Sea Eagle 385 FastTrack Review

Sea Eagle 385 FastTrack kayak

Best Uses: Lakes, ocean bays, mild whitewater (up to class II)

Brand: Sea Eagle

Number of Paddlers: 1 or 2

Stats: Length 12’ 5”, Width 36”, Weight 31 lbs., Load Capacity 635 lbs

Accessories Included:Large removable skeg, 2 high capacity self-bailing drain valves, front & rear spray skirts, 6 D-rings, bow and stern grab lines, nylon carry bag, repair kit, choice of seats, 2 paddles, air foot pump

Kayak Material: 1000 Denier Reinforced with wide overlap seams (hull material is completely resistant to sun and saltwater)

Pros: Faster than the other Sea Eagle inflatable kayaks, can hold a lot of weight, enough room to fit two people comfortably or to be paddled solo, lightweight, 2 closeable self-bailing valves, versatile, decent amount of storage space (below spray skirts as well as rope lacing for storage above), very rigid drop stitch floor, really good tracking (as long as you use tracking fin), glides through water, quick set-up time

Cons: Need to use the skeg for the good tracking

Available At:

More In-Depth Info

The Sea Eagle 385 FastTrack is Sea Eagle’s faster, sleeker yet still quite stable inflatable kayak.

I was really happy when Sea Eagle came out with this kayak as I felt it was a great combination between good performance and stability.

It has a really nice design that makes it ideal for gliding nicely on lakes, pushing through wind, taking on waves and really just being very flexible.

The unique thing about the 385FT is that it has a patented, state of the art, external, rigid inflatable NeedleKnife™ Keel.  This hard keel allows for a faster and smoother ride and from my experience it definitely works well.

The size of the Sea Eagle FastTrack is very comparable to the Sea Eagle 380X. It is identical in length, about an inch smaller in width, and can hold a similar amount of cargo.

The big plus however is that it weighs seven pounds less which makes it much easier for transporting and carrying to the water and of course it is faster.

Why is the FastTrack Faster?

You can tell by looking at the pictures that the FastTrack is shaped a little differently than the Sea Eagle Explorer kayaks.

This new shape allows it to not only glide through the water with little yaw movement but also to move quite fast. Sea Eagle states that the FastTrack is able to pick up better speeds for three reasons:

  • There is a drop stitch outside keel at the bow which provides buoyancy and helps to stop the natural yaw of an inflatable kayak.
  • There is a removable rear skeg that helps to keep the kayak heading straight.
  • It comes with a separate very rigid drop stitch floor which increases the overall rigidity of the kayak and creates side chines under the pontoons which enhances the overall paddling performance. In fact the floor is so rigid that this kayak could even be paddled as a stand-up paddle board.

My Experiences With The FastTrack

I already own the Sea Eagle 380X and have been very happy with it. However it seemed to me that the FastTrack had most of the positives of the 380X with the added bonuses of being lighter and faster.

That was really appealing and I decided that it would fit my lifestyle perfectly. I now own the FastTrack as well and below you will find my observations.

Smaller Pontoons

The FastTrack has the same interior width as the 380X but the pontoons are about an inch slimmer.

This small difference makes for a much sleeker looking model. I noticed two things with the smaller pontoons:

  1. My paddles rarely rubbed against the sides while paddling (as they sometimes do with my other kayak).
  2. It felt like I was sitting up higher in the kayak

Both of these things were really positive and made for good center of gravitiy as well as a really enjoyable experience.

Very Rigid Floor

The inflatable floor in the FastTrack has a seperate air chamber for inflating and can be inflated to a very high air pressure which makes it super solid.

The floor is actually so rigid that you can stand up in the kayak with no problems and paddle as a stand-up paddle board if you wish… very cool. It is not as easy to paddle that way but it is nice to be able to do it if you choose.

Tip: The rigid floor greatly helps with the performance of this kayak. When you are inflating the floor make sure to get it as solid as you can as this will help with the strength of the fin for the best tracking.

Initially with this kayak my bum would get sore after paddling for a couple hours.  However Sea Eagle now offers upgraded high back seats that have more cushioning and I find these really help with my comfort level.

If you have any issues with this (a sore bum is often an issue after several hours of kayaking no matter what kind of kayak you are in) try adding a gel pad or even just a towel under your bum on top of your seat.  That alone can make a huge difference.

Tracking Fin

In whitewater you would not use the fin but when kayaking in open water such as on lakes or the ocean the FastTrack needs to have the fin attached in order to get the good tracking.

With the fin attached this inflatable kayak tracks really well and glides beautifully through the water.

