Outcast Pac 1200

Anybody got the goods on these boats. I've spent countless hours trying to decide on a two man pontoon, and I'm down to either this or the Steelheader. The Pac is about 1000 cheaper. The rivers I fish are pretty tame with a few class III sections, but are pretty flat for the most part. My main concern is the ruggedness of the pontoons. For pretty tame rivers, is the Pac 1200 enough boat? The Skookum pontoons have a strong following, but I haven't found a lot of people with expierience floating the Pac boats.


Not to be confused with freestoneangler
trekker, I have an older Pac 1200 and love it. Truthfully, the Steelheader is a beefier boat - steel vs aluminum frame, 4 chambers vs 2, heavier fabric plus rub strips, 21" vs 20" tubes, higher weight capacity, etc... but for me the Pac 1200 was all the boat I really needed. The Pac fit the bill (and budget) better for me but I’m very familiar with boat design and construction so I had no illusions about what I was and was not getting.

If I planned on running lots of heavier water I may have purchased the Steelheader but since I use it for mostly class I-II+, I felt the Pac was fine. I wouldn't worry as much about the tubes in class III as it's the same material as Aire's whitewater tubes (although with only one chamber/tube); I'd be more concerned about the frame if you will run lots of heavy water. I think it's best to buy the boat for the heaviest water you plan on running. My Pac is narrower (ie less stable) than the current model and the Steelheader and if I were running class III, I’d go for the wider boat. I was lucky as I already had a whitewater frame I could put on my Pac when needed so this wasn't a big concern for me. Pac tubes are more rockered than the Steelheader so if you’re running tight, technical water this may be an advantage. Steelheader argues that their flatter design gives you better fore and aft stability, but at 13’ the Pac tubes have plenty of flat surface and I’ve never felt unstable; I just make sure the trim is good when it’s loaded with gear and people.

As for features, I like the lean bar better on the Pac as I think it provides better lateral support. The cargo deck on the Pac is a more versatile but I wish it were lower like the Steelheader for better center of gravity. I prefer not to have a standing platform in the rower’s compartment as most of the rivers I use it for can get very shallow and it’s nice to be able to just jump down when walking over shallow spots. One final thing I like about Aire/Outcast is their warranty and excellent customer service and although it may be a false assumption on my part, I like feeling that Aire will be around long into the future if I have a problem.

Bottom line, they are both good boats and price aside, each has its strong points. So as always, it comes down to which combination of pros and cons best meets your specific needs.



Not to be confused with freestoneangler
trekker, it's held up fine but I've never had that frame in anything worse than II+. I've had it for 3-4 years and I bought it used. I believe it was from the first year or two of production and it's still going strong. No problems whatsoever, tubes or frame.

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
FWIW, I've been talking with Bill Day of Skookum a lot lately regarding some upgrades to an Osprey I recently acquired. He's really slammed as a result of a couple of recent sporting shows that left him sold out of inventory and scrambling to fill dozens of orders for new boats. If you're thinking about a Steelheader, you might want to contact Bill to see what his production lead time is before delivery.


Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Sue nailed it on the head. I use my boats pretty hard, and I like the weight capacity since I like to haul alot of gear. Plus, the higher weight capacity makes the boat float higher with bare bones people. I TOTALLY agree about the standing platform in the rowers compartment. Funny you said that Sue. When I custom built my last fishing frame for my 16' boat, I left the rowers compartment open just for that reason. I did put a set of "scout bars" in. They were foot stands near the rowers seat so I could stand up and look ahead, but still have the floor open so I could stand up. Just that slight amount of weight out and a slight lift of the frame and the boat would go over a low spot. GMTA! ;)

I used Outcasts (owned a few). They are fine for easy waters. Only thing I didn't like about the bigger outcasts were the width of the frames and how you really had to balance the boat out depending on passengers. Think it was how much rocker was in the tubes. Even my old 16' cataraft you had to balance it pretty good with multiple people. Now, when I ran a set of outfitter tubes from NRS (pretty flat waterline) balance wasn't as hard to do. I've slammed outcast for years, but more in a fun way. They got me by until I got my steelheader. I had my big whitewater boats. But they served me. Especially for summerrun steelheading. I had a bungee across the foot pegs of my old outcast and would get out and wetwade with the boat around me and fish the slots. Then get back in to keep fishing. Nice thing though with Bill's boats, you can take out the standing platform. It's only strapped in.

Bill is always backed up immediately after these shows. Unless you're in a hurry, I'd just wait. But sounds like you can get by with the outcast. So go with your gut instincts. I love Bill's boats, but now that I'm divorced and remarried, I don't have to go with the prebuilt boats anymore. I'm back to custom builts again (my custom builts well outweigh the cost of even Bill's boats, since I get top notch tubes and frames). Hoping in the next year or so to either buy a complete Coho from Sotar with multiple frames (for single or double people) or have my own custom frames built for it. Then go and build a big boat again (16' tubes) with multiple frames (won't do a single again, was fine when I built it, but like the adjustability of multiples).
Well, after much consideration, I decided to order the Pac 1200. Got it from Flyfishusa with free shipping. After weighing all the pro's and con's I figured it will be plenty of boat. Thanks for your insight.

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