Thursday, August 25, 2011

Comparison Review Pathfinder II vs. Sea Eagle 330 kayaks

A few weeks ago a couple of readers asked me some questions regarding the Red Star Pathfinder II and the Sea Eagle 330 tandem kayaks. I answered the questions based on my experience with both of these kayaks. Unfortunately, the exchange was buried in the comments section of the Introductions page. Since the Pathfinder and the Sea Eagle 330 are in the same class of inflatable kayaks, many other people might have the same qustion. Here I copied the thread to make it into its own posting:


Anonymous said...
It seems you really like Pathfinder, don't you? I'm considering buying a Pathfinder II and hope you can give me some tips on it. I'll mainly use it for some coastal touring and perhaps some island hopping. Do you think it's seaworthy enough to do so? I'd also like to know how can one tell the kayak is fully inflated. Someone claims that quote a gauge is printed on the chambers inside wall. In the box is included an acetate ruler so that when inflated to the correct pressure the marks on the chamber should be 10 cm apart. unquote I know that this is exactly what Sea Eagle doing, as shown at 6 minutes 33 seconds and 9 minutes 10 seconds of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETbPLGojr8o Did you find such acetate rulers really come with your Pathfinder kayaks? Thank you very much.
Kevin T - Inflatable Kayak Report said...
Thanks for posting on my blog. Yes, I do like my Pathfinder II very much. In fact, I love it! However, there are a few short-comings. I will write a detailed review when I get some time. Here is a short list the pros and con. Pros: 1. Kayak body itself is extremely well made, tough and sturdy 2. Stable - will not tip over in nearly any circumstance. You can paddle standing up if you like. It's that stable 3. Reasonable cost 4. Manufacturer is very quick to respond to warranty issues 5. Versatile - carries two adults with enough leg room. In warm water where you don't worry about falling in, I can carry myself and 3 or 4 kids (climbing all over). 6. Turns on a dime - excellent maneuverability 7. Light weight - easy to carry 8. Has lots of D-rings to attach stuff. I hooked up an Advanced Elements Rapid Up sail to it and it fits perfectly. 9. Easy to inflate - I was able to match it perfectly with an inexpensive high pressure 12V pump (see my post about 12V pumps). I don't have to top off at all with a foot pump. Cons: 1. Accessories such as seats, bag, paddles, gauge are poorly made. The bag and a seat tore after a few outings, but the manufacturer replaced them at no cost. The paddles are spongy. A handle came off so I replace it with a small dog collar. If you are willing to swap out parts, you will be OK. Like I said, the kayak body itself is awesome. 2. Not very fast - it is wide and sit up high and is affect by head wind more than hard shell kayaks. 3. Tracking is OK but not great. You won't spin around in circles like some cheap kayaks, but it will swing from side to side a bit. It helps when you have 2 people in it to weigh it down a bit. A for being able to tell if the kayak has been inflated, the package comes with a pressure gauge. Kevin
Ariel said...
Hey...Cool blog! In the next day or two, I will be buying an inflatable tandem kayak. After way too many hours researching, I have limited it down to the Sea Eagle 330 and the Pathfinder II...You have both of those...What do you think I should do? I am particularly looking for a boat that is very versatile, comfortable, and durable. Also, please let me know which one tracks better and which one is faster. It's so hard for me to make up my mind! Thanks for your help! -Ariel
Ariel said...
By the way, I have found the pathfinder on sale for $200 (once u factor in shipping): http://www.riverrat-recreation.com/pathfinder-2-person-inflatable-kaya2.html
Kevin T - Inflatable Kayak Report said...
Hi Ariel, Good for hear form you. Regarding which kayak I like better, let's just put it this way: I have been using my 3 Pathfinders every chance I have, but have not used the Sea Eagle 330 for 1-1/2 years. Versatility and durability are two of the top attributes of the Pathfinder II. From how fast one can inflate it (15 minutes using a 12v pump), to how light it is to carry (2 persons carry easily, 1 person Ok but slightly heavy), to how easy it is to attach accessories (such as RapidUp Sail), how many people and cargo it can carry (2 adults, or 1 adult and 2+ kids) and how easy it is to store (no need to wash salt off, just dry it). Some people say the seats are not comfortable, but I find them perfectly fine. I think the secret is to make sure the seatback is standing straight up so it can support your back. After some time on the water, the seatback tends to slide backwards. You just have to push the seat bottom backwards to shift the seatback straight up again. I wouldn't consider the Sea Eagle 330 really versatile. For example, it can only fit 1-1/2 adults comfortably; that is one adult and one child younger than 10. Otherwise, you can't straighten you legs. To inflate the boat, you have to pump 9 chambers: 2 sides, 1 bottom, 2 for each seat, front hood, rear hood. The ones for the seat are really tricky. The Sea Eagle is slightly faster but less stable. Speed is not such a big deal to me, but stability is. The Sea Eagle is not easy to tip over, but you get the feeling you can. After a few minutes you get used to it and it is no longer an issue. However, you can't absolutely trust it to not tip over. For example, I have taken the Pathfinders on night paddles several times with a kid in the font; I can trust it to almost never tip over. However, I will not do the same with the Sea Eagle. I think the Sea Eagle fins are better designed (2 side-by-side fins in the back) so it tracks slightly better. The Pathfinder II is not bad in tracking, especially when the 2 detachable fins are on (2 fins front and back in the middle of the boat), but I do notice a light left and right motion of the front of the boat from my paddling. The motion wastes paddling power and make the boat slower (because you are going zig-zag instead of totally straight). It is almost totally gone when 2 people are in the boat. Wow, the $200 for the Pathfinder II is an incredible price! Feel free to ask again if you have more questions. Kevin
