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This technology allows us to produce a kayak that is 4kg lighter than the traditional single-layered kayak, which being stiffer and stronger.
The Expedition in HDPE Sandwich material is the same design as our bestseller Expedition, but has a reduced volume of 320L. Like the Expedition model in composite materials this model also has an opening for a fishing rod. The kayak has a day hatch in front of the cockpit where it is possible to keep things like a camera and a mobile phone. This kayak also features a new backrest adjustment system.
Expedition combines speed, stability, volume, weight and design very well! Few kayaks can match its all round capabilities. One of the first things you will notice on this kayaks is the elegant lines.
Expedition has a modern Swedish form, which means that it is wider behind the cockpit. The Swedish form gives the kayak a longer waterline. Compared to stability, this is a very fast kayak. On the sea you will notice right away how stabile and safe it feels when the waves are coming surprisingly. If you are experiencing bad weather, it will surprise you with what a good speed you will manage to keep up. If you are going on longer journeys, you will appreciate the large and spacious hatches of this kayak.
We have managed to manufacture one of the best sea kayaks on the market, with a unique feeling of stability and safety. The kayak has only got one limit, and that’s you!!!
This kayak has a large number of features usually only found on more expensive sea kayaks, and is excellent value for money.
The kayak has a handy day 'hatch' just forward of the cockpit, where you can put small items, and a similar hatch just behind the cockpit, where other small items can be placed. Both these hatches have screw in styled lids, they are very handy, but do leak like sieves, and are not water tight. I did a training session a short time ago, and after rolling the kayak a few times, with both these screw in style lids fully tightened, the compartments to which these lids give access were almost half full of water. I will be buying two additional o-rings to resolve this problem, not a big deal but a bit of a pain, and something which should be addressed by Seabird.
The kayak has four bulkheads, which is great for safety, I have had the cockpit almost full of water and the kayak still floats nicely. The forward and rear compartments are accessed by black rubber 'lids,' which do a fairly good job at keeping the compartments dry (like dry suits I suspect there are few 'watertight' compartments that will ever be 'bone dry.') I do however wonder, given that these lids are black and rubber, how long they will last when they are exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time in hot climates similar to where I paddle in Far North Queensland, Australia. However, as I mentioned, they do work well.
The seat in the Expedition HDPE is comftable, however the straps which hold the back of the seat up, which you lean back into, snapped on about my fifth paddle, which is not good. I replaced the straps, so it is not a big deal, but this should not be happening when the kayak is so new. The actual padded seat which you sit on is once again comftable, but I am not convinced it will last that long, and I suspect the fabric component of the seat will separate from the plastic portion of the seat at some stage. Again, not a huge deal as it is easy and cheap to buy a kayak 'seat pad,' which can easily be installed, but this should not happen in the first place.
The rudder 'power pedal' system works quite well, it basically consists of two parts, a lower part which your heel rests on, and is solid and does not move, and an upper part which can be pressed forward with the upper ball of your foot to move the rudder. This allows you to use the rudder when you are 'locked into' the thigh braces in rough conditions, and allows you to maintain rigidity in the lower part of your body, to maintain balance. My only criticism of this system is that you can only push the upper portion of the pedal a small way forward when locked into the thigh braces, as you have to lift your foot slightly up and forward to move the upper part of the pedal, and are restricted by the 'ceiling' of the kayak. This means when you are locked in to the thigh braces you can make small adjustments to your course using the power pedal system, but you cannot completely swivel the rudder, for which you need to have your legs out of the thigh braces.
The kayak has other nice features, things like proper handles at the bow and stern of the kayak (rather than just toggles), a rod holder, and lots of deck rigging. The expedition HDPE is also a large kayak, which you could pack with enough gear and supplies to go on a long expedition. The HDPE has a kind of pulley system to pull the rudder up, and put it back in the water, which works well.
I don't claim to be an experienced kayaker, or have much to compare the HDPE to in terms of kayaks, but I find the HDPE a pleasure to paddle, and very fast in the water. I do however find it a little bit 'tippy,' however like I say I do not have a huge amount to compare the HDPE to, so this may just be normal as far as what you can expect from a kayak in terms of stability.
I think in fairness the quality of manufacture of the HDPE is below par, for example the back of the seat breaking as I described, the fact that I can see the fabric portion of the seat coming away from the plastic portion of the seat already, the leaking foreword day hatch, and the small rear hatch which will require o-rings. There is also what appears to be 'bubbling' on the exterior of the kayak, which is not overly noticeable until you look at it close-up, but it spoils the finish of the kayak somewhat, as it does not have the nice smooth finish you see in some other plastic kayaks.
The HDPE did not come with any instructions, which would have been nice, just to tell you a little about how to set it up, maintenance, and so on. I emailed Seabird asking them if they had a link to an instruction manual which they have on the net, and how to set up the 'power pedal system,' but I received no reply. I then went onto their website and left the same message in an online form you can fill out, and again received no response. Its not a big deal as I have figured it all out now, but does not point to good after sales service and support, and I wonder if I experienced a significant problem which required their advice, how I would get the answer I needed if they don't respond to correspondence.
I have done quite a bit of research on the internet, and I think to purchase an equivalent kayak with similar features in Australia would cost you between AU$2000 (US$1776) to AU$2500 (US$2221). I purchased the HDPE from Anaconda in Townsville, Queensland for AU$1400 (US$1242), which I think is EXCELLENT value for money, you get ALLOT of kayak for your buck. I think even with the cited quality issues, for AU$1400 the HDPE is still a great buy, the same amount would get you very little from any other kayak brand. I think if you are budget driven, and so can't afford to spend around AU$2500 (US$2221) to buy a kayak of similar size with a similar amount of features, but perhaps a better finish, and slightly higher quality, the HDPE is a good choice.