Went to the store today and dry tested both of these boats. I will wet test this weekend and then make up my mind. I was initially set on the Manitou Sport, but I can get the Kestrel 120 for only $50 more and it has a very nice look. The Sport seems to fit around me better - the cockpit is smaller - I have to wiggle to get in, but okay once I’m sitting (Does anyone know if this is really necessary?). As an option, I was thinking I could fit the Kestrel with thigh pads. I will be using the kayak for some small lake fishing/paddling (80%) and for floating a couple of rivers (20%). I have read the reviews on this site and both seem to be rated well. Does anyone have any comments good or bad on either of these boats. Is there anyone out there that can compare these two or recommend one over the other?
The “wet tests” will probably…
…help you more at this point than we can. After all, it’s you who will be paddling the boat of your choice, and not us!
Concerning the cockpit outfitting…
You should be able to customize the fit of just about any boat; from minor additions/adjustments to ripping out everything and starting over from scratch. It does help to start with a boat that fits you “generally well”, but I’ve hardly ever come across a stock cockpit and paddler combination that couldn’t benefit from a bit of custom outfitting. Make it yours!
When I first started boating I looked at the Manitou and the Kestrel. Ended up with the Kestrel because of better outfitting (paddle parks, reflective deck lines, kajak sport hatch cover, lot’s of deck rigging AND it’s a fast little sucker on the water. I was able to keep up with the big boats for most quiet water trips. The Kestrel cockpit is larger though and does not translate to anything but a rec. boat feel in my opinion. The seat was comfy for me giving the whole paddling experience a very pleasant feel. Think hard about your future paddling aspirations…if you think you’re going to go bigger one day…I’d make argument that NOW is the time.
I’ll second that vote…
I bought a Manitou last summer as my first boat. Although I really like it, I’m already wanting a larger boat.
keep in mind
he’s asking about the Manitou Sport, which is different from the Manitou. (I believe the Manitou Sport is shorter and wider.)
I have a Manitou and like it very much, but based on his specific question, I’d say get the Kestrel.
I recently purchased a Kestrel 120, and am more impressed with it each time I use it. I paddle almost exclusively on lakes and quiet ocean shorelines. It’s much faster than my hubby’s somewhat wider boat, and I find it handles really easily for me, pretty much a beginner. I wouldn’t want a smaller cockpit - I’m not big, but I find the bigger cockpit easier to get in and out of. If you get one, be sure to get a miniskirt with it - really helps with paddle drips in the larger cockpit. Enjoy!