Large Nirvana First Impressions: Chile

Almost nine years ago I came to Chile for the second time, excited as ever with a new Mega Rocker in hand and a landscape of paddling opportunities in front of me. Many things have changed since then, but most things here in Chile are still the same. This time I showed up with a shiny new Large Nirvana and spring conditions ready to revisit old favorites and explore some of the new classics.

So how do you improve an already amazing kayak like the Nirvana?

For some people, you make it a little longer, add a little more volume, and optimize the rocker profile for a higher weight range.

At around 185 lbs or 84 kg, I feel great in the Nirvana with it being super maneuverable but still able to maintain speed in a line and stay nicely on top of the water. It manages very well with some camping and photo gear packed in, but for me the Nirvana really excels on day trips with minimal extra weight. While paddling with a weeks worth of food and gear, I couldn’t help but wonder what a little extra volume would do for the performance.

The Large Nirvana takes many traits of the regular Nirvana to the next level. Because I sit slightly higher in the water I have noticed very little loss of maneuverability. In some situations better maneuverability because the edges stay higher above boiling funky water. The Large is slightly wider, giving even more stability but never getting in the way of vertical paddle strokes. If you ever paddled a large Karma, you know that boat may have been too wide, and the large Nirvana never feels that wide. Because of the mostly even width from knee to just behind the seat it is still easy to engage the edges and super stable once on edge.

Then there is the speed. I should say the SPEED. The little extra length of the large size adds significant speed, making it easier to glide through rapids with fewer strokes.

What it all adds up to for me is a boat that, even with its extra size and weight, requires less energy to paddle and allows me to focus on hitting fun and/or harder lines, enjoy the river more, and know the boat is going to sail through the big stuff.

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