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Gear Review: 2002 Kayaks

by dustin sturges

I get by with a little help from my friends. Yep, Lennon was right. We all need a little help now and then, but if you have the right gear, you donít need quite as much. For the first Wild Utah gear review I would first like to tell Sky to suck it. Yes, boys love their toys but as long as heís not spending your money to get them, shut the hell up about it. As far as the not sharing water thing goes, I would like to quote the wall of the DMV and say that ďa lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.Ē That said, lets jump right in.

The trade shows were just in town last week and that means a few things. 1. getting very drunk with all my buddies who I havenít seen since the last show, and 2. sneaking in to get a peek at all the new stuff. I have never been to the retailers show before, so I was very excited. All of next yearís gear today! I was not, however, prepared for the sheer volume and insanity that is the Salt Lake Trade Show. It seemed like every retailer and manufacturer in the entire world was there. More than a few acres of skis, boats, climbing gear--everything one could ever want, and running around through this maze of toys were the executives who make it all possible. Chasing the executives were a slew of riders, skiers, climbers, and anyone else with a career or project in need of gear or money.

Needless to say, I was very overwhelmed and on the verge of complete sensory overload along with a hefty panic attack since I didnít drive and had no way out. Thankfully, I found the boys sitting around waiting for a meeting with Petzl. The first thing out of Benís mouth was ďHey, Dustin! Letís get out of here and go to the Webe.Ē I could have kissed him. I was able to hang out until they were done with their meeting, and then Ben and I headed for the river.

As a member of Team Dagger, Ben has access to any boat Dagger makes, and drives one of the official Dagger Subarus. I would have felt pretty cool pulling up to the river in the team D ride, but everyone knows everyone there, and theyíd all seen me boat before.

The first kayak I tried was this yearís Super Ego. It was higher volume than the smaller Ego I had been in before, and not quite as loose. It still spun and wheeled a lot easier than the Medieval that Iím used to.

Ben was in the new Dagger playboat, the G Force 6.3. Ben is a pro and can make any boat look like the ultimate play machine; but when I got to try it out, woah baby! This thing is the real McCoy. At 6í3Ē long, it is probably the ideal boat for smaller rivers like the Weber. Its short length and very forgiving hull design make it perfect for playing on smaller features like youíd find around here.

When I first got in it, I could not shake the feeling of being a floating amputee due to the short, blunt bow. After a few spins in the hole at Taggert though, all I was thinking about was how I was going to be able to get one of these. The cockpit on the G Force was very roomy and comfortable, and I had a blast in it. Ben almost missed the team party because he couldnít get me out of the river. The G Force is, however, a little short and slow for big river play. Ben said people had a hard time catching bigger waves on them, but for smaller rivers and any hole, I give it two thumbs up.

I was also able to try out the Perception Ratchett. This is another short boat, but without the blunt stern and bow. The one I tried was only a very rough prototype, but I got a hell of a ride for the money. It spun well, but with the volume distributed in a very wide cockpit, instead of a tall one like the G Force, I found it was a little awkward to paddle and extremely difficult to roll. These problems might be worked out by the production date next spring, but Iím not holding my breath (except when I canít roll the damn thing back up).

Well thatís it for the 2002 boats I tried, but there will be another review next issue. Until then, luck and happiness in all your outdoor endeavors.