Sunday, April 10, 2011

Old Town Vapor 10XT kayak review

I went to the New England Paddlesports show last weekend looking to pick up some safely gear and maybe a new pair of water shoes and ended up coming home with a new kayak.  When I was first looking at kayaks about a year ago I considered the Vapor 10 but I really wanted something that would provide better performance so I went with the Necky Manitou Sport.  At the time I considered getting two kayaks but not knowing how much my wife and daughter would want to come along we decided against it.  When I saw the Vapor 10XT at the show for under $400 I really couldn't pass it up.

In order to make kayaking with my daughter work I need a kayak with a large cockpit, the Vapor 10 XT fits the bill with an opening of 19.5" x 48".  This will allow my daughter to sit forward in the cockpit and I can paddle behind her.  This is something I am unable to do in my Necky.  At 10 feet the kayak also fits in the back of my Dodge Caravan so no need to purchase another kayak rack to get to and from the water.

The base model of this kayak is the Vapor 10, additional features on the XT include a more comfortable seat, a hatch for the rear compartment and an e-pad storage space.

On the water the Vapor 10XT performed pretty much as I expected.  It is a short wide rec kayak so it is not going to win any speed records.  But is did track pretty well compared to my Necky which is a foot longer.  At 28.5" wide the kayak is very stable and the short length make it very maneuverable.  The seat is just OK, I was out on the water for a little over an hour today and I had to reposition myself quite a bit to stay comfortable.  I might need to take along and extra cushion for longer trips. 

If I was buying a new kayak for myself this would not have been my first choice but for getting my wife and daughter out on the water with me for those lazy spring and summer days the Vapor XT is going to be just perfect. 

Damn Disks

Anyone with a bit of interest in the Merrimack river has read about the sewerage treatment plant in Hooksett, New Hampshire that released 4 - 8 million bacteria collecting disks into the Merrimack River on March 7th. The disks have deposited themselves along the shoreline of the Merrimack all the way through New Hampshire and Massachusetts to the coast. Some of them are turning up as far away as Cape Cod. Volunteers have been lining up to clean them up but there still seems to be a question of who is going to pay.

This weekend I took a little walk down to the Merrimack where I usually launch my kayak in Methuen and as soon as I looked down the disk in the picture above was staring back at me. It was pretty muddy down there so I didn't perform full survey of the beach but I am willing to bet I would have found a lot more had I looked. I have a feeling we are going to be finding these disks washing up on the shores for years to come.

The experts say there is no more bacteria on these disks that regular trash you would find in the river but they recommend using plastic gloves when handling them and if your skin does come in contact with the disks you should wash your hands for 20 seconds.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Malone Seawing Stinger Combo Kayak Rack Review

One of my goals for the kayaking season was to get a good kayak rack system to upgrade the foam blocks and straps that I have been using.  I started pricing out systems for my car from Thule and Yakima but due to the fact that the car has a bare roof, I was looking at spending a minimum of $600 to get the car set up.  A bit our of my budget to say the least. 

My other option was to pick up a rack for my Dodge Caravan.  But I immediately encountered two issues:

1. The caravan is so tall that lifting a kayak on top is impossible.
2.  None of the manufacturers seemed to offer a rack that fit on the wide Caravan factory cross bars.

After a bit of reasearch I found the Malone website and their Seawing Stinger combo kayak rack.   This rack meets all my needs; it is under $200, it has a lift assist option and most importantly it fits on my Caravan.  Just to be sure of the fit I emailed Malone, a tech got right back to me and assured me that the rack would fit on the Caravan cross bars.

I  installed the rack a few weeks ago and have had the opportunity to use it a few times and I have to say I am pretty happy with this system.  The rack installs onto the cross bars without tools which makes it very easy to install but also makes it so you can't get the rack at tighted down as you would if you were using tools.  This seems to be mostly an issue with the rear rack that has the mounting plate for the lift assist.  Although I know it is attached securely it does have a bit of back and forth wiggle.  Loading  the kayak is very easy, just lift the front of the kayak onto the list assist extention and slide the kayak onto the racks.  This system is definitely going to make it easier for me to get to and from the water and also cut down on my anxiety when driving 65 mph on the highway with my kayak on the roof.
Below is a video demo of the Seawing Stinger rack from Malone

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Do It Yourself Kayak Rack

These little ladder hangers are a great cheap solution if you are looking to hang a kayak on the wall.  I have seen similar products sold at REI and EMS for over $100.  They come with all mounting hardware and foam padding to protect your kayak.  Just screw them into a stud and you are good to go for around $10.  They are rated at 50 pounds each so I am pretty sure you can use them with just about any kayak.  They are also sold at Home Depot under the product name: Everbilt Heavy Duty Arm Hangers.  I just had to pick up another pair of these since I bought another kayak at the New England Paddlesports show last weekend.  I will post about my new boat once I get to take it out for a test run.  Just itching to get back in the water.

I couple pics below of my boats resting on their racks waiting anxiously for their next trip.