2014 Fall Demo Days: What’s New

Here at ACK we always aim to bring the latest and greatest to our  Demo Days and the 2014 Fall Demo Days is no exception. This season we’ve got a line up featuring new kayaks from Old Town, Wilderness Systems, Dagger, FeelFree and Hobie and we cant wait to get you all out on the water! Read more to get the dish on these hot new kayaks and make sure to try them out at Demo Days!

Old Town Predator XL

Like the rest of the family, XL incorporates all the innovative Predator features that put anglers on top of the food chain. And now Old Town Predator XLintroduces an industry changing XL Consoles, designed for electronics, storage and power customization in just seconds. Quickly convert to power by Minn-kota, for completely hands-free all-day navigation, trolling or structure fishing. This particular boat recently won ‘Best New Boat’ AND ‘Best in Show’ at this years ICAST trade show- the first boat to win two titles since ICAST 2009. Ultimately, it’s hard to not be impressed by the Predator XL!

Read more about the XL here and here. You can pre-order your Predator XL here!

Wilderness Systems Thresher 140*

15450Built with both the serious and the aspiring offshore angler in mind, the Thresher series ushers in the next generation of high performance big water sit-on-tops. The hull is efficient and quick, yet stable and predictable to handle ever-changing open water conditions. The deck is sleek and modern, with a thoughtful layout for maximum gear storage, capacity and accessibility. Along with familiar outfitting, the Thresher also introduces several advancements like water-shedding bow storage cover, versatile center hatch, and the FlexPod OS removable console for accommodating electronics or removable storage. If you are looking to upgrade your kayak or in the market for your first kayak the Thresher is a great option; both attractive and efficient in design this kayak wont disappoint.

Read more about the Thresher here and here. Already want it? Pre-order here.

Feelfree Lure 13.5

“The Lure 10 and 11.5 were an instant hit but some anglers demanded even more and Feelfree has 15454delivered” according to Jim Hager, Feelfree US, “We knew we had to do it, it was just a matter of time. The original Lures were designed to accommodate a growing market of kayak anglers seeking more comfort, more stability and multiple seating positions and we did just that. Now we fill the gap to satisfy the rest of them – the ones that want it all.”  Summed up the Lure 13.5 is a kayak that offers everything a kayaker would need- good looks, impressive features, and a solid brand backing it.

Read more about the Lure 13.5 here and  here. All about the 13.5? Pre-order it here.

Hobie Pro Angler 17T 


The new Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 17T is a fishing machine with comfort, stability and room for everything you need, including another person. Plus, it’s powered by the patented Hobie MirageDrive pedal system. Hobie took the qualities that made the original Pro Angler a fan favorite and expanded with Vantage XT seating, a drop-skeg, and a built in transducer mount to name a few. If comfort, size, and quality are what you are looking for the 17T is the tandem kayak for you!

Read more about the 17T  here and here. Already in love? Pre-order your 17T here.

Not only will this years demo day host new boats, but it will also feature clinics by industry pro’s and other outdoor gear for you to try out! Get more details and information at austinkayak.com/demo. We hope to see you there!

*Wilderness Thresher 140 available for demo exclusively at the Austin Demo Days. 

The Dagger Zydeco Kayak: A Great Place to Start

Zydeco Kayak
Zydeco kayak on a river trip.

We often receive the question, “What’s the best first kayak for me to buy?” It’s a hard one to answer without more information. Typically, ACK responds with more questions like “What are you trying to do with it?”, “What kind of transportation do you have?”, “What’s your price range?”, etc. Even then though, the customer may just not know or aren’t sure exactly what answers to give. This is when we start pointing them towards products like the Dagger Zydeco kayak.

Why the Zydeco Kayak?

The Dagger Zydeco kayak comes in a 9 ft option & 11 ft option and could best be described as a “jack of all trades & master of none”. It’s a great recreational sit-inside kayak that performs well in flat and moving water, is lightweight & easy to carry, has a roomy, comfortable cockpit and comes at a great price point. It isn’t the fastest kayak around nor does it have a ton rigging ability but it certainly is a great place to start!

