The more we play around in recreational kayaks the more we realize why they have such appeal and are leading the industry in sales. The Pamlico from Wilderness Systems is a classic example of a boat that is easy to paddle and offers the versatility necessary to fit the needs of many different paddlers. We put a number of people in the boat and answered no questions. They just sat down and paddled away. When they realized the wind was picking up they engaged the rudder – it’s no wonder we humans invented the wheel.
The Pamlico is not a new boat in Wilderness Systems recreational kayak lineup but this year the addition of their Phase-3 outfitting greatly increases its appeal. If you haven’t had a chance to see this seat, its worth a trip to your local dealer to check it out. With drawstrings, toggles and ladder lock buckles Wilderness Systems has created a seat that is truly multi-adjustable. The seatback tilt forward and back and can be raised and lowered. You can also raise the front of the seat under your thighs to support your legs. There is really nothing like it on the market, and we were pleased, and a little surprised, that it found its way into the Pamlico.
Like previous version the Pamlico converts from a tandem to a solo kayak. The conversion process takes less than a minute after a few tries (we timed it). With the stern seat in the rear most position the bow seat slides back on the centre tube into the centre of the cockpit. Remove the rudder pedals from the rear position and slide them into the empty rails now ahead of the bow seat and connect them to the rudder with the included extension straps. This is really a nice feature, just imagine the possibilities.
Rigged as a tandem the Pamlico leaves very little legroom for taller paddlers in the stern and the two paddlers need to be in tune with one another because they are seated rather closely. With two average sized adult paddlers we were still within the recommended capacity but felt heavy and low in the water in the Pamlico. As a solo boat with gear for the day it rides just fine. So, for more solo and some tandem paddling go with the Pamlico, and if you are more often paddling with two people consider the Pamlico Exel offering the same features in a boat that is longer, wider, has a larger cockpit and twenty-five percent more carrying capacity.
With two paddlers on board there is still room in the stern and bow for some gear storage and the bungee straps on the deck are great for odds and ends. In the Pamlico you won’t get left behind on paddling club weekend day trips. It measures in at 14’6” and is surprisingly fast, tracks decently, and like most recreational kayaks is very stable making paddling accessible to everyone.
Length: 14 ft 6 in
Width: 29.25 in
Weight: 70 lbs
Cockpit: 6’10” x 19.75”
SRP: Polyethylene w/rudder $1425 CAD
This article first appeared in the Summer 2002 issue of Adventure Kayak magazine. For more boat reviews, subscribe to Adventure Kayak’s print and digital editions here.