L: 15'; W: 39" ($1,695, hyside.com)
If you're heading out on a big water IK adventure, say on the Grand or Middle Fork, you won't do much better than the Hyside Stinger. Long a maker of craft for outfitters, the Stinger, in testing for three years before production, is fortified with a multi-layer, 2,520-denier Hypalon chafer on its underside for abuse-at-will performance. It's overkill, sure, but not when you're scraping rocks and looking for a craft you can pass on to your kids. The same heft is found on the tubes, whose 1,680-denier Outfitter Pro Hypalon results in a beefcake hull that's rigid and responsive. The tubes have a pronounced taper that gives it both a sleek feel and the maneuverability to tackle technical drops. Miss your line and reinforced tips on the bow and stern fend off any errant blows, while multi-layer carry handles help you Brave Sir Robin it around drops you don't want to run. For gear, large grab/tie-down D-rings, as well as a large rear compartment with tie-downs, secure everything from drybags to coolers. For seating, a thwart offers both back rest and torsional rigidity. Other features that got our testers drooling are beefy thigh straps that hold you in when needed, and a great, 12-inch range footpeg configuration to accommodate everyone from Spud Web to Yao Ming. The self-bailing floor with I-beam construction drained water as quickly as it came in. "A total beefmobile," says one vocabulary-challenged tester. "This baby oozes beefness."
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