(By Adam Goshorn)
At 6’1” and 265 lbs. I am right at the top of the recommended weight range for Pyranha’s Large Ozone. It’s a welcome change from being over the recommended max for a lot of boats for most of my kayaking career.
When I switched from canoes to kayaks, I was around 15 lbs. lighter than I am now, but even still there were very few whitewater kayaks for people my size. Luckily, things have changed and larger paddlers like myself now have choices. (The largest kayaks of the early 2000s are closer in size to the medium boats of today.)
I can squeeze in a Large Loki and since it came out in 2012, it was my go-to boat for playboating – I also enjoy its classic, almost squirt-boat-like level of play it provides at my weight. However, at my size that play comes at the price of comfort.
In fairness to the Loki, I am around 20 lbs. over the recommended weight range for the Large, but I could jam myself in there, so I did and it remained my go-to … and probably still would be if it weren’t for the Large Ozone.
Compared to the Loki, the Ozone has more foot and knee room and a paddler weight range that extends up to 265 lbs. In the Loki I had to take the seat pad out and use a small foot block to squeeze in. In the Large Ozone I’m using three seat shims under the stock seat pad and the whole foot block, resulting in a full foot of foam between my feet and the bow. Joy of joys, I’m able to actually wear shoes in it. This extra foot and knee room is due to a high knee position and volume in the knee area, allowing for longer legs and more comfort.
On the water, its narrow hull took getting used to, but is one of its great characteristics. It helps with the ease of engaging the stern, the quick edge to edge transitions (while surfing and river running), and even the nice way the boat balances on the stern. I’ve never been able to turn squirts or splats into stern stalls as easily in any other boat.
Its performance while surfing is perhaps its best characteristic. Once on a wave, it seems to gravitate to the sweet spot and would be happy there all day. The narrow hull also lets you carve back and forth with just a little lean. The edges release easily for spins and after a 180 in either direction the boat seems to accelerate down the wave face momentarily while backsurfing, providing nice retention for the second half of the spin. Wave surfing in this boat is just magic.
The trade-off for the comfort the extra bow volume provides is that it’s less slicey. It is harder to engage for cartwheels than slicier boats and harder to link them without the assist of a decent hole. Some might say the Ozone is not even a full-slice boat, but if it’s not half-slice either, what is it? A new category of boat?
I’ve heard a few people use the term three-quarter-slice to describe it. But it might be more accurate to say the full-slice category can be split into the subcategories of hole-slice boats (like the Loki) and wave-slice boats (like the Ozone). The Loki and other traditional full-slice boats are typically not as good on a wave, but the Ozone is…and it is still pretty good in a hole.
So while it may seem like semantics to some, I do think some distinction is needed, if only to help people trying to decide between the two. For me, the space and comfort of the Ozone make it the easy choice.
Watch video review here: