After reading the previously posted discussions about the Carolina vs. Tsunamis in the 14-foot range, I’m wondering what paddlers think about the Kestrel 140 by Current Designs. I’m waiting for the snow to quit here so I can try them out in person, but would like to do some research while I wait. If it helps, I’m 6 foot and 220 pounds and am just getting back into kayak paddling after about 8 years. I paddled whitewater in an old Corsica for a couple years and have paddled canoes for years as well. I’m looking for a boat to take on short camping trips (two to three days)mostly on lakes, but will also be on mild (up to class 2)rivers. I see in the reviews of the 14-footers complaining about speed, but I really want to keep the weight and length down. I’m willing to give up a bit of speed. Thanks for any advice.
I’m still just a rookie, but…
....my first 2 years of paddling has all been done in my 140. I have no experience with the other boats so my opinion is limited. What I CAN tell you is I'm 6'2"....250lbs....with thick and long legs. I did about 500 miles last year and about 80 so far this year...mainly on slower rivers and a few large lakes. I rivercamp every 3 weeks or so and have never had a problem loading up enough gear for a 2 to 3 day outing. I've also hit the class I and II rapids along these routes with no problems. For me...the Kestrel 140 was and still is the perfect starter boat.
As far as SPEED....I'm not in a race against life or time so I'm in no hurry to begin with. However, and maybe it's just me, but I FLY by others at times and I'm hardly paddling. Unless you wish to imitate a speeding bullet....the 140 is PLENTY fast if your paddle skills are tuned-up.
The only place I feel uncomfortable taking my 140 is on a few of my local inland seas. The 140 is not a sea kayak and I've been told that although it would work in very calm conditions.....it would not be in my best interest to go out to the middle of a wave infested "inland sea". When I upgrade next year....I'm STILL sticking with Current Designs.
I have demo’d the 140
And I thought it was a fun little boat. I am 5’10" and 250 lbs, and it fit well and had a little jump to it. I also used it for the kayak leg of a triathlon (3.5 miles) and I came in 6th out of about 21 competitors.
I have not paddle either of the other two boats you have listed.
Had one for a few months
I bought a demo Kestrel 140 in poly in January.
I got it as a winter paddling boat because I was concerned that my folder would get damaged by the shore ice and fast floating debris. It has a rudder, but I have not had a chance to use it yet.
I took it out on Mississippi about 6 times since I bought it. I have a Siena minivan, and the Kestrel is easy to cartop without any additional help.
Paddling-wise, it is pretty stable and tracks well. I have no objective speed measurements, other than to say that taking it against the current is not very energy-intensive, even with river flowing fast with all the melting-snow run-off. The seat is comfortable, although with a high seatback putting on a sprayskirt can be a chore, especially in a drysuit. Foot rests are decent and easy to adjust. Longer cockpit is a plus for me, and it does have a resemblance of thigh pads. Overall, a comfy boat to paddle.
Hatchs are easy to get to, and rear hatch is large. I like the poly cap on top of the front hatch. It does tend to reduce water and ice accumulation when the front gets swamped. I did not get to haul anything other than the floatbags, so cannot say how much gear will fit inside. I swamped the boat once, and the compartments stayed dry.
The deck is well outfitted, but the perimeter line appears just too thin. Deck line eyelets are molded, and not screwed on to the deck like in other boats. I do not know whether this makes a difference.
BTW, I’m 5’6" and about 200lbs (mostly at the shoulders )
We have one made of the ‘TCS’ plastic, if I have the name right. It’s very light, and seems quite tough.
My wife paddles it mostly, but we’ve traded boats from time to time.
I find the build quality excellent. The ‘tcs’ plastic has held up well to a year and a half of going over logs and a few nasty rocks. We get out almost weekly for day trips, and occasional longer outings.
Very comfortable seat, and can keep up with the pack reasonably well.
She can keep up with my narrower, longer, Necky, but we aren’t racing, just moving along nicely.
This boat could fit a wide range of paddlers well, although it does not offer a tight fit for rolling or bracing.
Very good for day and weekend touring on rivers, not so good for big water.
thanks for advice
Thanks for the advice. I think it will mostly come down to trying them out, it’s just hard to wait. I’m anxious to get out on the water in a new boat, but they are predicting more snow in the next few days. The soonest paddle event near here where I can try some boats isn’t until May 11.
Zoar Sport is another nice 14 foot boat to think about. I paddled my first two years in one and liked it a lot. It has a rudder and high initial stability. I am 6’2" 200lbs. and was very comfortable in it. It wasn’t very fast or too nimble but was a very comfortable, easy boat.