One thing to remember… When you deflate your kayak take the fin off.  Do not leave it attached as this can cause it to get knocked loose or bent.

Performance… Wow!

I am hugely impressed with the performance of the 385 FastTrack. The more inflatable kayaks I paddle and review, the more I am impressed with the FastTrack.

For an inflatable kayak it can definitely get some good speed. I find that I can paddle farther with less effort which is exactly what you want. The FastTrack is also excellent at tackling heavy winds.

Package Options

There are several package options to choose from with the FastTrack.

  • Solo Package – Costs a little less, has all the same dimensions as the tandem version but only comes with one seat and one paddle.
  • Tandem Package – With the tandem 385 FT you are able to adjust the seats to paddle solo if you desire but comes with two seats and two paddles. The tandem model has two choices… the deluxe package or the pro package (which is what I have). The difference is that the pro package comes with high-back seats and better paddles as well as two stern bags and a waterproof bag.
  • Fishing Package – For those who love to fish there is now a fishing package with an elevated swivel chair that is ideal for anglers.
  • Pro Carbon Package – This package comes with the high back seats as well as two high-end carbon-fiber paddles.
  • QuikSail Package – Comes with a 14 sq. foot self standing sail that allows you to turn your kayak into a sailing vessel in less than one minute.

Video

Below is my video of the Sea Eagle 385 FastTrack. In this video I am shown paddling the FastTrack solo but of course it can be paddled tandem as well.

More Pictures

Final Thoughts

Price wise the FastTrack costs about $100 more than the 380X which really isn’t too bad all things considered. It is best suited for flat water but can handle up to class II rapids (there are two closeable self-bailing drain valves).

The size is very convenient and is ideal for tandem paddling as well as solo paddling (seats can be moved and adjusted), for dogs or for traveling. You get a lot for your money with this inflatable kayak and I can really understand why it has become popular so fast.

After all is said and done I will likely still use my 380X for rivers as it is more suitable for the rapids but I will definitely use the 385 FastTrack for all open water such as lakes and ocean bays. The speed and tracking far outshines that of the 380X.

The FastTrack now also comes in a longer version which is ideal for families or for those paddling with a lot of gear. Please see the 465 FastTrack Review for more information.

As of 2015 Sea Eagle also has a new sleek kayak called the Razorlite.  The Razorlite is faster yet less stable than the FastTrack. Click here to view our detailed comparison of these two kayaks.

Where To Buy

The Sea Eagle kayaks are one of the few that you are able to purchase directly from the manufacturer. This is beneficial for three reasons:

  1. Their prices tend to be excellent and they often have great sales.
  2. You can benefit from their 3-year warranty on all of their products.
  3. You can take advantage of their 180-day risk free trial, which means that if you are not satisfied with your purchase you can return it for a full refund within 180 day period (as long as the kayak is in good condition).

Click Here For The Best Deal On The 385 FastTrack Inflatable Kayak From The Official Sea Eagle Website.

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Comments

  1. So I have a Question that I really need a Answer to.
    I’m Torn between the 385ft and the 465ft.
    I’m a Cancer survivor and I have a lot of metal in one of my legs and very limited range in that knee.
    I like the lighter weight of the 385ft but I really like the payload weight of the 465 and the more leg room that the 465ft would give me. Especially when having two people in it.
    What is the Pros and Cons between these two ? and Most important, how does the longer 465ft handle in Solo use ? I know that in most kayak situations, the long kayak is faster and tracks better ?
    Is this the same situation with these two inflatables ?
    So please if you could give me any opinion on this that would be great and it would help me out a lot !
    There is almost no one on the web that has used both these models and can tell me this information.
    Thanks for your time and consideration concerning this topic. Sincerely Matt in Ohio

    PS, There is a Great Sale going on right now and I have till the 8th of July to decide. LOL

    • Hi Matt,
      The 465 will definitely be heavier and a little more difficult to maneuver when paddling solo. I prefer paddling the 385FT solo myself as I find it doesn’t take quite as much effort. As far as performance they are very comparable. I would say the tracking is pretty much the same. The 465FT can probably get a little more speed but I would say only if 2 people are paddling. There is a fair amount of leg room in the 385FT especially if you sit up front. It’s a tough call, there are some definite advantages to the 465 but I think if it was me in your situation I would go for the 385… unless you absolutely need the extra load capacity. Hope that helps!!
      Cheers, Allison

    • I posted this as a new post, but have attached this to your comment as a reply. So you might see this comment twice here…

      For those of you wondering about 385FT and 435FT sizes, I have to say the 385FT seems PLENTY big to me. I am 6’1” 200lbs and my wife is 5’10” 165lbs and we feel like there is plenty of leg room. Both of us are high-waisted frogs. In fact, the size of the 385FT. when it is blown up, really surprised us both. This little kayak is a BOAT.

