Help me decide...Aire Lynx or NRS Bandit

I had an older style NRS Bandit that I recently sold to buy a new NRS Rascal. Well the Rascal ended up being smaller than I expected, and I didn’t like the look of the new fabric, so I returned it. I really kind of wish I’d just kept my older Bandit, but it’s gone, so I need to decide on what to get now.

I’m not a large person, so take that into consideration. I’m 5’4" and 105lbs. I’m a novice paddler, and I go alone most of the time, so I need a safe, stable kayak that I can manage on my own. I usually have help carrying the kayak to and from the river, but when I’m on the river, I’m alone. I am usually in Class I & II. I would also like to be able to paddle flatwater and have reasonably good tracking, and if my skills improve, rivers up to class III.

I really like the Aire Lynx, and I’ve read great reviews on it. I wouldn’t even think twice about ordering one, except for the weight. It’s 32 lbs. The NRS Bandit is 17-20lbs., depending on where you read it. That’s quite a bit lighter, and more managable for me, but as I mentioned, I didn’t really like the new fabric on the Rascal, and the Bandit is the same material. It looked really cheap compared to my old Bandit. I suppose I shouldn’t judge it based just on look and feel–It may work well in the water.

Anyway, let me know what your recommendations would be for me.

I love my Lynx
but have no experience with the Bandit, so I really can’t compare. A friend told me he bought a Bandit for his GF and thought it was kinda flimsy – but that’s just hearsay on my part. Don’t know how rocky or otherwise boat-nasty your water is – you may not need bomber. If you have help carrying the boat, I would think the weight is not that critical – of course, you may not always have help. I don’t think the Lynx would be too much for you to handle on the water; it isn’t huge (say like a Hyside or AIRE Outfitter), and you don’t sit really low which, not being tall, could hinder your paddling. Neither of these boats will track especially well – the one time I took my Lynx on class I/II- (I usually save it for II+/III, but wanted get a feel for it on I/II-), my GF just zoomed ahaead in her Tsunami 140 (a 14 ft. plastic touring kayak). If you are mostly alone, that might not matter, not having to keep up with anyone. The Lynx does rock in whitewater though! I think some IKs (and I’m talking about the WW ones) are designed a bit more for tracking, such as the Strike. How does the Lynx compare spec-wise (except for weight) to your old Bandit that you really liked? If it’s in the ballpark (length, width, tube diameter, rocker), I suspect it would be fine. Best to hear from others with actual Bandit experience and try to demo a Lynx if you are concerned about the weight affecting handling. I don’t think 32 lbs. is really very heavy especially on the water.


– Last Updated: Jun-06-11 6:06 PM EST –

Here are the specs for each--

Aire Lynx
Length: 10'2"
Width: 37"
Tube Size: 11"
Kick\Rocker (Bow\Stern): 15.25" \ 13.5"
Fabric Denier: 1100
Weight: 32 lbs.

NRS Bandit
Length: 9'7"
Width: 36"
Tube Size: 11"
Kick\Rocker (Bow\Stern): 18"
Fabric Denier: 840
Weight: 20 lbs.

So the Lynx is a bit bigger than the Bandit, but not drastically so. There's a difference in the kick/rocker, which makes me think the Lynx might track better--not sure??

I agree that the Bandit fabric seems kind of flimsy. My old Bandit felt thicker, but NRS tells me the new fabric is actually stronger and slides over stuff better. But still, I didn't like the look that well. It just had a really cheap, bought at Kmart kind of look to it, rather than an impressive, beefy commerical-grade look.

In case you haven’t checked this site…

They print more than the manufacturer’s claims. See also their FAQs – some on material – you might even consider an email or phone call to Lee – very knowledgeable on IKs.

You answered your own question.

– Last Updated: Jun-07-11 12:47 AM EST –

If something looks and feels cheaper...
--It probably is.

Although not especially environmentally friendly,
when it comes to ww IKs, my own preference is always for the boat with PVC material-tubes(Lynx). Although I own a Thrillseeker(PVC)and have used a Lynx(a friend's), I saw a Bandit get slashed on a river and it's owner later told me the urethane-coated material was a major hassle to patch--if not almost impossible to fix properly...I would choose a Bandit only if I were seeking a lightweight boat to take on planes. Other than that, if you don't fly often, there really is no comparison between the two boats:

Lynx-PVC tubes, 1100 denier.
Bandit-Polyurethane tubes, 840 denier.

Lynx- 10 year warranty.
Bandit- 5 year warranty.

Now the question is, which higher quality boat costs roughly $400 more? (Take a guess.)

If the additional 10/12 pounds is a problem for you(although I find this hard to believe when deflated)then buy a kayak cart to strap round it, (while inflated)going to and from the water.

...And never paddle either boat in Class III alone, until/unless you get a good deal of experience behind you.

I have the Lynx and the new Force. I did a lot of research and the Aire products seemed stronger and had a better warranty. I am satisfied with both but would not enjoy paddling them in flat water. I have hard boats for that and after the hard boats these are not fun to me. If you get the Lynx make sure you get the foot pegs. You will need them expecially because of your size. You aren’t wide enought to fit snug between the tubs.

