The Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5 Solo is the perfect choice for the solo paddler with a fair bit of cargo.
Customer Rating: 4.0 of 5
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My favorite paddle boat. Period. I have more tandem versions of the 14.5 since I normally use those (like to be able to throw a friend in if need be), but the solo is great for folks who will never want to take company in style (you can still take company in the solo 14.5, just not in first class seating style). As a one person boat, this thing can handle full-blown expeditions for those who pack light - I can do 7 to 10 uninterrupted days down river with zero problem, and with a little more weight and planning, twice that long. When it comes to wilderness touring in this boat, the only limitation is finding rivers long enough with campable banks... and the paddler's meddle.
I'd prefer the boat to be made of Royalex since rotomolded plastic doesn't hold up quite as well down river - don't be faint over hull scars because you'll pick them up quickly in gravelly environments.
This boat is phenomenal for standup balance. It's the first kayak (really, more of a canoe in this respect) that you can paddle standing up. I routinely paddle down river standing up, often going whole trips never bothering to use a kayak paddle. The Werner standup Advantage paddle works excellently with this boat. For folks with incapable balance, the ability to stand up and scan riffles ahead still comes in handy.
The boat catches wind and will benefit from a rudder on open water - if yours will be a lake/inshore boat, I suggest getting ACK to install this device for those gusty days, especially in TX.
I preferred the discontinued toggle handles, but for folks who like overmolded handles, 2011 has seen an improvement.
The solo-only 14.5 has far superior seat fastenings to the tandem, since the latter relies on foam blocks when used solo. A downside is the lack of the third removable thwart pole that's present in the tandem 14.5. When paddling solo, that pole can be reinserted if a portage is needed such that the boat is carried sideways by the center poles. In the solo 14.5, you'll have to grab the boat by the inner lip or turtleback it sideways. If neither of those options sound suitable, buy the NWC Ultimate Kayak Cart.
The only reason some folks don't care for this boat over everything else is because they haven't used it or like a different paddling environment (open ocean, distance touring, etc.). If you like narrow and closed in, the Ultimate Kayak isn't for you, but if you like the ammeneties of a canoe minus the stark seating, wobbly nature, and necessity to use a single-bladed paddle, there isn't a better option around. And, it is my solid opinion that there isn't a better place from which to purchase this boat than ACK.
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