      We were both impressed with the rigidity of the 385FT. The stiffness has a feel of quality and toughness, making its size (overall and interior) seem all the more useful and appropriate for either one or two paddlers. I doesn’t need to be bigger to be stout. We found this to be true even with the floor pumped up to only 4 lbs. I bought a 4 psi/ 14 psi pump and pumped up the floor to around 8 psi and WOW does that make the 385FT stiff. Clearly you can stand up paddle board when the floor is this hard. Stout indeed.

      The 385FT is significantly lighter and smaller when you see one blown up, side-by-side, with a 435T. I would think, for two people, the 435FT would be overkill unless they were built like Carl Malone. I should think windage would be a real consideration (serious problem) if you were paddling an 435FT alone and a significant breeze came up. I also think that overcoming the inertia of a bigger heavier boat would also be a drag (pun intended) when you were solo paddling…probably not much different once you got going, but my experience of kayaking, thus far, is that I like to start and stop a lot…sort of smell the roses out on the water. Whats the rush?

      The maximum weight for the 385FT is over 600 pounds. I really can’t imagine, with the floor blown up nice and tight, that the 385 would not handle a big, tall guy and his big tall partner, especially if you use the Deluxe seats. While the Deluxe seatback takes up 5″ more inches of leg room than the Pro high-backed seats, you get the legroom right back because you are sitting about 4″ off the floor…FAR more comfortable for an old geezer like myself and, oh yeah, far drier.

      There you have it, an opinion from a complete newb…but that is the way of opinions, isn’t it? At least I pulled the trigger and bought one of these. No regrets on my choice of sizes – in fact, quite a relief that I did not purchase the 435FT. Go for it!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to answer me Allison
    Sincerely Matt

  3. Hello Allison,
    I found your website by doing a search on how to dry an inflatable kayak! Your advice seemed sound and moved my husband and me closer to a purchase. We live in the Monterey Bay area of CA and are in our 60’s. We plan on slough trips, and other flat water nearby. The slough might get tricky due to tidal action…….
    Would you recommend the 385 FastTrack for us? We are tall so would consider the Pro pkg. w/ high seating.
    Question–we had been looking at REI’s Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible inflatable. I didn’t notice other brand recommendations by you—–are you strictly a SeaEagle woman?
    Thank you!!

    • Hi Kim,
      Well I definitely use the FastTrack more than any other inflatable kayak however there are lots of good ones out there. For the type of paddling you will be doing the FT would work great. Other options are the Airis Tandem which is also an excellent kayak – not as fast as the FT but high quality and light weight with a decent amount of room. The Innova Swing Tandem which I have not actually reviewed yet (I’ve only reviewed the Solo model at this point) is another to consider. It has the closed-in deck like the AE AdvancedFrame but has the advantage of being far lighter, easier to inflate and better quality. The AdvancedFrame Convertible is decent but it is not one of my favorites. It is popular I think because the design is so nice but it happens to be quite heavy, takes longer to put together and isn’t really all that fast. However it is popular and some people do love it. It would paddle fine in the conditions you described.
      Hope that helps. Good luck to you!
      Allison

  4. Hello,
    thank you for the excellent reviews.
    I have two questions.
    As whitewater class rivers go, how bad would the 385X perform in a class III river seeing that it is only rated for class II?

    But I am not interested in whitewater rafting but rather lakes, rivers and ocean (bays/harbours).
    Which one between the 385X and the Explorer 380 would be an overall better boat?
    This also ties in my other concern, which boat is more puncture resistant?

    • Basically the 385FT would be a little hard to maneuver in class III rivers. It could be done but is not ideal. It is really best suited for flat water.

      I personally feel the 385 is the better overall kayak. It tracks very well and is faster. It is better suited for lakes and ocean bays or calm rivers. However the 380X is better suited for whitewater. It is also a nice kayak for flat water kayaking but I personally prefer the performance and feel of the 385 FastTrack.

      As far as being puncture resistant, they are equally as strong and both made very well. The material and construction is very much the same, just the design is different.
      Cheers.

      • Thank you so much for the reply.
        Your answers help understand the difference between the two.
        The other thing that concerns me is because the tubes seen to be smaller or lower on the 385 it probably means that more water gets inside the boat if the river is not flat. Not so bad down south in Florida but up here in Canada the water is usually cold for the most part of the year.
        How bad is it with choppy water splashing all over you?

