Riot’s Liberty 16 uniquely offers many performance traits of a high-end, semi-hard-chine British-style kayak in a smaller, less expensive light-touring package.
The Liberty has the slightly boxy cross section reminiscent of larger brit-style boats like the NDK explorer, Wilderness Systems Tempest or Necky Chatham 16—steep, high sides, semi-hard chine, a flat deck and very shallow V-shaped bottom.
The minimal rocker and long waterline of a racing boat give the Liberty decent tracking and optimal speed for its length when paddling forward. it’s playful on edge, however, turning giddily fast when moving or spinning in place with ease. Most paddlers will want to opt for the skeg to keep from skidding into a turn when they stop paddling. One tester commented that the skeg also improved stability, which is moderate.
The Liberty 16 is a fun little boat for medium-sized paddlers. It’s plenty deep and wide enough to comfortably fit everyone in Riot’s recommended weight range of 150 to 220 pounds (68 to 100 kilos), though many will find the cockpit opening too short to exit legs-first.
Riot’s Cross Light is an ABS-acrylic vacuum-thermoformed material that offers the light weight and look of composite with the lower price and durability of poly plastic.
The Liberty 16 is a great entry-level craft for someone who wants a taste of performance or an intermediate who’s working their way into the high-performance club but not prepared to lay down the plastic (pun intended) to pay fibreglass or Kevlar initiation fees.
length: 15 ft 5 in
width: 21.5 in
depth: 11.5 in
weight: 56 lbs
cockpit: 30.5×19.5 in
bow hatch: 16.75×9 in, 65 litres
stern hatch: 16.75×9 in, 90 litres
day hatch: 7.7 in
MRSP: $1999 CA, $1599 US – no skeg, $2149 CA, $1699 US skeg
This article first appeared in the Summer 2006 issue of Adventure Kayak magazine. For more boat reviews, subscribe to Adventure Kayak’s print and digital editions here.