Safety Features & Outfitting
The Stomper’s safety features are fairly standard, with strong metal bars and foam bulkheads both in the bow and stern. The bars are well placed for swimmers or for boat rescues and provide plenty of points for straps in tie-down jobs.
Liquidlogic outfitting is an area that people tend to have very differing opinions on, and that has been tweaked on the Stomper over time. My boat, made before early 2013, has an outfitting system that I find to be simple, customizable, and downright comfy. This version of the Bad Ass Outfitting is delightful on my toosh, and leaves almost nothing to be desired in stern accessibility for gear storage.
For self-support trips, or for stashing lots of snacks and a camera on a day trip, I simply un-Velcro the outfitting on the back and swing the back-band up, leaving plenty of room and little hassle in sliding gear behind the seat.
The only issue I’ve heard of with this setup is that while paddling, the back-band has a tendency to slip up and around the bracket, leaving it pressing against the paddler’s hips, but I have yet to have any issues with this myself.
And if you read Tom Neilson’s review of the Stomper 90, you’ll know that the outfitting has been changed in the 2013 line. The problem of having the backband slip onto the paddler’s hips has been fixed by reverting back to the old system of using a bracket to contain it. This, however, causes the paddler to lose the easy access to the stern that the newer system allowed for—a fair tradeoff, but I would love to see some sort of compromise on future models that accommodates for both needs.
The cockpit calls for a size XL sprayskirt, but my SnapDragon Expedition L has done the trick so far. If I were to use a rand skirt, however, I would say that I would go for an XL to prevent implosions, the embarrassment of needing help to put it on at the put in, or prematurely wearing out your sprayskirt.
At 5’9” and 140 pounds, I’m glad to be in the 80-gallon size over the 90. Despite the growing trend toward bigger (way bigger) boat volumes, and while the allure of more storage space is tempting, the Stomper 90 seemed like it would be a bit too much boat for me to move around in hard whitewater, as it felt a bit like a bathtub when I had the chance to get in it on some flatwater. The Stomper 80 does a good job of packing in a lot of volume, allowing for added gear storage space and a higher float, while not making it too difficult to paddle for a relatively small boater.
As stated above, the boat can be a little difficult to drive in bigger water, but this is not a problem of sizing—the design does not leave me feeling like I am paddling a bathtub, nor does it leave me with smashed knuckles from having to reach out over the boat to sink my paddle for a big stroke or when rolling, although this could be the case if the paddler decides to go for the 90-gallon boat when they are better sized for the 80-gallon.
If you are looking to paddle specifically on big water, or if you are a paddler smaller than myself in terms of size and weight, then maybe something with a longer waterline (for big water), or something with a little less volume (if you’re smaller than me) would be better.
In my opinion, LiquidLogic could accommodate a wider group of paddlers if they built a 70–75-gallon version of the Stomper. Although the larger sizing comes with advantages and follows the current industry industry trend, a smaller version would open up the Stomper to paddlers smaller than me, or to paddlers my size looking for a more playful ride.
When it comes down to it, though, the Stomper 80 is the boat that I am going to bring with me whether it is on a huck-fest in the Northwest; ELF-ing (extremely low-flow kayaking) on the Arkansas River in Colorado; or on a multi-day Middle Fork Salmon Trip.
The Stomper 80 handles well in a variety of conditions, has loads of storage space, and most importantly, has helped me to have more fun on the river.