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I am a former hardshell boater. My last boat (12 years ago) was a WaveSport Diesel. I loved that boat and took it down the Colorado. I would like to get back into boating but feel I should transition to an IK for the increased safety and improved self-rescue capacity.




My complaint with the IK's I've demoed so far (NRS Maverik and AIRE Tributary) is the lack of maneuverability compared to a hardshell. I would be a day-tripper only unless with raft support. My goal is to do the Colorado again in an IK. The Aire Force seems to fit the bill. I would appreciate any advice. Also, is there anyone in the Southwest who has this boat? I have been unable to locate a dealer that has one to demo or even look at. Thanks for the help!
 

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Picked up one used earlier this year, after paddling a tomcat solo for 3 years. Huge difference in handling. Very little storage. Everything, including k pump gets strapped over back inflation chamber/seat. And a very wet ride. I pretty much wear neoprene bottoms unless its very warm. I dont have any hardshell experience besides a few courses, so cant comment on difference there. If you're ever in the canon city, colorado area, you're welcome to paddle mine and give it a try. I ended up finding one with the foam floor, so not as easy to transport as the inflatable floor.
 

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Thanks for the intel! Do you partially inflate the front/back flotation so you can carry a bit of gear (Pump, lunch, throwbag?). Can the flotation be removed? Do you have the new or the old design? Do you use this as your primary boat? What length paddle do you use?


Thanks for the offer to test drive - if I'm in the area I will take you up on it!
BatGrrrl
 

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Probably old design, in part because of the foam floor? Fully inflate everything, but back rest moderate a little for fit. All gear goes on back seat/chamber with 4 d rings. Not really gonna carry much. Primary boat til i see if i can get my roll down with a used pyrhana. Usig a 220 cm paddle, but curious how a 210 would work. Guy who sold it to me included a 230 cm, but unless someone was over 6', i wouldnt go that lenghth. I'm 5'10" and a little over 200#. So a little over recommended weight.
 

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Ok. I appreciate the info about the paddle, too. The manufacturer told me 220 for my height (5'8") but I'm inclined to go to 210cm as I paddle vertically and not horizontally.
 

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Checked the serial number. Mine is a 98. So its held up well. I would expect improvements in the meantime, and they no longer have the foam floor. Offer stands if you're in the area. I kept my tomcat because of its ability to haul gear and being more newb friendly. Stability is slightly better than my pyrhana if that helps.
 

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A '98 would be one of the earliest models.They have changed the design to make it more stable.I think this,basically widening,probably makes it slightly less manueverable,.I have an original xl and hard shell creek boating ,with lousy roll,experience.I also paddled a Lynx for years.The force handles extremely well for a ducky. It is more fun for play,can catch micro eddies on steep creeks,and is faster than other ducks.The negatives ,much less forgiving,a little harder to reenter,and very little storage..One of those yellow triangular dry bags with grommets works well on back deck for small.items.They made a model with a seat and no back flotation so you could put a mid to fairly large size drybag there.It might have been called a "force expedition"

I used a 202 for awhile, thinking it was easier for playing ,but I think a 210-215 is better for bracing. an tall so maybe not right for you.
 

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Definitely an interesting boat. I ran with a group in hardshells and had no problems keeping up. Fast for an inflatable. And i did reenter in river after a getting jammed on a rock. I run my thigh straps fairly tight. Straighten my legs and come off easily enough but still get control and lock in dropping into a hole. There's some vids on YouTube and even a few with somebody rolling back up. The only other negative i see is its always a wet ride. I wear neoprene bottoms 90% of the trips i run with it. The guy i bought it from always wore a drysuit. I may be transitioning to hardshells but its a good backup plan and will keep in class 3 water til i get my roll dowm.
 

