Recreational Kayak Review: Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

The 10-foot Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS is a beginner-friendly kayak designed for recreational paddling on calm lakes and rivers. This lightweight, compact and easy-to-transport kayak features an open, sit-on-top cockpit, making it a breeze to climb on board and enjoy time on the water.

This Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS review highlights this kayak’s simple yet practical design and budget-friendly price. Be sure to check out the Bali 10 SS if you’re looking for a general-purpose kayak for family paddling at the cottage or the beach.

On the water with Sun Dolphin’s Bali 10 SS

Sun Dolphin Bali 10 Specs
Length: 10’0” / 3 m
Width: 29.5” / 75 cm
Weight: 44 lbs / 20 kg
Capacity: 250 lbs / 113 kg
MSRP: $300–500 USD

Performance

Recreational sit-on-top kayaks are noted for their solid stability and maneuverability, and the Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS is no exception. The 29.5” width makes the Bali 10 SS feel secure on the water, even for beginners—yet remains narrow enough for most paddlers to be able to comfortably reach the water with their paddle blades.

The Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS won’t win any races, but the upshot to its short length is easy handling and maneuverability. The kayak has a maximum capacity of 250 pounds and enough legroom for paddlers taller than six feet tall.

Market and demographics

The Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS kayak is a great choice for those looking for a kayak to use at the cottage or the beach. It includes a nice array of comfort features and comes at a budget-friendly price. The kayak is meant for use on calm, sheltered water, including inland lakes and quiet rivers. It has an open, sit-on-top cockpit, which makes it easy to climb on board and perfect for paddling in warm climates. The Bali 10 SS has just enough space for you to bring your canine companion along for the ride, just bear in mind the boat’s maximum capacity of 250 pounds.

Finally, fishing is another popular application for the Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS, especially for those looking to try kayak angling without investing in a pricier design. The Bali 10 SS would make a fine fishing kayak for an angler with the do-it-yourself skills to make upgrades or a paddler who wants to only dabble a bit of fishing on occasion. Dedicated anglers who want a ready-made boat are advised to look at the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS fishing kayak instead.

Comfort

For the price, the Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS kayak offers a great deal of comfort. It features adjustable footrests like many higher-end sit-on-top and touring kayaks, which provide a secure platform for efficient paddling. The seat is large enough to fit a range of variously sized paddlers and includes a large, supportive backband to keep them sitting upright.

On the other hand, a discount-priced kayak like the Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS lacks the refinement of more expensive kayaks; for example, it lacks a padded seat cushion and there’s limited adjustability in the back support.

About the Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS

Design

Design features and details

The Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS kayak features a flat bottom and hard edges, making it extremely stable on the water. A pronounced keel line makes for steady tracking so that the kayak will travel easily in a straight line, even in moderate winds. The V-shaped keel narrows into a slender entry point at the bow to cut through waves.

A sharp rail separates the deck from the hull of the kayak and provides a bit of protection from moderate chop, but with an open, sit-on-top deck you should be prepared to take on some spray. Like other sit-on-top kayaks, the Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS kayak is self-bailing via scupper holes to quickly drain away any water that comes over the deck.

Material and construction

The Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS kayak is manufactured and assembled in the United States from high-density polyethylene. This plastic resists UV damage and is ultra durable, promising years of worry-free use. It’s impressive that Sun Dolphin has managed to produce such a tough kayak at a reasonable weight of 44 pounds.

Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS accessories and outfitting

The Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS kayak comes equipped with a solid array of standard outfitting features for its budget price. The basic, molded-in, Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS seat has drain holes to keep the sitting area dry, and a standard back band offers ample lumbar support.

The plastic footrests adjust to length quickly and easily with levers on the backsides. This is an especially nice touch for a discount-priced sit-on-top kayak; most competitors feature molded footrests which offer far less comfort and adjustability. Other convenient aspects of the Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS kayak include a paddle holder and thigh pads. A unique Portable Access Carrier fits in the stern storage well or can be towed behind the kayak, providing dry storage for gear. Look for a Bali 10 SS at big box retailers.

Dress For Immersion, Not Air Temperature
  • Your body loses heat much faster when immersed in cold water than it does when dry.
  • Avoid cotton clothing like t-shirts and jeans; they retain water and accelerate cooling when wet. Synthetic fabrics, or wool, are generally a better choice. If the water is very cold (60° fahrenheit or less), you should wear a wetsuit or drysuit.

Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS mods

One of the best modifications you can make to improve paddling comfort is a Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS seat upgrade. Many users have identified the kayak’s hard molded seat as a weaker point in the design. Upgrading is easy, simply by inserting a stadium-style folding seat for additional cushioning. Other DIY modifications include outriggers for more stability (especially if you wish to use your Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS for dogs).

Kayak anglers have conceived many upgrades for fishing in the Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS, ranging from simple mods like rod holders and fish finder platforms to more elaborate systems for organizing tackle. The similar Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS comes standard with many fishing-specific features.

How it compares

The Bali 10 SS is the shortest of three Sun Dolphin Bali models, a range that includes a 13.5-foot tandem. The Bali lineup represents Sun Dolphin’s most advanced sit-on-top kayaks for recreational kayaking.

  • Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS vs Bali 10

    The Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS is the kayak-fishing specific version of the Bali 10 SS. It comes with two flush-mounted rod holders and one swivel rod holder, recessed tackle holders, as well as a camouflage hull pattern. Paddling performance, capacity and stability are identical to the Bali 10 SS. If you’re a competent DIYer you could likely make the same upgrades to a standard Bali 10 SS.

Where to buy Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS

Using search terms like Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS Walmart and Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS Academy will turn up a few good places to purchase your new kayak. Special package deals include a Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS with paddle—just be sure to purchase a Coast Guard approved PFD (life jacket) as well.

Wear A Life Jacket
  • Everyone, even strong swimmers, needs to wear a life jacket at all times when on the water. It is extremely difficult to put a life jacket on once you fall into the water. Even a light wind can blow any paddlecraft away from you, faster than you can swim.
  • Buy (and wear) a comfortable Type 3 or S life jacket specifically designed for paddlesports.

In Canada you can find the similar Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS at Canadian Tire. The Bali 10 SS is a wildly popular recreational sit-on-top kayak; you may have good luck finding a used one on Craigslist, Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace.

Kayaks: Bali 10 ss by Sun Dolphin - Image 2863
Sun Dolphin

Bali 10 ss

Perfect for lakes and rivers the feature packed Bali 10 ss sit-on-top kayak includes a unique and removable P.A.C. (Portable Accessory Carrier) that can be used as extra storage. Other features include a large, comfortable seating area with adjustable padded seat, adjustable foot braces, storage compartment, shock cord deck rigging, ditty trays and paddle holder all at an affordable price. Made from extremely durable dent-resistant High Density Polyethylene.
  • Great for lakes and rivers
  • Lightweight, easy to carry design
  • Open cockpit allows the easiest of entry
  • Paddle holder

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Good recreational kayak for a bargain price
  • Handles like other sit-on-top kayaks and works well in calm water

Cons

  • Seat is not as comfortable as those available in higher-end recreational kayaks

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Sit-on-top recreational kayak reviews

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Education: Get Some!
  • Take a paddling safety course from the American Canoe Association (ACA), your local paddling shop or outfitter, or other reputable source.
  • Take a boating safety course from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons® or your own state’s boating agency.
  • Take on-the-water skills training.

 

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