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Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5
$799.99 at Backcountry
|$1,059 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
$799.00 at Amazon
|$650 List||$430 List|
|Bottom Line||If you are looking for a fun and safe kayak that the whole family will enjoy, then this boat offers a great bang for your buck||This is a comfortable and exceedingly fun boat to paddle no matter what kind of adventure you choose||An all-around popular and stable boat that is fast and tracks well in various conditions||If paddling comfort and affordability are your priorities, then this may be a great option||This highly economical package will get you on the water to have fun in calm water without breaking your budget or your back|
|Rating Categories||Ocean Kayak Malibu...||Wilderness Systems...||Perception Tribe 11.5||Old Town Vapor 10||Pelican Brume 100XP|
|Glide and Tracking (30%)|
|Ease of Transport (15%)|
|Construction Quality (10%)|
|Specs||Ocean Kayak Malibu...||Wilderness Systems...||Perception Tribe 11.5||Old Town Vapor 10||Pelican Brume 100XP|
|Length||11' 5"||10' 6"||11' 5"||10' 0"||10' 0"|
|Weight||59 lbs||48 lbs||57 lbs||47 lbs||40 lbs|
|Weight Capacity||360 lbs||400 lbs||350 lbs||325 lbs||275 lbs|
|Material/Construction||Singler layer polyethylene||High-density roto-molded linear polyethylene||UV, impact and abrasion resistant, high-density rotomolded polyethylene||Single-layer polyethylene||RAM-X premium polyethylene plastic|
|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.||Phase 3 Air Pro seat with mesh streched over contoured foam perferated pad, leg lifters and adjustable seat back angles, thigh and knee pads, adjustable slide locking foot braces, rear bulkhead compartment with Orbix stern hatch, shock cord bow and stern rigging for extra storage, rugged bow and stern handles, molded dashboard with gear tray and drink holder, replaceable skid plate and retractable drop down skeg.||Adjustable framed seat, padded seat, molded-in footrests, molded-in bow and stern well with bungees, replaceable stern skid plate, 6" central cockpit hatch with liner, 3 drink holders, side handles, front and rear toggle handles, drainage scupper holes, draing plug, skid plate,||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||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|
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 paddlers. 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 Malibu 11.5 may look a bit bulky and sluggish. At almost 11 and a half feet long and weighing around 59 pounds, this kayak 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 has its share of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to glide. On the one hand, its 59 pounds helps to hold its heading and track 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 than with a lighter boat in the same conditions. Overall though, this boat offers decent tracking and glide.
The length, width, and low seating position make this an exceptionally stable boat. We could even stand up on the deck 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, this is a great option.
As the Malibu has drain holes carefully positioned in the hull, if you take on water, it is easily drained away and won't bother your overall stability and performance.
Normally, boats with behemoth dimensions like the Malibu 11.5 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 this 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 tip this kayak somehow 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 in a sit-inside kayak.
Ease of Transport
What can we say? Many boats on the market are much easier to
transport and carry than this one. The overall weight of the Malibu, combined with its 11-foot, 5-inch length, makes it challenging to 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 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 we like and haven't seen on 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.
The low side walls and open nature of this kayak make it one of the easiest to get into. Once comfortably seated, this vessel's sheer length, width, and openness 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'll 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 should 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 sit-on-top kayaks with a raised seat.
One good thing about the Malibu 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 are ahead. 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 the 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 easily lash down dry bags or other gear. When it comes to storage, the Malibu shines.
The Malibu 11.5 is one of the cheaper boats in our test fleet, but don't let the price fool you into thinking there are inferior manufacturing materials. This is a very strong, well-designed, and fun boat that will make you feel like you got your money's worth. 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 Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5 is the perfect family-friendly boat for hot summer days. It paddles exceptionally well in all conditions and makes for a great floating island for the kids. The long hull and loads of storage make for a great long-distance day cruiser and a decent overnight kayak. Other than being a bit bulky, the Malibu 11.5 is just about everything you could need in a sit-on-top kayak. It 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.