A name like Booster would be almost condescending if not for Riot’s sculpted detailing, superhero graphics and metallic finish that make sitting in the boat feel like you are in Batman’s secret new play machine. With the Riot Booster kayak, angular edges and crisp detailing are maintained while adding some innovations that push the limits of forward-thinking outfitting.

Riot Booster Specs
(50 / 55 / 60)
Length: 7’2” / 7’2.5” / 7’3”
Width: 24.5” / 25” / 25.5”
Volume: 50 / 55 / 60 U.S. gal
Weight: 35 / 35 / 36 lbs
Playboating Capacity:
110-170 / 160-220 / 210-220 lbs
River Running Capacity:
80-130 / 130-180 / 170-220 lbs
MSRP: $1,495 CAD

Strap in with the Riot Booster

The first thing you will notice about the Booster is Riot’s new Elastomer Outfitting, a totally new concept in kayak cockpit design. It looks like a rachet-buckle-crazed snowboarder outfitted the boat. There are five beefy rachet buckles: two on the backband, one between your legs for the adjustable bulkhead footrest, and one on each thigh strap, yes thigh straps. You just sit down on a sculpted foam seat and start cranking ratchets to dial in your fit without spending a day working with bulk foam and contact cement.

Rethinking the kayak cockpit

The thigh brace system is the largest departure from traditional outfitting. You still use the inside of the deck as the primary thigh braces, but the thigh straps stay in contact with your legs when you relax them. We couldn’t quite figure the system out, so we contacted Corran Addison for his design perspective.

“It’s like wearing a soft snowboard boot rather than a hard boot. The soft boot has hard contact points under the boot, and the high back behind the boot. But the boot itself flexes and follows your movements, while a hard boot simply restricts them.”

Does it work in kayaking? Well, we’re not sure the thigh straps contribute to more boat control but we didn’t notice any lack of control either. It just feels different. We did notice a comfortable, flexible feel while sitting in the eddy and despite all the ratchets and buckles you don’t need to be a whitewater Houdini to enter and exit the Riot Booster.

The rigid backband is mounted to a fixed plastic pillar keeping the backband in position. Add a vertical height adjustment and this is an ideal system that we’re sure will be ripped off.

The Booster makes smooth transitions

Riot is known for edgy, high performance hull designs that are more than a handful for your average paddler. But not the Riot Booster kayak. It is forgiving, super stable, and predictable due to a softer edge between the release chine and the sidewall of the boat. Riot has always had low, sharp seam lines—the Booster has a higher, softer seam line. At first it feels like Riot may have tuned the performance out of this boat to make it easy to paddle. Not true.

A playboat isn’t just about busting moves on a wave, it is about transitions—getting out onto the wave, recovering from a move not-yet-nailed, and getting down-river to the next spot. The Booster makes all the transitions that much easier, helping you save your energy for on-the-wave fun. The Riot Booster planes into a slightly nose-up position riding over seams and deflection waves. Hitting eddies is confidence inspiring, with no secondary edge grab common with many high performance boats.

The Booster has less of the super fast carve of many Riot kayaks, but is no slouch in a good play spot. If you want more play than river running, get in the smallest size you can. The Booster cartwheels at any angle, which allowed testers to ease from flat spins into more vertical moves. Once vertical the Booster is stable and easy to control because of a very even taper from the ends of the cockpit—no cockpit bubble, so no bounce. The large planing surface and rockered ends free of harsh edges makes spins super easy with the trademark Riot ability to carry a spin through the sideways position that carries other boats off the waves.

Run and play with the Riot Booster kayak

Overall, the Riot Booster kayak fits into a popular performance category somewhere between the Pyranha Inazones, and dedicated park-and-play boats. If you are looking for more play than your old river runner, but still want to run rivers with confidence there is now a Riot boat for you.

This article was first published in the Early Summer 2005 issue of Rapid Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

 

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