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Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS Review: Big Upgrades on a Popular Model

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Comfortable, Amenity-Rich Budget Kayak



Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS Review

  • Stability
  • Storage and Amenities
  • Performance
  • Construction
  • Price

Introduction: Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS Review

If you’re new to the sport of kayaking and aren’t sure which recreational boats fit your budget and paddling style, the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS is built with you in mind.

A good cheap kayak with a lot of bells and whistles for its price range, the Aruba 10 SS is the beefed-up older brother of the popular Aruba 10 recreational kayak. Both kayaks are made for the budget-conscious beginner, but the SS model offers a little more in the way of amenities and comfort.

See American Paddler’s side-by-side comparison of the Aruba 10 vs Aruba 10 SS

There are lots of reviews out there of the Aruba 10, but we couldn’t find many of the Aruba 10 SS, even on more established sites, so we decided to make one. We hope American Paddler’s Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS review helps you make a more informed choice.
Here’s what we liked and what we didn’t:

Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS Specs and Features

SUN DOLPHIN ARUBA 10 SS SPECS

TYPE

Recreational/Sit on Top

PADDLERS

Solo

LENGTH

10 feet (305 cm)

WIDTH

30 inches (76 cm)

HEIGHT

13 inches (33 cm)

KAYAK WEIGHT

44 lbs (20 kg)

MAXIMUM CAPACITY

280 lbs (127 kg)

HULL MATERIAL

UV-stabilized Fortiflex high-density polyethylene

  • Removeable P.A.C. can be used as extra storage
  • Hands-free electronics console (bluetooth speaker and dry bag optional)
  • Large open cockpit with adjustable padded seat
  • Shock cord deck rigging
  • Storage compartments
  • Paddle holder
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Water bottle holder
  • Carrying handles
  • Protective thigh pads

Storage and amenities

The biggest noticeable difference between the Aruba 10 and the Aruba 10 SS is in the generous amount of storage options aboard the SS. While both models offer a stern tankwell, the SS’s is noticeably larger (about twice the size, actually) — which offers more than enough storage space for extra clothes, drinks, snacks or rain gear.

In addition to the larger tankwell, the SS also offers a smaller electronics dry console conveniently located between the paddler’s legs — meaning there’s no fumbling through a dry bag when your phone suddenly rings out on the water. It can also be equipped with Sun Dolphin’s waterproof mini-Bluetooth speaker — a really cool accessory if you ask us.

Dollar for dollar, the Aruba 10 SS simply offers a heck of a lot more in terms of storage and convenience (than the Aruba 10).

Perhaps the coolest part, though, is Sun Dolphin’s innovative “Portable Accessory Carrier” system that allows the tankwell on the SS to actually detach and be carried independently of the kayak. This is immensely helpful for loading up before you hit the water, and it also means you can effectively double your storage space by towing the carrier behind your kayak while on the water.

If that wasn’t enough, there’s one other unique feature to the SS over the Aruba 10: dual cupholders on the kayak’s “dashboard” mounting system — again conveniently located within arm’s reach. Both models also come with a bungeed-down water bottle holder on the bow and side paddle holders.

Video: Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 SS (the Aruba 10 SS’s larger cousin)

Comfort

For a budget recreational kayak, the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS doesn’t disappoint with its comfort options.

Big and tall paddlers will appreciate the Aruba 10 SS’s wider, more inviting cockpit compared to the Aruba 10, and the adjustable padded seat is a step above what you’ll find on most budget rec kayaks. The foot pegs are also adjustable, an added bonus for tall guys looking to stretch their lanky legs.

Though some have complained about sharp edges on the inside lip of the cockpit, the Aruba 10 SS’s protective thigh pads help alleviate this issue.

The protruded outside lip of the cockpit does accommodate a spray skirt if you’ll be paddling in cold or windy conditions — or simply don’t like being splashed.

Performance

Though budget kayaks aren’t usually known for their superior performance, the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS isn’t bad for a fun, cheap kayak.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the Aruba 10 SS is incredibly stable and tip-resistant, making it a great starter kayak for lakes, rivers and calm bays. Thanks to its sleek, lightweight hull design, it’s also exceptionally maneuverable and turns easily, even for inexperienced paddlers.

The Aruba 10 does suffer a little bit when it comes to tracking (it doesn’t feature a skeg, unfortunately), but then again, it really isn’t designed for marathon day trips. As long as you stick to paddling calmer, recreational waters, it more than gets the job done.

Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS review
The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS is very tip-resistant and stable, which can be reassuring for beginner kayakers.

Portability

For all the added storage aboard the Aruba 10 SS, it doesn’t lose its trademark lightweight portability. In fact, the Aruba 10 SS weighs just 44 lbs (only 4 pounds heavier than the Aruba 10) — meaning it’s easily handled by a single person.

As the name suggests, the Aruba 10 SS is 10 feet long, which is long enough for good performance yet short enough to fit easily atop most vehicles. Thanks to its shorter size, it can also be stored in places other kayaks can’t: apartment balconies, basements — or even in the back of some SUVs or pickups.

The Aruba 10 SS has front and rear carrying handles, which helps when carrying it to and from the beach.

Construction

The Aruba 10 SS is made of durable, UV-stabilized Fortiflex high-density polyethylene, which means three things for paddlers:

  • It’s customizable for fishing rods, extra handles or equipment rigging,
  • It’s not going to easily sustain damage from rocks and underwater hazards, and,
  • You don’t have to worry about leaving it outside, since the UV-resistance protects against chipping, peeling or fading due to the sun’s damaging rays.

The Aruba 10 SS can hold up to 280 lbs, with passengers and cargo combined.

Drawbacks

If there’s one thing we wished this kayak had, it’s a drain plug. Since it doesn’t, we recommend a good spray skirt or bilge pump to keep the water out. It’s probably also worth investing in a better seat.

Color options

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS comes in a colorful array of blue, green, red and orange. Personally, we think the red looks sharp.

Price

Considering its notable features and upgrades, we’d consider the Aruba 10 SS one of the best recreational kayaks for the money. Check the latest price for yourself.

Tl;dr (Too long, didn’t read)

If you don’t have time to read our Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS review, know this: if you’re looking for a budget rec kayak that offers a little more bang for the buck, this is your boat. In fact, the Aruba 10 SS probably offers more amenities and storage options than any other budget kayak in its class — its sister Aruba 10 included. For a significant upgrade in comfort and convenience, as well as a still-cheap price point, we recommend the Aruba 10 SS as the best kayak for the money for beginners.

If you’re looking for something a little longer or shorter, try the Aruba 8 SS or the Aruba 12 SS.

Aruba 10 vs Aruba 10 SS (Side by Side Comparison)

FEATURESARUBA 10ARUBA 10 SS

Short, lightweight construction

Affordable price

Stern tankwell

Bungee deck rigging

Water bottle holder

Adjustable foot pegs

Padded thigh braces

Extra-wide cockpit

Detachable “Portable Accessory Carrier”

Electronics dry console (w/ optional Bluetooth speaker)

Dashboard with dual cupholders

Extra leg room

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