Thursday, April 24, 2008

2008 River Runner/Creek Boat Reviews

We've had a couple months now to put the new boats through their paces. The following are the instructors' thoughts on the new offerings. For reviews and comparisons of last year's boats click here : Jackson Funs and Dagger Mamba ,here for the Pyranha Ammo, and here for the Pyranha Burn. Without further ado...

Liquid Logic Remix

You’ll probably like this boat if: you’re a driver (as opposed to a floater), y
ou want a boat with speed that can lock in a line.
You probably won’t like this boat if:
you’re used to paddling a hard-chined, planning hull boat

Finally! It’s taken a decade for someone to design the next RPM – the most beloved kayak to ever hit the water. Liquid Logic has brought back everything we loved about the RPM, but given it some new-school flavor. The Remix locks in a line well, has good speed, and is easy to roll, thanks to its narrow hull platform. Unlike the RPM though, the Remix floats the paddler higher in the water. This fact, coupled with a more modern chine placement, makes the Remix a stable river runner. The Liquid Logic outfitting is the best on the market.

This boat isn’t for everyone, and like the RPM, if you’re looking to get into playboating or you want a really responsive boat that turns quickly, this probably isn’t the best boat choice. Because of its narrow width a heavy paddler may feel a bit tippy as well. Still, if you loved the RPM, or are looking for a fast, comfortable boat that’s easy to paddle down river, this is a great choice.

Pyranha Everest
You’ll probably like this boat if: you liked the Burn, you’re a ser
ious creeker/big-water paddler, you’re looking for a stable river runner that turns well, you’re a bigger paddler, you like to carry a lot of gear with you
You probably won’t like this boat if: you’re a smaller person

You’d be hard-pressed to find an instructor here who doesn’t like the Everest. Like the Burn, the Everest’s stability is the feature that sets it apart from other boats on the water. Put simply, you place this boat on edge and the Everest will stay on edge for confident, precise carving across pushy currents. The edges were softened a bit from the Burn which means you don't have to worry about tripping over that edge once you cross the eddy line. The Everest accelerates quickly (a highly desirable feature when creeking or big water paddling) and has a nice downriver feel. The increased bow rocker gives the Everest predictable performance in big water and seldom buries in waves. It’s an easy boat to paddle and has a nice balance between tracking and turning. Like the Millennium Falcon though, the Everest has it where it counts, and can boof with the best of them. (The Everest has softer chines than the Burn, which makes landing rock boofs flat a little easier)

If you already have a roll, the Everest won’t feel any different than rolling your current boat. If you’re just learning to roll, or have an unreliable roll, the Everest may feel more difficult to roll. The paddler sits low in the boat, the hull is wide, and the sidewalls are somewhat high. Still, for what it is, the Everest is an easy boat to roll. (Our instructors are in agreement that it's easier to roll than the Burn)

Our instructors love creeking in this boat, but our beginner’s also love it for river running. The ample volume, wide hull, speed, and responsiveness make it a great boat to learn in. This is one of those boats you can’t outgrow. You can learn in it, use it as your reliable river-runner when running rivers right on the edge of your limit, or take it creeking or on over-nighters.

The outfitting is our biggest criticism of this boat – not everyone agrees on its comfort. Larger paddlers have felt quite comfy in the boat while smaller paddlers have remarked that they have a difficult time getting snug in the boat. Still, we love the long cockpit and the step-up center wall as safety features.

Jackson Hero/Super Hero
You’ll probably like this boat if: you don’t like to flip-over, you want a boat that’s easy to paddle, you think of yourself as a class 2/3/4 river runner.

You probably won’t like this boat if: you want something responsive or want a river-runner that can play

I’ll admit it – I judged this book by its cover. I wanted to dislike the Super Hero, but after paddling it I just couldn’t – it’s just so darn easy to paddle. I’ve never felt so stable in a boat in pushy water. It was almost as if waves and holes had no affect on the line I was trying to hit. This boat is predictable, extremely stable, turns well, rolls pretty easy, and is the most user-friendly river runner out there. This is a great choice for the class 2/3/4 paddler looking to paddle down the river in comfort. It’s not the fastest river-runner but it is responsive and turns well. It tends to lose it’s carving momentum once it crosses the eddy-line, so paddlers may need to throw some extra strokes in to prevent slipping out the back of an eddy in faster water.

The Dagger Mamba was our go-to boat for beginner’s last year- it was stable, held its speed, and carved well. The Heros do not carve as well as the Mambas, and are not as fast, but are more stable.

Can you outgrow this boat? Maybe. It’s not designed to be a playboat, so if you like playing your way down a river, this isn’t the boat for you. It would be a fun boat to creek something like the Tellico in, but if you were looking to get into advanced creeking, the Burn or Jefe would probably be a better choice. It’s the perfect size boat to learn to boof though.

Riot Thunder/Magnum
You’ll probably like this boat if: You like an aggressive river runner, you liked the Dagger GT, you like to stop and surf while river-running
You’ll probably dislike this boat if: your edges are still a little wobbly, you want a big stable boat

We really enjoyed the Dagger GT series for novice and intermediate paddlers. The Thunder and Magnum have that GT feel, but with a little more rocker and a little sportier hull, this Riot offering is both more stable and more playful than the GT. We were surprised by how well this boat accelerated and enjoyed its responsiveness and speed carving in an out of eddies. This boat is for the paddler who wants a more aggressive feel while river running without sacrificing the speed and stability that often comes with paddling a true playboat. This boat is fairly easy to roll. We’ve found the people fall into two camps with regards to the outfitting – they either love it or hate it.

Easiest Boat to Roll: Jackson Fun Series
Having paddled the new boats, we still find the Funs to be the easiest boat to roll regardless of your size, flexibility, or strength of hip snap. The Funs are great boats for the C-to-C roll because as the paddler arches out to the second position the boat already starts to come up before a hip snap is even initiated. Paddlers that learn a sweep roll will have an easy time of rolling when they commit to leaning back a bit in the boat. Bigger people that may have a difficult time rolling other boats will find that they can sink the stern down of the Funs and do a “wheelie” up.