Impex Outer Island

I sat in an Outer Island today, just to see if it really does have a 10-inch front deck height… it does. This boat is for a REALLY small person. I’m 5’7"/165lbs. and my legs were FLAT down on the bottom of the hull and pinched very uncomfortably under the thigh braces.

As it turns out, Impex has redesigned the boat and made the cockpit bigger (according to the outfitter). The new one is in town and will be available next weekend to demo.

Has anyone paddled the Outer Island (old or new)? I would be interested in opinions.

I absolutely loved the Outer Island when I had a chance to sit in it during Canoecopia. I had a bunch of my friends sit in it who range in size from 5 feet tall to over 6 feet tall. We all felt comfortable in it including the larger guys. Granted I was sitting in the redesigned model and I found it extremely comfortable and not in the least restricting. I hope to test paddle this kayak in the near future.

Too big for me…
I sat in one last summer, and it was too high volume for me, so I didn’t demo it. I think I’m really short - 4’11". But I thought it was a beautiful boat.

Borrowed the New Cockpit Version
for a couple of pool sessions this past winter. If I could fit in it, I’d give it a long, hard look, cash in hand. At 6’1", 190 lbs., I just couldn’t shoehorn my cycling thighs under the thigh braces for any length of time. They’re rather low and have a downward hook to them, but my real problem was placement; they were hitting me about mid thigh-uncomfortable. Three others who tried the boat commented as well on the cockpit needing further attention; I guess you can’t fit everyone. The boat rolled like a dream, onside, offside, even the elusive hand roll-that low back deck invites laybacks. Jay’s design in its strip built incarnations has a worthy reputation. The fit and finish was very nice-typical Impex. I can’t comment on its open water prowess although many have commented favorably, stating that it’s a strong tracker, turning not being its strongest forte. I expect it would be fairly fast, seems to accelerate well in a couple of paddle strokes. By then, I was out of pool though, and about to seal land up on the deck. :wink:

I sat in a newer one
It was quite windy, the boat is very low to the water and the skirt I had on just wasn’t going to make the fit, so it was just a few minutes. This was the current model - the owner had just picked it up a week before.

Comments re size - the front deck is still quite low compared to most North American boats and the thigh braces are intended to have very good contact if you fit the boat right. I liked that VERY well (my touring boat is an Explorer LV with extra small cockpit and a lowered deck). But my lengths were wrong - at 5’4" I am too short to catch the thigh braces well over my thigh. I have some thigh muscle, not as much as I should given my biking has barely existed this season so far, but if you have larger guy biking muscles I can see it being tight.

Agree with the above - the boat is more of a tracker than a turner. But it has great secondary stability and will take a big lean, so the owner has found no issue with getting it where he needs to go. Probably almost nil windage - this boat sits low enough to the water that it needs a tight skirt.


I purchased one of the first Outer Island part Deaux (2nd versin). I am 6’2" and 190lbs and this boat has more room than my SOF…lots more. Don’t get it though if your feet are larger than size 11 as the front deck is low like they say

The seat is very comfortable and the new lower profile IR backband is well-suited to the very low backdeck and the layovers it allows. As others posted, it tracks strongly, rolls VERY easily, and inspires confidence in novices due to its high initial and secondary stability.

In retrospect, the only thing I would change on this boat is the cockpit from small keyhole to and Ocean Cockpit such as the one on the Valley boats (oval) or better yet, the one on the NDK Greenlander. (round)

Definitely try this boat, you won’t regret it. As to Mark’s comment about the thigh hooks - the rest of us are mere mortals without the large, carved bicycling thighs. Mark - you won’t keep those forever, so get an OI now …

Seems close enough in fit
that many used to more roomy boats will find it seems tight. I did (though I can’t say it is due to sculpted thigh muscle only). It also didn’t look like butt first-in/last-out would be possible for me, something else I appreciate being able to do with my current boat.

It’s nice-looking and the low-windage has to be great, but I thought it might be a little tough to live with.


unless you just have a long inseam

– Last Updated: May-09-05 9:45 AM EST –

for your height, I'm not sure about your fit issues with OI.

I am the exact same height and weight as you, and I have no problem fitting in the OI. It is a small kayak, and the long keyhole flattens out the deck quite a bit. So unless you are used to a small kayak that fits, it may seem different.

The switch in volume from a mid-large keyhole in a higher volume kayak to a lower volume kayak is more about your attitude towards "fit" than really how big the kayak is to an extent. If the seat or the cockpit is biting into your flesh somewhere, that can be fixed with some foam. Personally I would remove the Impex seat and backband and make both out of foam. I would also build up the thigh bracing a bit.

