Specs

Length Overall 16 ft
Beam 22 in
Depth Amidships 12.5 in
Dry Weight 49 lbs (composite layup)
Cockpit 16 x 30 in
Suggested Paddler Weight Range 120-190 lb

Reviews

A true sports car in the world of kayaks, the low-volume…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it used

Summary

A true sports car in the world of kayaks, the low-volume Impex Montauk is a classic amongst Greenland or British style boats. Even in the limited and more refined world of skeg boats, she scores amongst the top for her responsiveness, stability, and comfort.

Pros

  • Dynamic performance
  • Low-volume
  • Gorgeous lines

Cons

  • Company may be out of business

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Background:
After 8 years of paddling and owning multiple kayaks of various styles and sizes, I was fortunate to come across an ad for an Impex Montauk on Craigslist. My very first touring kayak was a Seda Swift, and while a great boat in its own right, it taught me that as a smaller-framed female, I needed a better fit.

My favorite adage about kayaking is that you ‘wear a kayak’ and not just simply sit inside one. For the distances I was beginning to put in, efficiency and a good fit began to really matter. Just like it is inefficient and uncomfortable to use a backpack that is too large in capacity, heavy, or torso length, the same is true for kayaks.
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I had done my homework on the Montauk and the price was right, so she became my first skeg boat. I'll also note that she was already 10 years old when I bought her secondhand, but she was new to me and barely had a scratch on her due to the previous owner's lack of use. I think he mentioned that she was too ‘tippy’ for him, which has not been my experience, as I’ll later explain.
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A low-volume sports car: So, 5 years down the road, this now 15 year-old kayak still makes me feel like I'm paddling a Ferrari in the world of kayaks. She's not the fastest, lightest, or most feature-rich boat out there (at least not my older version) but I adore her liveliness. At 16' total length (15’ waterline) and a 22" beam, she is the perfect size for me.

My fiberglass model weighs just under 50 lbs and has a suggested paddler weight of 120 to 190 lbs. These low-volume dimensions are similar to some more popular designs like the NDK Romany and Valley Avocet. But my favorite aspect is her rocker and soft keel, great for so many applications...edging in tight mangrove channels, surfing, and breaking through chop. I always marvel at how springy she feels and how quick her responses are, especially after having paddled larger, flatter boats that are good for going in a straight line but not much else.

The low fore-deck also facilitates various angles of paddling without hitting your hands on the coaming…something that drives me crazy about larger-volume boats. I find using a Greenland stick works great, much better than euro blades but this is a personal preference. Some might classify this as a Greenland-style boat but it is probably more appropriately lumped into the category of British boats like Valley and P&H. Notably, Impex was a Canadian manufacturer but appears to have recently gone out of business.
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Stability: The Montauk is actually a pretty stable boat, despite her narrower beam. I can even stand up in the cockpit on a calm day. I routinely go on snorkeling trips to the reef in this boat...there's just enough room in the key-hole cockpit for me to don my gear, roll out, and then climb back in. She tolerates all my maneuvering around like a champ while at anchor.
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Alternatively, she is also pretty easy to roll, being the first boat I ever successfully practiced the maneuver in (and I got it on my first try!). I've only ever rolled her unintentionally when I was trying to surf some shore breaks…comes with the territory. Fortunately, I find her just as easy to wet-exit and to climb back in.

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Pack-ability/versatility: I've done a lot of camping trips out of this boat, the longest being the 100-mile wilderness waterway through the Everglades. I carried water and food for 5 days, along with all my gear. It was a squeeze, but quite feasible with lightweight gear that is generally more suited for backpacking.

The first day out on that trip did see me burying the bow in wind chop due to too much water stored forward, so you do have to be conscience of the balance in a low-volume boat like this.
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Loading for the Wilderness Waterway trip in Everglades National Park

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With about 70 additional pounds at the beginning of the trip, this shot depicts my much lower freeboard.

She has a pretty standard setup with forward and rear hatch compartments, along with a day hatch that I use most of all during day trips. The skeg box does take up some of the room in the rear, but is a good compromise considering the many advantages of a skeg over a rudder. Clean lines and fine-tuning to any desired heading…though I don’t often even need the skeg given her lower freeboard.

