I recently purchased a Feathercraft Wisper (beautiful red deck and black hull) and have had the opportunity to take the boat out on two occasions now. I am a 5’10″ 185lb novice paddler who owned an Airframe inflatable kayak prior to the purchase of the Wisper. My overall impressions of the boat are very positive, the materials are very high quality, the assembly is pretty straightforward, the boat is very lightweight, and in my initial couple of hours it seems to track very well and reach cruising speed easily.
Packaging: The kayak is shipped inside its backpack, which is then placed inside a cardboard box. Inside the backpack the frame components are wrapped in a thin lightweight sheet of packaging material.
Materials included with the kayak: The Wisper doesn’t have a lot of options; it comes standard with a stern hatch and a skeg which is strapped onto the kayak when you wish to use it. It also comes with a lightweight backpack for storing and transporting the kayak, a spray skirt and a lightweight sea sock. Note that you can upgrade to a neoprene and nylon spray skirt or a heavier duty sea sock if you are surfing or doing lot’s of rolls. My materials included a video showing assembly of a Kahuna with a note attached indicating they haven’t yet finished the Wisper assembly video and that the assembly procedures were very similar. There is also an assembly manual, owners manual, and a repair kit in a dry sack which included patches and epoxy for the hull and deck as well as a small container of Bo-Shield T9 which is used to lightly coat the frame pieces where they join together allowing for easier disassembly if you leave the boat assembled for months at a time.
Assembly: I watched the included video prior to putting the boat together the first time and believe that’s it worth your time so you have an overall feel of how this all goes together. Feathercraft states it takes 20 minutes to assembly the kayak, which certainly seems possible after some practice. Overall it’s pretty straightforward, I don’t consider myself very skilled with mechanical things but this really wasn’t very hard. The first time there are only a couple of items that I felt were difficult, the one area I had the most difficulty with was getting the skin centered on the bow and stern frame. I’m guessing this is because the skin in new and pretty tight and it will get easier as the skin stretches a bit and forms to the frame after being assembled for a while. The second area that took a bit of playing around was using the levers to extend the keel, chine, and gunwale extension tubes. It’s a bit tricky figuring out how to keep everything aligned while you are applying pressure to extend the tubes, the second time was much easier so don’t worry about taking a while the first time you build the boat. I think the foot brace is also worth a quick mention; I didn’t think I would like it at first but now think it’s a great design. Basically it’s a single piece of high density polyethylene which is attached via webbing to the gunwale bars and the bow cockpit cross rib. The beauty of this is that you can easily adjust the length of the brace as well as the angle of the brace. I initially thought it wouldn’t be very stable but was happily surprised to find it both stable and very comfortable allowing for a lot of different foot positions when paddling.
Paddling: Now for the fun part! I’ve had the kayak out twice now, once on a day when there were a lot of ski boats on the lake creating a quite a confused state on the water and today when there was a light breeze and pretty calm conditions. The first day I left the skeg off and today I had the skeg on. The boat tracked significantly better today but I’m not sure if it was the conditions or the skeg. I’ll add an update after I’ve spent another month with the boat in different conditions, at the moment I’m planning on leaving the skeg on since it’s pretty small and very lightweight. The boat is very comfortable; I really love the suspended seat and the ability to blow up the backrest for lumbar support. I also like the sea sock although it takes a bit of pulling when I first settle into the kayak to give my feet enough room to move but once adjusted I think it’s very comfortable and I like the fact that it is easy to pull out and clean while keeping dirt and sand out of the actual interior of the boat. As I mentioned earlier I’m a novice paddler but have found this boat very easy to put on an edge for turns, I have yet to feel as if the boat is going to roll out from under me. She is very easy to paddle, gets up to speed quickly and if you want to get some fitness she will really respond to aggressive paddling. I hit 5.1 knots with her today and cruised at just over 3.5 knots. I will be taking a class the end of this month to learn how to roll her so I’ll provide an update after that class
Summary: Very well made, reasonably easy to assembly, very lightweight (approximately 37lbs at 15’7″) and lots of fun on the water. She wasn’t cheap but at this point I’d say she is absolutely worth the money. Feel free to drop me a note if you have any questions.
— Jim Kuhr
jimkuhr at mac dot com