Hornbeck Kayak, good or not???

Hornbeck, a noted designer of small pack canoes in upstate New York is venturing into the ultralight sea kayak market. Here is a link.


What do you all think of such a product? I saw one today, the one with no bulkheads or hatches or skeg or rudder. My take on it is that the cockpit is huge (24" width), no provision for thigh braces, and the construction imo appears to thin that one could possibly break the deck trying to re-enter from a capsize. The cockpit coaming looks very fragile. I wonder even if not used in the ocean, how does one provide floatation for this boat unless add float bags, there is no provision for this. I also wonder about the strength of the joining of the two halves of the hull.

OK, I have a great deal of respect for this builder and this is perhaps a groundless negative take, so I will keep an open mind to comments here. Part of my negative take comes from similar designs, like the Kevlar Rob Roy I had that was quite allot thicker materials and weighed 35 lbs. but suffered from re-entry flexing of the deck by myself at 176 lbs.


Well it does show that it is a canoe designer;-)

quiet water designer
My concern would be the experience of the designer for true sea kayak type waters. His speciality is calm backcountry waters and not Lake Champlain.

The one that isn’t pictured sounds like it has a reduced cockpit size for a smaller person, smaller than a standard anyway. (Though not as small as I like.) The text is pretty moot on what they have for thigh braces - how postive - and no picture clarifies it. Since the forward deck is fairly high and the rear deck is flat but not what I’d call low in the one pictured, that starts mattering.

The boats are overall and inch or so wider than most newer designs of sea kayaks, and if I am reading the picture and drawings right they are all about tracking over manuverability. So they’d be probably fairly fast, but their handle in conditions probably isn’t what I’ve grown accustomed to with my Explorer LV.

In sum, they may have their place for people who do coastal paddling in more sheltered situations, want the waterline of a longer boat but still light weight, and aren’t planning on trying for a lot of off-balance work like a BCU cert. This builder is a solid performer for what they do well with the traditional Hornbeck boats

I’d love to try the 15’10" Huntress.
If I’m ever back out in NY, I’ll stop in and test paddle one. The 28" x 16" cockpit is actually a bit shorter than I like. I prefer the easier entry allowed by the 32" to 34" long cockpits, but I don’t do actual sea kayaking in big conditions, just lakes & rivers.

Please let us know your experience
Thanks and let us know. My concern is Hornbeck is a great canoe builder but may not realize the strength needed in the deck and coaming for capsize and re-entry moves. I am hoping it is tougher than it looks.


Paddlefest in May
Typically there is a paddlefest in Inlet NY in the middle of May. I have typically seen Hornbeck there. The one I saw seemed pretty sturdy. His kayaks would be great for day tripping but I like more rocker if I were to get into rougher conditions.

From memory the cockpit is small for my taste.

This was at least 5 years ago and his designs may have changed. I would expect him to have the bugs worked out of it by now.