Stinger XP vs. Karma RG - Mountain Buzz

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Old 12-15-2016   #1
New River Gorge, West Virginia
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 3
Stinger XP vs. Karma RG

Hey Guys,

I'm doing a self-contained GC trip this summer and I'm looking into buying the Stinger XP or the Karma RG. I'm going to paddle a Stinger and a Karma Unlimited this weekend, so I'll get a better feel for my personal fit and hull preference.

If you have head-to-head experience with both boats, that's awesome, but I'd be interested to hear any feedback folks have had with either boat on extended trips, as they both look like worthy options.

How did it paddle loaded with gear? How much weight were you able to carry?

Any recommendations, tips, or experiences with the bulkheads for packing gear in the bow?

How watertight was the rear hatch?

Any feedback or advice is much appreciated. This will be my first multiday trip without any raft support. I'm getting excited for it.

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Old 12-15-2016   #2
dirtbagkayaker's Avatar
Poundtown, Wokastan
Paddling Since: 420
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,610
Originally Posted by KBD21 View Post
Hey Guys,

How watertight was the rear hatch?

I can not speak much to the boats. But I can say the Jackson hatches are solid. Like 0% leakage.
I saw someone do it on youtube.
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Old 12-15-2016   #3
Durango, Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 428
As a self-support boat, the RG wins hands down, IMO. The Stinger's slicey stern doesn't allow for nearly as much gear storage and (unless they've changed it recently) there is not a rear bulkhead, so the rear hatch is not sealed from the cockpit, it only gives easier access to the back. We just did a 10-day GC trip with 2 Katana's, 2 RG's, a Traverse 10 and a Greenboat. Personally I think the Katana was the best of the bunch, but the Traverse and the RG were pretty sweet too. We had negligible leakage on any of the boats with hatches. None were 100% dry, but pretty close. (We did use the JK Hard Hat aftermarket hatch on the Traverse and one Katana)
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Old 12-15-2016   #4
New River Gorge, West Virginia
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 3
Thanks guys. I appreciate the useful feedback.
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Old 12-18-2016   #5
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Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,804
I own a Fusion and it is a very good multi day boat. I have paddled the Stinger XP and thought it was superior to the Fusion. Faster, bigger and more stable. The one I paddled had a rear bulkhead separating the hatch from the cockpit. However, I did find that it leaked more water than I liked.
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Old 12-19-2016   #6
Bisters, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 421
I have a Stinger XP and love it. I too initially bought it for a GC self support. For long trips (with mellow Rapids like GC), I take out the front foam pillar and replace it with watershed salmon and chatooga bags strapped together. I had no problem getting all my gear for a week inside the boat plus a case of good beer cans. The rear hatch cover has straps to make sure it won't come off and is mostly dry. It doesn't have a rear bulkhead which I like because it leaves more options for packing. I had all my heavy food in bigger dry bags attached behind the seat which keeps smaller bags or items from being able to exit through the cockpit. I have also taken it through GC empty on a raft support trip. As for handling fully loaded, they are 2 completely different boats. Empty might be the ultimate GC boat for anything from safety kayaking to surfing every flat glassy wave. Fully loaded with the skeg down, it's a freight train of momentum that tracks as well as a locomotive should. If you know the lines in the canyon, the miles melt away effortlessly. I love Jackson boats too, but the RG wasn't made at the time.

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Old 12-20-2016   #7
TenMileCreekKayaks's Avatar
Frisco, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 180
Just a thought....

P&H Sea Kayaks - Kayaks

I know a few that have used it on GC, ultimate in storage, easy rolling with its narrow design, also a fun surfer and fast.


Keep the Hairy Side Up....
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Old 12-24-2016   #8
San Jose, CA, California
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 570
+1 for the stinger.

How did it paddle loaded with gear?

The long boat takes more energy to paddle when it is loaded and is slower to get to speed. In the grand focus on not trying to jump from place to place in the rapids, rather line the boat up in the wave trains and then loosely brace to keep it up right. This may feel a bit out of control compared to an unloaded light weight play boat but for the grand canyon, it is just fine.

How much weight were you able to carry?

More than you need. More weight = more energy to paddle / more food and fuel and more rest to recover. Go as light as possible. Remember, the grand trip is mostly flat water so you want a boat that has a skeg and has as little drag as possible so that you can efficiently move through the flats. Lower weight = less drag.

Any recommendations, tips, or experiences with the bulkheads for packing gear in the bow?

Yes take the front and rear ( *if you are using a long boat without a hatch) foam pillars out. This is space you can put to better use with your overnight gear. Typically, I put items in the front I only need at night like a sleeping bag, poop tube, food bag ect.
I try to use 5 small dry bags vs. one or two medium size dry bags. I tie all the bags to the foot brace that I put back in the boat after packing (without the foam pillar) using 6mm pe cord. Smaller bags pack much easier. And you do not want to be the person angerly spending 3 hours packing your boat each morning because you have to slowly work oversized bags into the cockpit.

Additionally, as a group, there are several things that can be done with your life support systems that will improve your overall efficacy which will leave you all with more time for exploring. Below are a few I have found most helpful on my last few GC kayak self-support trips:
1. Water, bring a few new gravity filters and have one person fill everyone's waters at breakfast lunch and dinner daily. That way folks are hydrated but not carrying extra gallons of water in their boats weighing them down.

2. Food: consider bringing only two liquid fuel stoves and cooking dinner and breakfast and maybe even lunch as a group. Done right this can be very cost effective, efficient and improve group dynamics. It contrast to each person doing their own meals on their own stove.

3. Shuttle, carpool and take out at Peirce Ferry. It cost almost and extra $125 per person to take out at Diamond. You can save that money and spend an extra 12 hours on the water enjoying the separation rapids and then put on a jimmy Hendrix album for the 40 miles flat water to the take out.

How watertight was the rear hatch?

My last trip I took a sea kayak, we did 6 days total. Day three we ran all the rapids in the inner gorge and gems down to bass camp at RM 109. My hatches leaked a bit that day and I bulged pumped and sponged them out the next morning. We also had a guy on our trip that had a high stretch bungie spray skirt and his boat was very leaky. In sum, the hatch will not be waterproof, make sure you have a good spray skirt, and tie all your gear in your boat regardless with pi cord.


Lastly, take the regulations and river check out process seriously. Expect, an illogical, half - 3/4 day check out and orientation process. The rangers are not consistent with expectations for kayak self-supporters. Tips to make this process more successful.

1. Contact the river office via phone and email before your trip. Request the accommodations for kayakers. Then build your required equipment based off of those accommodations. Photograph, that equipment, and email those photos to the river office to verify that it meets their expectations before hand. Most importantly, print all these communication emails and have them at the river put in to show your check out ranger.

2. Despite doing everything above prepare to be delayed due, the rangers unhappiness with your required equipment. Maybe everyone has spot beacons but you forgot the signal mirror. He/she may still not let you launch. My last trip we had a fine mesh coffee strainer for dish water straining and the ranger would not approve it because he was concerned it would clog too easily and overflow into the river. The conversation got very illogical when I ask how on trips he kept used coffee grounds out of the river with staining dish water.

In short, prepare for the river checkout/ orientation to be the most difficult and challenging part of your trip. It is a bit like crossing a foreign border. Sometimes you get lucky and get an easy green light in. More often than not you do everything you can to prepare and still get delayed.

**Attached are the group expenses from my last trip. It was more affordable ($388 per person) compared to previous years mostly due to the low cost of gas compared to other years.

Have a great trip, hope this helps!

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