I’ve never really had a good crack at a ‘real’ kayak with pointy ends and a true need for me to have a little balance, so I have to admit to being a bit nervous recently when we tested the Ocean Kayak Camden 106 Angler.
This little kayak is a sit-in boat, as opposed to the more well-known sit-on-tops that we see anglers fishing from on any given day. At only 3.2m long, this little yak weighs a mere 23kg and makes the term single-person use a reality.
In comparison with a lot of other single-person kayaks, 23kg is easy for just about anyone to lift, move, store and carry to and from the water. This factor alone appeals to me. But this light weight doesn’t come with a small payload. The Camden can swallow up 158kg of paddler and gear, making it suitable for nearly anyone who wants to use it.
We took the Camden out on a lake for a play and I am glad I did. Apart from the initial wobbles, this little yak was huge fun to paddle around in. It was the easiest kayak I have paddled, once you got into it, and the speed you can achieve was pretty impressive.
Keep in mind I am an absolute novice on this style of kayak and much to the dismay of everyone watching, I didn’t fall in! I am reliably told that the camera was ready – you have to love mates! I am pretty sure in a fast river I’d be in a world of hurt, given my lack of experience, but geez you’d have some fun!
The manufacturers at Old Town say this kayak is ideal for rivers, lakes and estuaries and I can’t see any of that being a problem. From my point of view I’d do a few hours in the calmer waters of the estuary, lake or larger river before tackling a fast water river and I would do a kayaking starter course as a priority to ensure my own safety, but don’t take that as a reflection on the Camden. That’s a direct reflection on my lack of use of this style of kayak.
The Camden is simple and efficient. And at 23kg everything needs to be well organised. Starting from the rear there is a convenient carry handle that is mirrored at the bow of the craft. If two people are in your party you can each grab a handle and go. If you’re by yourself, it’s a simple matter of grabbing a handle and dragging the yak to the water. Alternatively you can grab the inside of the cockpit and carry the entire unit in one hand. I tried this and you can do it quite easily.
Behind the cockpit is a hatch that has the new click-seal cover. This hatch is waterproof and is easy to operate with a large switch locking and unlocking it. It’s very useful for items such as tackle trays that do not need to be kept totally waterproof. If I was carrying spare clothes, a camera or my wallet and phone, I’d definitely invest in a waterproof bag.
To the port side of the hatch is an anchor system with a grab anchor that will hold this craft in just about any conditions. The anchor is light enough for single-handed lifting and it will not overbalance the rig.
In front of the rear hatch are flush-mounted rod holders – one to port, the other to starboard. These are great locations to store a rod or two when you’re travelling any distance and need clear space in front of you for paddling hard.
The cockpit is roomy enough for my 90-odd kilograms to fit easily and has been fitted out with a new seat, the Extrasport XtraComfort seat. This seat is exceptionally comfortable and adjustable so that you can have it in the best position around your kidney area.
The cockpit also has super-comfortable thigh braces on each side. These allow the paddler to grip outwards with their thighs while paddling, making the strokes more powerful and definitely adding to the balance – well, my balance, anyway. The material they are made from is not hard and it provides a great locking position for your legs.
At the front of the cockpit is a drink/cup holder and a Cannon rod holder. These items are great as they are within easy reach and allow you to store the rod you are using in front of you. It’s great for trolling or for short moves and the drink holder is just sensible.
In front of these two features is a sealed, watertight compartment that is designed to contain electronics. This means phones, wallets and other smaller items that must stay dry can be stored here. As an example, a small point-and-shoot camera, a wallet and an iPhone fit in here, but a dedicated DSLR camera will not.
And, lastly, tucked under the front deck are two adjustable foot braces that help align and maintain your legs in the right spot.
Forward of the electronics holder are three storage bungee straps that you can slip your paddle under if you’re fishing hard, or attach some lanyard straps to hold things like a small net or lip grips. The choice is yours.
Overall, the Camden 106 Angler is a compact and simple kayak that does not come with all the extra bells and whistles of larger sit-on-top kayaks. However, for one-person use and for getting around quickly and nimbly, this is a great kayak. For a first-up use I found it easy to paddle slowly and quickly and exceptionally manoeuvrable. A simple backstroke had the kayak turning on itself in the direction you wanted it to go. The Camden tracks well and could be pulled up quickly if you needed to put the brakes on in a hurry.
I really enjoyed my first true kayaking experience in a sit-in kayak. The Camden provided some immense speed and I am keen to do a bit more of this style of kayaking. I’m not sure I want to go fishing for a full day just yet, but I have these overly dramatic images of me bashing through whitewater like the Solo man. Maybe that’s a few years, a few kilos and a world of experience off, but the Camden made me want to go out and have some fun with it.
And for under $1500, the Old Town Camden 106 Angler is a small investment to get you into some tight water and some extra fish. The Camden comes with paddle, anchor and the Cannon rod holder so you’re set to go when you purchase the kayak. Log onto www.oldtowncanoe.com.au/kayaks/camden-106-angler.html to go direct to the web page with all the info on the Camden 106 Angler. Available in camo pattern or the light brown as tested, the Camden 106 Angler is a ripping little kayak.Reads: 2240