L: 9’10”; W: 37.5″; 26 lbs. ($645, nrsweb.com)
The NRS Outlaw shoots rapids first and lets you ask questions about how you did it so effortlessly later. One of the best price-point boats of the bunch at $645, the Outlaw, also available as a tandem, comes with a removable (for cleaning or repair), PVC-coated, drop-stitch floor that – while looking like a SUP insert — inflates rock-hard to 8-10 psi for rigidity punching through waves. Eighteen inches of rocker, meanwhile, helps you climb up and over those same waves and a 37.5-inch beam provides ample stability for everything short of Niagara. On low-water runs, its PVC-coated polyester easily slid over rocks some of our navigationally challenged testers couldn’t avoid, while its 10’5” tubes, combined with the four-inch inflatable floor, provided all the flotation you’d ever need. For folks of different gaits, its inflatable thwart seat secures to drain holes for customized placement. We also liked its tough carry handles – perhaps the best of the lot – for portages and other carries; its bombproof Leafield C7 valves, which you know will hold air as you’re holding your line; its feather-light 26 lbs. for hoisting (it was the easiest IK to shoulder of the flock); and the fact that the Outlaw puts its money where its bandana-covered mouth is with a three-year retail warranty. The only knock: How about making the optional thigh straps standard to help hold you in?
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