Tributary Kayaks Review | Epic Kayaks or Rip Off? [2021]

Inflatable Kayaks make it possible for us to go from backyard to the crossing rivers in a snap, quickly making them a camping essential. Their portability makes it possible for you to have all the benefits of having a hard shell kayak without the storage hassle.

While AIRE offers a highly competitive list of inflatable kayaks to keep with your paddling adventures, not everyone will be willing to shell out as much money. Creating Tributary Kayaks, a more affordable line yet similarly excellent in performance, lets you have a taste of whitewater in the hopes of convincing you to commit to the sport altogether.

Tributary Kayaks Reviewed

We review each of the kayak series Tributary has to offer in the hopes of helping you choose the perfect one for your next rafting getaway.

#1. Sawtooth


The Sawtooth’s removable Aluminum fin ensures that you have full control of maneuverability as it lets you adjust the kayak’s drag. Having this feature improves your tracking on still lakes, optimizing your paddle and the kayak’s speed. Removing the fin will keep you gliding smoothly on shallow, rocky waters, promising the same comfort on movement. Multi-day camping trips will be a breeze with its massive carrying capacity that lets you bring a buddy and all the necessary gear.

The unique floor shape allows for sharp slices through waves due to its keel-like design. This shape also allows for improved water displacement, letting you gain more speed as you paddle. Having a V-shaped hull improves on your tracking with the Aluminum fin maintaining your balance.

Having removable and adjustable inflatable seats ensures your comfort and lets you control the deck space, allowing for better weight distribution. This kayak’s slightly raised bow and stern provide swift turns allowing for better movement on choppy waters. Carry handles on both ends of the kayak will let you tug them to and from the water effortlessly.

Summit II valves will let you spend more time paddling with their rapid inflation rate, and ensures that the kayak stays airtight. Sawtooth’s multiple air chambers ensure its rigidity to maintain your stability and guarantees your safety if one gets punctured.

Five Vinyl AIREcell chambers guarantee the Sawtooth’s agility and resistance to immediate damage, assuring its excellent durability. You can do away with the bucket as the self-bailing floor ensures buoyancy by immediately expelling water and debris, letting you focus on paddling. 

This kayak lets you securely tie down all your gear with its multiple cargo loops and allows for more comfortable removal and re-installation of seats. Its relatively massive weight ensures your balance and supports the kayak despite maximizing its carrying capacity

#2. Strike I and II

strike I

Boasting as Tributary’s versatile variant, the Strike I and II let you go from cruising to battling it out with the most challenging whitewater. Its highly adjustable frame allows for smooth gliding on flatwater but is rugged enough to give the most potent punches on waves.

The hull’s continuous curve allows for excellent maneuverability on any water as it efficiently slices through them. Its slight elevation makes Strike kayaks have more contact with the water for better clearance ahead but with enough flexibility to allow swifter turns.

Polyvinyl Chloride coating on the Nylon fabric makes the Strike series highly resistant to wear and tear, assuring durability to withstand the constant beating. The Urethane AIREcells coating on the tubes’ interior wall keeps them airtight and allows for added flexibility to be highly resistant to abrasion. Welding the entire fabric construction keeps the kayak rigid, assuring that it remains upright despite constant crashing and guarantees stability as you paddle.

The Cheetah seats’ ergonomic quality assures ample back support, keeping you comfortable the entire trip. They are detachable, adjustable, and have pockets on the back for your essentials. Cargo loops in various kayak sections let you secure your gear to ensure that they stay in place. Tugging to and from the water will be more comfortable with the carry handles reinforced on the kayak’s front and rear.

Mesh drain holes improve on the Strikes’ self-bailing floor but letting little to no water stay on the raft. The same material makes it easier to expel debris like small rocks or twigs to reduce puncture risk. If you puncture the fabric, the Strike series comes with a kit that enables you to do a temporary repair, letting you finish your trip

#3. Tomcat Low Volume (LV), Solo and Tandem

tomcat solo

The entire Tomcat series lets all paddlers experience riding the rapids with many sizes to choose from, allowing you to bring your kids along in fun. This kayak series promises an excellent overall performance that will keep up with the most challenging waves, with a price range that will not break the bank.

