Wilderness Systems Tsunami 135
($1,150; www.wildernesssystems.com)
L: 13'6"; W: 23"; 48 lbs.

Wilderness Systems calls the 13-foot, 6-inch version of their popular Tsunami series "ideal for female and small-frame paddlers." Despite a large cockpit that made it easy to get in and out, even our 5-foot-8 female tester found the leg room snug, while taller paddlers said their legs fell asleep. But if the shoe fits, well, you're in for a treat. Let's start with the seat—throne may be more accurate. The adjustable high-back rises to a ridiculous height that eliminates the option of paddling with a skirt. Other straps, all easily reachable on the water, fine-tune lower back support and seat angle, heaven for tight hamstrings and sensitive lower backs. The Tsunami got loads of positive comments for on-water performance, too. The multiple chines on the hull provided a nice middle ground between tracking well (one of the easiest boats to paddle in a cross-wind) and agility. Good primary stability will put confidence in beginners, while the solid secondary stability allowed our more experienced paddlers to handle on the edges. We did have a few beefs: The hatches were finicky to open and close, and the boat's lower overall volume limited cargo room to an overnight trip at most. That’s why we think the Tsunami is best left to day-trip duty, perfect for kids and smaller paddlers to gain confidence and skills.

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