(A collection of my many Everglades adventures)
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Comfort: The Montauk is the most comfortable boat I’ve ever paddled. In addition to numerous 8 hour days, I set my PR at 26 miles in one day in this boat, with no discomfort whatsoever to my lower extremities. Rather surprisingly, I can sit in the molded fiberglass seat all day without my butt hurting but my other kayak, with a padded seat, gives me bruises. I can’t figure it out but it seems to ring true that sometimes simpler is better.

The thigh pads are also very sparse (just thin strips of a neoprene-like material), but even these I find preferable over the more padded ones. They make it easy to slide my legs in and out of position against the bulkhead, so that I never feel like I’m putting too much pressure on my knees while still being able to maintain good, even contact with the hull.

A quality Immersion Research backband completes the cockpit…no other padding or bells-and-whistles needed. 
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Durability: As for maintenance (and given her age), I've had to replace the skeg cable, hatch seals, bungee and deck lines. I mailed the skeg and hatch covers up to the Impex rep up in North Carolina, who did the custom repairs very quickly and reasonably priced. Customer service A+, though I don’t know if that support still exists given the dissolved state of the company.

Fortunately for DIY’ers, the skeg design is simple and the cable easily removed for maintenance, unlike some other designs I've come across. I also actually prefer the fiberglass hatch covers, as they are easy to remove and allow for larger openings by which to load gear. I usually get very little to no water inside the compartments, so the seals on the covers themselves do a decent job. Newer models come with the more modern rubber hatch seals.

She has more scratches and dings than when I bought her, but considering all that I have put her through, she has aged quite well. My only criticism is a weak spot on the bow, just at the waterline. I cracked the glass while trying to rescue a capsized 2 person SOT…70 lbs of rotomold coming alongside rather abruptly proved too much. I have patched the spot with some glass and epoxy...good as new.

I have no plans to upgrade to another kayak at this point because after 15 years of paddling, I finally feel like I’ve found my perfect boat.

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Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Fantastic review, and pictures, Lah! Too bad this company appears to no longer be in business. And I have to wonder, how close is that alligator?


4 years ago
Ashleigh

Great review and awesome pictures, Leah! What a nice boat!


4 years ago
Twig

Alicia, I added another picture of the gator from my perspective...not as close as it looks in the others, but that was one big gator. They generally dart into the water pretty quick when you approach but this one held ground, such that it was. From their perspective, we're much bigger animals (15-17 in length) so they are not going to bother you. Our presence surely was bothering it but it never once moved. We had just gone through some really cold spells, so it was trying to soak up some sun and therefore quite lethargic. This stretch of the waterway is, unsurprisingly, titled Alligator Creek.


4 years ago
G00SE

You have officially met my demands for gator pics. Thanks for the review.


4 years ago
Craig Houdeshell

Ashleigh, great review. I too live in Florida. West Palm Beach. I paddle a Impex Diamonte and I love it. Is it true Impex is out of business? If so I am really disappointed. I have been on the phone a few times with those guys and they seem(ed) really great and very informative and easy with the info. If it really is true they are "done" I will be disappointed.


4 years ago
Twig

Craig, while doing this review, I tried to visit the Impex website and could not find it. I also noted that their Facebook page, which I was following, was gone. It appears a number of stores still have new Impex models for sale but the face of the company has all but disappeared. And online search turned up only a blog post with some mention of the company's financial struggles. It is unfortunate.


4 years ago
Craig Houdeshell

Ashleigh, sorry I didn't chime in with what I found after writing the post above. After writing the post above, I got curious and went on a research project. I just knew someone would pick-up the molds for the boats because the boats are so good. Anyway, after long searching and a bunch of digging I discovered that indeed the company was bought. Please see the company who now owns Impex, or at least is building them. They are in Canada. Not as convenient as having the company in N.C. for you or I but at least the boats and company lives. http://abitibico.ca/en/


4 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Again, great review, Lah.


4 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Craig, thanks for the research and update on Impex being bought. I've updated its brand info: https://www.trailspace.com/gear/impex-kayak/


4 years ago
Twig

Here is a brief article about the revival of the Impex brand: http://www.paddling.net/articles/Impex-Returns.html?utm_source=email_newsletter&utm_medium=email


4 years ago

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Discontinued

The Montauk has been discontinued.

No price on record.

The Impex Kayak Montauk is not available from the stores we monitor.

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