Sea Eagle 330 Review
Cons: Narrow, sits high in water, unstable, seats unsupportive
Manufacturer: Sea Eagle
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Sea Eagle 330 is a two-person inflatable tandem with a 500-pound capacity. It's made of 33 mil Polykrylar and comes with paddles, a pump, and a repair kit.
Made of a series of very large tubes, the Sea Eagle is tall and stays afloat very well — you won't be riding low in the water in this boat. The two included seats can be placed anywhere inside the vessel, allowing a lot of adjustability for different styles of paddling and various size paddlers. You can even put in just one seat if your paddle partner ditches you for the day. The Sea Eagle 330 also sports two small skegs on the bottom to help the boat track in a straight(er) line in the water. Additionally, it features a scupper hole to help water drain from the boat while you paddle, so you don't end up sitting in a bathtub-worth of water by the time you decide you've had enough.
Unfortunately, the Sea Eagle is almost TOO buoyant. This tandem model sits so high in the water that it becomes a bit unstable in waves and makes it very difficult to get back into if you fall out. This added height also catches the wind much more easily, which can make for an extra arm workout if you have to paddle against or across it.
At 10'10" long, the 330 is quite short for a tandem, which can make paddling with your partner challenging and feel a bit like fencing. While this boat isn't exceptionally narrow overall, the actual cockpit space is rather constricted — many of our larger testers found this to be a somewhat off-putting feature of this particular boat. Overall, we feel this boat is best suited to handling calm waters on calm days.
Made entirely of tubes of air, the Sea Eagle is a squishy and reasonably comfortable boat to sit in. The seats can be placed anywhere within the vessel, which aids in finding your ideal position to spend a lazy afternoon meandering around the pond. The paddle grips are plastic, shaped adequately, and easy on the hands.
Depending on your height, you might find that the sides of the Sea Eagle are a bit high to paddle over top of for long periods of time. The whole boat rides quite high in the water, giving it a bit of a tippy feeling, particularly in rough waters or against gusty winds. Fairly small (both short AND narrow) for a tandem kayak, this model was not a favorite with our taller testers. And though we like the adjustability of the seat positions, the seats themselves are very unsupportive unless we jammed something (like the stern passenger's feet) up against the back of them. Otherwise, leaning back was like paddling a La-Z-Boy. A fine kayak to venture out in for a while, we didn't much enjoy spending a whole day trying to voyage long distances in this watercraft.
Ease of Set Up
While some things that require assembly frequently come with subpar directions, the ones that come with the Sea Eagle are like Goldilocks — just right. With helpful pictures, we had no difficulty getting this kayak seaworthy even on the first go around. An easy-to-use simple inflation gauge makes getting the right amount of pressure a cinch, and the included foot pump makes pretty short work of inflation. The paddles come in two pieces and snap together with ease.
When you've finished your fun, the whole thing drains and deflates in a matter of minutes. Made of a waterproof PVC, there's no need to leave your kayak to dry in the sun for hours after your outing — simply wipe down with a towel to remove debris and excess water, and you're ready to roll. Fitting this bad boy back into its storage bag is easy and leaves plenty of room to spare for the paddles and pump as well.
Our least favorite part of putting this kayak together is the sheer number of valves that require air. With three compartments to the actual kayak, plus two "spray skirts" on the ends and valves for each seat, the process is more than a bit time-consuming. Also, the seats themselves are cumbersome to inflate because the two tiny segments connecting the seat to its back are incredibly narrow, making them tough to squeeze enough air through. And you can expect to collect some beachside spectators as you work through inflating every single section because, while the foot pump is efficient, it's very noisy. Overall this boat isn't terribly difficult to set up, but it does take a good chunk of time to get it all done.
Carting around the nearly 38 pounds (paddles and pump included) of the Sea Eagle 330 is never going to be your favorite part of kayaking. However, with the wide, padded shoulder strap on the carry bag, it's not as bad as it could be. With the extra room leftover in the bag, you might even be able to throw in your towel, water, and snack for the haul down to the beach. And if you decide you'd rather set up in the parking lot and buddy carry your yak to the shore, simply grab lines on the bow and stern.
Even if you decide to use lighter paddles and ditch the air pump for your overland Sea Eagle carry, you'll still be ambling along with over 28 pounds of boat. And though we love the convenience of stuffing the paddles and everything into the Sea Eagle's giant carrying case, it definitely makes the overall package an awkward and large shape to carry or stash in a car or closet.
With a feel that's just a bit more robust than your standard pool floaty, the Sea Eagle is constructed of 33 mil Polykrylar (K80 PVC) with welded seams and I-beam tubes running the length of the hull. Translated into what your fingers feel, this is basically a thick, plastic-y, canvas-like waterproof material. The storage bag is rather impressively constructed from hefty canvas with thick closure ropes and a wide carry strap. The Sea Eagle is also one of the few kayaks we tested that includes protection for the non-removable skegs. It comes with two inflatable rings that resemble a toddler's arm floaties and sit around the base of each skeg to prevent them from bending during storage.
We tested this boat with various dogs sitting in and on it, during beach landings, and floating over submerged plants and rocks, and it never popped or ripped, though we kept its included repair kit close at hand just in case. We feel that the durability of the Sea Eagle is pretty good for not having a protective fabric layer or being made of thick tarpaulin.
Costing less than almost any other kayak in our review — single or tandem — the Sea Eagle represents a pretty great value for what you get. It's nothing fancy and isn't the most appealing kayak on the water, but it works and is less expensive than most other tandem kayaks on the market. It's not alone in this corner market of inexpensive inflatables, though, and there are others we tested that we like more without costing too much more.
The Sea Eagle 33 is an inflatable tandem kayak with a single paddler option. Lacking the frills, artfulness, or comfort found in other kayaks, this no-nonsense watercraft is simply designed to get you out there when otherwise you wouldn't be. With a relatively low price tag and an acceptable level of durability, we think this uncomplicated craft is a decent fit for infrequent paddlers who don't want "infrequent" to mean "never."
— Maggie Nichols
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