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Innovations in boat styles, the latest in the lightest, toughest materials, and advances in components and accessories all make for a cascade of new kayaks and canoes this year. Making up a large part of the new flow of products are "recreational" boats. These are well suited for paddlers taking cruises around a protected bay, a quiet lake, slow-moving river or reed-lined pond. We've highlighted a selection of recreational kayaks and canoes appropriate for relaxing day trips or even an adventurous overnighter.
1 CURRENT DESIGNS KESTREL 140 KAYAK
Current Designs follows its highly successful introduction of the Kestrel 120 with a slightly better-tracking, higher-volume version in the Kestrel 140. Two feet longer than the 120, the Kestrel 140 is offered in the company's proprietary thermoformed composite system (TCS) material. Thermoformed boats offer the light weight of composite boats (fiberglass or Kevlar laminations) with the durability of rotomolded boats. Most manufacturers offer thermoform boats under different names.
Good for casual, short distance paddling and even an overnighter, the Kestrel provides highly efficient paddling and tracking performance and will appeal to a wide range of paddlers. It has generous gear storage and is ideal for fishing, photography and other activities requiring a stable platform.
Key features of the Kestrel 140 include its width (26 inches) and weight (43 pounds), an ample cockpit, and deck riggings that rival most sea-touring boats. With an MSRP of $1499, it's priced between the rotomolded and composite boats. It's available with a rudder for $1649. For more information: 507/454-5430; cdkayak.com.
2 DAGGER SPECTER 14.0 KAYAK
Classified as a "touring" kayak, the Specter 14.0 from Dagger has a narrow beam (24.25 inches) that would tend to place it in the casual-touring class of boats. The Specter 14.0 is a shorter version of the Specter 15.5 day touring kayak introduced last year that featured Dagger's version of thermoform called Airalite.
The Specter 14.0 features flush-deck hatches, rudder and deck rigging--all the components you would expect on a touring boat. With all these additional features, the Specter weighs 58 pounds, and retails for about $1099.
The Specter should perform well as a casual or touring boat. Its narrow design will give its paddler an edge on those longer paddling adventures with good tracking and sleeker edge turns. This could be a good boat for younger, but serious, paddlers just starting out. For more information: 800/433-1969; dagger.com.
3 EPIC RECREATIONAL GP KAYAK
This is Olympic kayaking gold medalist Greg Barton's offering from his Epic Kayak Company. With the help of Oscar Chalupsky, a 10-time World Ocean Champion kayaker, Epic created a recreational version of its serious performance sea …