Kayaking on the Hudson

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Kayak Review: Romany 16ft. by NDK

The Romany is great for leans and rolls.
The Romany was designed for beginner sea kayakers who wanted to learn on a forgiving kayak and then move up to a more advanced one.  The Romany very quickly became popular in sea kayak circles and many paddlers never moved up.  It is 16ft. long, with a 22” beam and a ton of rocker.  This kayak is shaped like a big banana which makes it awesome in surf and rough conditions.  The pronounced rocker also makes it pretty slow compared to other 16’ kayaks.  

 The Romany now comes in several variations including one for small paddlers, one for large paddlers, etc.  These kayaks are still hand made in Great Britain, so the weight can vary as much as 5lbs. depending on who built yours.  Generally, you are looking at 55-60lbs which is heavy for a 16ft. kayak.  (A 16 ft. Montauk weighs only 45 lbs).  The reason?  Lots and lots of fiberglass-which makes for a really tough kayak that can take a real pounding from surf and rocks.  

Most Romany kayaks come with a skeg (mine didn’t) and you can add extras like a bilge pump and a recessed deck compass.  They come standard with a day hatch, and newer models come with a decent seat and thigh bracing.  I bought mine back when serious sea kayaks came with no thigh braces and a crappy back band.  It was assumed that a real kayaker would customize his boat anyway, so why bother putting them in?  

My Romany was a custom order with extra thick fiberglass & custom paint.

Over the past 12 years, I have taken my Romany just about everywhere and it is the best kayak I have ever paddled.  It is really heavy, but it fits me like a glove and responds effortlessly to my commands.  I have paddled in some rough conditions and it always brings me through.  I trust this kayak completely and the craftsmanship is simple but superb.

I’m not saying there aren’t better kayaks on the market.  The Romany was introduced in the early 1990s, so it’s an old design.  But it is still a great sea kayak.  Now that it has been around a while, you can pick up a used one for $1500-$2000, which is much cheaper than most new sea kayaks.  I tried a dozen kayaks before settling on the Romany and it’s one of only 3 kayaks that is a permanent member of my fleet.

See you on the water,
Don Urmston

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