The Most Influential Gear of All Time: Eskimo Topolino Playboat

1980

A modern-day playboat     Photo: Playboat image via Shutterstock

Prior to 1980, most whitewater kayaks were over 12 feet long. The design was effective for running rivers, but the boats were not particularly nimble. Holger Machatschek, together with Germany-based Eskimo Kayak, developed the Topolino, which, at 7.2 feet long, allowed the paddler to introduce a whole new vocabulary of techniques and tricks. This new short boat paddling style, dubbed playboating, quickly developed into a popular subgenre of kayaking.

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