Elie Strait 120 Kayak Review
Evaluating kayaks and canoes is a continuous process culminating in Kanumesse, the annual European trade show in Nuremberg, Germany. It takes many weeks of planning and meetings to finalise the stock line-up for The Canoe Shops Group.
At one such meeting the “boys” were discussing what kayak would best suit me - amusing! I had done my own research. Hmmm, sorry boys, I can select my kayak and I don’t need your help. Rank has its privileges!
I am now done with long distance sea kayaking, kayak surfing, sea sickness, wilderness camping, rough seas and mosquitoes. I never did paddle white water.
I now paddle canals, lakes, estuaries, and along the coast when the conditions are calm. Anywhere that is interesting, pretty and where there are birds and wildlife. I also want to paddle in comfort and in a kayak that has perfect manners! So boys - thanks for your help, but no thanks.
With my short list I headed away to Kanumesse.
My shortlist of two
Elie Strait 120
There are quite a few boats that would suit me well but after some work I had a shortlist of the Elie Strait 120 and the Necky Eliza. They are kayaks designed and built with the smaller paddler in mind, and are two of the nicest low volume kayaks that I have ever paddled. I made up my mind that the boat for me was the Elie Strait 120 (subject of course to further sea trials).
Why did I decide on the Elie over the Necky Eliza?
Simple - for me the Elie Strait 120 does exactly what I want it to do now and the Eliza does exactly what I used to do. Turn the clock back to when I was sea kayaking and I would have chosen the Eliza, but that was then and this is now. I am older and wiser say I.
On my return from Nuremberg a demo Strait 120 was waiting for me at Kayaks and Paddles (Plymouth). The prompt service made me feel quite important.
The Old Duffer and the Old Codger were due to paddle Venture Kayaks Flex 11 and Feel Free Atlantis 12 at Looe in Cornwall as part of our review process, so I joined them with the Strait 120.
It is with some satisfaction that I can tell the boys I have found my perfect kayak. The boat is light to paddle, light to lift and slips through the water effortlessly. I paddled Venture Flex 11 and Feel Free Atlantis 12 on the same day but they are both too big for me. I barely touched the sides and would need a cubic yard of foam to pad out the cockpits. These boats felt heavier in the water compared to the Elie Strait 120. Saying that, Old Duffer and Old Codger were doing very well in the Flex and Atlantis.
I like shoes that fit my feet and a kayak that fits me just as well. The Elie Strait 120 fits me perfectly. It is light and the cockpit configuration is excellent; I felt I had control of the kayak from the start.
For my style of recreational paddling, the Elie Strait 120 is the best kayak I have ever had. Here are some more images of the paddling I enjoy:
A rudder could be useful to a paddler whose physical condition made controlling the kayak difficult; I am told it is a simple job to install a footrest-operated rudder. I would say my paddling abilities are reasonable but I am no expedition paddler. However I think just about anyone who fits the kayak will be able to paddle it without a rudder.
|The seat and backrest system in the Elie Strait kayaks is very good.
I would also recommend that you choose a buoyancy aid that clears the backrest.
Old Duffer is writing a "rant" about how to sit properly in your kayak as he thinks the monster backrests on some kayaks are ruining the way some people paddle. Leaning back whilst paddling makes me ache and I have less control over the kayak. I am right about the Elie and Old Duffer is right about the seating position: sit upright with your spine forward of vertical and you can't go wrong (he says). The backrest article has now been completed and can be found here.
Clothing, Footwear, Spraydeck & Paddles
I'm going to wander slightly off topic to say a few words about the kit I am using because there are many combinations to choose from and I think it's important to be comfortable while you're out paddling.
My summer paddlling is restricted to mornings and evenings because I don't do sun very well. My spring, autumn and winter paddling is daylight hours only.
I use Crewsaver wetsuit shoes or CSR Ultra Boots in warmer weather and amusing but supple wellies in the winter. Winter paddling on still, frosty/misty days is wonderful but I don't want freezing feet so out come the wellies and some thermal socks.
Thermals & Fleece
I have some nice Jack Wolfskin thermals and a lightweight micropile fleece top and pants to wear under my cagoule and salopettes. The boys were Yak and Immersion Research base and mid layers, but I'm sticking to JW. You soon warm up once you get paddling, even when there is frost on the ground.
Cagoule (Cag) & Salopettes
I like salopettes because they do not "gap" at the back and when combined with thermals your back and kidney area stays warm. The Yak Strobe cagoule fits me very well and it's comfortable. Both these shell garments are sensibly priced, though we can supply cags and pants at three times the price if that's what you want!
I wear a Yak Kallista buoyancy aid when I go out paddling. Its the old style one which is still going strong - which just goes to prove the quality of the materials they use. I've not changed it because it fits me well and is comfortable to wear while paddling.
Not Again's Buoyancy Aid
Our mascot is called "Not Again". His buoyancy aid was made by my mother in law. We do sell genuine Crewsaver Pet Floats for cats and dogs.
I have had my Aquabound paddle for many years, though we are unable to supply this partilcular paddle as it is long out of production. If I need to replace my paddle at any time I would choose a paddle that is between 210 and 215cm in length. Carbon or glass fibre shafts are lighter and warmer than those with metal shafts and I prefer smaller blade shapes as they do not overload my arms and they tend to catch less wind. If I needed a replacement paddle I would probably go for the Aquabound Manta Ray, although there are many other paddles available for you to choose from.
I am happy with a budget nylon spraydeck that is easy to get on as long as it keeps the drips off me. If my kayak is about to capsize I can still get out without getting my hair wet - "the lady's not for eskimo rolling". So, a bombproof, hard to put on, hard to take off neoprene spraydeck is not what I need. The Elie takes an N4 deck size and I like the Palm Windermere spraydeck, it's comfy and very adjustable.
Back to the Kayak...
I am no plastics engineer but having read the technical blurb it all sounded very good. It feels like a composite kayak as the hull is stiff and light. Here endeth the technical stuff.
Elie Strait 120 Stats
Feel Free Atlantis 12
Venture Kayaks Flex 11
I can paddle the Venture Kayaks Flex 11 and the Feel Free Atlantis 12 and the view from them is just as good. I wear a size 6 shoe and the Elie Strait 120 feels like a size 6 kayak. The Flex 11 feels like a size 10 and the Atlantis 12 a size 11.
This is likely to be my last review for a while as I can't see anything on the horizon that would convince me to change from my Elie Strait 120.
Elie Strait 120 was reviewed by the Fridge Fairy, (CEO, Canoe Shops Group) - October
- ably assisted (!) by Duffer and Codger
Here are some more images from another Elie Strait 120 test paddle on the River Tamar in Cornwall...