In the world today, we’re surrounded by things that don’t fall into the “traditional” school of thought for what is high-tech – they have no computer parts, no wires, and in fact many of these items don’t have any electrical components at all. Despite this, these items are nonetheless high-tech in their own ways from design to function. It’s in this segment that I’ll be doing my best to review all sorts of items in this “High-Tech Low-Tech” category every Thursday. Today’s offering is the Elie Sound 120XE Angler Kayak from Pelican Sports, and boy is it impressive.

The Sound 120XE is a “sit in” kayak (as opposed to a sit on model), which I really appreciated – you see I’m a complete novice at kayaking, and I felt a lot more secure to actually be inside of it.  Being inside the kayak puts you lower in the water as well, which makes it more stable – another serious boon for someone new to the scene.  I’ve heard that angling kayaks are designed to be more stable just because of how they’re designed, and the Sound 120XE really shows that off – when I was completely comfortable with how it was handling, I actually tried to tip myself to no avail.  I managed to tilt to about a 40 degree angle, but the kayak always righted itself with no problems.

Getting the Sound 120XE into the water was easy too as it only weighs 50 lbs (23 kg), and it has two carrying handles.  You’ll need to have another person with you if you plan on using the handles though (or have a 12 foot span with your arms outstretched lol) as there is one places at each end.  When you’re by yourself though, it’s extremely easy just to pick it up by the cockpit to carry it down.  I’ve seen a lot of people have issues with getting in their kayaks once it’s in the water, but I had no such problems with the Sound 120XE – it remained stable throughout the whole process.

Once I got the Sound 120XE away from the dock (I tested it in a lake), and tested how stable it was, I really wanted to see just how fast it could go.  Unfortunately I didn’t have any kind of equipment to measure exactly how fast I was moving, but the thing definitely cut straight through the water.  There was another family on the lake the day I tested in some smaller kayaks, and I asked the husband who was about my build to race.  The Sound 120XE easily outdistanced him every time we went at it – the design and form of it were just too sleek and hydrodymanic for the other kayak to compete with.

As I said before, the Sound 120XE is primarily an angler’s kayak, and though I didn’t actually fish when I had it out, I can definitely appreciate the features it has.  For starters, it comes with a nice locking holder for your rod.  The holder slips in to a hole on the kayak (the hole has a rubber bung to cover it when not in use), and allows you to set the angle that your rod rests at so your hands are free.  Another nice feature for the fisherman is the watertight storage compartment – in there you can put whatever you want, and it’ll still be dry when you head back in.  Perfect for a lunch on long treks, or a change of clothes if you’re going out in the rain.

The Sound 120XE has an extremely comfortable cockpit with knee pads, adjustable foot pegs, and the “Ergoflex seating system”.  The Ergoflex is definitely the center of attention in the cockpit, and once you sit in it and paddle, it’s easy to see why.  The backrest actually flexes with how you move when paddling, giving support no matter how you move.  You won’t have any hot spots in your rear or thighs either, because of the EVA padded seat.  The coup de grace of the cockpit though?  The cup holder that a luxury vehicle HAS to have.  Yes, even though it has a perfectly good bottle holder in the center of the seat, Pelican chose to go above and beyond with luxury stylings, and add an actual cup holder.  Next to the cup holder is another small watertight compartment for something like a cell phone or camera, which comes in handy when you’re going on a long voyage.

Along with the Sound 120XE, I was sent a Symbiosa Carbon Fiber paddle to test out which performed above my expectations for a paddle.  It splits in two when you need to break it down for storage, and can adjust its length extremely easily in order to accommodate people of varying arm lengths.  The Symbiosa is also light as all hell (as should be expected with carbon fiber), and pushes a lot more water than I thought it would.

Now if you really want that “high-tech” edge from this baby, how’s this on for size – the Elie Sound 120XE Angler (and in truth, all Elie kayaks) are made using a process called twin-sheet thermoforming.  They are the only polyethylene kayak manufacturer that uses this technique, and while I don’t know exactly how it all works (I’m not a science major), the result is a kayak hull that it is stiffer than other polyethylene boats.  That’s what makes it handle so well in the water.

Editor’s Rating:

Rating: ★★★★★

Perfect

The Bottom Line: The Sound 120XE is the perfect kayak for novices and experts alike, with enough in the way of comfort to make sure you’re not sore after a long day on the water – all for less than a comparably equipped competitor.

Pros:

  • Extremely lightweight makes it really easy for one person to transport to and from the water
  • Even though I tried, I wasn’t able to capsize the kayak, which means that it shouldn’t happen during normal use
  • They threw in pretty much every feature you could possibly want in a kayak

Cons:

  • I know there’s an accessory you can purchase for one handed carrying, but a small handle by the cockpit would have been nice
  • It might have been that my center of balance was off, but I was tracking slightly to port over long straightaways
  • I had to really tighten the screw on the paddle as it kept wanting to slip apart – not sure what happened there

You can pick up a Elie Sound 120XE Angler Kayak from your local dealer, or online from the Appomattox River Company for $749.99

You can get the Symbiosa Carbon Paddle from Reed’s Sporting Goods (or also at your local dealer) for $149.99

I know the following video looks funny, but I was using a DRIFT cam, and had the lens rotated the wrong way – it at least shows how well the kayak tracks.

Finally, I know all of the images online show the Sound 120XE Angler as only in a grey color, and mine came yellow – I’m not sure what happened there or how I got the color.  I know the standard Sound 120XE comes in yellow, but I assure you that mine IS the angler model – hopefully the yellow color will be available for everyone next year. **Update** The nice yellow color is for the 2012 model.










Staff