Malibu Kayaks Ranger 15
I received the Ranger 15 just last week, and it was with great anticipation I might add. I was intrigued with the first glimpses of the kayak and wondered how it would handle. Coming in a single seat (15.1) and tandem model (15.2), its Malibu’s entry into the hybrid kayak market.
Length – 15’
Width – 32” (at middle of kayak)
Height – 15” (from bottom of kayak to top)
Weight – 80 lbs (list weight, didn’t feel that heavy to me)
From the seated position, with the high free board and width, it takes a wider and higher stroke compared to my other Malibu kayaks. It’s a bit wetter from paddle drip and the higher angle of attack with the paddle. It tracked well into all different wind directions; I think a rudder would help. As far as speed, I found it equal to my Stealth 14.
I found it very easy to stand up from the seated position, and the stability was good. Having a tunnel hull, your feet are stuck in one position which I didn’t like. I’m more use to my Stealth 14, so I guess it would take some getting used to. While standing the bow is pushed down, and the stern is forced up a little out of the water. This causes the kayak to “Weather Vane” into the wind, making it a handful to keep on a straight course. I found that by deploying my anchor, in the folded up position, this would help keep the stern from swinging around into the wind.
The seat attaches to a plastic seat tray, which in turn is connect to adjustable side rails. This tray is bolted into position and would require the proper wrench to make adjustments on the fly. In front of the seat is a support bar, which at first glance you would think would be in the way. This was not the case. In fact it helps with standing, and also gives you a place to rest a fishing pole.
At first I thought this bar should be located behind the seat, and a smaller one located up front towards the bow. This still might be a good idea, giving the hull more stability. The area behind the seat is rather large, but plenty big for a milk crate or cooler. The problem is, there is no way to secure it in place. The area that serves as a rear tank well area, is to far aft for the single version, but reachable in the tandem configuration.
With no paddle holders installed, I had to stow my paddle and push pole down inside the kayak. The side pads are installed a bit too aft, but will be good if the seat was moved back a few inches.
My overall impression of the Ranger 15 is good. While I don’t think it would be good for long distances over open water, kayak fishing on calm lakes or rivers it would excel. The first thing I would do after purchasing one, would be to practice a deep water self entry. With the high freeboard, it might be difficult to get back in. Some floatation bags under the bow and stern would be a good idea as well. I found it easy to fish out of, as well as getting in and out while out on the flats. A anchor trolley and paddle holders would be my first rigging installs.
All in all, I really look forward to paddling and fishing more out of this kayak.