Fishing Kayak Review: Sun Dolphin Journey 10

Buyer’s Guide | Kayak Angler

The Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS is a recreational sit-on-top kayak designed for kayak fishing. A low price, widespread availability, and ease of boarding have made the Sun Dolphin Journey 10-ft fishing kayak popular for use as a fishing kayak on slow-moving rivers, lakes and bays.

Recreational kayaks are a class of kayaks loosely defined as being geared toward the novice paddler and those seeking stability as a priority. The less-prioritized values of recreational kayaks are often speed or high performance maneuverability. For these reasons, recreational kayaks like the Journey 10 SS are often best suited to more protected bodies of water.

Sit-on-top kayaks such as the Sun Dolphin Journey 10, are a popular choice among kayak anglers. The open design concept makes it easy to store gear and tackle in accessible spots, including tankwells in both the bow and stern. The Journey 10 also offers active anglers three rod holders; two located directly behind the cockpit and one swiveling rod holder installed near the bow.

Sun Dolphin is a Michigan-based kayak brand manufactured in the United States. It is the largest kayak manufacturer in the world by production volume. Not surprisingly, Sun Dolphin kayaks are found at many popular retail chains in North America, including Walmart and Tractor Supply. The production volume and distribution of Sun Dolphin has made them one of the most common kayaks on the water in North America.

On the water with Sun Dolphin’s Journey 10

Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS Specs
Length: 9’6” / 2.91 m
Width: 29.5” / 75 cm
Weight: 44 lbs / 20 kg
Capacity: 250 lbs / 113 kg
MSRP: $349 USD / $600 CAD

Performance

Stability is usually a priority for paddlers considering a recreational fishing kayak like the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS. Users often state the Journey 10 SS stability feels lacking until they have gotten used to paddling it. This feeling of instability is tied to the shape of the hull.

Kayaks are often described as having two forms of stability. These are initial stability and secondary stability. When it comes to the Sun Dolphin Journey 10’s stability, there is a slight deficit in initial stability, the reassuring feeling often provided by a wide, flat hull. This provides the sense you are sitting on a large platform on calm water. If a kayak lacks initial stability it creates the immediate sensation you are going to capsize easily, but this is not necessarily the case.

The rounding of the hull to the large sidewalls of the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 provides its secondary stability. Secondary stability allows the boat to rock from side to side and recover without capsizing. This comes into play as waves pass under the boat in choppy water.

The ability of the Journey 10 SS to travel on a straight path (known as tracking) is limited. Tracking performance is achieved through different elements of kayak design. On a recreational kayak without a rudder, the shape of the hull plays a large factor. A skeg protrudes at the stern of Journey 10 SS to improve tracking somewhat. One of the trade-offs with tracking is maneuverability. If a kayak does not track well then the flipside is it is generally more maneuverable. This maneuverability is helpful in tight winding streams, or turning around at a dead-end canal.

Market and demographics

The Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS is a recreational fishing kayak, meaning the design prioritizes stability and comfort over speed and high performance. A recreational kayak like the Journey 10 SS was designed with calmer waterways in mind. These can be sheltered lakes, estuaries, or slow-moving streams. Being a generally wide and short kayak, it offers more in the way of stability and maneuverability than speed and efficient travel.

Recreational kayaks often use less expensive materials in production and come in with a lower sticker price. This, combined with the above-mentioned beginner-friendly characteristics, make the Journey 10, and recreational kayaks in general, good options for newer paddlers.

Wear A Life Jacket
  • Everyone, even strong swimmers, needs to wear a life jacket at all times when on the water. It is extremely difficult to put a life jacket on once you fall into the water. Even a light wind can blow any paddlecraft away from you, faster than you can swim.
  • Buy (and wear) a comfortable Type 3 or S life jacket specifically designed for paddlesports.

For those interested in the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS, duck hunting has proven to be a popular pastime. Again, the open floor plan of the sit-on-top design provides room for accessible storage and gun holders can be mounted to the deck. It also helps that the Journey 10 SS is produced in dark colors like olive green. This makes it a straightforward process to deck out your Journey 10 in a camouflage pattern to stay off the radar of nearby waterfowl.

About the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS

Design

Design features and details

The Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS is a sit-on-top kayak. This means the majority of design elements including the seating area known as the cockpit, are molded into the deck of the kayak. So, you sit on top of the Journey 10 SS. This is in contrast to a sit-inside kayak where you slide your legs into the hollow hull of the kayak through the cockpit opening and may use a spray skirt.

