Quick update, now that the new Ion is available in a variety of colors, and the first batch has shipped.
It's taken a long time for us to come to terms with it, but the new Ion is definitely better than the old Ion. At first, we thought it might just be different, but having paddled it now for a couple months, and more importantly, talking with paddlers who have experience with both, the new Ion is the superior choice. It is faster, way better on waves, and more fun than the original. The only sacrifice made was with initial stability, but the secondary stability is the same if not better. It also rolls slightly easier.
This review comes from Golder Goldstein of Asheville, who had paddle the original Ion for years before demoing and ultimately purchasing a new whip:An enthusiastic but long-winded Blackfly Ion Gen2 review:
A few months ago in Colorado I had the opportunity to spend a couple days demoing the new Ion, and I gotta say, Jeremy really nailed it with this one. I’ve been paddling the gen 1 Ion for a year or more, on everything from the Ocoee to the Rocky Broad, and I love it. It’s hands down one of the most fun boats I’ve ever paddled. I could say it’s stable, forgiving, dry, and it is, but really there is no better way to describe it than fun. In the time I’ve spend paddling the original Ion, hoping that Jeremy would bring the boat back to market, I’ve given a lot of thought to what tweaks I’d like to see in a new, updated version. And after hopping in the 2.0, I quickly found the new version keeps all the things I like about the original while still making a few great improvements. Overall, I think it’s more fun and more ‘Ion-y’ than the original.
Specifically, the boat is quicker edge to edge, making it more nimble and responsive. The flip side of this is a tiny bit of the primary stability is forfeited, but it’s still quite stable and forgiving. The reworking of the edges also improved secondary stability, and with the narrower edge profile, it’s easier to engage the edges and the secondary, making eddy turns more exciting, tighter and faster. All of this amounts to more fun and mobile, though perhaps a bit less ‘idiot proof’ (what I like to call “more exciting!”). I consider myself a solid class IV/IV+ paddler, I run some class V, and a walk a lot of it too. Over the years, as I’ve progressed in the sport, I’ve taken a lot of time to consider the implications of running class V water. I’ve thought about the cost-benefit analysis, explored my own personal motivations, and ruminated on the psychological and emotional stress of putting myself close to ‘the line’ frequently. The conclusion I’ve come to is, for me, it’s supposed to be fun. Sometimes I like to freak myself out, a little, but really, when it comes down to it, being scared shitless all the time isn’t that fun for me. I wanna have fun! And that’s what the Ion is, a lotta fun. It’s not one of those boats to make hard runs easier. It’s not made to will let you float along without your paddle in the water. But it is a fantastic craft if you want to rock spin, boof, surf and play your way down stream. And somehow, it’s still stable and forgiving and predictable enough that I feel comfortable playing my way down runs that are at the limit of what I feel comfortable on.
Having got my new Ion, I was super impressed with the build quality: the hull is beautiful, the saddle improved, and even the thwarts and hardware are of very high quality. I took the Ion down our local, ‘backyard’ creek run for it’s first run, and was super stoked. I knew I’d like it, having paddled it in Colorado, but getting it back home and onto my local favorite run, it was easy to see how spot on the improvements are and what a great boat this is--I’m thrilled!
And here is a video of the first couple days with the new Ion on the Dryway in Massachusetts:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8pvrHGMnPI