A quick write up on what I personally feel when paddling the STOKE. Then I will go through the more detailed thoughts:
It’s easy and very effortless to paddle this kayak. Just like with the Steeze, you see where you want to go and with so much ease you can make the kayak do just what you want. After paddling 90% of the time in the Puffy Steeze (My favorite design) I can happily say that The Stoke shares so many of the great aspects of the Steeze. Every time I am in my OG, I crave the feeling of the Half Slice style movements, But when the river gets too steep and chunky, I can’t bring myself to keep using the Steeze. The Stoke should remedy that issue and have me feeling safe and still in a dynamic design that is truly fun to paddle. This Kayak looks so good when you see it…hard lines, sexy shape, sharp edges, perfect rocker profile, it just looks like a whitewater weapon. After testing it on Icicle, Tumwater, The LW, and Truss…I can easily say we have us a classic design that is going to make a ton of people really happy!
The Stoke has done a great job from Tumwater at 10,000 cfs to the LW at 3.0…I love when a boat excels in all types of whitewater and so far I am getting that feeling. The boat is great at linking up steep waves and popping over them like a half slice would…but then when you need that extra stern it’s still there to save you. On the LW and Truss the steeper moves feel forgiving and easy as they should be with a high rocker boat. We have already seen “The Stoke Skips” on social media. Yeah, it skips far and feels fast, but my favorite part of the boat is the smooth operation I get and feel in the boogie rapids before these skippy boofs. I was waiting for the stern edge to maybe be a little catchy in big volume, but I haven’t felt a thing! I actually think the hybrid stern is my favorite part of the design. I did move the seat back 1 single notch from middle…this gave the boat an even more “Steeze Feel” on the water. It loosened up the hull and allowed me to do the addicting sweepy style books that I love so much. So far I can’t really complain about anything, if there is something different from the other classic Waka boats, a few mins and rapids later the corrections seem to come automatically and it’s easy to adjust to.
Size wise, The Stoke fits somewhere in between the “OG – Steeze – Tuna series” With a measured volume of 260L and 95 Gallons (feels and paddles like a 90 gallon boat on the water). The slightly more narrow hull and low profile creek stern gives the Stoke a very fast, fun, and nimble profile. I think we finally cracked the code of making a 9 foot long creek boat that is fast but still really easy to paddle. (That combo is really hard to create). The Stoke is also very easy to roll compared to the OG/Steeze and should give anyone a lot of confidence.
“If the Steeze and Tuna had sex and made a baby, this would be their love child!”. When directly comparing it to the Steeze, the Stoke feels a little trimmed down on the width and the whole top deck feels a little more tapered compared to the big wide flat surfaces of the Steeze. The width of the boat really reminds me of the Tuna 1, makeing edge to edge moves and weight shift so effortless and buttery. Overall a little less primary stability than the Steeze/OG, but it has an amazing amount of secondary stability.
The Stoke is a fast creek boat. At 9 feet long we have captured the magic of its brother, the Steeze, and given the Stoke a little extra volume and shape in the stern. This allows more practical and forgiving paddling on steep creeks and powerful big water. However, The Stoke doesn’t dumb down those Steeze genetics…it shares the same dynamic traits and overall pleasure of paddling as the Steeze. While the stern is bigger, The Stoke’s rear end is much more usable for loading up and pivoting than any other creek boat I can remember paddling. If you love the feeling and style of paddling half slice designs, this boat will compliment and work really well with your paddling. The Stoke will for sure give the paddler an easier time transitioning back and forth between a half slice and creek boat.
The Stoke will be able to run anything you can dream of, from The Stikine to the Sary Jaz. However, I think where the Stoke will shine the brightest for paddlers is on the day to day classic paddling. This kayak just screams JOY JOY JOY as you move and groove down your local goods. It’s going to be hard to choose any other kayak over The Stoke as I grab a boat to head to the river. With the way paddling is shifting more toward on water performance and feeling. The Stoke will lead the way into the future as another milestone design. I am really excited to introduce to you the newest design and a boat that we have worked hard on trying to create for years.
SIZING NOTE: I think the perfect weight for this kayak will be anywhere between 130-190lbs, I do believe the boat will support heavier paddlers, but I will encourage them to DEMO it here in the Gorge or out east on the Potomac/Nantahala. (*IMHO I do wish this kayak came in 2 sizes. I would love to be able to put big heavy paddlers in this same style of design. I think the future of Waka holds something special and very specific for the larger paddlers.)