Viking Reload Review - one mans unbiased opinion !

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Posts: 8289
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:20 pm
Kayak Make: Viking
Kayak Model: Reload
VHF Call Sign: ZMW 2196
Location: West Harbour

Tue May 05, 2015 9:02 pm

Well after revealing to the world that I had decided to move from my NZ made OK Ultra 4.3 to the new Viking Reload, I’ve had a number of people ask me for my opinions on the differences and to do an “unbiased” review here on the Forum !

So first up the disclaimer, I am not associated in anyway with Viking in terms of sponsorship and both my 4.3 and Reload were bought and paid for as normal commercial purchases !!

Secondly, and I think most of you will understand this, my review is done as a “fisherman who kayaks” as opposed to a “kayaker that fishes” !!.... If you want to read about hull design, the free water effect, free buoyancy and imploding hatches, then this is the wrong review to read !!

Finally these are my thoughts and observations and very few if any will have a “scientific” justification or explanation. If it feels / looks right or wrong, then that’s how it is !!!

I’ve not put any pics in here, but I’m sure that where needed most of you are capable of looking at the respective websites and taking a look for yourselves….!!

So what were the key “purchase” drivers for me when I was looking at my new yak…??

Over the summer holidays I spend a bit of time launching off surf beaches so a number 1 driver for me was rod / reel storage and ease of access. I have a dodgey back so seat comfort was important, as was overall storage, ease of access to the chill pod /bin in the back, and ease to paddle…

Being NZ made was important, but having some strong local support was probably more important !

So after speaking with Limitless at Viking he kindly lent me a Reload to try….. So as many have said here on the Forum, try before you buy !
After a pretty good trial and a bit of discussion, I decided to go ahead and take the plunge and buy one, so here are my thoughts broken into a few key areas that I considered:


This is a very subjective opinion and open to all sorts of discussion, but as my son and I spent a bit of time lifting the yaks on and off cars and trailers during the trial process and after the purchase, it was pretty apparent to both of us that the Reload was definitely how much, well we didn't get the scales out, but we feel it could be as much as 10kgs..


I have paddled with a rudder for a number of years and have always maintained that once you have one, you’ll never go back !... So when the trial Reload turned up, it was interesting to see it had no rudder..
Compared to the 4.3 it was night & day !... The 4.3 without a rudder “wandered” all over the place and there was a constant paddle stroke adjustment that had to be made to keep it on track. No so with the Reload…. It stayed in a straight line pretty damn well and if it was absolutely necessary I could have managed without a rudder. My final purchase included the rudder. The new “standard” on the Reload is for toe control rudder pedals so you can now push down with your opposite foot when paddling to help with your body rotation and then use your toes to control the rudder. A traditional rudder peddle setup is on the 4.3.

Rod Storage

This was critical area for me….. The 4.3 has a forward bow hatch which is completely inaccessible to me when I’m on the water, so effectively it was a waste. The Reload has a hatch in the cockpit combing that faces toward the paddler. Now I know all the safety aspects of this, but its not too difficult to shimmy forward on the Tackle Pod and open the hatch and put your two piece rods with or without reels in there. It also takes a two piece paddle with ease and its great for stuffing your paddle jacket away if needed. This was a real plus for me !!
If you don’t fancy doing that, the rod grooves on the bow coupled with the bungy rubber and the locating notches on the combing, really do work and can be used for one piece rods like jigging rods.

Comfort / Ride / Dryness

My 4.3 had the comfort seat that had the fold down back and the permanently mounted base and because I suffer from a back problem, the choice of seating arrangements was very important. The Reload comes with a more standard “clip in” high back seat arrangement.
I’m very pleased to say that the Reload seat is now actually more comfortable !... It gives more support and because its more adjustable its very easy to adjust a seating position “on the water”….This is also helped by a greater seat rake as well.
The Reload has a slightly higher seating position than the 4.3 so you definitely get a drier ride without any compromise to stability. My old 4.3 one way scupper valves actually fit the scupper holes in the seating area so these are used for “extra dryness”.
In saying this, the new USA made Trident 4.3 has also made a number of changes to their seating area as well.

