North Fork Outdoors: Finally Responds to Warranty Claims

UPDATE #2:  Finally had a desire to take two frameless water crafts on an upcoming trip (Water Master Grizzly replaced the Escape as my fishing craft of choice), so I inflated the Escape to test repair effort no. 2… leaks were present in all the same spots.  Utterly disappointed. 

UPDATE #1:  My buddy Bill ran into a NFO representative at a fly fishing show near or in Sacramento.  Through Bill’s banter with the rep regarding his eyewitness account of the failed repairs, I received a text message directly from Dave Scadden saying that he would repair the Escape.  He has done so, although I have yet to inflate it and test it out.  I will say the repairs look to be much more robust than the first set, but we’ll see how it holds air on one of my upcoming trips.  More to come later.  

I purchased my Outlaw Escape from North Fork Outdoors (NFO) in the fall of 2010.  Although I’d been a contented owner of several Fish Cat tubes, I was looking for a compact tube that provided a footrest to rest my feet out of frigid water as well as a unique oar system that could handle the windy days that often descend upon my favorite reservoirs.  NFO is owned and operated by Dave Scadden. 

Brand New NFO Outlaw Escape – October 26, 2010

I was aware of Scadden’s products, having first borrowed an Escalade X on my 2003 Henderson Springs trip with good friend Bill Bergan (who also owns a couple Scadden products).  After Scadden introduced his NFO Outlaw series I would frequently check the NFO website, watching for a frameless model designed more for Nevada’s reservoirs than the whitewater rivers of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.  So, when I first laid my eyes on his Outlaw Escape I was certain I had found my nirvana.  Or so I thought. 

Borrowed Escalade X – November 2003

I purchased my Escape in the fall of 2010.  Until the spring of 2014 it provided 4 years of yeoman service.  Over those years I touted my delight over the Outlaw Escape’s performance, and I received numerous inquiries about the watercraft.  At first readers just wanted to know how the Escape compared to the Fish Cat, Caddis, and other similar tubes.  I always replied that it was superior. 

Fish Cat – The Workhorse

More sophisticated tubers were worried about NFO’s use of Bravo valves manufactured by Scoprega out of Italy.  (I did report my disappointment that the Escape did not come with an acceptable valve adapter for filling the tube.)  Several commenters reported concerns about the Bravo valves rather than the more common Halkey Roberts valves.  The writers said they could not find parts for them.  But my research uncovered a marine outfitter, Defender, that supplies Bravo valve replacements and tools.  Consequently, my blog advised not to let the new Bravo valves become a reason to avoid the NFO Outlaw watercrafts. You can read many of these comments on the bottom of my New Watercraft blog posted December 9, 2010.

However, my fervor for the Escape began to wane in May 2014 when I began to notice the glue separation on the rack and pinion (R&P) integrated oar system.  The high winds experienced during my Southwest Fly Fishing photoshoot necessitated additional force on the oaring system, resulting in a partial glue failure. (In my opinion, the design of the R&P integrated systems is flawed in the long haul, and I’m wondering if the design used on NFO’s Switch Blade is a better solution.)  I continued to use the Escape through the summer and fall of 2014, relying on finning more than the oaring for obvious reasons.  Unfortunately, by the fall season the glue on the black cones at the tip of the pontoons was starting to separate, too.  Although I had no apparent leaks, that was my obvious concern.  Finning rather than oaring was one thing, but risking a tube leak was quite another.  

When Bill Bergan and I began to plan our Ruby Marsh fishing trip I decided it was time to check on that NFO lifetime warranty.  I emailed Scadden with pictures of the problem and he confirmed the glue was warranted for life:

“Hi Mark. Yes it sounds like it will be covered under warranty so please send it back to the shop with a note attached stating the problem and we will get it taken care of for you. Thanks so much! Dave”

Here are the pictures I emailed Scadden on March 5, 2015

Glue Separation on Cone
R&P Integrated Oar System Glue Separation

To his credit, Scadden returned the repaired tube within a week before my Ruby Marsh departure.  I inflated the tube and inspected the repairs.  The cone repair looked okay, but the repair to the R&P integrated oar system was not.  Unfortunately, I did not have time to send the Escape back.  Also, I did not have a pool in which to test the tube for leaks.

My very first float with the repaired Escape was on the calm water of the Ruby Marshes.  Within two hours my escape was looking like a “Chinese Shar-Pei dog” according to my buddy Bill.  When we headed for the Wild Horse Reservoir in northeastern Nevada the next day, I was able to check out the tube in the water before launch.  It had a small leak in just below the port-side pontoon cone, which was just repaired by Scadden.  I used a UV sealer to plug the leak, overlaid it with duct tape, and launched the tube.  However, after a few hours I noticed the other tube bladder was losing air as well.  By the time I extracted from the reservoir there was noticeably less air pressure.  Submerging that cone into the reservoir revealed yet another leak.  The following self-explanatory pictures were emailed to Scadden on May 9, 2015:

I have not floated the Escape since last April.  I have placed no less than three phone calls to Scadden, leaving voice messages each time.  I’ve sent three emails, with detailed pictures of the leaking cones.  I’ve received no callbacks or emails, other than to say, “We have received your email and will respond and soon as possible.

