There are many reasons for purchasing a light-touring kayak. It makes good sense for small paddlers to get in a boat that fits proportionally. Others enjoy the sporty feel. But when it comes down to it, many paddlers do mostly day or short overnight trips and simply don’t need a full-sized touring boat. Instead, many want some of the touring features but in a lighter, easier to manoeuvre and economical package. The Prijon Catalina fits all these needs.
The Catalina is a nimble feeling 15’3” light-touring boat. Prijon uses a polyethylene plastic they call High Performance Thermoplast. Essentially this material is closer to fibreglass or Kevlar in terms of rigidity and weight but maintains the durability and low maintenance of plastic. Prijon is able to shape their boats with sharp lines creating more performance oriented plastic boats.
The Trihedral hull shape is a variation on a multi-chine design without the more common V shaped keel line. Jumping into the Catalina for the frist time, paddlers used to a very stable recreational or wide touring kayak will be surprised by how tippy or light and active the Catalina initially feels. They should be equally pleased by how quickly the Catalina rolls on to its more solid secondary stability. Putting the Catalina on edge quickly initiates a turn that will continue until you run out of forward momentum or you level off the tilt. It really is a quick turning touring boat. If long distance paddling is more your style the standard rudder works well for straight-ahead-Fred tracking.
We wondered if the rudder system was an afterthought to this hull design, tacked on for the North American market. In the up position the rudder lays on top of the stern carrying toggle, making it a nuisance to carry. Also, the pulley system t raise and lower the rudder is mounted too close to the cockpit rim, interfering with getting your skirt on. We also noticed that some skirts are difficult to get on the shallow cockpit coaming.
Inside the cockpit, the rudder is controlled by Prijon gas pedal footbraces that are now becoming popular on more expensive full-sized touring boats. The concept is that the foot braces lock into position and the pedals tilt to control the rudder. The sporty feel of the Catalina, or any other boat really, is more appreciated when you have taken the time to properly fit the boat to your dimensions. Instead of leaving you to maybe get around to adding outfitting foam, Prijon has answered the how-to-fit-everyone question by incorporating adjustable thighbraces and hip pads. An Allen wrench loosens the bolts so you can ensure both a comfortable fit and a fit that maximizes control of the boat. We think adjustable outfitting will be the next step for kayak touring companies who constantly battle with making the perfect cockpit ergonomics that will fit the greatest number of people.
Length: 15 ft 3 in
Weight: 44 lbs
Cockpit: 18×32 in
Paddler Level: Beginner to advanced
Paddler weight: 90 to 225 lbs
SRP Trihedral: $2049 CAD
This article first appeared in the Spring 2002 issue of Adventure Kayak magazine. For more boat reviews, subscribe to Adventure Kayak’s print and digital editions here.