        • Yes the tubes are definitely a little lower on the 385 which could mean more water in choppy conditions. I’ve never had an issue with it… the water has to be really choppy to get in there. However being from Canada myself, I sometimes do wear waterproof gear depending on the conditions… you may need to as well 🙂

  5. My wife and I would like to venture into the kayak world but have no knowledge. I am 6’6″ 250 lbs and the wife is 5’11”. I was considering a couple of kayaks, the Aire Outfitter II or the Sea Eagle Fast Track, do you have any recommendations. We plan on mostly flat water but some light river running and thought because of our size it would be best to have seperate units…Need help as we don’t have much to “try on” here in Phoenix.

    • Hi Chet, the Sea Eagle FT and the Aire Outfitter II are quite different. The FT is far sleeker and faster. It will paddle much better on flat water and be fine in light rivers. However the Outfitter is extremely stable and I think more ideal for rivers but it will not track as well in flat water. Both are good quality and nice kayaks. If you will be paddling more in lakes and ocean bays than rivers I would suggest the FastTrack, I think you would be much happier with it. Because of your heights, if you wanted to stick with only one kayak I would suggest the 465 FastTrack – it’s a 3-seater but you could remove one of the seats and then have ample leg room. However if you will be running some light rivers, the 385 FastTrack will be far easier to maneuver. Cheers.

  6. I know you have answered similar questions but I’m really torn between the 385 and the 370 pro packages. Obviously, I know the 385 would be a much better choice but as someone brand new to the sport I’m hesitant on spending a 1000 dollars. I’m mainly looking for something to maybe take out once a week or twice a month to the lake or coast with a friend or my dog. I’m afraid if I really get into it I’ll want the better kayak just like I did when I got into mountain biking. But the lower price of the 370 is really appealing plus I can get a go pro with the money saved. A online retailer is selling the 370 pro for 279 and the 385 pro for 1019 which are both amazing prices! I really need an outside input ha ha! Thanks!

    • Hi Andrew, well there is definitely a big difference between the 370 and the 385 including of course the price. I know lots of people who are very happy with their 370 kayaks. If you are just starting out and going to be kayaking once a week or possibly only twice a month I would say go for the 370. It will paddle well solo or with a friend and if you wanted to upgrade later on you could always sell it on craigs list and probably make most of your money back. The 385 definitely performs better and overall is a much more solid kayak, but I don’t think you would be disappointed in the 370 to start off. Hope that helps.

  7. Hi last year I bought the 2012 Fast Track 385 and have been pretty happy with it.
    I’m new to kayaking and the 385 FT seems to have been a good choice
    But then they came out with the 2013 model, which frankly looks significantly better….grrr lol
    Anyway have you had a chance to try the 2013 model and if so how much better is it than the 2012 model?
    Would it be worth considering buying the newer one?
    I’m mostly doing flatwater at nearby lakes etc so I’m not doing anything crazy but a little extra speed would be nice.

    Thanks,
    BlueStar

    • HI, I would say the differences with the 2013 models would not be worth trading in your 2012 FastTrack. I have the older model as well and still love it. The 2013 models are slightly better but it’s not a hugely noticeable difference. I personally wouldn’t trade mine in right now for the newer model. If you really wanted to you could probably get a pretty good price for your 2012 model if you sell it used and then upgrade to the newer model. However I don’t think you need to be too concerned with it. Cheers.

  8. Patrick O'Brien says:

    Allison,
    I just ordered an FT385 through one of your links and was wondering how difficult it is to climb into it in deep water.
    I live on the beach in Florida and there are some good snorkeling reefs a mile or two offshore. I would like to be able to paddle out to the reefs, drop anchor and go snorkeling, but am wondering if I would be able to get back into the boat. I have had problems in the past climbing into an Avon dingy and had to hook up a couple of lines to get into the boat – one for my foot and one to grab onto and hoist myself aboard. The kayak has lower freeboard than the Avon, but I am concerned that it might tip over as I try to climb on board.
    Thanks, Pat

    • Hi Pat, It’s definitely doable but you might want to practice a bit first before you go too far out in the water. The nice thing about the FastTrack is that it is nearly impossible to tip… so it stays fairly stable when climbing back in. That being said there isn’t much to grab onto and I find that without a grabhold it can be a little tricky to hoist yourself back in. You could definitely attach some type of line between the two D-rings around the center of the kayak. That will give you a little more leverage to pull yourself up. However I find it much easier than climbing back into a fiberglass kayak from the water which is far more unstable.