As much as I enjoyed the tube’s performance for 4 years, I cannot say I’d recommend the NFO products to anyone given Scadden’s non responsiveness to the warranty coverage. NFO currently sells the escape for $999.99 full retail, and it lasted less than five years. My three Fish Cats, purchased well over ten years ago for about $140 each, still hold their air. You be the judge on taking a $1,000 risk that Scadden builds quality products, and more importantly keeps his word as to the warranty.

Author: FisherDad

I am a Christian who has been married to my wife for over four decades, with six children and four grandchildren so far. I have retired from a string of successful occupations as a certified public accountant, a chief financial officer, and a registered municipal advisor. I have been a fly angler for almost five decades. My one and only article submission was published by Southwest Fly Fishing magazine (now American Fly Fishing). You can learn more about me by clicking on “About” on the top of my blog page.

10 thoughts on “North Fork Outdoors: Finally Responds to Warranty Claims”

  1. I too have have a rough patch with Dave. Sent my raft in for leacking cones and the product u received bach looked like a child was tasked to complete it.

  2. I have the same issue and other issues with my NFO Dave Scadden Outlaw Renegade that i purchased in summer 2014. When I fold it for transport the PVC fabric cracks and it leaks. The black nose cone has also come unglued and leaks due to glue failure. Repeated calls and multiple emails to NFO Dave Scadden for warranty service have gone unanswered. I also stopped by the NFO Dave Scadden booth a the 2017 Somerset Fly Fishing trade show in NJ in late January to see if i could get some help with warranty repair. The Utah based staff person who was manning the booth had no desire to help or even take our names ( I was with another angler who had similar issues). What a totally scam this company is running. Buyer beware.

  3. I've yet to test the second round of repairs by Scadden. Frankly, the Water Master Grizzly is fulfilling my needs very well, and I'm afraid I'll get a failure while fishing the Escape on a large reservoir again. Who needs that grief…

    Thanks for the post, and wish your outcome with Scadden was different.

  4. I too have had bad post purchase customer service with the folks at NFO/ Scadden.

    I made the choice to purchase an Assault X with the transom after two of my friends had them. I liked how small they packed down, the lightness and ease of maneuverability they had on the water. I though I was upgrading from a rock solid, reliable but heavier Fishcat 10!

    #1 When installing the transom I noticed that both of the stainless steel mounting tubes were both the same side! I emailed photos of these to NFO multiple times and no reply! So I had to cut one of them and couple them together with a 1/2" EMT conduit coupling. I shake my head every time I look at that on my boat.

    #2 After about 9 outings I noticed that my seat base would deflate. Finally locked it down to a leaking seam. I emailed them again and no response.

    After reading many accounts of NFO/ Scadden bad after sales service I'm quite surprised that no one has walked Dave out the back of a convention centre and 'shown him some after sales customer service manners'.

    So, I'll continue to inflate my seat every time I take the boat out lol.

    Thanks for an almost awesome boat Dave, I hope you enjoyed the hard earned money I payed you for it.

  5. I finally got around to testing Scadden's seam repairs from 2 years ago (my Big Sky's Water Master Grizzly has been doing the job in the meanwhile). All he did was drip rubber cement along all the seams where the PVC fabric joins the plastic cones at the end of the tubes. My testing revealed it still has leaks in the same places. Definitely recommend a different manufacturer… if I can even use that term to describe Scadden's enterprise.

  6. FYI
    I have an Outlaw Escape–it is a great "toon. However, after 7 years of very occasional use, the oar-pin pads started coming "unglued" and i have removed them. I have placed 3 or 4 calls to Scadden's business, but only get an answering machine. I simply want their recommendation on the adhesive I should use, but they seem too busy to reply. The product is great, the service, not so much

  7. Sent two email messages regarding the footrest rubber receiver on my persuit boat I bought in 2015 and no response. The rubber portion is starting to crack away from the rubber ring. Any suggestions on a fix? Bob.

  8. There are some good marine PVC glue products out there. To do the repair right you'll need to peal off the article needing to be re-glued. Prepare both surfaces by sanding off the old glue residue and rough up both surfaces… but don't overdue it on the bladder, and use a fine grit paper. Clean off with rubbing alcohol, and then follow the glue manufacturer's instructions. Here are a few links on marine PVC glue:–hypalon-and-pvc-inflatable-boat-adhesives–P010_301_007_513

    The only place on the Escape this has failed me is where the red PVC fabric overlaps around the black end cones… I was never confident enough to rip off all that fabric and prepare it for a full re-gluing. Consequently, every attempt to stop the various leaks at the cone have miserably failed, even with the high-end marine glue products.

    So, I purchased a Savage Gear 170 as a replacement:

  9. Bob –

    Regarding the rubber receiver, you might find a replacement searching the internet, then follow my above advice on the removal, prep, and gluing of the placement. I located Escape replacement valves (manufactured by Scoprega out of Italy) in the Defender catalog. You might find a close replacement here, or use their D-rinds and replace both receivers and then use nylon webbing to tie a flexible footrest.

    Defender D-rings:|294&id=4099075

    Nylon climbing webbing:

    Regarding my failed Escape, note that I bought it half-price in 2010; it was a fishing show floor model. I sometimes thought Scadden knew it was flawed from the get go, but the number of comments posted from folks like you tells me he's habitually unresponsive to his lifetime warranty.

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