Kinetic energy – Tootega Kinetic 100 review
Ask most prospective sit on top kayak buyers what they’re looking for in a kayak and the answer will be something along the lines of: ‘An all-rounder that is fun in waves, still tours well and is small enough to easily lift onto the roof of my car’. It’s no surprise that 10ft all-rounders have become a best seller for many sit on top kayak brands. What is impressive is how different manufacturers interpret the brief differently – each baking their own personality into the mould.
Tootega are a relatively new name in the world of paddling. Launched in 2010, the Norfolk based brand has been steadily building a reputation for producing innovative and quality kayaks. Both company directors are passionate surfers. Before Tootega they spent almost a decade designing the highest performance surf kayaks possible, so performance in waves is therefore a brand traits we’d expect to see in the Tootega Kinetic 100.
Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room: The Tootega Kinetic 100 has a ruddy great retractable skeg. It’s hard to ignore and isn’t what most of us have come to expect from a sit on top kayak. It would be interesting to see how this affected performance – more on that in a moment. The hull features a double concave with continuous rocker from nose to tail. Both bow and stern are quite sharp and the retractable skeg is embedded into a pronounced keel. This all adds up to a design that should glide well without detracting from wave performance. If the skeg should deliver improved tracking then this could be a new recipe for the all-round kayak.
Turn the kayak the right way up and things initially start to look more familiar. A large 9” front hatch, deep moulded seat, small screw close mid-hatch and large rear tank well storage compartment are as expected. Upon closer inspection the Kinetic has much ’Devil in the detail’. The moulded form of the Tootega includes what initially appears to be lots of decorative folds and curves.
Every flat area has been tweaked to make the Kinetic more rigid and aid performance. Hatches, eyelets and fittings are high quality and have largely been set below the waterline to prevent knocks and bumps. At 22kg Tootega’s Kinetic 100 is a touch heavier than some other 10ft foot all-rounders. However, with the addition of retractable skeg and a hull engineered to be stronger it seems those few extra pounds have been invested into performance. Of course, it’s only by getting onto the water would we see if that investment delivers.
The deep moulded seat means a backrest/seat insert is optional and choosing to ‘ride bareback’ puts you in a surprising dynamic position – your weight forward and embedding a sense of being there to do a job and not just bob about. The moulded foot rests offer efficient contact for both toe and heel, allowing a locked in position that aids control and is more akin to traditional sit in kayak performance. The Kinetic is stable at rest, glides well and is pleasantly quick off the mark. Dropping the skeg is a simple matter of pulling a cord and delivers an instant improvement in tracking (as well as making you feel just a little bit James Bond with all the gadgets). Our first paddle was a trip of just under a mile across flat water which the Kinetic ate up at brisk pace.
The combination of dynamic seating position and gliding hull meant it is easy to apply power and achieve instant propulsion. As we approached our local surf break the Kinetic 100 was raring to go – accelerating even on small rolling waves. As the swell jacked up the deep set seat and solid footrests came into their own. Even without thigh straps you can wedge yourself against the cockpit’s gunnels and lock in. That positive contact allows hips to turn the boat – making your more stable and manoeuvrable. A trunk forward seating position means you feel balanced and are poised to catch more waves, ride them longer and do so in a more efficient manner.
In waist high clean waves the Kinetic 100 is a lot of fun. It’s easy to get on a wall and you have superior control when setting a rail and edging down the line. The stability and agility the Kinetic offers was even more welcome when the surf picked up and we were battling against a big shore dump. (If Mother Nature obliges and bowls some bigger, cleaner peaks our way we’ll gladly update this write up to reflect the Kinetic’s performance). The Kinetic 100’s biggest strength, in surf, seems to be its ability to get you to the waves and back with the least amount of hassle. Having the performance to enjoy the surf upon arrival at the peak is another of the Tootega’s personality traits.
We’re often asked the question: ‘If you were to have a one kayak quiver what would it be?’ The answer isn’t easy and throws up more questions in response – where will you be paddling, what are your abilities, what do you want from a kayak and why on Earth would someone only have a single boat when there are so many great ones about?. Tootega’s Kinetic 100 is a kayak that will be featuring in these answers next time we are asked though. The Kinetic 100 is particularly well suited to the location used for this review (south coast UK). We love to have fun in waves, but when you have to paddle a mile each way to reach them most of us don’t want to use a short, flat-bottomed surf boat. No kayak does everything brilliantly of course, but the Kinetic 100 offers a mix that is accessible and fun and will be of particular interest to those who like a bit of wave action. When the swell dies you can drop that skeg and still have a craft capable and well equipped for short touring trips around coast, rivers or lakes.
Tootega Kinetic 100 FEATURES
- Adjustable Skeg System
- 24cm Kajasport Hatch
- Adjustable Footrests
- 15cm Day Hatch
- Paddle Keeper
- Large Rear Tank-Well
Tootega Kinetic 100 DETAILS
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