After five months of paddling my yellow SVX100DS in whitewater classed between class 2(mostly), class 3 (some), and class 4(I fell out), I have formed a great attachment to and a high opinion of the boat. As yet, the paddler's ability has not matched the boat's. It will perform well in class 4 water if the paddler is highly skilled.
Strong? Value for money, yet well made. With great effort a friend managed to hole the outer hull bottom by "jiggling" vigorously whilst stuck on a sharp boulder in the middle of a water-fall. The hole was tiny though and easily repaired. It made no difference other than adding another self-draining port. The boat was severely pinned against trees in a raging river on another occasion but showed no stress. However the rubber skeg has ripped caused by running boney creeks and I will made an effort to glue it back on. It may be a better creeker without it, as it does add draft and tends to reduce boulder slippage. Whether tracking will be badly affected I am not sure but I have paddled with it ripped in class 3 water and found no difference.
Positives include high stability, light weight,a good bag and a good quality pump. All my floors fitted as specified, although the boston valve pressure gauge is difficult. I merely pump the hulls up (3 psi) until the wrinkles disappear and the floor as hard as I can (7 psi). There are plenty of attachment points for strapping down gear and the seat is very comfortable. Do you get wet in white water? Absolutely soaked! The boat handles well even when filled totally with water, in fact, it might even handle better in higher grades with the added weight at times! It is nippy and easy to turn but buy a good quality white-water paddle. On flat slow water it convinces you that it is a creeking and river-running boat.
A gripe? Getting spare parts in Australia is hopeless. Contacting Sevylor is nigh on impossible and they most certainly do not communicate back with you. Perhaps you need to go through your dealer? But be warned! This is a worry because the pump nozzle required for the 7 psi floor is a special one! Don't lose it! The Boston valves on the hulls aren't a problem though, plenty of generic fittings.
Fit thigh braces! Absolutely crucial in white water. You will swim more rapids than paddle them otherwise. Why they do not supply them as standard in a white water boat is a question you could ask Sevylor if they ever answered!
Take care to avoid holes if possible. Keepers tend to gobble up light inflatables like this one and have done it to me.
But in summary, a worthy and low-cost entry into white water. Be aware that the boat tends to make you appear better than you are and paddle it positively all the time! But, it's good.I recently purchased this inflatable. I needed a stable mate for my older version of this
ducky. This newer version is appreciably more expensive and different. The
only complaint my group of friends and I had with the older version regards
the use of Boston valves, how the Boston valves are attached and the side
tube sleeves of the older version.
Pros: This ducky is significantly stiffer, particularly the floor, which
improves the performance at all levels. The increased stiffness comes from
the use of a newer material throughout the boat that allows for higher side
chamber pressures, 3 psi (perhaps greater durability) and the use of a
separate and removable/inflatable high pressure (7 psi) floor. The older
version has side tube sleeves that hold the side tubes in place when
inflated. The new version eliminates these side tube sleeves which is nice
because it will be easier to make sure all water is drained and the boat is
dry between usage and before seasonal storage.
The high pressure stitched floor (7 psi) has several advantages over the old
model. It makes this version a great deal stiffer (no exaggeration-you'll
have to feel one when inflated) and flatter shaped on the bottom. Set aside
and sitting alone, the floor resembles a surf board. These improvements make
it easier and more fun to surf and plane the waves. I believe there is a
small increase in initial acceleration and tracking due to the increased
overall stiffness of this boat. I believe the stiffer floor reduces the
boats tendency to spin because one's rear isn't depressed as far down into
D-Rings. One of the things we've liked is that these models have enough
D-rings to easily allow tying down coolers and gear. Many models more
expensive don't have as many. There are 2 in the front (one on each side)
and 4 in the rear, 2 on each side behind the seating.
Foot rest. It's now a hard plastic with non-sharp edges and better sized to
eliminate chaffing against the side tubes.
Seating. The new model Velcro's to the floor. Aside from that, it's almost
identical to the older model and also uses straps on each side attached to
D-rings. Like the older model it has reasonable back support and cushioned
bottom. I might get an extra one to install on my old SOT. The supplied seat
has a removable fanny pack attached to the back of the seat. This fanny pack
has a main mesh pocket (Velcro closure) that provides ample room for
carrying some items. I carry a repair kit (came with boat and you can
purchase them), spare Boston valves (you'll most likely need them at some
point of ownership), fire starter, a couple of small bungee cords and a few
other items. There are 2 each side mess pockets for water bottles or
whatever your preferences are.
Inflation. The boats come with a double action pump, special fitted/slotted
hose and several special/slotted adaptors for inflating the chambers. These
also come with an air pressure gauge and a fitting for the side and floor
chambers that the gauge screws into to allow for taking a pressure reading.
Pro: pump works well and one can use it to deflate or pump water out. Con:
if you lose the adaptors, you can add air by using your mouth but you'll be
significantly under inflated; especially the floor.
Measuring air pressure. The side tubes take 3 psi max and the high pressure
floor takes 7 psi max. On the pro side, the fitting works like a charm when
used on the high pressure floor. On the con side, the fitting hasn't worked
for taking the pressure readings on the side chambers for anyone we know.
And that includes employees at REI in SLC who are as frustrated as we are.
