|(Image taken from www.tridentuk.com)|
As someone who hasn't been on a kayak since a primary school trip, I would hasten to add that I'm probably not the best person to be conducting a review, but if like me you are a complete noob then you may benefit from hearing from my experiences (and better still learn from them.)
After buying the boat and getting the accessories I was rather keen to try it out on the water so off I went to test it at the lake in Hatfield Forest.
The first thing I would say about the canyon as you take it out of the boot and carry it a fair distance for the first time is that it is actually rather heavy considering it is more or less a pool toy with a nylon cover.
Next thing to consider is the pressure valve which you get free with the boat. I've seen other Sevylor models that feature a really clever inbuilt gauge with a simple Min-Max window, but the one supplied with the Canyon is like an old school clock gauge. Simply put, I couldn't work out how to get it to read the pressure properly so I did the best I could at guesstimating the right kind of pressure. Not the best start, oh but it gets worse and hilarity ensued!
With it pumped up I lowered myself into the craft smiling like a loon and got those paddles into the water. The first thing you notice with the standard Sevylor paddles is that they are very short and this ends up problematic (particularily in December when the waters cold and you are wearing a pair of desert-combat trousers) because your legs and lap get soaking wet. I had read this in other reviews from different inflatables from Sevylor but I thought those people who were complaining were just a load of whinging tarts. Guess I'm now one of them.
I did notice that it does sway with each stroke of the paddle quite a lot, whether this was because I was sitting far back against the back of the boat I'm unsure, but my journey unfortunately never afforded me much time to play about with different seating positions. I would assume that with a bit of weight in the front (perhaps a few backpacks or something) it would track and hold its heading a little better.
So, ignoring my legs getting a little wet I pressed on with the maiden voyage, pushing out into the middle of the lake where it all suddenly became a little...choppy.With a momentary lapse in concentration to fiddle with my digital camera to try and get some video footage for this review I suddenly realised that the wind was substantial enough to push me way back into some reeds from whence I could never hope to escape. I became aware that my paddles were now being used as barge poles against very shallow water and I was trying to prevent a puncture from the remnants of dead trees around me. To make matters worse I also had a National Trust person shouting at me from the other side of the lake to stop. (To be fair I didn't actually think it would have been a big deal as they allow rowing boats on the lake during the summer.)
Realising that there was no hope of returning to the spot where I started I had to face the fact that I was going to have to get wet feet and pull the boat in to land from across the reeds. This meant getting wet and freezing cold feet but I could deal with that.
Next issue was deflating in a rush trying desperately to get all the air out so that I could pack up and leg it before these park ranger could show their faces. I obviously did something very wrong because for the life of me I could not get the last bits of air out of the chambers and certainly could not fit it back inside the now minute looking bag which it comes in. Someone really needs to invent a compression sack for these things.
Next thing I know, the park ranger turns up to tell me that having your own boats on the lake was prohibited and that it is a danger to wildlife. Well, as much as I love wildlife the simple fact is that that reason is bullshit.
Throughout the summer they have rowing boats (which you pay an external company to use) on the lake and they allow fishing throughout the year which is a big risk to many animals if any fishermen leave their fishing line or lead shots laying around. When I asked about the rowing boats I was told they were 'licenced', which means that they only allow it if the National Trust can make a buck out of it. Not like I have been a paying member of the National Trust for years or anything. Not that I'm bitter or anything. In any case after refusing to give my name to the guy I was left alone to carry on my grueling half-mile walk back to the car.
Its really difficult to walk in sodden skateboarding trainers on slippery mud whilst dragging a heavy inflatable boat. Yes as bad as it sounds, I dragged that boat back a long way across grass, mud and even woodland floor and miraculously there is no puncture. If nothing else I'm really impressed with the durability of these boats, I was really expecting to have to do a repair after dragging it across twigs and thorns (cringing the whole way) but having got home with it and pumped it back up it has seemed to have survived well.
So, final conclusion.
- Shit paddles, stay away from the crappy official Sevylor ones and try and source some longer ones from somewhere.
- Shit in any wind. There is a reason all those Sevylor product's photos are taken in pristine lagoons. Unless you are two up and have the stamina to fight the wind all day then wait for a lazy summers day. I just consider myself lucky that I didn't try this out in the sea first of all like I was going to originally! In all fairness I should have foreseen the limitations and realised the wind was too much for an inflatable.
- Despite being an inflatable it's actually quite heavy. Not extremely heavy but I did have the intention of packing this into a Bergan to take this on the train with the rest of my gear on top but sadly this doesn't look very realistic.
- Sadly the pressure gauge on this model lets it down from the other products which feature the simple and easy to read internal windows which are held on the bladders. If you are thinking of buying one of these then I would look at getting a pump which has a pressure gauge inbuilt into it, it will save you a lot of hassle in the long run. I would say that the deflation on these is a bastard but this is more than likely my fault for trying to rush around.
- Despite the wind it did seem very stable, at one point I was leaning right over to pull myself into land and I was quite surprised it didn't tip.
- Durable exterior nylon which is like kevlar armor. Surviving being pulled over twigs and thorns in a small woodland has really surprised me.
- Even with the added price of the paddles and pump I still think its good value for money. I won't make the same mistakes I've made and I intend to get out on the water in some nice gentle rivers and canals once the weather warms up. I suspect I will get my moneys worth out of this, and besides, this is simply a stepping stone towards buying a proper canoe in the future. In short, this is good to 'wet' your appetite.