Touring sit-on-tops, the Heritage EXPEDITION MK II - Cobra EXPEDITION - Ocean Kayak SCUPPER PRO - Islander VENTURA - Heritage NOMAD II (photo at link) were put to the test in our fall wilderness trip Twenty-nine Mile Paddle on the Bog River Flow to Low's Lake Adirondack Park, New York
Please note: There is no perfect kayak out there as every kayaker has different needs and preferences. Do further research on any kayak purchase. However, these reviews are not paid for; so they are honest expressions of the paddler, based on their previous experience. You can meet the reviewers by clicking here. We appreciate those manufacturers who have supported this effort. Links to their websites are unsolicited and provided strictly for the convenience of our visitors.
Heritage's EXPEDITION MKII
17' 4' long, 26" wide,
weighs 68 lbs.,
carrying capacity 310 lbs.,
2 hatches, tested w/o rudder option.
Mike: The comfortable cockpit and seat makes it easy to paddle and get power. Seat angle and cockpit is really nice. I like the console area, it is a good place for small cargo bag. The Heritage Expedition is a Very Dry Boat! It also tracks well and turns well (w/lean) but the nose and tail seem to catch wind. I think that feature would be good for ocean paddling and a heavy load may help to counter that feeling. It didn't need a rudder despite its length. The deck and bungie cords are good for deck bags. It has a fair loading capacity and the hatches are OK, not bad, but not great. I like the look of kayak even the upswept bow and stern.
Athena: I cursed the small hatches while packing the boat, but felt it was all worth the effort once I was out on the water. It is swift, and has an easy glide. The Heritage turns effortlessly. It is comfortable and dry. The lip of the hatch makes it a little hard to maneuver my big dry bags
in, but if I'd planned better for smaller hatches and packed in smaller dry bags that would have been ok. The deck lines are very secure. The Expedition is a Very durable, well made kayak. It carried everything I needed it to without losing things inside. I felt that it has a comfortable leg area.
Tom: The Heritage Expedition MK II is a very maneuverable kayak for such a long sleek boat. It cuts through the water nicely and has the graceful lines of a Greenland kayak. We paddled our Expedition with out the benefit of the rudder option, and I found that I did not need it, though it may be nice to have a rudder on large bodies of windsweeped water. There is a surprising amount of cargo space in this kayak but the hatches were a bit hard to load because of the clearance space just under the opening. The deck lines and bungie cords came in handy for securing a bit of extra cargo and we mounted a small deck bag on the console in the cock pit. The Heritage has a very dry cockpit and is well suited to some of the colder conditions that we paddled in. I also found that the handles mounted on each side of the cock pit were handy for portaging and car topping. I would recommend this kayak to anyone who wants a fast, dry kayak with good speed and maneuverability.
18' long, 23 ½" wide,
weighs 48 lbs., carrying
capacity 425 lbs., f
4 hatches, w/ rudder option.
Mike: The Cobra Expedition tracks great. It paddles fast, but is hard to turn. The rudder did not make it much easier. Center bailer mechanism could have been a heavy-duty mechanism, but otherwise a great idea. It can be a wet ride, so I used a foam pad to sit on. The drain works well under full to 3/4 speed. It felt too tippy for me to feel comfortable about getting stuff out of hatches and adjusting cargo etc. while on the water. The Cobra paddles OK in the wind. It is a comfortable cock pit with foam pad and backrest. The hatches are good and easy to load. The behind seat compartment is a nice feature, and good and dry in there.
Tom: I felt that the cobra was very fast and had a decent amount of cargo capacity. The storage hatches were easy to use and water tight. There are a lot of storage options and easy to reach places while under way. I found that all you have to do to gain extra stability to reach hatches, other than the center hatch, was to put your feet over board, side saddle, and reach to the hatch behind the seat. The hatch behind the seat was very handy. I found the Cobra to be a bit tippy with great secondary stability, fine for an intermediate paddler. It has a fast, sleek hull. The low center of gravity provides a reasonable feeling of stability. Placing a foam pad under my butt helped to lift me out of any water in the cockpit without raising my center of gravity too far. The self bailing mechanism worked very well when under way but did not work at a leisurely pace. You just have to open and close the valve when you change speeds to free the cockpit of water. I used a Bilge Sponge from Pacific Dry Goods, it thirstly soaked up water in the seat, and wearing "fuzzy rubber" pants helped a lot. The Expedition tracks very well and with the rudder turns OK. The rudder is very functional but does require an allen wrench to adjust for different size people, we keep one in the center hatch. I like the way it looks also. I intend to paddle this boat more in the future and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fast, sleek kayak, with easy loading hatches.
14' 10" long, 28" wide,
polyethylene, weighs 52 lbs.,
carrying capacity 425 lbs.,
two hatches & tankwell,
tested w/ rudder option.
Tom: The islander is stable and dry. I was not sitting in a puddle. The rudder works well and is easy to adjust. The boat is comfy with a tall backrest. There is lots of room inside, but the two hatches are a bit small, but otherwise easy to load. The space inside is large enough to load a lot of gear but things can get lost inside, use a string on your bags or a stick to fish them out. The tankwell is good for big packages like tents and sleeping bags. While it is not the fastest boat in the world but it does glide well and is very maneuverable. I would recommend this boat to anyone looking for an easy to manage kayak with a dry seat.
