Naming a kayak after dolphins is certainly a way of raising your expectations. Few things cut through the water with a greater degree of speed and grace. Even so, not all dolphins are the same, and the same holds true for kayaks. Some dolphin breeds are bigger than others, and different dolphins act in different ways. Marine biologists examining or caring for one kind of dolphin will set you right if you mistake it for another.
With that in mind, it’s worth noting that the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS isn’t just “any” kind of kayak, either. It is a specialty offering that has led to some pretty polarized reception, which is understandable. There are some out there who could benefit from the Sun Dolphin’s focus on fishing, and others who won’t care about that at all. For the latter group, there is some potentially troubling news regarding the number of reviewers and users who have found this model a bit less stable, to say nothing of the fact that it may not be as big as it’s billed to be.
Even so, there are those who would come to the defense of the Sun Dolphin, and that has a lot to do with expectations. If you’re an experienced kayaker looking for a model that offers the latest and greatest designs, you may be disappointed. If you’re someone who’s new to kayaking who’s still new to turning, if reviews are to be believed, you may wind up in the water if you aren’t careful.
However, if you’re at an intermediate level and want an affordable fishing kayak that offers a snug no-frills fit, this may well be the kayak for you.
With all of that in mind, let’s take a closer look at this offering from Sun Dolphin and see what breed of kayak we have on our hands.
Features of Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS
Some of the most notable features to take into consideration when evaluating the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS include:
- 10 ft x 30 in. x 11 in.
- 44 lbs
- Sit-on-top cockpit design
- A weight capacity of 250 lbs
- Polyethylene hull
- Hard-shelled design
- Adjustable foot braces
- Bungee cords for storage
One of the first things that needs to be cleared up about this product description is the “10 ft” part. On the surface, that might not sound too bad. Sure, it isn’t as big as some of the biggest kayaks, but there’s certainly room for 10 ft kayaks on the market, there’s a niche for them – but what about smaller ones?
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Dimensions and Weight
You see, while this kayak is reported to be 10 ft, that’s a ballpark estimate, and an estimate on the high side at that. As noted below, some users have found that their Sun Dolphin was more like somewhere between 9 ft and 10 ft. That may seem like a small difference, but if you’re expecting a 10 ft kayak and get something on the smaller side, it can be a big difference indeed.
On the flip side, 44 lbs for a hard-shelled kayak isn’t too bad. There are far heavier hard-shelled options out there. What’s more, the bungee cords on the top are ideal for those looking for an easy storage option. That may not seem like much, but when you’re busy wrangling a big fish or have to put your oars down for a second, you’re going to be glad for every last inch of space you can get.
The hull is made of Fortiflex, a high-density polyethylene, meaning that this is quite a durable kayak. If you are looking for one that isn’t just a good investment today but is built to last tomorrow and well beyond, this may be a good kayak to consider.
What Do Users Say?
Sometimes, there’s a huge difference between theory and practice. That’s why, whatever your politics, there’s a huge difference between political theory and reality. The same holds true when hunting for a kayak. There are certain designs, sizes, and concepts that are “supposed” to work well with kayaks, and others that are “supposed” to be doomed to failure.
Then there’s reality.
The Sun Dolphin Journey SS is a perfect example of theory and practice coming into conflict. While the design of this model is “supposed” to be quite sturdy, numerous respondents have left reviews recording that they find it unstable, with some even saying that it tipped them into the water.
Part of this has to do with the fact that the Sun Dolphin embraces a sit-on-top cockpit which means that, when you sit down atop your kayak, your added weight can make it quite top-heavy. The flip side of this is that it allows you a little extra room to spread out in that seat (assuming you don’t accidentally tip the boat over) making it a potential winner for those looking for greater comfort in their kayak.
Here you can check a good overview video by tony pogue:
That being said, the overall user experience has still been largely positive, and that has a lot to do with the fact that this kayak is great for fishing. It features a ton of storage space, which is always good for those looking to fish, and it is also highly maneuverable without being difficult to steer. That latter part is rarer than it sounds, and it’s what makes this a fantastic intermediate fishing kayak for those with a bit of experience who don’t mind the fact this kayak’s on the smaller side and needs a bit of extra attention so as not to tip it over.
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Add to that the fact that this kayak is quite durable thanks to its Fortiflex build, and there’s a lot to like about this model.
Pros and Cons
Some of the best features of the Sun Dolphin on display here include:
- Durable built thanks to the Fortiflex
- Good spacious design for fishing
- Top seater design can give you a bit of extra room
- Very affordable
- Easy to maneuver
- Highly accessible
- Lots of storage space
- Great for fishing
Some potential drawbacks of the Sun Dolphin that you’ll want to be on the lookout for are:
- The kayak is listed at 10 ft but is actually between 9 and 10 ft
- Some users have reported the kayak not being that stable
- A few users have even fallen into the water due to the kayak’s build
- Top seat design can be a bit top heavy
Part of the central paradox behind the Sun Dolphin is that while you need to have some level of experience to offset the potential stability problems, this isn’t a kayak that is made with ultra-experienced kayakers in mind. It isn’t going to wow you with its bells and whistles. Instead, it’s a kayak that’s solidly designed for fishing, just with some stability issues and smaller-than-advertised size issues. That doesn’t mean that this is a bad kayak by any means, just that it isn’t designed to be someone’s first kayak.
Another thing to watch out for with this kayak is that it isn’t built for standing. Again, this is a bit of a paradox since this is, after all, a kayak that is built for fishing. Still, with the stability and weight distribution issues, unless you know how to master the motion of the ocean with a pair of sea legs that could rival the saltiest of sea dogs, you’re best sitting down while fishing. At the very least you should exercise caution if you do stand up and make sure you don’t make any sudden movements.
On the plus side, this kayak does have plenty of room for storage, which is a huge must for anyone serious about fishing.
Our rating: 4.0 / 5
The Sun Dolphin is certainly an intriguing kayaking option for those with at least an intermediate skill level. As mentioned above, beginners might find it a bit hard to deal with the stability issues, and there’s definitely a danger that the top-heavy design can lead to you tipping over if you don’t know what you are doing. Even if you do know, there’s still a chance that you might find the “10 ft” boasted here to be a bit less than promised.
Still, if you can get past both of those quibbles, this is quite a solid mid-range fishing kayak. It is highly affordable, making it a fantastic choice for those looking to purchase their first fishing kayak as long as they have a bit of kayaking experience and can keep their balance. What’s more, while this kayak may be a bit smaller than advertised, it still offers a fair amount of storage space.
The sit-on-top design can give you extra space to get comfortable (again, as long as you are experienced enough to not tip over into the water) and the kayak itself is easy to steer.
Add to that the fact that the hull of this kayak is incredibly sturdy and the impetus to look into this kayak becomes clear.
If you have some experience and want a solid fishing kayak that can last you for years to come, you can do far worse than the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS.