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Discussion Starter #1
So I’m looking for some help understanding Aire Force IK’s. I’m thinking about modifying one to be able to do light self support trips. I have 2 Lynx 1’s that I use for self support most of the time and for friends/ partner paddling. I’m looking for a more high performance IK and I have my eye on a Force. I come from a hardshell background and was a solid 4-5 paddler. But bad shoulders and not being able to get out like I use to have found me in IK’s. While I’m a big fan of Aire I’m also looking at a Sotar 11’ IK as an alternative to a Force. My idea is to use a Force and ditch the float bags and replace them with watershed stowfloats bow and stern. Adding a regular kayak back band and foot pegs to round it out. The goal is to have a high performance IK with some ultra light gear capacity for over night class 4-5 runs. Having never even seen a force in person I’m just not sure if this is an idea that would even work. I spoke to someone at Air about the idea and he basically OKed the idea but also possibly didn’t quite get exactly what I was trying to do. Anyone out there with a Force and familiar with the Watershed Stowfloats? With a hung back band would the stowfloats fit well in the bow and stern? And thoughts on the idea mountain buzz brain trust?
 

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If AIRE made that boat I would buy it in a heartbeat. My wife would be upset, but still. I have an original force XL and the bags are NOT removable, and as result there is not really room for a water bottle / throwbag and snacks, and I have a figure to maintain. When I am running that IK I use a sea kayak deck bag strapped to the stern to hold a few things. AIRE also made a force XL expedition, and I was able to find one used on the buzz, and I think that is the boat for me. It is the same as the force, but no front and rear airbags, you can then fill the empty space with drybags, and that definitely helps to carry stuff. Speaking with AIRE I found out they are still using the pattern but with lighter weight as the Tributary strike. The forces are a hoot to paddle, but are not going to carry a ton of gear to really live large on a trip. It might be better to get a lynx/lynx 2 and increase the gear capacity.
It may be possible for AIRE to custom make a strike with the heavier fabric too. The newer forces have way more rocker, and will be a bit more fun in pushy water.
 

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I have 2 Aire Force IK's and have been toying with this exact idea for years. The bags in mine are removable but I've never found a decent replacement for them that I could use for storage (I have not looked into the watershed bags).


I just use the thigh straps as I have found those to be suitable for my needs.


Let me know if you want any pics, or measurements, of the Forces.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
https://www.drybags.com/bags/waterproof-bags-and-packs/waterproof-kayak-bags/

The Futa and Salmon stowfloats are what Im thinking. I’m glad the bags are removable, just need to engineer a back band and foot pegs. I’m trying to figure out which watershed bags would fit best. IDiverunner, when you have a chance can you measure the size of both bags in what ever force is the most current? It might help me with sizing.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I have a post hung up for mods approve, it has a watershed link so I guess that’s it.

IDriverRunner, when you can can you measure the size (3 Dimensions) of the Force bags? It will help deciding which Watershed Stowfloat bag would fit, the Futa or the Salmon. Look them up if your unfamiliar with them.

I’m thinking a pair of Keepers for foot braces like I have in my lynx’s and a back band hung on the D-rings on the tubes just in front of the rear Aire float bag. Thoughts?
 

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I'll see if I can get one blown back up later this week for some measurements.


Honestly, the boats are small (or I'm a tall 6'). The rear bag has always braced my back, and the front bag has braced my feet. What I normally do is blow up the front and rear bags completely, then I get in the kayak and deflate them a little at a time until I feel secure and stable. At least for me, a back and foot braces would not be necessary. Ideally, I would find stowfloat bags that are very similar in size so I wouldn't need to get back and foot braces.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks, I look forward to the measurements. The stowfloats should be sized about right and are shaped right but I’m not sure which is the best fit. They do blow up but I’m not sure how solid they would be. They are tough bags and bone dry but sizing is critical. I really like a solid or as close to solid as possible foot board/ braces . I would try a bag first for my feet first. As a back rest I don’t think a stowfloat will work, so that the back band idea. I don’t need that much capacity. This would be for 1-2 night minimalist hard white water paddling with 20lbs or less gear. I have 2 lynxes for more gear/comfy trips.
 

