Chances are if you didn’t know the term main squeeze refers to your number one guy or gal, you may have missed out on this slicey little number. A model inspired by the what’s-old-school-is-cool-again design trend, Soul Waterman’s Main Squeeze is a great option for those looking for a nostalgic ride down the river in a modern package.
Main Squeeze Specifications
Length: 6’10″| 208cm
Width: 25”| 63.5cm
Weight (Orange): 37lbs | 15kg
Weight (Yellow): 33 lbs | 13kg
Plastic Type (Orange): Hilex 14 HDPE
Plastic Type (Yellow): Hilex 16 SHDPE
Volume: 56 Gal | 212ltr
Soul Waterman is legendary paddler and designer Corran Addison’s newest venture.
Credited with designing some of the most innovative playboat designs, including Riot’s Glide and Disco, Addison has continued to look for ways to improve the paddling experience in whitewater since starting another brand.
Soul Waterman boasts a varied line up; everything from river runners, playboats, whitewater paddleboards, slalom designs, sit-on-tops and tandems, and offers plastic and composite layups. There’s something for almost everyone to enjoy. The Main Squeeze straddles the line between river runner and playboat, performing both equally well.
Testing the Main Squeeze
The test boat I paddled is a prototype but features the main components of the final main squeeze design, including what Soul calls the Skeletor Extreme 2 outfitting system.
This includes a rigid bar running along the center line of the hull to increase stiffness, an easy-to-adjust back band with cam straps, and quick-adjust foot pegs. I found the foot pegs too small—it keeps the weight down but I found my feet slipping off them. If this was my boat, I would replace them with foam blocks.
Knowing every paddler is different, customization is actually the intention, according to Addison.
“Anything [in any kayak] can be removed, but most of the time once it’s removed the surfaces remaining are not conducive to you doing your own thing,” the Soul website reads. “Our goal was to bring to market boats and boards with all the adjustment you could possibly need, so off-the-shelf you can take the boat paddling and love it as is, but if you have your own ideas of how a boat should feel, or want to reduce our already lightweight boats even more, we make it possible for you to glue in foam and carve this out to your personal liking.”
Different Main Squeeze layups
The Main Squeeze is offered in two plastic layups. If you are looking at spending most of your time on deeper, more play-oriented runs you can choose the 33-pound version. If you bash your way down the river using rocks to help get around, opt for the slightly more rugged layup which uses an additional four pounds of plastic pellets.
Getting on the river, the first thing I noticed is the Main Squeeze is fast. Waves I wouldn’t be able to catch in my medium-sized Jackson Rockstar were no problem in the Main Squeeze. Zipping around the river is the name of the game. Using even the smallest of waves I was able to ferry back and forth without losing very much ground against a fast-flowing Ottawa River.
The pointy, narrow bow cruises through holes with ease but don’t expect to come out the other side dry. Anticipate the same when cruising down waves trains. The Main Squeeze doesn’t ride up and over waves, instead cutting through them. I found I could ease up on the face shots by edging on my way up the wave. This actually works quite nicely, as it sets you up to throw a huge wave wheel or kickflip from the top. Which I did on pretty much every wave.
The Main Squeeze feels most stable on edge, which is important because I found the boils and eddylines of the Ottawa River to by very grabby when I kept the boat flat.
More than a few times I was doing unintentional mystery moves. The Main Squeeze made me pay attention. I couldn’t just sit back and let the river take me—if I did, I would probably be upside down.
After a few minutes of figuring it out, I started using those edges to tap into fun and forgotten river moves. Stern squirts, splats and bow stalls were the name of the game. I started looking for every eddyline or rock to get vertical, spin and turn into fun. All of a sudden the options on the river had increased, again.
Moving downstream I grabbed a few green waves and was instantly caught up in some nice, long Soul surfs. Carving back and forth while speeding down the face of a green wave is one of my favorite things and the Main Squeeze excels at it. Deftly switching edges and planting a back sweep will send a pleasing arc of water into the sky as the slicey stern flies through the air before landing in a controlled back surf. If you’ve ever thrown a blunt in a longer and slicer boat you know the feeling. It’s back.
Cartwheels are also more controlled when compared to the six-foot and shorter playboats, giving me more time to stay ahead of the boat and spot a sweet spot to throw down. While I didn’t go as big as I could in my shorter and stubbier playboat, similar moves feel somehow smoother in a longer design.
It wouldn’t be my first choice if I was a beginner, but if you remember the slicey playboat days or are looking to open up new possibilities on your local river runs, this is a boat you should try.
I don’t think I’ll ever be just a one boat kind of guy, but after a few more dates I could see this design becoming my main squeeze.