Submitted: 12-24-2009 by tstanton
Recently I spent 8 days and nights in the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande. It is recommended by NPS that canoes have a spray deck or floatation bags. With gear for an eight day trip the spray deck was the best option. . I have other North Water gear and have been impressed with their quality of workmanship. I chose the North Water spray deck because of its features and how quickly they answered my emails. I ordered a solo one piece cover for my Mad River Legend 15. The product was completed and delivered as promised.
When the cover arrived, I must say that I was impressed with the quality of materials and the workmanship was superb. When I ordered my cover I had measured my boat as I would have it loaded for my trip, (my large ice chest is taller than the gunnels). I read the instructions and installed the cover without any problems. Installation took about 4 hours as I measured and re-measured to make sure every detail is right. With the cover installed over my gear, the fit was perfect.
I ordered mine with the extra large portage hatch, map case (keeps the river guide book handy too) and deck top anchor strip (for throw bag and biner clipped water bottle). I highly recommend all the items. When you order the portage hatch, you still get another smaller hatch or credit for the smaller hatch. As I was rigged for solo, I opted for two hatches, the large portage hatch in front of me and the smaller one behind me. With two hatches I had accessibility to all my gear without removal of the cover.
North Water's cover includes a cockpit that allows for sitting on the seat or kneeling while paddling. The design is solid and works extremely well. I had outfitted my boat with knee pads and was able to drop right into the knee pads without any fuss.
During my Lower Canyons trip we encountered many rapids, a few in the class 3 range with technical boulder gardens and exciting drops. While those without spray decks bailed gallons of water out of their boats, I used just a sponge. This allowed my boat to handle well throughout all the multi-part rapids. I never experienced a decrease in boat maneuverability that occurs when you take on water.
Another plus I found was that the spray deck diminished the wind effect. No longer did I have to fight the wind to keep the boat pointed in the right direction. With this experience, I will use the cover on windy days even if just day tripping mild rivers.
How tuff is the cover? I banged into rocks in the boulder gardens and took a few wall shots and the cover took all the abuse without complaint. It is obvious this cover will last many years. This is a quality product I highly recommend.