Submitted: 06-27-2007 by kelly1369
This is a follow-up to the review I gave a year ago. I've had ample time to experience the River XK-1 and I have some more understanding of its value or lack of it. I have a good 20 rides in mine now.
It is not a calm water kayak albeit has no problem floating in calm water. It tracks terrible if you are fighting a current and trying to paddle against it. It can be turned on a dime and can spin like one. The self bailing holes must be plugged to experience any real speed in calm water. They of course will probably leak as mine do. If you are rafting conflicting water (rapids and calm), you'll have to make your bailing decision before you inflate because you can not access the plugs after inflating.
It gets great marks for ample supply of D-rings and the thigh straps. It hauls 400 lbs. and inflates to a rigid form. I find my biggest problem is when maneuvering a rock garden in a fast current, getting broadsided by large submerged rocks cause the boat to stop and the rider to want to keep going. A top heavy rider may find it too unstable. I have scarred mine and have had to do some minor repairs where some glued edges have given up. I probably overinflated on too hot of a day and caused that problem myself. The repair kit seems to have enabled my fixing the issue.
From what I hear about the newer versions of this kayak, if you could take the best features of both, you'd have a great kayak. It is a boat for a big paddler as a fully inflated floor will help keep your butt off of the rocks. Of the 4 or 5 inflatable and hardshell kayaks I've owned, this is the only one I've gotten tossed from (see early broadsided comment). The tubes are slippery when wet and slightly impede deep water reentry. If you inflate the floor before the side tubes, your base will be wider and you'll gain some stability. It is rated for class IV white water or whatever you dare attempt. I doubt I'd take it past class III due to stability issues.
I have to give this kayak a 10 on cost, a 9 on features, a 9 on durability, a 5 on tracking, a 6 on stability, and a 6 on speed/drag for an overall rating of 7.