Not only can we not get a reading on the side chambers but attempting to get
a reading and read it releases air from those damn Boston valves. The Boston
valves point downward slightly when the side chambers are inflated. Use of
the fitting and gauge requires one to try to pull the valve upward for
viewing and air begins to leak from the Boston valve. Not that that matters
as we can't get a reading anyway.
Storage bag. The supplied storage bag is adequate for the size of this boat.
Cons. Thigh straps. The older model came with thigh straps but the newer one
doesn't. This is a white water boat and we can't understand why Sevylor
didn't include it. This forces the buyer to take on an additional cost and
order one through a dealer which is a hassle. Their website and supplied
brochure/manual did not include any part numbers for anything.
Tracking fin/skeg. There is a rubber fin/skeg about 2' long and 2-3" deep on
the bottom in the center of the boat. I've got to bring this issue up but
honestly not sure where my feelings are at this time. Is the fin a Pro or a
Con? I've not yet taken this on anything demanding or difficult and I'm not
an expert, but I'm leaning towards Con.
This is a white water boat and as such I'd have thought that maneuverability
would be more important than tracking. I'd like to pick the mind of the
designer as to why they felt this was a needed addition.
On calm stretches and when paddling downstream against a headwind, the boat
seems less likely to spin as much and the added tracking is nice. On the
other hand, it isn't necessary. I'm concerned about how much strong eddies
and currents will impact stability when I cross through them. I've had a few
close calls already and felt that this rubber fin might have to be cut off.
Definitely on the downside is that I have more draft now than without it.
I've gotten hung up on some of the same parts of the local river at the same
flow when the fin got stuck on a rock or gravel bar that I'd usually clear.
Also, the rubber fin seems to be easier for rocks to maintain a hold onto
than the rest of the bottom's material. Water hydraulics would push the
older boat off a rock more easily.
Ferrying on calm sections is improved with the fin but more difficult and
tricky when I encounter faster and more powerful sections. I'll have a
better idea regarding this fin when I get this model up on something like
the Snake River up by Jackson, Wyo.
Trimming and seat adjustment. On my older model, I was able to place the
seat in the middle/balance point of the boat but I can't do that with the
newer one. After I add a small cooler with some food and beverage, it would
trim nicely. Now, however, I've had to place the seat further back in the
boat making it stern heavy all the time. I haven't taken measurements vs my
older model but I've had trouble finding a comfortable knee bend after I
added my thigh straps off my older model. The foot rest isn't as adjustable
as the older model.
Wet ride and Rocker. The newer model has less rocker (straighter bow &
stern) and the additional stiffness makes for a wetter ride as this model
punches through, rather than ride up and over bigger waves.
Drain holes. The newer model has 2 on each side and the older model had 3 on
each side. The newer model doesn't drain as quickly.
Pieces and parts. There's enough important and necessary parts that one
should carry them along. However, keeping them all together where they won't
get lost or separated from your ducky is a problem. Normally, if I was on a
short float, it probably wouldn't be much of an issue, but if I was on a
long float it is. There's the pump, several fittings for inflating the
chambers (loosely attached to pump hose), the pump hose which has a special
slot in one end to fit the floor, the pressure gauge and the "fittings" for
the gauge to take pressure measurements. If you lose the floor valve hose
fitting, you won't be able to inflate it enough.
Boston valves. Simple and they work but can be such a pain. You can lose
them during deflation and may not know it came off until you're beginning to
inflate it the next time. The keeper ring can come off. Also, air can leak
around the base if/when you pull up or push down on them (or a cooler
pressing against them) when attempting to inflate or take a pressure
Set up. I don't want to blow this out of proportion. Setting up and
inflation is now more complicated and time consuming. Enough so for me that
I've left mine inflated since I got it a few months ago. I will refine the
process over time and will offer a few tidbits here. Don't fully inflate the
sides before installing the floor and don't try to install the floor when it
has much, if any, air in it. You can fully deflate the entire boat, with the
floor installed, roll it up and stuff it in the storage bag. The high
pressure floor has cut outs on its sides to match the drain holes on the
bottom and each end fits into sleeve loops at the bow and stern flooring.
It's difficult to adjust the flooring to fit over the drain holes and at the
same time to pull/push/cajole the ends into their sleeves and get the floor
smoothed out without humps. I went through several repeated processes of
installing, pulling and pushing the inflatable floor to line up over the
drain holes, getting the ends into their sleeves, inflating it up only to
have a hump appear in the area immediately before the seat where the
tracking fin/skeg begins and then deflating the floor and beginning all
over. Having said all this, one of my good friends has left his floor
installed, deflated and doesn't seem to have the inflation problem I've had.
On my older model, I'd have some problems fitting the side tubes into their
sleeves, but it was easier to adjust.
A note on inflation. Trouble with side chambers/Boston valves. I've not yet
inflated the floor to it's recommended 7 psi. I've only reached 5.75 and the
bottom is very stiff at that level-just can't imagine what it's like at 7
and pumping it up to that level would take more effort than I'd feel
comfortable with. And although we can't get a pressure reading on the side
chambers, we're using the old method-pump it up to what feels about right.
Overall rating: 7 of 10. I don't know what a 10 ducky would be like but I
know it's not this boat. It performs well and the price is where I can
afford one. Would I get another one? At this price, yes.