23.07.2012

Scout Review

This is a guest post by Pekka from Finland.

Introduction

Hi, my name is Pekka. I'm 23 years old Finnish geophysics student / packrafting / hiking enthusiast. As for my background, I've done most of my paddling and all of my whitewater in a packraft. I'm not very experienced, so keep that in mind while evaluating my observations. I lately did a ~100km raft&hike trip into Lapland with a friend of mine and we had both my green Yukon Yak and red Scout with us. Reviews, information and even pictures of Scout are scarce, although it is a great boat. So I like to share my experiences. 

General picture

Henri is double-checking his pack's attachment.
I already have a Yukon Yak so I can compare these two boats relatively easily. While the Scout is much smaller than Yak, its inner volume isn't  that limited. I'm 170cm tall, I have shorter legs than most people, and I can just barely stretch my legs straight. 
Scout's seat is also a whole different story when compared to standard seat. This mylar foil toy, which looks awfully lot like a wine bladder made me laugh when I first saw it. But after first test run I noticed that it's quite comfortable, as mylar foil reflects heat. It's not very durable though, I got mine bleeding air after a few uses. I replaced it with simple piece of foam mattress and this solution worked fine. I tried attaching tiedowns for a standard  seat. As the tubes are smaller, the standard seat is a bit too high and even I am too big to fit into the raft comfortably when the seat's back rest is chewing on the precious inside space. But if you leave the backrest uninstalled and deflate the seat to about 1/3 of it's maximum volume, it gets very useful.

Flotation

The little red man Henri has about 20kg pack fastened into
Scout's bow and the boat is perfectly balanced.
Scout's air volume is computationally 70% of a standard line raft's volume, since tubes are 5cm smaller. In real life the flotation is even smaller since Scout is a lot smaller in all other dimensions too. I don't have the tools (or ambition) to measure and calculate accurate values, but Scout hold approximately 600 liters of air. Technically this means it effectively floats about 300kg of mass but in practice this isn't really true. In any case, a normal person's body weight alone should not be a problem.
Roman Dial states in his book that optimal pack weight in whitewater is one sixth (1/6) of boaters body weight. In my case it would be 11,5kg. Technically this should be corrected with Scout's air volume factor. When Scout-corrected this value becomes 21kg which is still quite a lot of gear, but as the bow is not upturned, the weight presses it down. 
Conclusion: We used the bow-tying method of loads for both boats (Yak and Scout) on our latest trip and in calm water the outcome was very similar. Yak was of course a bit faster since it has longer hull, but in other terms Scout was very useful in calm waters.

I wouldn't recommend sitting on pack, as pack tends to be
bigger than the boat.
How to raft your pack?

I ordered 4 grab loops to attach to the bow same way as they are in standard Packrafts so I could test how this works on the Scout. Gluing was done with glue and instructions offered by Sven and Marc. I must say I was little doubtful when I applied the glue but it worked out perfectly. Just make sure that you use right amount of hardener.
Some sources suggest sitting on your pack while rafting but I can't see that convinient in any way. It's unstable, unfriendly to your belongings and rarely the pack is small enough to fit inside the raft. 


Handlability

Once balanced, Scout handles really well.
Under normal conditions, the Scout handles similarly to any Packraft. The hull is sensitive to wind and there's nothing you can do about it. But the wave retention ability of the upturned bow (which the Scout does not have) is a thing you will be missing. While floating over ~70cm waves is no big deal for a standard raft, never even think about getting Scout into conditions that wild.
As with all Packrafts, a bag tied into bow makes raft more stable. The Scout is no exception and that alone is IMHO reason enough to spend 24€ plus a little work to glue the tiedowns into the bow. But this is only the situation while rafting in calm water. In whitewater conditions the non-upturned bow of the Scout is really not good and surplus weight on it only makes things worse.

Two-person crossings?

Madre de dios! This is possible and quite easy if done in a calm lake. If done in "Honeymoon" position the raft is more stable than you can imagine. If you're in calm water, you may tow your pack(s) in a drybag behind the boat. It provides a little tracking and only a slight offset if using the standard grab loop for towing. Paddling gets a little heavier though, but with two people in that tiny raft it will be an exhausting run anyway. Just keep in mind that most drybags are not immersion proof so don't float it for too long or be prepared to find some of your gear wet after a crossing. 

I wouldn't take Scout into waters wilder than this.
Whitewater?

I was curious about seeing what it is really capable of. We ran everything from class 1 to class 3 and the truth is that I got too scared even after class 1. Without the pack in bow things got a little better, but for real whitewater experience you should really go for standard models. But as for using a Scout in expeditional/trekking use where you may face a few streams this is acceptable. We actually found that in semi-intermediate not-so-rocky whitewater it's kinda useful to tow your gear same way as in two-person crossings. Both the boat and drybag are pretty much travelling with the stream anyway, but do not try this in long and/or demanding whitewater sections. This is a matter of entangling danger.

Conclusion

Scout is extremely light and useful, but smaller tubes and flat bow means it cannot handle waves and water will splash inside quite easily. The four attachment points for pack tying and boat stabilizement and a decent seat are  necessities you will want. Any questions are welcome in the comments!

Henri enjoys a sip of Jaloviina after an exhausting run.


Henri seems content.

Kommentare:

  1. I have loads of photos someone is interested, and upcoming video of Scout's whitewater testing

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  2. Very nice, thanks for writing what I promised to Sven quite a while ago after getting my own Scout. I am very pleased with the Scout, too. There is no whitewater or ocean within my usual reach anyway and it is just amazingly light and small. It even (just) fits in the Camelbak Charge 450 pack with paddle sticking out the top. Perfect for trips of a few hours in combination with running, road or mountain bike!
    I also glued 4 grab loops to the bow to tie the bike and/or pack on. I am 175cm with relatively short legs, and prefer sitting on a somewhat high seat (inflatable pillow aka ortlieb backpack shop display shape maintaining thingy). In my opinion, the Scout is indeed underrated. If whitewater performance is not essential (and you are not very tall), it does almost everything the bigger boats do, with amazing weight and pack size. And also: half the price!

