NRS Outlaw I Whitewater Inflatable Kayak review by TBP

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    Lee Arbach TBP

    NRS Outlaw I Whitewater Inflatable Kayak
    As some of you may be aware, NRS decided mid-way through 2012 that the Bandit series kayaks were becoming too expensive to produce, being made with pricey urethane material, so they were discontinued. They have been replaced with this new pvc Outlaw I, and a longer tandem Outlaw II that runs $100 more.
    Specs for NRS Outlaw I Inflatable Kayak

    Some specs are about the same as the old Bandit, like the tube diameter (10.5″) and the length (9’10”). However, two important details have changed along with the material. One is that the width has increased by several inches from about 35.5″ on the Bandit, to 39″ on the Outlaw. This is wider than the NRS specs say, but it is what the solo model meaasures. Two other specs also vary from what NRS gives; see below.

    Time will tell how this new boat compares to the solo Bandit, but perhaps a more important difference between the Outlaw & Bandit is the floor design. The Outlaw has a separate 4″ thick drop stitch mattress sitting on a “sub-floor” instead of an integral I-beam floor. This means the bottom of the Outlaw is considerably flatter than the old Bandit or the current NRS MaverIK model, but the inflatable chamber is also thinner so the weight capacity is a bit lower than those two. The thinner drop-stitch floor also puts your gravity center lower than it was in the Bandit, and quite a bit lower than in NRS’s MaverIK, so that’s a good thing.

    The Outlaw, regardless of it’s low cost, should easily out-perform the MaverIK. The undersides of these two models could not be more different: pancake flat on the Outlaw, and deeply grooved on the MaverIK. And cross currents like to mess with the bottom of a MaverIK, long one of our least favorite solo inflatables. So cheap or not, we are looking forward to paddling an Outlaw and strongly suspect it will pivot & surf better than NRS’s much more expensive hypalon product – and hang up on rocks far less.

    The Outlaw solo is claimed to weigh 26 pounds but it’s actually about 28.5 (our scale and two UPS scales put it at 29, 28, and 28-1/2 pounds). The pvc material is supposed to be 39 ounces per yard, which would mean it is as thick as the pvc on the bottom of one of AIRE’s rafts. It’s not, though it is plenty beefy for an IK. The actual ounce weight seems more like 25 to 26/yard. Also, a weight of 13 kilograms is printed on the outer cardboard box these come in, but that too is way off. There is a second inner box, and the cardboard alone totals over 7 pounds. The boxed weight is about 35 pounds, not 28.6 pounds which is what 13 kg. works out to.
    NRS Outlaw I Inflatable Kayak Warranty

    The warranty is three years, and the color choice is between blue and a nice orange – see up top. The backrests remain the same rigid inflatable design of the 2011 & 2012 Bandits. They give you firm support in whitewater, though they are not ideal for upper back comfort. Our experience with the Bandits was that the inflatable backrests were good on day trips, but for multi-day excursions we wanted to use something like one of our Backsavers or a Crazy Creek-style chair in front of the inflatable thwart.
    NRS Outlaw I Inflatable Kayak Chambers

    The Outlaw has the standard three chambers plus the thwart backrest, and uses Leafield’s easily changeable C-7 valve. There are six small D-rings (four are used to hold the floor down via straps, but could also double as gear tie-down points), a strong lift handle at each end, and the base fabric is 1000 denier. The thick beefy end cones can deal with the worst of impacts. The backrest is removable and/or repositionable via straps running though pairs of bail holes. This must be done with the floor deflated. The rocker at both ends is about the same as the Bandit series had, around 16″, and it’s as much as you would ever want.

    As mentioned above, the floor mat is partially held down by two straps. The front one might be a tempting place to hook your heels to if you are sitting far enough forward, but this could constitute an entrapment hazard. The reason we say “could” rather that “will” is that there is a simple ladder lock on the strap that you should be able to snag with your pinky finger and easily release. If not, there’s always the river knife. But probably better to not do this at all. If you want to use thighstraps, you will either have to install four more D-rings, or run some rope or hoopi loops through bail hole pairs for attachments. The seat also connects this way, though it’s straps are too loose from the factory so please tighten them befoe hitting the water.

    We had worried a bit that this boat might have it’s bail holes too pinched off by the drop-stitch floor mat. They are not pinched off at all, however, water inside the boat does have to take a rather long path to get to them (around the front and rear corners of the mat), so it’s doubtful this will bail as fast as the MaverIK. Again, time will tell. The sub-floor is a bit loose under the drop-stitch mat, but your weight will push the mat down enough to keep most water from loitering underneath. Should you come out of the boat in a big hole though, we suspect water will not only get under the mat, but you may also find the floor trying to work it’s way out even with the two straps.

    Although you can inflate the floor mat to a very high pressure of about 8 p.s.i., good firmness is attained even at 2 to 3 p.s.i., so for the longevity of the mat and the comfort of your tushy – note that you are sitting directly on the drop-stitch mat – unless you are doing very demanding rivers it may be preferable to inflate it to more reasonable pressures.

    For a solo whitewater IK the NRS Outlaw I has an astonishing amount of gear space, especially if you remove the seat. With the addition of some extra tie-downs, average height people will be able to run multi-day trips with ease. Just keep the total weight of yourself and your camp gear to around 230 – 240 pounds.
    Good News – NRS Outlaw I Inflatable Kayak Pricing

    Last, the good news is that the price is one of the lowest you can find on a one person river kayak – only $645. Although the final price on the Bandit had been lowered as a close-out item, it listed at almost $1000 at the beginning of 2012. And for 2013, it no doubt would have increased another hundred bucks or so were it still in the NRS line up. If you get a chance to paddle one of the Outlaw solos or tandems before we do let us know what you think, and let us know too how much weight you had in the boat.

    *The price includes ground UPS to the lower 48, but our shopping cart will still try to charge for UPS. We will deduct it before capturing your credit card funds.

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