Tootega aren’t shy of pushing the boundaries and showcasing sit on kayaking as a progressive sport. Investing in manufacturing techniques and materials the brand recently introduced their Hyrdolite weight saving construction to a handful of popular ranges. Sitons.com owner Mat Bennett got his hands Tootega’s brand new Hydrolite constructed Kinetic 100 to put through its paces. Read on to get a flavour of what this new technology is all about.
I’ve been a fan of Tootega’s Kinetic 100 since I first got to test one back in 2014 – see the write up here . It’s a versatile boat that offers a combination of fun in surf and practicality on the flat that suits me and my local paddle spot. No surprise then that I elbowed my way to the front of the testing queue to check out Tootega’s Hydrolite weight saving version.
The Kinetic is a fine looking kayak. The contours are familiar, but the demo boat we were handed was way more striking in blue and dayglo green styling than its standard sibling. The finish is much higher gloss and it is clear that some serious thought has gone into how this model appears on the catwalk. Finish aside, the hull is familiar without any instantly obvious changes from the original. Perhaps surprisingly, fittings haven’t been skimped on to save weight either – all credit to Tootega for this.
Generously sized hatches, a secure drinks holder, solid handles, paddle keeper and sturdy anchor points are all still present. Even the retractable skeg system remains – something that we were sure wouldn’t survive Tootega’s Hydrolite diet regime.
What difference does 4kg make on land?
Lifting the Kinetic 100 Hydrolite I have to admit to being slightly underwhelmed. 4kg might be a lot of weight to lose from a hull but 18kg is still a pretty big chunk of plastic. Lift a standard Kinetic and Hydrolite together, however, and you can certainly feel the difference. When you really notice the 4kg shedding is when securing the kayak onto a roofrack, or carrying it to and from your put in – especially at the end of a paddle session. Weight saving of almost 20% is certainly noticeable then!
For me it means being able to carry the Hydrolite overhead whilst navigating narrow pathways, or loading the boat back onto a vehicle with tired arms.
What difference does 4kg make on water?
It’s great that the Kinetic 100 Hydrolite is easier to lift and carry, but this is a kayak not a suitcase so we were eager to identify if the weight loss made any difference on water. The Kinetic 100 is a fantastically rigid boat, and one concern we had if lighter plastic would compromise that performance. I’m happy to say that we noticed no loss of rigidity. Instead it sits a tad higher than the standard giving a more elevated view.
The Hydrolite’s handling will be familiar to anyone who has paddled a Kinetic 100 before: stable, tracks well and you still have that ‘champing at the bit’ personality to get on even the smallest wave. The drop skeg system is still on hand when you need a bit more straight-line performance. (Paddlers should try and clean out the skeg box when possible, however, as it does tend to trap mud, sand and grit). As the photos show, I struggled to find a wave, but when a few nice rollers come swinging into the harbour, and the occasional speedboat wake propelled me forwards, I could spot no loss of performance. In fact, it felt as though picking up bumps was more efficient.
What’s the downside?
The obvious downside is the increased price. Made from lighter, stronger materials the raw cost is higher and that translates to an extra few pounds. Lighter plastic could theoretically make Hydrolite versions less robust than their heavier kin, but Kinetic 100s are built like tanks and the Hydrolite version didn’t strike us as any less robust: Something that we will be keen to keep an eye on over coming months.
Tootega’s Kinetic 100 is a firm Sitons.com favourite and the Hydrolite version is now held in even higher regard. After a few sessions the weight saving benefits of the Hydrolite Kinetic were strikingly obvious. Transporting is much kinder on the body – especially if carrying over distance. It’s an easier boat to manoeuvre on the water, reacting quickly to subtle changes in body position and paddle sweep. To get more of a handle on this, however, we really have to put it next to a standard construction Kinetic 100 on the water. Stay tuned for part two of this write up coming soon… Price: £559 Info:v http://www.tootega.com/en-gb/kinetic-100.php