By Phil Carr (www.unsponsored.co.uk)
The Squirrel is Liquid Logic’s latest white water kayak and the second designed through the companies Automatic For The People initiative. Demand for a boat similar to Liquid Logic’s successful Remix but with additional bow rocker and volume in addition to an overall increase in volume was high. In fact Liquid Logic used the original Remix model as the starting point for the Flying Squirrel and built in many of the features that both team members and Liquid Logic fans had been calling for.their heads in wonder.
I have been lucky enough to get hold of one of the first Squirrels to land here in the UK and have been paddling the Squirrel each week over the last couple of months. Over the years I have owned a number of Liquid Logic boats including – Vision, Ronin, Biscuit and the Stomper, so I was very interested to give this new #automaticforthepeople kayak a try.
The Squirrel was super easy to set up. The seat was left as was with only the hip pads added to the BADASS system. The footrest system is that same as found in the Liquid Logic Stomper and consist of a thick foam pad on a plastic plate. The position of the footrest can be adjusted via a set of bolts located on the side of the hull. Before paddling a kayak I like to make sure that it is fully set up. For a creeker this also includes the addition of a set of air bags. The rear of the Squirrel 95 will happily accept a pair of 35 litre air bags and the bow will take a pair of 15 litre air bags positioned beyond the footrest.
Newer version of the BADASS system
On getting in the boat I noticed that the BADASS covering for the hip pads didn’t move. This was something that you needed to be careful of when using previous versions. This newer version of the BADASS system seams to offer greater coverage and stays in place very nicely. I did find that the backrest initially sat quite low on my back compared to the Wave Sport Recon, which has been my main boat over the last couple of years.
Those paddlers who have owned or have tried the Liquid Logic Stomper will be familiar with the facility to tip the backrest up to allow full access to the storage potential in the stern of the boat. This feature has been removed from the Squirrel backrest system. Overall I like the BADASS system but think that it could be made even better if there were some way of easily adding padding to the base of the seat.
On the bow of the boat I added a GoPro flat mount just in front of the first grab handle. The deck at this point is virtually flat so an ideal/easy place to install the sticky mount. The grab handles have a very slight texture feel and are great for carrying the boat and very easy to clip a carabiner into. Handles can be found on the bow and stern as well as mid-bow and on the stern x2 just behind the cockpit.
I sit within the middle portion of the suggested 170 – 270lb range for the Squirrel 95. For a 95 gallon boat the Squirrel doesn’t seem to feel that big and as expected behaves very much like the Remix. That isn’t surprising as the Remix was the basis of the Squirrel. The addition of extra volume in the stern is very welcome and makes the Squirrel very forgiving. Even whilst sticking in some dodgy edging the Squirrel was determined to stay the right way up. In many respects the stern feels very much like a combination of a Remix and the Stomper. Whilst the edges of the Remix have been softened a little, the Squirrel still maintains a good level of agility combines with a sure footedness that Jefe and Stomper paddles will recognise.
Try both the 85 and 95 before fully committing
I would imagine that if I were at the bottom end of the suggested weight range for the 95 that I would find it to be a very large boat and possibly one that I would feel swamped in. The 85 and 95 do have quite a large cross over for suggested paddler weight and I would encourage anyone in that range to try both the 85 and 95 before fully committing to one over the other. For me the 95 is absolutely ideal.
I have been using the Squirrel on a range of different water conditions from dry ditches to relatively high volume flood and everything in-between. The Squirrel rides high over waves and punches well through stoppers. Yet at the same time I haven’t felt the Squirrel being pushed dramatically off line which can be found on kayaks that ride high. As expected it boofs very well and resurfaces very well. Stability is extremely good and it rolls like a dream.
The Squirrel seems to combine a number of great features including the ability to turn really tightly and feels stable whilst doing so. The Squirrel is ever so slightly longer than the Remix and shares its great turn of speed. This can catch some paddlers out at first but doesn’t take very long to get used to. Throughout my time with it the Squirrel has been a delight to paddle. It may share a number of features with a significant number of previous Liquid Logic kayaks but don’t let that put you off – the design has been carefully considered and very well executed. The Liquid Logic Squirrel is a great kayak in its own right and so much so that a Squirrel 95 is now my main kayak.