I was driving past a series of shops recently, and stopped at a set of lights and looked over and there it was, my local Kayak shop. I felt it was time, given the water only five minutes down the road from me and the fact that I haven't really covered any sort of transport caught my mind. I have used kayaks before, mostly in lakes and rivers in Canada, in the Rockies.
I dropped them a line after looking over their website and I was delighted to be offered the chance to trial a couple of their models. The first is the Snapper-Pro, the fully kitted version of the Snapper.
This is a 2.7m (8'10") long ‘sit-on-top’ kayak with a range of features, including coming in a range of colours, all in their propriety 'alkatuff polyethylene' material, which holds a UV certification for maritime plastics. Pretty impressive.
The hull is deeply molded and 0.8m (2'7") a the beam. It also only weighs 18kg empty (just under 40 lbs). I lugged it out of the shop, lashed it to my vehicle (more on this later), drove it home and looked it over before taking it out on the water.
I wanted to get a closer look at the hull cross section that had been hinted at on the website. It did indeed have a very interesting profile, and I was keen to see if this unique low-drag underwater shape that provided the speed and tracking through the water without the need of a complicated rudder that they advertised.
The last kayak I had used was a "sit-inside" type, you traditionally see, and required "eskimo-roll" survival training in the event of capsizing. On the AquaYak boats, you just climb back on like a surfboard.
All along the rim of the Snapper-Pro is a safety line, a heavy cord, mounted securely to the hull by a series of hard plastic loops. There are also two drag handles, fore and aft, to assist with hauling and climbing back in, should you go over. You can see here that my feet were right up to the front of the cockpit, as I have really long legs.
It wasn't uncomfortable, but an extra few inches would have made a difference for me.
One thing that I hadn't anticipated was the scupper holes letting water into the cockpit, and right into the seat of my pants. As I say, I had anticipated getting wet, so this wasn't a problem, but just be sure that you bear this in mind. For those with shorter legs than mine, there were a series of channels in the sides to act as in-situ footrests, which was a really cool idea.
I found that I could access the center port with no difficulty, but the fore and aft ports were moslty out of reach.
You can see over my shoulder, the elastic cargo netting, which I left empty for my trails, but would fit a decent sized pack, like my Platatac light field-pack or a child quite happily (obviously, you don't put the child under the straps). You can also see the aft drag handle. Both the inter-hull cargo compartment, and the external cargo compartments in the aft and between my knees, so there is plenty of space to haul cargo, or passengers. Bear in mind the weight limits, and get your bug-out -kit waterproofed!
I had a couple of tumbles whist finding my water feet, and found that I could quickly (if not easily) haul myself back on board.
Not only did the kayak handle well, and was easy to right, haul and lug, it was sturdy and stable. I feel I could have fished happily off it (using either of the two built in rod-holders in the aft) although I would need practice to get my cast coordinated so I didn't dunk myself.
I had a real blast with this, and I think I will be trying to include more watercraft skills in the future in my planning.I also took a bunch of Contour Cam footage, and have included it below: