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Lately I've been getting interested in iks. I started rafting in 1993, guided for about 16 years and kayaked for about 12 years, but I've only logged a couple dozen miles in iks- mostly Aire Lynxes. Neck surgery a few years back has veered me away from hard-shell kayaking, but I do miss the intimacy of being closer to the water than my cataraft and round boat offer...

I'd like an ik for doing small, remote, low water overnighters and short multi-day trips. I did quite a bit of research on Alpackas and the like, but concluded that they're a bit small for what I want and possibly too fragile-plus, I would like a self-bailing design.

On my radar are: thrillseeker, stiletto, sotar sl ik, or possibly an aire lynx-simply because they're pretty available, proven, and can be found used for around a grand.

I want something sub 40lbs that is fairly agile and is capable of doing ultralight short trips(4-5 days) on water up to class 4+ and day trips too.

Let the feedback flow...
 

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I like Jack's Yak's by Jack's Plastic Welding out of Aztec, NM. They were discontinued for awhile, but have been recently brought back and we picked up a nice 2-man version last spring for overnight trips. Bought an used 1-man version from an outfitter about 10 yrs ago that ran about $600-$700. Won't get a new one for under a grand, but if you check out some of the outfitters on the Arkansas River (or elsewhere), you might be able to pick up a deal on a used one. We bought at the end of the season around Labor Day.
 

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Jared
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If I had to choose for overnight stuff I'd go with the Aire Lynx, as it has more of a square footprint and will easily handle more gear. I like the performance of the Sotar the best, but I have never paddled a Stilleto or Thrillseeker. Sotar makes a boat called the ATV that has bigger tubes and is used more for overnight trips ( The Rogue, Chetco, etc) But their site doesn't have a ton of information about them. Aire has the Outfitter also, it is wider and has a much higher capacity weight wise (375 for the one person) The Sotar is a great day boat, I never attempted to haul much or camp out of it.
 

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Plunk your magic twanger!
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I can only address the Thrillseeker specifically. Small, remote, low water trips are their specialty. They are designed to perform like a hard shell kayak. One reason they do so well in these conditions is the suspended floor design that allows it to slither over rocks. However the floor design does not leave much room for cargo. You can certainly carry a medium sized dry bag behind you but not much more. These boats have a lot of rocker and you want your weight in the center. Carrying gear on the bow would greatly affect its performance.
 

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You should also look at the more economical sibling of the Lynx, the Strike. Its a very good handling boat and should fill all your requirements. its much more maneuverable than the tomcat. Its only drawback is less rocker than the lynx.The Boatpeople prefer its handling to the lynx upto a certain weight load.
 

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Similar to dgoods situation, I am now in IK's after decades of hard shell kayaks due to an injury. I am finding out that IK's offer a lot of fun and many options for multi days.

My first IK purchased a year or so ago is a Thrillseeker. Purchased untested but if that boat is used by the Snyder Brothers all over West VA steep creeks, I was sure it was good for me. Bottom line it is a great boat for me - unloaded I get surprising excellent performance. Speed is good, it surfs, blasts down most rapids, does ferry moves that surprises me. it is not the micro eddy catching machine my Super Hero was but I am learning what it can do. I did make a multi day Smith River MT float pretty much loaded and performance was great. I had a JPW big outfitter bag behind me, several of the long narrow JPW bags in the bow and the thing paddled like a dream. I had all my personal gear on board. After a lot of in depth discussions with Attila, I ended up ordering a size larger Thrillseeker than he recommended. That may have made the loaded performance better than the average expected.

This boat is single layer PVC. Durability is reported to be great. I don't have that much experience on ELF runs to report on this.

I plan to keep my Thrillseeker in my boat shed probably till my boating career ends. It is that kind of a performance IK in my opinion.

Last fall I was visiting the Salida area doing some low water ARK runs with a friend of mine who lives there. Last day of my trip we went by River Boat Works and looked at their end of season sales boats. I ended up with an Aire Outfitter IK. I loved the way the Outfitter seat works with me fitting down securely inside the tubes - not on top as all the other IK's I have used even my friend's Aire Lynx 1 I had a lot of fun in on that trip.

Our group does low water Salt River runs when we get lucky on permits. Probably not necessary but the Aire history of durability and two thicknesses of fabric just make me feel a bit more comfortable on multi days. Beside feeling comfortable with the seat, my prior rafting experience with two Aire rafts has given me a lot of confidence in their craftsman ship and durability. I will give more trip reports on the Outfiter after this winter's runs.

Bottom line, my IK experience thus far makes me believe most any of the current brand name IK designs is going to work for most of us. With all the end of year sales going on, this may be a good time to take the plunge.

The Buzz is a great way to get a bunch of feedback, bottom line tho is read the comments and make the best deal you can on any of the major brands you read about on this thread and get paddling your new toy.
 

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I have had an Aire Tomcat solo for years. Bought it used from an ou titter for $400 and have taken it on trips as long as 6days/5 nights. Sit in my bills bag, run a small dirtbag up front, a rectangular plastic container for food behind and a 1.5 gal propane bomb in the way back. In bigger rapids I slide down in front of the bills bag and have thigh straps that live in there. It's a great boat for day trips too! For shorter overnights I've taken a less gear, backpacker style.
 

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You might find a used Bandit around. The first IKs in our fleet were a Bandit 1 and Bandit 2. They've been all over the place. The Bandit 2 will haul a lot of gear but is pretty damn long to maneuver in the technical stuff. The 1 still carries and is much more maneuverable. It is a bit sporty to the uninitiated.

Best about both is that they are super light and super slippery on the rocks. I think they both weigh in around 20lbs each. Hiking them is easy and they've held up well over the years.
 

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I don't have any sage advice for you about choosing a boat, though it sounds like you've already gotten some great advice! I figured though that since your looking at an IK specifically for multi day trips, that I would toss it out there that we make IK specific rig bags that attach to your bow or stern (basically the IK version of our everything bag,) and thought you might be interested.
 

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I only have experience with Aire IK's, but they will last if you take care of them. I have Lynx 1 made in 1994, my dad has a Lynx 2 that he got new in 96 and a friend of ours has a Lynx 1 from the 80's. Not a single patch on mine or my dads boats. Not sure if our friend's has any patches, but it still gets river time.
 

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Since we're talking about bags, I have been using the waterproof Ortlieb bags with dry zippers (boat people sells them).
Ortlieb Travel-Zip Zippered Duffle Drybag
I used this one in the front of my IK for a Yampa trip last April -- worked great (even upside down!) -- not as much capacity as the TRS, but waterproof -- different use -- Boat People had them on sale at the time.

Used both the 50 liter and 30 liter on my cat on a November Lodore trip (the 50 for my night gear,tent+; the 30 for a dry day bag -- the zipper sure is handy, especially for a day bag, quick grab).
 

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I've run a Tomcat for 8 years on a lot of multi day and day trips. I think they're a good boat for starting out and deciding if you like paddling, mainly because they are cheap. The drawbacks I've come to find is the PITA time you have cleaning the bladder chambers and getting the bladders to seat right when you zip it back up. Also haven't had much luck patching the vinyl bladders. Gorilla tape will get you down the river, but as for a solid permanent fix, haven't found one yet. Someone else here perhaps has had some luck.
SOTAR is my IK of choice because of the customization factor, their material, quality, and small business boating community stature. We run 400-500 lbs down to 150 cfs often (in AZ). My buddy's SOTAR is over 20 years old, and doesn't even have a single patch.
 
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