See more about it in this video from Dagger:

Stop Borrowing Your Friend’s Kayak and Get a Zydeco!

One customer wrote in with a review of the 9ft Zydeco kayak, sharing that, after being introduced to kayaking by his friend, he finally took the plunge and bought his first kayak and landed on the Zydeco.

“After a summer of repeatedly borrowing my friends Perception Carolina 12 I started feeling like a bum and broke out the wallet to get my own. I did a ton of research and went with the Zydeco 9. I wanted a smaller boat that was easy to maneuver and steer through rocky areas of the rivers where I live and this boat was great. VERY responsive yet tracks well with a little paddling technique. Im sure Ill learn to keep it straight as I could barely keep the 12 footer in a straight line when I first started. I am so pleased with this boat that I am saving now for a second one so that friends of mine without them can come along for the paddles. Also, I looked into several other cheaper kayaks like the Perception Swifty, and went with this one as the difference in price is less than it would have cost me to replace the seat with one that wouldnt wreck my back. I have lower back issues and this seat is way more comfortable than some of the $800 and up kayaks I’ve used before. HOW I USE IT: – Flat water lakes and rivers – Flowing rivers – Class 1 rapids open, class 2 rapids with a skirt PROS: – SUPER COMFORTABLE SEAT! – Very light and easy to load on a roof yet short enough to fit in a truck bed or the back of an SUV. – Plenty of room on the sides of the seat for a hydration pack, cockpit bags or small soft cooler for snacks. – Very easy to maneuver through obstacles and turns on a dime. – Tracks well and gets up there in speed for its length. – Room for dry bags or a deck back if going on trips lasting longer than a day. – Drain plug. – Thigh pads. – Stable as all get out! – Carry handles are easy on the hands. CONS: – Takes on some water in rougher paddling. I would recommend a skirt for anything over class 1 rapids. – For some reason the cup holder is UNDER THE SEAT! Makes zero sense. – Paddle holder pops loose every now and then but it was an easy fix with the paddle clip I got from this site. BOTTOM LINE: – I highly recommend this boat to any new to the sport or intermediate paddler that is looking for a very nimble boat on the water thats easy to transport. – Perfect for a starter, second, or spare boat… especially for the price.” – Starks

Want to Learn More?

So if you’re thinking about making your first kayak purchase, give the Zydeco kayak a look. If you’re still not convinced that it’s the one for you, comment below with any questions you might have!

A Father’s Day Paddling Adventure

The cars loaded with yaks, bikes and more.

This Father’s Day my dad and I ended up having a bit of an unexpected adventure. We started with plans of my dad trying a stand up paddleboard for the first time but when I showed up the day of I found myself being talked into an overnight camping trip and a five hour paddle at Colorado Bend State Park here in Texas. We had some hesitations (namely the triple digit heat and low water conditions) but I think we were both looking and ready for an adventure so a week later we put our plans into action.

On the day of the trip, we loaded up our vehicles with a Wilderness Systems Ride 135 for my dad and a Dagger Zydeco 11 for myself. Along with the kayaks our cars were packed with camping equipment including a Therm-a-Rest Sleeping Pad that I was excited to try out. My dad also attached his Yakima SwingDaddy Hitch Mount to bring along his mountain bike.

Slow moving waters made up the majority of the paddle.

One of the tricky things about paddling down a river, and the reason we brought two cars, is transportation between your put-in and take-out. Luckily, we surveyed launch points online before leaving and had been able to find an area where we could park a second car that was only a twenty minute drive north from the campground. We left our shuttle car and got ready for our paddle!

The section of the Colorado River we paddled was made up of long, slow moving bends that were broken up by faster moving shallow sections. The slow moving sections gave us ample time to take in the beauty of the Texas Hill Country and all the wildlife that made its home there but never became too dull because of the faster moving stuff. We passed by a few coldwater springs where we stopped to find some relief from the triple digit temperatures. We also made sure to make pit stops on the bank to rest and reapply sunscreen. I noticed that the Zydeco had trouble keeping up with the Ride 135 during the longer sections but really came in handy when it came to maneuvering around the shallow rocks. It also offered some protection for my legs from the sun (my poor dad’s legs were beet red by the end). All in all, it was a great boat to paddle.

