Lightweight Touring Kayak Review: Swift Saranac 14

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

This article was part of a feature testing five compact touring kayaks while on a trip in Georgian Bay’s 30,000 Islands. The other boats in this roundup include the Stellar Kayaks S14-LV, the Current Designs Ignite, the Hurricane Sojourn 135 and the Delta Kayaks 12S. Read the review of the Swift Saranac 14 below.

“This seat is amazing!” exclaimed our more hedonistic (and—ahem—mature) testers, after settling into the Saranac 14’s luxuriantly cushy cockpit. Swift listened to their customers and concluded that most want to be very, very comfortable. It would seem they even borrowed the lumbar pillow out of your granddaddy’s Buick and trimmed it to fit the Saranac’s throne.

“We also offer a lower seat back,” says Swift Canoe & Kayak general manager Carmen Baum, “but nearly everyone asks for the high-back.”

Swift Saranac 14 Specs
Length: 14′
Width: 23.5″
Weight: 36 lbs.
Material: Kevlar Fusion
Price: $3,295

The Saranac’s 23.5-inch width is reassuring for novice paddlers, however overall stability takes a hit from the higher center of gravity created by the extra-thick seat support (no one complained about the lack of leg cramps, though).

This 14-footer’s long waterline privileges cruising efficiency over maneuverability—the Saranac tracks well even without dropping the skeg.

Swift is known for building ultralight boats. The Kevlar laminate Saranac 14 was the lightest kayak we tested, shaving a pound off the waistline of the runner-up Stellar S14-LV.

Saranac 14 | Photo: Virginia Marshall

Add the “thigh wings” that wrap the cockpit coaming in quilted comfort, and the Saranac 14 was the first boat our testers volunteered to carry. (Okay, we made this last part up, but only because our moms are always offering to help carry outrageous things).

Light on the shoulder often means heavy on the wallet, and the Saranac is no exception. At a few bills over $3,000, it’s the most expensive boat in our fleet.

This article originally appeared in the Adventure Kayak
Summer/Fall 2016 issue.

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