test drive: the kruger sea wind / by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

What happened to the dog days of yore? It was August and I was wearing long-sleeves, not to keep from a massive sunburn, but to stay warm; the sandals on my feet, normally a summer knock around imperative, had my toes curling to maintain proper blood flow to the extremities. It certainly made for a wonderful day with autumnal hints but it was strange not having sweat oozing from every pore of your body in the middle of August.

We took the opportunity of this most welcome respite from a more typical Missouri August day to test drive a Kruger canoe, considered by many to be the best canoe ever made. After meeting the legendary Norm Miller, who paddled some 3,600 miles upstream the entire length of the Missouri River and then on to the ocean, I've been coveting one of these boats. Designed by Verlon Kruger, who went through 40 iterations to find this design, these are expedition craft. After Verlon finished his design he paddled more than 25,000 miles in the boat to prove it's worthiness.

And it's true, these are beautifully designed boats. Looking at one closely and seeing the inside of one you can feel the hand-crafted nature of these boats. To say they are roomy is an understatement. You can sleep in one of these boats and many do. No more of the kayaker's tendency to have to store things in every little nook and cranny, in a Kruger, there's room to hand things close at hand. And the boat's stability eliminates any of worries about capsizing and losing everything.

After paddling a sleeker kayak for several years now the Kruger fell a little sluggish going upriver. The thing is incredibly stable though, tough as nails, and turns on a dime. It's durability (10 layers of carbon fiber) make for a heavy boat (62 lbs) and it's rounded hull design makes lifting it a little awkward until you realize the easy way is to get completely underneath the boat. The seat reverses into an ingenious shoulder yoke that makes portaging a snap. Except for the 600 lbs of gear you can stow inside one of them; that you'll have to carry separately. However, the crazy thing about this boat is that you could, if you had sufficient Popeye arms, just drag the thing, gear and all, and not seriously damage the boat.

If an expedition or hunting trip is in your future the Kruger might just be the boat for you. Although a number of folks use these on ultra marathon races, personally I would opt for a sleeker craft, unless the river was near flood stage and then you'd be safe, high, and dry.

I have often felt that Krugers were over-priced by about a thousand dollars. One of Vern's protege's, Scott B. Smith, has starting building his own expedition craft, the Superior Expedition. It's almost the exact boat as a Kruger with a slightly modified bow design and this boat is forcing me to reassess my opinion of Krugers. It could be that they're over-priced by two grand, instead of one.