Kayak Review: Wilderness Systems Ride 135 by Travis Abner (The Lost Hiker)

The Wilderness Ride 135 has been a popular boat in 2012. We’ve seen several reviews including one by Jeremy Chavez posted here back in May. We recently stumbled upon another review by Travis Abner (author of TheLostHiker) offering a bit of a different perspective. This post was originally published at http://www.thelosthiker.blogspot.com/.

I’ve been shopping around for a new kayak for a while now. I’ve always been into fishing, but it’s either been from our bass boat or the bank. The kayak fishing scene has blown up over the last few years, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. My first attempts were a little frustrating, mostly because I was attempting to fish from a whitewater crossover or hybrid boat that you sat in and used a bungee skirt. It was a 10′ long boat, but due to the sit-in nature of it, it just didn’t have the storage, freedom, and flexibility that I wanted and needed for fishing. Enter the sit-on-top options…

There are dozens of sit on tops out there, available for all shapes and sizes, in all sorts of colors and options. Most seem to be pretty good, and about every high end or reputable kayak brand out there has at least a couple models of SOT’s in their lineup. Some are better for fishing than others. Some are better for standing up. Some are better for sitting down. Some are a great combination of many factors, and that’s why I chose the Wilderness Systems Ride 135. I was VERY strongly considering another boat from a competing company, but the combination of features, size, price, and stability put me in favor of the Ride 135.

I am no small guy by any means. I’m 6’4″ and around 300lbs, I needed a good boat that would be stable and track well for flatwater but still be maneuverable in moving water such as on rivers. I can stretch out completely on this boat and still have plenty of room. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I believe guys up to 7′ tall or possibly even taller, would have no problem fitting in this boat. The seat and footpegs are adjustable to get your front to rear trim fine tuned, and there is infinite adjustment in the seat for the backrest and leg lifters. The Phase 3 seating is one of the most comfortable seats that I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting in. While sitting in the Ride 135, it feels very solid with none of that tippy feeling you get from some other boats. I did briefly try standing in it, and although it felt a little sketchy at first, I can see myself getting used to it very quickly. Finally, a kayak that the big boys can stand in!

Storage is very impressive on this boat as well. With the large hatch up front and medium hatch mid way back, there is plenty of room to store all of your gear. With proper gear management and packing, you could stick a weeks worth of gear and supplies in this boat, with room to spare. I use the left side of the hull as my rod storage when I’m driving to and from the lakes or rivers. It keeps them out of sight from the prying eyes of potential thieves as well as protected from any bugs or road grime. It’s very easy to stick at least 4 or 5 rods down the side of the hull when going in from the front hatch. One could stick several more down the other side as well. There is no real limit as far as size goes either. There is at least 11-12′ of space, so all of my 6’6″ and 7′ rods are in no danger. The hatches have rubber and foam seals, so water seepage shouldn’t be a big issue.

The color of this boat is my favorite of all the boats I’ve looked at. Almost everyone offers a camo color, but Wilderness Systems really pulled it off the best. At 88 lbs, the weight of the boat is pretty heavy but you have to take into account that it is 13’6″ inches long and nearly 32″ wide, it’s not going to be light by any stretch…nor should it be. I’m going to be paddling this boat on lakes, rivers, and creeks. It’s going to encounter a few bumps along the way, I want the plastic thick enough to handle it, and it is. Despite the heft and length, this boat is still reasonably maneuverable, which is important in moving water. While being maneuverable when you need it to be, it tracks really well on flatwater, requiring very little corrections to keep it moving straight ahead.

The Ride 135 has a bunch of little features too that are particularly handy and really prove that a lot of thought has been put into this boat. Features such as loops inside the hatches to lash gear to, recesses for smaller items in the cockpit, self draining in the recesses, cup holders, and hatch rims, a paddle holder on the side and the front deck, bungee disconnects in the rear tankwell for proper fitment of a crate or other large pieces of gear, bungees on the back of the seat to keep it from flipping down when you stand up, flat areas for Scotty and Ram mounts, pre routed cable housing for the optional rudder system, etc.

