Boat: Liquidlogic Stomper 80
Classification: Creek Boat
Hull Shape: Semi Planing
Volume: 80 gallons
Weight: 46 lbs.
Suggested Weight Range: 110-210 lbs.
Reviewer: 5’9”, 140 lbs.
Days Paddled: 10
Overview and Design
After making my way through a number of creek boats in the past five years (Pyranha Burn, Riot Magnum, WaveSport Habitat, Liquidlogic Remix), I have finally landed on the Liquidlogic Stomper 80. And while it does have a couple of quirks which I will explain, so far, I am loving it.
Liquidlogic takes a new approach to creek boat design with its combination of continuous rocker and a semi planing hull. While the design does sacrifice certain characteristics, its performance in a variety of river types—coupled with its outfitting and room for gear—makes it hard to beat.
Living in Colorado, I need a boat that can handle low-volume, steep creeks, and the Stomper 80’s heavily rockered profile and semi planing hull really present their advantages on precisely these types of rivers.
Whether on class V runs like Gore Canyon on the Colorado River, or more mellow runs like Waterton Canyon of the South Platte, this boat boofs like no other I have ever paddled, and, given its generous amount of bow rocker, it gives me the confidence and desire to boof off everything in sight.
Along with the semi planing hull, the chamfered edges make the Stomper 80 extremely responsive in catching and peeling out of eddies, with a feel that resembles something more like a playboat than a creek boat—the boat’s edges can really engage along eddy lines, giving me the handling I need to either get deep into those eddies, or to peel out where I need to.
In other words, the edges are designed to give the boat an edge that the paddler can load, but one that is soft enough that eddy lines won’t “grab” it. This is accomplished through having a triple edge, where the typical 90-degree angle is dispersed through three discrete edges. (Thomas Neilson does a good job of describing this in further detail in his review of the the Liquidlogic Stomper 90.)
The Stomper 80’s rockered profile (which sometimes makes it difficult to tie onto the roof of a car) combined with its semi planing hull also give the paddler some real advantages on tight, steep creeks.
The continuous rocker on the Stomper 80 really sets it apart from most other creek boats, and in particular gives it a much different feel from boats such as the Habitat, or Nomad, or river-runners like the Remix. The upturned bow keeps the boat on top of the water and gives the paddler some real leeway on sticking their boof stroke over vertical drops. It also helps the paddler to stay on top of big holes or guarding laterals on the way downstream. Having less plastic touching the water also makes the Stomper very easy to turn, but does not sacrifice too much tracking when the boat is up to speed (at least in low-volume creeking; see below for tracking in big water).
While not necessarily its forte, I found the Stomper 80 also performs well on big-water rivers. The best parts of the Stomper 80 for big water include its large amount of volume, its unique edges, and its stability.
Those extra gallons over, say, the WaveSport Habitat 74 or the Riot Magnum 72 are going to ensure that you are sitting way up in the water and able to look ahead at what is coming. That said, it is important for each individual paddler to ask whether bigger is always better…
I am a relatively small paddler (5’9” and 140 pounds), and in the past, I’ve paddled boats more in the 70–75-gallon range. But in my experience, the advantages of the added volume outweigh any disadvantages, such as the bit of extra power required to control the boat. The edging system that the Stomper 80 employs is also going to make crossing those big squirrely eddylines easier, while not causing you to trip up on a really sharp chine. The softer edges also provide some real stability when charging through hectic big water.
Unfortunately, while the design tries to get the best of both worlds (between a planning hull and a displacement hull), it does sacrifice a little bit from both extremes. This becomes most apparent in the boats drive-ability and speed. That is to say, when pushing through big, funny water, it takes a lot of effort to keep the boat going fast and straight on line.
This doesn’t mean that the boat can’t handle big water, but it will take a little more strength and effort than something like the Remix 69, which has more of a displacement hull and a longer waterline, and a different style than something with a full planing hull, like the Pyranha Burn M, which will give the paddler a more precise feeling of edge control when carving through rapids and eddy lines.
This became apparent while paddling the Skykomish River in Washington at high water (upwards of 13,000 cfs). In the pushier rapids (like Boulder Drop), the Stomper 80 took some real effort to keep on line through big, crashing waves and hydraulics.