Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Review
Cons: No seat cushions, hard to reach and adjust foot braces, not a lot of weight capacity
Manufacturer: Sun Dolphin
Compare to Similar Products
Sun Dolphin Aruba 10
|Price||$320 List||$750 List||$430 List|
Check Price at REI
|$789.00 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Very light and portable, maneuvers well, stable, inexpensive, large open cockpit||Extremely stable, great tracking, very durable, comfortable, stackable||Very lightweight, easy to paddle, comes with paddle, inexpensive as they come||Great tracking and glide, sheds waves easily, durable, fast and stable, great for any age or experience||Very large cockpit, stable, easy-to-adjust seat, includes storage compartment|
|Cons||No seat cushions, hard to reach and adjust foot braces, not a lot of weight capacity||Heavy to carry, no internal dry storage||Thin plastic, harder to drain, not enough leg room for tall paddlers||Stern storage well doesn’t drain, heavy and burdensome to transport, deck plate cockpit console sticks||Sluggish, difficult to load, drink holder is far away from seat, no cover for storage|
|Bottom Line||This is a dependable option for beginner paddlers who aren't ready to invest in a high-performance boat||A super solid and stable all-around kayak great for any age or ability level at a modestly affordable price||This highly economical package will get you on the water having fun in calm waters, without breaking your bank to buy or breaking your back to carry||This kayak is an outstanding choice for any day on the water but it truly excels on long touring days, especially in heavier wind and waves||A comfortable and stable kayak ideal for casual days paddling on calm water that comes at a reasonable price|
|Rating Categories||Sun Dolphin Aruba 10||Ocean Kayak Malibu...||Pelican Brume 100XP||Perception Tribe 11.5||Old Town Vapor 10|
|Glide and Tracking (30%)|
|Construction Quality (10%)|
|Specs||Sun Dolphin Aruba 10||Ocean Kayak Malibu...||Pelican Brume 100XP||Perception Tribe 11.5||Old Town Vapor 10|
|Weight||40 lbs||59 lbs||40 lbs||52 lbs||47 lbs|
|Weight Capacity||250 lbs||360 lbs||275 lbs||350 lbs||325 lbs|
|Material/Construction||UV-stabilized Fortiflex High Density Polyethylene||Singler layer polyethylene||RAM-X Premium polyethylene plastic||UV, impact and abrasion resistant, high-density rotomolded polyethylene||Single Layer Polyethylene|
|Features||Adjustable padded backrest, rear gear compartment with bungee shock cord, adjustable foot braces, water bottle storage, carrying handles, paddle holder, padded thigh braces.||Tri-form hull with an integral keel and sponsons, AirGo molded in seat and seat pad with adjustable AirComfort backrest, molded-in foot wells and calf rest, paddle holders, side/stern/bow carrying handles, molded-in oversized bow and stern tank wells with bungees, Splash resistent QuickStash dry hatch, 2 molded in fishing rod holders, 3 water bottle holder, replaceable skid plate.||2-piece Poseidon paddle, paddle tie-down, Twin-arched multi-chine hull with drain plug, cockpit table with a bungee cord, bottle holder, Molded footrests, knee pads and an adjustable ERGOLOUNGE padded backrest with ERGOFORM seat cushion.||Lightweight EVA foam seat pad and contoured, padded seat back with hieght-adjustable backrest, molded-in footbraces, molded-in bow and stern well with bungees, replaceable stern skid plate, 6" cockpit hatch with cat bag liner, 3 drink holders, molded-in side handles and soft touch bow and stern carrying handles.||Adjustable Comfort Flex seat, Glide Track foot brace system ,Stern day well, Molded-in cockpit tray with cup holder, Molded-in paddle rest, Built in carry handles, Thigh pads, Drain plug, Skid plate|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Sun Dolphin is probably one of the most recognized companies on the market due to their entry-level cost and availability in most big box sporting goods stores. We were skeptical but then impressed by the Aruba 10's ease of transport and its respectable tracking and maneuverability. This boat's seating system lacks comfort, but with a little thought and creativity, you can make some modifications with a little foam or a seat cushion.
Glide and Tracking
As an introductory boat, this inexpensive, stable kayak makes most beginner paddlers feel comfortable and confident paddling from day one. Sun Dolphin chose to go with a planed hull to promote better stability compared to the rounded hull or V-shaped hull of some of the other kayaks we tested.
