Dave Kwant sent us a review of the Eskimo Nano and Salto, the latest additions to the Eskimo range of playboats and creeking machines. As Dave is a member of their Pro-Team, the review is obviously biaised ;-) but he convinced us to publish it by adding loads of pics of the production version as well as 2 very sweet video clips of what Scotland has to offer in terms of playing and creeking. Enjoy!
This year Eskimo have released two new kayaks, the Nano and the Salto. The Nano is Eskimo's new top of the line playboat and the Salto is their new Steep Creeker. The Eskimo philosophy with these two boats is that you should either be playing hard or creeking hard, moving away from the river running playboat trend that is becoming more and more popular.
The Nano has been reviewed on the Falls of Lora and I took the Salto down many Scottish creeks this spring. Here are my impressions as well as some action shots and video clips to give you a better idea of the boats.
Length 230cm Width 62cm Volume 180L Weight 14kg
Click here to download a video clip of the Nano in action at the Falls of Lora. MPEG format, 2Mb.
The Nano is a development of the Zwo and has retained a simillar shape. It is 230cm long and has plenty of new features. One of the major problems with the Zwo was that it was extremely slow on waves and wave moves in general were hard to pull of and retain. The Nano, on the other hand is much narrower (62cm) and the hull has been designed with a double release lip. On big waves this gives a very smooth feel and makes it very loose, pivoting around the centre. The raised edges make the boat quite forgiving but at the same time gives it good speed across the wave for carving moves. The way the release lip has been designed gives the boat a natural tendency to surf forwards, so it exits spins well and does not end up dropping down the wave sideways, when you would rather be carving across. Blunts, spins, cleans, grinds and most other wave moves go without any trouble and getting aerial is far too easy because the boat is so light (only 14kg). The new Coex plastic used by Eskimo makes the boats stiffer and hence its performance on waves in particular is a lot more predictable (unlike the zwo!).
The Nano is very slicy but feels surprisingly buoyant when it gets vertical. Although it feels a little narrow at first this soon plays to your advantage as it goes vertical very easily and stays vertical! The square ends on the front and back of the boat help keep vertical moves retentive and initiating vertical moves like backstabs, cutbacks and splits all seem to retain very easily, especially on smaller waves. Flat water wheels are also no problem at all. Although the boat is very slicy, it has a surprising amount of room inside (due to having no central buoyancy) and will comfortably fit most 6ft paddlers in without having to twist your feet into all kinds of strange contortions. In general the boat does exactly what you expect and is pretty forgiving.
Length 245cm Width 64cm Volume 250L Weight 18kg
Click here to download a video clip of the Salto in action on some scottish creeks. MPEG format, 1.5Mb.
The Salto was designed with full on creeking in mind. The boat has a flattish hull under the seat to give you good initial stability and a round hull at the front of the boat to ensure that it tracks well through the biggest of holes. It is a real point and go boat, you just point it where you need to be and it will go straight there without getting knocked off course by boils or by planning when you need to be turning. Most of the new creek boats at the moment come with planning hulls, but this can cause them to scitter off course when boofing through big holes or into enclosed holes. The Salto never does this, even when fully submerged it continues to travel perfectly straight. Although it may seem quite long (245cm), the boat feels way shorter on the water and because of the big rocker on the nose it goes surprisingly well down small steep creeks that would ordinarily be Topo territory. The cut off back end looks quite strange but has the effect of acting like an outboard motor. On continuous water it pushes the boat through pourovers and holes that would normally stop you and it also makes boofing straight extremely easy. In general the boat handles very nicely turning fast and having very good forward speed, It tracks superbly and always carries you away from the bottom of a fall or hole even if you miss the boof and go deep!
A very nice feature of the Salto is the tilted cockpit. As well as making the boat super comfy to paddle this allows the paddler to pull their knees out of the boat without having to lift your butt out of the seat. This makes getting in and out extremely easy and would be invaluable in case of a bad pin. The Salto comes kitted out in full whitewater spec with grab handles at the ends of the boat as well as behind the cockpit for ease of rescue in pinning situations. There is a throwline holder under the front deck and the boat comes with full plate footrests as standard. There is an enormous amount of room in the boat making it suitable for multiday trips and super comfy for single day trips. The cockpit rim has been redesigned so that it is far deeper to stop any problems with the deck blowing, and with it?s heavyduty Coex construction you can guarantee that it will take the knocks better than anything else! All in all I found this boat to be extremely reliable and fantastic at going exactly where you point it! It has definitely raised the level somewhat and drops that you would shy away from now become fair game!!