Ariel said...
Wow! Thank you so much for the prompt and detailed comparison! I still have a few questions: 1) Which is more durable and least susceptible to punctures (and dog claws)? 2) By versatile, I mean being able to handle multiple types of water well (particularly flatwater, lakes, rivers, and whitewater) 3) Size-wise, I am also considering the Sea Eagle 370 (a nearly identical but bigger boat than the 330) so the 330's lack of size does not necessarily deter me from buying a Sea Eagle. Also, I will probably be mainly paddling solo or with dog. 4) I know the Pathfinder's accessories are not supposed to be too good, how about the Sea Eagle's? 5) Which complete package is lighter? Could either one of them be transported comfortably in a backpack? 6) Do you have the Sea Eagle Pro or Deluxe Seats? 7) Which boat might be better for longer overnight or week trips? 8)Anything else??? Thanks for all your help. Sorry for asking you way too many questions, I've become sort of obsessed on my kayak hunting journey... Thanks again! -Ariel
Kevin T - Inflatable Kayak Report said...
Ariel, I will answer each of the questions below. I had the same questions when I was researching kayaks and wished I had the answers then: »1) Which is more durable and least susceptible to punctures (and dog claws)? I've never had a puncture or leak in either. The Pathfinder material seems thicker, but the Sea Eagle should be fine, too. The Pathfinder's bottom seems to be extra thick and may be 2 layers. »2) By versatile, I mean being able to handle multiple types of water well (particularly flatwater, lakes, rivers, and whitewater) They both handle all kinds of waters fine. The Sea Eagle's fin design is better. They are fixed, slanted, and at the rear of the kayak, so when you hit the river bottom, it will naturally bend upwards due to the flex on the boat body, and is less likely to be damage. The Pathfinder has detachable fins situated in the middle of the boat, where your weight pushes it down. When you scrap the river bottom, the fins will fall off (which happened to me). The solution is to remove them for rivers, but that causes the boat to be slightly less maneuverable. If you do a lot of rivers, I'd recommend the Sea Eagle over the Pathfinder. »3) Size-wise, I am also considering the Sea Eagle 370 (a nearly identical but bigger boat than the 330) so the 330's lack of size does not necessarily deter me from buying a Sea Eagle. Also, I will probably be mainly paddling solo or with dog. The Pathfinder has a slight left and right rocking motion with a solo paddler. It gets a bit irritating after a while. You spend more energy paddling, or are slower than other kayakers. I was tempted to glue some Sea Eagle type fins (from a fin kit) to the rear of the Pathfinder. However, I see kayaking as an upper body workout, so I don't mind the extra exercise. With the Sea Eagle, you get better tracking in flat water and better maneuverability on rivers. 4) I know the Pathfinder's accessories are not supposed to be too good, how about the Sea Eagle's? There are not too much. The paddles are better than those that come with the Pathfinder. However, one of the paddle has a crack between the angle adjustment holes after 1-1/2 year of use (my wife uses the Sea Eagle paddles on the Pathfinder), which are way to close together. 5) Which complete package is lighter? Could either one of them be transported comfortably in a backpack? I think the Sea Eagle is lighter but is at least twice or three times the size of a typical backpack. 6) Do you have the Sea Eagle Pro or Deluxe Seats? No, I have the terrible standard blow up seats which slides around in the boat too much. 7) Which boat might be better for longer overnight or week trips? I think the Pathfinder is bigger than the Sea Eagle 330/370 in width, so it will carry more. If I am going kayak camping, I'd take the Pathfinder due to the bigger size and better stability. The Pathfinder II paddles like a mini-van: large, stable, easy to set up but is slower and has less accurate tracking (with solo paddler). 8)Anything else??? I guess for me the easy of set up and take down, stability, and size trumps everything else. That's why I have use the Pathfinder consistently but not the Sea Eagle. Kevin
Ariel said...
Thanks for all your help! In the end, I just ordered a Wild Adventure K2 Explorer: (http://cgi.ebay.com/2-1-Man-Inflatable-kayak-reduced-349-/250867825123?_trksid=p5197.m7&_trkparms=algo%3DLVI%26itu%3DUCI%26otn%3D4%26po%3DLVI%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D1987021681344567002#ht_12412wt_1398) It is very similar to the Pathfinder which I got to see blown up in a store. Here are some reviews comparing the two: http://www.paddling.net/Reviews/showReviews.html?prod=2717 Thanks again for all the info! You really helped a lot. -Ariel
Kevin T - Inflatable Kayak Report said...
Hi Ariel, I am glad that you found something that you like. The Wild Adventure K2 Explorer looks very similar to the Pathfinder - the same design that I find so simple, functional and appealing. I will be taking my 3 Pathfinders and Sea Eagle kayaks camping soon and the Pathfinders will be my main cargo hauler. Let me know how you like your Wild Adventure K2 Explorer when you get it. Regards, Kevin

