posted a comprehensive comparison between the old and new Outback, along with some excellent pictures here:
We took one out recently, along with a Revolution for comparison, and noticed that each has a distinct feel. Here's a look at some of the differences:
They both fit easily on the truck. Here the longer Revolution gets the top bunk while the Outback rides comfortably in the 6" bed, with bed extender (Harbor Freight on sale for $30). Either will ride in the bed easily, however.
Both are very stable. The Outback has a very high initial stability -- it feels like you could dance on the deck (comparatively speaking):
The Revo is no skinny Minnie though when it comes to stability:
(It should be noted that neither boat is suitable for standing activities without a Sidekick accessory. This is for illustration purposes only).
With more distinct chines, the Outback maintains a high stability until a certain angle of heel, then it gives up quickly. Easier to rock, the Revo increases its lateral resistance with heel, then gradually will go over with more warning. With either boat, though, you have to make a huge effort to fall out or capsize.
In heavy swells and chop from the beam, the Revo can maintain it's attitude better by leaning into the swells; The Outback, more of a bobber, affords less control over the rolling imposed by the water.
In one hour "fast cruise" the Revolution went about 5.1 miles, while (same tester, different occasion) the Outback did about 4.8 miles (GPS, with Turbofins). So roughly, you could expect only about 1/4 MPH difference in range and cruising speed. This would probably increase in heavier weather, as the Revo has an advantage cutting through chop with its finer bow lines.
If the Revolution can turn on a dime, the Outback can turn on a pin head. Both are excellent turners, but the Outback has a decided edge. The sailing rudder, while not tested on the Outback, makes a great addition to the Revo at a modest price (especially if sailing).
If the Outback has an annoying trait, its got to be its "slaphappy" hull. It makes a lot of noise and spray as it continuously minces water from even small chop. As you can see in this next picture, given a little quartering head wind, you won't avoid the spray:
The Revolution's demeanor is quieter and more refined through the water, by comparison. Of course, neither has the smooth, quiet elegance of the Adventure, so perhaps I'm just spoiled.
Both kayaks handle boat wakes well and are fun riders. Here, the Outback is showing its potential: Without any foredeck, it admits water easier, but it quickly exhausts through the drive well:
For speed, range and versatility I prefer the Revolution. I think it's also one of the best sailing kayaks in the Hobie line (have sailed with, but not in the Outback, so cannot fairly compare).
But the Outback is hard to beat for its expansive cockpit layout and rugged, tank like construction. For shallow water operation, I would favor its maneuverability and tough, rigid hull.
Each with its own advantages, the better if the two would be determined by ones individual needs and priorities.