I thought the best way to give our review of this boat would be to relate to an extended trip in the Queen Charlottes BC + a brief info about ourselves so you little look at whoâ€™s writing this review. I hope this helps.
My first kayaking experience came about 6 years ago when an adventurous couple that I know was planning on doing a 1 month paddle in the Queen Charlottes BC. I begged and pleaded to join with them on part of their leg which (1 week). Being the rookie they were reluctant but gracious and allowed me to join them. The Trip was incredible which as my wife would say, I wouldn’t shut up about it for months. My wife (Anne) and I have been avid backpackers in the Canadian Rockies for about 20 years. Getting away- really away- from the chaos of Calgary is always top priority. We run a very busy Real Estate business in Calgary where the pace is outrageous, so getting away is paramount to the survival of our sanity!
Selling Anne on still water kayaking wasn’t hard as the mountain trails were getting busier and busier every year. When we set out to purchase our kayaks we set our sites on a folding kayak b/c we simply didn’t have the room in our garage for 2 sea kayaks. We did a lot of research and finally decided on the TRAK 1600 because of the engineering R&D of the kayak along with the diversity it offered and performance. The company being in Calgary was definitely a bonus as we were able to tour the warehouse where they were manufactured plus meet the people behind the business, both which gave us added confidence in the product.
Outside of many day trips and a few overnight trips, the first real test of the boats was my return to the Queen Charlottes with Anne for a 10 day paddle. The boats performed well throughout the trip with minimum troubles. First of all it was an incredible luxury to check the boats in with Air Canada Tango and arrive in Sandspit BC. In 2.5 hours from Calgary compared with the option of an 18 hour drive / 6 hour ferry crossing marathon trip which most endure!
Departure at Calgary Airport with 2 TRAKS Kayaks plus gear
Wating Pickup in Sandspit to be transfer via boat into the park
Drop Off / Gear Taken. I guess that the reader needs to remember that prior to this extended trip, Anne and I are originally Backpackers therefore minimalists. We probably don’t pack as much as most, although we did afford ourselves 5 liters of wine which was a huge luxury item for us! Gotta love wine in a bag!
10 days in these boats is pushing the envelope a bit. Really they are best for day trips overnights or 1 week trips. We found that they best perform (I’m sure like any boat) with clean decks, so we only had a small cache on the bow and and a 5 litre bag on the stern.
Assembly: I can honestly say that putting these kayaks together is literally a snap! With only 12 parts to assemble as per below, Anne and I can leisurely put these boats together in 10 mins. I’ve heard that some guy in the States in a competition put one together (water ready) in under 5 mins which is granted fast but if you’re a sea kayaker, generally you’re not in that much of a hurry to begin with!
The parts connect very quickly. The first time I assembled the boat, I didn’t refer to the directions that came with it (what man does!) and I don’t think I ever have. It’s remarkable simple. All parts relating to the bow and stern (poles & ribs) are connected with bungee cords so they go together with having to decipher which part connects to where. Below are the parts:
- Skin: (Poly-urethane material and welded seams)
- Bow: Anodized Aluminium poles c/w adjustable foot supports
- Stern: Anodized Aluminium
- Coaming Urethane Plastic c/w adjustable knee braces:
- Seat: Urethane Plastic c/w padding and adjusting lumbar support.
- Ribs X 4: Urethane Plastic
- Hydraulic Jacks X 3: Stainless Steel
On the Water
I wouldn’t describe ourselves as expert paddlers, although competent and we’ve paddled enough boats now to know the difference between good and bad. We have found the TRAK to live up to is word and then some. The Hydraulic Jacks really do work, allowing the paddler to adjust the shape of the boat to the water conditions you’re in. For having only 16 ft in length I was particularly surprised at the speed of the boat. By tightening up on the 2 side jacks and loosing up the middle, you can literally put a negative canter on this boat making it track straight and fast. I’ve also paddled down different sections of the Bow River (grade 1 to 3). When doing so I lighten up on the 2 side jacks and tighten up the middle making a considerable canter which enables the paddler to turn on a dime!
