Tributary Strike Inflatable Kayak review by TBP

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    Lee Arbach TBP

    The AIRE Tributary Strike inflatable kayak is 10′ long and 37″ wide in the center. Strikes only come in light blue. The price above is for the new 2013 models, which no longer have the bra at the front end.

    So far the only unfavorable feedback on the solo AIRE Tributary Strike Inflatable Kayaks has been from a couple of larger fellows that were in the 250 to 275 pound range, and from a few paddlers who’ve had trouble keeping the boat straight in large diagonal waves (and this is indeed difficult due to the fairly low bow rise). Everyone else including us has felt this is a top contender among AIRE’s line with it’s quick predictable handling, even if it is an import. It is in fact our favorite among AIRE’s five solo models.

    AIRE Tributary Strike Inflatable Kayaks Value

    The AIRE Strike falls in between the less expensive Tributary Tomcat and the American made Lynx in several ways. It has a five year warranty that does not cover owner damage like the U.S. boats. This is much better than the one year coverage that Tomcats have, only half as long as the Lynx, but the same as most other high end whitewater models. The outer material is the same Chinese pvc used for the Tomcats – 500 denier on the top blue part of the body, and super thick 1000 denier pvc on the grey underside. However, a major difference is that the tube bladders are the same urethane as AIRE’s U.S. boats, not the heavier, less stretchy vinyl used on the Tomcats. This improves the long term reliability tremendously. Rather than replacing bladders after 8 to 10 years you should be looking at more like 20+ years for the urethane. We say “should be” since many 1989 and 1990 AIRE boats are still running around with the original bladders. We honestly don’t know what to give for a lifespan on them since AIRE has not been around long enough to say. Another important difference is that the underside Tomcat seams (where the red or blue meets the gray floor material) are sewn, but the Strike’s bottom seams are welded like any other AIRE product.

    In hull design, the Strike retains the width and high stability of the Tomcat, but it has rocker on the ends (15″) closer to what you find on the Lynx, with a zippy elliptical shape like a widened Force XL. All in all, for most middle of the road class III and IV paddlers, this might be the very best choice of all. For an extra $250 it does seem to offer a lot more value than the Tomcat.
    Excellent Performance for AIRE Tributary Strike Inflatable Kayaks

    It has excellent performance, arguably better than the Lynx, as long as the pilot is under 200 pounds. With paddlers between about 190 and 225 pounds, it has about the same hull speed as the Lynx. For larger paddlers above 230 pounds it will actually get slower, which is why we previously mentioned the larger paddlers not being as enthused. The smaller footprint of the Strike combined with a floor that inflates thinner than the Lynx I means big paddlers will bog it down more than a Tomcat or Lynx model. However the thinner floor also keeps your center of gravity lower and makes the Strike very stable. Strike I’s and Lynx’s both track poorly, so you need a bit of patience to get used to them. No one should purchase either without getting one of our bolt-on AIRE fin kits if their use will be primarily on flat water.

    These AIRE Tributary Strike Inflatable Kayaks uses Summit valves like the Tomcats, which have been quite reliable, but the valve cap strings can tear off if you don’t lock the cap on fully clockwise. This is one valve you must use a valve adapter with, and it is included in the little patch kit. An exception to this rule is that if you use either a K-Pump or and EZ-Pump, their inflation tips will fit the Summit valves without an adapter.

    We will note that all seven Tributary kayaks – the three Tomcat models, solo & tandem Strikes, and the two Sawtooth kayaks – are less stiff now than they used to be. The original side tube fabric was 900 denier back a while ago, and as mentioned above it’s now a 500 denier base fabric. No matter what the pressure, none of the Trib kayaks will get as stiff as older models used to. If you run big water (or big ocean waves in a Sawtooth), this is something to keep in mind since tacoing could occur.

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