It's not the fastest boat out there, but that's ok. It's very stable, and is great for novice paddlers; they feel very safe in it out on the water. It does fishtail a bit when you paddle, but it gets you where you want to go.
This is a good choice if you want a decent inflatable canoe for a reasonable price and weight, good portability, and if you just want to get out on the water and have fun.
I highly recommend this boat for anyone that is looking for a do it all inflatable. Durable, stable, reliable. With a little practice "fishtail" characteristics are not noteworthy. A great paddling fun craft...go get one and start enjoying the water!
The Rio is not as fast as touring kayak, but faster than a lot of Recreational boats out there, and quite a bit faster than a regular canoe. The nylon cover is tough, and the Rio handles fast water beautifully. I have even had it in the ocean, and have paddled as far as 3 miles off shore with no trouble at all. You can't go wrong with this boat, or it's big brother, the Colorado.
So far we have got these stuck in rocks several times (low water levels) with no visible sign of wear. The bottom of the boats is a very tough plastic and seems to be doing its job. As some other reviewers commented these are not really designed for flat water so paddling in flat water or slow moving rivers is manageable but tedious. They track reasonably well in flat water for an inflatable but if you expect hardshell kayak tracking you will be disappointed. The paddle choices depends on the number of paddlers. Two paddlers could handle the Colorado with canoe paddles but I would not want to paddle the Colorado solo or the Rio with a canoe paddle. If paddling the Colorado solo or with a child (my daughter weighs 50lbs) you want to invert the seats and paddle backwards as this helps balance the boat lengthwise. It tracks much better this way. If you will only inflate one of these boat you can do with a manual pump but if you have two you definitely want to use an electric pump initially and finish the inflation with a manual pump. Inflating these to the correct pressure without a pressure gauge is extremely difficult so I recommend to invest in a pressure gauge. I bought a "Bravo" and rigged it to my Coleman dual action pump which is a great combo.
The correct kayak paddle length for paddlers irrespective of height is 240cms because of the fat and high side tubes. The problem with this was that paddles this long could not be found locally so we had to order online and wait for the delivery. If you insist in buying shorter paddles locally definitely don't go shorter than 230cms or you will not reach the water comfortably.
My operating procedure for these boats is the following:
1) unfold, 2) inflate main chambers for volume with a 12v pump quickpump, 3) inflate main chambers for pressure with a manual pump with pressure gauge , 4) Inflate seats with the manual pump, 5) tie seats, 6) launch.
1) take out of water, 2) unplug drainage valve, 3) lift kayak to drain water, 4) dry with camp towel, 5) deflate manually, 6) deflate with pump, 7) dry again with camp towel, 8) unfasten seats, 9) fold, 10) drive home, 11) inflate for volume main chambers, 12) let dry for a day, 13) deflate with pump, 14) fold.
Get a very good paddle - splurge, and tracking, will be no problem. Of course don't expect hard shell kayak performance. Glad Sevylor keeps the Rio going, sad the Fish Master is no more. The inner bladder with nylon skin is a great way to go, several seasons for me.
Way to go!!!
I sold this boat after a few months and replaced it with the more traditional canoe styled Gumotex Palava - which is in a different league! If you want to paddle a traditional open canoe it is well worth spending a little extra on the Gumotex Palava, I can't fault it!
I also own a Stearns Spree 1, which I would also recommend over the Rio if you want a Kayak styled boat, it has very similar handling and speed, but is much easier to dry out and has a deck to keep you dry!
The Rio isn't a bad boat, but I think there are better models available!
Even paddling into the wind as well as angling into the wind and we did not have to fight to keep the boats in control. I intend to sell both of these boats and I'm going to purchase the Colorados to replace them as I find the Rio's to be lacking in space. I would not suggest that anyone buy a Rio if they intend to carry along any gear at all. The only thing that bothers me about these boats is that they seem to take on quite a bit of water, nothing major, and I'm not even sure how the water is getting in. I'm very careful not to drip water from my paddle, so, I know that that is not how the water is getting in. The floor and seat is not getting wet from wicking, however there winds up being about a liter or more of water in the space between the floor and pontoon.
I would also agree that the vinyl inflation stems are pretty crude. It's really not easy getting them to pop out once they are depressed. I also find that the seats definitely need to be about four or five inches taller. I intend to deck my boat out for fly fishing and I'm going to install a padded rigid seat mounted to a wooden deck as well as a motor mount and an fish finder/rod holder mount.
The cons: slow, tracks horrably was designed with fishing/hunting in mind. Needs a skeg desprately to correct the tracking problems.