What’s The Best Native Kayak For You?

If you’re into kayaking at all, you might have heard about Native Kayaks.  They are one of the best manufacturers out there in the market today.  Based in North Carolina, the folks at Native Watercraft bring decades of boat building knowledge to the table.  They’re also passionate about paddling’s history and it’s future.

One thing I like about Native, is that they are always keeping an eye out for the newest techniques and materials when building their kayak line.  I think what I like best about them is that they are very environmentally aware and are committed to having as little environmental impact as possible in making their boats.  The vast majority of components in their kayaks can be recycled when done with.

While all the Native kayaks we reviewed are built with the primary intent of fishing in mind they can all be used recreationally and in fresh or sea water.   Native Watercraft are built with some of the best materials available and use modern design and construction to offer one of the best kayaking experiences around.  They’re right up there with other top notch kayak manufacturers and the favorite of many outdoor enthusiasts.

We had lots of questions like what’s their best camping kayak – which offers the most space to haul heavy supplies and cargo? How do models similar models differ from each other?   Will you be able to lift it by yourself and get it easily in an out of your car or truck or will you need a friend or a trailer to help?     What is the best model and price for you?   Let’s go ahead and see what we’ve found.

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What’s The Best Native Kayak For Fishing?

All Native kayaks are built and designed for fishing and recreational use.  No need to worry about that.  We’re just going to see which is best suited for you and your personal needs.  Native makes a wide range of models for this reason.  We did some testing and I’m going to tell you what we found and you can decide for yourself which model is best for you.  You can see an article about catching big Spring Bass In New York here.

They all are designed incredibly well for the fisherman, with lots of storage space for tackle and gear.  Most models have fish rod holders and groove tracks for accessory mounting.  Native is known for their comfy seats which can be shifted to hi/lo positions, rugged construction and storage space.  Oh yeah, they’re also known for their stability, maneuverability and tracking.

How Stable Are Native Kayaks?

Let’s talk stability…In the kayaking world, there are two things to know when talking about stability:  Primary and Secondary stability.  Primary stability is basically how much your boat will tip from side to side as you paddle.  You could potentially fall over into the water if you’re a beginner, or if the kayak has a low primary stability.

A wide, flat bottom is what creates primary stability.  Secondary stability refers to the ability of your boat not capsizing if broadsided by a wave.  A deeper, V-shaped hull is best for secondary stability, as it can “cut” into the wave and keep you stable.  Experienced kayakers in a V-shaped hulled kayak can stay upright even in strong waves.

A deeper, V-shaped hull adds to speed and tracking (the kayak staying in a straight line while moving forward).  Broader, shallow bottoms allow for easy turning and primary stability, but poor secondary stability and tracking.

Kayak makers are always juggling these features to create unique kayaks.  It’s always a compromise.  Native really makes kayaks that are the best of both worlds.

Do You Like Going Solo?

There’s nothing like being out there on your own.  Native has a few great models for solo yaking.  After extensive testing, we came up with our two favorites:

•    The Manta Ray 12 Angler
•    The Ultimate fx 12

Native Manta Ray 12 Angler

If you’re on a budget but don’t want to compromise quality, the Native Manta Ray 12 Angler is the way to go.  Perfect for all types of water.  This is a sit-on-top kayak, which means you aren’t nestled in the body of the boat, but sitting on top of it.  This allows for easily turning in your seat to grab fishing tackle, drinks, whatever.

Sit-on-top kayaks create a higher center of gravity.  This makes this kayak ideal for placid lakes and calm waters, although it handles damn well in light surf – very good primary and secondary stability here.  It’s long, at 14′ 7″, so it tracks great, but may be a hassle getting it to and from the water.  Being so long, it’s not a good on top of  the car model.  You’ll need a kayak cart or some other smart mode of transport.  It does have a tag-along-wheel, which makes it a lot easier to pull across land once you get it off your vehicle.

At 69 lbs, I can easily get it in and out of the car/water by myself.  However, this may be inconvenient for some.  Keep this in mind when deciding on whether to get this angler or not.

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I just gotta say here that the Manta Ray has legendary comfy seats.  I mean, everyone raves about them.  You can literally spend hours in the seat and not get fatigued.  This is great for long day-trips, week-long excursions, or ferrying goods back and forth from your camping ground.

The Manta Ray 12 Angler handles well, with good tracking and the ability to turn quickly.  We were surprised by how well it performed in both these ways.  It’s a great fishing boat, with lots of storage hatches and places to install rod holders.  It also has a convenient side drain hole, so after you’re done, you just flip the boat on its side and let any water you got in the cockpit to drain out easily before heading home.

