Submitted: 11-14-2000 by Wilko van den Bergh
The Topo-Duo is often mistakenly seen solely as a boat to teach beginners in. However, its real potential lies in the use by two experienced paddlers working together as a team. We regularly paddle steep creeks and big volume white water in my Topo-Duo. It's a completely different challenge to paddle the boat tandem on class IV and over stuff. This requires good skill as well as good communication and cooperation, so start out on easier stuff first untill you become a solid team!
Some remarks wrt its vices and advantages: Be _very_ careful when going over waterfalls, as it's very likely to pencil in if you don't have enough speed or the angle is wrong. The boat has little rocker and it will tend to go straight towards the bottom if you dive in vertically. The cockpit size is standard Eskimo size (very big!), that, in combination with the lack of central pillars, allows very easy acces and exit, which IMHO adds to its safety. The speed of the Topo-Duo in combination with the well placed mass of two paddlers allows this boat to punch or bridge holes that most other kayaks would sty in. This speed is also its disadvantage, making it somewhat harder to control through boulder gardens and on low volume creeks.
Buoyancy: Since this boat can contain well over 500 litres (~1100 lbs) of water, I have added a small airbag in front of the front footbace, a medium sized one in between the front seat and the reas footbrace, and another medium sized one behind the rear seat. That definately helps with the recovery, and it allows the partially swamped boat to be paddled to shore once one paddler has had to bail out!
Enders: This boat can easily be endered, you simply paddle forwards into a big hole (schnorkel mandatory for front paddler :-)), however, once you get stuck sideways in that same hole, it can be a real challenge to get the Topo-Duo out... Be careful there.
I love the boat, more for paddling with other experienced paddler than with newbies. They are made of very good quality blow molded plastic, which can stand a lot of (ab)use. New price in the U.S. should not be too bad, due to the good Dollar-Euro rate. Second hand they go for roughly $800, so you can use one for a couple of years and then sell it for almost the same amount of money. There is a lot of demand for them, so act quick when you spot one for sale! (did I mention that I love mine? :-))