Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hobie Outback: The Ultimate Photography Kayak

Last summer my wife and I invested in a pair of Hobie Outback kayaks with photography in mind.  Having only ever piloted a couple other types of kayaks in my life, I’m going to go out on a limb and proclaim the Hobie Outback the “ultimate” choice for kayak photography.  Here’s why.

  • Stability. When we began kayak shopping, the Hobie dealer was our first stop purely by coincidence.  One look at the price tags and I was ready for the next stop!  No way did I want to spend that amount of money on an activity that we were just introducing ourselves to.  After a few more stops and some additional shopping around, however, the sticker shock started to subside when we began thinking about paddling about with rather expensive camera gear.  The “sit-on-top” design of the Outback coupled with the wide bottom gives it incredible stability which is a HUGE plus when holding an expensive DSLR in your hand.  I’ve even been out on Lake Michigan and have never felt the threat of capsizing.
  • Storage.  Probably not unique to the Outbacks, but there’s A LOT of storage space in these things.  The 8” hatch doors even provide enough room that I’ve been able to fashion a convenient storage solution for my camera with 70-300mm lens attached.  When launching, jumping off for a swim, getting caught in the rain, this ability to conveniently store the photography gear in the hatch is a great feature.  To date, I’ve NEVER had any water find its way inside the storage bays; even after having water come over the top of the front bow hatch while on Lake Michigan.
  • Maneuverability. The first two points are important, but this one seals the deal.  The ability to propel yourself with your feet via the incredible Mirage Drive system and precisely steer the craft with the gentle movement of the rudder control handle is nothing short of incredible.  If you’re paying attention you’ll realize that you have one hand completely free to operate the camera.  Let’s see you do that with a conventional kayak!  When creeping up on wildlife this maneuverability gives you a definite advantage.  With tiny, imperceptible movements of your feet (just flexing your ankles really) you can continue forward movement.  Oh so minor adjustments of the rudder lever help put you right where you need to be to get the shot.
  • Speed. This isn’t a feature you’d likely associate with a sit-on-top of kayak and with the standard equipment you’d be right.  Upgrade the to the “Turbo Fins”, however, and you’ll be amazed at how fast you can get to and from your destination.  I’m not joking when I say I was cruising past small motorized fishing boats the other day without even trying.

If you enjoy photography and are curious about taking your passion on the water, kayak photography is an excellent option.  If you have any questions or would like to share your own kayak photography experience, please drop me a line.  I’d love to compare notes. Smile


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