We don’t recommend standing up in this kayak, although some more nimble have done so.  If you want to stand and fish or whatever, this may not be the best model for you.  This is a great fishing kayak.  It loads in a truck easily and handles rough water well.  Everything is recessed to avoid snagging fishing lines.  The storage hatches are designed not to leak, which means your stuff stays dry.

The accessory rail is a huge plus: easily mount a camera or a GPS, etc.  This boat stays dry even in heavy chop.  It has a very rugged and thick molded shell.  My only con is that my wife has a hard time getting this boat to and from the truck.   For a kayak of this stature it is very reasonably priced.  You’ll probably never have to buy another yak in your life, as this boat is rugged and built to last.

Here are the specs:
Length: 14′ 7″   Width: 30″   Fitted weight: 69lbs.   [email protected]: 12″   Capacity: 325 lbs.

Native Ultimate fx 12

If you want to go solo and go all out, the Native Ultimate fx 12 is the obvious choice.  This is a hybrid kayak.  This boat offers the best of a canoe – storage space – and a kayak – stability. This kayak has a cult-like following.  It offers fore and aft adjustable seating, as well as high and low positions. Native has patented the Tunnel Hull, which gives you the ability to stand full time on this kayak.

At 52 lbs, the ultimate fx 12 offers easy loading and unloading.  This means almost anyone can carry this boat by themselves.  The fx 12 has adjustable foot braces, which means if you’re tall or short, you’ll be good to go.  Premium deck padding allows for really good standing and casting.
The cool thing about this yak is the adjustable, comfortable seating.

Easy to reach storage is helpful for fishing, drinking, taking pictures…you get the idea.  The fx 12 is reasonably fast for a 12 footer.  This is pretty cool, given the stability of this boat. I also found that this boat tracks well, despite its primary stability, which is damn good.

I really liked the convenient anchor system.  I also like that there are 4 mounting points for fishing rods.  This model also boasts a comfortable, roomy cockpit, meaning you don’t feel stuck inside the kayak.  That, added with lots of space for camping gear makes this one of my favorites.  Being only 12′, I was able to easily transport this kayak car-top.  This, alone with its light weight, makes it pretty ideal for the solo adventurer.  The materials it’s built with allows it to handle fresh and salt water. If you have a truck, it easily fits into the flatbed – cool.

Some of the cons I noticed are that you may get a little wet while riding this yak.  Other kayakers deny this vehemently.  Although I had no problem standing up comfortably on this kayak, I’ve met a few fishermen that don’t advise standing up on the fx 12.

Some of the folks I talked to about the fx 12 complain about the ‘flex’ of the boat.

From my research, you can pretty easily exchange a flexy model for another one by contacting the seller.  Even if you get a lemon, they are happy to replace your kayak if you ask.  Pretty damn cool.   I have to say, I really like Native Kayaks.

Specs on the Native Ultimate FX 12:
Length: 12′ 2″        Width: 30.5″      Fitted Weight: 52 lbs.     [email protected]: 12.5″        Capacity: 350 lbs.

Do You Like Going Tandem (2-person) ?

The Native Ultimate 14.5 Tandem

Okay, so hands down, it’s the Native Ultimate 14.5 Tandem if you like tandem yakking.  This is the lightest weight tandem hybrid on the market.  This is the perfect fishing, family or recreational kayak.  This is  a low-cost kayak that can take the whole family out.  The Ultimate 14.5 Tandem is a sit-on-top kayak, which allows for more space and functionality regarding storage.  Its canoe-like layout is good for storage, making this a good camping kayak.

One family said that the 14.5 had plenty of room for his wife and 2 small kids.  After extensive testing, the 14.5 is a standing kayak.  You can stand up and fish or whatever you want for as long as you want.  It’s easier to stand and paddle than a paddle board.  This is because the 14.5 tandem has a very wide base.  Because of this, tracking can be so-so.  The optional rudder accessory easily fixes this issue.  This is a trade-off for the extraordinary primary stability this boat offers.

At 59 lbs, this a very light boat compared to other kayaks.  Most folks can get this model in and out of the car themselves.  Always err on the side of safety and have a friend help you out if it’s too heavy for you to lift alone.  This yak is one of our favorite for camping because of its ample storage space and heavy load capacity.  It is long, so you may need a truck or a cart to transport it.

