Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5 Review
Cons: Heavy to carry, no internal dry storage
Manufacturer: Ocean Kayak
Compare to Similar Products
Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5
$749.99 at Amazon
Check Price at REI
$789.00 at Amazon
$479.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Extremely stable, great tracking, very durable, comfortable, stackable||Very lightweight, easy to paddle, comes with paddle, inexpensive as they come||Great tracking and glide, sheds waves easily, durable, fast and stable, great for any age or experience||Very large cockpit, stable, easy-to-adjust seat, includes storage compartment||Very light and portable, maneuvers well, stable, inexpensive, large open cockpit|
|Cons||Heavy to carry, no internal dry storage||Thin plastic, harder to drain, not enough leg room for tall paddlers||Stern storage well doesn’t drain, heavy and burdensome to transport, deck plate cockpit console sticks||Sluggish, difficult to load, drink holder is far away from seat, no cover for storage||No seat cushions, hard to reach and adjust foot braces, not a lot of weight capacity|
|Bottom Line||A super solid and stable all-around kayak great for any age or ability level at a modestly affordable price||This highly economical package will get you on the water having fun in calm waters, without breaking your bank to buy or breaking your back to carry||This kayak is an outstanding choice for any day on the water but it truly excels on long touring days, especially in heavier wind and waves||A comfortable and stable kayak ideal for casual days paddling on calm water that comes at a reasonable price||This is a dependable option for beginner paddlers who aren't ready to invest in a high-performance boat|
|Rating Categories||Ocean Kayak Malibu...||Pelican Brume 100XP||Perception Tribe 11.5||Old Town Vapor 10||Sun Dolphin Aruba 10|
|Glide and Tracking (30%)|
|Construction Quality (10%)|
|Specs||Ocean Kayak Malibu...||Pelican Brume 100XP||Perception Tribe 11.5||Old Town Vapor 10||Sun Dolphin Aruba 10|
|Weight||59 lbs||40 lbs||52 lbs||47 lbs||40 lbs|
|Weight Capacity||360 lbs||275 lbs||350 lbs||325 lbs||250 lbs|
|Material/Construction||Singler layer polyethylene||RAM-X Premium polyethylene plastic||UV, impact and abrasion resistant, high-density rotomolded polyethylene||Single Layer Polyethylene||UV-stabilized Fortiflex High Density Polyethylene|
|Features||Tri-form hull with an integral keel and sponsons, AirGo molded in seat and seat pad with adjustable AirComfort backrest, molded-in foot wells and calf rest, paddle holders, side/stern/bow carrying handles, molded-in oversized bow and stern tank wells with bungees, Splash resistent QuickStash dry hatch, 2 molded in fishing rod holders, 3 water bottle holder, replaceable skid plate.||2-piece Poseidon paddle, paddle tie-down, Twin-arched multi-chine hull with drain plug, cockpit table with a bungee cord, bottle holder, Molded footrests, knee pads and an adjustable ERGOLOUNGE padded backrest with ERGOFORM seat cushion.||Lightweight EVA foam seat pad and contoured, padded seat back with hieght-adjustable backrest, molded-in footbraces, molded-in bow and stern well with bungees, replaceable stern skid plate, 6" cockpit hatch with cat bag liner, 3 drink holders, molded-in side handles and soft touch bow and stern carrying handles.||Adjustable Comfort Flex seat, Glide Track foot brace system ,Stern day well, Molded-in cockpit tray with cup holder, Molded-in paddle rest, Built in carry handles, Thigh pads, Drain plug, Skid plate||Adjustable padded backrest, rear gear compartment with bungee shock cord, adjustable foot braces, water bottle storage, carrying handles, paddle holder, padded thigh braces.|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Ocean Kayak brought sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks to the masses, and they still know how to make an affordable, durable, and playful kayak that suits all levels of kayakers. The Malibu 11.5 is an 11-foot, 5-inch, sit-on top-kayak with self-bailing drain holes. It has a tri-form hull and is 32 inches wide.
Glide and Tracking
At first glance, the Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5 may come off looking a bit bulky and sluggish. At a little over 11 feet, 5 inches long, and weighing in at around 59 pounds, the Malibu 11.5 does resemble a large plastic barge at times. It's not until you sit in the cockpit and push off from shore that you start to feel the incredible stability and smoothness in this kayak's tracking and glide. The overall length combined with the long keel and pontoon-style tri-form hull keeps this boat extremely stable while gliding fast and straight across the water in even the windiest and waviest conditions.
The weight of this vessel does come with its share of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to glide. On one hand, its 59 pounds helps to hold its heading and tracking better than a lighter boat. On the other hand, the heavier weight causes you to work a bit harder to get it up to speed and gliding than with a lighter boat in the same conditions. Overall though, this boat offers decent tracking and glide.
Normally, boats with these behemoth dimensions don't maneuver very well, but thanks to the tri-form hull, it is not that bad. Even though it has a very long pontoon-style hull and pronounced keel that would typically make turning harder, this kayak maneuvers surprisingly well considering its size.
