|In action||Huck||76 K|
|Profile shot||Huck||78 K|
|More Upper Provo Falls||Huck||92 K|
|Video (turn down the volume - Windows Media File)||Boat||Size|
|Huck launching off a slide||Huck||336 K|
|Bumpy slot ride||Huck||184 K|
In the Spring I took delivery on three Liquid Logic boats - the Skip, Pop and Huck - to review for BoaterTalk over the course of the 2002 season. The Skip and Pop were easy, but because of lingering drought conditions (and more recently, minor surgery preventing me from swimming), the Huck has sat in my garage for an inordinate amount of time. Finally last weekend I happened across a lesser known creeking run in Utah known as the Upper Provo which runs along side the Mirror Lake highway for several miles deep in the Uinta mountains. According to Gary Nichol's "River Runners' Guide to Utah" (revised edition), there are 5 significant drops in Upper Provo Falls of 10 - 20 vertical feet each and have only been run twice to the author's knowledge (note: they have been run several more times by local creekboaters). As luck would have it, we found the falls at about 65 CFS which is almost half the minimum stated in the manual. Nevertheless, as soon as I saw them I knew the stitches had to come out and the river had to be run.
After asking the good folks at Liquid Logic if they were game for some serious boat abuse (they were thrilled) and a quick stop at the hospital, we were on our way.
The outfitting is currently the same as the Skip and Pop, but deserves recapitulation. While the bare steel rods used as grab loops on the Skip and Pop were uncomfortable, they make more sense as high strength attachment points on the Huck. Still uncomfortable, but understandably so in their ultimate function. Liquid Logic is currently incorporating new grab bars designed by Black Diamond as well as a new outfitting system that was announced at the Outdoor Retailer show. So, what outfitting you end up with will depend on the when it was made. The later outfitting will have a stiff backband with a padded molded plastic seatback and the earlier will be the standard ratchet backband. Both of them are good, but the new outfitting looks better (I haven't tried it, just sat in it at the show). Both are designed by Immersion Research.
Unfortunately, I have not had much time in this boat, nor have I been able to take it to as many different creeks as I would like prior to writing this review. But I have tried it in regular river-running applications and now in an ELF boating session, so I feel like I can make some basic observations. The Huck leans a bit more toward the speed and tracking end of the 'tracking vs. maneuverability' spectrum compared to my previous creekboat, the Big Gun. I'm used to the hard chines positioned at the ends of the boat which give the BG a harder carve than many other creekboats. Comparatively speaking, the Huck feels just a bit mushier when doing a draw turn, Duffek or any maneuver that involves a leaning carve. The upside to this is that the Huck is indeed a better tracking boat, holds it's line better than the BG and seems to have faster hull speed. Creekboats like any other kayak are a compromise of values and every boater has a preference for those characteristics which they feel are essential for a successful design - for some it is tracking, others maneuverability. After having had the boat out a bit more, I feel that the Huck strikes a good balance between the two.
The Huck boofs pretty well. I put in a few solid rock boofs on Upper Provo and was completely satisfied with the results. On a related note, the hull handled rocks very competently. I nailed quite a few during my ELF session and the boat skipped off them without any hitches. To me it feels like the plastic is more slippery than most other manufacturers' plastic. And the stiffness of the hull definitely plays a role in making the boat bounce nicely off of things. I'm including a video of running a slide with a rock right in the middle that I got a good launch from.
I find the Huck to be a little bit harder to roll, but attribute that to having a fuller volume stern. Technically speaking, it takes me a while to get used to rolling any creekboat in general after developing sloppy technique in playboats. So, if you're like me, be forewarned. If not, bully for you.
I really wish that I could write more about this boat. But ultimately it comes down this this - I've really enjoyed what time I've had with it. It feels good to paddle and it's fun to hit rocks with. The grab bars would be hellish to have to hang onto for anything longer than a short portage. But that's really the only notable shortcoming, and as I mentioned before having good attachment points more than makes up for some discomfort carrying when you pin your boat and need to extract it. The Huck is definitely worth a demo on your local creek.