Pakayak Bluefin 142 Review
Cons: Exceptionally heavy, unimpressive case portability, too unstable for many paddlers
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Pakayak Bluefin 142
|Price||$1,895 List||Check Price at REI|
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|$519.89 at REI|
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|$783.89 at REI|
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$287.58 at Amazon
|Pros||Great tracking and handling, easy to assemble, dry storage on board||No inflation required, lightweight, very durable, stable, fast, tracks well, easy set up and clean up||Handles well, high durability, fast, stable, fabric is water resistant||Handles and tracks well, very durable, helpful features, option for single or tandem paddling||Complete package, doesn't soak up water, spacious, can paddle solo also|
|Cons||Exceptionally heavy, unimpressive case portability, too unstable for many paddlers||Expensive, seat cushion thin, rigid pack makes for an awkward carry||Heavy, floor difficult to inflate, hard to drain||Heavy, no paddles or pump included, expensive||Small paddle blades, unimpressive attachments, materials less durable|
|Bottom Line||A nesting-style sea kayak that paddles through big waves while taking up less room in the closet||This lightweight and foldable kayak has performance closer to that of a hardshell and is a joy to paddle||With excellent handling, a long lifespan, and great comfort, this kayak will go the distance||Rather heavy but a great performance for a two-person model that can also be used solo||Everything you need to get out on the water with a friend or by yourself for a great price|
|Rating Categories||Pakayak Bluefin 142||Oru Beach LT||Advanced Elements A...||Advanced Elements A...||Intex Excursion Pro K2|
|Ease of Set Up (20%)|
|Specs||Pakayak Bluefin 142||Oru Beach LT||Advanced Elements A...||Advanced Elements A...||Intex Excursion Pro K2|
|Measured Weight (boat and storage bag only)||70.2 lb||26.1 lb||33.25 lb||55.2 lb||34.6 lb|
|Capacity||Single; 300 lbs||Single; 300 lbs||Single; 300 lbs||Tandem; 550 lbs||Tandem; 400 lbs|
|Kayak Size (length x width)||14' 2" x 2'||12' 3" x 2' 6"||10' 3" x 2' 9"||15' x 2' 8"||12' 6" x 2' 8"|
|Packed Size (length x width x height)||22" x 14" 45"||32" x 28.5" x 11"||33" x 16" x 15"||35" x 21" x 12"||26" x 19" x 19"|
|Included Accessories||Towel||Repair pieces||Repair kit||Repair kit||Paddles, pump, repair kit, GoPro/phone mount, fishing rod holders, and pressure gauge|
|Material/Construction||Plastic resin, stainless steel clamps||Double-layered polypropelene||Aluminum ribs in bow & stern, PVC-coated polyester||Aluminum ribs in bow & stern, PVC tarpaulin, 3 layers rip-stop material||3-ply PVC vinyl laminate with polyester core|
|Features||Adjustable foot pegs and backrest, separate bulkhead storage, carry handles||Adjustable foot brace and backrest, bulkheads, carry handles||Adjustable backrest, bungees, pressure relief valve in floor, skeg||Paddle keepers, seatback pockets, bungee straps, D-ring attachment points, converts to solo boat||Adjustable backrest, drainage hole, foot braces, carry handles, fishing rod holders, phone/GoPro mount, skeg, tracking fin, converts to solo boat|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Pakayak Bluefin 142 is a single-person hardshell kayak with a 300-pound capacity that comes apart into six pieces that nest inside each other for transport. The pieces clip together with stainless steel clamps and fully sealed seams. This boat weighs a whopping 70.2 pounds and is made of plastic resin. It features an adjustable seat back and footpegs, bow and stern carry handles, and two water-tight dry storage chambers.
The Bluefin 142 handles exceptionally well among inflatable and packable models, with some notable footnotes. It's just over 14 feet long (14'2", hence the name "142"), helping it to track very well across flatwater and through waves. A relatively flat bottom without any skeg or rudder ensures this watercraft turns quite easily for its length. The hard plastic resin hull reduces drag both in the water and against the wind, making this a very fast boat among models we tested. Separately adjustable footpegs and a tall cockpit make this one of the very few models we tested that allow you to adequately brace both your feet and your knees to properly control the boat with your hips. At just 2 feet wide, the Bluefin is also one of the narrowest boats in our lineup, so it's easier to dig in when you need extra paddle power. It's easy to crush through waves and cruise across lakes in this streamlined, elegant kayak.
However, there are some asterisks attached to the handling of this boat. First, because it's both very narrow and has a very rounded profile, the Bluefin rolls easily. For an advanced paddler used to controlling a kayak with braced feet and knees, this adds to the boat's maneuverability. For our many novice and intermediate testers, less familiar with the use of hips in directing a boat, this level of roll frequently proved to be a little too much in choppy waters or while distracted. Many testers fell out of this boat — some while trying to get in it, some while distractedly accessing something by their feet, and some in windy and wavy conditions. If you're still learning how to control a kayak with your hips, you too may fall out of this tippy watercraft. The second asterisk we place on the Bluefin is because of its extremely high weight. At over 70 pounds, this boat is by far the heaviest we tested and weighs far more than most non-disassemblable sea kayaks. It's easy to feel this extra weight in the form of fatigue while paddling and when trying to turn against the current, waves, or wind. If you want to go long distances in your kayak, this might not be the best option.