      • Patrick O'Brien says:

        Thank you Allison. I will practice until I’m comfortable with it. I almost drowned once when I dived off my sailboat to save my dog. By the time it was over, it was I who needed the saving – the dog did just fine.

  9. My husband and I have pretty much decided on the 385 Fast Track – but now deciding if we want the Pro Series or not. We like the idea of the seat being 5″ off of the floor as opposed to the Pro seats that seem to sit flat on the floor. Being relatively novice – what are the advantages to being lower in the kayak? We are 61 and 67 years old and being slightly elevated is pretty appealing to us. We will be kayaking on primarily flat water. Also – the paddles are slightly heavier with the Pro series – what are the advantages of the paddles included in the Pro series?

    • Many people prefer the inflatable seats that sit you up a little higher. They make it easier to get in and out of the kayak, are great for activities such as fishing or photography and they make paddling easy as your arms don’t rub the sides of the kayak. I have always preferred the lower seats probably because I grew up paddling fiberglass kayaks where you sit low in the water. Sitting lower down allows you to ‘gel’ better with the movement of the water, maneuver quickly and easily and get more of a power stroke. However it’s just personal preference. The inflatable seats also keep you a little dryer as you are not sitting right on the floor.
      The paddles that come with the Pro package are longer and slightly heavier. The longer paddles are nice with the wider inflatable kayaks and for touring as they require less effort. The shorter paddles are fine for recreational use and shorter strokes… definitely fine for flat water.
      Hope that helps!

  10. Hello Allison,

    I have a question as to the roominess of the 385 and the 465 Fast Track. I’m 5′-10″, my wife is 5′-0″, and our dog is a 90 lb retriever. Can we all fit in the 385 or should we be looking at the 465?

    Thanks, Doug

    BTW, Your website has been very helpful.

    • Hi Doug, You can definitely fit everyone into the 385FT but your legs would basically go around the dog up front. I think there’s a decent amount of room for everyone to still be comfy but with a dog that size you will definitely have him around your legs. The difference with the 465 is that your dog would basically have his own seating area… so definitely more room. However I have had two adults with one small dog (15 lbs.) in the middle and a 3 year old up front before and we were quite comfortable. So the 385 is definitely doable but I think longer trips will be more comfortable in the 465. Hope that helps!

      • Hi Allison,

        Thanks for your help. We bought a 385 today. Its difficult buying something like this sight unseen and getting the perspective of someone with first-hand experience is a huge help.

        Thanks again,
        Doug

        • Happy I could help! It is definitely tricky to make a big purchase sight unseen. I hope you are very happy with the 385Ft… it’s a great kayak!

  11. Hi, Allison. I am looking at the 385FT and Airis Tandem. Which would you prefer for two people on both flat water and ocean surf? Our location offers equal opportunity for both (sound and Gulf in Navarre FL). Also will be used for fishing and snorkeling. Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Honestly DMc you can’t go wrong either way. I have them both and they both excel on flat water and ocean surf. I think the Airis Tandem has a slight advantage in that it weighs 5 lbs. less which makes it slightly easier to travel with and carry. They are both excellent for fishing and snorkeling. If you plan to snorkel I would recommend practicing getting in and out of the kayak from semi-deep water first. I find the inflatables easier to get back into from the water than a hard-shell kayak because they are so stable but still worth practicing before you have to actually do it a long ways from shore. Hope that helps… they are my two favorite tandem kayaks… both high quality, versatile, comfortable and track really well.

      • Thanks! I think I will go with the Airis. It looks like it will be better for snorkeling, plus I really like the pump and backpack. I think it just looks better, too. I found your website and reviews very helpful.

  12. I’ve only kayaked a few times, but the one time that I borrowed my son’s wife rigid kayak and he and I went out under windy conditions on a large body of water and paddled for over 10 miles. My back got very sore during that time so my inclination is to get the pro type high back seats until I read your comments about the standard seats which apparently lets you sit about 5 inches off the floor. I would think that would be more confortable? The other concern is the difficulity I might have in boarding the kayak from my sailboat which has about a 3 foot drop from the deck to the waterline. I can use a swim ladder, but not sure how stable setting foot onto the kayak might be? Then there is the question of performance of the inflatable over a rigid kayak under windy conditons. Not sure if I would have been able to go to windward with an inflatable under those conditions that I had when I kayaked with my son. So is there a significant lose of performance? Thanks for any insight.

