Liquid Logic Stinger XP Whitewater Kayak Review
I had the amazing opportunity to take the Liquid Logic Stinger XP kayak down the Grand Canyon this fall. I quickly found that this was the ideal boat for the trip. In this review I’m going to talk about the different features of the kayak, its hull design, as well as its paddling performance on the water.
The original stinger (not the stinger xp) was designed as a whitewater race boat. It was designed to go lightning fast down the Green River in North Carolina. To this day this boat still excels in this area and you’ll see many of these out there being paddled by professional athletes. This boat competes with the Dagger Green Boat, the Pyranha 12, the Jackson Karma UL, and the new Dagger Vanguard. One thing that sets the Stinger apart is its length. On average it comes in about half a foot longer than the competition's long boat models. This is important to note when choosing which is the best long boat for your needs.
Now the Stinger XP (expedition) came out years later, and it is the same boat as the original with some added features for expedition kayaking. The first obvious feature they added to the Stiner XP was the large hatch in the stern. This hatch makes it incredibly easy to pack overnight gear into the boat without having to stuff everything in behind the seat like you would with other long boat models. With a typical long boat there is no way you could pack the stern as efficiently. You are also able to use larger dry bags because of the hatch access. One feature on the hatch that I appreciated were the straps that went over the hatch once it was closed. This was an extra way to ensure the hatch wouldn’t pop while paddling whitewater. Some of my friends also used this strap as a place to keep their poop tube instead of packing it inside their boat.
Another feature that Liquid Logic added to the Stinger XP model was the drop down skeg. If you are paddling any flatwater at all, this skeg is an absolute life saver. The skeg essentially helps you paddle in a straight line. This improves efficiency and minimizes the amount of corrective strokes you need to take each day. When paddling 226 miles on a trip, it can make a huge difference! When it comes to using the skeg in whitewater, that seems to be personal preference. On all the “point and shoot” or “hey diddle diddle right down the middle” type rapids I kept my skeg deployed (down). On the bigger rapids I pulled it up so that if I got spun out, I could turn back down stream more easily.
The hull design on the Stinger XP was yet another thing that made this boat ideal for expedition style paddling. I would categorize it as a semi-planing hull with well rounded chines for extra forgiveness and reliable secondary stability. What this translated to on the water was smooth paddling. In big waves I was able to lean from side to side to stabilize myself and through boils I was able to put the boat on the softer edges to avoid getting spun out. My boat may have started with close to 120+lbs of food and gear in it, so the fact that this boat was still able to perform was essential. I think if edges on this boat were sharper it would be much harder to paddle with the weight and yet if they were softer this 12’6” kayak would be quite difficult to control. It’s impressive that Liquid Logic was able to design a boat that can perform well on technical creeks like the Green River, NC as well as big water rivers like the Colorado River.
One more feature that I’d like to comment on is the rocker profile on the Stinger XP. For today's standards I’d put it in the medium to medium-low category for the amount of bow rocker the boat has. What this means is that it is going to have a longer water line than the new long boats out there with extra rocker (Pyranha 12, Dagger Vanguard). This makes the Stinger XP faster on flat water as well as medium gradient whitewater. The high rockered long boats would not perform as well in all the flat water that long expeditions like the Grand Canyon have due to their shorterwater line and high rocker that can easily get pushed around in the wind. That being said, the Stinger XP would not be my first choice when it came to steep whitewater racing with drops. I think that their are new boats on the market that are filling that category quite well. Like anything there are some pro’s and con’s to these specific design features.
All in all the Stinger XP exceeded my expectation for an expedition whitewater kayak. It has all the right features to make long trips efficient and enjoyable. The hull design performs well on technical whitewater, high volume whitewater, and all the calm flatwater that happens in between. This boat would be my top pick for any extended whitewater trip.
Stinger XP Specs
Width: 24.25 in
Volume: 100 gal
Weight: 55 lbs
Paddler Weight: 120-300 lbs
Cockpit Size: XL