CKS Squad Review: The Liquid Logic Stomper Styles The Black Canyon –
By Josh Oberleas
Hi my name is Josh Oberleas; I am a kayak instructor at Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center and a member of the CKS squad. I was given the opportunity to use the newest boat from Liquidlogic, the Stomper (90 gallons), for a 4 night 5 day trip through The Black Canyon of the Gunnison near Montrose, CO, and then also paddled 2 days on the Gunnison Gorge. After this experience, I would have to say I am thoroughly impressed!! The Stomper, in my opinion, is one of the best creek boats ever made!
I have paddled many boats throughout my years of instructing in Colorado, and the Stomper is like the Jefe and the Remix put together. The speed of the Stomper is comparable to that of the Remix but what is also great is it has the rocker and the volume of the Jefe for ease of boofing. One thing that makes the Stomper excel over all of the other boats out there, is the fact that it is almost unstoppable when it comes to crashing through waves or blasting through holes. The whole entire time I was in that boat I never had one moment where a wave slowed me down. In fact, when I landed a boof my speed would almost increase as though there was a rocket on my stern blasting me past the hole and off the foam pile for my next move.
The Stomper was a great ride filled with grace and style. It was soft like a cloud as it rode nice and high on the water even with 30 pounds of gear and a 195 pound paddler. There was not a single moment where I had my stern caught, or I was endered backwards because of all the weight in the back. The momentum was always forward.
The Stomper was great at holding a straight line, even at top speed. It precisely carved on its edges without resistance or spinning out which made for quick S –turns and technical moves during rapids. This truly is a high performance craft, Ferrari of creek boats, with speed, style and great handling.
Even fully loaded, the boat had a really nice snap to it, and it rolled very easily. Granted, I had no combat roll situation in the canyon, I did roll it a few times to get the feel, and it was really snappy and rolled with ease. However, I did have two awesome kick flips that snapped around really fast. It’s a great boat to roll even for beginners!!
WOW!! One stroke boof every time, and again it held its momentum so well on the landing that I just blasted off. The speed of the Stomper combined with its ability to pass through any feature without out losing speed is just unmatched for a creek boat. It takes just two strokes and this boat is at top speed every time blasting off like a torpedo, ready to STOMP!!
The primary stability is great, very well balanced and it locks you in to place. When you want to catch an eddy it turns on a dime and you’re in. If you need just a little more edge, the secondary edge is well balanced as it also locks you into place. It was amazing how long I could hold a 5 edge or how hard I could edge and not fall over. The edge to edge transition is very smooth and fast, when I went to switch my edges on flat water or during a rapid it was smooth like a hot knife slicing through butter!
Lots of space in the back of the boat for all of my gear, and there were great spots to put random things and still have everything rigged so that if I did swim I wouldn’t lose it.
For this expedition, there is a grueling mile long portage over nasty scree fields and massive poison ivy, and it’s not an easy place to hike a boat. Fortunately, I had time and was able to hike my gear to the cave camp and then hiked back for the boat. I shouldered the Stomper, and I was pleased that the weight of the kayak felt lighter than the Jefe Grande. Even though I still had some gear in the Stomper, I was able to shoulder it practically the entire way.
The Back band:
It is awesome how I can get my stuff out of the stern so quickly because the back band just lifts up. As a safety kayaker and instructor, it is very important that I have access to my dry bag so I can get my first aid kit or rope quickly and without damaging my bag or straining to hold the back band up. In the Stomper, it’s a breeze. The only issue I found with the back band was that when you tighten it, the side bars slightly squeeze in. Honestly, I did not even notice that the sides were slightly inward. Actually, to me it made for a better, snugger fit.
Something that I did notice that can catch paddlers off guard is if you get lazy and you are sitting back looking up at the amazing canyon walls or watching your buddy run the rapid and a little side current comes along it has been known to window shape people. I felt it grab me a few times, but that is a minimal problem to have considering how smooth, fast, and easy this boat is to handle. Besides, stay in the moment and you won’t get thrown around.
To finish up, Shane, in creating the Stomper you gave the kayaking world a great thing. This boat will give paddlers the confidence to run rapids that they might not have considered running, I know it gave me the confidence to run Ball Crusher (V+) in the Black Canyon, even with the Stomper fully loaded. The Stomper is a great step up from any creek boat out there, and switching up from the Jefe Grande to the Stomper has been a drastic improvement for me. So to all paddlers, get out there and try one out! I guarantee that you will instantly fall in love with the Stomper.