Sorting through kayak reviews...

On the kayak review pages, kayak models are listed for a specific manufacturer and show the model name, length, and number of reviews. Is there any way to have the average rating listed as a field in that page view? I’m getting tired of having to click into each individual kayak model to see the “out of 10” rating at the top of the reviews. It would be convenient and useful for me to be able to quickly remove a model from my list of potentials by seeing a poor average rating right on the main listing of models.

The ratings are of almost no value
You’ll find that the ratings must be taken with a grain of salt. Only after reading the details within a review will you have some idea if the rating was assigned in some logical manner or not. By and large, the ratings are worthless, and therefore certainly not a shortcut to finding the right boat for you.

You are better off asking a lot of questions about what hull design will suit your needs, along with examples of such boats. Then go read about THOSE particular boats, and try to glean some useful information from the reviews (not every review contains useful information).

Trust me, I understand…
that not all reviews are useful. Also, that it’s the details within specific reviews that are more useful than the overall average rating. With that said, if I already had a list of kayaks that technically met my requirements and then was able to take a quick glance at the list of models reviewed on, I could very easily knock some low-hanging fruit off my large list of potentials. For example, if there are kayaks with at least 20+ posted reviews, and the average rating is 6 out of 10 (or lower), then that would probably be a good sign that the specific kayak is not well thought of or has some major issues. I would waste no more of my time investigating that kayak.

Or maybe I’d just like to skim through all the different models by manufacturer. If I see a particular model that rates an average of 9 out of 10 with 30+ reviews posted, I would probably be intrigued and want to read why everyone likes it so much.

One man’s 10 …
I pretty much agree with what guideboat guy said. If you toss out any boat that has a negative review, you’re going to end up with a very short list and it will probably be useless. Conversely, you might find some boats that are very highly rated in the reviews, but it’s all relative to the reviewer’s experience, priorities and point of view.

Sometimes a reviewer will have a very specific comment that is instructive, but even then you have to allow for personal taste.

The 9s and 10s are beginner boats
reviewed by those with no experience.

review value

– Last Updated: Dec-02-14 7:33 PM EST –

There seems to be a consensus that the ratings are often meaningless. But if you can discern that a reviewer is experienced at your kind of kayaking and is not biased because a boat is his/her new baby, the review will likely have worth.

The average rating, as the original poster suggests, may become semi-useful if the number of reviews is large - but even then, it can be skewed toward a misleading value. The sample sizes are rarely large.

Another thing to keep in mind
is that manufacturers sometimes make changes from year to year. The seat and backband may be different or hardware might be added, i.e. a skeg. Thus the boat you test paddle may not be exactly the same boat you read about.

But they are interesting to read and the ones written by experienced paddlers are easy to recognize. Those are the ones I pay attention to.

Review guide?
Too bad there wasn’t some sort of guide out there that could help reviewers better determine a proper rating. I agree, reading through many reviews, I see 9s and 10s piled one on top of another. And then, almost invariably, the actual review begins with, “This was my first kayak…”

It would be useful if there was some type of ratings suggestion/guideline that reviewers could refer to in order to help better place a ratings value on their kayak. Something akin to the “Vehicle Condition” guides that or use when you appraise the value of your used car. You know, if your car is in “exceptional mechanical, exterior and interior condition; requires no reconditioning,” then you rate it as “Outstanding.” Or, conversely, if your car has “several mechanical and/or cosmetic problems requiring significant repairs,” then you rate it as “Rough.”

Or maybe, instead of just a single 1-10 overall rating, there can be multiple qualities that you can rate your kayak on, and they all get weighted to calculate a final average rating. I don’t know, it sounds like it might make the rating system too complex. But then again, if the rating system actually makes you stop and truly ponder your kayak, there might be a down-tick in these “I’m new to kayaking and this is my very first kayak, and I didn’t tip it over on my first paddle. So, I’m giving it a 10 out of 10” ratings!

Don’t be dissuaded from…
a low number of reviews. One of my boats (my favorite) is an Artisan Millennium by Kajaksport. There aren’t that many in the US, hence the few reviews and are hard to find on the used boat market. But for a guy my size and weight, 6’ 190 lbs, my style of paddling, I can’t help but give it a 10 out of 10!

value of ratings
I agree with most of the others: the ratings are a poor reflection of the actual value and traits of any kayak. In fact I suspect there is almost an inverse proportion to it. The majority of new kayaks purchased are going to be the cheapest, and they are going to be first time buys. Therefore the ratings are likely to be lots of 9’s and 10’s, assigned by dazzled neophytes (as in "I just had sex for the first time and it was so great, I can’t imagine it could ever be better!)

At the other end of the purchasing spectrum will be higher end, more costly boats, which are typically going to be evaluated by experienced paddlers with more discriminating judgement (also, likely more picky). An advanced kayaker with very precise personal expectations of certain performance characteristics may be far more critical of an outstanding boat and award it an 8 or even a 7.

There is utility in some reviews with specific data, but certainly not in the majority. Do we, like some other rating sites, need ratings for the reviews themselves? I think that complicates matters more than necessary.

Our voluntary ratings here are, unfortunately, almost entirely subjective. You’ll find more objective information in archives of magazines like Sea Kayak and Canoe and Kayak.

Sea Kayaker

– Last Updated: Dec-03-14 1:09 AM EST –

the defuncked magazine is online with road tests. Reading thru several either online or at the Library, and you may check availability online from the Library's website...may educate on testing

One problem could be testers are inexperienced, inarticulate, lacking a broad overview of kayak or canoe design and use.

To wit, significant individual shortcomings are portrayed as kayak/canoe design problems.

For example, I paddle a Current Designs Solstice Titan reviewed as ' blown off course by wind.' I review 'holds course, stable in wind.' The difference may be the design effectively responds to weight loadings fore and aft for different conditions. The hull is tune able for conditions, sensitive to paddler intelligence.

The ability to sift thru information then write/communicate about this experience is not a common skill.

Why did I ignore 'reviews' ? CD's reputation within market conditions including Sea Kayaker reviews of CD hulls.

You are 'on your own' reading reviews written by dullitants. Each review may have 75% good information with 25% off base. Sea Kayaker reviews composted 3-4 reviewer opinions varying in opinion. The more radical a design or departure from 'normal market acceptance,' more variation of opinion.