Tents all setup, no rain fly's for us!

By the end of the 12 mile stretch, we were dead tired. The constant paddling and the heat really had taken it out of us so before we set up camp we jumped in Colorado Bend’s spring fed swimming hole. Contrary to what we expected, the water was warm, but still very relaxing. Eventually we made it back to camp and there were beers, steaks and stories around the campfire before finally getting to sleep. I was able to enjoy a very comfortable night’s rest using the Therm-a-Rest, although I had some trouble rolling it up for the first time the following morning (I watched a how-to and feel ready for next time though).

For those who might be considering their own paddling trip this summer, take it from me that you shouldn’t let the heat get you down! Start by picking a destination that has water nearby and plenty of trees for shade. Then remember to pack smart – you’ll need lots of drinking water, shades, a hat, sunscreen and breathable, lightweight clothes. Finally, there are lots of little things you can do like not putting a rain fly on your tent if you’re camping (unless it might rain) and taking lots of rest stops. The heat can definitely be an obstacle, but it isn’t worth missing out on a great outdoor adventure!

The springs were beautiful and relaxing.

In the end the trip was an awesome experience and a great way to spend time with my dad. Prior to the trip he kept saying how he “just wanted to see what he was capable of” since it had been a while since he had gone paddling. I think we both learned that a little 12 mile paddle wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. Thanks for reading and happy paddling!

– Joseph@ACK





2012 Kayak and Canoe Roundup

A look into the latest from Hobie, Ocean Kayak, Necky, Wilderness Systems and more!

For those of us tuned into what’s going on in the paddling industry, August was greeted with much anticipation as manufacturers started rolling out their new kayak and canoe models. Industry professionals and consumers alike became giddy and almost child-like. August pretty much came and went and as always kayak and canoe manufacturers didn’t fail to deliver. With new and innovative features and updates to tried and true designs to shorter and longer versions of already popular models, I’ll just jump right in and sum it all up for you. I could have easily cut and pasted product descriptions but instead I wanted to share with you some of what I know and what I’ve learned over the last few weeks.


Wilderness Ride 115 & 135
I was trying to hold back on this one until the end but I can’t help it. The newly designed Wilderness Systems Ride 135 and it’s new sibling the 115 are not to be ignored if you enjoy kayak fishing or simply want a sit-on-top with unbeatable stability, capacity and plenty of cargo space. The most notable new feature is the Freedom Elite seating system, which simply lets you adjust the position of your seat forward and backward — something I have yet to see on any sit-on-top kayak. Another feature familiar to the popular Tarpon series is the SlideTrax accessory system making it easy to install and adjust a variety of accessories. This one gets two thumbs up from this guy! Click for specs, colors and pricing for the Ride 115 and Ride 135.

Dagger Zydeco 9.0 & 11.0
For those of you familiar with the original Zydeco, you already know what a great performer this entry-level gem can be. With it’s new slick design and features, you’d think that these boats were expensive but at less than $450 for the 9.0 and $550 for the 11.0, it’s the perfect boat for just about anyone. I’m big on quality seats and the Zydeco’s adjustable, ultra-comfortable CFS-R Seating System doesn’t disappoint. Compact, lightweight and easy to use, I think it will be hard to find another recreational sit-inside for the buck. Click for specs, colors and pricing for the Zydeco 9.0 and Zydeco 11.0.

Hobie Mirage Revolution 11
Perhaps one of the most notable launches is the new Hobie Mirage Revolution 11 offering all of the same great features as it’s bigger brother in a more compact and lighter configuration. Recently named “Best Boat” at the iCast Sportfishing Trade Show, the Revo 11 deserves it, with the same quality and features you’d come to expect from Hobie. This one is surely to be a hit amongst paddlers and kayak anglers as it lends itself to being more maneuverable making it perfect for rivers and smaller bodies of water. According to several reports, this boat has been described as one that “cuts through water like knives through butter” — sounds about right! Click for specs, colors and pricing.

