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Watercraft Review

SOAR, your "Go Anywhere - Do Anything" inflatable canoe

Date: 3/31/03
Tackle type: Watercraft
Manufacturer: SOAR Inflatables
Reviewer: JIP

Total Score: 8.92

Introduction: SOAR, the makers of extremely durable inflatable canoes are the prime choice for many "river runners" that seek versatility and at the same time ultimate reliability and durability in a watercraft. The same factors that make these canoes preferable for river adventure seekers applies to anglers who fish rivers in a wide range of conditions. TackleTour will take you SOAR'ing down the river while we test out what these canoes can offer and what obstacles they can withstand.


SOAR 14 Specifications

Material: Tubes and floor 840 denier nylon with 30 oz Hypalon
Material: Bottom 840 denier nylon with 36 oz neoprene
Exterior Dimensions 14' X 3'4"
Deflated Dimensions (Rolled) 15" X 10" X 40"
Tube Diameter 12"
Floor chamber thickness 4"
Chambers 3
Weight 62 lbs.
Weight Capacity 875 lbs.
Cargo Capacity 15+ cu. ft.
Number of Persons 1-3
Engine Capacity 4 HP Outboard
Features Carrying handles front and rear, grommet strip, bailing ports
MSRP $1595.00


About SOAR: Larry Laba, President of SOAR, which stands for Somewhere On A River, has been producing durable inflatable canoes since 1993. Located in Healdsburg, California, SOAR inflatables were first designed for wilderness exploration while cruising down rivers, but soon word spread and the popularity of these canoes led to their use in other recreational activities such as diving, whitewater rafting, fishing, and much more. Today they are being used in some of the harshest waters on the globe.


Impressions: If you think inflatable watercrafts aren't durable one ride in a SOAR canoe will change your mind. Layered with 840 denier nylon and then 30 ounce of Hypalon, the tubes and inside of the canoes feel smooth and extremely thick. The bottom side is also layered with 840 denier nylon, but for added protection 36 ounce neoprene shields the underside from hazards.


The S14 inflatable canoe is built to withstand extreme hazards on and around the water


The SOAR 14 weighs 62 lbs and is 14' in length and 3'4" in width. That's large enough to fit 2 Anglers comfortably and plenty of gear for those long days on the water. Included in the S14 package is a double action hand pump, straps to keep your inflatable rolled up, and a repair kit. To transport the SOAR there are two carrying handles at each end and they are built just as tough as the rest of the canoe. On each of the three chambers there is a robust one way valve which keeps air in, and is as easy to deflate with a push and turn of the stem valve. The canoe also has two strips filled with grommets that run along each side of the entire interior of the craft, and provided plenty of flexibility to attach any necessary fishing accessories.


Additional Accessories: Even though the SOAR 14 was first designed to run down rivers of all types, today they are used many anglers that demand a more enduring craft for those trips of a lifetime. The good thing is that SOAR has fishing accessories that you will find useful, and mounting them on the SOAR takes only a few steps.


Anglers will be fond of the option of attaching a hefty motor mount onto the canoe for fishing larger lakes. The motor mount is attached to the stern and is recommended for a small outboards up to 4 HP or any electric trolling motor. The motor mount is manufactured out of 1" mechanical steel that's powder coated for UV protection and corrosion resistance, allowing it to be used for both fresh and saltwater fishing.


Rowing on the SOAR is another good option when especially when fishing those remote bodies of water that do not allow the use of a motor. The rowing frame is 6.5 lbs and is constructed from lightweight aluminum and stainless steel components. The rowing frame accessory also comes with oars that are 7 ft in length with aluminum shafts and a slightly curved blade for added performance.


There are other accessories that weren't mentioned here that you should definitely look at.  Check out SOAR's website for more options.

Real World Tests: When TackleTour tested the SOAR 14's on the Russian river, we didn't get a chance to experience the setup process. Larry explained to us that with the double action hand pump that's included it would take no more than 10 minutes to inflate the S14, and that's a reasonable amount of time to set it up. If you have seats attached to the canoe, you can just leave them there and roll them up together with the main chambers. Then next time all you have to do is inflate, load up, and you're ready to go fishing.  Now that we are all set up, please join us as we SOAR down the Russian River testing this inflatable canoe while fishing for jumpy steelhead.

