Field Tested: Necky Looksha 14

A great choice for beginners who want comfort and stability

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(L: 14’1.5”; W: 24.5”; 57 LBS, Rotomolded polyethylene, $1,599 NECKYKAYAKS.COM)

The Looksha series has been around for quite a few years, start- ing as a full-on 17-foot sea kayak with a ton of storage room for coastal trips. It made sense to create a scaled down version for shorter jaunts and day trips, and the Looksha 14 was born.

I think most kayaks are beautiful, but even accounting for my prejudice, the Looksha is a pretty little boat, true to the aesthetics of the original. The outfitting fits the sea kayak paradigm, with perimeter deck lines and bungees. The hatches are overbuilt and bone dry, and are very easy to open and close. The hatch closures are not particularly aesthetic, but I can overlook a little clunkiness for dry storage and ease of use. The polyethylene hull is a little heavier than its composite companions, but it took a beating when the shipper was careless. What would have severely damaged a composite boat only put a few scratches in the hull.

The Looksha is a very straight-tracking boat by design. The rear section of the hull features a very predominant built-in skeg. Add the rudder and you have a boat that tracks like a train. With the rudder up and a lean and sweep, the Looksha does respond, but not nearly as quickly as some of the other boats. That’s neither good nor bad; just another factor in choosing a kayak. The strength of the Looksha is tracking.

The built-in skeg has one disadvantage, and that is it can cause the stern to broach in following wind and waves. Dropping the rudder solved the problem. It’s easy to deploy and easy to stow.

The Looksha moves along nicely too. I don’t do the whole GPS thing to see which boat is technically faster. I just paddle at a speed where the boat is comfortable and isn’t pushing up against its hull speed. Paddling along the shore of a local lake, I looked over at the bike path and I was keeping up with folks walking at a brisk pace. Plenty fast for the intended use.

I maintain that if the seat is uncomfortable in a boat, the rest of the boat doesn’t matter. I thought the seat pan was very comfortable and adjustable with a simple lever between your legs. Pull up and a positive ratchet holds the seat against your thighs. The cockpit is long, but narrow enough that you can engage comfortable thigh bracing. Barcalounger comfortable, it is.

The seat back was comfortable, but with one caveat. Even in the lowest position, the seat back interfered with fitting a spray skirt easily. Whereas the kayaks with back bands presented no problem fitting a skirt to the rim behind the seat, I struggled longer than I should have as the backrest would pop the skirt off the coaming. If I were to purchase this boat I would order it with the optional back band.

I like this kayak. It would be a good choice for beginners who want a little more comfort and stability.

 

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