Venture Kayaks Flex 11 Review
What does the Flex 11 have to offer the day-touring recreational paddler?
Tracking and manoeuvrability are excellent with the Flex 11. Mind you, if that was not the case with an 11-foot day tourer then it should never make it off the drawing board. One of the demo kayaks we used was fitted with a rudder, which worked very well. Why it was fitted with a rudder in the first place, I don't know; I guess it was added because it was possible to fit one. The rudder could be useful to a paddler who would normally be excluded from paddling because of a disability that made it difficult to control the direction of a kayak. I won't be using the rudder until I am much, much older (not long then...).
Thigh Braces & Footrests
I like the way the thigh braces fit my thighs as they should in a kayak. Thigh braces in some kayaks provide no support at all and are simply there because someone told the designer to put them there.
Everything about the cockpit configuration fitted Codger and me very well. As a guide, I am 6'1" and 14 stone (well, add another stone, but I find 14 stone sounds so much better...) or 95kg in new money. Codger is not as tall, but our footrest settings were identical. It is clear that the cockpit configuration works for most paddlers.
Seat & Backrest
I have a problem with the marketing man's "added value seats" as they come with a whiff or bull. Seats that encourage the paddler to lean back and paddle like a Duracell Bunny are often perceived as added value when in truth they are not. If you're sat correctly in (or on) your kayak the seat back is there to stop your bum sliding backwater when you push with your legs. High backrests work on fishing kayaks where you can be sat not paddling for hours on end. The seat in the Flex 11 can be unfolded to make the backrest higher - don't bother, the seat is fine as it is, and it makes life easier when using a spraydeck. Correct posture is key to a good paddling experience, we even have an article all about it, which you can read here.
Venture Flex 11 is comfortable and reassuring on flat water and is a fun paddle in the chop and swells. I have no problem coastal touring in Flex 11 when conditions are a bit lumpy. I use a neoprene spraydeck for coastal touring just in case I fall asleep on the job, flob in (capsize) and then need to roll. Nylon decks are more than adequate for flat water touring.
Measuring Distance with a Smileometer (patent pending)
Paddling distance can be measured in miles, time and smiles. The majority of recreational paddlers hit the water for 3-4 hours at a time and distance covered is not the issue. So if you paddle like a madman with the wind and tide you will go further in that same time period. Time is the more important measure of paddling distance and 3-4 hours of smiley miles is the best measurement of all.
Paddling for Fitness
Paddling for a few hours will help your general fitness. Paddle harder, faster and further and you will still get fitter still. If you want to cover 20-plus miles at speed whilst getting fit then you need a long thin pointy tippy kayak - not a Venture Flex 11. Codger and I can burn calories as we want by either pooling along or paddling with a purpose.
The kit we were using on the Elie Strait 120 review is ideal for use with the Flex 11.
If you fancy bouncing about on the coast and can roll then you'll need a neoprene spraydeck. The Flex needs UK size 5 (R5 / N5) spraydeck. If you're after a neoprene deck, we recommend the Palm Roanoke, or for a nylon deck, a Palm Coniston.
You can get day touring paddles from £35 upwards. There is an old maxim in paddlesport:
"You will paddle better with an average kayak and a good paddle, than you will a good kayak and an average paddle".
It is the paddle that makes it all happen and an appropriate paddle of the correct length is important. Our most popular paddles for day touring are the ones we used in this review. At 6'1" I use a 220cm paddle but if I were say 5'9" I would choose a 215cm paddle. My day job paddle is a full-carbon bent shaft stupidly expensive thing - but then I'm worth it.
Content or Not?
We are content selling Venture Kayaks Flex 11 as a good value product because it does what it says on the tin.
Venture Kayaks Flex 11 Specs
Venture Flex 11 Detail Pictures