizing it up and deciding if it’s too big.

Renting is another option I am going to explore. This is a large amount of money I want the right boat.


bang for the buck is used. Patience will give you a good reward. 14-15 foot minimum for your plans listed.

Do you want to work on rolling?
Hard to tell from what you say about skills. If the answer is yes, skinnier and smaller cockpit than something like the Carolina would make that a lot easier.

If rolling is not on your list, cockpit sizing and fit is less important.

Carolina 14.5 Vs Whistler
I owned both - Carolina plastic was inferior to Whislter. Outfitting was inferior as was the stability.

So while they may appear similar I much prefer the CD.

My 2 cents

I own the Kestrel120 and love it…but, I know I would love the Kestrel 140 or the Vision more , a year from now you will be glad you spent the extra $200-$300. Or do that anyway and keep the 120 for friends and family next year.