Thursday, February 16, 2006


Frankenstein kayak by Wave Sports (review)


Hull type: displacement
Material: cross-linked polyethylene
Length: 9 feet, 9 inches
Width: 24 inches
Weight: 35 pounds
Volume: 57 gallons
Paddler weight range: 120 to 190 pounds


Stability: 1             (ratings 1=low, 5=high)
Ease of Rolling: 5
Maneuverability: 3
Hull Speed: 3


River Running: 4
Playboating: 2
Steep Creeks: 1
Big Water: 4


Beginner: 1
Intermediate: 4

For my first kayak review I decided to practice by writing about the old, trusty Frankenstein that I has been my primary whitewater kayak for many years. I have paddled enough other kayaks over this time to provide some perspective. The Frankenstein has carried me through many miles of paddling on many types of class 2 to class 4 whitewater. Surprisingly, it was promoted as a rodeo kayak when it first came out. The Frankenstein is entirely unlike the rodeo kayaks of today, but it has many virtues in other boating areas.

The round-bottom displacement hull is relatively tippy and unstable, but it rolls back up with equal ease. This instability also makes it easy to get the kayak up on edge and use the modest rocker of the hull for good maneuverability. The soft edges down the length of the stern provide nice controlled maneuverability, and don't tend to grab and stick unexpectedly when engaged. The Frankenstein snaps into eddies quite nicely for a kayak of its length.

The length of 9 feet, 9 inches is very long by today's standards, which provides a kayak with good hull speed, good tracking and good ferrying characteristics.

The Frankenstein is very good as a river running kayak, with its nice combination of speed and maneuverability. There is enough space in the stern for a gear-hound like me to carry a breakdown paddle, first aid kit, lunch, drinks, throwbag and a few items of warm clothes in reserve. It also works very well in big water with the hull speed and good volume in the bow, but it does need to be paddled aggressively in big water to prevent the low volume stern from being squirted unexpectedly.

The Frankenstein is OK for playboating (bow surfing, enders and other vertical moves), but it needs a relatively long wave to avoid burying the bow. The Frankenstein is not good as a creekboat (too long, too pointy, too little volume in the stern).

The Frankenstein is too unstable to be a beginner kayak, but intermediate paddlers with good skills in edge control, balance, brace and roll will find this kayak very good over a wide range of whitewater conditions. Thanks again to the friend who sold me her old unwanted kayak. I'm not planning to resell my Frankenstein anytime soon.

BRT in Frankenstein kayaking on NF Cache Creek
(photo by JimH)


Outside Online Buyer's Guide, Spring 1997.
Rodeo Kayaks -
The River Intimate -


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