There are some kayaks that just look cool. They may have superb build quality or be shoddily put together. They may handle well or handle atrociously. They may be the perfect size for us or completely the wrong volume. Regardless of any of this they still make you stop and say ‘that looks cool!’. The Tahe Marine Reval Mini SC is one of those boats – it just looks fantastic.
The SC in the name refers to the Semi-Carbon construction. With the chequered carbon hull and candy apple red fiberglass deck with black trim and fittings the review boats looks fantastic.
About The Test: paddling conditions and paddlers
The Reval Mini was tested over a period of 2/3 weeks in a range of sea/wind conditions (calm to large wind blown waves, surf, F3-5/6) and was paddled, primarily, by two paddlers with weights of 64kg and 88kg with additional feedback from third parties who have tried the boat. The heavier paddler is outside the recommended weight range for this lower volume kayak but looked at the boat as a potential day/play boat rather than its intended load carrying potential.
The Tahe Marine Reval Mini has obvious rocker when viewed in profile with a shallow V shaped hull. The front and rear decks also sport a V shape, which shallows to a flatter bow and stern. The widest point of the kayak sits just in front of the seat, about 2/3 of the way along the cockpit. The tip of the bow and stern are reasonably chunky with the stern of the review kayak having the mounting point for the optional rudder set-up.
Construction, finish, fitting and ergonomics
The Reval Mini’s aim is to provide similar handling and performance as the standard Reval for smaller paddlers (<75kg). Its vital statistics run at 5’11” (483cm) long and 20.5” (52cm) wide at its widest point. It has a capacity of 219lbs (100kg) and weighs in at 35-40lbs (16-18kg) depending on exact specification/extras. A standard 3-compartment/hatch set-up provides storage for journeys. The rear compartment holds 53L with an oval hatch (43x26cm/17x10”). The day hatch sits to the right rear of the cockpit and provides 17L of storage with a small round hatch (15cm/6”). The front compartment provides 42L of storage with a round hatch (25cm/10”). The two round hatches are the plastic Kayaksport variety; the oval rear hatch uses a rubber Kayaksport cover. Decklines use suitable chunky cord/bungee and run to about 3/4 of the length of the kayak where comfortable handles are situated for long carries. The Reval Mini uses two different types of recessed fittings keeping things neat and tidy. The front decklines lack bungee near to the bow for those paddlers who stow splits on the front deck. However there are spaces in the fittings to add another bungee for this although they are situated alongside the deck mounted compass position and could obscure a compass slightly. The cockpit coaming of the Reval Mini feels thicker than the standard Reval I reviewed in an earlier issue of OP but still flexes slightly when manhandled. The coaming sits reasonably high off the deck allowing easy fitting of shockcorded decks. The seat is comfortable and has simple paddling attached via poppers and Velcro. The backrest is similarly padded and quite high. It is very comfortable, however adjustment is achieved by unbolting the backrest from each side of the seat and using the range of pre-drilled bolt holes to position it rather than using an adjustable back-strap. This does prevent the backrest from slipping out of position but would require a bit of time for initial set-up. The lay-up of the kayak is superb. The carbon/aramide hull is vacuum infused and is extremely strong yet light. The deck feels stiffer than previous Tahe Marine models paddled, perhaps due to the added rigidity of the hull? The quality of the finish is also superb both inside and out. There is a choice of nine gelcoat colours for the deck, which should cater for most paddler’s needs. The skeg operates on a solid bar/cable system with the slider control mounted on a solid bar then attached to the cable running down to the skeg box. The skeg control is situated on the left side of the kayak alongside the front of the cockpit. Pulling this back lowers the skeg, highlighting a nice smooth operation. The actual skeg control is raised and juts out passed the deck, as does the control on the standard Reval. Although it did not interfere with paddling I would prefer to see a flush control as on many other boats. However it is easy to grip with wet/gloved hands so there is method to this design. The rudder is operated from using the smart-track system of pedal controls, which are integrated into the footrest system. The actual footrests are comfortable and adjustable from a seated position in the kayak. Behind the footrest is a secondary pedal, which is operated by rocking your foot to push your toes forward on either side to adjust the rudder. The rudder can be flipped up and out of the water using a deck line that runs from the left hand side of the kayak to a simple cleat just behind the cockpit. The Reval Mini is a very light boat to pick up and carry due to the hull materials and with its shorter length, easy to store and transport.
