So hear it is the honest value of a review of the Salto Evolution.
But before, a bit of back history.
On Expeditions around the globe when the kayak splits or the outfitting breaks, you are in a dangerous situation. Eskimo produce strong kayaks, with solid and simple internal outfitting so the problems caused by broken boats and damaged outfitting become less important. Eskimo boats are SAFE, without centre pillar foam and ratchets easy of exit and entry is guaranteed.
Any kayaker that has used an Eskimo boat will tell you they are bomb proof, and many of the boats made 20 years ago are still getting used!
I have been looking at Eskimo boats for some time, as an expedition kayaker I need a kayak that is able to carry gear, light to fly with and works well on the water. I have used Diablos, Kendos, Quadros, Topos and classic Saltos in the past. I am not assisted by ESKIMO but use the kayaks out of choice.
At first I wasnt impressed with the boat, it felt far too short and back end light for serious creeking on the steeps. I also commented that I doubted it would work well in big water as it seemed to look slow.
I wasnt ‘into’ the boat upon first paddling it, but this all changed when I took the boat onto my local run and got a true feel for the boat.
The boat appears to be very stable on edge and the hull performs well, it has all the positive grab of a play boat when on the water although its release edges offer none of the ‘trip’ you find on freestyle kayak.
The small nature of the boat was a major concern for me and I thought it would become ‘catchy’ on the backend but this was not further from the truth. Whilst the boat drives well in a neutral paddling position it also works well when paddled on the back quarters, slalom style, without the ability to ‘dip turn’.
When paddled using the back edges of the boat it became a speed cruiser and made tight turns without pause. It accelerated well up eddy lines and offered a nice smooth transition when on a charging arc.
It boofed in a positive manner and required no speed to lift the nose and let it fly. When dropping into holes the bow lifts well and is easy to control. These situations favour a smaller kayak, and at 248 cm the Salto Evo is no long river cruiser.
This boat will serve many peoples needs well, although due to the size its performance may be stilted when loaded with bad positioned gear for overnight camps. If you needed just one boat for a trip this may just be it. All boats are a a balance between balance, safety, performance, big water style, creek bashing and comfort. This Salto may just fit your ideas.