For those of you too young to have been emotionally scarred by Jaws we bring you a kayak-of-all-trades for your water playing pleasure. Lifetime Products produces this yak variously under the names Manta, Sport Fisher, and Tandem, but they're all the same kayak although the Fisher model, which we tested, does come with two good-quality two-piece paddles and three rod holders.
The Manta, to use its most common name, is actually a three person kayak, which is pretty cool for a ten foot, sixty pound boat. You can indeed fit three adults on it, and it is plenty stable even fully loaded. You can even stand in it with no problems. The secret seems to be the dual channel hull, which transfers the flotation duties to the outside of the hull for extra stability.
The Manta comes with two backrests that attach quickly, and they're easily adjustable simply by pulling on the straps. You can vary the backrest height, depth and tightness this way as you're moving so you don't get too restless in one position. Likewise the footwell has almost infinite foot positions with scallops that provide a very secure perch for your footsies. Carrying handles fore and aft make it convenient to portage. Speaking of transport, the Manta stores beautifully inverted on top of a vehicle, and its aerodynamic shape didn't result in any noticeable decrease in fuel economy.
There is a decent amount of freeboard so you're sitting up at a nice height above the water, even though you're only drawing about 6-8 inches with two adults onboard. The Manta has a fairly aggressive rocker so it should do fine in chop, although we've only tested it on relatively calm lake water so far. The deep twin channels under the hull allows it to track fairly well, and we found we didn't miss a rudder at all. There's ample room for tie-down storage in front, and in back is a small hatch for interior storage. Three cup holders, each big enough for a quart bottle? Check!
You're not going to win any speed contests in this boat, but what you do get is a super-stable platform for water fun, one that you can crawl onto and off of with fear of capsizing, and with the ability to carry a third person should you want to. We found it perfect for a child, who feels very secure sitting between two parents. There's even a small sail kit available that steps in the front, and you can get a platform to mount a small trolling motor, so you have locomotion options. For the price we couldn't find a better knock-around kayak.