It is important to realize that this review is influenced by the fact that the Fluid Solo Expedition (large) was the incorrect boat choice for me. As a beginner paddler in Australia where there was no pro-shop to check out, the boat was bought on the internet, sight unseen. The price was excellent! You can see already that such an arrangement can be hazardous to all concerned. In blissful ignorance I figured that the little streams locally were creeks, hence the need for a creek boat! The boat I bought is an extreme creeker designed for top paddlers in class 5 creeks!
The main problems I encountered at 178 cm and 73-75 kgs was size and as a novice, a lack of ability. I was too small to boss it through rapids, and lacked the technique to finesse it through. Defensive techniques resulted, rail-roading was common. Further, in muscle terms, I was too weak to carry its amazing weight - 23 kgs without gear - for long! So, with my inabilities now openly stated, the following pros and cons summarize my thoughts after 18 months of paddling it in class 2 and class 3 water.
- Very strong! An extreme boat built for very steep creeks in expert hands.
- The luggage compartment in the stern allows for extended trips.
- Needs a large, strong and capable paddler.
- Too slow for river running due to the exaggerated rocker.
- Without expert paddling it is very hard to steer and control due to its weight and large volume.
- The bulkhead between the cockpit and luggage compartment is very poorly sealed.
- Without luggage weight to counter-balance the high volume stern the boat is harder than normal to steer.
- Very heavy to portage.
I have tried very hard to be fair here. I hope it helps somebody make the correct choice for them. Definitely not a bad product, just the wrong boat in the wrong hands!