Up: C1 Outfitting

Outfitting a C1 Creeker

As always, there are a thousand different ways to outfit a C1. I did this outfitting for a Necky Blunt and a Dagger Nomad 8.5. Just because this works great for me, does not mean it works for everyone. However, I find the outfitting simple, reliable (does not break), and cheap. Comfy? Well, with a 4.5 inch saddle, nothing is comfy, really.
When outfitting creekboats, I found one thing: I cannot glue to the plastic and anything that is attached to a stiff outfitting base. This is because the hull of the boat has to take a huge amount of stress when creeking. Creeking often involves landing big boofs, going down rock slides, bouncing off of rocks in steep boulder gardens, seal launching... When doing all this, the Hull flexes and bends in all directions. That causes foam to rip when it is attached to the hull and to, e.g. the foam pillars at the same time. Thats why my outfitting has essentially two parts.

Part one: The Backbone

I always use some sort of backbone that I attach the thighstraps, kneewedges and saddle to. For this backbone, I use 2 1.5 inch PVC pipes that reach 10-20cm underneath each foam pillar. In the Dagger boats, there is a plastic piece in front of the foam pillar and I attach the PVC tubes to this plastic pillar. The PVC tubes are hold together by 3 or 4 bolts, so they give a 3 inch wide backbone. One Bold is also being used to attach a loop of nylon webbing as a thigh strap anchor. It can be useful to attach webbing loops to the other bolts as well that can then be used as handy attachment points in the stern and bow.

Once the tubes are bolted together, I glue foam to the bottom side that resembles the shape of the hull. If the boat has a lot of rocker (e.g. Blunt), it can be neccesary to use a heat gun to bend the tubes a little bit. The foam also prevents the Hull from wearing to fast due to something very hard on the inside.

Aluminum brace, click to enlarge With the foam attached, I bolt the whole thing to the plastic pillar and again use the bolts to put in webbing loops as attachment points for gear. Next, I bend a thin aluminum stripe (e.g. one of those aluminum rulers from the hardwarestore) to the shape of the crosssection of the boat (like a U) and bolt it to the plastic pillar. Later this aluminum will be attached to the kayak footrest mounts and it'll prevent sideways sliding of the backbone. I cover the bolt with foam so it does not rest against the hull.

This whole combo is now installed into the boat. It is wedged underneath the foam pillar in the stern and the aluminum is attached to the footrest mounts. Note: the aluminum is not resting against the hull but a few mm away since the foot rest mounts are sitting a few mm away from the hull. In the Nomad, the plastic bulkhead is also attached to the hull with a bolt.

Now with the strongback installed, I attach saddle and knee wedges to the backbone. For a saddle I use a 6 inch wide foam block that is cut out (U-shape) in the centre, so it slides over the PVC tubes and I glue it to the tubes. I try to keep the back rest of the saddle low. This is important in case you get forced on your back deck on bigger drops. It prevents back injury. The saddle is also slightly higher in the back to force me into a slightly forward position which I find advantageous for creeking. Between my legs, the saddle has a hump that keeps my bum from shifting forward. Some people like wider seats. For me, the wider seat makes getting out of the boat harder and I thus avoid wide seats. However, wide seats are more comfortable.

Knee wedge, click to enlarge Knee wedge, click to enlarge The knee wedges are similar to the saddle. They are a block of foam with a U-shaped gap in the middle, so they slide over the backbone and can be glued to it. The wedges spread the knees apart while the knees rest on the knee pads (see below).

Part two:

The second part of the outfitting is attached directly to the hull, so it can flex with the hull. In my boat it's only the knee pads that I glue to the hull. The knee pads are just thin sheets of foam (a few mm thick) that go from underneath the knee wedges to where the knees rest against the sides of the hull. Like this, i have my knees as far apart as possible. Sometimes when I hit rocks really hard, I think about putting this kind of padding below my ankles, too. Have not done that yet though.


For thigh straps, I use standard Northwater padded straps. I get rid of the webbing on one side, burn a hole for a bolt into the strap and attach it to the cockpit rim. The side where the webbing remains is attached to the loop that is on the back bone. Often the holes where the kayak thigh braces attached to work great for thigh straps, so no new holes are needed.

Hip grabber, click to enlarge Hip grabber, click to enlarge For hip grabbers or hip pads or whatever you want to call them, I use kayak plastic. Kayak plastic is by far the best of the things I tried so far. Just take an old kayak, and cut whatever plastic you need (thanks Shayne!!). Then heat it up and bend it. A few things to consider: Don't make them too high, otherwise they interfer with the skirt and stacking/69ing boats sucks. Its more important to have wide hip grabbers. That means, they also keep your thighs in place. Use more than one attachment point, otherwise you will crack the hull plastic. I use three bolts and between two of them I use a steel sheet on the outside to distribute the stress over as much hull area as possible. The third bolt is also used to attach the thigh straps. The pads begin a little forward from where the back rest is to where the thigh straps attach to the cockpit.

You can also laminate hip grabbers from glas but that is a lot more work. Some people use aluminum but that's hard to get in the right size. Don't compromise the width. With enough width, you get better control over the boat. Add foam to your new hip grabbers until you have a snug fit. I glue foam to the plastic with contact cement and then use a heat gun and duct tape in addition to that. I found that I need more foam than expected once everything is wet and I run a river it the boat. However, always try to wet exit your boat before you go paddling. It might save your live.

Completed Nomad outfitting, click to enlarge This outfitting is much lighter than the original kayak outfitting. I mean, it is a noticeable difference when you lift the boat. I could not believe how heavy the Blunts' and the Nomads' kayak outfittings were.

For creek boats, I found it very useful to include a few attachment points in the outfitting. I try to put little nylon webbing loops wherever I bolt something to the back bone. These can then be used to attach float bags, peli boxes, first aid kit, spare paddle and so on. Keep the weight of the outfitting in mind. I found that weight does matter when running drops. However, one does need a fair amount of stuff when going on harder rivers and creeks. For most fairly remote runs here in BC, I take a lot of stuff: Spare paddle, throw rope, rescue rope, pin kit, first aid, headlamp, couple spare energy bars, emergency blankets. Thats why I try to keep the amount of foam and space needed for outfitting to a minimum. This also gives you more room and easier access to gear on multiday trips.

Sometimes I am thinking of some foam to prevent the knees from sliding into the bow in a hard piton but could not come up with a smart solution.

I hope this helps someone. See ya creeking, Jan

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