Hobie Quest Deluxe 11
Why stop at the Revolution? For those who prefer to paddle over the pedal, Hobie has applied their magical shrinking potion to another popular model, the Hobie Quest. Why so magical? Because it’s pretty much an exact replica of it’s bigger brother. Rather than try to reinvent the wheel, they took an already awesome boat and simply reduced it’s size and weight making it ideal for smaller paddlers. Don’t be fooled though, it’s still packed will all the great features that you’ll find on the 13ft version such as the mesh-covered stowage pockets, molded in rod holders, high back seat, large covered bow hatch and of course a Hobie paddle. Click for specs, colors and pricing.

Necky Vector 14
Instead of a younger sibling, Necky has taken a step forward with the launch of a larger version of its only sit-on-top model the Vector 13. I haven’t paddled the Vector 13 for several months but I was left with the lasting impression of a fast boat with bullet like tracking — I can only imagine how the 14 paddles. Sleek, slender yet stable enough for any paddler, the Vector 14 is a great boat for those looking for sit inside performance in a sit on top kayak. And how can you not appreciate its good looks! Click for specs, colors and pricing.

Necky Rip 12
The Popular Rip 10 has also joined a new generation of kayaks with siblings with the introduction of the Rip 12. The Rip is known for being an easy to use and playful boat for beginner to intermediate paddlers. The Rip 12 offers many of the sought after features and performance of the 10 but with two extra feet, you can expect enhanced tracking, speed and glide. Click for specs, colors and pricing.

Ocean Kayak Tetra 10 & 12
Probably one of the most talked about launches was the introduction of Ocean Kayak’s new family of kayaks, the Tetra 10 and 12. This is another boat I look forward to paddling soon with reports of better tracking and speed than its cousin, the Trident series. Ocean Kayak labels them as cross-over boats for paddlers who might want to dabble in several different activities. I have to agree as the Trident series was designed with the angler in mind, the Tetra is a made for everyone. You can purchase the base model or the angler version, which come with the Rod Pod II, and two flush mounted rod holders. Click for specs, colors and pricing for the 10 and 12.

Mad River Serenade 13
Just like the Native Watercraft Ultimate and Wilderness Commander, the Serenade 13 can be labeled a kayak/canoe hybrid but edges more towards a canoe in my personal opinion — which is what I love about it. This is the perfect boat for anyone looking for a comfortable kayak-like paddle with all the great features of a canoe. Steve Messana, ACK President and co-owner, had the privilege of  paddling this beautifully designed fiberglass boat and was surprised at how quick it moved and described the paddling experience as a “slick” one — lucky Steve! I haven’t tried this one myself but you can count on me being first in line.

Liquid Logic Marvel 14.5
Okay, so maybe not “new” but once a child of Native Watercraft, the Marvel series has been re-launched under the Liquid Logic brand. Why the mention? Because we are happy to announce that we are now carrying this model so I guess that makes it new to us! Our buyers were “sold” when they had the opportunity to demo this boat and were quick to offer it as part of our product line-up. I’ve personally had a lot of experience with this boat and can only describe it as one of the easiest to use and most comfortable sit-inside tandem kayaks. Complete with the ever-popular First Class seating system, which you can find on the Native Watercraft Ultimate, this one also gets my vote! Click for specs, colors and pricing.

Ocean Kayak Ultra 4.3
Although unavailable at this time, I must, at the minimum, make a quick mention of the shorter version of what many consider to be the “ultimate” kayak-fishing machine, the Ultra 4.7. At 14’ it’s still considered to be a long boat providing the performance you need when you are serious about kayak fishing — stay tuned, we expect availability before the end of the year.

So there you have it. A quick summary but do expect more in depth reviews over the next few months. If you are local to any of our stores, don’t miss out on our Demo Days where you’ll be able to demo all of these models and more.

Have you had the privilege of paddling any of these boats yet? We want to know, share your experiences with us by commenting below.