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You really don't have much room to work with.The cockpit is simply too small due to the pointy-ness of the boat.I have had the exact same idea for years.I have the original XL and it doesn't even have enough room.I'm 6'4'' so any bag in the bow is going to be pretty small.If you buy the wrench from Aire you can remove the stern float bag and install a kayak back band with d-rings .The back band will be pretty low on your back / not as supportive as the float bag.Don't go by the size of the float bag to figure the size of drybag you need ,they blow up bigger than the space and are contained by the fabric cover.You could put a tapered bag underneath the cover and strap another with lighter gear on top.If you put too much weight back there the boat will be unbalanced,duh,and there is really no way to put much up front,maybe if you are very short.Also , i have found self modifying boats can be a bad idea.You will have to go ultra- lite no matter what.The Force is better as a day run boat.Make your LYNX mac daddy with the adjustable foot pegs for higher performance and has a ton of room in a one man.If i could do things again, i would consider a pac raft with the stow compartments in the tubes,much lighter for carrying into places and better storage.Too bad you can't really demo one to compare performance to a Force. If you keep the stern bag in you can inflate the floor then put a small drybag under the float bag before you blow it up ,to carry a little more
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hmm... things to ponder. I’m 5’10” so I would have a bit more room. I guess I really need to paddle one and see how much performance I actually get in a Force
Compared to a Lynx. I have pegs in my lynx and would even be without them. I also had one years ago that I modified with a D-ring on the top of the tube about mid torso to attach the thigh strap to. This gave much better edge control and helped catching eddies and helped a lot in boils when they tried to suck down the tubes. I haven’t done it to my current boats because they are still under warrantee. But I spoke with aire and they said is go for it and it wouldn’t effect the warrantee so that’s next. I just really miss the feel of a hard shell and those crisp eddy turns. The mush factor is always kind of depressing.

I have a pack raft and in some ways prefer it. But it has is own issues like being uncomfortable over a long day and delicate for every trip use. Also a pain in the ass to portage if storing gear inside. I did a trip on the East fork of the Owyhee river a few years ago at just a bit to low of water. I packed everything in the boat and it works and handles great until you need to portage. Deflate, unpack, portage random gear, repack, reinflate and paddle 1 mile to the next portage. Deflate, unpack, portage random gear, repack, reinflate and paddle another mile to the next portage… Repeat 5 times a day. Had I known it was going to be a portage fest I would have ether strapped a pack to the bow which would have been a hand full in the class 4 we did run of take my Lynx next time with my 2 watershed back packs. That would have been way easer and way more comfortable on the long 20+ mile days in slooooow moving. The trip is now known as the sea kayaking trip in a gorge with the odd rapid/ portage fest 2017
 

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yah there is no one boat that is perfect for everything...the Force does catch eddies way better than other ducks...i could catch micro eddies on small pushy creeks ,the only skill i ever developed to near class 5 level, hey at least i can stop:eek:...interesting to know about the pack rafts...portaging the Force is not too bad without a bunch of gear.It is durable enough that you don't have to baby it too much...

also the Force boofs way better than other ducks...the boat can be a spanking machine on runs with a lot of squirrely laterals and on steep pourovers you better boof ,it does not handle penciling in well...it surfs and enders really well for a ducky...mine is an older model they are slightly different now
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yeah,that’s my wheel house. I cut my teeth on the creeks of western Oregon and southern Washington years ago. Low to medium volume sometimes mankey creeks are my comfort zone and real big water scares the shit out of me. I have my eye on over nighters like the Elwha, middle run on the Owyhee, over nighters on the Illinois...etc. I realize except for the Elwha a Lynx should be fine. I’m just looking for performance.

I took a fairly long hiatus from paddling, like 15 years. The first time I went out again I hadn’t been in a hard shell in 15 years. I went with a group of guys and I was always the last to the bottom of the rapid by a long time. I apologized for always having people waiting for me. One guy said “no worries, you’re styling it old school”..... I said what exactly does that mean? He said “you know, catching every eddy, even the small ones, attaining and throwing duffek’s everywhere”.... Guilty as charged. Half of the fun of paddling for me is catching little eddies and slicing up rapids into little bits. Seems the style these days is bombing things... to each there own. I just want an inflatable that I can catch little eddies in.
 

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Dang I thought I was the height limit at 6'2" and 220, I love the force and it really is a great inflatable, it is frustrating that there is no place for a throwbag and waterbottle though! I feel like the expedition does give storage space, but the original forces drain really slowly after filling. I traditionally run mine with a throwbag up front, lean on an aire thwart, and then a watershed Ocoee in the back.
 

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yeah i've put on a lot of weight so am pushing the limit 275.but there is another guy on here that had/has an xl, Learch,who is like 6'8'' and 300 plus...with much gear we'd be too heavy..you can clip a throwbag to one of those metal rings on the stern with a carabiner...it is annoying to have to keep a water bottle in a drybag
 

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Sorry if this sounds like a dumb question, but if your shoulders are bad from hardshell kayaking, how is an IK better?
 