The only thing I would like to see is the availability of an add on lock cylinder for the hatches. It would be great to be able to lock them. Granted, it’s a plastic boat (albeit a ridiculously thick and tough one), a persistent thief could break into it with a saw if they really wanted to, but it would just add that little bit of extra security when sitting unattended on top of your vehicle or at the put in when you go take a leak or something.

Overall, I’m VERY happy with this boat and I got an absolutely screaming deal on it through AustinKayak.com with their limited time free shipping offer. I normally do try to get my gear local and support my local outfitters, but I couldn’t find this particular boat anywhere reasonably close to my home, so I opted to have it delivered. It was shipped via freight to my workplace, so I wasn’t expecting it to arrive for at least a week or so, but it only took 5 days! It was packed extremely well by the guys at ACK, so there were no bumps or scratches from shipping.

About the Author: Travis has been a part time whitewater guide on the Cumberland and Big South Fork river for 9 years, but his day job is in IT for Eastern Kentucky University.  He grew up fishing on Laurel Lake, Lake Cumberland, and Lake Cherokee.  Recently, Travis started river and creek fishing, and enjoys hitting up the Elkhorn, Cumberland, and Rockcastle rivers for smallmouth in KY.

Backpack Review: Kelty Lakota 65 by Dylan Peeples (ThriftyGear)

This post was originally published at http://thriftygearreview.blogspot.com by Dylan Peeples (ThriftyGear Founder).

Weekend camping trips are my thing. Sometimes though I would like the flexibility of extending my trip a day or two. I need a backpack that would serve both purposes. I need a backpack that is well constructed, well priced, and larger framed. The Kelty Lakota 65 fits the bill.

Back and Suspension

Kelty is a brand that is usually my go-to for camping gear. My favorite backpacking tent that saw me through sand and dust storms in West Africa was the Kelty Tao 2 (I wore that tent out!). I researched several other brands and did find some that I thought were really well made, but the price just wasn’t right for me. I initially tried out the Kelty Coyote 80 and really liked it. After some thought, I felt it was a little too big for what I needed. The comparable but smaller style pack but is the Kelty Lakota 65. After some price searching, I found a heck of a deal (more on the buying experience later).

Closeup of Suspension and Air Channels

The Lakota lists at 65L, but the m/l size comes in around 67L/4000 cu.in. It weighs approx. 4lb 1oz. The pack is made out of rugged polyester. I recently went on a weekend trip with this pack to Enchanted Rock State Park in Texas and encountered some rough brush and rock. No snags or tears. I have no concerns whatsoever about the durability of this pack. The back panel is constructed so that air is channeled across your back. It won’t lay flat on your back and absorb sweat. I felt that I had good air flow across the back. I didn’t get that sopping wet feeling that you get with some older packs. I have a long torso so I bought the m/l size (17.5-21in). The suspension for the Lakota 65 is fixed, therefore it is not adjustable. Even with the fixed suspension, the load felt comfortable and the pack transferred the weight to my hips. I carried about 35 lb. of gear with no problems.

Top Entry

The pack has three points of entry pictured above. The bottom entry has a panel of fabric that will attach/detach from the pack to create a separate compartment for your sleeping bag. Besides the lid, the Lakota 65 has only one other storage compartment: a pocket attached to the front panel of the backpack (see below).

Front Panel Entry

Without going into too much detail, I was able to pack enough for a very comfortable weekend hiking/camping trip. If I needed something in the bottom of my pack, I just unzipped the bottom. If I needed something in the middle of my pack (ie. fuel canister or first aid kit) I just unzipped the the front panel. I had my rain jacket and pants at the top of the pack. Our crew did encounter rain on the second day, and I will say it was fairly easy to get to my rain gear at the top of my pack with no problems. The lid is fairly roomy and easily held my essentials (map and compass, sunscreen, snacks, iphone, paperback, leatherman) with ample room to spare.

Bottom Entry

The only complaint I have about this pack is the depth of the mesh pockets on the sides of the pack. I don’t feel they are deep enough. When the pack is full it is difficult for the pockets to retain a water bottle. The contents on the inside of the pack will squeeze the bottom of the water bottle from the bottom of the pocket and will eventually work itself out of the pocket. If the pockets were just a little deeper, it would allow for your container to stay put inside of the pocket. One of my skinnier water bottles did stay put, but my Nalgene bottle did squeeze out a couple of times.

