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Old 06-29-2005   #1
Front Range, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 274
Rubber ducky....

Hey folks,

Just out of curiosity, is there such thing as a "better" ducky out on the market? I have a couple of friends who want to go play with us, but don't want to do the full on kayaking thing. I thought the best way to get them down the river while still letting them get a taste of it would be to put them in a 1-man ducky?

My thing is, what's the difference between, say a $500-$600 NRS or Aire ducky, vs the $1200 or so some-odd-$$ boats that're also out there (the NRS webpage has a pretty wide range)?? Do y'all have any clue what class rivers these things can feasibly handle?

I was thinking at anything less than $800, I could afford to go ahead and buy one of these and have it around when friends or family come to visit and have some interest in getting their feet wet. I've paddled these things enough to know they're easy and stable, I just didn't know what to be looking at as far as purchases go??

Thanks for any help you can provide!

newby0616 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-2005   #2
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 60
Hello, I think I can help.

We have 6 duckies and I would compare them as follows.

Very Stable, very durable, a bit boring for an agressive surfer type. Heavier paddlers sit in water all day. Quality valves. A well built, long lasting boat.

NRS: A bit cheaper material and a different design. Will not hold heavier paddlers well. Decent valves.

Aire lynx:
My favorite boat. Holds large paddlers well. A bit pricey at $1100 or so. Very well made, quality materials, durable anchor points. Sleek design allows it to surf well and it tracks like a dream. It is slightly less stable than a hyside or NRS.

Aire tomcat:
A real deal at $500 or less. A slightly deeper hull design than the lynx but still a great surfer. Decent materials except for the tie down anchors. I ripped one out the first day when I flipped and the rear thigh strap attachment point ripped out. Cheap valves. Bladder in a condom type design like all aire boats. This is a good boat for what you want I think, although I would highly reccommend putting in some D-Rings for the thigh straps.


There are duckies made by many other companies as well. Wing, Sotar, Shredder and others. I would also take into consideration the pvc-vs-hypalon thingy too. The hypalon boats like hyside and nrs generally store rolled up better for long periods of time and they are also easier to patch. The PVC boats are stiffer and surf better, but shouldnt be stored rolled up for long periods of time as cracks can form in the pvc.

Reading what you want for a loaner boat for when friends come over I would recommend the Aire Tomcat. Its a very good deal for the money, and is still a riverworthy craft. Although if you choose thigh straps I would install 4 small D-rings to attach them to. You can also install adjustable foot braces as opposed to thigh straps. You need to order these items seperately as they do not come with the boat.

I run the Taos Box, The Numbers, The Gorge, and even an occasional class V creek in my Aire Lynx. I use thigh straps only. I also do Westwater, the Pilar Racecourse and other easier runs. It reaches a point at higher flows when the bigger waves and holes need to be avoided to prevent a swim. (duh!) I havent done the Numbers or the Gorge over about 2000cfs. I did the Taos Box at almost 6000 this year.

Make sure you instruct your duckiers about self rescue (flip boat back over and climb back in), and make sure they wear proper clothing. I typically will swim 5 or more times, usually when surfing. A rookie might swim a lot so make sure they have some gear! Wetsuit, booties, paddle top, helmet etc....

As far as a "better" duckie it all depends on your weight, paddling style, and the types of rapids you want to run. There is the newer Aire Force duckie that is basically a decked duckie that you can roll. I like my lynx because I can surf and do class 4. I can also put a drybag in the back and go for a multiday self supported trip, which me and several of my friends often do down the gunny gorge. I like the tomcat because its just almost as good as my lynx, for half the money. Just remember the cheap tie down anchors it has and dont trust them too much.

Hope this helps!


PhilBob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-2005   #3
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,909
I agree with the post above and will add this:

Avoid the Sevylor duckies!

Spend a few more bucks on something better.

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
Andy H. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-2005   #4
Marine Biologist
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 90
I have an AIRE LYNX II. IMO the best IK out there. The most comprehensive breakdown of the boats I have found online with great info about IK's is , although some other newer boats have come out since that are not reviewed. Things to look at are carrying capacity, thickness and type of material, and how many people you want to take down the river 1-2 + gear.
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