Current Designs Kayak Review
Current Designs kayaks are known for their safety, innovation, comfort, carrying capacity and quality construction. The company was founded by Brian Henry in the early 1980s, as a small boat builder in British Columbia.
The first Current Design production boats were West-coast cruisers – the Equinox and Pisces. The Solstice line went into production in 1984, and was extremely successful, and is still Current Designs flagship kayak line to this day.
Over the years CD has produced a host of highly-regarded sea kayaks, including the Gulfstream (produced with the help of legendary British kayaker Derek Hutchinson), the Andromeda, the hard-chined Caribou and the Slipstream. More recent models include the Rumor, Solstice, Cypress, Infinity, and a line of recreational kayaks, the Kestrels.
In 1991, Wenonah Canoe Inc., the leading U.S. manufacturer of composite canoes, was selected as the strategic partner to distribute Current Designs kayaks in the United States. The synergy between the companies was immediately evident, both companies produced the highest quality paddling products and were passionate about their products and paddling.
In 1999, Wenonah Canoe, the leading U.S. maker of composite canoes, purchased majority ownership of Current Designs, and moved its home base to the small Mississippi River town of Winona, MN.
Current Designs doesn’t have any whitewater boats in their current lineup. Instead the company focuses on manufacturing a full line of quality touring, recreational, and transitional kayaks. Prices start at about $1200 for the rotomolded polyethylene Squamish British touring boat, and go all the way up to $4600 for the the kevlar version of the Libra XT North American touring kayak.
Touring kayaks – Current Designs breaks their touring kayaks into three separate styles – North American, Greenland, and British.
The North American kayaks are the Libra XT, Nomad GTS, Solstice, Squall and Storm models. They have more depth and width than the British and Greenland boats, which improves storage capacity and the larger cockpits are easier for large paddlers to enter and exit. The North American boats are recommended for new and developing paddlers as they’re more forgiving on the water, and easier to become accustomed to.
The Greenland style kayaks are the Caribou, Isle, Rumour, and Suke models. These boats are the the polar opposite of the North American style, as they have low profile decks, and are much narrower. These are hard chine kayaks, giving them high stability even in rough waters. These boats are recommended for more advanced paddlers, and may be too small for larger bodies or those wanting to bring along a lot of gear.
The British style kayaks are the Cypress, Gulfstream, Infinity, Sirocco, Squamish and Willow. The British style boats are sort of a middle ground between the North American and Greenland styles, as they are slighting wider and deeper than the Greenland kayaks, and have a higher foredeck. They also have a medium sized cockpit that can accomodate larger paddlers, and more leg room and storage as well. But they have a lower profile than the North American boats, and thus are better suited to windy conditions and rougher waters.
We’ve heard mostly good things about Current Designs kayaks over the years. The company has a reputation for building rugged, quality boats that can go the distance and come back ready for more. Here are a few specific positive comments we’ve received recently:
The Current Designs Isle – Owners report these yaks have well designed hatches and lots of storage capacity for touring. Tracking is good with the skeg down, even in moderate to heavy weather. The Isle also has user friendly foot braces. The kevlar model is relatively light for a full sized boat, and rugged enough that you won’t have to worry about tearing up the hull on small rocks or oyster beds.
The Breeze – Owners report that the Breeze is a very good day touring boat. It tracks well, and is very maneuverable on the water.
The Sirocco – The Sirocco is another well made yak from Current Designs. Owners report good initial and secondary stability, and no signs of “oil canning” even after several years of heavy use.
As will all kayak brands, there were a few complaints about the Current Designs kayaks. As usual, there were some gripes about seat comfort, which is a common lament among paddlers of all brands. A seat that’s comfortable for many, can be a torture chamber for others.
There where also a few reports of weathercocking with the Breeze models, and some leaking bulkheads as well.
Top Current Designs Kayaks For 2011
| Current Designs Breeze
The Breeze is a very versatile day tripping kayak. The upswept bow and fish form allow this small kayak to handle rough conditions with ease, while remaining nimble on flat water. The Breeze fits a broad size range of paddlers, is very stable and extremely user friendly. It comes with a secured buoyancy bag in the bow that gives the boat proper flotation in the unlikely event of capsize.
| Current Designs Cypress
The Cypress is sized to accept medium to larger paddlers and bigger loads. This magnificent handling sea kayak is true to its British-design roots with modest rocker for maneuverability and superior performance in open sea conditions. The Cypress will excite paddlers looking for a non-entry level day-tripper and amaze demanding sea kayakers embarking on trips to remote destinations. Skeg, back band, and day hatch come standard.
| Current Designs Kestrel
The composite hybrid Kestrel 120 is the epitome of recreational kayak designs. It’s incredibily maneuverable, has rock solid stability, and weighs in at only 38 pounds. Featuring a large recreational cockpit, this boat allows for easy entry and exit. Our new Revolution Seating System and plenty of leg room make for an extremely comfortable ride. Men, women, and children alike, everybody in the family will love paddling the Kestrel 120.