Old Town Heron 9XT Kayak Review – A Recreational Kayak
Can you imagine yourself kayaking? Obviously you can. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this Old town heron 9 kayak review, right?
All joking aside, most newbies to this sport are rightfully worried about how to approach buying a kayak. In other words, you’re probably worried that you’ll buy an overpriced kayak that performs poorly. Or that you’ll buy a cheap one that has clear disadvantages in terms of balance, comfort, handling, etc.
Maybe you will also be worried that you’ll buy a kayak which is not suited for your planned environment, i.e., an ocean, a lake or a river with a lot of rapids. What about desired purpose, is it suitable for fishing, sports or recreational?
Well, you have to start somewhere, which means that you need a multi-purpose kayak with a low price and more than decent performance. We suggest Old Town, and among their products, we recommend the lovely Heron 9XT.
In the shortest way imaginable, let us sum up what you get with this kayak. First off, you get a cheap product in comparison to other commercially-sold brands. Next, you get a product from a manufacturer with a long tradition of quality kayaks and canoes. Finally, you get a kayak that performs almost as good as any professional, more pricey vessel. In addition, there’s safety, comfort, sturdiness, smooth handling, etc. But you will learn more about that if you read on.
Before we move on to the details of the product itself, let’s talk about the company for just a moment. Old Town was formed in 1898. It was in this year that A. E. Wickett crafted his first Penobscot-inspired wood and canvas canoe. He did this behind Gray’s hardware store, and soon after he was selling canoes insanely well.
In 1903, the firm adopted the name Old Town Canoe Co. Their primary focus was wood and canvas canoes, and they continued to sell out regularly. The military personnel, in particular, loved canoeing, and soldiers would use Old Town products extensively.
However, with the Second World War in full swing, the materials became more scarce. The company had the materials to continue with the wood and canvas canoes, but they were slowly expanding into fiberglass boats. The sixties saw the expansion of fiberglass canoes and kayaks, and the seventies turned to Royalex. The company then expanded to polyethylene products, multipurpose kayaks, and newer, slicker designs.
With over a century of continued work, numerous awards won and millions of satisfied customers, Old Town stands as a name replete with excellence. Which makes it all the more fascinating that they still manufacture the bulk of their products by hand.
Overview: Old Town Heron 9XT Kayak
With as rich a history as Old Town has, you can expect nothing but quality from their products. Heron 9XT kayak is, of course, no exception here. Let’s discuss some of its basic features.
Size and Weight
The Heron 9XT stands about 9 ft. 6 inch and 28.5 inch wide. Its cockpit dimensions are 39.5 in x 19 in. Finally, the height of the deck is 13 inch. It’s a relatively compact-sized kayak, all things considered.
In terms of weight, it’s relatively light compared to its competitors on the market. Heron 9XT weighs only 39 lbs, making manual transport from land to water easy. Or just manual transport in general, really.
In terms of how much it can carry, Heron 9XT has a maximum weight capacity of 300 lbs. So unless you’re really unfortunate with your weight, you will have no trouble comfortably fitting in this Old Town beauty.
Shape and Design
Heron 9XT is a sit-inside kayak with a slick design. The said design allows it to maneuver easily upon use. The cockpit has plenty of leg room, and most of your additional gear will go to the hatch on the kayak’s stern. It’s a one-paddler kayak with the primary purpose being recreational paddling. It’s perfect for a newcomer willing to learn the ins and outs of this activity.
The material that makes up Heron 9XT is a single-layer polyethylene, continuing the tradition of its older cousins. It’s light enough to carry around, yet durable enough not to get damaged when you use it.
For you aesthetically-minded folks out there, the Heron 9XT comes in four colors. Those are Sunrise (orange and yellow), Cloud (blue and white), Lemongrass (light green), and Black Cherry (red and black).
Features of Heron 9XT
Heron 9XT has plenty of features that can catch your eye, even if you don’t know much about kayaks.
The first would be the Comfort Flex seat. This adjustable seat system is perfect for many hours of long paddling. You get to adjust it per your pleasure, and the added seat/back padding makes it all the more comfortable. In addition to this, you also get thigh pads, a step further in comfortable paddling experiences.
In terms of the cockpit itself, it is easy to enter and leave, and no matter your girth – you will fit right in. Its design allows you to add a spray skirt. This option is useful, as you need it in cold weather or simply if you’d wish not to get too wet. The cockpit allows for plenty of room to move, and you will be paddling with no additional effort.
As do many other kayaks, including those in Old Town’s vast gallery, the Heron 9XT uses the so-called Support Track system of foot bracing.
These particular braces are easy to adjust to any foot type and, most importantly, easy to buy in case they break. Couple this with the roominess of the cockpit and your Heron 9XT is already a cut above the rest. But it doesn’t end there.
Bits and Bobs
Let’s first talk about the hatch, the same one we mentioned a few paragraphs earlier. Its capacity is at about 60l, at most. You will be able to store your gear with no problems, and almost no sacrifice in terms of weight capacity.
But the hatch isn’t the only additional feature that “holds” something of yours. You also get a paddle keeper, as well as cup holders - both essential for a tired kayaker out in the middle of a lake somewhere.
However, even with all of these elements in place, it is the low price that makes Heron 9XT stand out. On its official website, Old Town is selling this model for roughly $500. On the other hand, Amazon will sell you the Heron 9XT, without any extra equipment, for as low as $399.
Naturally, there’s the issue of shipping. Due to its sheer size, you will probably have to pick up your kayak personally. The retailers that do ship the Heron 9XT will likely charge you as much as half of the boat’s price. So, word to the wise – order it from a retailer near you. If not, prepare to pay a hundred or so dollars more for its delivery.
What Makes Heron 9XT Stands Out?
Now let’s be clear on one thing – there are better kayaks out there that serve a specific purpose. We’re talking better racing kayaks, better fishing kayaks, and sure – even better recreation kayaks.
However, we also must stress one important detail. Heron 9XT is, hands down, currently the best kayak for a customer that has never kayaked before, but wants to try.To put it differently, Heron 9XT is the best “tutorial” kayak, insofar as it can actually do what most better-rated kayaks can.
Its durability is astounding, especially when coupled with its light weight and roomy cockpit. It will take a while to break this baby, and even if you put on a few pounds, it won’t noticeably damage your kayaking experience.
We don’t even have to mention the comfort level, as the technology invested in it speaks for itself.
The Potential Setbacks of Heron 9XT
As amazing as Heron 9XT is, it has its flaws that might make you reconsider buying it. One of the minor complaints would be the cup holders being non-adjustable, which results in cups spilling over.
In addition, there’d been cases where the hatch would leak and overflow with water. However, this is only true if you delve into deep waters for long periods of time. Otherwise, you should have zero problems with this.
The most common issue with Heron 9XT is that it’s just too plain. In other words, its use is limited. For instance, you could successfully go fishing on it, but it would serve you better to get a fishing kayak.
Additionally, the Heron 9XT, as durable as it is, cannot handle rougher waters. We would advise against paddling in the rapids or out in the open sea. This kayak is for large freshwater areas, such as lakes and ponds. In other words, bodies of water perfect for recreational paddling.
Check out another model from Old Town Canoes & Kayaks, our Old town Vapor kayak review, another model perfect for beginners.
Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron 9XT
We hope that our Old town heron 9 kayak review is able to help you make the right buying decision.
All in all, if you’re looking to start kayaking, let your first kayak be Old Town’s Heron 9XT. It’s slick, durable, comfortable, sturdy, roomy, and looks rather nice. And most of all, it’s perfect for your budget. We would definitely rate this product a 5 stars.
Buy it now and paddle onward!