This is the boat that launched the brand, the original and still #1 seller for Native Watercraft!
Width: 76 cm
Weight: 22 kg (plus seat & propel drive)
Capacity: 159 kg
Then there is the ‘First Class Seat’ which is easily removed from the kayak and can be used as a stand-alone seat around camp. The seat is made from HiFlow 3-D Mesh which dries quickly and vents well to stay cool.
When you look closely at the hull shape you’ll notice the ‘Tunnel Hull’ which gives catamaran like stability. You can stand and fish in this kayak more easily than any other craft of comparable width. The hull shape also tracks well thus making it a nice option to paddle without using the rudder.
The final design feature that is unique in this craft is that this is not your regular sit-on top kayak……it is more like a canoe!
At low speeds the pedal drive is easy to operate. At higher speeds you do have some resistance on the pedals……..you are working! As the Ultimate 12 is quite streamlined we found it nice to paddle and even quicker under pedal power.
The steering for the rudder is controlled by a handle on the left hand side and although not super responsive does an adequate job of manoeuvring the kayak and also keeping it straight. Most people’s leg length will be catered for by the adjustment in the seat. It slides forward and back and locks in place by straps attached to the hull. It was noted that people under 5ft 7in’s may run out of adjustment and would have to pad the backrest to reach the Propel Drive and maintain back support.
The hull is quite efficient through the water and has the unique performance characteristic of tracking in a straight line but also being manoeuvrable, normally you don’t really get both. While the Ultimate 12 is travelling in a straight line it seems the Tunnel Hull channels water down the centre line of the hull, keeping the kayak straight. Once you initiate a turn and the kayak starts to turn, it then spins quite quickly.
The Ultimate 12 is great to fish from with its hands free propulsion, comfort and stability. It also has loads of storage space due to its canoe like design. The demo kayak used for this review was fitted with 4 Scotty Flush Mounts so that a number of rods could be used. Although the Ultimate series have an optional paddle park that clips into the Adapt-a-Trak on the side of the boat, I’d recommend getting a 2 piece paddle and splitting it to simply stow in the substantial space behind the seat. The Ultimate series have a full range of accessories such as extra pockets, covers for the bow & stern, and a headrest.
I find people are quite often worried with a pedal drive that if they hit the bottom, or even worse a rock, that they will bust something. I refrained from ramming a rock at full speed but did find the Pedal Drive to be a robust unit when encountering a few sand banks. There is a locking clip at the front of the Propel Drive that holds it in the down position. I think if you hit something hard this may be the sacrificial week link, and is easily replaced.
The Native Watercraft retails for approx $3000 (variations may occur due to freighting costs).
The company also makes the Mariner series of sit-on-top kayaks with the Propel Pedal Drive system.