Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2005
I paddled a small burn when I first started creeking and loved it. I hadn't been in many (if any) creek boats before I bought it - I pretty much heard it was a good boat and found a deal that fit my budget - it was a nice stroke of luck, because it was a great boat to "test the waters" in. I really liked being able to lean on my edges and whip into and peel out of eddies. After paddling it for two seasons, I thought I might like something with more volume, so I bought a Stomper.
I really, really like the Stomper 80... I don't think the edges are as hard, but it still turns like a dream. Before getting this boat, I didn't have much of a boof, but this boat's boofability is amazing and I think has helped my boofing progression. It has a lot of rocker, which is what makes it so booftastic, I think it has really helped me transfer what I've learned in that boat...to other boats.
The one big critique I have for this boat has to do with the outfitting. In theory, the the way the back band pivots forward is brilliant - easy packing accessibility and just plain clever. However, the metal cups which are supposed to house the arms/rails, that attach to the back band, don't stay in their little homes (cups), once it's ratcheted forward all the way - I'm about 5'6 and felt most comf ( as far as feeling like I was solid in my boat), with the ratchets as forward as possible. This was something that I came to accept and don't really think that it hurt my boating. That being said, it did strike me as a flaw in the design to not accommodate for the back band being as tight as possible.
Unfortunately, I cracked the shit out of it this season (my fault, not some flimsy plastic problem), and have been in about a million boats since...
This weekend I test drove the Nomad 8.1 which was pretty awesome. It has a more rounded hull but I feel like it had enough edge to feel pretty zippy coming in and out of eddies. I didn't feel like I was able to boof it was well as the stomper, but I was only in it for a day - I wish I had had longer with it....I urge you to try to demo the Nomad with the new outfitting, when it's available - I sat in one this weekend and my mind was blown! Unfortunately, they didn't have the newest boat, with this amazing system, ready for demo (the boat design is the exact same), but I was ready to buy this boat (minus having the actual cash do so...), right there on the spot. It has a sweet seat system that has the ability to ratchet up, molding to the back of your thighs making for THE MOST SOLID feeling being in the boat EVER!! Granted, I was on the floor hip snapping the shit out of the class 1 carpet, but I am certain this outfitting is going to make
an already good boat, an even better one!!! It's going to be a top contender, for me, when I pull the trigger again - the outfitting being a HUGE reason!
I also tried out a medium karma this weekend. I chose the medium because I thought I was going to paddle it on some bigger water, but ended up on something creekier and think the medium was too big me (5'6"/~125), BUT, I think highly of this boat. It's FAST! As someone that has always felt like I was paddling hard to keep up, it was fun to be in a boat that felt like it accelerated with just a few strokes. It rolled easy and has Jackson's standard outfitting, which some don't trust, but I think it's pretty genius.
Also, as soon as the new Burn is available, I want to demo it. I have a feel ing it will be unbelievable - can't wait to see!
So, what is this about not having the opportunity to try many boats? Is it a matter of shelling out the cash? If so, see if your outfitter might be willing to put the demo fees from the boats you try toward a new boat purchase. If a new boat purchase isn't an option, I would suggest getting in as many of your friends boats as possible - taking time to outfit them to your liking when possible, so you get a real feel for how the boat responds to your style of paddling.
I have paddled a few other boats this season, but these are the ones that I found were the most remarkable. Good Luck!
"You know that old trees just grow stronger and old rivers grow wilder, everyday..."