Marine

Standout water toys and small watercraft of 2015

Some of the water toy highlights of 2015
Some of the water toy highlights of 2015
View 58 Images
The WaterBed rides to water's edge via pedal power and provides a floating night of sleep
1/58
The WaterBed rides to water's edge via pedal power and provides a floating night of sleep
A wooden floating caravan design from artist/designer Daniel Durnin
2/58
A wooden floating caravan design from artist/designer Daniel Durnin
A new perspective on city living
3/58
A new perspective on city living
The WaterBed gets towed by bike
4/58
The WaterBed gets towed by bike
Inside the WaterBed features a convertible sofa-bed and a table
5/58
Inside the WaterBed features a convertible sofa-bed and a table
BomBoard has fine-tuned its modular PWC concept, adding more power and speed
6/58
BomBoard has fine-tuned its modular PWC concept, adding more power and speed
The BomBoard breaks down into four pieces for easy storage
7/58
The BomBoard breaks down into four pieces for easy storage
The BomBoard's modular design makes it easier to transport than larger single-piece PWCs
8/58
The BomBoard's modular design makes it easier to transport than larger single-piece PWCs
The Chilli Island is a sort of motorized water lounge
9/58
The Chilli Island is a sort of motorized water lounge
The Chilli Island has two seats, a Bluetooth audio system and space to store drinks
10/58
The Chilli Island has two seats, a Bluetooth audio system and space to store drinks
The J-Force eBoard is controlled with the eFlex glove
11/58
The J-Force eBoard is controlled with the eFlex glove
On display at Interboot 2015, the eBoard has a 15-hp water jet drive
12/58
On display at Interboot 2015, the eBoard has a 15-hp water jet drive
The J-Force eBoard at Interboot 2015
13/58
The J-Force eBoard at Interboot 2015
The nesting Boner Kayak stores neatly inside even smaller cars
14/58
The nesting Boner Kayak stores neatly inside even smaller cars
On the water in the Boner Kayak
15/58
On the water in the Boner Kayak
The Boner breaks down into three segments, creating a portable package
16/58
The Boner breaks down into three segments, creating a portable package
Secure the wheel, and you can roll right to the water
17/58
Secure the wheel, and you can roll right to the water
The Boner Kayak inside the rear seat
18/58
The Boner Kayak inside the rear seat
The Scubster Nemo is an electric follow-up to the original pedal-powered Scubster
19/58
The Scubster Nemo is an electric follow-up to the original pedal-powered Scubster
An open-cockpit design, the Scubster requires its driver to be suited up
20/58
An open-cockpit design, the Scubster requires its driver to be suited up
The Scubster Nemo's dual electric motors power speeds up to 4 knots (8 km/h)
21/58
The Scubster Nemo's dual electric motors power speeds up to 4 knots (8 km/h)
Scubster Nemo
22/58
Scubster Nemo
Underwater in the Scubster Nemo
23/58
Underwater in the Scubster Nemo
The Nemo is designed to roam for about two hours on a charge
24/58
The Nemo is designed to roam for about two hours on a charge
The Nemo is built to be an agile, athletic little vessel
25/58
The Nemo is built to be an agile, athletic little vessel
The Jet Blade brings a little bit of snowmobile-inspired design to the water
26/58
The Jet Blade brings a little bit of snowmobile-inspired design to the water
The tilting suspension system is designed to increase handling cpabilities and eat up modest chop
27/58
The tilting suspension system is designed to increase handling cpabilities and eat up modest chop
The Jet Blade is the work of a design team at Calvin College and may or may not find its way past prototype stage
