We tried the Hurricane Phoenix 120 and 130 at Wild Meadow Canoes and Kayaks, on Lake Winnipesaukee in Center Harbor New Hampshire. Overall they are decent little kayaks, much as you would expect from a recreational sit-on-top. They are made out of Trylon, a thermo formed plastic. Essentially a hull and deck are formed from a blank sheet of plastic each and then joined, top and bottom. The seem join must be very good, because when you open the drain cork you can hear the air rush as the pressure equalizes. Trylon is considered lighter and while it is not "way lighter" than a standard poly kayak, I did notice that the kayak was not as hard to lug on my head, as I portaged the kayak on a short carry from the shop to the lake. Trylon is also supposed to be scratch resistant and in looking at the hull of the demo-rental kayak we used, at the end of the of the summer season, I was impressed with the lack of wear and tear on the bottom. Trilon also lives up to the claim of being stiffer that roto-molded poly kayaks. The Phoenix kayaks are outfitted with a Beckson drain cork in the stern, a good placement to let the water out, but be very sure that the drain is well corked before launch.
Both kayaks ride very dry, with little or no water coming up through the scuppers, or pooling in the seat. The center of gravity on both was high and dry, but not tippy. While the conditions we were paddling in were not rough (light and variable wind, just a bit of texture on the water surface, several medium size boat wakes) I did not feel that water would come over the gunwales in choppy water, nor slop in on a lean.
The Phoenix 120 is stable all around and comfortable. It is easy to get back onto from a deep-water tip over, the side grip handles help with this, and are handy for lifting. While this little kayak is so very stable and light, it does push quite a bow wake as you paddle along, and as such I feel that the efficiency of the kayak is poor. The speed and glide is much as you would expect from a short kayak, but maybe not as good as other kayaks of the same length. I might suggest that for one more foot, and a few more bucks, it would be wise to go with the 130.
The 120 turns very easy and is highly maneuverable, the kayak can be turned 180 degrees with a single powerful sweep stroke. While it does turn easy it tracks decently and is not hard to keep on a strait course. This is a no-rudder option kayak.
The foot well did not suit me very well (I am 175 lb 32 inseam, 5'10" size 9 feet) but that does not mean it will not fit others well. You will have to try for your self.
The Phoenix 120 kayaks are set up for a standard seat but not for knee straps. A Beckson five-inch twist out hatch was outfitted on the bow of my older model demo kayak. A ten-inch larger rubber cover is the current hatch cover in production as of 2009, a much better option. The stern cargo well, was more or less a common shape and size, and ample for a small child or dog.
The Phoenix 120 would be best used for light duty recreational kayaking, short distance on calm and or protected waters for the most part. I see it as a good kayak multiple users, such as in a beach house setting, or as a family kayak. The 120 would be applicable for some light duty fishing, and good as a snorkeling or swimming platform. While I did not have an opportunity to try it in the surf, it may be a fun kayak on a small and easy surf break for simple rides. (For surf one would have to add knee straps and four strap eyes to clip them to.)
The Phoenix 130 is a pretty decent kayak for a 13 footer. It takes some effort to get it moving, but once it has the momentum it glides along well. Like the 120 it rides high and dry, and is comfortable. The primary stability might feel a bit tender to some, but the secondary stability is awesome, quite an eye opener on a recreation kayak.
One thing you will notice is that the scupper holes in the foot wells have pipes that go down, turn aft and then out the bottom of the hull through one single hole. This is certainly a unique feature in a sit-o-top.
The 130 is outfitted with strap eyes to take a sit-on-top seat. It is not outfitted for knee straps, but with the addition of four strap eyes it could be. The Phoenix 130 has standard adjustable foot braces on rails. I found them be mounted too low for my liking. The peg was at about the arch height for me (size 9 feet), and left me wising they were a couple inches higher, at the ball of my foot. The Phoenix 130 has a very nice large bow hatch with a rubber snap-on type cover. It sealed well, as is the entire hull, because you can hear air rush when you open the drain plug.
The Phoenix 130 tracks well for a 13 footer and is set up to take a rudder, our demo kayak did not have a rudder. I could say that a rudder is not entirely needed, but it is a nice option to have. The Phoenix 130 is not especially maneuverable, not to the point that it is a problem, but noticeable in a tight spot, or while pulling up to another kayak. A rudder really will not solve this, as a rudder is meant for keeping a strait course across open water.
The Phoenix 130 is easy to get back onto from deep water, handles on the side help for grasping the kayak. The cargo well on the back would lead me to believe the 130 it could be outfitted as a decent small scuba or snorkel kayak. Like the 120, it would also be a good swim platform. The stern cargo well, is more or less a common in shape and size, and like the 120 ample for a small child or dog. The small "day hatch" on the back deck is nice to have, but one must sit sidesaddle to easily access it. The cargo space is good, but the Phoenix 140 (not tested) is billed as the touring kayak of the Phoenix line, for open water, overnight trips and for longer distances.
I would suggest the Phoenix 130 for those folks who want a recreational kayak with some glide and a modest speed. The 130 could also be a good choice for anyone who is tempted to get the 12-foot Phoenix and is not concerned about the extra foot or cost. The user of a Phoenix 130 can usually expect a fairly good recreational distance range on lakes and bays. The larger the water, and the longer the distance, the more I would suggest the rudder option, and the addition of knee straps. The 140 should be best for open coastal waters.
In general the Hurricane Phoenix line of kayaks are an excellent choice for someone who is looking for a lighter weight kayak than the standard roto-molded polyethylene kayaks that are so common. Trylon plastic does not seem to show the wear and tear that more common brands of plastic kayak show after the first few outings. The Hurricane kayaks are well sealed and the outfitting is nicely done.
I hope you found this review helpful. Purchases made through our TopKayaker Shop help support these articles. You should find some links to hardware or replacement parts for your Hurricane Phoenix included. Special thanks to Wild Meadow Canoes and Kayaks, Center Harbor, NH.
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