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This might be heresy on this forum, but have you considered a packraft? They aren't the fastest watercraft, but fast enough (I've done 42 miles in a day without great effort), easy to portage and transport. One of the biggest draws, however, is that the good ones have a T Zipp zipper at the rear of the boat, which is water and airtight. It allows you to store an enormous anout of gear inside the raft's tubes. Yes, you have to deflate the raft at night to access it, but during the day it's completely protected and really adds to stability, your gear is basically just above the water line. Fwiw, I've done 3 overnights this year, it really works. I keep a small dry bag clipped in the bow as my day bag. Just an idea, good luck on your search.
-Tom
 

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This might be heresy on this forum, but have you considered a packraft? They aren't the fastest watercraft, but fast enough (I've done 42 miles in a day without great effort), easy to portage and transport. One of the biggest draws, however, is that the good ones have a T Zipp zipper at the rear of the boat, which is water and airtight. It allows you to store an enormous anout of gear inside the raft's tubes. Yes, you have to deflate the raft at night to access it, but during the day it's completely protected and really adds to stability, your gear is basically just above the water line. Fwiw, I've done 3 overnights this year, it really works. I keep a small dry bag clipped in the bow as my day bag. Just an idea, good luck on your search.
-Tom
I think that's a pretty fair suggestion when someone is considering an IK. I'm intrigued...mostly because it would be far easier to hike in a packraft than a hardshell!

I think the OP's question may have more to do with on-water performance, particularly after they've come from a hardshell...any thoughts there?
 

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I know there are some folks who have run the Grand in the alpacka packrafts.

I am not that solid of a packrafter as of yet, the performance of mine (with Gunny Gorge and Plateau Creek being more my skill set) has been faster and more maneuverable than a similar IK. I find, however, that at times they might be a little to quick in their handling as they ride more "over" the water than "in" it when they are unloaded.

I love mine, and would certainly suggest that you check out the Alpacka "Alpackalypse" model if you want performance that will carve more like a hardshell and somewhat less like a ducky.

Thomas
 

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I can't comment on the packraft vs. hardshell issue, I've only done sit-on-top kayak stuff. Based on what I've heard there's just no way a packraft will do better than a hardshell in WW performance. But a packraft is lighter and deflatable, thus easier to portage and transport. But a packraft vs an IK? I don't know for sure, but I'd bet it's a much closer comparison from a performance standpoint. When I've seen loaded IKs they look less stable in WW than a packraft with gear stored internally, but that's just speculation on my part.

-Tom
 

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Good discussion here. I'll jump in, having experience in lots of these different boats.

Let's be clear though. No inflatable boat is going to boat like a hardshell. No inflatable boat has hard chines or any secondary stability. No one is hitting combat rolls in the gnar in any inflatable. Sure, I've seen people roll a Force, a packraft, a Lynx, and a Stiletto in a pool, but that's not happening on the river.

Of all these boats being discussed, the Force is my least favorite. It is a fun III play boat, but it's also a swim machine. Too little rocker to surf well. Too low volume to haul gear. I don't personally know anyone who uses the Force as their go-to boat for IV or harder water, though some Buzzards claim to.

I really like the Lynx or Outfitter for gear hauling. Self-support week-long trips are no problem, but some ww performance is sacrificed. But the Cali V IKers have mostly all switched to the Outfitter. Big tubes, real stable.

My alpacka Yukon Yak is one my favorite boats, but again, not that many folks are choosing one as their go-to for front country gnar. I love it on my sailboat as a tender, stashed in my raft on family float trips for side creeks or surfing, and for hike in anything. But it is an expensive and fragile boat that will suffer more than other boats under similar use. It's a specialty tool, a lot like a Force in that regard.

If I want a high-performance inflatable to paddle, I still prefer the Stiletto. flat hull and foam floor carves eddies better than anything else, can take anything you have the sack to run, but doesn't handle a multiday gear load too well.

If your baseline for an inflatable is that it be as maneuverable as a hard shell, that might not be achievable.
 

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IKs

I was fortunate enough to get a Sevylor SK100DS on Amazon a few yrs back at a bargain price and I have never regretted it. I was off hardshell boating for some time after that for health reasons and this boat did almost every thing my hard boat did in up to cl3/3+ stuff except surf bigger waves where carving was required. It caught eddies with ease and tackled big water like a champ.

I also got a solo Tomcat 2 yrs ago for a little more cargo capacity, and for tackling harder water I was unfamiliar with. This combo has served me fairly well. I just miss the big wave surfing I could do in my old hardshell.
 

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The Force is the best performance IK on the market. If you have a solid brace and are an experienced kayaker it should feel stable - but not like a mini raft, like most ducks. Also, it takes on almost no water because of the float bags. It surfaces in the foam way better than Sotar and Thrill Seeker boats. I've owned the past 3 models and the current size/shape/design is amazing. Get one - you'll have it forever!
 
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