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I have a pack raft and in some ways prefer it. But it has is own issues like being uncomfortable over a long day and delicate for every trip use. Also a pain in the ass to portage if storing gear inside.

Why didn't you just shoulder it? Serious question.

I ran Deep Creek to the EF Owyhee last year. Shouldered the 2 (3?) main portages, ran the rest. Gorgeous canyon.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
As for the owyhee. We actually thought the water was going to be higher and we have never done it before so I had packed a bit more luxuriously than I should have. At least on the upper section most of the portages would’ve been a drag it over giant boulders affair, you can’t just put it on your shoulder and walk around. I’m sure not gonna be dragging the boat around by the grab line in the middle of nowhere. Those aren’t meant to sling a 50lbs boat around. We only ran 3 rapids, pipeline (I think that’s what it’s called) Cabin and some 3+ I don’t know the name of. Everything else had turned into bolder sieves. The portage at owyhee falls was like 1/3 of a mile along a 45° slope 200 feet above the river, the lower the boats back down with road...so mall loads for safety. All the water went under the entrance boulders when we were there. I also have a bum leg that makes it difficult to walk on rough ground with a load without poles. This is why I kayak and don’t backpack any more. I can’t just throw a boat on my shoulder and be stable. 35 year old motorcycle injury’s haunt me every day.

As for my shoulder, I tore my rotator cuff 25 years ago surfing sea kayaks in the Oregon winter surf. It’s been manageable for years but finely decided to quit on my a few years ago, I finely got it and some impingement issues surgically dealt with a couple of years ago.
Doc says keep my arms down. I have been paddling Surfski’s for years and this keep my arms down and I never have to high brace. Inflatables for the most part kept me do this as well. If aggressive low braces can’t keep me up right I just flip and climb back in. What high braces I need are aggressively elbows in and down. Plus I have been doing on luxury trips in them for years on the Lower Owyhee, Rogue...etc. I also just can’t get out that much any more so my once a month at best in a hard shell just doesn’t cut it any more for staying at the level I want to be at, plus I’m taking people out and reaching them to paddle white water so we can go do the owyhee, John day, rogue etc ...... Are all those good enough reasons for you to why I’m inquiring about IK’ing and bods to make a force overnightable?

Why do people feel the need to question my motives and needs?

Pict#1... it took me two loads to get around owyhee falls (about as far as you can see on the distant slope) as I need to use poles because of nerve damage in my right leg.

Picture #2. I can’t walk on this slope carrying with my loaded pack raft with a light load let alone a heavy one. My friend had a hard shell and did his portage in two loads.
 

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As for the owyhee.

I wan't questioning your motives or needs. I was trying to understand them.

And what you wrote makes good sense as to why you're looking the direction you are.

I have trouble on sidehills and in boulderfields too. Hell, I have trouble on flat ground... No proprioception left in either ankle, and not much stability either. I tend to end up using my paddle as a pole to reach out and find stability, and with the boat on my shoulder I lean into/on the boulders to give me that tripod effect. And I move really effing slow -- which still turns out to be faster than making 2 trips.

Anyhoo, good luck with your search.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
My biggest issue was taking to much. We over estimated the flow and from some descriptions that we could run more than we could. Turned out everything needed 200 CFS more, or you had to be comfortable was going underneath boulders. If I had known better I probably would’ve taken 15 pounds less gear. Next time it will definitely be with inflatable kayaks. There’s an awful lot of flat water that I would’ve enjoyed a little more room in my boat. Plus make it at least a week long trip... so many side hikes and chill’n to do. It’s a shame to spend it paddling all day every day.


That Elwha vid a super. Really makes me want to go. Not sure if my leg can take the hike in though. My pack raft is a bit old, wide and heavy. I had to add all the features the new Gnarwall/ expedition now have. I also have a double thick floor as I was going to take it to Mexico and run some stuff in southern Mexico with a lot of travertine deposits that are really hard on boat bottoms. So it comes in at like 13lbs and is a chore to roll but doable.

Picture#3..... somewhere on the lower East fork of the Owyhee, May 2016
 

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I ran my expedition XL over the weekend (tributary strike but with the original beefy aire fabric) I had a throwbag in front of the foot pegs, my SHTF Drybag with repair kit, firstaid kit, pin kit, folding saw in a 10L bag and a watershed ocoee stuffed with food (my kids will waste away if not eating all the time really... ask them) and running an AIRE 12 inch thwart as a seat the boat was pretty much full. I could wedge another dry bag under my legs but it would be getting really tight. I imagine you could use a water shed as a thwart seat too, but I like to be really wedged in and I have found only a thwart can do it.
 
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