Living with the Kinetic 100 Hydrolite
It’s been a good few months since we posted our first look review of Tootega’s Kinetic 100 Hydrolite and we always promised to write a follow-up when we’d paddled it more and could see how the lightweight boat stood up to a little more abuse. This slimmed down all-rounder impressed us with both looks and performance when we first paddled it, but how would it stack up after a season of use?
For those not familiar with the Kinetic 100 Hydrolite (and who haven’t read our original review), this is the slimmed down version of Tootega’s popular ten-foot all-rounder. It retains all the features of the Kinetic 100, including wave-loving “Hybrid C” hull and retractable skeg, but has shed 4kg in weight thanks to some clever design and manufacturing.
We talk more about the features of the Kinetic 100 Hydrolite in the original review, so I’ll focus on how it has been to live with in this follow-up.
Missing: One Kinetic 100 Hydrolite
One thing about the Hydrolite that has been apparent over the season is its absence. We’re lucky at Sitons to have access to a pretty extensive fleet of sit on top kayaks, so can pick and choose what we paddle. The Hydrolite kinetic has easily been one of the most used and borrowed boats in our collection since its arrival.
Part of that popularity is the fact that The Kinetic 100 is a great all-rounder. If we’re taking a few boats out to play in the waves we know that the Kinetics will deliver the smiles thanks to that seating position and Hybrid C hull. If we’re planning some light in-shore touring we know that the retractable skeg will help the Kinetic keep up with longer boats and the layout won’t leave us crippled after a couple of hours paddling. It even does a pretty decent job as a pack mule with those large hatches and ample rear storage. It’s rare that you are going to come off the water cursing your choice of boat when it is a Kinetic 100.
However, we do have a non-Hydrolite Kinetic 100 that has all those same advantages and the Hydrolite still gets more use. Let’s face it, the least-fun part of kayaking is lifting, storing and moving kayaks. Between long walks to put-ins, roof-topping and storing, it sometimes feels like you are getting more exercise on land than on water. The Hydrolite’s 4kg diet effectively removes 20% of that pain and it is surprising how much difference that can make – particularly at the end of a long day.
Durability: Does lighter weight make the Hydrolite a lightweight?
Less weight clearly means less plastic, which logically must mean a weaker boat. We also had concerns about how that lovely high-gloss finish on the Kinetic would look once it had been dragged up and down a few rocky shores and been bounced off a few roof racks and the occasional car park.
My tenuous grasp of physics tells me that the Hydrolite must not be as strong as its full-fat sibling, but we’ve seen no evidence of that. The Hydrolite Kinetic is still a rigid boat that hasn’t had any problems with the abuse we have thrown its way. It still looks sharp too. Scuffs and scratches are no worse than on any other well-made kayak and our fears of it scratching too easily appear to be unfounded – despite the fact that our boats tend to get treated rougher than most. These few surface scratchs on the bow are the worst of it, and they can as a result of a novice dragging the Kinetic on its nose across rocks.
Despite being stored outside, colours have remained sharp and true too. No sign at all of the colour fade we sometimes see from other makes. Even the retractable skeg has faired well. Bungee based systems always run the risk of slackening off and losing their spring, but no problems to report.
To round up then, The Tootega Kinetic 100 Hydrolite is a versatile boat that is fun, practical and durable. After nearly a year of regular use the closest thing to a complain that we have is that the low profile anchor points can be a bit fiddly to fit some seat clips to – although you can still attach them and it is a pretty comfortable kayak anyway if you choose not to use a seat.
Would we recommend it? Yes, almost definitely… but we might just want to keep hold of it for another year to be 100% sure!