28/58
The Jet Blade is the work of a design team at Calvin College and may or may not find its way past prototype stage
Jet Blade PWC
29/58
Jet Blade PWC
Jet Blade rendering
30/58
Jet Blade rendering
Jet Blade rendering
31/58
Jet Blade rendering
The Jet Blade was inspired by the Wetbike
32/58
The Jet Blade was inspired by the Wetbike
The SipaBoard's motor first inflates the board, then powers it to speeds up to 3.5 knots
33/58
The SipaBoard's motor first inflates the board, then powers it to speeds up to 3.5 knots
Paddling and motoring on the SipaBoard
34/58
Paddling and motoring on the SipaBoard
The SipaBoard plays double duty with motor power
35/58
The SipaBoard plays double duty with motor power
The Klepper Backyak offers a number of boating configurations, including this sailing catamaran
36/58
The Klepper Backyak offers a number of boating configurations, including this sailing catamaran
Wear the Backyak to the water as a backpack, build your boat and get out there
37/58
Wear the Backyak to the water as a backpack, build your boat and get out there
The Backyak packs aren't exactly compact, but they sure look easier to haul than a full-sized kayak
38/58
The Backyak packs aren't exactly compact, but they sure look easier to haul than a full-sized kayak
The full-sized Backyak kayak fits two adults and a child
39/58
The full-sized Backyak kayak fits two adults and a child
Sailing the Backyak
40/58
Sailing the Backyak
The Backyak becomes a year-round vessel with the sled kit
41/58
The Backyak becomes a year-round vessel with the sled kit
On the water in the Backyak
42/58
On the water in the Backyak
The Backyak can be split into two single-person kayaks
43/58
The Backyak can be split into two single-person kayaks
Klepper Backyak at Boot Düsseldorf 2015
44/58
Klepper Backyak at Boot Düsseldorf 2015
Part road-going motorcycle, part PWC, all Gibbs Biski
45/58
Part road-going motorcycle, part PWC, all Gibbs Biski
The Biski definitely doesn't look like the sleekest bike around, but its driver will be the one laughing when he leaves his buddies behind on the shore
46/58
The Biski definitely doesn't look like the sleekest bike around, but its driver will be the one laughing when he leaves his buddies behind on the shore
The Biski can do about 37 mph on water, 80 mph on the highway
47/58
The Biski can do about 37 mph on water, 80 mph on the highway
The Biski changes from wheeled motorcycle to water-ready PWC in about five seconds
48/58
The Biski changes from wheeled motorcycle to water-ready PWC in about five seconds
Gibbs Biski
49/58
Gibbs Biski
A look at the Gibbs Biski's controls
50/58
A look at the Gibbs Biski's controls
The Biski is one of three new recreational amphibious vehicle concepts Gibbs revealed earlier this year
51/58
The Biski is one of three new recreational amphibious vehicle concepts Gibbs revealed earlier this year
Chilli Island at Interboot 2015
52/58
Chilli Island at Interboot 2015
The SipaDrive moves the SUP rider forward
53/58
The SipaDrive moves the SUP rider forward
On the water with the SipaBoard
54/58
On the water with the SipaBoard
The SipaBoard relies on its motor drive unit for inflation, as well as propulsion
55/58
The SipaBoard relies on its motor drive unit for inflation, as well as propulsion
The SipaBoard is designed LED light-ready, and LEDs can be controlled with the same paddle controller as the motor
56/58
The SipaBoard is designed LED light-ready, and LEDs can be controlled with the same paddle controller as the motor
The SipaBoard takes to some scenic water
57/58
The SipaBoard takes to some scenic water
Some of the water toy highlights of 2015
58/58
Some of the water toy highlights of 2015

