The Evasion has the distinctive concave multi-chine hull design that has led our kayaks in the durability hall-of-fame, but with the finesse it takes to keep up with the best reenlanders in terms of speed and tracking. Cap that with a low, sleek deck and plenty of rigging, and you’ve got a very functional and exciting unit.
Read and submit reviews for the Evasion 15.5.
The main thing is, DO try before you buy this boat. It's made for the smaller paddler (smaller as defined by height and shoe size, not necessarily weight). Also, the "tapered hull" isn't your typical hull configuration and it has a different feel on the water from anything else I've paddled (and I've paddled a lot of kayaks). It takes some getting used to. Those hard edges on the hull can make it more prone to flipping if you're not an experienced paddler or not paying attention. If I have a wave/boat wake getting ready to hit me broadside, I lean slightly "downstream" (away from the oncoming wave, as I learned in whitewater class), keep moving, and that seems to work fine. I've never flipped it unintentionally, but the first few times I paddled it, I thought it felt really twitchy. My advice is to paddle this boat a few times before you rule it out.
The tapered hull also makes it hard to turn until you learn how. If you lean with a sweep stroke, it carves very nicely. The low profile is fairly wind-resistant. I rarely use the rudder.
I think the concept of the tapered hull is intended to displace less water, thus allowing the kayak to move faster. As a result I believe I'm just a tad faster in it than I'd be in another kayak of similar dimensions.
When I paddle this boat on flat water (calm day) it's nice enough. But when I have it out "in conditions" (windy, choppy, reflective waves, etc.) that's when it really shines. Just keep moving... the secondary stability is wonderful and it handles the rough stuff like a pro. Handles following waves with only a slight movement toward broaching (easily corrected), and that's without the rudder down. With rudder down, following and quartering waves are not even a challenge.
My overall impression is that this is a quality-made boat, and a unique design. I agree that Riot has done something innovative with the tapered hull, and I'll give them points for that. The more I've paddled the Evasion, the more I've liked it. Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions about my review.
By the way, my previous touring kayak was a CD Sirocco, which I liked on dead calm water, but hated it when conditions got rough. I prefer the Evasion any day. But that's another story...
Formerly I paddled a Dagger Blackwater 11.5 but had trouble keeping up with the group I paddle with who mostly have kayaks in the 15'-17' range. So last year at a demo event, I tried the Riot Evasion among other kayaks. At first I wasn't sure about it because it has a "channelled hull" that looks much different from anything I have seen. It feels higher up and somewhat tippy at first when you sit in it, and I admit I almost dismissed it out of hand because it felt so "different". But once you get it moving, it seems to stabilize and be more predictable. The cockpit is on the small side and it fits me snug, but I like that because it gives me more control over the boat than I had in the Blackwater with that big cockpit. It was a welcome change.
Hatches: I had some slight leakage into the boat from the bungee and deck line attachment points, but I just fixed that with a little glop of silicone on each one and now it's fine. The storage capacity is less than you might think because the hull shape decreases the storage space. But I don't do much camping from my kayak so that has not been an issue for me. For my purposes, it is fine. And I very much like the neoprene hatch covers with hard plastic tops, and bungees that criss-cross over the top to prevent them popping off. Great design and easy to use.
Quality in general: Riot plastic seems to be more solid and less prone to changing shape in the heat than some of the cheaper boats. I guess you get what you pay for. (My boat retailed for $1,449 - not cheap.) It's also a smooth plastic finish (not that rumply finish some boats have) and that's good because I like to put decals on my boats and they won't stick to that rumply surface.
The Evasion has one of those metal things (sorry, don't know what its called) in front of the cockpit that you can use to loop a security cable through. Nice touch for when your traveling.
It has thigh braces, and the foot pegs are easy to adjust. Comfortable seat.
This kayak has a low profile and doesn't react much to wind. I have a rudder on mine but have never used it in my 20 or so outings. The channelled hull makes this kayak track like an arrow, and makes edged turns very effective. However, it's a bear to turn - not too maneuverable - but then I paddle on flat lakes so what do I care? I have to give Riot credit for being innovative in a market where everybody else seems to be doing the same thing. So keep an open mind when you test paddles this boat - it's not "business as usual" and it won't be what you're expecting, but once you get acclimated to it, you begin to understand what Riot intended, and it's really a good design and a quality boat in my opinion.
One caution: This boat is probably intended for women and/or smaller paddlers. While I am not small, I'm not very tall and my feet are not very big. With my feet on the footpegs, I notice I have about 1" of space for movement upwards - not much, but then I don't "angle" my feet a lot. If your heels were closer together, you might have a bit more upward room. Best to test paddle before buying to make sure it fits you, especially when spending this much money.
I'm rating this a 9 because I think overall the quality and design are quite impressive, and the thing that was lacking was easily fixed (leaking attachment points). As someone else said on a review, great boat if you are lucky enough to fit in it. And I am.