The seat of the Bluefin is fairly comfortable, if a little basic. The foam cushion simply clips into place, while a small adjustable seat back gives a little bit of support for relaxing. This boat has ample legroom inside the cockpit, with fully adjustable footpegs located at just the right height on either side of the interior. As a very narrow boat, it's easy to paddle comfortably without hitting your hands anywhere along the hull. The bow and stern both have dry storage options and can hold an impressive amount of gear — though weight considerations in this already heavy kayak might give you pause before loading it down with items.
However, here again, there are a few caveats. The cockpit, though spacious inside, has a relatively narrow opening that facilitates the use of a spray skirt. Not only is the opening on the small side, but the walls are also rather tall, requiring some finesse to get in and out without tipping over — which more than one tester did. This particularly narrow boat may also be restrictive for larger paddlers trying to sit down and swing their legs into the smaller opening. But once inside, the cockpit is quite accommodating for longer legs and stashing a small dry bag nearby with items you may need while you're out on the water. As with all our boats, we tried falling out and getting back in from the water, which proved to be nearly impossible to do in the Bluefin without swamping the whole thing. This is due to the very low sides of the cockpit and its extreme tendency to roll. More than once, we had to awkwardly drag this already heavy, now full of water kayak back to shore to be able to empty it and relaunch.
Ease of Set Up
As with many of these packable kayaks, the Bluefin takes a few practices to feel confident in its assembly. After learning the order in which the six segments go together and pack back into their bag, putting them together takes just a few minutes. An included towel gives you a (mostly) sand-free spot for putting it together. The stainless steel clamps have rubber handles that make them more comfortable to grip and snap into place. Assuming you can keep the segments clean from sand and debris, it's relatively painless to put it all together and get out on the water.
The recurring struggles we had assembling the Bluefin involved lining up the two halves correctly. This needs to happen to ensure that one clamped side doesn't prevent the other side from catching and holding. After using this boat for several months, we also found ourselves needing to clean a little bit of sand out of the seals to make sure they didn't leak. As the whole boat comes apart, draining any residual water is as easy as tipping a segment on end.
We'd hoped that the wheeled bag this big boat comes with would make it easy to take with you. While the wheels certainly help, their use is extremely limited. They're very small, with very little clearance. Taking the Bluefin down the driveway to put in the car is easy, but many paths to beach access are not so smooth. Trying to roll these teeny little wheels over rocks, gravel, or sticks, let alone across the sand, is not very fun. Having wheels is definitely better than not having them, but their usable surfaces are less than ideal.
We wish we had better news about the backpack straps too. Unfortunately, these straps aren't much better than the wheels. They're thinly padded straps attached with adjustable buckles on both the top and the bottom. Also, lifting a 70-pound pack onto your back is not particularly easy to do or comfortable to carry for very far. This effect is made even worse by yet another disappointingly thin section of padding separating the rigid shell of the kayak from your spine and shoulder blades. We actually couldn't tell there was padding at all by wearing it as a backpack and only realized it had a thin layer by feeling it with our hands. If you want to go long distances with your kayak in tow, the Bluefin will not give you a comfortable or lightweight journey.
If you're worried about paddling over submerged objects or dragging your boat across the sand, the Bluefin is well-suited to this kind of work. Its plastic resin exterior can easily withstand regular hits and scrapes as well as any normal hardshell boat. The stainless steel clamps are strong and sturdy, providing a more than adequate seal during our testing. The rubber seals between segments also did their job admirably.
Our worries for the longevity of this boat are relatively minor. Perhaps the most obvious is the accumulation of sand between the segments. If you're not carefully examining this portion every time you put the boat together, you could encounter a leak down the road. The rubber-topped hatch covers for the dry storage didn't particularly wow us either. They have a fairly small lip and a sometimes loose fit. However, these complaints are very minor; in general, the Bluefin is a splendidly durable watercraft.
The Bluefin 142 is not a cheap boat by any measure. It's not the right choice for just anyone, as its use is rather specific to a certain type of paddler. If you're an experienced paddler looking for a long sea kayak to take on big waves and roll with the punches, but you don't have storage space for a full-length boat, then this is a great solution.
The Pakayak Bluefin 142 is a great kayak for an experienced paddler. It cuts through the waves like a boss, with excellent tracking ability and very little drag. It has a performance much closer to that of a regular hardshell kayak. However, its narrowness and rounded profile make it tippy, and its 70+ pound size makes it too heavy for most novice and intermediate paddlers. However, if you know how to steer your boat with your hips and are dying for a sea kayak that fits in your coat closet, our expert testers love the performance of the Bluefin 142.
— Maggie Brandenburg
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