Shawn: The Ventura is very stable and secure. It handles well. For overall use very good. It is not too heavy. The Ventura is comfortable because you can change leg positions. I like the storage, it is easy to get in and out of. It is very dry inside the hull and the hatch is simple to use. I am considering buying one. It paddles OK in the wind. I might have wanted corks in seat and storage holes, but the deck was dry.
Athena: The Islander Ventura was very comfortable to handle. I was surprised at how well it handled very strong winds and choppy waters. I was also surprised at the amount of storage beneath deck despite the tank well, which we used to strap down the tent. I did not use the rudder in wind and it still handled excellent. While it was not the fastest boat, I certainly felt confident in adverse conditions.
Ocean Kayak's SCUPPER PRO
14' 9" long, 26" wide, linear
polyethylene, weighs 55 lbs.,
carrying capacity 350-400 lbs.,
3 hatches, tested w/ rudder option.
Jody: I felt it was kind of slow, but I like the rudder. It was very stable and feels safe. It would definitely fit my big 6 man tent. It was however a wet ride even with seat pad with corks. That aside it has good comfort. I felt it Serves its purpose well. Good for expeditions.
Tom: The Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro was stable, wet and maneuverable. The storage capacity is awesome, the best on trip. Rudder is very good, and easy to adjust. It has comfortable seat and can be improved with plugs and seat cushion. I was wearing a "fuzzy rubber" pair of water shorts and felt very comfortable despite the water. I have always liked the Pro and have had one for many years, in fact our test kayak is our old work horse. I would recommend this kayak for anyone who has to carry a lot of cargo, and wants a stable riding kayak that tracks well.
Mike: I love the Scupper, it is an all around everything boat. It's stable but not a tub, and with rudder it is easy to paddle. The Pro is the ultimate camping boat. The large oval hatches are key. You need the oval hatches for easy of loading. It is stable enough to get into front & rear hatches while out on the water and a good working platform for pumping water. (drinking water through purifier) The cockpit could be longer. The backrest was not best. (outdated model) Foam pad and plugs under the butt is important. Perfect blend of turning and tracking.
Heritage's NOMAD II
16' long, 28" wide, composite
fiberglass, weighs 48 lbs.,
carrying capacity 230 lbs.,
2 hatches, tested w/o rudder option.
Jody: "The Nomad is sleek and fast. It is also stable and comfortable even with just a backrest and no seat pad. I was very surprised at how much it holds, but would not mind if the small hatch in front were bigger. The back hatch too. It seemed to turn to one side, but with more practice it did so less, so it may have been a weight distribution problem with my camping gear. When It did tip to one side I found if I focused on a destination point it kept a straight course. A center hatch, or storage bag on console would be nice. The kayak is very dry, inside and out. I did hear something squeaking in the backrest or kneestraps. It is great for day trips, and did very well for this expedition."
Tom: "The Heritage Nomad II is fast and easy to move, with great glide.
It tracks straight. It is also incredibly maneuverable. It has good
comfort. It is really lightweight. The stability is very good. I did
not have the tipping to one side or tracking problem that Jody had.
But I am a bit heavier than she is. We did not have the rudder option
on this kayak and I felt that it did not need it, but it may have helped
Jody with her tracking problem, but I feel that she is now a better
paddler for not relying on a rudder. The one thing that you notice is
how dry the cockpit is a small (kitchen sink) sponge is all you would
ever need to stay dry. I would recommend a Nomad for someone looking
for a light kayak that performs well. There is enough cargo space for
camping if you go light and simple."
Athena: "Heritage's Expedition The storage capacity is less than I'm used to. It's a little noisy as the water slaps the gunwals, but it is worth the fast ride it provides when keeping up with longer touring friends. High center of gravity, which is ok as you get used to it."
Note: Heritage announced the discontinuance of the fiberglass & kevlar versions of this beautiful handmade sit-on-top, the Nomad II. It is possible to find them used, but at a price.
Read all about their expedition, "Twenty-nine Miles on the Bog River Flow & Low's Lake"
We took five people of various degrees of experience into the field to test five kayaks, two paddles and one tent. Our reviewers were men and women with different backgrounds and needs. All are sit-on-top kayakers with a basic to advanced knowledge of paddle sports.
Shawn is a novice kayaker, he has kayaked about three times before this trip. He is an advanced canoeist and experienced outdoorsman.
Jody is a novice kayaker, she has kayaked about four times before this trip. She brought her own kayak, a Heritage Nomad II. She has had experience as a girl with the family canoe. She has had some experience with outdoor skills.
Mike is an advanced Kayaker with one or two years experience in ocean and fresh water. He is an advanced canoeist and experienced outdoorsman.
Athena is an advanced kayaker with two years experience in ocean and fresh water. She has had some canoe experience and is an intermediate outdoorswoman.
Tom is an advanced to expert kayaker with ocean and fresh water experience. He is experienced with canoes and has been a life long outdoorsman.
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