In our next installment of the 25 Reviews of Christmas, we’re gonna go big on the wish list and talk about a kayak. The Raptor 13 from Santa Cruz Kayaks is an exceptional paddling machine. While it’s design and looks veer away from the conventional norm that we’re used to seeing with kayaks, it’s performance says “fishing machine”. Founder of Santa Cruz Kayaks, Jim Martin, has brought a unique design with amazing stability in his Raptor series of kayaks. I was fortunate enough to be given an opportunity to test the Raptor 13, and was impressed. It takes you a couple of minutes to get used to the design, but once you take off in this kayak, you quickly realize the design is very well thought out. You won’t win any endurance races with the Raptor 13, but it isn’t the slowest paddling kayak on the market in my opinion. The stability and tracking is what sets this kayak apart. It tracks straight like an arrow and even when you stop paddling, the kayak continues to track in a straight line. I was able to stand up in the kayak with minimal effort, and while I was concerned that the narrowness of the cockpit would make standing somewhat difficult, once up, those hesitations quickly evaporated. To test the stability of the kayak, I was able to stand on one leg essentially rolling the kayak to an almost perpendicular stance and yet no worries about it flipping over. The kayak paddles very smoothly, and paddle strokes are made with ease and without the worry of knocking your knuckles. The features on the kayak are very well laid out, including flush mount rod holders, recessed paddle keepers as well as rod or net recessed areas on both sides of the kayak. The center hatch, while initially thought to be too small, actually was able to carry several bags of soft plastic lures, my cell phone, camera, and fish grips with ease. The front hatch is easily reached, and you can actually slide up the kayak to access the front hatch without worry of dipping the nose. The rear cargo area is quite large, but positioned opposite of your normal kayak rear storage area. I was easily able to stow my Grizzly 16 cooler with double rod holders on each side with ease, and the solid webbing straps secured the cooler. Rigging options on this kayak are endless, and I soon plan on adding tracks to the gunnels on the kayak for even more rigging possibilities. The overall design of the kayak suggests that it would be perfect for those beach launches to target your favorite offshore species of fish. Overall, I was very pleased with this new and innovative kayak from Santa Cruz Kayaks and look forward to my next trip out on the yak.
- Bow hatch with 3 point harness
- center console for rigging
- center storage hatch
- molded recess for paddles
- molded recess for fishing rods, nets, gaffs, spear gun, etc.
- rear deck 4″ hatches
- wide cargo area with solid webbing straps
- 2 flush mount rod holders