But one persons perception of fit can change from person to person even if they are the same size.

The OI I demoed fit fine, and it was made this spring.

Non-thigh hooks
Mark, if you don’t like the thigh hooks take my OI, hey rhymes. I have a v2.0 without the hooks. Want to get one with.

Another Option
Word from Danny at Impex is that they’re contemplating offerring the OI without the seat to allow the buyer with such difficulties to sculpt/purchase his or her own. As noted, everything about this boat from my sessions in the pool have me wanting to try it on open water, save the fit; infact, I’m contemplating asking to borrow it again for a real on water test-I’m a bit afraid I’ll fall in love, and have to put my $$ where my mouth is. Would like something to replace my beloved Explorer… Scott, laughed at your ‘sculpted thighs’ comment; more like thunder thighs. I’m working on a steady training regimen of atrophy as we speak. :wink:

Thanks all
I like a low-volume, snug boat. My Perception Shadow has a 12"high foredeck, I chose it over the Eclipse because of the better contact.

I’m hoping the modifications to the cockpit on the OI have included moving the thighbraces up and forward, or lowering the seat.

I’m looking for a faster ride. If this boat is a hard tracker, with little rocker, I’m willing to bet the extra 18" of length will give me a much better turn of speed than I have now.

Legs Straight
Just to add - I didn’t remember to comment before on the concern that your legs felt like they were out straight. That was the biggest adjustment from my Squall, where I sat in a knees up fairly splayed out angle, to the LV where I am a lot closer to straight out. It concerned me enough that I didn’t make a final decision about the boat until I’d had a chance to take it around Peak’s Island where we had a chance to hit some more interesting stuff on the seaward side.

Upon having the boat, I have found that this lower position has made rolling much easier (I need all the help I can get) and leaves me less tired at the end of a paddle.

Lower position

Good catch on the lower leg position helping out with rolling, fatigue issues, etc. I thought my OI was very snug when I first tried it in a ConnYak pool session until Cheri Perry put a 1" thick piece of minicell across my thighs, which forced my legs even straighter (like a temporary masik) and really gave me “purchase” for a very easy roll. Thats one of the reasons I would like to see any ocean cockpit on this boat - so that I could customize a masik out of 3-4" minicell much like Brian Nystrom didto his Pintail OC on his webshots gallery.

Agreed lower position more stablility
Yep, I have gen 3 OI and am 6’3" 178 lbs. The leg position is not straight out, unless you want it to be, however, two important concepts.

As Jay Babina, the builder, himself notes, comfort in a kayak is important for many reasons not the least of which is reduced fatigue and lower center of gravity. Jay notes that a lower leg postion allows for more points of contact and support, like a chaise lounge chair in effect. Besides replacing the stock seat (nicely sculpted and pretty low but the wrong size for me and over designed, not a criticism but my weight does not need so heavy a seat) I have a 4 inch Redfish preformed foam seat AND added thigh supports and foam foot rests instead of peddles.

This has as you all comment even further stabilized the ride in surf and made rolling almost a passing thought. Cheri is right, having oneself in a totally dynamic seat posiiton is both comfortable and great for boat feel and control.

That said, not everyone wants or needs such a low volume boat, but I think this is a trend that will help more and more kayakers to enjoy the sport.

OI Reveiw
Check-out Dan’s review of his new OI.

You Nailed It
>That said, not everyone wants or needs such a low volume boat, but I think this is a trend that will help more and more kayakers to enjoy the sport.<

I think you’re on to something here. :wink: I’d hazard to say that most people are currently paddling boats with far more cargo capacity than they need. I’m very pleased with my QCC700, a superb craft in so many ways. If I could change one thing about it, it would be to reduce the volume significantly, lowering the back deck height, etc. While some may take advantage of its cavernous cargo capacity, I have neither the want nor need for this, but it comes with the boat given its many other positive attributes. Even at 190 lbs. I know I’m not sitting the boat low enough in the water to take advantage of max LWL. Although I may gaze wistfully out the window, daydreaming about multi day excursions and epic sagas, this is not my life; I’m lucky to paddle three to four times a week for fast fitness trips; a full day’s excursion is just gravy-I’ve no need to carry everything and the kitchen sink. This is where LV boats shine-tailored to fit the individual and minimalist needs. The OI is a wonderful example of such.