Tomcat’s Low Volume variant lets kids give whitewater rafting a try with its compact yet sturdy frame. This construction also allows solo paddlers to have closer contact with the water, optimizing each paddle and adding speed. The Solo and Tandem models are forgiving enough to let beginners work on their footing, while its excellent agility rate makes it suitable for intermediate paddlers.

The rugged outer shell, comprising of Polyvinyl Chloride and Nylon, assures you that these kayaks can take a beating and is long-lasting. A Vinyl AIREcell coating on its tubes’ interior guarantees that each segment is flexible enough to resist punctures despite being airtight. Welding its seams ensure that the raft will remain rigid, with the multiple air chambers guaranteeing your safety and stability.

Having a significantly narrow frame locks you in place, guaranteeing that you stay in the raft and letting you exert all effort on slicing through the waves. The adjustable seats offer superior comfort, and its easy detachment allows for better customization. Its self-bailing capability improves with the mesh drainage system that expels everything unnecessary in the raft from water to debris, ensuring consistent buoyancy.

You need not worry about leaving other gear behind for this kayak is fully capable of handling massive cargo loads. Multiple D-rings on the front and rear let you securely them, locking them in place and letting you focus on paddling. Reinforced flip handles allow for more comfortable transfers to and from the water and turn the kayak effortlessly if you tip over

#4. IK Angler 11

ik angler 11

You will find the IK Angler 11 the perfect solo fishing trip companion, as Tributary dedicates this kayak specifically for your casting needs. Despite its lightweight, it guarantees excellent performance allowing you to maximize every trip.

Elevating the seat above the waterline gives you a better view ahead, letting you plan your moves better. You will be comfortable on longer trips with the seat’s ergonomic capabilities, ensuring ample back support and stability.

The Integrated Gear System sets the IK Angler 11 from other Tributary kayaks as it has specialized attachments for rod holders and anchors, letting you wait in peace. Additional cargo loops in its interior allow you to tie your gear securely, lessening your worries as you paddle. Like the Sawtooth, this kayak has a detachable fin that lets you control drag, allowing for optimized tracking and smoother glides on water.

The combining PVC with its Nylon fabric construction guarantees excellent durability to resist immediate damage from wear and tear. Its Urethane AIREcell coating on the tubes’ interior walls keeps them airtight but highly flexible to resist puncture, ensuring your safety and stability as you tread the water. Its self-bailing floor also comprises the same interior coating, providing your balance and security by immediately removing excess water.

The air chambers of this kayak will remain inflated at optimal pressure with the Summit II valves, which also promises quicker inflation and deflation. A repair kit included in every purchase lets you do a temporary fix if the Angler 11 gets punctured, letting you finish your trip. Two carry handles ensure more convenient transport pre and post fishing, while its significantly compact deflated frame makes storage easier after every trip.

#5. Tributary Spud

tributary spud

The Tributary Spud guarantees that your kids will be safe as you let them feel riding the rapids for the first time. It offers ample stability, and the massive tube diameters ensure enough distance to keep your kids away from hitting boulders. The same tubes ensure your stability by increasing the kayak’s contact with the water.

Its reduced length lets you gain more speed as you paddle, allowing for more efficient slices and stronger punches since you optimize every paddle’s energy. This feature also makes it an excellent playboat for the more experienced paddler since it gives you ample maneuverability to set up your tricks.

Adding thigh straps in the Tributary Spud enables you to paddle and outlast the most challenging rapids with its hard shell-like performance. Resurfacing from steep dives is also relatively easy with the sharp rocker on its bow, letting you regain control of the kayak immediately. Reinforced carry handles make turning and carrying the kayak more comfortable, allowing quicker re-entry and transport pre and post rafting.

You need not worry about the kayak’s durability for the combination of Polyvinyl Chloride in the 1000-denier Nylon guarantees to make it highly weatherproof. Vinyl AIREcell coating on the interior walls keeps the Tributary Spud airtight but agile enough to resist punctures, ensuring each air chamber’s integrity. Welding its seam assures the Spud’s frame’s maintenance despite the constant impact, ensuring unbeatable durability.