Overall Storage

The 4.3 had an adequate amount, but the Reload has tons !!!!! When Viking first launched the Tackle Pod concept I was initially sceptical. However I ultimately decided to trial (and feel in love with) the Ute Box concept from Assassin Composites which is their aftermarket version of the Tackle Pod and designed for the 4.3.
Both follow essentially the same concept except the Viking Tackle Pod has the built in capability to fit your FF transducer. In terms of physical volume I’d estimate the respective Pods to have the same volume, but both have way more usable capacity than the basic 4.3 centre console.
The “surface finish” on the Assassin Composite Ute Box (for the 4.3 / 4.7) is superior to the Viking Tackle Pod, but that’s really driven by the fact that the U.B. is made from thermoformed plastic vs rot-moulding for the T.P.
One critical thing that I think needs to be addressed on the Viking Tackle Pod is that the next iteration needs to have the Gulp Pot placement separate to the lid. At the moment, when you raise the lid, the pot tips over so you have to make sure the lid is securely fastened at all times !!
In addition to the Tackle Pod, there are a further 3 x storage pots with air tight lids so theres heap of room for all the cr@p we carry !

Rod Holders

One of my biggest gripes with the 4.3 was the vertical rod holders behind the seat. Too upright and for me, they always caught on the Ice Box lid. Thankfully the new 4.3 has done away with these !
The Reload has 6 x rod holders as standard…. Two angled back behind the seat, one each side out the back for trolling and one each side on the gunwales forward facing. Interestingly the forward facing gunwale ones are far enough forward so that you can actually paddle with a reasonable stroke without hitting them….Not so on the 4.3…


The Reload has aluminium handles moulded into the hull. Aesthetically they look fine and they are fairly practical, BUT, the way they fitted into a scolloped area is the problem. Any amount of chop or water slop side on to the kayak gets scooped or funnelled up in such a way that the water ends up in the cockpit making for a sometimes wet ride. My solution was to fit some high density foam tube over the handles themselves. Not ideal but it seems to work.

Chill Pod / Ice Box

The 4.3 / 4.7 Ice Box has tons of capacity, but is quite cumbersome and sits well above the height of the 4.3, however the biggest hassle is that the Ice Box lid opens up and across and it can be quite a feat of gymnastics to lift the lid open and then past the rods in the rear rod holders. Once you get the fish into the box, you have to reach back and across, and close the lid past the rods in the holders.
The Reload Chill Pod is quite low profile and available in a range of colour combos (unlike the Ice Box). The lid opens up and back and away from any rods and is far easier to use. Capacity for the Chill Pod appears to be slightly less, but it's a very practical, looks modern and is also lighter. Very happy with it to date !
The only issue I do have is that the front edge of the Chill Pod is located under a couple of saddles that sit at the front of the rear well. If you happen to turtle, the Chill Pod can slip out from out under the saddles and it ends up swinging on its rear locating strap. The solution is to fit a "security strap" across the front of the Chill Pod to help keep it in place. There are a couple of brass inserts located in the sides of the yak for this purpose.


Again a very subjective measure ! In terms of "ease to paddle " I'd rate them about the same, but if I look at the speed of both based purely on the output of my FF, I'd have to say the 4.3 is slightly faster...
However this observation is based on my paddling on different days, in slightly different conditions and with me in different physical conditions ! The only true way to compare is to paddle both on the same days, sales conditions and do averaged "timed" the end of the day, does it really matter though !

So these are my thoughts....I'm that some of you will have a few questions so feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer !
"The trouble with common sense is that it's not too common !"

Viking ReLoad
Ocean Kayak Trident 4.3
Phoenix Hornet - "Retired"
Ocean Kayak Ultra 4.3 - "Retired"
Viking Profish 440 - "Retired"
Scrambler XT - "Retired"

ZMW 2196


Big k
Posts: 1544
Joined: Sat May 12, 2012 12:21 pm
Kayak Make: Vicking /Stealth / OK
Kayak Model: 440. / 4.7 / 495
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Wed May 06, 2015 2:59 am

Thanks Steve,very open and informative enjoyed the read,cheers

Viking 440
OK 4.7 ultra arrived
Stealth EVO 495 gone
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Location: Whitby, Wellington

