Top positive review
21 people found this helpful
Not a bad boat; about what I expected.
on August 25, 2011
I don't believe that I am qualified to review this product in the abstract - I have experience with only one other such product, a Sevylor Caravelle 2-person boat that I bought about ten or 15 years ago. Really, really loved that thing, but it finally started developing some leaks (it went a decade or more without so much as a single one, and it got dragged around a good bit), and I decided to replace it with something a bit larger. To be fair to the manufacturer, the holes that it developed may have been the result of our addition to our family of a little dog (who, I just realized, has surprising sharp toenails), rather than any deterioration in the materials, but I just don't know.
Anyway, the new one ... it is larger than the 2-person that I had previously (a slightly different model), but not quite as much as I'd hoped. It is still a bit cramped with the three of us, and the dog, but that is what I said about the 2-person, too. Mrsmousepotato, on the other hand, thinks it is a lot larger.
The materials may be slightly lighter, but I am not sure about that. They still seem adequately durable, and held up just fine for the four or five days we have used it thus far. Per my scale it weighs just about nine pounds without the rope, the oars, or anything else, which is only a few pounds heavier than the old 2-person Caravelle. It is still light enough that I was able to put it on top of my backpack and drag it up a very, very steep 1,000-foot ascent (in one mile) to an alpine lake.
The construction is just as good. Not a leak anywhere. Held air just fine. Aesthetically pleasing work. Nice, even seams, well cut pieces, etc.
This one has an inner chamber that circles the entire inside. The old one had only two long chambers on each side. I guess that is an advantage if the outer chamber loses air as it seems like just the inner chamber alone would suffice to keep one afloat and dry; however, I also think that it reduces the interior volume of the vessel a bit.
The valves are both better and worse. The old one had valves just like what you'd find on a cheap beach ball, but they worked just fine for me (I had to put a small stick inside to hold that flap thingie open when deflating), and were better in that one could depress them after inflation so that the tops were below the surface to which they were mounted. The new ones are heavier duty and operate on a different principal, which has advantages and disadvantages, none of which are particularly significant, except that they stick up somewhat and are prone to being dislodged and opened when shifting weight, items, and feet while the boat is in use. Not a big deal (if you're paying attention), but overall, I really think that the cheap old beach ball valves were better.
This one comes with a built-in pressure gauge that looks cool, but is kinda inscrutable in operation. I still am not entirely sure if it was telling me to add pressure or release pressure, or really just how accurate it is. Better than nothing, I guess.
This one is not quite as easy to row on account of the placement of the oarlocks. Again, I am not qualified to say whether or not the oarlocks are located in exactly the 'correct' position (I have to defer to the experts at and expertise of Sevylor in that), but I can say that the old one was slightly easier to row (easier to get the paddles up out of the water), I believe on account of the oarlocks being placed slightly higher on the gunwales.
And, finally, this one is not quite as 'stiff' as the old one. I used to inflate the old one such that it was almost as rigid as if it were made of wood. Seriously. I could just about stand on the bow of it without the fabric being depressed at all. Keep in mind that I really did not have a clue about what I was doing, and I may well have been overinflating it to absolutely eye-poppingly dangerous pressures, but I can say that it did, in fact, hold up well for a decade or more. The new one is not like this; it is quite a bit more flexible and spongy, but I filled it by using, not my old method of blowing and blowing as hard as I could until my cheeks hurt and spots appeared in front of my eyes and I passed out cold, but by reference to the built-in gauge, which may well indicate that a proper inflation pressure is substantially less that what I had thought theretofore. Without the gauge, I most certainly would have added more pressure (and more, and more) and, thus, greater stiffness and stability, perhaps at the danger of overinflating it, but that was never, as I said, a problem with the old Caravelle.
Reading this, one might get the impression that I don't like or recommend this boat, but I think it deserves five stars because it is a quality product, and it is what it is; and the only negatives I can think of to say about it is that I, personally, liked my old boat better. (Wah.) Mrsmousepotato, on the other hand, likes this one better because of the larger size, and she feels its a bit safer due to the larger inner chamber. My 11-year-old daughter, whose opinion doesn't count, thinks it is easier to row.