Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Kayaker Is Born

For at least a couple of years now, I've been promising C his own kayak when he got big enough. Turns out "big enough" is relative to the size of the kayak. Yesterday, while wandering around Sam's Club, I ran across a display of Lifetime Wave kayaks for kids. At just under $100, the price was right, and the kayaks looked well-made with reasonably thick polyethylene. I snapped a quick picture with my phone so I could research the boats later, and though I didn't find a lot of reviews online, everything I saw was positive. So this morning, I headed back to Sam's Club, bought one of the orange models, and came home to dig out a spare seat I'd saved. The 'yak was already rigged with four deck loops, so installing the seat was just a matter of snapping on four clasps and making some strap adjustments. VoilĂ . Ready for the lake.

Rain blew through the area just after noon today, and C and I had a cool, overcast evening for trying out the kayak. Around 6 o'clock, we headed over to Couchville Lake and launched. C was a little nervous until he got in the boat and felt its stability. It wasn't long before he picked up on basic paddling, and after he made some practice runs near the shore, we were off. We paddled about a quarter-mile down the lake to a small pier, took a break, and then headed back. C did a lot better on the outgoing leg (see video below) than the return leg, mostly because his arms got tired and he started favoring one side. All in all though, he did a great job. For a while, we'll keep the trips short until he builds up some stamina, but regardless, I'm excited that he and I can now get out and kayak together.

Couchville Lake Test Run



Solidly constructed and well-designed, the Lifetime Wave is a good kayak for a young paddler. I'm too big to paddle it, but on a couple of occasions, I gave C's kayak a shove and watched it track. The two rear fins helped it stay on course, although as I note above, the short boat turns very easily under paddle. The 'yak has two scupper holes in the front, but with about 55 pounds aboard, it was buoyant enough that no water entered from the bottom. In terms of specifications, the kayak is 6' long, has a 24" beam, weighs 18 pounds, and is rated for paddlers up to 130 pounds. The pictures below outline features and specs, but C's boat also came with the aforementioned deck loops, a carry handle attached to the bow, and a decent two-piece, aluminum paddle that feathers. Finally, the kayak has a one-year warranty which covers defects in materials or workmanship.

Click pictures to enlarge.


David McHaley said...

I've had Lifetime tables and chairs, and of course their basketball hoops for years, and have always favored them over other brands just because they're a made-in-America old-fashioned feel-good manufacturer (based in Utah, I believe). I got one of their sit inside kayaks at Dick's Sporting Goods for $300 - and it's been a real bargain too. I've been wondering about the sit on tops, so thanks for your review. I think I will get these for the kids.

JL said...

David, you're welcome. Thank you for the added information that these boats are made in the U.S.A. If you decide to purchase, I hope your kids enjoy them. My two-year-old daughter is already clamoring for the pink version.