Review: Old Town Otter Kayak - A good introduction to quietwater kayaking

If you are new to quiet-water kayaking and you want to get your feet wet with a simple boat that doesn’t cost a lot of money, but give you a good of what kayaking has to offer, you should take a look at Old Town Canoe’s Otter Kayak. The boat offers is a good introductory kayak that is small and easy to manage that should give anyone a good first impression of kayaking.

The Otter is one of the smaller recreational kayaks out there, but with a cockpit that is slightly oversized when compared to other similar boats and the length and width of the boat is more than enough for all but the tallest of paddlers.  The boat is rated to hold up to 225 pounds, but you can go up to about 250 pounds of weight in the boat without affecting the performance in a major way.  When you get much above 250 pounds or so, the boat starts to ride lower and lower in the water, which makes it harder to paddle and less maneuverable.

The Otter is constructed of a polyethylene material, which is basically a heavy-duty plastic that can be bent and folded without breaking. The material is strong enough to last for many trips.  I have had my boat for several years and besides some scratches, it is still going strong. The material does heat up quickly in the sun, so if you are paddling in the sun, the boat can get hot to the touch, which is something to think about before you lean on it. There is a built-in folding seat in the cockpit that can be adjusted. This seat has a high back, which makes sitting in the Otter more comfortable than some other boats that have lower seat backs, especially if you have back problems. The seat also has a built-in cup holder that is located between where your legs would be, making it easy to carry a water bottle, soda bottle or some other sort of bottle between your legs while you are paddling.

There are carrying handles that are attached via a heavy duty loop of rope located at either end of the boat. The handles are contoured plastic that make it easy to grip and hold on to them. It also makes it more comfortable when you are carrying the boat. There are no foot pedals in the boat like some other kayaks, so you have to just find a comfortable position to rest your feet and your legs in the boat. For some this can be a bit of a pain, but I have found it to be more comfortable than some of the boats with the pedals, since at 6&#1462&#148, sometimes I&#146m too tall for even the tallest pedal setting in other boats. There is some foam located in either end of the boat to provide extra buoyancy. This cuts down on storage space within the boat, but since there is no access portal in the boat, most of the space within the boat is inaccessible while you are paddling (especially the space behind the seat). When you are paddling, the only real accessible space is that area directly in front of you in the cockpit and right underneath the portion of the boat in front of you.

I got the Otter when I was looking to get back into the world of paddling after a long absence. I wanted something that was small and light, easy to carry and that was big enough for me to fit in (I'm 6'2"). I also wanted something inexpensive should I not want to keep paddling or if I wanted to upgrade to something bigger in the future. Out of all the boats I looked at, sat in and otherwise tried out, I ended up going with the Otter because I felt it was the most value for my money and it seemed like it would satisfy most of my requirements for a boat while not costing me an arm and a leg.

I purchased the Otter for about $250 and with a life jacket and a paddle, I think I ended up spending about $325 for the whole paddling package. The other big draw besides price was the fit - I found many of the boats slightly difficult to get in and out of or uncomfortable to sit in once I was in mostly due to my height. The Otter seemed really small looking at it, but getting in and out was easy and there was more than enough room to stretch out once I was in the boat. I can even slump a bit in the chair and still have enough leg room to stretch my legs out in the boat.

The Otter isn't designed for whitewater and I haven't used it there (though it would be more than enough for quick water and some slight rapids), instead I have used it quite often in the slower waters of various rivers and ponds. The boat has been easy to get in and out of the water, has proved to be very stable once it is in the water and is easy to paddle and maneuver both on the rivers and in the lakes and ponds. Overall I found the boat to be a great reintroduction to the world of paddling.

That said, don't get the Otter thinking it is a perfect boat. It tends to drift off while you are paddling and doesn't travel as fast as some other boats, especially on flat water. Not only that, but the Otter really isn't designed for wide open waters - you wouldn't want to be in the middle of a large lake in the Otter, between the wind and the waves, it would be an uncomfortable and hard paddle back to shore.

Overall, the Otter is a great boat for beginners or for more experienced people who are looking for a small, easily maneuvered, knock around kind of boat that really isn't a master of any one kind of water, but more of a jack of all trades. With the Otter I've been able to paddle on slower rivers, cruise down slightly faster waters and paddle around the shores of various lakes and ponds. If you have never had a kayak and want to start or you are looking for a lightweight, small, easy to use, knock around kayak for flatwater and slow rivers and streams, then the Otter is definitely worth taking a look it.