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Old 02-28-2011   #1
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 6
Whitewater Inflatable Kayak for Bigger Guy

Hello everyone,

I am looking for some guidance on buying an inflatable kayak for the upcoming Colorado whitewater season. I've heard that the Aire Tomcats are decent beginner boats, but would like some input from the community.

For background, I am 6'2" and 200-205 lbs without gear. I am pretty experienced in river rafting and did some hardshell kayaking as well, I just could never get comfortable with the roll. This is a nice compromise, to keep me on the river, but without the burden of a big raft. It'd be nice to get something I could also use with my wife, but that's not a must-have requirement. (I am not sure how tough it'd be to paddle a two-person inflatable kayak with one person). The final thing is that I don't want to take a second mortgage to get it

Anyway, any input is welcome, I thank you in advance for your assistance!


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Old 02-28-2011   #2
Prescott, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 40
I paddle 2-person AIRE's with one person almost exclusively. Allows for hauling gear with ease. I think the Tomcat would be a fine entry-level boat for you to try and if you can find a used one you can turn it for little or no loss if it's not your cup of tea. We're almost the same dimensions, you and I. My older Lynx II is a fabulous boat, and the current Tomcats are a similar design to it.

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Old 02-28-2011   #3
Wavester's Avatar
NorCal, California
Paddling Since: 91
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 330

The Tomcat is a great beginner IK for a bigger guy and the price is right. One drawback to the Tomcat is it's barge and slow to turn. I'm 6' 3" 215lbs and upgraded my IK's to the Aire Lynx from the tomcat and love the way the Lynx is much more sporty also my wife loves hers as well. The tomcats a great boat but you might find that you out grow it in a year or so imo.
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Old 03-01-2011   #4
N. Wigston's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 557
I vote for the DRE ducky. It's one of the wider ones I've found, which means more stable, and it still has a good hull shape and rocker for maneuverability. I've paddled with people who were in the tomcat, and they couldn't stay upright in whitewater. The DRE (Downriver Equipment) models are really durable and really stable. I'll be renting them out in boulder this summer, if you want to try one. Here is a a link

Nick Wigston
Whitewater Tube/CKS Rental Center
1717 15th Street
Boulder CO 80302
shop open May - August
We rent year-round with a reservation
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Old 03-02-2011   #5
"Just Read and Run Baby!"
followthebubbleline's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 57
I've had a two person Tomcat for 4 years now and it's always worked great for me. I'm 6'2" and 265 lbs. I've mostly run it solo but have also gone tandem a number of times. I've used it on the day run of the Salt, the Moab daily, the San Juan in Pagosa Springs and Mexican Hat, the Animas day run, Beaver Creek and the Verde River. In all, I've probably done 50 trips with it. It's sluggish but less so than a Padillac and I think it handles well. You can find slightly used ones at Zoik RF Solo & Tandem Kayak - Fleet Sale .

The only thing I don't like about the Tomcats is the layered construction. If you really want to get the boat clean you have to undue all of the zippers, separate and wash the different layers and then move the various pieces around to get it dry. Because of this, I'm looking to replace my boat with something else. On the same website you'll also find Zoiks, which may be a good alternative. A friend of mine purchased one a year a go and she really likes it. I've paddles it a few times on flat water and it seemed to respond well and seems to be well constructed. Basically, it's the boat I'm recommending to people who want to start running rivers. If your interested in a two person Tomcat, I'm selling mine for $500.
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Old 03-02-2011   #6
Boise, Idaho
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 427
I would suggest the Tributary 9.5. I have the self-bailer and with two and three people it's a blast. You could easily make a nice row frame for one and even then it's still super light. It would cost a little more but I got a demo from AIRE and they have some on sale that are pretty reasonably priced. Can't say enough about all the fun I've had on that boat in only one season. It makes class III feel huge!
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Old 03-02-2011   #7
shappattack's Avatar
Up North, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1,147
195 lbs +/- of man meat in the double lynx paddled solo N. Umpqua
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Old 03-02-2011   #8
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,239
I'm 6' 4'' 225-260 various times,have demo'd quite a few ducks over the years.The only boats that are too small for me were the regular Aire Force[ i use the XL],Sevylor's one man ww self bailer,and the Innova Safari.A one man Aire Lynx is plenty big enough for a three day [or more] trip and still handle class 4 loaded.The two man can be paddled one man no problem.I know a guy that stomps Supermax in one.But,he pinned once in Foxton boulder garden.The boat is 12-13 ft. long ,not so good on little creeks.

The Tomcats are basically the same design as the Lynx but made in China with slightly lesser quality components and a shorter warranty,is my understanding.Correct me if I am wrong.Aire's warranty and reputation are the best in the business.

Some basics on duckies;wide and big tubes equals more raft like, more forgiving, and lower performance...really good for beginners.

Narrower smaller tubes better outfitting equals more kayak like.

Hypalon is more durable and compacts smaller but is grabbier.PVC [plenty tough and easy to patch anyway] generally higher performance.

If you have paddled hardshells you might like the Force or Force XL, but you can't carry much.The Lynx kicks ass.NRS Maverick is a good little hypalon duck.Don't know anything about DRE except their store is good for rafting stuff.Have you checked out those Alpaca craft.A lot depends one your intended usage .
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Old 03-02-2011   #9
Prescott, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 40
The Tomcats are very similar design (but not exact) to the pre-2003 Lynx with less rocker & rise in the front and also a bit longer waterline than the 2003 and later Lynxes. The older Lynxes track a little bit better and the newer ones are a bit more manuverable in whitewater. Neither is a bad design. The bladder design has its positives and negatives, the worst being it takes some time for the boat to dry out after use due to water being trapped in between the outer hull and the bladder. Sediment can build up in between as well if you paddle on a lot of silty rivers. The positives outweigh the negatives easily IMHO. The NRS Bandit I paddled on one trip tracked horribly on calm stretches of river, so I can not recommend one of those. A Paddillac we tried once was immensely stable, but a real pig compared to the Lynxes. No glue in any of the construction of the AIRE products (including the Tomcats) also means long term durability and great resale value if you upgrade. I believe a Zoik boat may have some glued construction and with the PVC hull slowly outgassing, it eventually will soften the glue and fall apart. Stitches will hold for decades if treated properly.

Just my 2 cents... Not an expert, just a user.
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Old 03-02-2011   #10
xena13's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 244
Originally Posted by rising.sun View Post
The bladder design has its positives and negatives, the worst being it takes some time for the boat to dry out after use due to water being trapped in between the outer hull and the bladder. Sediment can build up in between as well if you paddle on a lot of silty rivers. The positives outweigh the negatives easily IMHO.
So what are the positives of the bladder design?

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