It's not until you lean the Malibu 11.5 over onto its side using the hull's secondary stability that you really notice how balanced and competently it holds an edge. This helps it turn much more easily than other boats its size. This maneuverability works well in any condition, from fishing on a nice calm pond to kayak surfing on ocean waves.
If you were to somehow tip this kayak over, it does take effort to re-flip it, and this is a skill kayakers should practice if they expect to leave sheltered conditions. Once you have got the kayak the correct way around (thanks to the self-bailing holes), as long as you can haul yourself back onto this craft, you can quickly continue on your way. Overall, this is much easier than it would be in a sit-inside kayak.
The length, width, and low seating position make this an exceptionally stable boat. We were even able to stand up on the deck of this sturdy boat and paddle it around, maneuvering it just like a paddleboard. If kids want to move around on a kayak, play games, load up toys, or generally mess around in a kayak, this is a great option.
As this boat has drain holes carefully positioned in the hull, if you take on water, it will easily drain away and not bother your overall stability and performance.
The low side walls and open nature of this kayak make it one of the easiest to get into. Once comfortably seated the sheer length, width, and openness of this vessel make you feel like you are on your own floating island. You can lay down lengthwise on this kayak and take a nap without feeling like you’re going to tip over and fall out. Its seat pad and adjustable padded backrest give you a place to brace yourself comfortably when you press your feet into the molded-in foot wells. These newly-designed molded-in foot wells also give you several convenient options for the best foot placement along with calf rests for added leg support.
In addition to the two bow and stern toggle handle grips, two sturdy molded-in handles on either side of the seat give you an added place to brace yourself when getting in and out of the boat. They also give you another option for lifting and carrying the kayak. A conveniently located splash-resistant QuickStash dry hatch between your legs and three molded-in drink holders round out some of the Malibu 11.5 creature comforts.
Although the drain holes help keep the kayak drier in the long run, they do allow some water in and you may expect to get your lower body a bit damp when paddling this kayak. As always, when recreating in water, dress appropriately. If you really want to stay dry, consider one of the SOT kayaks with a raised seat.
One good thing about it being a heavier boat is that it suggests the Ocean Kayak manufacturers didn't spare any expense, using thick layers of plastic to create a remarkably rugged and durable vessel.
Everything about the hull design speaks of long-lasting endurance no matter how many rocky shores and sandy beaches it scrapes over. The seat pad, backrest, and adjustment straps all feel solid. The brightly colored tank well retention bungees appear to be tough and reliable. We also felt good about the material and design used in their new water-resistant dry hatch.
Large wells on the bow and stern offer loads of storage space for anything you want to bring along on your adventures, including a kid or a furry friend. These have a durable bungee cord running over them, enabling you to lash down dry bags or other gear relatively easily. When it comes to storage, the Malibu shone.
What can we say? There are many more boats on the market that are much easier to
transport and carry than this one. The overall weight of this kayak combined with its 11-foot, 5-inch length makes for a challenging wrangle on and off vehicles, to and from water access points, and when portaging around obstacles.
Ocean Kayaks did their best to make up for this by adding two molded-in plastic handles on the starboard and port sides right by the cockpit. There are also the standard handles that you see on most boats at the bow and stern. This combined with the replaceable stern skid plate at least offers up a couple more options for trying to move your kayak around. The Malibu also has two built-in fishing rod holders for trolling on the lake, space for coolers, gear, or the small family dog.
Another feature that we liked and haven't seen on any other boats is the patented YakLock locking bar at the stern. This is a great feature when you are traveling with your boat on your car and want to lock it to the roof. You can also lock it up to a tree, fence, or other boats when you store your boat outside. And if you decide you really like the Malibu 11.5 and want to invest in a couple of them, it's nice to know that they're brilliantly designed to nest on top of one another for efficient storage.
Ocean Kayak's Malibu 11.5 was one of the least expensive boats in the test fleet, but don't let the price fool you into thinking they cut corners or used inferior manufacturing materials. This is a very strong, well-designed, and a fun boat that will make you feel like you got your money's worth the first day you christen her on any body of water. Dollar for dollar, this is one of the best-valued boats on the water, which is probably why you see so many kayak rental companies using them in their fleets.
The Malibu 11.5 is the perfect family-friendly boat for hot summer days. The kayak paddles exceptionally well in all conditions and makes for a great floating island for the kids. Its long hull and loads of storage make for a great long-distance day cruiser and a decent overnight kayak. Ocean Kayaks has improved on their already proven design to offer a new product with lots of upgrades and additions without pricing too many people out of the market. Other than being a bit bulky, the Malibu 11.5 is just about everything you could need in a sit-on-top kayak. This kayak has plenty of storage space, decent outfitting, excellent glide and tracking abilities, and great overall performance. This vessel shows off its versatility and performance, which rivals similar, more expensive boats at a lower cost.
— Sara James & Dan Kramer
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