Height: 5’ 9”
Favorite boats: Remix/Stomper/Mamba/ RPM/ Vortex
Favorite food: Pad Thai
On the four-mile paddle in, I got to thinking to myself that I couldn’t believe that I had never paddled Gore Canyon. I had definitely never paddled it while thick sheets of ice still clung to the walls of the over-towering cliffs that looked down on this classic class V Colorado run. What’s more, I was dropping into this foreboding canyon at 8a.m. in a boat that I had never paddled and without any feeling in my hands … a perfect way to test out the new Liquid Logic Flying Squirrel.
After observing a few scenes straight out of Nat Geo concerning a Bald Eagle swooping a Canada Goose (it’s Canada, not Canadian people, that goose could have easily been made in A-Merica) and a swimming elk welcoming us into the Gore just yards ahead of our boats, we dropped in for a proper test of big water boofology 101.
The Squirrel 85 did not disappoint. After a season of backcountry skiing, drinking delicious beers and lots Apre burgers, the newest member of the liquid logic fleet kept my head above water while boofing big and laying down nimble lines in funky cross currents. The Flying Squirrel has taken all of the best attributes of the Remix, the fast hull, smarp (sharp yet soft) chines and sexy geometry and tossed the flat stern plate out while adding volume to the stern and bow. The soft chines allow the boat to remain somewhere on the fine line of planing and displacement hull i.e- nimble, fast, maneuverable, and responsive when hitting eddy lines, while still allowing paddlers to breathe after accidently throwing a nervous boof-stroke to flat landing off of that classic 30 footer. This boat feels exponentially faster than the stomper. It accelerates quickly and maintains speed while possessing a rocker profile that is begging to be sent off of every sloping horizon line and off-canter rock. The rounded hull doesn’t blink when skipping over awkwardly angled granite or schist.
My compatriot, Joey Simmons, known for soloing class V’s just because no one else enjoys kayaking in sub-freezing temps, routed me through drop after drop. I began to realize that the Squirrel’s high rocker deflected waves that would normally ride over the bow of less rockered boats, bogging them down. The new rocker sloughs these features without a second glance and maintains hull speed by allowing the paddler to continue planing on the way to sending it over that terminal ledge hole. You know the one. That hydraulic that stuffs you until you piss yourself or get bagged out, all because of that tiny sneaker hole that buried the bow and doomed you to a booty-beer faster than you could say “gaper.”
Ashamed to admit it, I may have melted a move or two. The squirrel can’t be held responsible for picking up all my slack. I knew I should have skipped a few of those pints and done a few more crunches leading up to paddling season. In lieu of me treating my body like a circus, the new design of the stern showed forgiveness, thank goodness for the design team at LL. As I whiffed that much needed paddle stroke and mentally prepared for a stout and frigid beat down, the sharp Remix-like snout came blasting out the drop, driven by a voluminous stern that likes nothing less than being submerged. “Nobody puts squirrely in the pit!” The newly designed stern uses a mass of volume in the back and the rockered bow profile to launch the boat out of sticky drops, like holding a beach ball under water. BLAMO!
We exited the canyon with little to no carnage and I was feeling good about my newly acquired Liquid Logic Flying Squirrel 85. This spring, I am going to rally this boat from the land of Colorado mank to the promise land of Idaho big water overnighters and nervous North Fork Payette put-ins. Stay tuned!
On a side note; I’m 165lbs, 5’9” and constantly struggling with boat sizing. Between the Stomper 80/90 and the M/L Mamba, I may have contracted a body image disorder. The Flying Squirrel 85 is a perfect balance for those of us in-between sizes. When 90 gallons seems like just a bit to much, but you still want to balance overnight pack-ability with sh#t running in a craft that is not unwieldy large, Liquid Logic has finally answered the dilemma. For the big kids, the Squirrel 95 is going to be the beast of choice. There are some seriously big boats on the market, such as the Karma L, which weighs in at over a 103 gallons!, leaving a 17 gallon gap between the next size down, an odd zone to land in for a lot of people. The 95 is perfect for those that fall in that gap. Athletic, fit, yet built bigger.
I have been paddling Liquid Logic for a while now. I have paddled them throughout remote Peruvian canyons, committing and unknown gorges in India, and simply sailing off of Mexican 20 footers day after day. The Outfitting is simple but often requires you to carry a philips-head screw driver with you at all times (which is just a good habit to get into anyway). Over a period with enough boofing and a few pitons, the screws that connect the seat to the cockpit and keep it from shifting around, often loose their bite. LL uses a special nut with serrated teeth and an adjustable rail (installed in the seat itself) that clamps the seat and cockpick tightly together. Keep this screw tightened or you may find yourself with more wiggle room that you want.
Overall: This boat boofs incredibly well with that rocker and carried more speed than the stomper but not as much as the Remix.
More storage capacity than the remix and the extra volume allows the boats to carry that overnight gear more smoothly and get swamped less than the Remix as well. However, it still sacrifices a bit of speed. It’s a great ‘quiver of one’ style boat.