P&H Quest Sea Kayak Review
I owned this kayak for over a year and paddled it under a variety of conditions I am listing the extremes of these conditions.
Image courtesy of P&H Kayaks Corporate Site
Editorial note on the review:
This is my first review, I am trying to decide what the format is. I do however feel that I am trying to give a mix of pseudo scientific information about the review, but not overload the more pedestrian reader with stability curves, over analyzing hull shapes, or theories on design. I am merely an avid paddler who has paddled and owned a few kayaks. I have not received any gear for free or been influenced by the idea of free gear.
P&H Quest Stats
Depth at front of cockpit coaming: 14.5″
Three Kajak sport hatches: one 9″ round for the fore hatch, 7″ round day hatch fitted right, and a 17″ (turkeyplatter) rear hatch.
Static rescue lines rigged fore and aft along perimeter.
Bungee deck rigging. Compass recess. Purchased model had a Silva 70p compass fitted.
Weight: Kevlar-Hull/Diolene Deck 53 lbs.
Conditions Under Which Sea Kayak Was Reviewed
Flat Water Inland Lakes
Lake Michigan Waves: 7-10 Feet Wind: 25 Knots
Longest Journey Under Which Sea Kayak was Reviewed:
Eight day trip in Pukaskwa National Park 2003-North Shore of Lake Superior
Tester: Me-Height/Weight: 5’7″/200 lbs (shameful but true I know weigh around 175 lbs).
When and how tested:
I tested the original demo from Lee’s in 2002. The kayak was known as Project X back then. It was the first fiberglass kayak I had demoed for longer than a few minutes. I was about 30 pounds heavier than I am now when I tested this kayak which explains a lot about my impression of the kayaks room and fit. But I was also just getting into kayaking then. I tested the kayak a few times at Lee’s Sports in Kalamazoo Michigan while on flat water. As I approached my purchase decision I paddled the Quest on Lake Michigan in Muskegon under what was at the time challenging conditions, 10-15 knot winds and 1-3 foot waves.
I ordered a Quest that winter in 2002. I ordered an Orange deck over white hull with Anchusa blue trim Kevlar Quest. I also ordered a Henderson foot pump with a custom bulkhead. Lee’s did a great job of coaching me through the purchase and the kayak showed up flawless.
I honestly don’t remember ever being that excited as a kid, even for Christmas.
Fit and Finish of Kayak
P&H at that time, and in all of the kayaks I have demoed from them since seems to do a really great job. They perform excellent quality exterior gel coat, interior glass work, and all of the deck fittings and hatches. P&H at that time run by Peter Orton, also had the unique feature of having no exterior bolts or hardware for the keepers foot braces through the hull. This feature has since disappeared. I would love to see it make a reappearance in any kayak. The bonus is a clean line along the hull with no ugly metal hardware sticking through, and also no potential leaks through the hull due to hardware that is improperly installed.
The exterior color on the gel coat was beautiful and durable. I had some spiderweb cracking from cranking the kayak down too tight on the roof rack. But it was never structural. I fixed the gel coat and learned a lot in the process. I really liked the Kajaksport hatches. Kajaksport hatches are durable and flexible. At the time Kajaksport did not make a hatch that floated. They have since corrected this problem. Valley’s
hatches tend to be heavier and less flexible which leads to cracking under extremes in temperature.
This kayak at 22″ wide was very stable. The rounded bilge and soft chines seemed to be a little slippery at first, but I came to feel very confident edging an carving in this boat.
Speed and Maneuverability
The Kayak when unloaded at that time seemed to glide effortlessly. When fully loaded it performed even better by sinking the hull a little more.
Out of the Box Comfort
I used to be a bit more of a stickler for out of the box comfort. In sea kayaks the industry trend is to spend quite a bit of time and effort on comfort. White water kayak companies, (Pyranha and P&H are the same corporation now) tend to offer some nice features for outfitting in the way of back bands, thigh braces, nice seats. I still think P&H probably makes one of the nicest out of the box seats in the business. The thigh braces are excellent and offer good support. The back band is a solid white water style unit that has good lumbar support.
The hull shape on this kayak was a little unusual in that it had a rounded bilge with a hard chine at the rear. This allowed the boat to track pretty well, but also to skid out when needed. With the skeg down I always felt this boat was very steady in a beam wind. I enjoyed surfing it, albeit this was in the beginning of my career. So I ended up Pitchpoling and or bongo sliding a lot, but this was the paddlers fault not the kayak. Packing this boat for a trip was really its strongest trait. You could fit a hoarkload of gear in this boat. I packed a Marmot Swallow and an MSR Tarp replete with bugnet plus all of my other personal gear on my Pukaskwa 8 day trip. Tim Truman from Lee’s Sports called it a gear sponge which I always felt was accurate.
I really enjoyed owning and paddling this kayak. I unfortunately progressed in skill and dropped a bunch of weight. Paddling it empty when I dropped to 168 lbs became a bit wearisome. So I fell in love with the Silhouette.