Gear Guide 2012: AIRE Outfitter II Inflatable Kayak

An inflatable kayak with multiday gear-carrying capacity and legit whitewater stability

While hardshell boats are great for carrying gear on flatwater adventures, they can be unwieldy in rapids and a hassle to store and transport. Inflatable kayaks offer multiday gear-carrying capacity with legit whitewater stability (and the ability to bounce off boulders that would taco a hardshell craft). This buoyant tandem is perfect for wilderness runs that might be out of reach in less stable floaties and touring craft.

Oversized side tubes (12.5 inches versus 11.5 inches on other models) provide a steady ride and keep splashes at bay, while near-hardshell rigidity means the craft won’t buckle in big drops. “Great for Class I to III trips with the kids,” says one tester who took the Outfitter on a three-day float down the Colorado River. It has a whopping 34 tie-downs along the self-bailing floor to secure up to 525 pounds of payload. Sweet feature: Behind each seat is a map pocket and drink holder, complete with, yep, built-in coozies. And durability? One staffer has had an AIRE for 15 years, and has never experienced a puncture or leaky valve. $1,459; 46 lbs.;

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