So I got Fluid’s new big boy creeker, the Big Bang, a few weeks before the river season kicked off here in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Looking at the boat and comparing it to my large Solo got me wondering how it would be. It wasn’t long before I found out.

First trip out was a good run down the Molenaars, probably about 30cm below the fabled rock. The very next day I hit the Molenaars again, this time it was about 10cm the rock – Pieter Zwanepoel and I ran the section twice. The next day I paddled again, this time on the Witte. The level was lowish but ok, the rock there was around 7cm out, more or less. Having not creek boated for 7 months and 2 days I think it was, and the fact that I had hardly paddled at all since our season ended in 2010, I think everything went off really well.

BB_mount_23_April_2011_014_E1_CREL copyBB_mount_23_April_2011_016_E1_CR copy BB_mount_23_April_2011_015_E1_CR copyBB_mount_23_April_2011_017_E1_CR copy BB_mount_23_April_2011_018_E1_CR copyBB_mount_23_April_2011_006_E1_CR copy BB_mount_23_April_2011_009_E1_CREL copyComparison to the large Solo.

BB_mount_23_April_2011_019_E1_CR copyBB_mount_23_April_2011_020_E1_CR copyBB_mount_23_April_2011_021_E1_CR copyHatch system. It has it’s own mini spraydeck (with solid bungee) and then the plastic cover which is easily secured. The hatch area has it’s own drain plug, as does the main section of the boat.

AT waterfall by Kate WaltonAdrian Tregoning on Waterfall Rapid. Photo by Kate Walton.

The Big Bang impressed me. I’m not sure what I thought initially but perhaps I was harboring some doubts as how it would perform. In South Africa there is a common belief that any boat longer than 2.3m is long. I’ve always maintained the large Solo is not that large but perhaps I was being swayed in one direction as to doubt this new monster. Whilst paddling the boat, it didn’t feel too big. On the bigger water of the Molenaars the Big Bang cruised down. It’s length giving good speed but not hindering the ability to turn too much. It’s only a fraction harder to turn than a large Solo and I found maneuvering around and ferrying to be a breeze. It punched holes easily, the extra length helping, no doubt.

On the Witte, things were a little different. The river is much steeper, and lower in volume. In the shallow stuff the Big Bang floats higher than a smaller boat (obviously) which was pretty cool. Moving around was easy. I think I was a bit rusty from the long break between seasons but the boat performed very well. It does actually boof quite nicely too. Looking at the long stern I was worried but this proved to be a false belief, and I didn’t piton any drops, much to the disappointment of my mates.

Then this past weekend I took it on an overnight trip. The boat was loaded quite nicely with gear for the night, food, tent, sleeping bag, mattress, stove, all that kind of stuff. In fact, I made a video describing the kind of stuff I pack in, to give some guidelines to those who have never done an overnight with their boat. The river was very low but again the boat was sweet. I honestly thought it would be a boat I would seldom paddle and would keep for the overnight trips only but it’s actually great fun and easy to paddle. I’m 6’ and with no gear/clothes weigh about 85kg at the moment, so I’m in the bottom half of the range. One thing is for sure, is that tall people will love this boat, with a raised knee area you will be styling in comfort all day long. Obviously the heavier chaps are going to love it too.

Molenaars 23 May 2011 screenshot_07_E1 copy Molenaars 23 May 2011 screenshot_08_E1 copy Molenaars 23 May 2011 screenshot_13_E1 copy Molenaars 24 May 2011 screenshot_01_E1 copy Molenaars 24 May 2011 screenshot_02_E1 copy Molenaars 24 May 2011 screenshot_05_E1 copy Molenaars 24 May 2011 screenshot_06_E1 copy Molenaars 24 May 2011 screenshot_07_E1 copy Molenaars 24 May 2011 screenshot_11_E1 copyVarious GoPro HD screenshots from the video footage on the Molenaars.

Witte 25 May 2011 screenshot_01_E1 copy Witte 25 May 2011 screenshot_12_E1 copy Witte 25 May 2011 screenshot_13_E1 copy Witte 25 May 2011 screenshot_22_E1 copy Witte 25 May 2011 screenshot_29_E1 copy Witte 25 May 2011 screenshot_30_E1 copy Witte 25 May 2011 screenshot_40_E1 copyGoPro HD screenshots of the Witte. Just a pity the camera decided to mist up that day…

Then of course there is the hatch. This allows one to put a large Pelican case inside which is a lot safer than sticking it between your legs. It also makes for easy packing, and even easier unpacking. The lid came in handy on the overnight trip I did, providing me with a seat for next to the fire and when things are muddy it’s a handy little table. I’ll get some better photos of the boat in action next week – the rain is coming!

From Fluid’s website:
“The Big Bang is our evolutionary creekboat / expedition kayak capable of handing class 5 creeks yet at the same time having ample speed for long hauls and enough packing space for extended periods in the wild.

The Big Bang is based on our highly successful Expedition Solo, which proved to be an exceptional boat for running the hard stuff while also having the luxury of a hatch compartment for easy packing on multiday trips. Did we take the E Solo concept and just stretched it out? Yes and no. We created a longer, faster version of it, but we also changed some crucial features of the design. The Big Bang is super forgiving despite the longer length. It is still highly manoeuvrable, punches big holes like no man’s business, boofs like a much shorter boat, and has the volume and peaked decks to keep it on top at all times.

The Big Bang features the tried and tested hatch system of the E Solo with a sealed off foam bulkhead. The knee area is raised and also relatively wide to accommodate big paddlers. Copious volume and an extended water line means that heavy paddlers will find the Big Bang a cruise. It is naturally an easy boat to roll too.

The Big Bang is ideal for kayakers doing multiday expeditions, kayakers wanting some extra speed in a creekboat, and also for kayakers too big to fit comfortably in normal creekboats. It is a great choice too for kayakers needing easily accessible space for rescue or photography gear.”

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Easy packing with the Big Bang. In case you didn’t know, Fluid has this same hatch system on the Expedition Solo (which is a large size – 25cm shorter than the Big Bang). Palmiet_4_5_June_2011_023_E1 copy

The start of our overnight trip. Very low level, but a great trip.  Palmiet_4_5_June_2011_096_E1 copy

Camp site the next morning. The area had been ravaged by severe fires… Palmiet_4_5_June_2011_107_E1 copy

Shortly before it rained.  Palmiet_4_5_June_2011_120_E1 copyBig Bang ready to rock. Note his was shot at 10mm, same as the photo above, so it distorts the edges of the photography, making the stern looking really long. The strange looking paddle you see is my Sawyer Sidewinder. Entirely of wood (shaft too), with carbon and glass reinforcing. Very lekker!


Length: 270 cm / 8'10"

Width: 65 cm / 25.5"

Volume: 310 litres / 82 gal

Weight: 22.5 kg / 49 lbs

Cockpit size: 49x87 cm / 19.25"x34.25"

Paddler weight range: 70-135 kg / 155-300 lbs

Well, there you have it!

And finally some video action of me piloting the Big Bang:

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And also the video I made of what I pack for an overnight trip:

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Photography by: Adrian Tregoning. Unless otherwise stated.
Words by: Adrian Tregoning.