Recon Reviews

Packrafts turned the kayaking world on its head. They're lightweight yet durable, allowing paddlers to take their adventure anywhere. This past year we launched a brand new one of a kind packraft: the Recon. Made out of reinforced PVC, this boat stands out in the packrafting category. While heavier than the traditional packraft, paddlers gain additional stability and durability to tackle rowdier water.

This week we took the pizazz of the Recon to the next level. Now get your blue boat with TiZip.

We're pretty stoked on the new Recon packraft. But that's no surprise because we wouldn't have spent so much time developing the most durable packraft ever if we weren't. But we don't want you to take our word on this totally bomber boat. We want you to hear from some serious paddlers on how this boat is ideal for hardcore packrafters and beginners alike.

Photo by Scott Martin Photo by Scott Martin

GO-TO BOAT FOR LARGER WATER: JOEY SCHUSLER

The Recon is the go-to boat for larger water, and sharper surroundings, where failure is not an option and weight isn’t as paramount. The PVC construction is so incredibly bomber, and allows for higher pressures, which increase overall performance. I took this boat down every rapid in the Grand Canyon, and had the time of my life!

Photo by Scott Martin Photo by Scott Martin

IT HANDLES: SCOTT MARTIN 

I love paddling rivers in any capacity, the Recon has opened up another avenue of enjoying the river for me. I can paddle my local creek at a lower volume than I could with a kayak, yet still, have fun. It handles, small drops, low volume creeks, and high volume rivers well. I can guide beginner friends with little river running experience down a river since the boats are easy to paddle and you are not "inside" the boat, like a kayak. Photo by Tristan Burnham Photo by Tristan Burnham

BIG WIN: BECCA TARBOX 

I started running rivers in the Nirvana boats and I love them; however, when I wanted to get into rowdier water I was looking for a boat that was a little more sturdy and more stable.  I'm not the most confident paddler and I wanted something that was stable enough to let me run bigger water without constantly captaining the swim team. I bought an inflatable whitewater kayak because that was really the only game in town that was similar to a packraft but much more burly.  I loved paddling in it, but it weighs about 35 lbs and doesn't pack down well, so it's not particularly easy to hike with or portage. Also, I found that the stability of the inflatable kayak came at a bit of cost; you sacrifice some maneuverability because it's pretty bulky and heavy.  

When I saw that Kokopelli was tinkering around with the idea for a PVC packraft I was instantly chomping at the bit to try it out because it looked like the perfect boat for me.  When I finally got my hands on one, I was not disappointed. 

For me, the Recon takes the best qualities of a packraft and an inflatable kayak and combines them into one boat.  It's a self-bailer and it's the exact same size as the Nirvana boats so I got my maneuverability back, but it's made of a much more bomber material which makes it both more durable and a lot stiffer for a more stable ride.  At 18 lbs, it's quite a bit heavier than a normal packraft, but much lighter than an inflatable kayak. I definitely wouldn't bring a Recon backpacking, but for shuttle laps, it’s perfect. Even if I need to hike a mile or two to a put in I don't find it to be prohibitively heavy. Inflated, the Recon is much easier to portage and walk around with than the kayak, both because of size and weight. In the water, I find it to be almost as stable as the inflatable kayak, and much more responsive for making quick moves. Instead of going through bigger rapids and just hoping I make it, I'm confident in the boat's stability and I'm now actually paddling through the rowdy sections and working on my technique so I can become a better paddler instead of a stronger swimmer. 

Since I got the Recon, I haven't taken out the inflatable kayak once; I am so stoked on it. It's definitely not a traditional ultralight packraft, and it's not meant to be.  I would still take a lighter boat for a backpacking trip or for paddling around in a lake, but I love it that Kokopelli is experimenting with new ideas and for me the Recon is a big win.

Photo by Becca Tarbox Photo by Becca Tarbox

THE BLUE BEAST: TRISTAN BURNHAM 

The blue bomber, the blue beast, the pvc packraft, whatever you want to call it, the Kokopelli Recon packraft is ready for anything. The Recon is made out of PVC like a normal big whitewater raft, so it’s super tough yet has the same size and shape of other packrafts so it’s light, compact and maneuverable. It’s a self bailer so all the water drains out when you swamp your boat; basically it’s your own personal mini whitewater raft. It’s also easy to get in out of fast to portage or to scout a rapid. It’s heavier than other packrafts and requires a pump to get to a higher PSI, so you can’t just blow it up by mouth like other packrafts. This limits you to more accessible runs and not deep wilderness. However, since it’s burlier it makes up for it in so many ways.

It’s perfect for after-work runs, shuttle laps, the weekend warrior, or even if you want something to paddle around a lake. I love it for bigger drops, waves, holes, etc. My other packraft, the Kokopelli Nirvana Spraydeck, will fold a little sometimes when I’m pushing it to its limits on big class III rapids. The Recon just plows right through stuff like no big deal. If you’re a devoted hard-sided kayaker you’ll love this for hot summer days.  If you’re a beginner or intermediate paddler, you’ll love how stable it is. If you’re an expert packrafter, you’ll love that you can push yourself into bigger water and rapids. It’s definitely something to add to your quiver if you’re a river rat.

Recon_Blue_Top_Kokopelli_2019

RECON

from $900

  • Perfect for Road to River Adventures
  • Whitewater Series
  • Type: Self-Bailer
  • Weight: 18 lb (8.2 kg)
  • Now available with TiZip

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