Touring Kayak Reviews

Elie Strait 140XE
L: 14'; W: 25"; 55 lbs.

None of our sea-kayak snob testers expected much from an Elie, a division of Quebec-based Pelican International, which is not known for performance boats. But stereotypes drowned on the water. "Definitely the most fun to paddle," raved one tester. "The biggest surprise of the test." Despite its name, the Strait turned on a dime, felt speedy and is outfitted well with a high-back seat covered in breathable padding. The Strait's two main hatches provide room to roam with enough volume for a lightweight long weekend and, because they open with the flick of a lever, are dead easy to use even from the water—though the twist-open day-hatch leaked and jammed a bit. The large seat elevates paddlers slightly higher to create a more powerful paddling position, but also a tippier feel. But what beginners may lose in stability (definitely the least stable boat we tested), the staunch secondary stability offers paddlers with some kayaking experience an ideal boat that will keep up as skills develop. With a little practice it's comfortable on edge, allowing more dynamic turns and steering minus the rudder. With the rudder engaged, the Strait felt like the fastest boat in the test, telling us they're on to something. Elie credits the Poly-XR material, which they claim cuts weight and adds 30 percent more rigidity compared to other thermoformed boats.

Photo: Aaron Schmidt


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