Rate your Ameriican made brands

SZihn

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Hello out there.
If you were to rare kayak manufacturers in the USA as far as overall Quality of their products and/or performance of their products, which ones would you are as #1, #2 and #3 and so on?
I am new enough to the sport that I don';t have a background yet in making such comparisons.
What company impressed you the most? What company impressed you the least.
Any you think of as excellent value for the dollars spent, and which did you think were overprices for what they were selling?
 

cougarmeat

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I’ve only paddled Dagger (Vesper), Seda (Swift) and Mariner (Express, XL, Max). The Mariners are great if your primary desired trait is to haul gear. Without hatches - or just a rear hatch with a big opening - it is so easy (almost too easy) to slide gear up towards the bow or behind the seat to the stern. I have to put a tether line on the first bag that goes to the bow. Then I just pull on the line and it brings that first bag, and any others I’ve put in after it, back to the cockpit.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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SZihn- Are you asking about 'historical' companies like Mariner (Mariner Seattle composite boats, not the plastic fishing kayaks) or companies that are now in business?

Some of the different 'brands' are owned by conglomerates so it is a bit hard to separate them. Also, many 'USA' companies have shipped production to Asia, which can be good, bad, or immaterial depending on the level of quality control and supervision of the contractor.
 

CPS

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I'd say Current Design boats are at the top of my mind as far as quality is concerned. Generally very nice.

Eddyline kayaks are pretty good from what I hear. Though I've never seen one in person. Lots of benefits to thermoformed ABS kayaks. A few downsides too.

Wilderness Systems, Dagger, Perception, all are made in the States, and the quality is pretty good for rotomolded plastic boats. I've seen some older WS composite boats and they seemed well built, but a bit of a resin heavy lay up.

Jackson kayaks are also made in the US. They're pretty decent. Some of the fishing kayaks are a bit quirky, and there have been quality issues with pedal drive systems in the past.

Old town is also in the US, generally very nice rotomolded boats. They're got some really well designed hulls for fishing if that's your jam. Not much in the touring category. I know they absorbed Necky, but I don't know if they're still making anything under that name.

There's also Hobie. Really interesting pedal drives, also rather alarming prices.
 

SZihn

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My reason for specifying US made is about tariffs and the dropping value of the dollar overseas. All taxes paid on US made things also goes on imported things plus the international taxes which always pass on to the consumer. Corporations do not pay taxes, but they collect taxes but upping their prices to cover what ever they are orders to collect.

So in speaking with a friend who manages a sporting good store in Riverton. We were speaking about which American made kayaks were tops. I really don't know myself. I see Eddyline is recommended and I have heard that said few other places and also Current Designs and Wilderness Systems.


So yes, I am speaking of the ones made today.
 

Mowog73

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I'm very impressed with the quality of the US-made, 2014 Current Designs Solstice GTS Kevlar we picked up this past February for my wife. It has a number of improvements over my Canadian-made 1995 Current Designs Solstice GTHV fiberglass, although I can't complain about the quality and durability of my GTHV.
 

dermot

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my experience:
#1 = Stirling anything
#2 = CD Prana / Sisu / Karla

not a clue about touring boats tho
 

chodups

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I'm a fan of Sterling Kayaks and have mostly paddled an Illusion and Progression for the past 10 years. That said, my touring boat is a 14 year old Tempest 170Pro. It was US made and certainly not a paragon of American quality. It took a lot of finish work to keep the water out but is a solid, dry boat now. It will haul 4 weeks worth of gear with a clear deck which is nice.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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my experience:
#1 = Stirling anything
I've had a close look at only a couple of Sterling boats, but I wouldn't agree that the build quality is high.

#2 = CD Prana / Sisu / Karla
A friend had the skeg box join to the hull on a Prana crack, resulting in a major leak into the rear compartment - on a trip, on the West Coast of Vancouver Is. .
Two weeks with a taped-over skeg box in seas was no fun.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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That said, my touring boat is a 14 year old Tempest 170Pro. It was US made and certainly not a paragon of American quality. It took a lot of finish work to keep the water out but is a solid, dry boat now. It will haul 4 weeks worth of gear with a clear deck which is nice.
I'ver repaired two Tempest Pros, both with leaks in the rear compartment because of poor bonding of the skeg box to the hull. Working on the aft end of a skeg box is a miserable job, but those boats both belonged to friends, so I was happy to do it...(for them only!) :)
Those Tempest Pros also have had problems with bad bonding of hatch rims to the deck. On one day hatch rim, the adhesive wasn't spread all the way round the rim, so there was a 2" 'dry' stretch.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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SZihn seems to be an 'America First' guy. If Canadian boats were in the mix, I've found the Nimbus boats I've looked at to be well-built.
For rudder boats, pretty much all of them -CD, Nimbus, Seaward- have poor/thoughtless rudder rigging IMO
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Not the answer to SZihn's question, but one thing to keep in mind:
An excellent hull design can compensate for some less-than-ideal aspects of the build.
Examples: Sterling boats have a very keen following because of their performance.
The NDK/SKUK boats (Romany family) have low-tech construction (hand laid glass mat with non-structural scrim on the inside, quite thick gelcoat)
but that has proven to be 'good enough' over many years and millions of miles of paddling - and the hull design is still appealing.
 

