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October 15, 2013 at 3:55 am #859Lee Arbach TBPKeymaster
In late 2009 the AIRE Kayak Force Solo Inflatable Kayak was completely revamped from the two separate models made in prior years, into a single wider and more user friendly version. Translation: a more stable boat with a deeper seating position more akin to AIRE’s Tributary Strike model, with hull speed that is still good but not as zippy as the originals. None of the Forces, old or new, have great back support and some of us find it helps to add a Cheetah Chair (the one used in all other AIRE kayaks) or Backsaver. Other big differences between the current model and the older Force series include more rocker, easily removable float bags, no floor zipper, a single large pair of mesh bail vents at the front only, and a more flattened floor bladder looking from top or bottom.
AIRE Kayak Force Inflatable Kayak
AIRE Kayak Force Inflatable Kayak
The older AIRE Kayak Force Solo Inflatable Kayak and Force XL tended to get knocked around by diagonal waves quite a lot, and if the flows are higher, even flipped. This occured because the older ones were dead flat with no real rocker. The bow battering doesn’t seem to happen with the more forgiving, slightly rockered 2011 Force. The new version also bails quite a bit faster, though some water can still puddle around your butt if you weigh over 175 unless you keep the floor rock hard. The removable bow and stern float bags are not quite as easy to adjust inward & outward as the older Force’s, but the way in which you accomplish has at least been simplified somewhat.
AIRE Kayak Force Inflatable Kayaks Performance
In terms of performance and play, the hull speed of this new Force is similar to the Strike I, in other words a tad faster than the Lynx I for small to mid size paddlers, and roughly the same as a Lynx for heavier pilots over 200 pounds. It is definitely slower than the older Force’s, especially the XL, due to the shorter and wider waterline/footprint. This new one will stay in holes better if you want to surf, and also pivots easier. In short, it is probably a safer and more friendly option for paddlers who do steep class IV and V water. The older models always had trouble turning on a dime in steep ramps, though once you got them pointed the right way they could get out of trouble quickly. In short the audience for the new Force includes almost anybody, even rank beginners, and it is debatable whether that was true on the older versions.
Comparing the new Force to the imported AIRE Tributary Strike, other than a lack of float bags on the Strike, the other three differences are in width, length, and taper. The Strike interior is a bit too wide for many of us, so the slightly narrower interior of the 2011 Force helps lock you in better assuming your hips are not too big, Although the Force comes standard with thighstraps and the Strike does not, if anything, it should be the other way around..
The tubes taper pretty radically on the Strike (and they did on the older Force’s too) in a similar fashion to boats like Custom Inflatable’s Thrillseeker. The tubes on the current Force stay fatter for more of it’s 9’6″ length. This prevents it from sinking deep into foam on big drops, though it may not quite have the wave-slicing ability of the narrow bowed models. It’s hard to do a good A-B test on every detail, and we haven’t been able to try the new Force in high flow conditions or any huge drops. Your comments and opinions are always welcome. If you paddled one let us know what you think too.
The Force is exactly three feet wide, with only one main air chamber for the entire tube like all prior Forces, plus the floor and two float bags. Sometimes, if the single main tube bladder is not pulled through the bow or stern just right, you may see a bend at either end on the last few inches of the tip. A bit disconcerting, but it has no effect on the boat’s handling. Our scale says it’s a bit over 33 pounds; AIRE’s website says 32. We measured the tubes at a full 11″, their site says 10.5″. AIRE recommends paddlers of no more than 275 pounds, and this seems to be a good maximum by our test. Maybe a smidge less. The floor pocket design on this one does pee some water for a while from the very back or front when you drag it up on shore on a slope.
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