Independent review of Beaver-2
by expert paddler Ed Powers
January 28, 2016
Independent review ov BeaveR-2 by Ed Powers with floow-up by Bookem Danno ( unedited re-post from GDI Facebook group)
BeaveR-2 review By Ed Powers: Picked up a BeavR-2 cataraft today. A few observations: 22" main tubes and raised 16" crosstubes. Floor is 12" above the bottom of the main tubes which should allow the boat to go through bigger holes with less resistance. 11' 10" oblong main tube with fairly flat tops and bottoms. Should help boat sit higher in the water. Two pedestals with double thigh straps centered on the long tubes. Secures you to the boat just like a canoe and doesn't require you sit side saddle. Width is 6'1". Floor can now be used to carry gear with six D-rings. Two mesh bags attached to crosstubes for throw bag, etc. Will provide a detailed review of how it handles after Sat run.
Not much was running yesterday with the exception of the Lower Yough at 2.3 which is a good Class 3 level to check out a new boat. We put in just after noon with Sunshine and a pleasant 54 degrees. Although the BeavR is a Russian style frameless cataraft most folks will try and compare it with a shredder. Keeping that in mind I asked Bookum Danno, the most avid and proficient Shredder guy I know, to come test out the new BeavR. Starting out we pumped up the boat till the popoff valves started releasing air. Even with the warm air and cold water we never had to add air for the rest of the day. The pedestals were initially pumped up nice and hard but we both decided to run them soft for comfort. A bit wobbly until strapped in but extremely comfortable after that. The boat is pretty fast and tracks well. We were paddling at a very easy pace and Bob Hale had to work to keep up with us in his Option. The boat also turns easily. Taking pictures of it on the water shows that it has a bit of rocker. That along with the reach and power of two 66" guide sticks made the boat perform in a nimble manner. Next we attempted to surf some easy waves. Success! Working through Entrance Rapid we began eddy hopping and executing challenging ferries. Again the boat did very well. You can pick your angle and hold it or make changes during the ferry. Driving into eddies and leaning out from the boat allowed the BeavR to snap into position. As we started the day I felt unstable on the pedestal busting through waves and was throwing some low braces out there which really weren't necessary. As the day went on I realized the thigh straps were doing their job and relaxed. Going through holes was interesting. If you lean forward the bow digs in a bit and the boat is slowed down going through the hole with a bit of a jolt. On the other hand, if you throw your hips forward and lean slightly back the bow rises up and over the waves and the boat angle and speed is barely affected. A good example was going right thru Double Hydraulic. Now the hyside question we all had. We hit the eddy on river left above Dimple. The plan was to ferry across in front of Dimple then proceed down river. So much for plans. We pulled out of the eddy a little low and without enough angle. This put us in a position where we were backed right up against Dimple with Bookum on the hyside. I stretched out over the water in a low brace and as the boat tilted up I swung my body towards Bookum while maintaining the low brace of the paddle. Bookum said he thought for sure we were going to flip but the boat saved us. We both feel we need to check this out further on larger features as found on the Gauley. When the day was done I asked him what the negative features of the BeavR as compared to the Shredder were. Only issue was ease of getting on and off the pedestal as compared to jumping on and off a shredder. The BeavR performed all maneuvers well and the double thigh straps allowed you to paddle the craft without worrying about getting thrown out of the boat. We still need to experiment more with hyside scenarios.
Follow-up Opinion by renown Shredder paddler, Bookem Danno:
I concur with Ed Powers review. The boat has a good amount of rocker allowing good control across currents. around 50lbs for weight give or take. We ran 3 lbs air in main tubes and 5 lbs in cross tubes. the paddling position is good and not so good. You can really see well downstream, and using 66inch paddles coupled with thigh straps you can put hella leverage into strokes. Also, you can use body weight very effectively when punching holes. Only two minor issues I find are the awkward mount/dismount into the outfitting, and the footblock situation for some. The stock setup is gonna require some work from those boaters with a preference for having their feet flat.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!