chodups

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I'ver repaired two Tempest Pros, both with leaks in the rear compartment because of poor bonding of the skeg box to the hull.
That was an issue with mine. I was able to repair it. About 1/2 of the seal/washers inside of the boat were the wrong size and I replaced all of those. Solved that issue. The seat mounting had been botched and had to be removed. Rather than fix it and reinstall I just carved a foam seat that has been aces. The gel coat thickness varies wildly on my boat which results in a HEAVY 170. Nothing has ever broken on it.

It was a prodeal boat so cosmetic blems are expected. Turned out there were those other issues as well, though, and the skeg box bonding was unforgiveable. American quality? NOT.
 

SZihn

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Well I do support my country at all times ---and my government only when it deserves it. (usually they do not)

But my reason for asking about American made kayaks is not patriotism. It's about taxation. Any imports get taxed in every way the American boats do, but in addition they have to pay for tariffs and special handling fees. That just gets passed on to the consumer. Manufacturers never pay taxes. They only collect taxes from the consumers, and pass it along to governments.
 

Mowog73

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For rudder boats, pretty much all of them -CD, Nimbus, Seaward- have poor/thoughtless rudder rigging IMO
Definitely true of my GTHV, the cable is in the H-channel, how are you going to change a broken rudder cable while in the middle of nowhere. The GTS has the rudder cables in plastic tubes, which should make changing a broken cable a 'snap'.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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But my reason for asking about American made kayaks is not patriotism. It's about taxation.
The US-Canada-Mexico trade agreement helps a bit, though there are still fees associated with the paperwork which affect prices cross-border.

And taxes do pay for government services, though we should avoid this topic lest we get into a political discussion!
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Definitely true of my GTHV, the cable is in the H-channel, how are you going to change a broken rudder cable while in the middle of nowhere. The GTS has the rudder cables in plastic tubes, which should make changing a broken cable a 'snap'.
There was an interesting repair thread here at WCP about a frayed cable strand caught in an H-channel.
https://westcoastpaddler.com/commun...ns-solstice-st-rudder-cable-replacement.9081/
My comment was more about the rudder blades not vertical. A friend bought a 2020 CD Solstice and it has the same problem that his 25 year-old Solstice had. So there's more to 'well-built' than the laminate quality; thoughtful rigging means a lot.
This is not a picture of his boat, but this is what I see when we paddle together:
rudder trailing.JPG
 

SZihn

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Yes you are correct john when you said " taxes do pay for government services".

BUT as I said , Any imports get taxed in every way the American boats do, but in addition they have to pay for tariffs and special handling fees.
So when trying to cultivate a market place it makes scene to compete,(the bottom line) and having to pay 2X the tax for no more product is bad for business.
 

Mowog73

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There was an interesting repair thread here at WCP about a frayed cable strand caught in an H-channel.
https://westcoastpaddler.com/commun...ns-solstice-st-rudder-cable-replacement.9081/
My comment was more about the rudder blades not vertical. A friend bought a 2020 CD Solstice and it has the same problem that his 25 year-old Solstice had.
Very true, sometimes the blade is not vertical, or doesn't stay vertical.

I found the repair thread really interesting. I had forgotten thinking about how to repair/replace the rudder cable 20-some years ago. I'd think it would be rare that a cable would break, tensile strength has got to be several hundred kilograms, but near impossible to replace in the field.

As John said, shouldn't be tariffs charged on a kayak from Canada, will be on one from UK.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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I'd think it would be rare that a cable would break, tensile strength has got to be several hundred kilograms, but near impossible to replace in the field.
It's gettng more common to see Spectra cord used for rudder cables these days- mostly as retrofits in sea kayaks. I think all surfskis are using Spectra rudder lines. The THINK surfskis use Q-Powerline, a 600# test Spectra cord used by kitesurfers for rigging. It has a waxy outer sheath which is very low-friction. The Expedition Kayaks Audax boats come with 2mm Spectra lines for both steering and uphaul. Cord can be knotted so installation and some field repairs are much easier because of that. For the repair kit on trips, I have cord with thin (20-22 ga) stranded electrical wire leader attached with CA adhesive, so the replacement can be pushed through the tube if necessary. The leader just gets cut off after use.
 
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