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Bonafide RS117 Kayak Review: Most Stable Kayak Ever?

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Bonafide RS117 Kayak Review: Most Stable Kayak Ever?

Bonafide stormed onto the scene with kayaks that were highly stable, paddled well, and were consciously designed to enhance the all-round user experience. The RS117 is one of the newer additions to their line. The RS117 is a recreational, sit-on-top kayak that was specifically built for fishing, though I suspected it could make a good option for anyone just wanting a stable boat. Of course, the only way to know for sure is to suit up and log some miles on the water. Let’s run through the basics and then I’ll delve into my unbiased, in-depth assessments.


Retail Price: $1,149 (USD)

Length: 11′ 7″

Width: 33.5″

Weight: 77 LBS (35 KG)

Max Capacity: 425 LBS (193 KG)

Best Use: Flat Water/Fishing

One of the key features of the RS117 kayak is its catamaran hull design. The hull design also has replaceable dual skid plates. On top, it has a rod and paddle stow on both sides. There are fat grip handles at the bow and stern, plus side carry handles. In addition, it has a forward storage well with a transducer scupper for a fish finder unit. Inside the kayak there are adjustable foot braces, a dry pod, YakAttack MightyMount tracks, traction pads for standing, a high/low, extra-wide frame seat, two flush mount rod holders, a large crate-friendly tank-well, and a stern access plate for hull entry. Finally, this boat is rudder-ready, which means you can install a rudder without drilling any holes. Not a bad list of features! Now let’s talk about how it all comes together on the water.

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First Impressions of the Bonafide kayak review

After paddling around on a calm lake for about an hour, my initial thoughts were generally positive, but with some clear caveats. I enjoyed my time in the Bonafide RS117, though I saw some room for improvement. Let’s start with its stand-out strength.

ken whiting trying to flip the bonafide rs117 kayak

Is the RS117 kayak stable?

You betcha. The exceptional stability of the RS117 was one of its defining attributes. For both a recreational kayak and a fishing kayak, this is one of the most stable platforms you could ask for (owing in large part to the catamaran hull). Interestingly, the remarkable stability didn’t necessarily jump out in regards to the initial stability (i.e. how the kayak feels when sitting flat).

This boat has a bit of rock to it. However, once that tip reaches a certain angle, the momentum seems to get rejected and the boat easily recenters itself. It is therefore the secondary stability that elevates the RS117 to omega-level heights.

Good luck trying to flip this thing! I was leaning right out over the side and it wouldn’t budge any further. Standing is easy, and I found it most comfortable with my weight shifted more to one leg, since that put the kayak on edge, which seems to be the preferred state.

ken standing on the bonafide rs117 kayak

How does the Bonafide RS117 perform?

If you’ve been following along with my kayak reviews then you know that it’s typical for a stable kayak to be on the slower side. That is simply part of the design trade-off. The RS117 is no exception to this rule. This boat is not going to win you any races, but that’s not what it’s trying to do. It’s not the slowest kayak I’ve paddled, but I certainly wasn’t getting the output I wanted out of my bursts of aggressive paddling.

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Is the Bonafide RS117 kayak comfortable?

The big, wide, sit-on-top platform makes the RS117 inherently comfortable. Unfortunately, the seat didn’t deliver like I was hoping it would. The lower-back support is nice, but otherwise it seems that the seat is designed for sitting back and relaxing (which would come into play while fishing), rather than active paddling.

While I was covering ground, I was aware of the awkward gap between the seat and the back support. Maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s just my butt. I think a more versatile seat would certainly help boost the appeal of the RS117 as a general, recreational kayak. But if you’re someone who wants to mostly kick-back while out on the water, then I’m sure you’ll appreciate the comfort a lot more.

In terms of sizing, I should point out that my 6′ 2″ frame was a bit much for this kayak’s setup when I had the seat in its low position. Even with the foot pegs set as far forward as they would go, my knees still had a substantial bend. I would have liked to get them straighter, and that certainly would have enhanced my comfort level. This did happen when I moved the seat into the high-position, which freed up another couple of inches, but it would have been nice to freely utilize both settings without issue. I’m well within the weight parameters for the RS117, so no problems there. Just a note for anyone around my height or taller – this kayak probably isn’t for you.

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Is the Bonafide RS117 worth it?

For a fishing kayak, the RS117 is moderately priced and loaded with features. Not only are they plentiful, but they are well thought out too. I appreciated all of the storage compartments and positioning of the gear tracks. These would certainly come into play for anglers, but also for casual paddlers who want to pack some goodies and maybe even film their days on the water. In either case, don’t expect a speed demon, note that the seat could be improved for prolonged paddling, and be aware that tall folks might feel cramped. But otherwise, this is a well-stocked, super stable kayak that is worth it for the applicable demographics.

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I hope you enjoyed this review. For plenty of extra paddling content, from further reviews, to vicarious adventures, to river guides, make sure to check out PaddleTV.

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