One design feature of the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS to note are the scuppers. These are the drain holes commonly found around the seat and tankwells in a sit-on-top kayak that drain any water that may have entered the cockpit from splashing waves or rain.

Take note of the scuppers, because users often report the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS leaking, with scupper holes being a likely ingress point. Just how does a sit-on-top kayak leak? There are seams and screw holes on a kayak which, if not sealed properly, can allow water into the hollow center of the sit-on-top hull. Over time the hollow inside of the kayak collects some water.

If you encounter the Journey 10 leaking at the scuppers, especially when the kayak is new, you should contact the manufacturer for warranty. If buying used, inspect the scuppers as carefully as possible to assess integrity.

A slight amount of water entering inside the kayak at a screw hole is more common. This can usually be fixed with a flexible, waterproof sealant or rubber gasket. If leaking does occur, it can be dealt with. Water inside the kayak can be emptied using the drain plug mentioned in the outfitting segment.

Material and construction

In the case of the Journey 10, Sun Dolphin uses UV-stabilized Fortiflex, a high density polyethylene. High-density polyethylene, regularly referred to as HDPE, is a common material used in kayak hull manufacturing, and you may know it from goods like plastic milk jugs. The UV-stabilized aspect is an additive impregnated in the plastic to protect it from some of the ill effects of sun exposure. HDPE is generally an inexpensive yet durable plastic.

Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS accessories and outfitting

The Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS features a number of outfitting components and accessories commonly found on sit-on-top fishing kayaks.

Starting at the bow, the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 has a carry handle, and just behind the carry handle is a drain plug. The drain plug is there to empty any water that enters the hull of the Journey 10. Be sure this drain plug is closed before launching.

Alongside the length of the Journey 10 is a recessed ledge with a bungee cord which combine to serve as a paddle holder. Paddle holders may be one of the most important yet easily overlooked outfitting components of a fishing kayak. The fact that your paddle is floating away should be the last thing on your mind when you have a fish on the line.

Within the forward end of the cockpit are adjustable foot braces. These sliding foot braces provide multiple positions for comfortable and powerful leg positions while paddling or landing a (big) fish.

The Sun Dolphin Journey 10 has a molded seat shape. There is however no padding, and unless you purchase a seat pad of your own, you will be sitting directly on plastic.

Under the seat you will also notice the scupper holes. Scuppers are the drain holes commonly found under your legs and seat within the cockpit and tankwells in sit-on-top kayaks. Any water splashing into the kayak drains out through these holes. This also means water can splash up through the holes, so expect to have a wet seat during a day in the Journey 10.

Behind  the seat there is also an adjustable, padded backband to provide some support for an upright seating position.

The Sun Dolphin Journey 10-ft fishing kayak has two molded-in tankwells for storage. One at the bow, and another toward the stern. These tankwells are triangular in shape. While they can easily accommodate smaller bags and boxes, they do not fit the milk crates kayak anglers commonly use to organize tackle.

Sun Dolphin makes a removable storage hatch to fit inside the tankwell on the stern of the Sun Dolphin Journey 10. The hatch, which Sun Dolphin refers to as the PAC (Portable Accessory Compartment), has a screw-on deck plate and easily pops in or out of the tankwell, under the bungees. The PAC provides a choice as to which storage style you use, closed or open. When installed, it provides a dry storage area. Removed, you have an open stern tankwell. In addition to the PAC there is a small hatch between your legs in the cockpit to keep small items and personal belongings stowed away.

The Journey 10 includes three rod holders. Two rod holders are flush-mounted into the kayak deck directly behind the cockpit. The other is an installed, swiveling rod holder toward the front of the cockpit. The advantage of the swiveling rod holder is that you can have a rig ready to go at the first sign of action.

Paddle Sober And Smart
  • Never mix alcohol and paddling. Coast Guard and state BUI (boating under the influence) laws apply to all vessels. This includes canoes, kayaks, SUPs and rafts.

Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS kayak mods

Kayak anglers are known for making modifications to their kayaks. This could mean adding a fish finder, upgrading a seat, and installing accessory mounts among others. A number of compatible Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS parts are available to modify your kayak.

On chilly days or when paddling calm water you may want to keep water from splashing up the holes in the bottom of the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS. Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS scupper plugs are available directly from the manufacturer and are easily removable.

Accessory tracks are available from brands like Scotty. These accessory tracks are especially helpful for electronic components, or if you want to set up a GoPro to bear witness to your fight with a trophy largemouth or snook.

