Advanced Elements' Attack
L: 9'6"; W: 35"; 34 lbs. ($649, advancedelements.com)
At 9'6" and 34 lbs. and with a tube diameter of a mere 9'5", the Attack is one of the nimblest and least expensive IKs of the bunch, waterbugging this way and that when other craft are content to track a straight line. Its 12 inches of rocker and 35-inch width blend stability with last-second, spin-out-of-harm's-way control, in a paddling package more at home in whitewater than tranquil waterways. Perhaps its nimbleness is why it also comes with two mini-keels fore and aft to aid in tracking. Made from 840-denier, PVC Tarpaulin, in an AIRE-like system consisting of a zippered outer shell with pontoons inside, it seems tough enough for the long haul, though perhaps not quite as abusable as beefier models. The self-bailer comes with three air chambers, adjustable thigh straps, an adjustable seat, hull abrasion rails, and a self-draining covered rear cargo hold for stashing gear. We especially liked its seat, with the innovative touch of Velcroing to the floor, and solid support of the seatback, whose top easily fastens to the hull via two Fastex buckles. It's the IK all the kids chose as their favorite. It comes with great leg straps, but no foot pegs for additional purchase (note to designers: you might want to add those in). Cargo-wise, a mesh-covered area in the stern holds gear and is easily secured with a bungee system. Petty as it is, one con is that you have to unzip the stern cover to access the floor valve, which is a bit tough. Move the valve an inch or two forward, would ya?
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