    • Hi Dee, Both seats are comfortable. I find the tall back seats do offer more support especially if you suffer from back aches. I have always been happy with them. Sitting up higher on the inflatable seats can be nice but it definitely feels a little different. The tall back seats offer more of an authentic kayak feel in my opinion as you sit lower in the kayak. However if you prefer sitting up higher, lots of people have been very happy with the inflatable seats and find them very comfortable. It’s such a personal preference, however if you find you are unhappy with one you can always switch them down the road. A 3-foot drop is quite high but if you have done it with a hard-shell kayak then you should have no problem with the inflatable. Inflatable kayaks are known to be extremely stable. The floor of the FastTrack is very rigid and as long as you are careful I don’t think you’ll have any problem boarding from your sailboat. I’ve paddled standing in the FastTrack before just to give you an idea how stable and rigid it is. As far as performance, there is a difference with inflatables and hard-shells for sure. How much of a difference depends on the type of kayak you are used to. A high-end rigid kayak is going to perform much better. However a good inflatable kayak such as the FastTrack will perform very well and handle pretty good in wind. Hope that helps! Cheers.

      • Thanks for the info. When my son and I kayaked we did so from the shore rather than from the sailboat and really there was no way to get on those hard shell kayaks from my sailboat without falling into the water. My back pain was in the lower back and it was probally due to having my legs flat. The kayaks were top of the line and had a rudder that had to be operated with your feet. It was good with the wind and waves behind us, but going to windward was difficult and if I get a kayak I’ll choose the conditions wisely. Have you paddled the fast track with that fisherman’s seat? That looks like it even sets up higher and would appear more confortable even though the performance might be lacking somewhat. Plus I was looking over the website and the inflatable cat would provide more stability for entering and existing the sailboat, but again there is the question of how much performance is given up. And yet there is a rowing option on that one which would probably be more suited to my needs. Pluses and minues to every option with the minus for the cat being the size and assemblying it on the deck of the sailboat. I plan on using this boat for exploring the coves and inlets on the Chesapeake Bay so being able to take boat wakes and ability to go to windward should the wind pipe up when I’m miles away would be an advantage. Thanks again for the info!

        • I haven’t tried the fishing seat but I hear it’s great. However I definitely think you will give up some performance with it. No question the top of the line hard-shell kayaks with a rudder are going to handle the waves and wind much better than an inflatable. The inflatable will be more stable in the wake but a little harder to cut through the waves and wind. As long as you are aware of that fact and conscious of the weather you will be okay. The Foldcat is a great boat and the option of rowing is pretty awesome. It is stable and moves along nicely but very different from paddling a kayak so it all depends on what you want. However I do think the Foldcat would be able to tackle the boat wakes and wind quite well… though you will be working hard going into the wind with either the FastTrack or the Foldcat.

  13. I think I’ve just about decided on the SEft, and I was wondering if you think that there’s any real danger in breaking the skeg in shallow water or even when pulling the boat through shallow spots when navigating small creeks and rivers. Do you think I could maybe modify a second skeg for this purpose? thanks.

    • Hi Joel, you’d have to bang it pretty hard to break the skeg. It’s solid and attached really well. I can stand and jump in my kayak on shore with the skeg pressing right into the ground and it doesn’t budge (I’ve tried this). I think you should be cautious about not dragging it or banging anything too tough but I don’t foresee any issues unless it’s constantly getting bashed against rocks. If that’s the case and you will mostly be in shallow water then it is recommended to remove the skeg. I have heard of people adding a second skeg. I’m not sure exactly how to do it but basically you would need some waterproof glue and a little creativity. Cheers.

      • Thanks. That’s encouraging! But what I was thinking was to buy a second skeg and cut it (somehow) to make it shorter, and use that one instead of the original sized one for very shallow water conditions……What do you think?

        • Ahh I see. Sorry I misunderstood that. I think it’s going to be difficult to make one of those large skegs shorter… What you could do is glue on a set of small skegs to use in shallow water. SeaEagle.com sells a set of 4 small skegs with glue for $39. They are the same skegs used on their sport kayak and they’re pretty solid. They are much smaller and would probably work perfectly for you. You could add one on each side of where the large skeg would have gone and if you wanted to maybe one in front and back of the large skeg attachment as well. With those attached you could just leave off the large skeg and be good to go. I’ve never heard of anyone adding them to the FT but I don’t see why you couldn’t. They probably would add extra tracking power in flat water with the large skeg attached as well. Best of both! If you give it a shot, let me know how it works.

  14. Lee Schleining says:

    Allison,
    I am considering the 385 FT as well but I was wondering if you have done any reviews on the Hobie inflatables or are they just in a different class all together ? Also, I currently own two Hobie Revolution Kayaks with the mirage drives. If I should purchase the FT 385 with the deluxe seats I am pretty sure that my Hobie seats would fit/substitute as the optional high back seats giving me the best of both types of seats. (I’m not sure this last sentence made any sense.)