We found at various times on our trip when experiencing consistent cross winds, tightening up on the side which the wind is coming from and loosing the opposite side will create an opposing bend in the boat countering the effects of the wind. With that said, we did experience a Jack failure where a seal failed. When this happened I transferred the jack to the middle position (between the legs) where it is less critical. When this happened the company replaced all of our Jacks stating that they were an earlier version. We haven’t had any issues since. Because this did happen once to us, I would strongly suggest that if you’re planning extended trips with these boats, to negotiate spare jacks into your purchase of the boat.
Buoyancy, Capacity & Comfort: Note that I only weight 180 lbs and Anne is much lighter. I’m pretty certain that these boats are not a good choice if you top 200 lbs, especially for extended trips. When gear is properly stored, you’ll find some difference between loaded and unloaded but nothing that will deter you to add a few litres of wine! We paddled 10 days with 70 litres of gear stowed + 10 litres on the deck per boat.
Re. comfort, note for those with LARGE feet, you may find this boat tight in this department, depending on how you like to position them. I have size 9s and find it just fine but can imagine larger feet being a bit crammed. The seat is positioned nicely in the boat and offers good comfort c/w adjustable lumbar support. No need for added padding like some seats I’ve found command. The knee braces are also adjustable, although cumbersome to do so. If multiple people are going to use the boat and they are particular with proper knee brace positioning, then you’ll find this a nuisance.
- We love the look, so does everyone else we meet on the water.
- Like the low profile on the water….. makes for easier paddling and longer strokes.
- The Keder system is fantastic, quick easy access.Â Brilliant idea!
- I really appreciate the secondary stability…… you can really put this boat on edge.
- Empty…… I love the concept, performance and versatility of the jack system.
- Empty…… for 16 feet, it’s very fast and tracks incredibly well.
- I love how deep the coaming rim is.Â It easily accommodates both the Sea-Sock and a neoprene skirt
- I’m 5’10, 180 lbs…… the cockpit fits like a glove!
- I love the hard chine design….. a personal preference.
Tricks learned on the QC:
- We’ve learned that it’s much easier to pack the boatÂ if the ribs are marked and then removed from the frame.Â
- We’ve learnt that putting the “frame” in the bag first and then the skin etc. on top allows for much more room.
- Also, if you fold the skin slightly shorter, this allows for some convenient space at the top of the bag that accommodates both smaller ribs + the skirt, sea-sock etc.
- We found that 2 piece paddles fit nicely and securely within the skin.Â We also use “Z-Rests” to sandwich the paddles for extra protection during air travel / from the ruthless airport personnel!
- We found that the Sea-Socks were awesome to have….. very warm!Â While other kayakers were traveling in neoprene suites, we were in shorts and no shoes.Â
- We also found that by laying out a “Z-Rest” out on the hull of the bow….. this provided even more warmth.
- Another unusual use for the Sea-Sock……… it fits perfect over a sleeping bag for added warmth on a cold night!!!Â Next trip to QC & I’m bringing the down bag!!!
- We’ve learnt to store the boats upside down, even on perfectly sunny days because Seagull crap will take the color out of the material!!
- If you want to assemble your boat in under 10 mins…… hide from the general public. They will gather and ask a million questions!
- We learned that bags going to the extreme bow when packing the boat should have a small cord attached to assist in pulling the bag out when unloading.Â
- We learned that hockey bags with wheels works brilliantly for packing gear.Â Also, by attaching the handle of the hockey back to the middle strap of the boat bag….. you can easily tow your boat and gear 5 blocks to the B&B in Sandspit and save 8 bucks on a taxi!
- Re. Air Canada…… no leniency for weight.Â They will not touch a bag over 70 lbs and 35.00 charge for each bag over 50 lbs.Â We would have done better on the scales if we didn’t travel with all our food.
That’s it. Any questions about the boat or the Queen Charlottes BC, feel free to respond.
Keith & Anne Braun
Calgary, AB Canada