Top 10 Kayaks For Cold Weather Paddling

A few months back, I wrote a short piece that caused a bit of a stir. Apparently “storing your kayak for the winter” didn’t resound well with many, especially those residing in more temperate regions (tongue in cheek of course). But the reality for many is that the idea of putting a kayak out of commission for a few months is unheard of because of either mild winters or the utilization paddling gear designed for cold weather paddling. I recouped some of the fury through a visual presentation highlighting cold weather paddling apparel and now, in an effort to continue this positive momentum, I’d like to offer some recommendations on kayaks that are ideal for paddling during the coldest months of the year.

The concept actually, is simple — get a kayak with a combination of a higher freeboard (hull that remains out of the water while paddling) and elevated seat that will stay dry or a kayak with a cockpit that can be fully or partially covered by a skirt. Continue reading Top 10 Kayaks For Cold Weather Paddling

Photos: 2nd Hobie World Fishing Championships Roll Into Central Texas

The 2nd Hobie Fishing World Championships is taking place (right now!) in central Texas and ACK couldn’t be happier to be a part of it all. On Friday, the team boats (Hobie Pro Angler 12) arrived at a warehouse where they were unpackaged, rigged with all the sponsored gear and loaded onto trucks for transportation to the tournament. It was quite a site to see all the flags of the different countries the competitors hail from and all the boats they’d be competing in huddled together in one space. Both the ACK and Hobie teams worked hard to get the boats ready and they sure do look great.

The Austin ACK store played host to the tournament’s kick-off BBQ event this past weekend. The event was open to the public and competitors, sponsors and ACK employees gathered to talk about the week ahead, look back to last year’s inaugural tournament, discuss the state of kayak fishing and of course, enjoy Texas BBQ together.

We are looking forward to this week’s events!

- Trent @ ACK

New for 2013 in Kayak Models and Features

Even though 2013 isn’t quite here yet, many of our kayak vendors have already started delivering new kayaks, some never before seen models and others with updated features. Some of the most notable launches are the new Native Watercraft Slayer, Feel Free Moken 12.5 & 14 and the sharp looking Wave Sport Ethos Ten. Also, check out some of the new features on tried and true models.

We’ll start with the new boats

Native Watercraft Slayer 12 & 14
Created by Native using an “automatic for the people” approach, the Slayer is the latest fishing kayak to hit the scene. It’s been referred to as a sit on top (SOT) version of the popular Ultimate model and, with a lot of the same deck features, it’s easy to see why. But that doesn’t mean that the hull is the only thing that’s changed. With a new seating system that can alternate between a high and low position, open front hatch, plenty of molded in areas designed for fishing accessories and much more, we know this is going to be popular with anglers. Already, the Slayer prototypes were a big hit at our Demo Day events! Available in a 12 ft and 14 ft option.

Wilderness Systems Aspire 105
Meant to compliment Wilderness System‘s already impressive line-up, the Aspire 105 is a new crossover boat that has replaced their Pamlico series. Whereas cross over boats generally tend to mix white water and recreational designs, the Aspire is meant for recreation and light touring. Great for both flat and moving water. This aims to be a great hybrid option for new to intermediate level paddlers. Like most other cross over boats, the Aspire has a drop down skeg to improve tracking when desired.

Wavesport Ethos 10
has created the Ethos as it’s foray into the river trekking category. Designed to handle waters with up to class III rapids and then track on flat water sections with help from it’s drop down skeg, the Ethos 10 can take on longer river trips. With plenty of storage space and a cockpit designed for comfort, this would be a great kayak for beginners looking to explore new environments and develop their skills on long or multiple day river trips.

Hobie Pro Angler 12
If you keep up with the kayak angling community, you’ve probably already heard of Hobie’s latest model of the Pro Angler 12 as it was released back in April. But just in case you haven’t…well, Hobie still knows how to make angler’s happy. The new Pro Angler 12 has all the bells and whistles of the 14 model and features the new vantage seating feature which will be described below. We’ve had them in stock and the reviews are good!

Perception Expression 14.5 & 15
new Expression offers forgiving handling and stability expected of a touring design with the performance of an expedition kayak. The up-swept bow nose and peaked deck allow the Expression 14.5 to shed water quickly, providing more speed and performance than the typical touring kayak. We can tell you one thing for sure, it’ll go fast. A perfect boat for an afternoon paddling or even multi-day tour. Offered in both 14.5 and 15 foot models.

Coming Soon: Moken 12.5 & 14
While not yet available, the new Moken 12.5 and 14 are going to be a huge hit. I personally had the pleasure of not only trying both boats at our recent demo days, we also met with Feel Free’s Head of Operations in the U.S., Jim Hager for a video shoot featuring both models. Click here to check it out.