Front Panel Pocket

I purchased the Kelty Lakota 65 for $113 from Austin Canoe and Kayak located in Austin, TX. ACK has a really great website with very competitive prices. Kelty lists ACK as a trusted retailer. Because I live a stone’s throw from Austin, I decided to walk into their store to see what they have. While they dont have a huge selection of their camping/hiking gear in store, I was able to tell them what I wanted from their website. Their online warehouse is located right around the corner from their store. I paid for my pack at the shop and drove to their warehouse where my pack was waiting for me. I got the online price without the hassle of shipping. Their customer service was great. I am certain that if I’m ever in the market for a kayak, I will be seeing these guys for any of my needs.

Mesh Pockets

The Kelty Lakota 65 is a smart choice for a moderately sized backpack. Its rugged, fits great, and priced just right. Overall the pack is awesome and the buying experience with Austin Canoe and Kayak put this backpack over the top. The Kelty Lakota 65 is Thrifty Gear Recommended.

About the Author: Dylan Peeples is the author and creator of Thrifty Gear Reviews.  He enjoys weekend hiking and backpacking. His day job is mental health crisis response for emergency services of Williamson County, Texas. He hopes to pass along good deals on sturdy gear to help promote camping and hiking on a budget.

ACK Resources – More Than Meets the Eye

An in-depth look into all the available how-tos, install guides, fit guides and other tools at ACK.

We all know that kayaking itself is an easy outdoor sport to learn and become comfortable with. What can be confusing and even daunting to some people is how to use and install the thousands of accessories and other gear associated with paddling. At ACK we aren’t just focused on making a sale and walking away. Our long-term goal is to grow a relationship with our customers providing them with the resources they need to continue enjoy the products we sell them. The result of this is our drive to compile a variety of resources and share them with you on our website at AustinKayak.com. Let’s cover a few of those:

How-Tos:

From simple tasks such as strapping a kayak to a roof-top rack or using a rivet gun to more complicated product related how-tos such as installing products that either a.) don’t provide documentation or b.) the instructions that came with the product may not meet our customer’s expectations. Location: Access via the “Resources” page.

Installation Guides:

Many products we offer already come with installation guides so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to obtain copies that we could share with our customers electronically. We know that some customers, prior to purchasing a product, would like to know what to expect since they may not have the luxury of having a kayak dealer down the road to assist with installs. Location: “Resources” page or within the product page on a tab labeled “Articles/Research”.

Fit Guides:

It only makes sense that if we are going to sell a product that can be used in a variety of different applications, we guide our customers towards purchasing the correct size and/or model. Whether it be as simple as outfitting yourself with apparel to more complicated installations such as that of kayak racks, if the fit guide exists, we’ll do our best to make sure you have access to it. Location: “Resources” page or within the product page on a tab labeled “Articles/Research”.

Paddle Selector:

So many paddles for so many activities, our interactive paddle selector will make it easy for anyone to narrow down their choices based on a few simple questions. Location: The Paddle Selector is located at the top of all of the Paddle Category pages as well as within any paddle product page on a tab labeled “Articles/Research” or you can click here to access the selector.

Kayaking Maps and Launch Points:

One of the first questions you may ask yourself this spring is, “where do I go  kayaking today”? We can take care of that with our smart phone app Kayak Launch Points. It’s an essential mobile tool for every paddler. Loaded with over 15,000 marked kayak and canoe launch points, the app enables users to explore, rate, add photos, review and share kayak and canoe launch points while on the go. Click here to download the app. Don’t have a smart phone? Use our web version!

Product Reviews:

Not quite a manual or guide but rather an excellent tool that may give you peace of mind when in doubt about a particular product. Location: Within the product page on a tab labeled “Customer Reviews”.

We also offer a variety of other resources such as ACKanatomy, which labels all of the parts to a kayak, paddle and even repair parts (great for newbies), articles in both our resources section and of course our archived newsletters. As our product selection continues to grow, so will our library of resources. If you ever see a product you think needs a guide or other resource associated with it, please let us know by commenting below!

Roland @ACK