Thursday, July 09, 2009

Kayak Reviews

So I need a new kayak. Back in the day (15 years ago) I was a sponsored paddler (which meant free to cheap boats and free beers from Chan, great era!) with Wave Sports, but since I turned into a climber/paraglider pilot the days of cheap boats are well behind me. Anyone who wants to pro deal me a boat let me know, but I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen (Note--I just bought a boat--full retail pop, so it's too late anyhow). I keep reading reviews on-line for information about the new boats, but most of the reviews on-line are written by people who are sponsored by the company who made the boat they're paddling (gee, now that's unbiased and useful information!). How about this: if you want to write a review at least put on the TOP of the review thatyou're owned by the boat company and have no impartiality whatsoever--don't add that disclaimer sometime after the original review, way down below the meat of the text.

And then there are the reviews written by people who actually bought boats; with rare exceptions, everybody loves their boat. This is very sweet and nice, but for christ's sake it's the internet, be bitter, have opinions, mouth off, actually have an issue with something! The average kayaker on the internet is a pale shadow of the average climber, paraglider, mountain biker, hell, even phone user that uses the internet. I wanna hear that this boat SUCKS, and why!

But the worst reviews are written by those looking to get sponsored; they are desperate for free plastic like a junkie for heroin, and they will write nothing but flowers about the smelliest ass-product imaginable. You total chumps! Let's have a little integrity here; I understand if a sponsored athlete doesn't want to piss his sponsors off, but if you can't write something sort of realistic then don't write it at all. As anyone I work with at Arc'teryx or Black Diamond knows, I pull no punches on product design, and I'm not happy until the thing actually works like it's supposed to. If it doesn't work well then I don't go writing glowing reviews of junk on the net, that's not how it's supposed to work. Maybe kayak companies are different and expect total slave-like submission from their sponsored paddlers? Something is weird in kayak review land, and it makes finding real information about boats near impossible.

There's only one solution to a situation like this: I'm going to write my own reviews. I've paddled five boats in the last month, including the one I bought. Stay tuned for the first review, which will be short and not so-sweet, kinda like the boat it's about.



Smcka said...

Gotta love that colourful plastic. I used to work at a paddling shop in cow town and was lucky enough to paddle lots of different boats and had the pleasure of hearing people complain/rave about theirs.

my rundown:

Dagger: Decent outfitting although less adjustable then some of the other guys. Pretty durable plastic, paddle the kingpin or my favourite the crazy 88 to play. The mamba seemed o.k. liked it, didn’t love it. The RX is the best river/play boat on the market in my opinion.

Wavesport: Likely the most popular playboats in the shop, people seem to just love them I wasn’t as big of a fan but still had fun. Never got to paddle their creeker, it was not popular.

Liquid Logic: Kings of the creek. Beefy plastic, outstanding outfitting, good adjustments. Too bad I just didn’t find the Jefe paddled great for me, with that said it must the most popular creek boat out there and people absolutely love it, plus the handles on it are made by BD, smells like an in for a prodeal.
I find the edges on their play boats very unforgiving (I’m sure it is mostly operator error), window shading counts as a trick right?

Pyranha: Found their play boats feel really ‘deep’. I usually get swallowed by the wave not the boat. I’m not known for my height though (5’8ish).
The burn is a bright spot for me, for a light weight I found that the mild edges on it gave me some good control (but also made it feel ‘catchy’ before I got used to it) and the slightly smaller volume was welcome, for me it felt like I was wearing the boat rather then riding it. Great boat, for me at least.

Fluid: go get a big Rubbermaid container instead. That’s just one guys opinion…..well maybe more then one.

smcka said...

haha whoops, I miss read. Thought you were looking for reviews. Sorry for the ramble.

Will Gadd said...

Hey Smcka, I am looking for reviews, good one, thanks! Anyone else who has an opinion please post it up, yeah!!

Spent the last very full day on the river so behind on posts, will catch up later today, yeah!


Anonymous said...

Will, a friend forwarded me a link here. Too funny, im a has-been kayaker turned paraglider pilot too. My time with Wavesport was right after chan sold to Confluence during what some might call the hay-day of Wavesport. Not sure if you were aware, but Perception bought Dagger then Wavesport bought the lot of them and they are now the evil empire. If you are into big shitty companies, buy a boat from one of those three.