Using mesh on the floor’s construction improves its self-bailing capabilities, efficiently draining excess water and debris to keep you afloat throughout the course. Summit II inflation valves allow for faster assembly and storage, letting you maximize every rafting trip. The same valves ensure that all air chambers remain at optimal pressure, guaranteeing the kayak’s rigidity and allowing you to maintain balance.

Tributary Kayak Construction

Being AIRE’s affordable line, it unsurprising that Tributary Kayaks have the same excellent construction as the former’s other variants. We define the most common among all kayaks, the AIREcell Technology and Ferrari Polyvinyl Chloride below.

AIREcell Technology

Layering the tube’s interior walls with either Urethane of Vinyl AIREcell technology makes Tributary kayaks highly resistant to abrasion. This technology produces a closed-cell foundation on the walls that helps keep each section of the kayak airtight, ensuring rigidity and maintaining your balance. Its thermal-welding construction makes it excellent sturdy to outlast any pressure and guaranteeing a stable kayak. A layer of Lycra, a highly flexible material, seals the AIREcell layer to the PVC-Nylon fabric, making the entire tube agile for better maneuverability. Tributary kayaks with this feature guarantee to maintain its rigidity, ensuring your balance throughout the whole course.

Ferrari Polyvinyl Chloride

AIRE sets itself apart by using a ballistic Polyvinyl Chloride and Nylon combination to ensure that you will never need another kayak. The same quality of material comprises every Tributary’s outer shell, which promises the same excellent durability that assures you of getting your money’s worth. Combining the two materials makes every Tributary kayak highly resistant to tears and weather damage, significantly lengthening their lifespan. The same construction also makes each one highly rigid, letting you maintain stability as you paddle. Having an acrylic topcoat on Tributary kayaks ensure that they handle constant sun exposure, letting you spend more time outdoors worry-free.

About Tributary Kayaks

Aside from being manufactured in a China instead of Idaho, Tributary Kayaks offer the same excellent overall performance as any AIRE raft. This similarity, along with its highly affordable price point, makes this brand an easy choice for all paddlers for recreational rafting.

For more than three decades, being in the game shows that AIRE, or Argonaut Research and Engineering, is no mediocre competitor in the inflatable raft industry. Consistently pioneering innovations that ultimately make river rafting more convenient for all enthusiasts quickly makes them one of the most reliable brands in the industry.

Developing the AIREcell technology showed how the company values its employees and environmental footprint, showing that they are not all about the money. Making all rafts repairable assures you that no penny will be wasted with their long-lasting products.

What put them on the map as one of the most innovative players in the game was coming up with the idea of using multiple layers on their raft’s floors. The determination and perseverance to keep up with their customers’ ever-changing demands manifest their dedication to providing the best for the most reasonable prices. This increased focus on consumer needs manifests in post-purchase services, where an unquestionable warranty is included with every purchase. An assurance such as that guarantees that you need not look elsewhere for the perfect rafting companion.


Launching a more affordable line of Tributary kayaks shows AIRE’s dedication to making it possible for all enthusiasts to own a raft for their outdoor adventures. The abundance of choices makes it easy for every paddler to tailor-fit their kayak accordingly, ensuring the best time without breaking the bank.

While we have given you an extensive enough review, it is best to look into how every element affects a kayak’s performance. Having sufficient knowledge will enable you to choose accordingly, letting you maximize your raft’s potential. You may also check out our other kayak reviews below for wiser decision-making.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does Tributary offer anything else aside from kayaks?

A: While Tributary offers mostly kayaks, the brand has a series of inflatable rafts and more budget-friendly options. The Tributary HD Raft series lets you choose from abundant sizing options to tailor-fit the raft according to your adventure. Promising the same excellence as AIRE rafts, you need not worry about its abilities as it keeps up with the most challenging whitewater for a fraction of the price.

Related Resources

Leave a Comment