Submitted: 07-01-2011 by JorZ
I bought two of these boats (Rio and Colorado) for moderate whitewater. They are the same boat and only differ in length to accommodate the number of paddlers. I have now ran 20 miles of mild rivers (Class I and II) with them without any issues. My wife paddles the Rio solo and I paddle the Colorado with my daughter in the front. I am very pleased with both the engineering and material of the boats but need to use them more to see how durable they are. I chose these over the Aire Tomcats because of price and so far I think I made the right choice. I expect the Aires to be better boats but for family use these should work great. If it is needed we will upgrade later on but based on review we some care we should be able to use these for many years. These are very stable but I suspect their limit to be rapids III+ or IV.
So far we have got these stuck in rocks several times (low water levels) with no visible sign of wear. The bottom of the boats is a very tough plastic and seems to be doing its job. As some other reviewers commented these are not really designed for flat water so paddling in flat water or slow moving rivers is manageable but tedious. They track reasonably well in flat water for an inflatable but if you expect hardshell kayak tracking you will be disappointed. The paddle choices depends on the number of paddlers. Two paddlers could handle the Colorado with canoe paddles but I would not want to paddle the Colorado solo or the Rio with a canoe paddle. If paddling the Colorado solo or with a child (my daughter weighs 50lbs) you want to invert the seats and paddle backwards as this helps balance the boat lengthwise. It tracks much better this way. If you will only inflate one of these boat you can do with a manual pump but if you have two you definitely want to use an electric pump initially and finish the inflation with a manual pump. Inflating these to the correct pressure without a pressure gauge is extremely difficult so I recommend to invest in a pressure gauge. I bought a "Bravo" and rigged it to my Coleman dual action pump which is a great combo.
The correct kayak paddle length for paddlers irrespective of height is 240cms because of the fat and high side tubes. The problem with this was that paddles this long could not be found locally so we had to order online and wait for the delivery. If you insist in buying shorter paddles locally definitely don't go shorter than 230cms or you will not reach the water comfortably.
My operating procedure for these boats is the following:
1) unfold, 2) inflate main chambers for volume with a 12v pump quickpump, 3) inflate main chambers for pressure with a manual pump with pressure gauge , 4) Inflate seats with the manual pump, 5) tie seats, 6) launch.
1) take out of water, 2) unplug drainage valve, 3) lift kayak to drain water, 4) dry with camp towel, 5) deflate manually, 6) deflate with pump, 7) dry again with camp towel, 8) unfasten seats, 9) fold, 10) drive home, 11) inflate for volume main chambers, 12) let dry for a day, 13) deflate with pump, 14) fold.