On the water, both paddlers found the Reval Mini to be a comfortable boat to paddle. Smaller paddlers for whom this boat is primarily designed will want to adjust the seat/backrest position and possibly add padding. I found I was a snug but comfortable fit. The thigh braces are neatly positioned and work well whilst allowing smaller paddlers to move their legs into a K1 style paddling position. For larger paddlers this is not an option. The footrest was also comfortable and easy to adjust with a good range of positions.
Initial stability was felt to be excellent by the lighter paddler, whilst I found it to be comparable with the full size Reval. Secondary stability is also very good allowing positive use of edging to control the kayak.
On the move the Reval Mini displayed many of the characteristics of its larger sibling. Tracking was very good and the skeg only needed as wind conditions picked up. When deployed the skeg allowed the Reval Mini to run straight despite strong side winds. With a stern wind, the kayak required a little more thought from the paddler to keep running true.
Up on its edge, the kayak displayed its more playful side, turning superbly well. Aptly sized paddlers who are confident with edging and leaning into turns can really throw this kayak around. For novice paddlers, the good level of stability would enable the Reval Mini to provide a gentle introduction to edging without fear of being caught out.
Pace of the kayak was good. It’s shorter waterline compared to it’s 18’ counterpart had the expected effect on maximum cruising speed however at a steady pace it was able to hold it’s own.
In more confused seas the Reval Mini was a comforting boat to paddle. Whilst it does not provide the amazing stability of the P&H Cetus, it is a very stable boat and allowed the smaller paddler to feel confident in tricky conditions. With wind and waves from the rear quarter use of the skeg allowed the kayak to cope well, although it did have a tendency to start to broach in bigger conditions.
Running with wind blown swell/surf the Reval Mini accelerates quickly to pick up waves and surfed nicely, although it had a slight tendency to bury the nose at times, if not stalled soon enough. A third party reported it’s handling in surf off the Dorset coast to be very playful, managing (purposefully) to get the boat up on end in larger conditions.
The low(ish) rear deck allowed for easy rolling, although the v shape is more pronounced than on some sea kayaks and therefore intrudes slightly into layback rolls. Once up it settled quickly and did not require additional support strokes to prevent it rolling over again. Self-rescue was also easy enough due to the good stability, although the rudder wires were an added obstruction and have the potential to get in the way during a straddle self rescue.
With regards to the rudder, neither test paddlers have extensive experience of their use so were on somewhat of a learning curve. I found the operation to be easy to pick up and the rudder certainly does its job. It is well constructed and has smooth operation but I felt it to be ‘overkill’ on a boat this size, particularly as the Reval Mini is so maneuverable through positive use of edging. Once I had ascertained that the rudder worked well and was easy to deploy and use, I spent the bulk of the test period with it stowed in the back hatch, as had the previous 3rd party who paddled the boat.
The Reval Mini SC reviewed is a superbly manufactured sea kayak. The finish is excellent with some well thought out and constructed fittings, albeit with the need for a couple of extra decklines fitted to the existing mounting points. The kayak handles very well and for paddlers in the suggested weight range provides a good load carrying boat. For larger paddlers who can fit the Reval Mini it also provides a nice day/play boat option with sprightly handling in rougher seas and some good surfing potential. For the UK market, the rudder system is probably unnecessary despite it’s nice design/construction/operation. With a price tag of £1399 for the standard lay-up and £2199 for the vacuum infused carbon/aramide hull spec, once again Tahe Marine are providing exceptional value for money without sacrificing quality.
Length: 483cm (15’11” )
Width: 52cm (20.5” )
Approx. capacity: 100 kg (219lbs)
Weight: 16-18kg (35-40lbs)
Cockpit: 80×42 cm (31½“x16½“)
RRP: From £1399