Maneuverability: The SOAR's streamline and chamber placement are key to its stability and maneuverability in arduous conditions. Having two large air chambers on each side aid in holding the canoe up high out of the water. Plus the entire floor of the SOAR is another chamber itself, holding air in its 4 inch high compartment. Even though there's a large amount of surface area that comes in contact with the S14, the hydrodynamics are quite good and surprising for a boat that boasts this much interior volume. Cruising downriver is simple and requires little work, but controlling where you're going and pointing the craft is still important. Experienced or not, this inflatable is easy to direct to the desired location while fishing. When paired up with a partner the rear occupant can use a single paddle to propel, position, and even hold the boat even in a decent flow.


Larry Laba, President of SOAR, paddles upstream while Vador fishes the fast moving water


Going downriver requires little propulsion, just directional guidance. So you might wonder how well will the SOAR cruises in still water such as lakes. While fishing on the Russian River the inflatable canoes demonstrated its abilities to move in still water, and even progress upriver against the fast moving current. In both of these cases the S14 loaded with two anglers and gear were able to maneuver by paddling, and in next to no time the canoe headed up the river hitting all  the honey holes that we missed while cruising.


Being able to fish parts of the water where no one else can reach by foot or in larger drift boats is one of the many advantages of why an inflatable like the SOAR canoe can come in handy. Paddling quietly sneaking up onto wary fish like steelhead, the ability to move in shallow water, and finding your way through structure ridden swamp-like waters are a few more benefits that the S14 provides on the water.


 Sliding the SOAR 14 down sharp boulders wasn't even a concern.  The durability of the 36 oz neoprene is excellent


Durability: Durability is simply outstanding on the SOAR canoe! As explained above these canoes are layered with amazingly thick and durable material.  If the specifications won't amaze you, just go see and try one for yourself. While many fear that inflatable watercrafts aren't durable, easy to puncture or tear, a hook might snag and pop the chamber... this is guaranteed not to easily happen with the SOAR's unless you're purposely digging your sharp hook into the material.


SOAR canoes are known for their durability and are made to take on obstacles encountered on the water.  Also notice the bail ports


Throughout the fishing trip on the Russian River the S14 canoes landed many times on different rough terrain, rammed into branches both above and below the water line, and while launching at the beginning of the day these inflatables were dragged across sharp and rough boulders on 45 degree inclines! The 36 oz neoprene took no serious damage and the only noticeable signs were marks made on the surface. While the addition of the thick material enhances the SOAR's durability, it also increases the weight of the inflatable. Inflatable watercrafts are great because you can carry and launch anywhere with just one person and it packs small, but the SOAR 14s will take a little more effort. Don't let that bog you down because launching accessories are available and will make carrying the SOAR to the edge of the water with ease. If your next angling adventure requires a boat that won't fail, exploration in harsh uncharted waters, or weeklong journeys then the extra durability of this boat is well worth the extra weight base weight.


Stability: While durability adds weight and causes some portability concerns for anglers, the heavier load from the 36 oz neoprene helps the SOAR canoe remain more stable. Since the extra reinforcement covers the entire bottom of the SOAR, it provides an even balance. The two large 12" in diameter tubes on each side also play an important role in stability.  Having large chambers will prevent the canoe from easily rolling over in rapids. In dreadfully fast moving water, tipping over is possible, but in lakes and other bodies of water where there isn't a good deal whitewater, the SOAR is exceptionally stable.


Standing up to fish is not a problem as long as a piece of plywood is placed inside the canoe.  The platform is stable and feels secure.  Be careful anytime standing to fish from any watercraft


Anglers sometimes prefer to stand and fish. It makes casting easier and a good way to get up and stretch. Standing on the S14 without any additional bottom support is possible but might make you feel a bit insecure, but if you add a piece of plywood to the bottom you can stand and cast with confidence, even in moving water. You can either lay the entire floor with plywood or two pieces, one for each angler. With this quick addition the SOAR inflatable canoe is now a solid platform for fly anglers to continually cast from.


