I wrote a review on the tramps (as a fishing accessory) for Hobiefishing.com.au (Hobie's Aussie yak fishing site), which I thought I might share here:
When Hobie first announced the inclusion of the new Island tramps to their range of accessories at first I wasn't sure how much benefit they might provide for an Island kayak fisherman. It doesn't take much of a stretch of the imagination to assume that they would be beneficial for optimal sailing - indeed, this is their primary purpose (allowing the user to hike out onto the tramp for improved weight distribution). At the time of writing I'm yet to test that out due to poor sailing conditions. But despite fairly average fishing conditions, I have tested them out extensively while kayak fishing over the past few weekends and have concluded that they most certainly do offer a lot of utility for a fisherman.
However it was matters of safety and convenience that first inspired me to upgrade. Whilst pedalling along with the Island configured as an outrigger kayak (single ama only) several weeks back I took a lazy approach back to my landing ground at Woody Head, electing to come in through the surf boundaries instead of around them. A brief moment of hesitation passed over me as I considered the best way to tackle an incoming wave, which looked certain to break right on cue. That hesitation allowed the wave to catch me unprepared. Although it wasn't terribly big the wave did hit at full force, breaking right over the yak, swinging it onto its side and almost causing it to capsize. Had I not quickly leaned over and put weight on the ama, I would have flipped out for sure. This happened twice.
Both times I was able to keep the yak upright, although when leaning out to bear weight on the ama I almost missed a hand hold, and very nearly fell out between it and the hull. It was there and then that I realised that having a tramp in place would have made it a much safer, more natural and easier action to perform. When I arrived at work the following day the very first thing I did was order a set of black tramps (also available in grey).
Upon receiving the tramps the first thing I noticed was the quality of the materials used. The tramp fabric itself is a heavy duty woven PVC, which is both highly durable and also completely corrosion resistant. It's not the sort of fabric that deteriorates in any hurry. It's construction also includes heavy duty webbing straps, high quality snap buckles, a fibreglass support pole (for even tension at the rear) and a few bungee loops. The forward edge of the tramp is formed into a wide sleeve, which is where the forward aka is fed into. Once fitted to the front aka, it's then just a simple matter of attaching the rear edge to the rear aka. This is done by clipping it over the aka tube with length-adjustable webbing straps that lock into place using snap buckles. With all five webbing straps pulled in tightly the tramp is surprisingly taught.
Installing the tramps is as easy as that. When packing them up it's simply a matter of un-clipping the buckles and rolling the tramp up to the forward aka. There are 2 bungee loops designed to wrap around the rolled tramp that hold it in place nicely. The amas can be folded forward or back with the tramp rolled up, although not with it fully attached. I wasn't sure if this would be a problem or not, but as it turns out, it really isn't. The various scenarios in which folding the amas can otherwise be useful (for me that's either landing a fish or accessing my video camera) have become a moot point. Its just as easy (easier) to just climb out onto the tramp itself.
Indeed, the ability to do this is one of the qualities that I have very quickly learned to love about the tramps. When drift fishing it's quite a refreshing change to sit back on the tramp and dangle a line over the ama. Whilst doing this does mean getting a bit of a wet backside in choppier water, it would be a great way to cool off in summer. The tramps are rated to support a load of around 200lbs, so they can take a lot of weight. So much so that it would be possible to take out a friend or pet for a ride as well, providing the over all load doesn't exceed the boats load carrying capacity. The ability to carry so much weight also makes it an extremely useful accessory for kayak camping ventures. I have an 80 litre drybag that I intend to fill with camping kit (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, food, extra clothes, etc) that I plan to use for a kayak camping trip next weekend and have absolutely no doubts that the tramp will carry the load easily. To be able to store it so easily is very convenient indeed.
An unexpected (but obvious) advantage that came to me almost as soon as I started using it is the extra deck space it affords. Desk space is premium real estate on any kayak, but a single tramp adds an extra 12 square feet, all of it conveniently positioned right next to you. Prior to adding the tramps, almost every task I've ever had to perform on a kayak, I've had to do between my legs. Not now that I'm using tramps, however. If I want to sort through my tackle box or safety kit I can now do it on the tramp, allowing me to spread things out more. I also find the tramp very handy for tying on leaders and re-rigging rods. Its simply easier to do when you have more space to work with. I'm yet to land a big fish while using the tramp, but am certainly looking forward to the luxury of de-hooking a metre+ long tuna from upon the tramp(as opposed to between my legs).
Finally, there is another instantly noticable advantage of having the tramps installed, which is that they help to keep the deck a lot drier. They are very effective at shielding away inadvertent splashing caused when the amas bounce around on the water. Not only does this help to keep me drier, it also helps to keep my reels and camera a lot drier as well. This will help preserve the shelf life of these (rather expensive) items significantly, making the tramps a great investment in gear maintenance as well.
So by introducing the tramps into the mix, Hobie have added dimensions to the functionality of the Island. Not only will the tramps allow for enhanced sailing in high winds, they are also extremely versatile as a load-bearing platform and can be used as such in a variety of ways. When I stop to think about it, I can't imagine many usage scenarios where the tramp wouldn't prove to be useful. If you own an Island, or are planning to become part of the Island club, be sure to look closely at the tramps. They are the sort of product that you will continue to appreciate long after you've forgotten how much you paid to get it.
Yes... you can stand up on them... but it does feel a bit wobbly under-foot.