Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Watersports

NSP 14' Flatwater Coco Mat

83

2014

NSP 14' Flatwater Coco Mat

The new NSP 14' Flatwater Coco Mat craft will appeal to recreational racers–this board is fast. NSP claims the Coconut husk fibers sandwiched in with the boards fiberglass and epoxy core make it the lightest and strongest SUP’s on the market. 

NRS Czar 6

81

2014

NRS Czar 6

With experience from inflatable river rafts and kayaks, NRS has put together a consumer friendly product in the NRS Czar. Those sticking to fun size waves and short treks will enjoy the ease of use, safety and excellent portability of this design.

NRS Mayra

80

2014

NRS Mayra

The NRS Mayra works well as a no-fuss SUP board that travels well. The design is especially well suited to SUP yoga fans and fitness paddlers.

Innova Swing II

79

2014

Innova Swing II

Innova Swing II is a great option as a touring IK when you want to stay out of the elements, thanks to an enclosed deck and a streamlined shape for hull speed. 

Advanced Elements Attack

78

2014

Advanced Elements Attack

The Advanced Elements Attack is a great starter boat for gentle whitewater and has one of the best price points around; but it’s not necessarily designed for the Grand Canyon.

SOAR S10

77

2014

SOAR S10

The SOAR S10 is the perfect craft if you’re planning on as much touring as you are whitewater. Its rocker means quick spinning in tight situations, but it comes at the cost of speed. Its high profile also is a bit of a bear in the wind.

SOTAR Liquid SL

82

2014

SOTAR Liquid SL

The SOTAR Liquid SL is a great, durable kayak especially suited for tight, technical whitewater. Larger tube diameters keep you high and dry and ample rocker aids turning, albeit at the sacrifice of hull speed compared to more fleet-footed models. 

AIRE Force 1

83

2014

AIRE Force 1

Buy the AIRE Force 1 if you’re serious about IKing whitewater. While a tad spendy, it’s a great design combining maneuverability with hole-punching ability that will handle waterways of all walks. 

Hyside Stinger

83

2014

Hyside Stinger

The Hyside Stinger is beefcake mobile for getting you through big water high and dry. It’s the craft of choice if you’re heading out in big water like the Grand, and is built to last a generation.

NRS Outlaw 1

82

2014

NRS Outlaw 1

The NRS Outlaw 1 is a great inflatable kayak for tooling around in whitewater. It handles great for most every application you’ll throw at it, and gets you out on the water less expensively than any other worthwhile watercraft.

Dagger Jitsu

83

2014

Dagger Jitsu

The Dagger Jitsu proved perfect for park and play and whitewater play runs. It seemed to have a looser hull than other playboats we sampled, and was bar none the most comfortable of the bunch.

WaveSport ReCon

85

2014

WaveSport ReCon

The WaveSport ReCon is a full-fledged creek boat for raising your game on Class IV-V whitewater. If you’re doing a lot of hiking—maybe not.

Wenonah Minnesota II

89

2012

Wenonah Minnesota II

The Wenonah Minnesota II is a ridiculously light expedition canoe with few frills and a penchant for speed.

Old Town Saranac 160 XT

86

2012

Old Town Saranac 160 XT

The Saranac 160 XT is an expedition canoe built with an emphasis on comfort and features.

Nova Craft Prospector 17

88

2012

Nova Craft Prospector 17

The Nova Craft Prospector 17 is a versatile expedition canoe with plenty of room and stability for carrying lots of gear.

Mad River Expedition 176

88

2012

Mad River Expedition 176

The Mad River Expedition 176 is an expedition canoe built with an equal emphasis on details and performance.

BIC ACE-TEC 11’6

90

2012

BIC ACE-TEC 11’6

The BIC ACE-TEC 11’6 standup paddleboard is designed as a recreational board for touring, surfing, fishing and paddling adventures. The board includes three fins, board deck pad, integrated carry handle and a surf leash.

NSP Flatwater 12’0

88

2012

NSP Flatwater 12’0

Steve Doviak takes the NSP Flatwater 12'0 for an extended paddle, and likes the results.

Surftech Joe Bark Expedition 14’0

87

2012

Surftech Joe Bark Expedition 14’0

At 14-feet, the Surftech Joe Bark Expedition can be hard to handle on dry land. But that's also what helps make it such a dream to paddle on flat to slightly choppy water.

Mad River Expedition 176

94

2011

Mad River Expedition 176

How much did Eugene Buchanan's test crew like the Mad River Expedition 176? After the test, one of them bought it.

Jackson's Rock Star Kayak

84

2011

Jackson's Rock Star Kayak

Eugene Buchanan hits the river in Jackson's Rock Star Kayak.