After months of research and trying yaks at various locations, we chose the Native Watercraft for several reasons, not the least of which was comfort. We used the criteria listed in “Choosing the Right Yak”.
We chose the Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5 Solo Angler. From this picture of it, you can certainly see that it isn’t a regular kayak. In fact, it is a hybrid between a canoe and a kayak. It has an open body, tunnel hull, and deep V bow and stern. These features gives it plenty of accessible storage, stability and makes it easy to paddle.
Consider the storage of regular kayaks. These consist of a well with elastic straps to hold items in and the hollow of the kayak with a plastic lid. Neither storage holds very much and probably it isn’t a good idea to put much weight in either of these storage devices. Beyond that, the storage is hard to access and most often you have to get out of the kayak to remove the lid. The Ultimate 14.5 design is such that you can store anything you want where ever you like. Not only that, you can easily access it while in your seat. If you are concerned about getting your items wet, optional skirts take care of that.
One thing the regular kayaks we had in common was the feeling of instability. It wasn’t always safe to stand up in them. There were two brands I refused to test when I saw other people getting in them. It was all they could do to stay upright. The Ultimate 14.5 is rated for class two rivers. This rating has been proven to me more than once when I was crossing the channel with wind, waves and wakes. It was also comforting to know that even if it gets swamped it will still remain at the surface.
The Ultimate 14.5 was easy to paddle five months after having shoulder surgery. This was not “just” shoulder surgery. This was grinding off bones, cutting and sewing of muscles, popping out the joint and reattaching tendons with screws. I was shocked. The Ultimate 14.5 was easier to paddle than other lighter kayaks. Granted, the length of the 14.5 is better for speed than yaks like the Tarpon 12. The ease of paddling the Ultimate was significantly better than the Tarpon, much more than one would have imagined. I was able to paddle the Ultimate for many hours more than the others. I was comfortable the whole time on the water.
The Ultimate has one unique feature that other yaks don’t measure up. The adjustable removable seat. This chair is so comfortable you can sit in it hour after hour without feeling the need to rest your butt. Jackson makes a similar seat, but it isn’t as adjustable and versatile as the Native Watercraft seat. I like the fact that I can take the seat out of the yak when we are ready to make camp and have a comfortable chair to sit on while fishing off the river bank or beach. Being able to remain in the yak for long periods of time was one of the top selling features for me. When you are doing some serious fishing, there isn’t much worse than having to stop fishing because your back or butt hurts from sitting on the hard plastic.