We've already looked back at some of the most fun off-road toys of 2015. Those are great for big kids that like to play on land, but what about those folks that prefer to get their feet wet? Luckily, 2015 had plenty of new designs and innovations for them, too. We've plucked our favorite motorized toys, paddle-propelled watercraft and towables from our 2015 coverage to whet the appetite of those anxious to get on the water.

Gibbs Biski

With the Quadski it introduced just a few years ago, Gibbs already had one of the world's most intriguing recreational amphibians. This year, it decided to show the public more options ... in a big way. It introduced three new amphibious designs of various sizes and wheel configurations, our favorite being the Biski land/water motorcycle. Designed to be switched between "road" and "water" configurations in about five seconds, the Biski invites you to motor your way to your favorite local body of water, then keep driving right onto it.

The Biski can do about 37 mph on water, 80 mph on the highway
The Biski can do about 37 mph on water, 80 mph on the highway

We haven't driven it, but we'd think the narrower, 503-lb (228-kg) body will prove sharper and more maneuverable than Gibbs' larger vehicles. The 55-hp (41-kW) vessel can reach 80 mph (129 km/h) on land and 37 mph (60 km/h) on water. The Biski is still listed as a concept on Gibbs' website, but if it does make it through to production, we expect the lighter, simpler amphibian will be priced below the Quadski.

Klepper Backyak

The Backyak can be split into two single-person kayaks
The Backyak can be split into two single-person kayaks

When we discovered the Backyak at Boot Düsseldorf earlier this year, one of the things we learned was that it had actually been around for a few years, so it's not as brand-spanking new as some of the other designs here. Still, an ultra-versatile, modular boat from a company that's been in the collapsible kayak business for over a century was a pretty cool find. Not only does the Backyak convert between several styles of boat – family kayak, two single-person kayaks, sailing catamaran and more – it also breaks down into dual 22-lb (10-kg) backpacks for hiking to the water and turns into a pretty slick-looking snow sled. It's easily the most versatile water vessel we've covered all year.

Jet Blade

Jet Blade PWC
Jet Blade PWC

Inspired by (and borrowing equipment from) the Wetbike released in the 70s, the Jet Blade isn't a completely new innovation, but it's definitely a very different ride from the typical Jet Ski or WaveRunner. Developed at Calvin College and still in the prototype stages, this 650cc-powered bike looks more like a snowmobile on water thanks to its dual front skis. Those skis provide planing action when the bike gets up to speed, and the tilting suspension that secures them to the body is designed for precise steering and smooth riding in the choppy stuff. If investment and development get off the ground, the Jet Blade could offer an interesting alternative to other available PWCs.

Chilli Island

In a world of high-power, high-speed motorized watercraft, the Chilli Island stands out as a slow, relaxing day on the water. Even its name is delightfully laid back. Austria's Chilli Island has focused on ergonomics and comfort, instead of aerodynamics and efficient performance, finding a cozy middle ground between a small electric boat and a pool float. The company imagines the polyethylene vessel being enjoyed at holiday hotspots like hotels and resorts.

The Chilli Island is a sort of motorized water lounge
The Chilli Island is a sort of motorized water lounge

All the two passengers have to do is lie out below the sunshades on the body-scooping seats and cruise around the open water, controlling the Torqeedo electric motor with the centralized trackball. There's also an onboard cooler and audio system at the ready for further relaxation under the sun.

Scubster Nemo

If the DeepFlight Dragon, which we declared one of our favorites of 2014 and got the opportunity to test this year, is the high-tech race car of the high seas, the Scubster Nemo is the ultra-simple, fun-driving roadster. Scubster's original idea of pedaling underwater sounded cool on paper, but we're not sure we'd be eager to actually do it. Cruising far below the ocean's surface at speeds up to 4 knots (8 km/h) in an open-top electric sub, however, sounds like a fun way to spend an afternoon or two on a beach getaway.

The Scubster Nemo's dual electric motors power speeds up to 4 knots (8 km/h)
The Scubster Nemo's dual electric motors power speeds up to 4 knots (8 km/h)

The Nemo features two electric motors that provide about two hours of propulsion. It's still in the prototype stages, and an unsuccessful Kickstarter earlier this year didn't do much to bring funds in. Whether or not it makes it to market, it was one of the coolest watercraft shown in 2015.

SipaBoard

The SipaBoard is a piece of water gear that proves you don't have to engineer a super-powerful, crazy-expensive motorized vehicle to create a compelling on-water ride. All you need is a good idea, and a little dual-purpose design doesn't hurt, either.

