Kestrel 140 'yak advice, Pilgrims

-- Last Updated: Sep-06-09 12:17 PM EST --

Gadzooks, (Deezclaimer - in no way do ah' want a 'yak or even give a hoot an' a hollar about dem thaar evil demon bilgewater gnats), but... ah' now gots ta ask ye knowledgeabull 'yakers for some o' yer thoughts on de CD Kestrel 140. All ah' ever paddled wuz de roto Kestrel 120 - so wat do ah' know!

See, here's de story... me friend's (yup, she be a 'yaker - FER NOW) gots her kind heart set on a Current Designs composite (needs light weight) Kestrel 140 which ah' kin probably git it at "pro deal" cost fer her - so cost be not a real serious problem. She will be a'paddlin' mostly flatwater an' easy river stuff. She be about 5'7" an' about 120 lbs. wit a few off an' on years experience in an Old Town Loon 120.

Wat yer reckon', Pilgrims? Decent boat? Crappy boat? Try ta talk her out of it? Will try ta go ta Jersey Paddler an' demo sometime soon. Thanky kindly.

(De jury still be out about me carrin' her cooler.)

Fat Elmo

Why the 140 and not the 120?
At her size, the 140 probably won’t have any advangage over the 120 and is about six pounds heavier.

Unfortunately, I haven’t paddled either the 120 or the 140, but would like to.

I’ve never paddled one,but they
look great. I want the 160.

I have one, paddled it for 3 years now, almost every weekend and some weekdays. Responsive, stable, all around great boat, especially for starter. It is a “can-do” boat!

Only recently did I purchase a CD Cypress for open water paddling LOVE it too!

Suggest you get her the boat!


it floats.
I spent about 6 hours in a 140 last summer. I’m 6’2"/180 lbs and felt lost in the cockpit! It took near seam splitting angles to get my (long) legs spread enough to get the knees under something. All in all a very uncomfortable ride for me.

The rear hatch leaked.

I didn’t find it much fun to paddle either, it’s slow kinda barge like. Tracking was so so, edged turning was so so. Primaray stability is good and it floats.

Paddled a few of the 14’ last year. The Necky Manitou 14 was the best of what I tried though it’s small for me to be comfortable in.


Dear Sir,

– Last Updated: Sep-06-09 10:25 PM EST –

Preamble: I prefer to communicate with you in my own dialect, which happens to be the standard vernacular. I am setting aside my linguistic sensibilities in favor of rendering assistance.

I owned the Kestrel 140 in thermoform (no longer being made but there are still some used boats to be had). Here are my observations:

The Kestrel 140 is a recreational boat. A sleeker-than-most rec boat, but still definitely a rec boat. The 26" width is unfortunate as it would have been stable enough at 24".

The cockpit is 18.5" x 38". That's big enough to fit you and your girlfriend together, plus any currently existing little Elmos.

The Kestrel is a GREAT recreational boat, beyond doubt one of the best rec boats out there. Attractive with its fine ends and one composite hatch cover. Its competitor would be the Eddyline Equinox, but the Kestrel paddles better even though it's an inch wider. It gets up to speed quickly and has very good glide. Really a pleasure to paddle, especially with a nice light paddle.

In other words, the Kestrel paddles quite a bit better than one would expect for such a wide, short boat.

So here's the problem: In my opinion the boat is too wide and the cockpit is too large for your svelte ladyfriend. Yes, it would be a nice step up from the Loon 120 (matter of fact I had one of those too). But what's the use of stepping up to a boat that doesn't really fit her? The Kestrel was definitely made for a large person. A 250-pounder would be comfortable in the Kestrel. In fact I purchased my Kestrel from a guy who weighed 250 to 300 pounds. Now, I'm not as narrow as your friend, and the Kestrel cockpit was too large for me, prompting me to dump it.

I guess it comes down to how you want to define a good fit: (a) a boat that fits the paddler's body type well, or (b) one that fits the paddler's paddling needs well. The Kestrel might do (b) but not (a) for your friend. Wouldn't it be best to seek a kayak that does both (a) and (b)?

I think the step up to 14' is a good idea. There are better choices for your friend in that length. In Current Designs I suggest the Vision 140 (cockpit 17.25" x 35.25"). She would need to adapt to the 12" depth (coming from the Loon). If she wants to consider a bigger step up, my suggestions would be the Eddyline Journey (15.5') or the Fathom (16.5). The Journey's cockpit is too large for her for sea kayaking, but she might like the cockpit for lakes and rivers.

My vote on the Kestrel: NO.

Yes, the Kestrel 140 is a REC Boat…
I am no where near 200+ lbs although I am only 5’4" tall. The Kestrel provided the stabilty and manuverablity,the comfort and confidence I needed to want learn more. Its great for rivers and lakes. I paddled mine in everything from twisty turning spring runs to open flat water Gulf of Mexico paddling. I even paddled on a lake with 20mph winds, playing in the waves.

Will it keep up with the longer sleeker boats? no

Is it recommended for ocean or open water paddling? no

When I started I wanted more room and was not comfortable with the “snug” feeling of a lot of other cockpits. Now I am learning a whole new set of skills with a sleeker, snugger boat. But it was my Kestrel that got me this far. If its fun to paddle, you’ll want to paddle more. My Kestrel gave me that desire.

Mine was thermoformed as well. The boat was comfortable and I could carry it myself. I did replace the back hatch cover. The newer ones have much better covers than the older ones.

The large cockpit makes it easy to get in and out. This boat gave me the starting skills and the confidence to “progress”.

I suggest that your lady try one. If she likes it great! If not, well as stated above there are many very nice alternatives.

But it is a fine boat. I am keeping mine and still use it for the tight twisting streams, paddles where there are lots of blow downs to go over, or just for a change of pace.

Its great to have so many choices, but as for me I’m glad my Kestrel is in our mini “fleet”.


have to agree

– Last Updated: Sep-08-09 1:07 PM EST –

Putting a 120-pound paddler in a boat that big does not sound like a happy combination. My petite wife is a much happier paddler since she found a boat that fits properly. Your friend may not feel small because she's 5'7", but her weight puts her firmly in the "smaller paddler" size range. The Vision 120 or 130 would be a better match.

There are other options in the same weight range: Perception Tribute 12 ,Hurricane Tampico 135S, Impex Mystic, and others.

A suggestion

– Last Updated: Sep-07-09 3:43 PM EST –

No input from me on the Kestrel, unfortunately. The Vision series looks good - it sounds like the Vision 120 or 130 would be the right one for her weight. If you're going to the Jersey Paddler anyway, I suggest she demo an Epic GPX - it might be a good fit and it's a sweet boat.

Find a Vermont Canoe Tupper to demo,
have her pick it up, have her paddle it, rest your case.