Time to paddle like it’s 1999
S/M/L— L: 7’2” / 7’2.5” / 7’3”; W: 23” / 24.5” / 24.75”; V: 39 / 49 / 59
gals.; Weight: 30 / 33 / 34 lbs., in roto-molded polyethylene
Remember that first kayak? Not the first one you squeezed into, or tried uncomfortably to roll, but rather, the first boat in which everything clicked. Where you felt comfortable, ready to take a few risks and learn something new. Where you felt engaged.
Fifteen years ago, says Pyranha’s founder, owner and head designer Graham Mackereth, playboating’s cutting edge produced boats designed to keep ordinary paddlers “engaged and challenged” on familiar backyard runs. But as the freestyle kayaking grew, playboats shrunk, their design optimized for more advanced aerial tricks. The shift marginalized regular paddlers. The Loki is Mackereth’s effort to modernize a “classic play kayak” for those of us who still think cartwheels are cool. Judging by the reaction to our test boat, there are plenty of us.
“I could playboat again,” said one (typical creekboat) tester after a low-water run on Washington’s Skykomish River. “It’s stable in eddylines and end-to-end cartwheeling, plus you can surf the crap out of any wave.”
Credit the crisp carving to edges that run from the well-rockered bow all the way to the low-volume stern. Park-and-pop playboaters beware, though; with the old-school lines also comes a lower deck height. Paddlers with an inseam longer than 34 inches will pay for their play with pinched feet even in the largest of the three sizes, though the 2014 Connect Seat and endlessly adjustable outfitting add a level of comfort completely alien to pre-millenial boaters.
At just over 7 feet, the Loki delivers downriver speed and precision. “It feels stable through rapids, with enough rocker to keep the ends up in boil-ey, squirrely water, and to boof like a champ,” our 5-foot-9 female test paddler said of this craft aptly named for the shape-shifting trickster god of Norse lore. —DS
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RPM 9.0 Limited