Reviews Touring Kayaks

WaveSport Ethos 10 Crossover Kayak Review

Given a chance, we’d paddle whitewater every day.  But life doesn’t always throw us what we want. That’s why we’ve designed the Ethos – to take you from one adrenaline-fueled adventure to the next. Conquer a rapid, ride a wave train and cruise on down the river in search of more.  When you need to cover some ground, carry all the kit and still have fun, why compromise?

The Ethos is a stable, forgiving, performance-minded crossover platform that offers a confidence- building introduction to paddling whitewater. The hull is manoeuvrable in rapids, yet tracks well on flat water with the help of a drop down skeg system. Offering outstanding comfort on long, multi-day river treks due to the roomy cockpit, sizeable gear storage space and our trusty BlackOut seat system.

RRP: £599
More info: www.wavesport.com

Specifications:

Length: 312cm
Width: 68.5cm
Weight: 22kg
Volume: 379L
Weight Range: 68kg – 118kg

Features:

  • BlackOut Outfitting
  • Ratchet Adjustable Backband
  • Adjustable Low-Profile Thigh Braces
  • Bulkhead Foot Brace System
  • TruTrak Skeg System
  • Stern Storage Hatch – with Bulkhead
  • Security Grab Points
  • Soft Grip Grab Handles
  • Rear Deck Elastic
  • *BlackOut Hip Pads Available Separately

Paddler Verdict

Over the last few weeks, we have been privileged to have in our possession the only WaveSport Ethos 10 in existence. Not only is the Ethos the first new design from Wave Sport in a while, but it also moves away from their purely whitewater range. The Ethos can still handle a bit of the rough stuff but it’s been designed as a ‘do it all’ crossover kayak that can rack up the miles on mellow touring trips, but still cut the mustard on the white stuff. The Paddler Test Team have been out testing the WaveSport Ethos in a variety of locations to represent everything that the Ethos is designed to do, from a tranquil flat touring river to more sporty water with some waves and rapids to contend with…

Wave Sport have defined the genre of kayak the Ethos slots into as ‘River Trekking.’ Essentially, the intention is for you to be able to load up with gear and set off downriver for an adventure, fully equipped for nights under the stars and to not only survive, but enjoy, the rapids you encounter on your way. For this to happen, the Ethos, as opposed to doing one or the other, has to be a tourer and a whitewater kayak at once, with these two functions working in harmony.

Flat-Out Fun

First to the Ethos as a touring kayak. We were impressed as soon as we put it onto the water will how well this boat tracks. Within moments we were fully satisfied that we’d be happy to travel many miles and that they’d be comfortable and not blighted by the boat wanting to swing one way or another. Then we realised we hadn’t dropped the skeg yet! Once engaged, the skeg increases this already natural tendency to track well even further.

This pleasing keenness on the part of the boat to go in a straight line when you’re trying to cover distance means that you’re able to build and maintain a decent head of speed. This would be less important if you were planning to use the Ethos on a generally quite fast moving volume river, say in Scotland, on the continent, or further afield. But the fact that it cruises along so well on flat, slow moving water broadens its range of potential use to the most sedate of touring rivers. While you may have to work hard to keep up with much longer dedicated touring kayaks, you certainly aren’t slowed down unacceptably.

Stow It!

The Ethos has a large rear storage compartment, sealed with a waterproof hatch. This means that you can carry plenty of kit for multi-day adventures. Inside you could easily fit some extra layers, food, sleeping/bivy bag, even maybe a small tent for at least one night outdoors, depending on how ‘Ray Mears’ you want to go. Take overnights out of the equation, and the space you have suddenly becomes cavernous.

On the flat, the Ethos doesn’t respond at all badly to the load being piled into the back, although it is worth keeping an eye out that you don’t exceed the recommended maximum load by too much, or the resulting sluggishness will turn the Ethos into a bit of a tiring paddle. This goes for open water, and coastal estuaries, as well, while the Ethos excels on even the most relaxed and sluggish of waters, once on large expanses of open water like a lake or estuary with the potential for wind and choppiness, the shortened waterline becomes a little more of a disadvantage, but this can be counteracted by deploying the kayak’s drop-down skeg.

