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June 4, 2014 at 8:30 pm #1884Lee Arbach TBPKeymaster
NRS Outlaw IK, first release 2013 review by Mia
After 30 years of hardshell kayaking, injuries forced me to find another means to stay on the rivers. I had tried several IK’s over the years, and had an idea of what I wanted. When the Outlaw came on the market, I thought it would be a good match. I didn’t like the AirForce, it felt too “corky” with a higher center of gravity than I wanted, but I loved the performance of an old Vista IK, with shaped tubes, a hard foam floor that had to be inserted under the thwart, footpegs and thighbraces.
The Outlaw seemed to have the qualities I wanted, portable, with a firm floor which provided the ability to quickly turn the boat, surf, catch smaller eddies, etc. I was looking for something that would keep me in Class 3, and maybe back to Class 4 water.
I have taken it down the South Fork American runs and found the extra stability a big plus, several holes that might have flipped me in my old boat were just a small brace in my IK. I thought I had found a great replacement, but it was hard on my back to paddle, and I had to work to stay forward. It was also very heavy and awkward to carry from the take out. I sewed a back pack that I could put my rolled up boat in, but that too was rather awkward, being so large, but an improvement.
I added a Bandit thwart for my foot brace, (I also have a soft cooler for long trips that I can use). My after-market thigh straps from the Boat People work great, and are attached to the small D ring for the seat back thwart and to the foot brace thwart strap. I didn’t need to attach the D rings for my thigh straps that I had purchased for securing the thigh braces, due to the extra thwart. I like the additional flotation the forward thwart provides in holes. The small space between that thwart and the nose cone is just right for strapping a small dry bag in. Either there, or behind my seat thwart. Both areas keep the gear tight to the boat so if I flip, I don’t have loose gear getting in the way of rolling my boat back over. Another bonus of the forward thwart and dry bag is that it is a great place for my 21# dog to hang out on easier rivers.
However, with my bad spine, my body position still caused a back strain, and I ended up missing the end of last fall’s boating season.
I just took my Outlaw out again for an easy overnight spring trip on the Sacramento River. All of my gear was on a raft, so I only had a mini dry bag, throw rope and my water bottle on board. Having never paddled flat water in the Outlaw, I was surprised how my friend in her 2012 NRS Bandit had a faster floating speed on the water (we are very close in weight), and she was sitting on her floor high and dry. I was sitting in over 3” of water, marinating my crotch in questionable river water. This hadn’t been a problem before, due to the dry pants I wear in whitewater, so I never noticed it. I sure did on this trip, and had to sit on my life vest to keep dry. I also noticed how the floor wasn’t as flat as advertised; it had a bow with the low point under me. Not so when I got in the Bandit. I can appreciate how my lower center of gravity helps in big water, but I felt that the extra work to paddle this boat vs the Bandit, and what felt like at least 12# extra carrying weight, not being able to easily sit with decent core posture, and sitting in water all the time was a big 4 strikes against my boat. I felt deflated.
I decided to call NRS to see if they had any ‘fixes’ for my sagging floor problem. I was thinking of using an old boxed wine Mylar bag inflated like a pillow to sit on. Much to my surprise and delight, they immediately offered to exchange a new boat for my old boat. I was told that the first production of the new Outlaws had my floor problem, and it was corrected. I am excited to try my new Outlaw and see if the higher floor does what I hope: keep me dry on calm water, increase hull speed due to flatter floor, easier to maneuver, and most of all, get me out of that hole so I can sit properly and not strain my back.
I will post my results when I get my new boat. I didn’t think to call The Boat People with my complaints, but if things had gone differently at NRS, they would have been my next call. I am confident that they would have helped me out, since they are representing NRS, along with a wide variety of brands. I have done business with them off and on for the last 28 years and have always been impressed with their vast knowledge of all types of inflatables, and their customer service has always been prompt and friendly. I love my thigh braces I got from them, and their suggestion of getting the Bandit thwart for a lower cost alternative to the foot braces (and softer) was a winner.
See you on the river,
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