Specs:  Length: 14′ 7″         Width: 30″          Fitted Weight: 59 lbs       [email protected]: 12′         Capacity: 450 lbs

What’s The Best Native Slayer Hunting Kayak?

Slayer 12

Get this baby is you want to drive this kayak around on the top of your car.  At 12 feet and 65lbs, you can pretty much carry this by yourself.  It has all the goodies of the Slayer 14 series, just in a smaller package.

It tracks well and has amazing speed.   The plano box storage right next to the seat is great for keeping necessary items close at hand.  This yak has very good primary and secondary stability.

You can stand in this kayak and the seat is adjustable to hi and low positions.  When taken out into choppy waters, this kayak handles great.  There are gear tracks for mounting cameras, fish finders and GPS devices.  It comes with fishing rod holders and plenty of flat areas on the yak itself for whatever you have in mind.  We were also surprised by the excellent tracking and speed of the Slayer 12.  Also, with a capacity of 400 lbs, this is great for heavier people, big game hunting or camping.  This is one of our favorites.

Specs:      Length:  12′    Width:   31″      Fitted Weight: 65lbs      [email protected]: 12″   Capacity:400 lbs

Slayer 14.5

This yak is great for fishing and camping on fresh or salt water.  You can easily stand in this boat and it has plenty of room for fish, gear, whatever you want.  This yak tracks well and has great primary and secondary stability.

The seat is adjustable to a hi/low position and you can easily stand in this boat.  Very comfy seats, with no fatigue after hours of fishing.  The rear area is large enough for a full-sized cooler.

It has all the bells and whistles of the Slayer 12 and more.  This yak is heavy and won’t easily fit on the top of a minivan, etc.  You’ll probably need a friend to help out with transport.  This is a terrific all around solid kayak fit for multiple uses.  This kayak can carry up to 450 lbs, so it’s a workhorse, ideal for big game fishing or long camping trip.

Specs:         Length 14′ 6″      Width: 30″     Fitted Weight: 70 lbs      [email protected]: 12″       Capacity: 450 lbs            

Do You Like Pedal Kayaks?

Native makes some of the best foot-propelled kayaks on the market.  This allows for hands-free propulsion and the ability to go forward and reverse with ease.

Slayer Propel 10

At 59lbs, the Propel 10 allows for easy car-top transport and the ability to lift it by yourself with ease.  This model has an armchair type comfortable seat, excellent stability and even has a cup holder for your beverage of the day.  We really liked the hand-sewn seat with adjustable inseam.  It comes with a left-hand rudder control system and two flush mount aft rod holders.

There are several groove tracks for accessory mounting and top-notch deck padding for standing.  We like the ample storage compartments and drain plug accessory for easy draining at the end of your ride.  This boat has very good primary and secondary stability and you can stand and fish if you like – that’s how stable the slayer 10 is.

Specs:
Length: 10′    Width:  34″     Fitted Weight: 59lbs.      [email protected]: 13″         Capacity: 400 lbs.

Slayer Ultimate fx Propel 13

If you want to go all out and get all out and the features of the Slayer 10 plus more, the Ultimate fx  Propel 13 is our recommendation.  It’s the splashiest Native propelled yak out there, being very easy to propel, turn and maneuver.  It has tons of accessories that make kayaking a dream.  Ideal for camping, fishing and adventuring in fresh or salt water.

With relaxed pedaling, this kayak can cover 4.2 miles per hour and if you need to hustle due to an incoming storm, it can reach speeds of 5.2 miles per hour.  The Propel 13 can stop on a dime and is unmatched in its ability to maintain casting distance.

The Slayer Propel 13 provides bow to stern rails that quickly mount Ram, Scotty and Railblaza gear.  Offering open storage space that is easy access, this boat provides unsurpassed versatility.  Go as minimal or as large as you want with this yak.  One of our faves for sure.  Keep in mind this boat is 85 lbs so you may need help carrying it to and from your vehicle.

Specs:
Length: 13′ 2″     Width:  33″     Fitted Weight:  85lbs    [email protected]eam: 13″      Capacity: 400lbs.

If you’d like to see our full review of another popular kayak brand, you can do so here. If you’d like to see underwater in all her glory, you need to read our article about transparent kayaks here.

Conclusion

We were pretty pleased with all the Native Kayaks we tried out.  They’re all really well built and offer good primary and secondary stability.  All the models we tested are ideal for fishing, recreational use and camping.  It’s really up to you to decide which features are important to you and which will give you the best kayaking experience that you’re looking for.  Thanks for reading now get out there on the water and be excited outdoors!

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