Gearing Up: 2004 Summer Boat Guide

Lightweight Champions

Field & Stream Online Editors

Outcast Trinity
Float tubes have evolved from simple inner tubes with a sling to improbably grand affairs so large and cumbersome that they've lost their utility and advantage. The 7-pound Trinity gets back to the essentials. It's a smartly designed package with five air chambers, two gear pockets, and an inflatable apron for sorting gear. The whole outfit fits in a backpack that comes with the tube. $270; 800-966-0976; www.outcastboats.com

**Cabela's Fish Cat Panther **
What happens when you sit atop a pontoon boat? You turn into a sailboat and blow away. The Panther, however, greatly reduces wind drift via the 10-inch low-profile pontoons, letting you maneuver and cast accurately. It draws just 3 inches of water, making it ideal for shallow lakes and rivers. But if you want more power than the oars provide, the aluminum deck is outfitted with a mount for a small motor. The frame breaks down for portability, and the entire 76-pound boat fits into a roller duffel bag. The oars pack into four pieces. $500 (duffel bag, $130); 800-966-0976; www.cabelas.com

The Mokai
The Mokai (mo-kye) isn't like other small watercraft: Using a motorized pump, it propels itself with a jet of water. The 12-foot hull draws just 6 inches, and there's no propeller to snag anything, letting you slither through the shallows. Made of rotomolded polyethylene, the Mokai carries up to 360 pounds-an adult and lots of gear or an adult and a child-and can reach 15 miles per hour. Honda's quiet new 5-horsepower engine should run for nearly eight hours with the 3-gallon fuel tank. The engine comes off for easy transport, turning the 100-pound hull into a cartopper. $3,000; 845-831-8297; www.mokai.com

Wipe Away Bugs
Repel has made some powerful bug repellent for years. Now they offer convenient 30 percent Deet Mosquito Wipes (like hand towelettes) that drive off mosquitoes, biting flies, gnats, and no-see-ums for up to 10 hours after application. Just pull one from the container and use it like a washcloth on any exposed skin. _$4 per 20-wipe container; 888-880-1181; www.spectrumbrands.com _