New Features for 2013

2013 might just be the year of comfort kayak seating. With new seats from Ocean Kayak, Wilderness Systems, Hobie & Feel Free there are plenty of new ones to choose from. Sprinkle in a few other upgrades from Feel Free and Ocean Kayak and you have a pretty good list of new and notable features for the 2013 lineup of boats. Here’s what you can expect:

Wilderness Systems Phase 3 Pro Seating System

Wilderness Systems’ Phase 3 Pro Seating System
has always done a good job when it comes to outfitting their kayaks with comfort seating systems but this time they’ve really gone above and beyond. With complete adjustability in all aspects of the seat this really is  worthy of the word “system”. We’ve had a chance to try it out in some of the 2013 models and are very impressed. Expect most of the 2013 model Wilderness boats to come equipped with some version of the Phase 3 Pro Seating System.

Ocean Kayak Comfort Hybrid Seat

Ocean Kayak Support Track Foot Braces and Comfort Hybrid Seat Back
Ocean Kayak has gone out of it’s way to make their popular recreation and angler kayaks just a little more comfortable. They’ve rolled out both a new seat and foot peg system that aims to meet this goal. With Ocean Kayak, it’s all about making sure even the tiniest of details meet the customer’s needs.

Hobie Vantage Seating

Hobie Vantage Seating
New to both the Pro Angler 12 and 14, this is a revolutionary new seating system in terms of comfort & adjustability. Named for the vantage point it gives you for spotting fish, this seat is just another reason why the Hobie Pro Angler series if one of the top fishing kayaks around.

Feel Free Uni Track System

Feel Free Uni-Track System & King Fisher Seat
Feel Free has created an easy to use track system for paddlers looking to customize their ‘yak called the Uni-Track System. It can be found on some of the latest Moken models like the already released Moken 10 Lite. This track system makes it easy to attach Scotty & Ram mounts without drilling or installing anything. Click here to see a short video clip featuring the Uni-Track System

Feel Free King Fisher Seat

Additionally, new Mokens will also feature the upgraded King Fisher Seat with a comfort seat back. I personally love this seat, so comfortable and you can’t help but think it looks pretty cool too. Wait until you see it on the new Moken 12.5 and Moken 14 coming soon.

Much to look forward to this year! As always, share your comments and questions below! – Joseph@ACK

ACK a Hit at the Summer Boat Show in Houston, Texas

Jerron demonstrating the Hobie Outback Mirage Pedal Drive

You might have seen our blog post earlier this month about the Houston Summer Boat show. Well, it started this past Wednesday (June, 20th) and ACK has already made a splash! Pictured is Houston ACK staff Jerron giving a Mirage Drive Demo of the Hobie Outback (photo credit to the Houston Chronicle). You might recognize Jerron from some recent footage of a beyond the breakers coastal fishing trip using the Hobie Island Adventure, so we’re sure that whoever was watching learned plenty. We’re very proud and excited to have the opportunity to showcase our kayaks against or paired up with those larger motorized boats.

In case you’re in the Houston area and haven’t already heard, here are the details for the boat show:

June 20-24 – Houston Boat Show
Reliant Center
Times: June 20-23, 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm; June 24, 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Admission: $8 Adult, $4 Children 6-12, Free for Children 5 and under

We would love to see you out there! Thanks for reading and happy paddling. – Joseph@ACK

When a weather window presents itself…

…it is best to take full advantage of it.  This was the case last week with light winds and clear blue skies.  A customer of mine and I set out on his Hobie Tandem Island to do some offshore fishing off the coast of Freeport and boy did we score big!

Jerron Holding a Beautiful King Fish (Photo by Daniel Pham)

First let me take a moment to describe to you just how awesome the Hobie Tandem Island is for offshore fishing.  Never have I been in such a stable platform (kayak that is) while fishing out past the breakers. The rigs that seem to be so far away while standing on the beach are easily within reach with the ability to sail out to them. No more are you limited to just what distance you can paddle.  Let the sail out full, angle your boat properly in the wind, and you are off to the races! We had a southeast wind pushing anywhere from 10-15 miles per hour that afternoon and we set our sights on the rig that sat 6.5 miles off the coast. In what would have taken 2 hours to paddle to, we arrived in just a little over 30 minutes. Not to mention the fact we trolled Rapala diving lures the entire way out and scored a couple of King Mackerel. We even lost a monster cobia to a short rig that we passed on our way out. That was the heart breaker that day. Once at the rig we were able to easily reach our 2 Kingfish per person limit, as well as hanging several sharks.  The ride back in was easy, and an added bonus was that even though the air temps were up that day, we stayed nice and cool with the wind in our face due to sailing at a high speed.

Here is a link to our full report:

Also, Daniel (the guy who I was fishing with) and his friend Efren have developed a site dedicated to anyone who currently owns a Hobie Adventure Island or Hobie Tandem Island or is looking at owning either of the two.  The site is packed with helpful hints on rigging, sailing tips, and other juicy tidbits about the boats.  Check them out and join the site, it’s free! Here is a link to their site:

Jerron @ACK Houston


Imagine a Kayak Demo Day that is 100% Hobie!

