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Old 04-25-2014   #11
Randaddy's Avatar
Eastern Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,404
I carry a small Pelican above my rear float bag for first aid, two tall Nalgene bottles on the sides of the rear bag, a K-pump mini and a little dry box for sunglasses and a hat up front. You probably don't want to overnight with the Force, but it can carry a lot for day trips if you're creative.

You don't roll the Force, you flip it quickly with the grab loops and climb back in. If you practice it's about as quick as a hard boat's second - or maybe third - attempt. I consider a dry suit a must because you do stay wet in this kind of boat.

I've paddled Thrill Seekers some and like the Force much more. It feels more durable and is better in bigger water. I paddle Westwater in mine and feel stable in the big waves as long as I paddle hard. I'd probably swim the same stretch in the Thrill Seeker..

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Old 04-26-2014   #12
Learch's Avatar
Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 655
Old Force XL

I haven't paddled a new Force, but I had a Force XL for about 10 years. Some things it did really well, some ( cross currents ) it didn't do so well. I paddled with a lot of hardshell guys, and most of them really liked my boat. I think if you are already an experienced hardshell guy, a Force is a great option.
There are things I don't like about the Lynx and Tomcats in big water. I think in technical stuff they do better than a Force, but in big water, I don't like the amount of flotation in front of my feet. I felt like when the bow was starting to climb a large wave, the boat just wanted to turn or float to the top higher in the water. The first time I paddled a Force was over on the Payette on the Cabarton run, lots of big splashy waves. The Force would slice through the tops of the bigger waves, and I felt like I had much better control of the boat's attitude. I'm a big guy, so I pretty much always had the Force XL maxed out on weight. I've heard you don't really want to go much over 200 lbs on the new design Force, since the water line is shorter.
The Sotar SL is a great Kayak, my wife had a 10' model for years. I'd probably go out and buy an 11' model for myself if I was in the market, and maybe even get them to build one custom with a little bit larger tube. Sotars are heavy for a kayak though, be warned. They are not nearly as easy to right after flipping, where my Force was easy to self rescue in.
I almost forgot, I ran lots of class III and some class IV, but I never really challenged the biggest stuff out here. I'd try to test paddle some if at all possible, there is a vast array of good quality designs that paddle differently. Have fun with whatever you choose!

Wishing I was on the river instead of surfing the web...
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Old 04-26-2014   #13
Castle Rock, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 191
Let me know if you are looking for someone to boat Foxton with later in the year. I'm primarily a class 3 boater (e.g., browns, gunny gorge) but have been wanting to try Foxton for about a year. I've heard the boulder garden in particular can be difficult in a duckie.

PM me for any class 3 trip.
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Old 04-26-2014   #14
Florence, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 180
denali, give me a holler next time you're down on the ark. Been running bighorn/parkdale for a few years now.
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Old 04-26-2014   #15
Castle Rock, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 191
Originally Posted by formerflatlander View Post
denali, give me a holler next time you're down on the ark. Been running bighorn/parkdale for a few years now.
Have never done Pinnacle to Parkdale. Looks like a fun run though. I'll PM you next time I head down that way.
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Old 04-26-2014   #16
Florence, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 180
Its a fun run. Only hard lines are three rocks and spikebuck. I've only run as high as 950 cfs. I'm running an IK also. Like to try a full day starting at Tex creek and scout maytag on the way up. Anyway just let me know. Have my kids in June, so I lay off the river for the most part while they're here.
I don't think there are as many rapids as Brown's. Camped late last year at Hecla and wouldn't mind a run through it.
As far as this thread goes, I have been debating next boat and a Force myself.
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Old 04-26-2014   #17
Colorado Springs Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 254

I have owned an Aire Force Expedition, Lynx, Tomcat, and Hyside Padillac. I, like yourself have been a long time hardshell boater also. In terms of performance, nothing is going to compare to a hardshell. Forget that. You just don't have an edge to carve with and even with the thigh straps cranked tight you just don't have the control that you do with hardshell outfitting. There's too much slop. But you certainly can run hard water and any of the boats mentioned in this thread can run hard 4th Class if the boater can. The Force is the closest that I've paddle to a hardshell. My Expedition was like a Force XL without the float bags. It was the least stable IK I've owned but was great at cross-currents and hard water. The smaller tubes also meant that it was easier to re-enter if you swam or did what I call an "IK roll" - spill, flip it, climb back in. With practice I could also consistently roll the Force with an extended paddle roll, which is an option I miss now that I'm paddling the Lynx. No way I can come close to rolling it! And while not ideal I did take the Force on a 7 day Cataract self-supported trip. The Lynx is much more stable and versatile which is why I'm padding it now. You can use it with a beginner and they can have fun. Put a beginner in the Force and they are much more likely to be swimming. The Lynx is great in big waves and punches holes pretty well. It is not as good in cutting in and out of eddies or in big water boils. With my Lynx on the Grand I could run the main rapids fine but then get flipped in the boils in the runout. I just did a 4 day trip on the Ark from Granite to Canon City with another friend in a Lynx. We connected the two together with a simple frame for Pine Creek and the Gorge and then ran everything else as single IK's. It's a very functional and versatile setup and we've used that combo for self supported trips on the Upper Animas and the Middle Fork to name a few examples. In terms of running things like Foxton or Brown's, any of the boats mentioned in this thread will do the job. I like the Lynx over the Tomcat simply because it's more rigid but you pay extra bucks for that. Hope this helps!
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Old 04-27-2014   #18
Front Range, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 79
Where can I demo?

Thanks for the advice, it is very helpful.

Seems like the consensus is that the Force is more like a hard-shell and might be better for technical rivers or creeks but the Lynx is more stable and versatile for different runs and can carry gear.

Seems like I should demo them before I drop $1,300+. Any idea where I can demo from on the front range? Most places look they rental boats instead of the Lynx or Force…

Once I have a boat, I’ll reach out to get out on the water.
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Old 05-06-2014   #19
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,408

sent you a private message, if it does not come thru send me a email addy and I will use that.

I am a very long time hard shell kayaker who has moved to IK's due to a accident and all the surgeons I have consulted with say reasonable paddling is ok, but with a cage on my spine - a kayak roll is not a smart thing to do.

I did a lot of looking, asking around with buds who IK and the Lynx was the most recommended. I am a former Squirt boater. The ole Jim (designs boats and builds JimiStiks paddles) runs the West VA gnar in a thrillseeker and his recommendation was key to me. But I don't think you would go wrong with a Lynx either.

I have not paddled a Force but am really happy with my Thrillseeker.
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Old 05-06-2014   #20
triggle's Avatar
La Grande, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 67
My Tomcat has been the most awesome $600 I've ever spent.

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