Wed May 06, 2015 6:39 am

That hits the spot, nice.
Stealth Fisha 500 ZMW5911

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Kayak Model: Predator XL Petrol
VHF Call Sign: ZMW9858
Location: Papakura, Auckland

Wed May 06, 2015 6:57 am

Nice review Hainesy!
Old Town Predator XL
OK Tetra 12
Old Town Predator 13
OK Prowler Elite 4.5 #1, OK Prowler Elite 4.5 #2

PB: Snapper=66cm, J.D.=39cm, Gurnard=38cm

VHF Callsign: ZMW 9858

Kayak Fishing Auckland

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Kayak Model: Prowler 13
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Wed May 06, 2015 8:54 am

Great review.

Hurley Burley
Posts: 317
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:53 pm
Kayak Make: Viking
Kayak Model: Espri Angler
Location: Taranaki

Wed May 06, 2015 1:23 pm

Do you have your rods loose in the front hatch for surf transitions? I have a spare rod and c-tug in the front hatch so would be worried about those bashing into rod and reels in the event of a turtle.
Something like Winches (assassin composite) new dry pod but with a rod tube instead of the dry storage would be awesome.

User avatar
Posts: 8289
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:20 pm
Kayak Make: Viking
Kayak Model: Reload
VHF Call Sign: ZMW 2196
Location: West Harbour

Wed May 06, 2015 1:26 pm

Yes I do... It's Murphy's law ... If I don't stow I'll turtle and smash gear... If I do stow, there's no turtle!
If you're stowing a c tug, maybe use a short rod tube and stick that in there instead of leaving the rods loose ??

Hurley Burley
Posts: 317
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:53 pm
Kayak Make: Viking
Kayak Model: Espri Angler
Location: Taranaki

Wed May 06, 2015 1:46 pm

I've been thinking about using a long dry bag that I can fit 2 piece rods into with reels. This can then be strapped to the tackle pod. Not having much luck finding one that has the length without being ridiculously wide.

Agree with most points in your review to. I've found the boat almost performs better as conditions deteriorate.

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Location: Pokeno

Thu May 07, 2015 11:00 pm

Thanks for the review Hainesy.

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Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:55 pm
Kayak Make: ok
Kayak Model: Prowler Ultra 4.3
Location: Levin

Fri May 08, 2015 5:58 am

Awesome unbiased honest review. Thanks
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Posts: 175
Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2014 1:59 pm
Kayak Make: Ocean Kayak
Kayak Model: Prowler 4.1/4.3
Location: PIRONGIA, SW Waikato

Fri May 08, 2015 11:33 am

Interesting review Hainsey, especially as I have just got a Trident 4.3 so read with extra interest as I guess many others will too.

I paddled Love2fish's reload on a flat lake to compare the boats same day same conditions when I first put mine on the water.
Mine is the USA moulded version with revisions to the NZ edition, accepted.

Agree about the tracking, the Trident needs the rudder, otherwise is influenced too much by any wind bias I found.
The trident now has less rocker than the NZ one did, not sure what effect that has (faster?) but I did notice a little wondering issue, having said that the reload tried had a rudder.
I think the Viking keel design helps with this, where as the Prowler type is probably easier to turn, as the keel doesnt run right to the end.

I found the Reload definately a little more stable in the conditions that day, I am 90kg and I found when sitting in the reload on flat fresh water I was sitting in a little puddle in the seat, coming up through the scupper drains.
Contrary to above I would say the 4.3 seating is about 50mm higher than the Reload so is an absolute drier ride, but that 50mm odd mm makes that little bit of difference between the boats, when you sit and sway sideways to test that primary stability, which the reload was a smidge better.
I have not paddled a NZ 4.3.

Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:04 am
Location: Auckland

Mon May 18, 2015 10:35 pm

Thanx for a great review.
I paddle Prowler 4.3 NZ made, and I would say all you have described is as is.
The most annoying apart from loading is the so cold wet ride. Will have to try using scuppers.
Don`t know about the ease of paddle as I`m almost always over loaded with bits and pieces (most of them never used). But I guess as all fresh paddlers do, they empty the yak as time goes by.
After a turtle last week I can guarantee the front hatch is totally unaccessible for when at sea, unless you feel like a swim :-)

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