This Nor Cak News article is the first in what we plan as an ongoing series of articles highlighting North Carolina businesses and entrepreneurs who have made their passion their profession. Liquid Logic and Native Watercraft kayaks - manufactured just outside of Asheville - is one of those businesses.
We recently picked up a new Liquid Logic kayak at their facility in Fletcher, NC. It has always been important to us to support local NC businesses - and as a long time paddler of Liquid Logic kayaks I also know that Liquid Logic makes some of the best boats and has the most loyal customers in the whitewater industry. While we were at the Liquid Logic/Native Watercraft facility we had the opportunity to talk to one of the founders and owners, and local whitewater paddling legend Shane Benedict.
What’s the story behind how Liquid Logic and Native Watercraft were started?
Liquid Logic was started in 1999 by a group of us that was working at Perception kayaks at the time. Perception got bought out by a venture capital company and we ended up seeing a lot of changes that we didn’t like so we left there and started Liquid Logic. It was a passion thing for us. We just wanted to make really good boats that we wanted to paddle.
Native was started in 2006 and the original plan with Native was to make modern boats based on native designs like the Alaskan and Native American canoes and kayaks. One of our original sales reps was a big time fisherman and he really emphasized the ability to fish out of these boats and when kayak fishing really took off Native was able to fill that niche because of his vision.
We have a boat at Native called the Ultimate which is a hybrid kayak/canoe that really sets that standard for stability and utility as well as being lightweight. It is actually used quite a bit by not only fishermen but waterfowl hunters, birders and photographers as well.
You explained the story behind the name Native Watercraft, but what’s the story behind the name Liquid Logic?
We’ve tried and tried to remember how we actually came up with that name but we don’t actually know how the final name ended up being what it is. We were really excited about using the word Liquid for a kayaking company and then Logic just popped. We still can’t figure out who said it but as soon as we heard the name together we knew that was it.
Why did you base Liquid Logic in western North Carolina?
Ease of access to the Green river. Woody (another founder/owner) and I started paddling the Green river really early on and always loved it and loved the fact that it ran all the time. We loved the area, we love the mountains, and we’re close to Asheville which is a cool town. But the Green river is a pretty amazing training ground. If you feel comfortable on the Green you can paddle a lot of places.
Aside from the Green where are your favorite places to paddle in NC?
The Linville Gorge is a classic and you can’t beat it. It’s tough, intimidating, committing – it’s a big day but it’s an amazing stretch of river. I also grew up going to summer camp in Highlands, NC and I hiked and swam all over in the headwaters of the Chattooga. So a lot of the rivers and creeks up there like the Toxaway, Horse Pasture, Whitewater - all that stuff in the Jocassee drainage. Another one that sticks out as a classic, and one of the early creeks I ever ran was Overflow creek. I’d call that another home turf run for me.
What are you most excited about for the future of Liquid Logic and Native Watercraft?
Just to keep making the boats that Woody and I and the Pat Keller’s (2014 Paddler of the Year) of the world want to paddle and just to inspire and help people keep falling in love with the sport. That’s the goal!
Liquid logic kayaks are available through direct-to-customer sales at liquidlogickayaks.com which allows them to offer their whitewater kayaks at a cheaper price than other manufacturers. To save even more on shipping take a trip out to western NC to pick up your boat, check out their facility and enjoy the mountains! If you are in the area you can check out Liquid Logic and Native Watercraft kayaks at their factory store in Fletcher, NC. Liquid Logic kayaks are also available to demo at the following partner demo centers:
- Asheville Adventure Rentals – Asheville, NC
- Green River Adventures – Saluda, NC
- US National Whitewater Center – Charlotte, NC
Native Watercraft kayaks are available at the following local dealers:
- Diamond Brand Outdoors – Arden, NC
- Get Outdoors – Greensboro, NC
- Outdoor Supply Company – Hickory, NC
- Mountain Outfitters – West Jefferson, NC
- Hook, Line, and Paddle – Wilmington, NC
- Hunt, Fish, Paddle – Lake Wylie, SC (near Charlotte)
- Appomattox River Company – Hampton, VA (closest dealer to Northeast NC and OBX)