Paddling and motoring on the SipaBoard
Paddling and motoring on the SipaBoard

The SipaBoard is one part inflatable paddleboard, one part motorized board. We've seen both types before, but never integrated into such a smooth product. The onboard motor drive not only powers it to speeds of up to 3.5 knots (6.5 km/h), it also inflates the board. That top speed obviously isn't the thrilling propulsion you'll find on some of the other contraptions here, but it'll take some strain off your arms. Motor control is integrated conveniently into the paddle. After raising just shy of US$345,000 on Kickstarter earlier this year (more than double its goal), SipaBoard's team announced last month that the first shipments were underway.

Boner Kayak

The Boner breaks down into three segments, creating a portable package
The Boner breaks down into three segments, creating a portable package

If you can get past the name – and you should definitely try – the Boner Kayak is a beautiful design. We've seen modular kayaks before, including the Backyak we discussed above. What makes the Boner Kayak special is its fine birchwood construction, which gives it the presence of a classic vessel with a smart, modern twist. It breaks down to three pieces that nest together in one and includes a wheel for easy rolling. You'll have about five minutes of tool-free assembly between pulling it out of the trunk and paddling out onto the water.

J-Force eBoard

The J-Force eBoard is controlled with the eFlex glove
The J-Force eBoard is controlled with the eFlex glove

We're still not entirely convinced that electric surfboards are the "wave" of the future, given their high price tags and very low runtimes, but the J-Force eBoard comes closer to convincing us than most. Its 15-hp (11-kW) jet drive helps make it one of the fastest e-surfboards out there, topping out around 34 mph (55 km/h). What we really like is the wearable controller, which puts drive control inside a neoprene-like glove. All you have to do is curl your index finger to get going and straighten it out to stop. The glove also includes a digital display for key system info.

Still, €12,590 (US$13,770, Dec. 2015) for a board you'll get to use 20 to 30 minutes between two-hour charges just seems like a whole lot of money for not quite enough fun.

BomBoard PWC

We loved BomBoard's idea for a simple, affordable modular PWC so much when we first covered it last year, we gave it a spot on our 2014 list of favorite water toys. This isn't a rehash, though, because BomBoard recently announced some key improvements. For its latest design, BomBoard dropped the 250cc engine for a 450cc plant, bringing power up to 45 hp (34 kW) and boosting top speed to 45 mph (72 km/h).

The BomBoard's modular design makes it easier to transport than larger single-piece PWCs
The BomBoard's modular design makes it easier to transport than larger single-piece PWCs

The latest BomBoard maintains the benefits of the original, including its easy-transport, four-piece construction and versatile riding set-up with standing, kneeling and sitting positions. Its estimated retail price is a bit higher, but it's still quite affordable for a PWC at $3,995 and is being marketed now on Indiegogo for even less. Now the company just has to finish up development and get one of these cheap, fun 165-lb (75-kg) PWCs to the market ... before something better comes along.

WaterBed floating shelter

A bit different from the other water toys on this list, but as compelling as any other water-bound vessel we've covered this year, the WaterBed is a land/water caravan designed by artist and designer Daniel Durnin. What makes the WaterBed a touch cooler than other floating caravan designs is that it's made to be towed by bicycle, providing a simpler, greener way of commuting and camping.

The WaterBed rides to water's edge via pedal power and provides a floating night of sleep
The WaterBed rides to water's edge via pedal power and provides a floating night of sleep

At 165 lb (75 kg), the WaterBed isn't really designed for full-blown bikepacking excursions and is positioned more as a means of camping in local urban spaces, be it on a waterway or in a park. The large windows provide connection to that slice of nature. Inside, the WaterBed is a little too simple to make it a top caravan of the year candidate, but it does provide a cozy sleeping space in the form of convertible sofa bedding.

1 comment
Tom Lee Mullins
I think those are really neat.
Thanks for reading our articles. Please consider subscribing to New Atlas Plus.
By doing so you will be supporting independent journalism, plus you will get the benefits of a faster, ad-free experience.