Impex Force 5 Impressions

I had the opportunity to paddle one of these for a couple hours today. As a disclaimer my hardshell kayak experience is limited to two years paddling my CD Caribou on the Hudson River, and I favor calm water conditions, usually, and few-hour touring as opposed to developing much in the way of technical skills, other than straight-ahead paddling. I’ve always been comfortable in my boat, and really the only thing that would make me want to change would be finding one that would go faster/further for the same effort. So with that in mind I’ll say right up front the Force 5 wasn’t noticeably easier to paddle; I had my GPS with me and plodded along at the same 4-5 mph I always do, once tidal current effects were taken into account. There was a little more effort being expended, actually, because I was trying to keep pace with Marshall, who is, um, just a bit faster than me. Given the similar waterline width/length there’s no reason to expect any practical difference, but this was my first chance to see personally that the fancy calculations really reflect what happens, after all.

Tracking seemed similar, I had no particular trouble making the boat go straight, though it does require some attention, just like Caribou does for me. I couldn’t rate wind or wave handling because, well, there wasn’t any wind or wave out there today.

I had no comfort issues, the seat and backband were of simple basic design and simply worked. Plenty of room for me, 5-10, 185 lbs.

The main differences were in stability and turning. The boat really turned easy when leaned, I noticed that right away. Stability rolling to the side was more progressive away from center than the Caribou, though without the virtual hard stop once you get leaned over a bit. A couple times it caught me a little by surprise, but this is only a reflection of what I’m used to. With some familiarity, and some of those technical skills, it’s obvious you could make the boat do whatever you wanted, it would be very responsive to that sort of thing.

Here’s a few pics:


Test paddled both this spring

I test paddled both boats back to back this spring at Paddlefest. I felt they were similar in speed (not measured, but probably a slight edge to the Force). I felt the Caribou responded to leaned turns a bit better, but both were very good. The rear deck on the Force is lower which makes it easier for layback rolls and the rubber hatches should seal better. I hate the strap system on the compostie Caribou hatches. I have seem them (straps, not the hatches) come open on the water. Overall both boats are very nice, but different with the Caribou’s hard chine vs. the soft chined Force. Also, the Force has a day hatch, a plus in my book.


Quite different boats really

– Last Updated: Oct-31-05 7:56 PM EST –

It is a bit like apples and oranges to compare the boats. I paddled the Force 5 but it had a proto seat that was really high up and back from where it will be standard so I have to pass on comfort, edging and layback for the boat.

However, the width length and rocker differences are not all that much so I doubt there will be all that much speed difference. I don't have the figure for wetted surface, primatic coefficient, or the exact hull shapes, but my guess is that any differences would be above 4.5k. The Force design is billed as
as a pure expedition boat with some turnability traded for a bit more speed for the long trek. What remains to be seen as in any expedition boat is how liveable will it be when unloaded and with a light weight paddler. Not all expedition boats are terrific unloaded.

Actually the force departs from impex type hybrid soft to medium chine structure and moves towards the harder chine. It is not so hard imo as the Caribou S. It does, like the Caribou need to be edged to turn well, but the secondary stability comes on a bit earlier and more gradually. The Caribou is a love or hate it boat, similar to the Q boat or the NDK Greenlander Pro. These very hard chine boats have super hard secondary and can hang on wave faces, and turn strongly when really edged. Those who do not favor them feel the boat can take over and make you go places if you don't always watch your edges.

Impex elected to land some where between those two worlds. As more folks try it we will see if the middle approach appeals, or if kayakers prefer either a super hard chine or the don't think about the edges type chine.


Yeah, there is a defined chine there, though not the obvious corner that the Caribou has. Another difference is the Force has a flat bottom, the Caribou a vee.

Always dangerous to draw too much conclusion from hull pictures (like the second one I posted above), but I might guess when leaned over the extreme ends of the Force keel have less grip on the water than the Caribou, due to the flat bottom and submerged volume amidships. That was my sense of it, anyway, at low speed it took very little effort to turn it when leaned.

I didn’t attempt to do much of any higher-speed leaning turns, not comfortable enough to try and as I mentioned above I was mostly interested in straight-ahead performance anyway.


Force 5 with light paddler
I’m 5’4" , 135lbs and test paddle a Force 5 with the high seat. I found the boat fit me very well with this seat. Water conditions were calm with little wind when I demoed it.

I found hull speed was good and turning was quite a surprise with how easy it responded to edge turns. I tested it back to back with a Sultan. I found the Sultan was slightly faster straight ahead but the Force was superior in turning. The secondary stability of the Force allowed you to edge as required for the turn you wanted as opposed the Sultan where you dropped your edge to its secondary and got what the boat was going to give you, if you wanted a different radius you compromised stability to get it.

Next up…
Steveey, at your height & weight gotta get you in a Force 3 or 4. I think you’d have a blast. Probably be more of a glove like fit.

See you on the water,


Charter Member ACA Pro-School

Chined like an Explorer?
I haven’t seen the boat in person (though I hope some Saturday this month to hook up with Marshall to play with the boats) but from the photo it looks rather like NDK’s soft edged hard chine as in the Explorer and Romany. NDK refers to this as ‘modified hard chine.’