SOAR Inflatables’ S10
L: 10’; W; 40”; 44 lbs. ($1,646, soar1.com)
While this one isn’t as streamlined of a whitewater-oriented IK as the others – more of a Cadillac – it holds its own as a very capable river-runner. Made from a tough hypalon/neoprene combo, its 12-inch tube diameter and four-inch-thick floor place you higher off the ground than the others, making it easier to see over upcoming horizon lines or eyeball tree fruit on meandering Costa Rican waterways. You’ll also notice its 40-inch width and banana-esque rocker; like a hardshell play kayak, this makes it spin a 360 with just one stroke. While this hampers its hull speed somewhat, it also makes it suitable for tighter, more technical creeks, allowing you to turn away from trouble on a moment’s notice. The girth also serves as a great gear platform for longer trips. In bigger waves and holes, like when we punched through the river-wide, rookie-munching C and D holes on the Yampa, a bow sprit deflects waves like a shield so they don’t land in your lap. For outfitting, the knee straps aren’t as bomber as those on more whitewater-specific models, but enough to keep you in, and it comes with either a canoe seat for sitting or kneeling, or a lower IK seat with foam cushion and back rest. It comes standard with Hawkey valves, a double-action hand pump, packing straps, repair kit and whopping five-year warranty.
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