The White Stuff

OK, so on to the WaveSport Ethos as a fast moving water and whitewater kayak. Looking at the profile of the hull, with its plentiful rocker and progressive chine we had high hopes for the performance of the Ethos. We weren’t disappointed. Its whitewater parentage comes though in its handling with excellent tracking, which proved so advantageous on the flat, translating into an ability to hold a line well through bouncy water, with the displacement hull riding high and dry over the top of waves thanks to that ample rocker.There’s just enough chine that when you get over an edge (and this assumes some basic whitewater skills) you can move the Ethos around the rapid smoothly and efficiently, carving up the face of waves completely intuitively. Despite this performance, it’s always worth bearing in mind the limitations the Ethos shares with all crossover type kayaks. You’re unlikely, for instance, to be making really tight breakouts or technical moves in the Ethos: the rounded edges and quite considerable bow clearance, particularly when laden, means that those super-snappy turns are normally just a bit beyond your reach. Having said this, we would by no stretch describe the Ethos as sluggish, and we’d be quite happy to bounce down some big water paddling reactively in it; it’s just that the Ethos is more of a ‘down-river’ boat when it comes to whitewater.

There’s just enough chine that when you get over an edge (and this assumes some basic whitewater skills) you can move the Ethos around the rapid smoothly and efficiently, carving up the face of waves completely intuitively. Despite this performance, it’s always worth bearing in mind the limitations the Ethos shares with all crossover type kayaks. You’re unlikely, for instance, to be making really tight breakouts or technical moves in the Ethos: the rounded edges and quite considerable bow clearance, particularly when laden, means that those super-snappy turns are normally just a bit beyond your reach. Having said this, we would by no stretch describe the Ethos as sluggish, and we’d be quite happy to bounce down some big water paddling reactively in it; it’s just that the Ethos is more of a ‘down-river’ boat when it comes to whitewater.

As well as the high and dry ride the Ethos offers, it really looks after you. We were really impressed with how stable the boat felt on the flat and on moving water: there are no edges that catch and turns are measured and predictable, giving you all the time you need to adjust your edge.

Paddling the Ethos on whitewater with load is no problem, and the adjustments in paddling style required are much like those you have to make when paddling a laden expedition-ready creek boat, although the differences are much less pronounced in the Ethos.

Best Of Both?

So does the Ethos’ touring capacity work in harmony with its whitewater kayaking performance? In a word, yes. Its underlying characteristics shine through in both environments: solid tracking, stability and predictability all add up to create a boat that is at once efficient and comfortable over distance, and confidence-inspiring and forgiving when the gradient picks up and the waves start forming.

Fixtures and Fittings

The Ethos’ fixtures and fittings reflect its multi-faceted nature. At the rear, there’s the mechanism for dropping the spring-loaded skeg, some deck elastics and the ample-sized storage hatch, all of which screams touring kayak. Look at the very back, or to the bow and in front of the cockpit at the two robust raised grab handles and the deep pocket metal security bar, then you could fully satisfy yourself that you were looking at a dedicated whitewater craft.

This blend of features represents the flat-water performance and whitewater safety considerations that work completely synonymously, without either adversely affecting the other. Looking inside, the outfitting has gone more in the direction of a tourer, although not to the exclusion of any whitewater-friendly features whatsoever: but the adjustable pedal footrests make a decisive statement about how ambitious you’d be with the grade of whitewater you’d attempt in the Ethos, if there was every any doubt (without full-plate footrests you normally wouldn’t attempt anything remotely out of your comfort zone, and even then not above grade 2); yet the adjustable thigh braces and ratcheted backrest deliver the sort of fit and body-to-boat contact required for good control on moving water. The build quality throughout is excellent, the outfitting ergonomic and comfortable, and everything is straightforward and easy to adjust.

Conclusion

We think that Wave Sport can be proud of what they’ve created in the Ethos. Combining the features needed to excel at two quite different types of paddling is no easy task. But the blending of design features has resulted in a kayak that’s real strengths shine through not only in isolation but also in whichever of the two disciplines it’s being used for. Only designers who know their touring kayaks, as well as their whitewater ones, can achieve this sort of harmonious interplay between functions, and we were pleased to see no concessions were made.

We think it’s important to understand what the Ethos is for, so as not to see its limitations as faults: it’s very much a down-river crossover kayak that can handle the rapids between stretches of flat, and vice versa. Used appropriately, the Ethos offers endless opportunity for adventure and fun, possibly even over consecutive days, whatever the gradient of your chosen river.

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