If you still haven’t tried one yet, I’m sure you are at least aware that everybody is talking about the 9R. Why is this boat getting so much attention? It could be because it’s the best kayak ever made. I could go on about why it’s so great and tell you all the reasons why you should try one, but I’m a Team Pyranha paddler and you’ll have to wonder if my opinion is biased. Let’s just skip all that. You try one for yourself as soon as you can and let me know if you think it isn’t awesome.
There are plenty of reviews on the internet by now to tell you how amazing the 9R is. Instead of adding to the noise I’m going to focus on choosing between the 9R and the 9RL aka the stout. First let me give you some background on me and my paddling style. I’m 5’11” 180 lbs. My origins in paddling are in slalom racing and as a result I have an aggressive and proactive paddling style. I am always actively propelling my boat toward my destination.
Given that, I’ll talk about the regular first. This boat fits me perfectly. It’s as if it was designed around my measurements. Seriously I couldn’t ask for a better fitting boat. I do think I’m at the top of the weight range though. I can carry rope, water, break down paddle and snacks with no problem, but when I toss in a camera body and a couple lenses I feel a little too weighted down. This boat is super fun to paddle because of the dynamic handling. With my slalom experience I find the boat can handle very similarly to my slalom boat. Except when it comes to pivot turns, the 9R doesn’t pivot very well at all. It is the easiest to boof boat I have ever been in. I swear I can boof in flat water. [ok maybe I just made that up ;)] The only thing it doesn’t do well for me is carry gear. That’s where the stout comes in.
The 9R stout is a shit running machine. For a person my size it isn’t quite as dynamic as the regular. It’s handling reminds me more of a typical creek boat but with much more hull speed. While it doesn’t feel as sporty and fun to drive, the stout’s combination of speed, rocker, and stern volume allow it to go through anything with relative ease. Speaking of stern volume, this thing is ready to carry all the gear you can imagine. It handles remarkably well when loaded. This is my new go to boat for multi day paddling or day trips when I want to pack a big lunch and a lot of cameras.
If you’re over 6ft or over 200 lbs I would suggest the stout, but what do I know, really? You can read about kayaks for days but until you get in one and test drive it you won’t really know. Just make sure you have a credit card handy when you do cuz you’re going to want one after. If you really are disappointed let me know. I’ll buy you a beer for your troubles.
9R, try both, pick a size.