The Liquid Logic Remix XP – As this is a brand new and much-anticipated kayak (for me it was anyway) I thought I'd try to write a detailed review. The length is not intended to annoy but to give some information about a brand new design.
I picked up my Liquid Logic Remix XP9 yesterday (actually had it shipped to Florida where I live and paddle and I picked it up at the terminal—couldn't wait). I've been keenly coveting this kayak since August 2008 when I first got wind of it.
About me: 5' 11'' and 138lbs and work out regularly. Have been paddling 4 years now on rivers, lagoons and the Atlantic, typically in my 16.5 ft Hurricane Tracer 165 sea yak, 14ft Necky Manatou, and Old Town Otter XT (which was the boat I'd always have in my SUV—until the arrival of my XP9 that is). I have other boats and paddle them as well, 3 times per week total minimum. I wanted a boat that I could take out in the nasty, thrashy conditions that a 20+ knot wind will produce on the Indian and Banana Rivers (especially a directly north or directly south wind). There will be waves up to 3 feet (sometimes a little bigger) there and a distinct wind-driven current flow. I personally prefer maneuverability to speed in dicey conditions and not too much boat, so I was after some of the kayak qualities enjoyed by white water boaters but also a yak that could track straight for distances. The Otter XT works but even with float bags it takes on a terrific amount of water when you go over (being a rec boat and all) and the skirts for it (like all rec boat skirts) implode a lot due to the cockpit opening's size. So I started looking at the new trend in white water kayaks—transitional white water boats such as the Dagger Approach and LL Remix. I did plenty of research and gave this lots of consideration. The Liquid Logic Remix XP line had everything I was looking for. It had to be a kayak that was at home in the rough water as well as being good for athletic touring and work out paddles on the flats.
I purchased my XP from Austin Kayak (www.austinkayak.com) and I highly recommend them. Very helpful and a good line of boats and equipment; especially a good option if you can't get your hands on the stuff you want locally. The XP came wrapped in the coolest packaging system I have ever seen and even though it came from Texas to Florida on an 18 wheeler it was in better condition than what you often see at the local dealer. No scratches or issues at all. My XP is a Mango one.
The first thing that hits you when you tear off all the protective packaging of this Liquid Logic boat is that this is a fine piece of marine equipment. The high quality of the materials and workmanship is really striking. It feels very solid all over. The 'Bad-Ass' seating/outfitting is without peer! It is most definitely the most comfortable seating on the planet; you could spend hours in it and not be uncomfortable at all. (Now if I could find a way to have a bed made out of the stuff I'd stay in it Rumple Stiltskin style—until the waves kicked up!) After checking to make sure everything was in order I had the wife pick up the kids from the bus stop and I hit the water (she's a good sport!). Conditions were not rough really (darn) with a moderate chop on the river and a north east drift (more east than north), so I was paddling against a cross current.
It is very easy to get into and out of this boat; cockpit size is perfect for someone of my size anyway. The XP really does paddle the flats very well. The bow has the right amount of rocker and a set of double channels on the hull that cuts and splits the water nicely. Heading out into the wind and waves it looks a little like you are plowing water owing to the rounded hull (as opposed to the narrow hull of a sea kayak which tends to pierce the waves and then lifts you out and up); this is deceptive as the XP9 really is lifting you nicely over the wave. I was amazed how fast this boat could get over waves and through the resistance water. I found the boat fast for a 9 footer and it can definitely 'get you into the zone' when distance paddling. With boats of this size I like a short paddle such as the Aquabound Shred; the torque won't paddle you out of line and it is easier to dial in to this hull size. I put it through it's paces, leaning as hard over as I could to the point of a roll. It's lean is bomber. Very dynamic hull design with nice edges and it produces great stability. I can see that it would be an easy rolling boat and if the water wasn't so darn cold I would have tried it yesterday (very thin-blooded tropical Florida kayaker here -- sorry)! Will do some rolling and post any changes.
The XP9 is highly maneuverable, even with the drop skeg down. Leaning forward on the nose you can get on current swells easily and it is a lot of fun. White water boats have a number of places on their hulls that you can turn on, not just the center line bottom area and side chines as is the case on a sea kayak. So the XP is fun to explore different moves on requiring use of different parts and elements of the hull. *By the way, even though she weighs as much as my 16.5 Tracer (about 46lbs empty), she is a much easier shoulder carry—not just because of the shorter length but because of that Bad-Ass outfitting; the seat cushion overlaps the cockpit combing slightly and gives you a sort of shoulder pad. It's the most comfortable carry of any of my kayaks.
"Backcess Hatch": This is a neat set up on the XP. I sunk my stern quite a bit and tried to get the hatch area as wet as possible. It stayed very dry. It is also very easy to get to underway. Plenty of storage for all-day needs. Liquid Logic's website states that there is plenty of storage for a week's worth of camping. I think it all depends on how you pack. When I camp overnight on the spoil islands in the lagoon I always over-pack. Maybe the white water crowd that designed this boat is used to getting by with a lot less than a sea kayaker. I'm not an expert on this. But I will say that between the dry hatch area (with solid dry bulkhead) and what can go between your legs you are dealing with plenty of storage possibilities. And that hard hatch will last the life of the boat I am sure—I like it better than Necky's or Hurricane's different hatch cover systems.
The drop skeg: The only place where something could go wrong on any kayak because of the moving parts. First, the skeg works very well. It's spring-loaded so it snaps up and down with no problems. Without the skeg you can dial in to the hull dynamics of this boat for straight-aways and get it under control, but it takes concentration (unless you are riding a swell or it is a nasty water state and then the boat is in it's element without the skeg). Skeg up and the XP is all about extreme maneuverability (cool!). Skeg down and she tracks better than any rec boat (that's what I'm talking about!). Initially on my first run I noticed some water in the cockpit after a 2 ½ hour spin. I was wearing a new seal skin skirt so I was sealed in there well. I estimate there was about 6-7 cups of water in the cockpit. I was wearing neoprene booties so let's take out a cup for each foot. Still left with 4-5 cups of water in there. I did some experimenting with cups of water after I dried her out and the skeg lever mechanism is where the steady dribble of water came in (at the tip of the bolt/nut area on the inside of the cockpit.) when that area is submerged. Don't freak out if that happens to you—I think mine was just too loose. To be certain, I glooped on some 'Plastic Dip' (it's actually rubber when it hardens and acts like those old ice cream cone treats where you dip the cone in strawberry or vanilla liquid and it hardens right away—you get it at the hardware store), put some silicone on the bottom bolt, and tightened the bolt. Today had it out for almost 4 hours and soaked it good. NO more water from the skeg lever; there was only less than a cup in the whole cockpit. Good Deal!
In conclusion, I am very happy with this boat. I can take it to the Nantahala, Taccoa, and Chatuge in Georgia and play with the white water crowd. I can take it out on the Indian and Banana River Lagoons in all sorts of conditions for my work out endurance paddling sessions. I can take it on those same Florida waterways when everyone else is putting ashore because the conditions are rough (I plan on trying her out on the ocean in some surf next since I live about 15 minutes from the Atlantic). You can put it in the SUV with the seats down and get that quick lunch time paddle in. I definitely recommend this boat if you are after any of the things I am in an all-round 'do it all' boat. Rock solid construction. Cool kayak.