With its classic British design (swept-up bow and stern) and soft chine, the Willow's stabilityboth primary and secondaryis best in test. But due to its trim profile, the Willow is as responsive to subtle steering as twitchier (read: tippier) boats. Its front, back, and day hatches easily swallowed up all gear on a four-day trip along Lake Champlain Paddlers' Trail. Note: Fit is best for smaller folks. Six-footers, choose the Gulfstream ($2,899). 15'6", 45 lbs (fiberglass; Kevlar also available); wenonah.comBonus: A retractable skeg and easy-adjust foot pegs.Bummer: Not available in a lower-priced plastic option.
HIGH PERFORMANCE FOR SMALLER PADDLERS