Modifications: Anglers are always modifying or adding features to their watercraft, but how easy can this be done on an inflatable?  You can't drill holes in it, and anything you do bolt or strap on needs to be quickly removable. Whether you are installing a fish finder or rod holder, the SOAR canoe makes modifications effortless. The two strip of grommets on each side of the canoe run from bow to stern and attaching fishing accessories takes seconds, having grommets 6" apart allows great flexibility in positioning. Seats, fish finder, accessories bag, and more can be attached anywhere you want them. The grommet and the strip holding them are durable and you won't have to worry about losing your gear. Larry told us about some of his customers putting two boats together to form a catamaran, or building a sail into the grommet system, the sky is the limit when you have a flexible attachment system like this.


Two rugged grommet strips allow easy attachment of fishing accessories


Additional Notes: Instead of sitting inside the canoe to fish, SOAR offers different types of seats.  Whatever seat chosen they all attach to the grommet strip.  It's pretty much at the same level of the top of each chamber, thus allowing you to sit higher which will make casting and spotting better fishing holes easier.


Bail ports are available on the SOAR. There are 4 pre-punched sets of 5 one inch ports, and each is sealed via a neoprene patch, and it is an option to have them open or sealed. In most fishing situations anglers will want them sealed. Some water in the canoe will not cause any problems and it is perfectly fine until the end of the day when you simply turn the S14 over to remove the water.


SOAR offers a long lasting watercraft backed by a 5 year warranty. This warrantee period is actually longer than industry average...but you most likely wont need it with the SOAR's durability. They also provide a 30 day guarantee of complete satisfaction or a refund will be issued (except shipping).  Any canoe returned must be in new condition. This allows anglers to test drive the SOAR to see if this is the right boat for your application.


S14 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality An already durable inner layer is then overlaid with a shield of more rugged material.  The bottom uses a 36 oz neoprene and is tough enough for sharp objects.  The overall construction is excellent 10
Performance The ability to move about the water while fishing is not a problem.  Maneuvering in moving water or even upriver, the S14 can do it.  Stability is good, but even better when a piece of plywood is added, which then allows you to stand to fish 9.5
Price This is not your average inflatable.  The higher price comes from the quality in construction and materials.  A few more dollars will have to be spent on buying gear needed to get you on the water 7
Features SOAR canoes have some useful features such as bail ports that can be open or close, carrying handles, repair kit, and the best of all is the two strips lined with grommets for easy add-ons 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) Designed to be rugged, but then weight is added.  The inflatable canoe allows easy movement inside while feeling secure.  Having three chambers keep the canoe high near the surface of the water, and at the same time provides a safety feature  9
Application A great inflatable boat that can be used in many different situations and weather conditions.  The durability allows it to be used even in extreme cold water for fishing in winter months.  One can paddle, row, or use a motor to move about on the water 9.5

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Extremely durable! L Heavier than some other inflatables
J Stable L Package isn't complete to get you fishing on the water
J Good hydrodynamics  
J Easy to attach accessories  
J Paddle, row, or motor  

Conclusion: Smaller watercrafts are becoming more and more popular nowadays because of the ability to easily launch everywhere, affordability, transportability, and flexibility to be used in different types of water, especially ones that do not allow the use of gas motors.  Feeling secure while on any inflatable is one of the chief concerns any angler has to consider when picking the perfect boat. The SOAR inflatable canoes offer this and more. The addition of reinforcement layers over the already durable 840 denier material allow the S14 to go anywhere and do anything. The thick and extremely rugged neoprene bottom will go through almost anything an angler would encounter while fishing. With added features like the grommet strips, one can easily attach any accessories, or customize the boat with creativity.  Overall the SOAR 14 inflatable canoe is durable, stable, and a fine fishing vessel.  While this is not your average off the shelf inflatable, the SOAR is a great boat for those who are looking for a premium inflatable that simply will not fail you in the nastiest of situations.










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