Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Review
Are you a recreational kayaker on the lookout for a great value sit-in kayak with almost universal positive customer feedback?
Look no further than the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10, as one of the kayaks on the market with the greatest value for your money. Even though it doesn’t leave your wallet empty, it is extremely roomy for kayakers, offering a lot of space yet still saying pretty stable on the water.
It is accessible for people of different sizes, shapes and weights and perfect for beginners looking for reassurance on the water—not to mention capable of handling the rough waters by more advanced kayakers.
Before a product review, here are five questions that not only you may have before investing but others have had, as well, about the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10.
What has Sun Dolphin done differently with the Aruba 10?
With the Aruba 10 kayak, Sun Dolphin have stood true to their motto of “Family. Fun. Adventure."
As the self-confessed “world leader” in recreational kayaks, Sun Dolphin have produced a sit-in kayak that is lightweight with a remarkable level of comfort and ease for such an affordable price.
What type of kayaking is the Aruba 10 suitable for?
The Aruba 10 is most suitable for flat-water recreational kayaking.
Even though it is great for a little fun kayaking, if you are a more advanced kayaker, you might notice that the Aruba 10 has some buoyancy issues in open water. Therefore, it is recommended that the Aruba 10 be used near the shore or in lakes and calm rivers.
Can I go fishing with my Aruba 10?
Yes! Even though it isn’t specifically a fishing kayak, it definitely can get the job done—and can be used for fishing in a variety of lakes and weather conditions.
While the Aruba 10 is not necessarily designed specifically for fishing, a few small adjustments can be made.
For example, kayaking fishermen can fit a fishing rod holder and some nylon eye straps to be able to connect a leash for the fishing rod and a fish stringer.
Does the price vary for the Aruba 10?
Absolutely. It is recommended that you shop around online.
What is the difference between the Aruba 10 and the Aruba 10 SS?
The Aruba 10 is the older brother of the SS. Sun Dolphin has made a few changes in the specification on the Aruba 10 SS, such as increased rear storage facilities.
However, roominess often pays the price. Even though the Aruba 10 SS has a bigger storage facility in the back of the kayak, it leads it to being much top heavier than the Aruba 10, and can even struggle in a class 2 river.
If you would like a visual review, check out the video posted by JohnVHRC, who has over 40,000 views.
JohnVHRC gives in-depth, step-by-step instructions. He talks the viewer from the process of unwrapping the Aruba 10 through to taking it out on the water. He is also relatively new to kayaking and kayak fishing, therefore gives a succinct non-expert appraisal.
If you’re a slightly more experienced, risk-taking kayak enthusiast, a review by Mojave Group tests the durability of the Aruba 10 in less favorable conditions. The focus of the video is on the handling of the Aruba 10 in fast-moving water.
Finally, for experienced kayak fisherman, Broke Yakin, gives a thorough, 20-minute review of the pros and cons of the Aruba 10 for fishing. He provides some tips and tricks for budget-minded fisherman to try when purchasing the Aruba 10 for advanced kayaking.
Aruba 10 Product Review
Getting into the details of this kayak, now we’re going to talk about what sets it apart from other kayaks on the market.
The Aruba 10 is made from rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex® High-Density Polyethylene.
Polyethylene thermoplastic is known for having a high strength-to-density ratio, meaning the material is light but also very hard and can withstand a high amount of force.
There are three bonuses of a durable high-density polyethylene construction material for the kayak user:
You can customize the kayak with extra handles, fishing rods and rigging
It is resilient to sustaining damage from hazards underwater and rocks (though repeated pummeling of the Aruba 10 body should be avoided)
The UV-resistant material ensures the Aruba 10 will not fade in sunlight and protects it against chipping and peeling.
The Aruba 10 has the following specifications:
Length: 10’ / 305cm
Width: 30” / 76 cm
Height: 13” / 33 cm
Weight: 40 lbs / 18 kg
Capacity: 250 lbs / 113 kg
The Aruba 10 provides two storage facilities.
First, a water bottle holder above the front of the cockpit and second, a container in the stern.
Although good to have some storage facilities on the kayak, these features are the weakest element of the Aruba 10 (the Aruba 10 SS has gone some way to addressing these issues).
The weakness in the stern storage facility is that the lid of the storage compartment is not sufficiently watertight. The compartment has a rubber foam seal with a short cord deck rigging tied over it. However, this sealing does not sufficiently protect the compartment if the boat flips. Despite this concern, the rear compartment is more than sufficient in calm waters.
