|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – May 2008
Some of the country's best wilderness is accessible only by boat. To help you get there, our testers picked the top canoes in six key categories.
SOAR 14' CANOE
This hybrid inflatable craft is neither canoe nor kayak nor raft, but takes a little DNA from all three. With a self-bailing hull–drainage holes make it impervious to swamping–the boat boffs through waves and rapids like a whitewater raft. The 12-inch side tubes create a very stable ride; testers cruised through Class IV rapids on Idaho's Main Salmon River. Cargo space and load capacity (875 pounds) are adequate for shorter expeditions, like our test crew's week in Utah's Canyon of Lodore, and the 14-foot model works for both solo and tandem paddlers. Like the PakCanoe, the SOAR stows conveniently for travel or storage (packed, it's 15 by 10 by 40 inches). We found the canvas/Hypalon material durable enough for low-water bashing. Caution: This is a river-running boat only; on flat water, it's slow and cumbersome. The price includes pump, repair kit, and thigh straps. $1,795; 14'; 62 lbs. Also available in 12' ($1,625) and 16' ($1,975) versions. (800) 280-7627; soar1.com.