If you are in North Georgia, Ocoee area you are welcome to try mine.

flatwateer tracking and class III?
You said: “I am usually in Class I & II. I would also like to be able to paddle flatwater and have reasonably good tracking, and if my skills improve, rivers up to class III.”

Nobody mentioned it yet, but flatwater tracking and Class III don’t go very well together. (On the other hand, you liked your old Bandit, so maybe that’s what’s important!) There are plastic boats that are designed more for that, such as the Liquid Logic Remix XP (the XP 9 in your case), but you may not be interested in a “sit inside.” I’m wondering if you might have to pick which end of the spectrum is most important to you, flat or III (the boats you are looking at are fine for III when you are, not so good for flat). There are IKs that are designed more for tracking(Sawtooth), and I bet would do great in class I/II, but III might be pushing it – I don’t know this boat category because I use a plastic sit inside for the lakes and class I/II-. Liquid Logic also makes a plastic “sit on top,” Coupe, that is designed for flat and some whitewater, I think it’s pretty heavy though and may or may not be okay for you in Class III – it has more of an edge than an IK, so you need to be aware of leaning/edging in the right direction , for example, when turning cross current.

Also, getting back to the bandit v. lynx, it’s nice to like how your boat looks, and if you don’t like the bandit, why look at it every time you go out.

Thanks for all the replies. It sounds like the Lynx is the better choice, and that’s kind of what I figured. That’s probably the route I will take. If the weight ends of being an issue, I might look into the cart as suggested. And I guess I’m realizing that I probably need a different kayak if I want to do flatwater too. It seems kayaks are kind of like motorcycles in a way–there’s really no perfect motorcycle that does everything well (hence I have two), and there’s no do-it-all kayak either. A hardshell would be nice for flatwater, but on the rivers I think I feel better in an inflatable.

That’s why most people have multiple boats. I think we have 9 now. It’s a little sick but we use them all.

Here is a few lessons we learned in our Aires on the Ocoee.

  1. Just because you are in an inflatable does not mean you won’t turn over. Practice getting back in your boat on flat water.

  2. Hard boats provide floation from the boat itself which enables you to wear a lower float life jacket. In an inflatable you will swim if you turn over. A low float jacket in aerated water will not float you very high. If you test your jackets floatation in calm water it will not give you an accurate feel for how it will float you. Everyone has formulas based on weight, etc. Bottom line, you want to float as high as you can when you are swimming rapids. We bought 26 pound boyancy jackets and we are glad we did. Are they bigger? Of course they are. But I will choose them every time.

  3. They seem to sell the inflatables as boats that anyone can manage rapids in. This is not the case. Scout the river for safer lines, paddle with more experienced people and committ to the learning process. It takes time.

  4. Wear a helmet. I know, you are in an inflatable. So what! Wear a helmet in anything over class II.

  5. Rig it correctly. Painters, seat position, proper inflation are all important.

    I hope this helps a little. Just be safe and progress at your pace. The hardest decisions in life are the ones that you have to say no. If you don’t feel good about it, portage. There is no shame in being smart.

Brand and model of 26# PFDs?


MTI Canyon Type V Life jacket is one of our favorites. It has the flap behind the head which some may feel looks uncool. You don’t notice it when it’s on though and it fits good. MOst of the rescue vests are fine but they have lots of straps and pockets that you really don’t need.

Some of these jackets can slide up on you when in the water. You may need leg straps but I have found that sinching it up tight keeps it in place. I would not get a high floatation jacket that can be worn in a hard boat. They have to be too thick to provide the floatation.

Many don’t get aeration but I could sink a brand new boat if I could inject enough air under the boat. Whitewater is full of air. Surfers get this concept too. The dangers of big waves isn’t just the tumble or being held under. It’s the aerated water left after the wave leaves. It takes a strong swimmer to stay afloat.


Thanks for the kayaking advice and suggestion about a high floatation pfd.

I placed my order for an Aire Lynx yesterday, so I should have it by next week. Can’t wait to get it on the river! I am thinking about a new pfd. I have a Lotus Designs whitewater-type pfd, and it’s not high floation–16.5 if I remember correctly. I did get to test it in rapids once though.

At the time I had a tiny Alpacka Raft that I put in just above Class II+ rapids. The river was flowing exceptionally high that spring, so it could have been more like Class III given the flow. I ended up tipping over backwards in the Alpacka (which is easy given the design), and found myself swimming in the rapids. I was alone. It was the first time I had to swim rapids, and honestly, it was a scary experience. Scary enough that I decided the Alpacka probably wasn’t very safe for me.

That’s when I bought an NRS Bandit. Rapids that were difficult in the Alpacka were a cinch in the Bandit, and I felt a lot safer But I avoided the rapid mentioned above. As I gain confidence back, I’d like to give it another go sometime. Anyway, my pfd seemed to work fine, but floating a little higher in the water might be nice, so I will look into other options.