    • Hi Lee, Unfortunately I don’t have much experience with the Hobie inflatable kayaks. I think they are really cool and I like the fact that you can peddle them. I heard they are a little slower but I don’t have first hand experience. The biggest issue I see with them is that they are really quite heavy. You should have no problem using your Hobie seats in the 385FT. As long as they attach by D-rings I think they will work just fine.

  15. Thanks for this review. How do the pro seats compare with the inflatable ones in terms of packed space? I would like to keep everything compactly packed, and I assume the inflatable ones pack down better, but I would rather have the pro seats. Thanks again.

    • Hi Phil, Yes you are right, I would say the inflatable seats pack down slightly smaller. However it’s not a huge difference. The pro seats fold down into a thin package, it’s just that the back is quite wide so you still have that width to deal with when packing. Whereas the inflatable seats can be scrunched fairly small when deflated. I’ve never had an issue with packing the pro seats though. They can be stored in the kayak bag with no problem.

  16. Allison,
    I will be kayaking on lakes in central Florida and around Tampa Bay. I am leaning toward the FT 385 for transportability and storage. However, after visiting several kayak stores the sales people and some of my “well meaning friends” insist they will leak. What are your thoughts on this and if taken care of what is the life span and safety of a high end inflatable? Thanks

    • Hi Jim, it’s a common misconception that inflatable kayaks are always going to leak. I get this often from friends who have never tried them before as well. However I can tell you that in the 7 or 8 years that I have been paddling inflatable kayaks, I have never once had a leak. My kayaks have been dragged on gravel, had kids and dogs in them, bumped up against docks and debris and overall just well used. Never once have they leaked. That’s not to say that it can’t happen. However if you get a good quality one such as the SE FT385, it’s uncommon. They are tough and built to last and withstand a fair amount of abuse. I think it’s important to be aware of not hitting sharp objects but I can honestly tell you it’s not a concern in my head at all. They do come with a repair kit that allows you to do a quick patch if there ever is a leak.
      The other thing to be aware of is that they are built with 3 separate air chambers. That means that if there ever was a leak in one of the air chambers, you still have two others that will safely get you back to shore in order to repair it. They are known to be unsinkable for this reason. If you store it out of the elements and use a 303 protectant spray to protect the material from weakening from the UV rays, a good inflatable kayak can truly last a lifetime. Hope that helps! If I can answer any other questions, please let me know. Allison

  17. my question after reading all of this is do you see a worthwhile difference in the 2013 and the new 2014? of course they have a discount on the 2013, but I do not want to be missing something 🙂

    thanks,

    Mike

    • Hi Mike, The 2014 model is supposed to cut through the water, wind and waves a little smoother. The kayak is just slightly lighter and the bow is sharper which is definitely nice for cutting through chop. I have the older model and still love it, it paddles really well. However I have to admit that I’d love to upgrade to the newer 2014 FastTrack. I think the differences are subtle but it’s always nice to have the new and improved version. You can’t go wrong either way really but I think the design upgrades of the 2014 model make this kayak slightly more versatile as far as performing well on flat water as well as in choppy ocean waves.

  18. Luis Amaral says:

    There’s a few differences between the 2013 and 2014 models. The 2014 model has a sharper cone on the keel, called a NeedleKnife Keel, which helps it cut through the water a little more smoothly & quickly.
    How much does that translate in the real world I do not know.
    The 2013 version has d-ring handles at the bow and stern, as well as paddle holders, whereas the 2014s only have d-ring handles at the stern and are void of paddle holders.
    Other than that they are pretty much the same. Its not a huge difference like the 2013 model and previous one.

    • BlueStar says:

      Oh I so want one of the 2014’s but I just bought the previous version only 2 years ago, so it seems kind of dumb to go buy another. lol I actually live close to their show room (all things considered) so maybe I’ll go look at one of the 2014’s. The pontoons on the 2014 look much lower than the “original” version, do you think that’s a good or a bad thing?
      Using my GPS watch I’ve gotten a max of 4.1 mph in the original version granted that was really thrashing though, and I’m not a particularly strong guy either. According to the catalog the 2014 will do a max of 3-5 mph, so a small increase but might be worth while depending on who you are. Looks like the big sell point is that it will cut through waves etc better which I do think might be a slight issue with the original since to a point that it seems like it just slams into the waves rather than cut through them. Not trying to saying the original is bad because it isn’t! Any of these versions are some of the best inflatables you can buy but it would be nice to see how the newer versions improve upon the original.

