Model: Stratos 14.5L
Our take The Stratos is like that favorite backpack you take everywhere: It’s good for everything from meandering rivers to tidal estuaries, with ample gear storage in fore and aft hatches for multiday outings and a svelte design for day tours. Its versatility stems from its 14’6” length—it’s big enough for hauling gear and maintaining speed, yet short enough to maneuver in and out of tight rock gardens. On the slow-moving Colorado River in Utah, we found its edges (“chines”) helped it turn when we leaned, while a stern-deployed drop-skeg kept the craft straight. There’s plenty of cockpit foot room and a ratchet lifts the front seat edge up to snug your thighs.
River cred “I loved the drop-skeg, especially when the winds came up,” says our Colorado tester. “It was easy to engage and eliminates weaving back and forth.”