- Uber-comfy and secure fit right out of the box
- Continuous rocker hull shape for speed and boofing
- Awesome safety features
- Heavy for long portages and put-in/take-out hikes
- A tad “corky” in big water
- Outfitting makes you realize how long you’ve settled for less
The WaveSport ReCon is a full-fledged creek boat for raising your game on Class IV-V whitewater. Buy it if you’re serious about your creeking and want a boat with LazyBoy-like comfort that is riddled with safety features and performs with military precision. If you’re doing a lot of hiking—maybe not.
Creek boating is no time for compromise; you’ve got enough to worry about on the water besides your gear. That confidence is instilled in spades in the Wave Sport Recon, which can dig you out of trouble you might find yourself in.
We got our hands on the mid-sized 83 this year (the ReCon comes in three sizes—70, 83 and 93, referring to volume in gallons). It was the perfect size, it seemed, for boaters 5’7” to 5’10”ish (recommended paddler weight: 140-200 lbs.), which most of our testers fell between.
What we first noticed was its fit. Simply put, the company has it dialed. Its Contour Ergo new-gen “Whiteout” Outfitting makes you feel ski-boot snug the moment you sit inside, security that’s reassuring when you’re upside down in the mank or getting worked where you don’t want to. A rotomolded, fully padded, tank-style seat is stiff with little give, as is the rotomolded pillar with step-out wall, designed to make egress easier. For the feet, a reinforced and, again padded, bulkhead footbrace includes a toe cup system that expands up and outward to fill potential entrapment gaps from pitoning.
But perhaps the best touch is the new rachet-controlled leg lifter, which raises the seat and snugs the thighs into the thigh grips. Combined with a supportive (and yes, padded), ratcheting backband, it’s the most secure we’ve ever felt in a creeker. Two other nice features are an easy-grip handle for more comfortable shoulder carrying, and a tray in front of the seat that increases storage capacity (no more digging behind you for your throw rope).
As for performance, it hangs its helmet on the hull’s continuous rocker profile, which blends speed and boofability (the ability to “ski-jump” off a rock so you land flat instead of burying your bow). An upswept bow shape helps it resurface and shed water quickly, while a domed stern deck lessens the chance of the dreaded back endo. The stern also employs a full chine and ample sidewall flare for secondary stability and carving. Designer David Maughan says its displacement shape (the dome between chines) was made for “forgiveness in manky rock jumbles and soft landings, yet turns on a dime like a planing hull.” The chine, he adds, is designed to engage only when you need to lift a knee to carve, as in heading into an eddy. “It’s up and out of the way when you don’t need it,” he says.
The company has also made safety a priority. Joining its pillar step-out wall and entrapment-preventing bulkhead, it comes with seven rescue points in addition to its carrying handles.
Where’d we take it? Our first peel-out was a seal launch into the solid Class IV+ gauntlet of middle Fish Creek outside Steamboat Springs, Colo. It was a baptism by water as far as testing goes, with nary a warm-up. But the boat felt great from the first turn to infinite rock boofs and hole charges. Subsequent tester runs on Class V Gore Canyon of the Colorado, Cross Mountain Canyon of the Yampa and even the creeks of Crested Butte reaffirmed its rise to the top of the class as a confidence-inspiring creeker. “As comfortable creeking as I’ve ever been,” said one tester. “You can tell they put a lot of thought into it, which meant I didn’t have to think about it in the midst of Class V,” said another.
The only knock we have against it is its weight; at a published weight of 50 lbs., it’s not a boat we’d want to hike into a hard Cali run or portage much farther than a hundred yards.
Weight: 50 lbs.
Volume: 83 gal.
How We Tested It
In testing, we took the ReCon to the Class V Gore Canyon stretch of the Colorado River, as well as the continuous, Class IV-V waters of Fish Creek near Steamboat Springs, swapping it out with other creekers midstream to pinpoint its nuances.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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