How about having a kayak that you can easily tour sheltered coastal water and lakes with a load of kit one day and then run whitewater the next. If that is your thing then what you might want to consider is getting a cross-over kayak. This area of the market has grown a great deal over the last couple of years with all of the major manufactures bringing out their own versions of the cross-over platform.
Wavesport have taken this concept a little further and have designed what they term as a ‘River Trekking’ kayak. River trekkers are designed to carry your kit for multiday trips and run whitewater. They have the storage and capacity of a touring kayak but have the features that you would find on many river running kayaks.
At first glance the Ethos doesn’t look like a white water kayak. The length and shape of the kayak is reminiscent of something you would see on a lake or canal but the Ethos has been designed from the ground up with white water capability in mind.
The Ethos is available in two outfitting specifications. The top end spec includes the fantastic Core WW system found in Recon and other Wavesport WW kayaks. The Ethos I tried had the River Cruising specification, which is still pretty good, with a peg footrest system, ratchet back band, and various pads make it a very comfy kayak. The alternative specification includes Wavesport’s excellent Core Whiteout outfitting system that is found within its creekers and playboats.
The grab loops at the bow and stern are made from a combination of webbing and molded plastic and sit proud of the deck to aid water shedding. This is quite a departure from the designs that are currently out there that utilise some sort of metal security bar. The webbing system is definitely more comfortable to carry the boat with and work well. There is a metal security bar that sits approximately half way along the front deck.
On the water the Ethos tracks well and is very easy to get up to speed. In addition to its natural ability to hold a straight line the Ethos has a drop down skeg that aids the Ethos to track really well even in strong side winds. I found this to be a really useful part of the system and was very easy to engage and disengage through the use of a pull cord/cleat located on the rear deck.
The Ethos has a large water proof hatch in the stern and although I didn’t camp over night I did load up the ethos with a couple of days worth of kit to see how the kayak would perform on the water fully loaded up. Apart from when carrying the kayak the additional weight wasn’t notice.
The Ethos sat well within the water and remained well balanced. If you did wish to carry a load that had some weight to it you may have to move the seat forward to reset the trim. However if over laden any kayak can become a pig to paddle so it is best to try and stay close the recommended load weight (inc. paddler). Between the hatch and the cockpit is a bungee cord system that allows the quick storage of kit. Personally I can’t see that I would use this system very often, and certainly not on white water, but can perhaps see it may be of use on calmer waters to store a sun hat or cag.
Like many white water kayaks the Ethos has a rocker and strong edges, and as result the Ethos handles the white stuff really well. The Ethos certainly isn’t going to compete with a play boat or dedicated river runner in the white water capability stakes, but it certainly is not a barge. For a cross-over kayak the Ethos is quite agile, it tracks well and punches through stoppers with relative ease. Breaking in/out is very straight forward, as is surfing and sitting in a stopper where its rocker and progressive chine comes into play.
Wavesport have managed to blend two different genres of the sport into a kayak that is highly versatile and will appeal to a wide section of the kayak market. If you’re a paddler who spends a bit of time on the flat but also likes to run whitewater and may even complete multi-day trips from time to time then the Ethos from Wavesport is well worth checking out.