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.