For the first time in years, I decided to take a week off to spend it with my kids over spring break. It was a great fun filled week of camping, hiking, paddling and just enjoying quality time with the brats. Just when my week off was coming to an end, I was delighted to find out that I would be representing ACK at the 2012 Hobie Dealer Conference. Unfortunately, this was partly due to the fact that we recently experienced a fire at our Houston Store resulting in ACK owners, Peter, Steve and Chris scrambling to make sure that the store continued operating so I obliged with my assigned duty.

I packed up my bags and headed west to beautiful San Diego. Continue reading Hobie-mazing

Hobie Outdoor Adventures – TV Series!

Check this out! From surf to stream Hobie will take you on a chase, up close and personal for todays most popular gamefish or that perfect wave. This is Hobie country! They’ll cover the tips, tactics and techniques for the ultimate kayaking experience as they embrace the abundant opportunities the water has to offer. So tune in for the adventure! Click here for show times and archived episodes.

The Holiday Madness Begins @ACK

Ya know, it’s never been easy for me to get into the holiday shopping spirit. In fact, for at least the last 20 years, I’ve always waited until the weekend before Christmas to do all my shopping. Well, now that I am an employee of an outdoor retailer, times have changed and so have my holiday shopping habits — I’m on it before Halloween! I owe it to my duty of working with our team on creating and launching our annual Holiday Buyer’s Guide, which through the process, gives me countless ideas on gifts to buy for my friends and family. It may be easy to assume that all we sell is paddling gear but take a closer look, you’ll find a wide array of products for men, women, children and even pets who enjoy the outdoors in every price change.

Here are some great stocking stuffers, all under $25:

Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel
For anyone that enjoys hiking, camping, hunting or any other activity where they may need a fire in an emergency situation or simply need a spark to cook up their favorite camp meal.

GoGirl Female Urination Device
Need a stocking stuffer for your lady friends and family? How about a device that…well, as they put it “allows you to urinate while standing up”? Don’t laugh, it has a customer rating of 5 of 5!

Kelty Camp Pillow
Not just for camping, it’s also a great gift for those who travel often or choose to take a catnap during their lunch breaks at the office.

Hobie Fish Grip
For the angler in your life, the list can go on for miles but here is a tool that every man, woman or child that fishes should have, a fish grip. Made to help anglers land fish safely without harming the fish or their very own hands.

Zing Z-Curve Bow
We’ve got one of these lying around the office and it brings out the best in us. Great for younger ones and based on our experience here, adults too!

Katie’ Bumpers Bottle Tracker Dog Training and Fetch Toy
Give a dog a bone people…show them some love too this holiday season. How about a new toy for our furry friends?

See what I mean, there is no need to shop anywhere else…avoid the lines, grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, light your fireplace, play some holiday cheer and shop at!

Roland @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.


Made in the USA

As we approach the July 4th holiday, you can’t help but begin to experience a sense of patriotism with flags being strategically placed at the end caps of grocery store aisles and TV commercials beginning to advertise the inevitable. Seeing all this reminded me about something that Steve, ACK President, mentioned to me sometime back, the fact that we carry a huge selection of products that are either made or assembled in the USA.

Opinions may vary from person to person but from my personal perspective, I feel that our economy is on the road to recovery and can certainly see a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. That said, if you’ve ever met me, you know that I would rather talk about kayak fishing, camping or BBQ instead of getting into deep economic and (gasp) political discussions. However, I do want to focus on this topic because I know it is important to both ACK and for that matter, many of our customers. We can certainly appreciate selling low cost goods that contribute to a strong global economy but knowing that a significant percentage of the products we sell are either made or assembled in the USA is something we are extremely proud of. Aside from benefiting from quality craftsmanship, it makes us feel good knowing that by selling products made in this country we are helping contribute to the growth of our own economy, which ultimately helps create jobs locally.

So what are these products we speak of? Well there are over 500 of them but a  few examples that you may be familiar with are boat manufactures such as Hobie Kayaks, Native Watercraft, Ocean Kayak and Wilderness Systems amongst several others. Accessory manufactures are no exception with companies such as Seals SkirtsWerner Paddles, Bending Branches Paddles and Pelican Dry Boxes are also Made in the USA. As you shop at, you can easily identify those products by looking at the description where you will see “Made in: USA” followed by the American flag.

Now, it’s no secret that while these products are designed, assembled, owned and distributed in the USA, some of the parts that are required to build them may be manufactured in other countries. In some cases, depending on how much of it is made here, it may be labeled as an “Assembled in USA” product as opposed to “Made in USA” as required by law.  Regardless of the terminology, we are happy to continue supporting and promoting products that are benefiting our country’s economy in one way or another.