As long as we are talking about the company rather than the product... Liquid Logic is not a big shitty corporation. Last i checked LL is very much a grass roots company that does good work and good stuff for the sport. Of course that always can change ;)

One company Smcka forgot to mention is Jackson. Was Eric Jackson (EJ) around in your day? Musta been. Jackson Kayaks is his ego child. I have mixed feelings about EJ as a designer. On the one hand he was in charge of design while some amazing boats were made. Much of his fame was derived from what Wavesport did right around the end of the Chan era. Lets analyze real quick... the X was a huge hit. Its design was a team effort. Then the XXX, another huge hit (I owned no less than 6 of them! They were especially good in the lightweight plastic, ultra unsafe team version), team design effort. Next was the fourplay which EJ was a bit more in control of... not that amazing. Then the EZ, which was a EJ creation. Not that amazing, especially when you look at the fact that the Disco which was revolutionary and better than the EZ came out almost 2 years before. But, given some nut you could throw it around and all sorts of competitions were won in it... so it was not that bad. The next EJ creation was the ACE which is universally agreed to suck. Nobody worth a damn regularly paddled that boat in a competition. Altho it did cartwheel better than the other boats of that era... one time i paddled it in a comp at a super sticky hole. I used the tiny little girls version (the Siren) and everybody else was using the new style "air" boats that dont cartwheel as easily so they got tired. I doubled the next highest pro's score. But it didn't cartwheel as good as the XXX and the day of the cartwheel was past, people wanted air tricks and the ACE had negative air. In general, it was a big miss and people were still going HUGE in the Disco. Next EJ creation was transformer which was HORRID. 4 years later and the Riot disco was still better than the Wavesport knock offs.

So basically you have a company that became famous off team designs than EJ took over and the boats went to shit. Fortunately for Wavesport, they had the best damn pro team around so they kept the reputation for good boats.

SO then EJ leaves and to further inflate his massive ego he starts Jackson kayaks. Because we go so far back, he gave me one of his first the play boat (the Allstar) on a team deal. Some how a week later i was sent a bill for it, which i paid because i did not want to be in debt to jackson because the boat SUCKED so hard when compared to the Wavesport Project. Wavesport had gone back to a team design and got it right! This was like 06 or 07 and the Jackson Allstar was not loose at all, SLOW compared to boats of the same size... you cold not front surf a wave to save your life. Super frustrating paddling your ass off to surf a wave while everybody else is slipping around on it. The cockpit was too far back and the outfitting was a bit gimmicky and it broke within the first month.

Anonymous said...

Hows that for some shit talking? Well I can't keep it up because Jackson has turned their boat around.

Just a month ago I picked up a newer Allstar. My buddy is a dealer for them and he gave me a deal i could not refuse. The new Allstar is actually really good... they made it loose, fast and moved the cockpit forward.

I also just got a Punk Rocker creek boat... the thing had been paddled at 2 demo's in flat water, had almost now scratches on it... .new they are 1200. My buddy just wanted rid of it so he gave it to me for $350... which aught to say something. So far im pretty unimpressed. I swear it mystery moves better than the Allstar which is not a quality one looks for in a creak boat.... But it is a hunk of plastic to beat on rocks... so what ever. At least the Jackson Boats are made of crosslink plastic... the creeks here are so rocky my buddies kill a boat every year. I should never have sold my Stubby. That boat would have survived the apocalypse.

Will Gadd said...

Anon 6:16--Wicked! Now that's what I'm talking about! Yeah, EJ was around back in my day, I think we paddled Gore pretty high once together, but I don't know him really. Some good history there on Jackson and Wave Sports, that ought to go into the history files! I am stoked I didn't get a Rocker, no love anywhere for that boat from what I can read.

Right, I've got a Stubby behind the garage I'll lend you anytime you need it, going to paddle it tonight on the Cascade. My boat has survived the apocalypse!

Hell yeah, now we're getting somewhere--dirt, opinions, slash, love it!!!!


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