Touring Kayak Review: Stellar S14 G2

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

With roots building Olympic rowing shells, Stellar specializes in fast surfskis, performance sit-on-tops and speedy touring and fitness kayaks. This pedigree is evident in their new offering to the premium recreational segment, the redesigned S14 G2. This design is characterized by Stellar’s new Canadian dealer, Frank Scali, as a kayak for the Boomer market, or a second kayak purchase for experienced paddlers looking to invest in something sleeker and lighter-to-lift than a plastic recreational boat to float their active lifestyle.

The S14 was one of Stellar’s flagship models when it launched in 2009 and it has always been the bestseller. After later creating an LV (low-volume) version of the 14-footer for smaller paddlers, Stellar designer David Thomas noticed an opportunity to upscale the G2 to offer a roomier cockpit and more carrying capacity and greater primary stability. All in a multi-purpose boat squeezing as much performance as possible out of its compact size.

“The S14 is a transitional boat,” says Thomas. “A short boat that has the hull speed of an average 16-footer. It’s both recreational and touring, and you can use it as a fitness boat. It’s lightweight at 36 pounds, stiff and easy to handle on and off the water. The most challenging part of paddling can be getting to the water and off, and if you’re having trouble doing that, you’re not going to use your kayak.” The lightweight S14 G2 makes this as easy as possible for a kayak of this size.

If this sounds like the kayak you’ve been looking for, keep reading this Stellar S14 G2 review to learn more about this kayak’s performance, design and outfitting.

On the water with Stellar’s S14 G2

Stellar S14 G2 Specs
Length: 14’ / 4.4 m
Width: 24.4” / 62.1 cm
Depth: 13.6” / 34.5 cm
Cockpit:
33.7″ × 17.3″ / 85.5 × 44 cm
Weight: 36 lbs / 16.3 kg
(Advantage)
Capacity: 342 lbs / 155 kg
Bow hatch: 15.1 gal / 57 L
Stern hatch: 33 gal / 125 L
MSRP: $3,195 USD (Advantage)

 Performance

The Stellar S14’s distinctive geometric lines hint at its affinity for speed and performance. The triangular bow and stern, which look to be drafted with a straight ruler, are reminiscent of the angular dimensions of the red needle of a compass, pointing to this kayak’s craving to go, more than the sensuous lines of Greenland- or British-style sea kayaks.

The shape’s suggestions of modern efficiency, directness and speed follow through in its performance. With a long, straight waterline and minimal rocker, the S14’s aerodynamic hull cruises at a comfortable four or five knots in a straight line with some steady paddle input. Take your hands off the throttle and you’ll skid into a turn. It’s hard to build a 14er that’s not highly maneuverable. But the Maverick flat spin can be remedied by dropping the skeg, with which the S14 comes standard—or using a rudder, which is easily added before or after purchase. The hull comes pre-fitted with rudder cable guides and steering toe pedals.

It’s easy to precisely dial the amount of skeg you need to counteract the S14’s natural tendency to turn in different conditions. Paddling upwind is easy with no skeg. A 10-knot crosswind yields balanced performance too, weathercocking only the slightest amount which can be counteracted with a slight upwind tilt. The full skeg comes in handy in stronger winds or for downwind runs with waves catching the stern.

Man paddling red and white touring kayak with factory in background
Photo: Colin Field

About the S14 G2

Design characteristics

The Stellar S14 G2 design is a bit wider and flatter than generation one for more primary stability. Secondary stability makes it easy to tilt the S14’s soft chines on edge just the few degrees required to initiate a gentle turn in the opposite direction, which works remarkably well even with the skeg down and further negates the need for a rudder. What the S14 lacks in curves it recovers in sensible storage capacity, especially in the voluminous 33-gallon rear hatch.

Stellar’s bow and stern hatch covers of firm, dual density material snap on and off so easily that I was surprised they didn’t leak after a long paddle with heavy waves washing over the deck—a refreshing improvement on certain British-designed rubber hatches that require a rock climber’s finger strength to pry off. A third, small screw hatch above the cockpit allows handy storage for compact items like a smartphone and sunglasses (although a vent hole in the base of this compartment means it may not be completely waterproof if you swamp the cockpit).

Hatches

Capacious hatches enclose ample dry storage for overnight touring. Completely dry in waves, Stellar’s hatch covers snap on and off with impressive ease.

Hull

Stellar’s high-performance racing roots shine through in lines that maximize efficiency—a long, smooth waterline for minimal drag and maximal glide.

Deck

A deck awash in features: a locking bar, a paddle-park recess behind the seat, chamfered deck for a high-angle stroke, and all the fittings to easily add a rudder.

Outfitting and comfort

Unloaded, the Stellar S14 G2 bobs cork-like atop the water, the volume making for a fairly dry ride in chop despite the sharp lines, flat rocker and the knife-like bow. The high deck results in a very spacious cockpit for paddlers up to six feet, six inches tall. A small paddler or one looking for a performance fit should look to the Stellar S14LV. The S14 G2 does still have fairly snug-fitting hips and allows a range of knee positions to lock-in for some aggressive paddling or even a roll.

Man paddling red and white touring kayak
Photo: Colin Field
The front deck has Stellar’s trademark cutouts at the knee on either side so that you can do a higher-angle stroke without banging the hull. Thomas says he paddles his S14 for fitness with a wing paddle. When you dig deep, an unloaded S14 jumps forward because of the light weight of its composite construction and has a sustained glide. Thomas is right that the Stellar S14 G2 is a capable fitness kayak, certainly as fast as just about any 14-footer on the water. 

Complementing performance paddling dynamics is the fit and finish that you’d expect from a premium composite touring kayak: deck lines and bungees for safety and securing gear, comfortable bow and stern carrying handles, a locking bar, a comfortably padded, adjustable back band, a water bottle holder in cockpit, and a molded paddle rest behind the seat for entry and exit. The S14 comes in four different materials, with carbon fiber at the top end, but the most popular is the base model we tested—a fiberglass/foam core layup called Advantage.

There might be a few sleeker, lower-volume performance offerings in the short kayak segment more designed for surf and general ocean playboating, but the Stellar S14 G2 is an eminently sensible kayak that maximizes speed and storage capacity in a compact 14-foot package with premium materials and a “stellar” ocean racing pedigree. This versatile combo of speed, light weight, high quality and tour-ability is hard to rival in the 14-foot class.

Where to buy the Stellar S14 G2

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Stellar Kayaks

S14 G2

The second-generation S14(G2) pays homage to the original in its hull shape, but we added some beam to increase the primary stability and a touch of volume for the carrying capacity. You will find this boat retains the smooth efficient feel in the water with updated features above the waterline.
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