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Submitted: 11-13-2013 by wavespinner
For context, the designation "XP" and the shared DNA with the original Remix river runners might lead one to equate this kayak with the XP9/10. That would be a mistake.
The XP9/10 was derived by adding length, beam and volume to the Remix and making it a bit more flat water oriented and user friendly. The goal was to produce a docile boat for still and moderate white water. The Stinger added a lot of length and rocker to the Remix, while narrowing beam to come up with a radical creeker specifically designed to win the Green River Narrows Race (steep whitewater). There weren't many compromises in its mission.
Starting with this single minded design, the XP adds a skeg and hatch to make it more adaptable to wilderness tripping. This context is provided to give the review some perspective.
The hull, outfitting and fittings are of typical Liquidlogic high quality. Bear in mind, this was designed for steep creeking and incorporates the commensurate quantity of plastic (not a lightweight). The unique seat is extremely comfortable, even for long duration. The holes for the foot board adjustment are widely spaced, making fine tuning a bit of a challenge. Not a whole lot of grab bars and those provided are rigid, bare metal.
The skeg operates smoothly with a simple lever control. The hatch cover parts ways with the XP9/10, being designed for duty on rougher conditions. However, somewhat paradoxically, there is no bulkhead. Right behind your seat is a foam pillar for support, pushing the cargo area aft. This weight distribution wasn't dialed into the original hull design and affects performance if you're packing gear. It can be compensated for, to some extent. The cockpit opening is a little larger than I like although not in a league with the cavernous XP9/10.
The boat is very fast by whitewater standards. And, it will surprise many by how quickly and easily it spins. The skeg is effective when your priority is not spinning, such as in the funny water at the foot of a drop. It draws, ferries, leans and rolls with ease and, it almost goes without saying, punches holes and eddy fences like they weren’t there. Yes, you can pull enders, but that's about the extent of the play. It surfaces quickly from drops, but be sure to nail your boof and go down fairly straight or you could encounter issues.
The bottom line is that it's a nifty design for a whitewater paddler. Some of the extremes in its base configuration demand that it be driven under many conditions and not given its own head. It will reward those in control. Casual paddlers will feel more at home with the other XPs.
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