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    1. You tie a bike on the scout? Wanna see that! Oh, and Jo, you can still do a German (short) version :)

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    2. Sitting high makes the boat uncomfortably unstable for my liking. But if you wanna sit high in Scout and/or you're taller, you may want to try sitting on the stern. Like Henri does here while he's emptying his raft. https://dl.dropbox.com/u/16385817/scouting/Liputettu%20-%2026.jpg

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    3. I tried sitting on the stern, that's too high and unstable for my taste. I find I can stretch my legs a little bit more on the slightly higher pillow than when sitting on the floor or on foam (also: dry and warm butt).
      If the bike is not too heavy, it works fine for calm river floating. The difficult part is finding a position where the bike fits without inhibiting paddling and leg position too much. I will try and gather some pictures and write a short add-on to Pekka's text.

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  3. I'd like one of these to combine with the trek pole paddle blades for inland water. Great review!

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    1. I thought the same, but with Handpaddles! Real cheap (~10€) and ultra-light :) Should do for crossings, floats etc, even fast flows, as done by kayakers for training purposes. Only long flat water stretches would be tiring and cold.

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  4. Great review! Thanks for both Pekka and packrafting.de. :)

    Pekka: Where were you packrafting? Always interesting to hear about a Finnish fellow packrafter. My packrafting has been a bit limited this year but I've got some plans for autumn. Drop me an e-mail if you'd be interested in sharing experiences and ideas and maybe even going for a trip together?

    I'd be interested in something like Roman Dial's Super Scout (about 10cm longer than original as I'm 186cm) and with the "standard" detachable velcro spray deck. I'd see a lot of use for that one but Scout alone seems a bit limited for my use...

    Is there any reviews on the new Double Duck with the fat butt? For that I'd have some use coming up soon...

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    1. Hi Jaako,
      in my personal picture gallery I sort of reviewed the (long) Explorer 42 ("for two") as an alternative double (higher volume bow and different seats configuration). It is in German, but you (and Google) might manage. It is the first step to some more comprehensive review on Packrafting double/canoeing options. We have good feedback with the one above, it is beyond test mode, but I like to collect more varied data before publishing a long term report. But thanks for asking about this, because you are right a Packraft double is indeed the two person version of a Scout in terms of weight and price ratio (even better) and similar performance (only faster). In the same album you have a test run with a prototype 10" tubed packraft in medium size (max. 190cm) with a special deck, but this is not a Scout anymore. The Scout still excels as a pocket boat in terms of weight and price. Get back for any question. http://picasaweb.google.com/101973310751134091151/BoberPL

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    2. Thanks, Sven! Very interesting stuff! :)

      The new little boat sounds like something Andrew Skurka mentioned in some interview... Very interesting as I'd be willing to carry the occasional extra weight (occasionally it's not extra but something very necessary) to have more versatile boat than the Scout.

      And I just stumbled upon the 42in Explorer right after writing my original post. Also very, very interesting. Is the model available for hire?

      As some things didn't turn out as I had wished and planned, I'll be spending the upcoming autumn and winter in Finland so I won't sell my boat and might just as well do some packrafting. ;)

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    3. Jaakko: This trip was done in Oulanka national park, using rivers in famous Karhunkierros trail. That place was really epic for a packrafting trip, it's really worth going there. Technically there's a(n unmarked) loop route which allows you to raft as long as you wish but canyons of Oulanka form raft perspective are reason enough to go there. I'm definetely going again, maybe we could organize a trip there? Mä laitan sulle mailia aiheesta. =)

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  5. I've taken sevylor pool rafts down class 2 and 3 rapids without spilling or popping and your saying a scout shouldn't run more then those little ripples... I just purchased one that hasn't arrived yet and I find that seriously hard to believe and disappointing if true. I could see getting seriously wet but that's not really a big to me as im not packing in ice water.

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  6. Hallo Pekka,

    thank you for your review! The link http://picasaweb.google.com/101973310751134091151/BoberPL ist not working (anymore). It would be nice to see and read more about your adventures in lapland.
    Andi

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    1. Hey Andi, in case you're interested in packrafting in Lapland, quit daydreaming and come there with us in next June =) https://docs.google.com/document/d/14xC_wQFNvbYLwoezMW5389WXVnzSQ3pTnze0QGx7UcI/edit#heading=h.alj5ksxu02s1

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  7. Hi Andi, check Pekkas Blog in Finnisch: reppulautta.blogspot.fi. As for the link, this should work: https://picasaweb.google.com/m/viewer#album/sven.schellin/5733457149334428209 Best, Sven

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  8. Thanks for your review.
    It seems than the main problem for the scout in whitewater is that the water's splashing in. What would you think about a scout with a DIY spray deck for class 2 or even 3? I'm 1m80, 80kg + 20 kg bag, have few years of whitewater kayaking experience and problems to choose between a yak and a scout (if the scout with a spray deck makes class 2 and 3 possible, even not confortably, I'll go for this one because of the price and the weight). Thanks. Olivier

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    1. Technically you can but you'd have to make sufficiently watertight deck as Scout turns into a floating bathtub within half a minute. The smaller raft is also more prone to flip. Another problem may be you pack weight since the boat is not that easy to handle in whitewater with 20 kg bag.

      You'll also need a real seat or you're going to crush your spine while hitting rocks.

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