8 comments:

  1. The Pathfinder look very nice, but it also looks very narrow to sit in, is it a bit of a squeeze? (I am a 40" waist),
    Yours, Worried.
    Terry

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Terry,

    The Pathfinder II kayak is probably one of the widest inflatable kayaks you will find. It is wider than the Sea Eagle 330 and the Stearns IK95. Inflatables have a special challenge in that the air chambers are wide, so they need to keep the interior width narrow. I have a 36" waist and I fit in the Pathfinder with about an inch to spare at the hip. Because the chambers are relatively low, there is plenty of space at the waist height. I don't think waist size matters as much as hip size.

    You might also find a hard shell kayak, particularly a sit-on-top, that is wider.

    If you have other questions, feel free to ask.

    Kevin

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey is the pathfinder II good for river trips like is it durable,strong can it handle some small rapids ...I dont want to go on a trip and in the middle of nowhere it just pops or gets cut by a branch ...can u send a link of it just to make sure were talking bout the same kayak...:)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Kevin, sorry for taking so long to reply. My K2 Explorer kayak is AWESOME! Completely happy I got this one... Let me know if you have any questions...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. how do I inflate my pathfinder jl000380 kayak

      Delete
  5. Hi there! One more pathfinder owner :) Te kayak seems ok but accessories are in fact of poor quality. I bought it second hand so much of the accessories (D-rings, etgc) had already been replaced by its previous owner. I'm on a bead luck mood: 2 outings and I poped 3 i-beams from the floor (my fault I think, despite I think I did not inflate that much), one broken skeg, and more worrying, a valve leak. Do you know the exact valve specs and where I can Buy replacements? I found the same type of valves in a local boat shop but they are a bit wider, so no good. I sent an email to Jilong but no reply in two weeks... Otherwise the kayak is super stable and confortable, despite tracking is kind of poor. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  6. Is this the Pathfinder II you're discussing?

    http://www.amazon.com/Jilong-Pathfinder-II-2-Person-Kayak/dp/B00CUIAWBW/ref=sr_1_2?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1440247849&sr=1-2&keywords=jilong+pathfinder

    ReplyDelete
  7. GreekWannaBeKayakerMarch 26, 2016 at 10:42 AM

    Hi, your blog is amazing. I would like to ask you some questions. The bottom/floor of the pathfinder kayak is by one piece? And how hard/durable is it? Can you stand up and paddle? Thank you

    ReplyDelete