      As a newbie to a kayaking I have a question. One time I was out and it was pretty clear it was going to get stormy fast so I headed for shore. Within 20 secs of landing it starts blowing a gale! This is probably a bad estimate but it was probably 20-40 mph but it was really crazy windy and if I had been out on the water there was no way that I was going to be able to paddle against it. What would you do in a circumstance like that? I assume just get down and hope the wind doesn’t blow you somewhere you don’t want to go? Are inflatables more vulnerable to wind? If so do you know why?Just curious. Do you think the newer ones will deal with wind better?

      Whew that’s a lot of questions and thanks for taking the time to read and answer them, and thanks for starting this site! It really helped me make up my mind on which kayak to buy.

      • I have the older version too. I still love it but will probably eventually sell it and buy the newer model down the road. I’m not really sure if it goes that much faster, it’s hard to tell but I do like that the 2014 model is able to cut through the water even better. I think any updates are always good even if they are subtle and of course it’s always nice to have the newer model 🙂
        Smaller pontoon sides will give you a lower profile which should help against wind. I do think inflatable kayaks are more vulnerable to being blown by the wind in general because you tend to sit up higher and the kayak tends to be a little higher out of the water than a hard-shell kayak. Getting caught in a wind storm no matter what kind of kayak you are in is not fun and can be a little scary when trying to make your way back to shore that’s for sure. I’ve been caught before in an oncoming storm and had to paddle hard to get back – felt like my arms were going to fall off they were so exhausted… it’s not something I want to experience again. Definitely watch the weather reports before heading out. Your best option is not to get caught in a circumstance like that. Cheers!

  19. suz lavine says:

    I’m looking for kayak that will easily accommodate two people 5’4″ and 6’4″ (and taller person likes to sit in the back) – will this kayak work for us?

    • There is definitely more room for long legs up front but I’ve had someone 6’4″ sitting in the back of my 385FT and he was okay. His legs were bent but he was comfortable enough and I think it would be okay for short distances… meaning up to a few hours. If you’re planning any long distances you might want to take a look at the 465FT and just use it as a tandem as it will offer a lot more space. Another option if you’re finding it cramped is you could buy some extra D-rings (they’re cheap) and glue them closer to the front of the kayak and then you can move the middle seat up a bit to provide more room at the back. That could definitely work.

  20. Hi. I’m wondering if the inflatable keel itself is narrower on the 2014, and if so would it be less able to take ‘punishment?’ Just wondering because the keel is the only part of my 2013 that ever seems to take any friction whatsoever. My launching method often seems to be lifting the back and pushing to kayak into knee deep water with the keel first rubbing on the ground and then the river bed at the shore……. I think most of this stuff is mainly about marketing by Sea Eagle. I’d like to see some of their ‘test results’ for speed of the different models 🙂 . My inflatable keel doesn’t have a scratch on it by the way, and frankly, what’s the hurry? Kayaking, for me, is about slowing down, getting away from the rat race, and enjoying the beauty of nature.
    Joel

    • Hi Joel, I’m not sure if the keel is actually narrower… would have to check with Sea Eagle on that. I’m with you… kayaking for me is about enjoying nature and slowing down. It’s always nice to have a kayak that performs well but it’s equally as nice to leave day to day life behind for a few hours and simply enjoy the peacefulness of being out on the water 🙂

      • Georges Lavallee says:

        Hello and thank you for the review, I like the comments on 385FT, before I’ll buy I would like to if you have an opinion on the Saturn OK420 inflatable ocean kayak, and how would you compare it to 385 FT and the Advanced Elements model AE1014, regarding, price, quality of materials, and so on. Thank you in advance for the answer.
        NB I am from Canada and some of these models are expensive with change rate and sometimes not available in Canada.

        • Hi Georges, I definitely understand about the exchange rage and availability in Canada. I am not usually a big fan of the Sevylor kayaks but their OK420 model is not a bad kayak. It is very stable and solid. It is a little slower and heavier than the FastTrack and better suited for waves or chop as opposed to flat water touring. The 385FT tracks a little better and definitely glides smoother. The AE1014 (Straight Edge 2) is comparable to the Sevylor OK420. They both handle well on moving water but are a little slower and have more back and forth yaw movement. However that being said which one works best for you will depend on the type of kayaking you will be doing most. I definitely prefer the FastTrack, it is a well made kayak and has a great warranty… However the other two are both still fun to paddle, they just don’t perform quite as well for flat water touring. For both quality and performance my preference would be the 385FT first, then the AE1014 then the Sevylor kayak. Hope that helps, good luck with your choice!