Full disclosure, I’m not a professional kayak reviewer, in fact, when I took the new Paddling Perfection Adventurer for a test paddle it was the first time I had been in a sea kayak since the KASK forum earlier in the year.
When I picked up the Paddling Perfection Adventurer demo boat just after Christmas I was pleasantly surprised at how light it was, at 20 kg it’s one of the lighter boats on the market and with its low back deck, it looked like it would be fun to paddle and roll. It’s also quite a short boat, at 4.3 metres in length with a 60 cm beam it’s the same length as many fishing kayaks. Made of thermoformed plastic like the Barracuda boats, the Adventurer feels reassuringly stiff.
The fit-out on the demo boat was really good, with a large oval Kajak Sport hatch covers on the rear hatch and a 20 cm Kajak Sport round hatch on the front with a small 10cm day hatch in the centre of the cockpit at the front. It also has the same deck fittings and rudder that comes on my Reval Midi with a single rope to raise and lower it. In addition to the quality of the fittings, the kayak has a decent set of bunnies over the cockpit for securing items in easy reach and grab lines fore and aft of the cockpit which made getting in after a wet exit easy.
The one quirk I did notice is that the cockpit coaming is smaller than the rest of my boats, it’s a similar length but slightly narrower than those typically found on QK and other boats. This did mean that my normal skirt was a bit of a loose fit, it was OK when I was rolling the Adventurer in the pool, but I wasn’t comfortable taking it surfing with the skirt being so loose. Luckily I have a slightly smaller skirt that the kids use which fitted a bit better even if it was a tighter squeeze for me.
The Adventurer uses the same hull as the Star Kayaks S14 which I have paddled a few times at KASK forums, the first time when it was a prototype boat and last year in its finished form. I really liked the handling of the S14, for a short boat it had good speed and manoeuvrability, but I just couldn’t seem to get comfortable in the Star modern layout, so I was really looking forward to the Adventurer which takes this hull and marries it to a traditional sea kayak deck. I was not disappointed.
The narrow cockpit coaming does make it feel like a tight squeeze to get into the boat, but once you’re in the cockpit is roomy and comfortable. The foot pegs are easily adjustable and the rudder toe is activated. One nice feature is that the rudder cables are self-adjusting which makes this a great boat for families where it will be used by different people. I’m 185 cm and there was plenty of adjustment left in the foot pegs and plenty of room between my feet and the front bulkhead. The day hatch is easily accessible from the cockpit although it is a bit small for lunch, it will fit a small sunscreen and a hat as well as your mobile and other small items you may want on the water. Personally, I would prefer the hatch to be a bit deeper so that it would fit a bit more into it, but it was useful as a place to put my sunnies and hat when I was surfing and rolling.
On flat water the Adventurer is nimble and with the rudder down it tracks well, even in my unfit state I managed good speed and made quick work crossing the Raglan Harbour so that I could play in the rock formations on the other side. Lifting the rudder, the Adventurer turns on a dime, responding well to edging and bow rudders to speed turns around the rocks, this is a boat that feels made for rock gardening nimbly shooting through chutes and turning in tight gaps. The incoming tide meant that there was some wave action to make it a little more interesting.
After I had finished playing around the rocks I headed for the harbour mouth to do a bit of surfing on the Raglan bar. Here the short length proved to be both an asset and a liability. With a strong incoming tide, the short length meant that I had to work harder to make any headway against the current, but once I made it through the chop and surf it was quick to turn and got up to speed with relative ease and surfed the following seas really well. In order to get out to the surf zone I took the Adventurer right through the middle of the bar, the sea was choppy with waves coming from all directions although no bigger than about 70 cm, the Adventurer handled these seas really well, never feeling like it was going to tip me out or submarine even when waves were breaking over the bow. In the surf line, the boat was great fun, quick to turn around to catch a wave, the kayak surfed well in the relatively small conditions and was a lot of fun.
After about an hour and a half of this, I headed back to the car, with a following sea I made really good time back to the boat ramp and here my tired muscles really appreciated the light weight of this boat as I carried it one-handed up the beach and got it up onto the car with a minimum of fuss.
Before I took the Adventurer out to Raglan I did put it through a rolling session in the pool where I did a series of rolls on both sides. The boat rolls well, although the roomy cockpit is a bit too roomy for my liking, I spent the latter half of the session working out how I would add some padding to make me fit better. This isn’t a criticism of the Adventurer however it’s more a comment on how I like my kayaks to fit, something that’s extremely personal.
I didn’t get the opportunity to take the Adventurer on an overnight trip and I was originally a little worried that a small boat like the Adventurer wouldn’t have the load-carrying capacity needed to be a useful overnight or multiday boat. So to test this I did a test pack for an overnight trip and the hatches proved to be extremely roomy, the rear hatch, in particular, is cavernous, perhaps not as large as the Beachcomber but as big as many of the larger boats out there.
The Adventurer is a great addition to the national fleet and could be a great addition to your fleet if you’re looking for a lightweight multipurpose boat. It is stable enough that beginners will like it, but versatile enough that experienced paddlers will enjoy it. It handles well and really wants you to expand your paddle stroke repertoire to get the full benefit of its nimble hull.
The Adventurer is nippy enough to keep up with your friends when you’re out on a day paddle and roomy enough that you can take those extra comforts with you that make overnight kayak camping so much fun.
While I was paddling the Adventurer I came up with the perfect tagline for the boat “The heart of an S14 and the soul of a sea kayak.” And that’s what the Adventurer is, a great sea kayak that you should try and take for a paddle sometime soon.
About the reviewer:
Height 185 cm
Weight 94 kg
Normally paddles: Tahe Marine Reval Midi rudderless