Friday, July 31, 2009

Calypso Women’s Kayak Review: Moving Water and Final Report

My last review of the LL Bean Women’s Calypso Kayak rated it a perfect kayak for open water paddling with great portability, decent speed and tracking, and not so great stability. Since I mainly paddle open waters, the Calypso has quickly made its way to the top of my list. Occasionally, I do paddle on moving water and I was interested in how the Calypso would fair going up current and around small obstacles.

Is the women’s specific Calypso Kayak as good on moving water as open water? Here is my report:


Being more fitted for women paddlers certainly helps this boat with maneuverability on open water, but it isn’t the most maneuverable for moving water. I paddled this a bit in some moving water, nothing too fast, just a bit of current and found that it did perfectly fine in these conditions, but I couldn’t avoid every obstacle in time. Should the water get any faster than just moving, or the obstacles any more, this boat wouldn’t be your first choice.

That said, it’s designed to be an open water boat and it gets an excellent review from me for fit, ease of portage, and tracking in open water conditions. The idea that I could even try this boat out in moving water, and it could perform

Other Factors to consider about the LL Bean Women’s Calypso

Cock pit size

I thought the cockpit was pretty easy to hop in and out of. The cockpit size is: Cockpit 35½"L x 18½"W. and the max weight for this boat is 225 lbs.

Adjustable foot pedals

I found them hard to adjust while on the water, but once you’ve tried adjusting them a few times on dry land, you should be able to get the hang of it.


Okay for comfortableness. My back started to get a little achy on a 3 hour plus ride. Consider buying an inflatable pad to help prop you up where you need it.


I purchased this boat a few years ago and use it three times a week during the season. It hardly shows the wear. The seal on the bulkhead needed to be redone the first year, but that’s expected when you use it a lot.

Summary of the LL Bean Women’s Calypso

Open Water

This boat is an ideal boat for the female kayaker that spends a lot of time on the open water with really decent tracking, speed, and stability with excellent portability. The 12’ version has one bulkhold for storing gear in the rear, so you can’t really do any touring with it. Given the chance, I think I would start off buying the newer version, which is 14’ and has two bulkheads, allowing you to take it touring. My next trip is to Lake Umbagog and I am still scrambling to find the right boat.

Moving Water

This boat performed nicely in slow, moving water conditions. Given that it isn’t designed in to hit the rapids- this boat still works well for easy paddles on local rivers. If you mainly paddle moving water, you may consider other styles designed specifically for this.

Women’s Specific Details

Companies often brag that they have women’s specific models, but on careful inspection their gear tends to still be men’s gear, just made smaller. Not true with the LL Bean’s Women’s Calypso Kayak. I’ve paddled for years and I instantly felt the differences when I got into the Calypso- lower platform, so I easily could control and paddle, perfect width so that I didn’t have to stretch at all to paddle, comfortable all day kind of boat.

Plus, I looooove that I can load it on my truck by myself.

More details

From LL Bean, who has a great return policy
Comes in two lengths 12’ and 14’
Cute colors too

Women's Calypso Kayak

Read Initial Thoughts on Women's Calypso Kayak
Read Open Water Report on Women's Claypso Kayak

Disclaimer: Product Reviews are based on opinion only and are not intended to condone, encourage, or promote a product. Some products are sent to me by the manufacturer or affiliates and are mine to keep. I mention this specifically on products sent to me. Compensation and/or product and/or services never interfere with the review of the product. Otherwise, products and services are purchased by me for personal use. Kayak was purchased by me. I have no affiliation with the manufacturer. 


Meggen said...

Great review on the Calypso. I am thinking about purchasing this kayak and your comprehensive review has been very helpful-thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about getting a kayak, but worried about the weight and ease of getting in/ out of the kayak (I've only paddled sit-on-top kayaks and tried a white water kayak that I did not like). Your review was great and VERY helpful! Wanted to find out if you tried one with a rudder or without and if you have any thoughts on getting the version with the rudder. Thanks for all your posts!