If the built-in paddle bungee isn’t working out for you, consider a paddle clip. These can be purchased from brands like RAM. Like Scotty, Ram makes just about every fishing kayak accessory you can think of.

Considering you are sitting on a plastic floor, a Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS seat upgrade may be at the top of your list. The Journey 10 SS has a molded plastic seat, but no seat padding included. An easy fix is to purchase a block of mini-cell outfitting foam and shape the seat you would like. You could also purchase a seat pad such as the Yak Gear Sand Dollar cushion. Kayak anglers are also known to install more elaborate folding seats with a bit of DIY knowhow.

Adding a trolling motor is one of the most popular upgrades anglers make to their fishing kayaks.  There is no Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS trolling motor available directly from the manufacturer.

If you would like to add a trolling motor to your Journey 10 it will require after-market mounts and some DIY knowhow. Users have mounted trolling motors to the stern of the Journey 10 or placed trolling motors alongside the Journey 10 by inserting a self-made frame in the rear rod holders to run the motor to the side and just behind the paddler.

However you decide to upgrade your seat in the Journey 10 it is probably wise not to permanently obstruct the scupper holes.

How the Journey 10 SS compares

As a popular, sit-on-top fishing kayak available at major retailers there are a number of kayaks the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 can be compared against.

  • Sun Dolphin Journey 10 vs 12

    The Journey 12 is another sit-on-top fishing kayak model produced by Sun Dolphin along with the Journey 10. The Journey 12 is 12 feet long in comparison to the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS at 9.5 feet. This makes the Journey 12 slightly faster than the 10, but also adds a small amount of weight.

    Both kayaks feature the same tankwell system for storage, and have the same outfitting components.

    A major difference in the design of the Journey 10 and Journey 12 is found in the scuppers. The Journey 12 completely lacks scupper holes, meaning the water is unable to drain out of the kayak once it enters the cockpit. The Journey 10 has two scupper holes located under the seat of the paddler.

    The scupper holes in the Journey 10 allow water to drain out from under your seat. The downside is water can also splash up through these holes. Especially with the Journey 10, users have regularly reported leaks developing in the plastic at the scuppers leading to water within the kayak.

    Scuppers are a common feature of sit-on-top kayaks, and may factor heavily in the decision for paddlers when choosing between the Journey 10 vs 12.

  • Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS vs Lifetime Tamarack 100

    The Lifetime Tamarack 100 is a sit-on-top fishing kayak intended for a similar use as the Journey 10 SS. The Lifetime Tamarack 100 is just slightly longer than the Journey 10 SS, at a true 10 feet compared to the 9.5 feet of the Journey. The Tamarack is also an inch wider than the Journey at 31 inches, providing the Tamarack with an edge in stability.

    Two design features which stand out when deciding between the Tamarack 100 and the Journey 10 SS are the scupper holes and skeg.

    The Tamarack features six scupper holes throughout the cockpit of the kayak compared to two under the seat of the Journey. This means water will exit the Tamarack faster, but also provide more places for it to splash into the cockpit if the kayak is riding low.

    The skeg protruding at the stern of the Tamarack 100 also appears more pronounced than the Journey 10. This can provide the Tamarack with better tracking to travel in a straight line, but results in less maneuverability. Both are factors to take into account when deciding between the two.

  • Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS vs Bali 10

    If fishing from your kayak is not your main concern, the Bali 10 may be another model from Sun Dolphin that compares to the Journey 10 SS. The Bali 10 is the same length as the Journey 10 at 9.5 feet. It also features similar tankwells on the bow and stern. Both have a very comparable hull design.

    The major difference between the Journey 10 and Bali 10 is the built-in rod holders. The Bali 10 does not have pre-installed rod holders. The Bali 10 is also produced in a brighter color scheme.

    For those not focused on fishing or hunting, the Bali 10 would make a suitable option for recreational paddling.

Carry A Waterproof VHF Radio, Use Your Phone Only As A Backup
  • A handheld VHF marine band radio allows you to communicate with the Coast Guard and other boat traffic. Use Channel 16 only for hailing and emergencies. The radio should be waterproof, because it is virtually certain to get wet.
  • A cell phone, even if in a waterproof case or sealable bag, might not work, so don’t rely on it as the primary means of emergency communication.

Where to buy the Journey 10

The easy availability of the Journey 10 SS is a contributor to its popularity. A number of large retailers carry the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS, including Walmart, Academy, Tractor Supply and Canadian Tire.

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