Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron 9XT Recreational Kayak
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- Combines comfort and features at an Affordable price
- Adjustable comfort flex seat with extra padding
- Stern hatch provides space for storing gear
- Adjustable support Track foot braces and thigh pads ensure control
- Comfortable carrying handles
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Old Town created the Heron 9XT Kayak for recreational boaters who want to feel comfortable and confident on the water without breaking the bank. This boat features just enough stern storage for an afternoon on the water, adjustable seating to accommodate a range of paddlers, and a hull that feels rock-solid in all types of conditions. You get a few extra bells and whistles and a simple, reliable boat that'll bring you and your family years of fun for seasons to come.
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My story: My boyfriend and I (both mid 20s) spent about 6 months researching kayaks before finally purchasing two of the Old Town Heron 9xt kayaks from Cabellas. These were our first kayaks, however we have done plenty in inflatable rafts. We wanted an incredibly versatile kayak that we could take in fresh and saltwater (we live between mountain lakes and the ocean with multiple rivers in our backyard within Washington state). Our kayaking goals included everything from leisure paddling, calm mountain lake AND slightly choppy ocean fishing, wave surfing, mild rafting (class II with occasional class III), and multi-day river floating/camping trips with no vehicle support (for exploration and for hunting). We have owned our Heron 9xts for over a year now and have spent 100s of hours in these kayaks, and they have delivered in every way we had hoped!
WATER USAGE- This can vary based on your situational comfort level and experience but, as I said above, we have taken ours on calm lakes, windy lakes, calm and slightly choppy ocean water, rivers, and small waterfalls.
WEIGHT- While I can carry my Heron 9xt over my shoulder (I'm a mid 20s female, active build, 160lbs/5'8"), I find it a little heavy to lug very far on my own. Since we have two kayaks and two of us (he's a very fit 185lb 5'9" retired Marine, late 20s), we set the kayaks side by side and carry both by the handles, one of us in front/one in back. This works great, and it's pretty easy to carry one on top of the other for a short way if you come to a narrow path. CAR LOADING: I *can* load the kayaks on our car top Yakima racks by myself (we mostly use a Ford Escape), but they are a little heavy for me, so I prefer help.
TRACKING/STABILITY- When we first got these in the water, we had a terrible time with them both pulling to the left. After paddling for 20 minutes or so, however, both our arms fatigued and we more or less evened out. We quickly determined it was because we are both right-armed, so our left arms were slacking in the paddling! After a few trips of really pushing our arms to get stronger, we evened out just fine! Maneuverability is GREAT- after some practice, we had no problems easily coaxing these kayaks where we wanted to go. Stability was a little shaky starting out in comparison to rental kayaks we have used in the past, but we have since tried tipping on purpose (practicing emergency exits and mid-water re-entry), and we found it incredibly hard! They feel a little tippy, but it's an illusion. You're perfectly stable in these boats!
SEAT- While the seat is FAR more comfortable than others we have sat in, after an hour or two our bums do start feeling it a bit (an expected trade-off when spending long periods on the water). A little more padding would be nice! But the adjustable back support is strong and wonderful! I prefer mine further forward, and he sets his farther back. The height of the backrest is great for us (both of us are under 5'10'), and surprisingly comfortable for my 6'2" dad (he's in his 60s and thought the seat was GREAT for our 20 minute paddle!).
FOOT SUPPORTS- The adjustable foot supports provide AWESOME increased stability for more intense paddles, or just a nice way to relax and float the day away. I do find it incredibly difficult to adjust while on the water, but on land it's a piece of cake. Adjusts comfortably for kids and tall adults alike!
DURABILITY- After lots of love (and a little calculated situational abuse), these kayaks are still running strong! They have rowed over logs/underwater snags, been grounded on sharp rock in rivers, and once we got bashed onto some underwater coral that wasn't friendly. The coral left a scratch scar on mine, but the material doesn't seem any weaker. We are VERY impressed with the material performance!
Potential drawbacks (if you get nit-picky):
WATERTIGHT COMPARTMENT- While we have yet to have our watertight compartments leak and the lid IS incredibly secure, the compartment is sealed with a thick foam material behind the kayak seat... and we have a hard time trusting that eventually it will leak through. On day trips it's not a big deal, but if it is imperative something stays dry we put it in a dry bag first. That said, we have fit TONS of gear into those compartments (tent, sleeping bags, food, JetBoil, etc) and been very thankful for that secure space!
NO FRONT WEBBING- We wish this had webbing on the front of the kayak... such a simple thing that is included on most kayaks, we are curious why this was left off?
CUP HOLDER- Located between your legs, the cup holder works okay... until you bump it or if it doesn't fit quite right. With that, we just smile and are thankful that the rest of the kayak is SUPER awesome!
COLOR- While the colors start out beautifully vibrant, we have seen other kayakers with these same kayaks on the lake that are quite faded. Our guess is they are stored in the sun (which would diminish color as well as pliability/durability of the plastic) so we are careful to rinse ours off each time and put them away in the garage. They don't sit in the sun when not in use.
Biggest con versus others is that there is no drain plug. The back storage is not water proof but meets the general needs of a recreational kayaker.