This flatter-style bottom doesn't do much to help the boat's glide performance. It has more surface area to push through the water than boats with V-shaped hulls, which slice through the water. To compensate, the designers added a semi-upswept, pointed bow and stern to help the kayak track, which translates to a smoother and longer glide. But even with these attributes, this kayak takes extra strokes to get and maintain glide.
In addition, the Aruba does not track that well compared to many of the other kayaks we tested. The kayaks turn very easily, which can be annoying when you are trying to keep pointed at a distant target.
Longer boats are better for tracking and gliding. In contrast, shorter vessels tend to handle better when turning. With the flat hull, you won't have to fight lateral resistance under the waterline when turning the way you do with longer kayaks. In addition, some vessels have a keel or harder chines that cause friction as their edges catch water when turning. This is not the case with the Aruba.
In our maneuverability testing, we were able to spin the Aruba 10 around 180 degrees remarkably well with just two fairly easy sweep strokes, making it one of the most maneuverable boats in the tests. It also carved up the slalom course, finishing with a high score. The angled bow helps the flat hull pierce through water and waves, aiding the kayak’s ability to handle well while maneuvering through friction that would hinder the boat.
The Aruba shouldn’t tip over on you, but if it does, it’s a pain to re-set. Once you have dragged it to the beach, the drain plug helps get most of the water out but depending on how loaded the kayak is, this can be a slow and tiring experience.
The Sun Dolphin really stood out in this metric despite not being very long. The flat, wide hull, and low-to-the-ground seat keep this kayak floating along nicely, making it comfortably stable for paddlers of all abilities.
In moving current, we managed to accidentally tip this kayak over, but only after we took it in conditions it wasn’t really designed for.
One of the biggest tradeoffs when shopping for a lower-cost kayak is its outfitting. Seating systems, foot and thigh braces, and other extra features are usually stripped down. When comparing the Aruba 10 to another, more expensive sit-in model, it’s evident that you get what you pay for. It's not terrible, but your posture, comfort, and performance will suffer.
The Sun Dolphin line offers little in the way of padding on their seats. You sit in a cupped plastic seat that is made from the same plastic as the boat. It's just raised up a bit off the cockpit in case you take on water. The only support and adjustability you get is a thin, padded back strap. The foot peg braces seem to be sturdy enough, but one of the downfalls of this design is having to reach in and under the cockpit to the bottom of your feet to move the levers. This can be a cumbersome and difficult process, especially for larger paddlers. It may knock you off balance.
There is light, thin padding provided in the cockpit to brace your knees and thighs. There is no additional outfitting to make it more comfortable. The Sun Dolphin includes a simple water bottle holder, bungee cord paddle holder, and carrying handle on the bow and stern for transport.
Sun Dolphin's UV-fortified Fortiflex polyethylene build isn't as sturdy or well-built as some of the other boats we tested. The material used in the construction scratches more easily than most other kayaks, leaving lots of little dings and curly plastic pieces on the hull. These will increase drag and slow down your boat's glide.
There is definitely less plastic used in the construction of this boat, which helps keep its weight low, but it can't carry as much weight as some of the other kayaks do. Some of the kayaks we tested were only six inches longer but about eight pounds heavier. Due to less study plastic and less space, this Sun Dolphin is limited in its carrying capacity.
For a sit-in, hard shell kayak, the Sun Dolphin is an extremely light boat. The thinner plastic construction, lack of heavy-duty quality outfitting, and the overall shorter length keep the boat weight at 40 pounds. This makes it one of the most portable boats we tested.
This lightweight boat is noticeably easier to pick up and shoulder than the others. It's also easier with two people, one on each side using the carrying handles. Testers were able to lift the kayak onto a car's roof rack and then take it off with little to no difficulty. Dragging the boat around rocky portages did not require much effort. We all agree it was the boat we preferred to carry to the water's edge.
The Aruba 10 is a good option for the beginner who wants to make sure they will enjoy flat water kayaking and still have plenty of fun for their money. Even after you become hooked on kayaking and ready to upgrade to a more advanced-model kayak, you'll have fun playing in your Aruba 10. Keep in mind though, that it isn't as durable as the pricer boats, so you may want to spend a little more to make your kayak last for years to come.
Taking the plunge and getting into kayaking should be a fun and exciting time. It can also be nerve-racking as you gather information to make the best choice on something that you plan to enjoy for years to come. Good thing Sun Dolphin has made some quality, beginner-level kayaks at a very accessible price. This makes it a lot easier to get into a boat and test the waters of kayaking without sinking your ship and wallet.
— Sara James & Dan Kramer
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