With nearly a dozen different boat models, Sea Eagle has an inflatable boat for every kind of boater. But how to choose? We spoke recently with Steve Brauns of Glen Haven, Colorado about how he decided on his Sea Eagle FastTrack 385.
“I hadn’t really done any boating prior to getting this Sea Eagle FastTrack kayak. I got it specifically for a trip down the Flathead River in Glacier National Park in Montana. I’ll do more flat water lake kayaking than anything but I wanted something versatile so I could do some Class II and III rivers.
I didn’t want a hard-sided kayak because I’m driving from Colorado to Glacier National Park and I didn’t want to leave a kayak sitting out on top of the car unattended. So it had to be a boat I could put in my car. An inflatable seemed like the way to go.
I needed something I can carry and get on the water without any help. The FastTrack works well for that. It’s quite manageable for one person. For example, I can pull it out of my car, lay it out, pump it up, hold it in the middle, and carry it to the dock by myself. I could easily carry it longer distances if I had to. It’s very simple and manageable and inflates quickly. It’s easy. You don’t have to drag it, you don’t need another person to help carry it – that would make it easier but it’s not needed. You don’t have to trailer it or put it on a car rack.
On the water, the first time my girlfriend and I took it out on a lake, it was windy. I was impressed by how well it kept going, even into a headwind. I’ve read reviews of other kayaks and some have tracking issues.
What are your requirements?
I’ve got two dogs. The one in the picture is Meeker, a border collie mix. He’s one of those dogs who wants to go with you and I take him everywhere. He’d never been in a boat before. I pointed at it and said, ‘Jump in,’ and he did. Boating is probably more for me than for him. I take him backpacking everywhere. He just wants to go.
I got into snorkeling and get to the Caribbean almost every year so I wanted a boat I could fit in a suitcase and weigh under 50 lbs. to avoid extra luggage fees. An hour and a half south of Cancun is where the good snorkeling starts. We rent a casita and go snorkeling. There aren’t a lot of people. We hang out, paddle to the reef, and use the kayak as a platform for snorkeling. Snorkling’s just about my favorite thing to do.
I like to backpack up into the high country above the tree line. I could see carrying my FastTrack a mile to access a remote lake. When we go to Glacier there are two big, remote lakes on the west side — Bowman Lake and Kintla Lake. We’ll definitely take the boat up there.
Boating’s a different adventure perspective
I spend a lot of time outdoors. I do a lot of hiking; I live in the mountains. I always want to hike and backpack near the water because it’s scenic. Going boating gives me a different perspective from being on shore – I go out and get an outdoor perspective from the middle of the lake or get to areas I can’t get to hiking. It takes exploring one step higher.
FastTrack or Explorer?
There are a lot of inflatables out there and I looked at all of them. I did a lot of searching for reviews and came up with three or four top brands. I looked at each of them. The Sea Eagle seemed to meet a whole host of my requirements like weight, tracking, and I liked the depth of the information on the website. More than other brands, customer service had a strong presence.
Why the FastTrack? I looked at both the Sea Eagle Explorer and the FastTrack. Both seemed to be of higher quality than Sea Eagle’s Sport Kayaks. That put me into either the FastTrack or the Explorer. From an aesthetic perspective, I like the Explorer kayak better than the FastTrack. But from what I read, the FastTrack seems to be more versatile in both flat water and river running. I bought to fit my needs.
Skeg & Keel create straight tracking
The FastTrack’s skeg and the drop stitch keel have a lot to do with the straight tracking. The keel is under the bow of the boat. It’s narrow, about 4 or 5” wide, maybe 3” long. It’s an inflatable chamber made of a beefy material. When you inflate it, it’s hard, really firm. It probably helps tracking as much as the skeg . It gives the boat something to dig in with.
I bought the 385 FT Deluxe Package. I went back and forth between the Pro Package and the Deluxe. The Pro’s seats looked like they gave more support but I just didn’t want to spend the extra money. I’m perfectly happy with the seats I got but may trade up eventually.
Touch test for skeptics
The last time I went kayaking, a couple stopped while I was inflating my FastTrack. They were quite impressed that it happened so fast. People don’t expect you to pull something like that out of your trunk and be up and running in 10 minutes.
People always ask about it and it’s easy to tell them, ‘Just go to SeaEagle.com.’ It’s written right there on the boat. I run into inflatable boat skeptics, too. I invite them to come over and touch it to see how solid it is, even the floor. You’d feel comfortable even standing up in it. I tell everyone and everyone how cool my FastTrack is.”
Own a Sea Eagle? How did YOU decide which model to buy? Email us – our blog readers want to know!