Aire Outfitter I Whitewater IK

-- Last Updated: May-12-11 10:32 AM EST --

Anybody have experience with the Aire Outfitter I inflatable kayak in whitewater? What did you think of its performance? (vs. other whitewater IKs not vs. hardshells). Thanks!!

Tough Call
I have a Lynx I and a new Force. I like them both and struggled with the same decision you are trying to make. I went with the two I got because I was afraid of the larger tubes and greater width of the Outfitter. I also felt like the Outfitter had a flatter mid section and the rocker was mainly at the ends. I wanted rocker throughout so I could spin and get around in rough water. It also looks like you may sit lower in the Outfitter and that can be a plus and minus.

Here is how I narrowed the three boats down. Of course it is from my research and I may be wrong.

  1. Force- Scoots around the whitewater faster and is more of a playboat. I like the boat but I do miss being able to carry a drybag. It is nearly as stable as the Lynx

  2. Lynx- It is better for down river running because you can carry gear. It is nearly as fast as the Force in moving around the river. I would pick the Lynx over the Force if it was my only boat.

  3. Outfitter- Not as performance oriented and is designed to be more stable. It “may” not be best for really big water because of the lack of rocker throughout the bottom.

    They are all great boats and the company may be able to help you narrow your choice. They are good folks.

Some background to the question

– Last Updated: May-13-11 11:10 PM EST –

I purchased an Outfitter I last Fall, in time to try it only once. I'm relatively new to whitewater, only IKs, but never flipped one until first time out in the new Outfitter! -- which is ironic given that it is marketed as VERY stable. The water is still really cold, so I have not been out in it yet this season -- so sitting here wondering/posting rather than out doing/testing! Anyway, the reason for the original question was to see if anybody with experience with this boat was noticing stability issues. Of course I can't really say much from one time out, but it did make me wonder. It could have been coincidence and had nothing to do with the boat itself! However, it does present a wide bottom to the waves and gets wider sooner (vs. the more tapered lynx, for example) -- so may get pushed around more. Also the big tubes may make it more "launchable." I also noticed in the Aire catalog that they guy in the Outfitter is way forward -- feet at bra, so maybe that keeps the bow from getting pushed around so much -- that's my next experiment -- move the seat forward. (There don't seem to be many folks with experience with this boat.)

I think people sell all of these as super stable boats that anyone can do big water in. That is not true. We have flipped ours many times and will continue to flip them. Whitewater skills are still needed to stay upright. I don’t believe they should be marketed as they are and in my opinion, it could get someone hurt. But I do believe the Outfitter is the more stable of the bunch.

You are right about seat position. You need to be further forward than you would think. Our feet are near the front of the Lynx at the bale holes.

paddler weight and boat capacity
might play a role in stability, too. The Outfitter capacity is 400 lb. (per AIRE), and I am approx. 180. (Lynx tube is 11" vs. 12.5" for the Outfitter.) I suspect rafters know all about increased stability from increased load (up to a point!). I’ve heard rafters discussing a benefit of a non-self-bailing floor (“bucket boat”): increased stability in big water. Conclusion: more pizza and beer for me!

Hold the pizza and beer until after the

– Last Updated: May-14-11 6:38 PM EST –

next paddle -- If you burn your paddling calories correctly, the Outfitter will be less likely to flip.

I'm about the same weight as you. And I don't own an Outfitter, but I have owned 5 ww duckies(Thrillseeker, Innova Safari, Sea Eagle 380, Sevylor River X and an Orange Torpedo.) I've also used both the Lynx and Force(partners boats). And I paddle Cl.III & IV ww, as much as 15 to 20 times a year(mostly, Spring and Fall). So I think I have some basis for comparison.

Here's me in the Thrillseeker (slim tubes).

And in March, in the Sea Eagle (big tubes).

gibsonra is correct in the mis-marketing of IKs as being super stable in big water. Although they are initially more forgiving than hard yaks(I own these too)while in forward motion, it all still comes down to paddler ability and river reading skills. And it is not tube size that matters all that much, but the tubes inherent shape to begin with, when it combines with strong side force that leads to a sudden upset. Or more succinctly, a rounded flat hull's primary stability gives no real warning at heel that one is about to capsize(Whereas, many planing hull and hard chined plastic yak's secondary stability can scream, "Brace here and right now, Stupid!!!"

I've swam in every ww boat I've ever owned, ducky and hardboat. These humbling experiences is where I've also learned the most in terms of handling duckies in big water, and mastering an individual boat's characteristics. Don't be discouraged with the Outfitter. Those boys at Aire know what they're doing. That's why they changed the Force design in 2010! More time in the saddle will solve any predicaments. When in doubt, always sit forward and pour on the paddling when entering a rapid set or chute.

And forget taking any cues from rafters--If they knew what the hell they were doing, they wouldn't need so many other paddlers in the boat with them.{;-)

thanks gibsonra and spiritboat
I will no doubt keep experimenting with the Outfitter. These discussions (especially when I’m not boating) give me fix and help me gain some understanding of boat design and performance. Be well.

(BTW, spiritboat, I see you are in NY; I will doing Atlantic Kayak’s “Norie Short Tour” while I am visiting in a couple of weeks – can’t wait to be on the Hudson – my dad used to make his living as a steam engineer on the Hudson – long time ago.)

They’re a good outfit from everything
I’ve heard…And that’s a nice section of the river. Rhinebeck is a quaint little town, and you can always take in Hyde Park to see where FDR lived/eat at the Culinary Institute, maybe(If’n yer interested in such things.) I’ve been wanting to do a quiet water trip on the Black Creek myself, down that way. I’m about an hour North of there usually, but I may be in the Adirondacks when you’re around–But give me an email shout, and if I’m open, I might grab a couple boats and come down. Enjoy your visit in the Empire State!