Picked up my brand new, just out of the packaging (but previous model year) 2011 Hobie Oasis today.
What a boat!!
We've owned a Revolution, and an Adventure Island in the past, but there were quite a few little changes that I noticed on this Oasis that I really like.
Overall the size of the boat was very nice. To fit two people comfortably in a boat that is only 13 inches longer than a Revolution, and the same width as an Outback, is quite impressive. You would think that it would be a boat full of compromises, but it isn't.
By contrast, the top side of my old Adventure had a lot of wasted space. The nose of that boat was very long, but had just a single hatch. In that sense, the Oasis is sort of the "anti-Adventure" There simply is no wasted space at all on the top side of this boat. Every foot of this boat is functional.
So let's start with some of the changes that I noticed right off the top.
I love the way the drive wells are now much deeper in the boat. My Adventure (Island) and Revolution were much shallower meaning that as the boat was weighted down, more and more of the footwell area would take on water. The first time that I saw this design feature was on the Tandem Island. It's nice to see that they are carrying it over into the Oasis. It should translate to a drier area by your feet.
Second, I noticed the larger handles for each passenger
There was nothing particularly wrong with the old molded in handle on our last two boats, but these are more comfortable to grip, and they seem to be a nice safety feature if you're swimming outside of the boat. Being able to wrap your hand around the entire handle should help in getting back into the boat, or even just hanging on to the boat while swimming beside it. Not a big thing, but certainly something that visually stands out as being new.
The last big thing that I noticed was the standard "sailing rudder"
Our Revolution had the standard small rudder, but my Adventure Island had the larger sailing rudder. I love the difference in control and feel that this larger rudder gives. It's not an expensive upgrade, and is one that I would have done anyways, but it's great to see that Hobie went ahead and did it for me. If you haven't tried the larger rudder, it's worth spending the few bucks it costs to upgrade.
I also noticed that it's mounted a little bit differently and has a different style rudder pin.
I'm not sure of the benefits of this different mounting position, or the new pin, but I'd be glad to hear from anyone who know.
Other observations. I love that this boat comes with 3 Twist and Seal hatches in addition to the 4th hatch at the very front of the boat. I lost a pair of gloves in my Adventure that I never realized were in there for weeks. It was just too difficult to reach where they were. This boat seems to allow plenty of access front to back.
I really liked the fact that either seating position has full control of the rudder. Not just steering, but up/down control as well. Giving either position full control really adds to the versatility of the boat. I also noticed a significant improvement in the effort required to use the up/down lines from both seating positions. They are much easier to use than either my old Revolution, or Adventure Island.
In the past, I've been a huge proponent of the Turbo fins. As far as performance, they're unbeatable. However I stayed with the standard fins on this boat for a couple of reasons. First, we can always upgrade later. But second, I like the durability of these fins. The Turbo's do stick out a long way, and because the masts on the turbo's don't reach the bottom of the fin, it is possible to puncture the tip of the mast through the 3/4 mark of the fin. It's repairable, and I've never had to replace the turbo fins, but the shorter fins with the firm rubber, and masts that go to the end strike me as a slight bit more durable. Seeing as I intend to take a number of people out on this boat who would never usually have the opportunity to use a Mirage drive boat, I like the standard fins.
Half the fun of kayaking is going to shallow areas that other boats can't get to. The standard fins give just a little bit more clearance to go to those places before needing to flutter the fins. Speed is less of an issue for us this time because we have 2 people pedalling, and we'll never run away from the other, as can often happen when using two separate kayaks.
And now for the "issues" that I have with the boat.
The first is a design issue. With the Oasis being a tandem, I can see myself pulling the front drive quite regularly. It won't fit into the front hatch, and therefore always has to sit on the top of the boat. It's a small thing, but the drives do sink, and it would be nice to put them inside the boat. We bought a drive leash to ensure that we don't have a problem.
The other thing that I found is a VERY minor thing that is specific to my boat, and not the Oasis in general. The rear rod holder cap won't sit in place no matter what I try. A small thing, and not one that bothers me, but worth mentioning.
One design feature that I thought I might miss, but now realize won't be an issue is the rear on-deck storage area. The Revolution and Adventure have very large recessed areas covered by a zig-zag bungee cords. These are perfect to stick large dry bags on when you go for a solo camping trip. The Oasis has a similar area, but it is much smaller. It's still quite useful, but I thought that it might be a little too small to fit my largest dry bags. That's when I realized that if I was ever to use this kayak in a solo
camping trip, I would have the entire front section to use as an on-deck storage area. The fact is that for two people to camp from this boat, you need to pack smart. But for one person to camp, I've actually got 200 lbs more capacity (if I load the boat evenly) than I had in the 16 foot long Adventure Island. I also have far more on-deck storage by simply removing the front drive and seat, and using that area as storage. To solo the Oasis, you would want a little bit of ballast anyways. So as a solo camping boat, this could work quite well! In fact, it could be one of the best boats in the Hobie line-up for taking gear with you.
Finally. One thing that I just figured out, that I'm not sure if I could do on either the Adventure or the Revolution. The clip that holds the Mirage Drive fins locked to the bottom of the boat always seems to be in the way. I never knew where to put it when it wasn't in use, and sometimes found it to be annoying as it sat underneath my legs. Well, on the Oasis, in both seating positions, you can tuck it up the drain in the mesh pockets! Perfect!! Out of the way, but still readily accessible.
I'll update this post after I've used the boat for a weekend on the water. If the weather co-operates, I should be able to do that this weekend.