Comfort (Seating, Foot Braces, Thigh Pads and Cockpit)
The Aruba 10 comes with an adjustable seat which can move forward and backward. The seat comes with plastic clips on either side where the user can adjust the position of the seat. For example, taller users will prefer the seat to be pressed against the back of the cockpit while shorter kayakers can scoot it up forward.
The seat comes with a back pad for comfort. However, if you're considering to go for the budget option, you can make an additional purchase of a kayak seat pad since the Aruba 10 lacks padding for your backside, which can become sore during long stints on the water.
The adjustable foot braces ensure that you can rest their feet securely when inside the kayak. The design ensures that those over six foot-tall should still be able to rest comfortably in the cockpit with sufficient leg room.
On both sides of the cockpit are protective thigh pads which provide a secure resting place for your knees and thighs. They also provide a decent degree of control for when you’re maneuvering the kayak in the water.
One of the main bonuses of the Aruba 10 is the spacious cockpit. As most kayakers are aware, one of the main differences between recreational and touring sit-in kayaks is the width and spacing of the cockpit. As the Aruba 10 is a recreational sit-in kayak, the design prioritizes usability and comfort over speed and streamlining.
The Aruba 10 can be considered as a rather more-inclusive kayak since it is more accessible for users of larger height and weights when compared to touring kayaks. The large cockpit ensures the Aruba 10 is fun to use and removes any feelings of confinement.
Although affordable kayaks are not renowned for supreme performance, the Aruba 10 does perform remarkably well in rivers and lakes. The lightweight design of the hull (bottom of the kayak) ensures the maneuverability of the Aruba 10 is exceptional, ensuring that beginners can be able to turn the boat with relative ease.
Since the Aruba 10 is not built for marathons, it has a few shortcomings when it comes to direction and tracking.
The Aruba 10 doesn't have a skeg, which is a retractable blade fitted to a compartment at the stern of the boat. Therefore users may find it hard work to direct the kayak in stronger currents.
However, if you stick to more basic paddling in recreational waters, as the majority who purchase the Aruba 10 will do, the infrastructure on the Aruba 10 more than meets that challenge in getting the job done. Especially if you’re going out there for recreational kayaking, you’ll notice that you have "complete control in flat water."
The lightweight design ensures the Aruba 10 is easy to transport to and from the water. At a weight of the 40 lbs, you can even lift the entire kayak and carry it by yourself.
The Aruba 10 also has front and rear carrying handles to assist you—especially if you decided to recruit a little help in carrying it. This continues the theme of Sun Dolphin prioritizing usability at the forefront of their product design.
The Aruba 10 is available in a variety of vibrant colors including:
It is dependent on which retailer you purchase with as to the availability of colors for the Aruba 10. However, with whichever color you choose, you will certainly stand out on the water.
It is worth checking with the retailer whether the Aruba 10 comes with a paddle as it does seem to differ from each retailer. Some Sun Dolphin SS models come with paddles whereas the non-SS models do not.
However, JohnVHRC’s purchase of the Aruba 10 comes with a paddle as seen on his YouTube review.
Draining and Cleaning
If your boat has encountered tricky obstacles, it's quite normal for water to enter the cockpit which needs to be removed for future uses. Thankfully, cleaning the Aruba 10 is a very straightforward process, and the product design caters for such ease.
First, all you need to do is stand the kayak on its hull. Then, pull the drain plug and hose the inside of the kayak. Finally, you should spray silicone on the plug to ensure that it re-inserts easily. Your clean boat will then be ready for use again.
While the Sun Dolphin’s Aruba 10 sit-in kayak inevitably has some flaws when it comes to design specification and comfort, having explored all aspects of the kayak, it is clear that the Aruba 10 is a worth a purchase at such an affordable price.
On respected paddling site Paddling.com, the Aruba 10 is highly commendable when considering from those for experienced paddlers.
Even though it is offered at an affordable price, it doesn't lack in the build, stability and handling of the boat. Although it is evident that most users tend to be a beginner or recreational kayakers, the Aruba 10 does also tempt the more experienced kayaker who enjoys the extra space and value-for-money—especially if they aren't heading into rocky waters.
When purchasing any budget item, you always have to have some degree of common sense, since the product will inevitably have limitations compared to more expensive products in the range. Considering this, it would be wise to not use the Aruba 10 in unfamiliar environments such as a particularly choppy ocean path or a white-water rafting circuit.
Although the Aruba 10 may surprise you with its durability in testing conditions, you will get the most effective use out of it in gentler, calmer waters. In these cases, the Aruba 10 is a worthwhile purchase and will not disappoint kayaking enthusiasts who wish to enjoy their ‘human powered moments in nature.'