Fluid Solo (Large) Review

I have been paddling for more than 3 years now. I paddle as often as I can and paddle all types of rivers, although I have a full time job. I’m into play boating, river running, overnight trips and creeking. I’ve had this boat for a good couple of months now and took it with me on a trip to Sweden and Norway in June/July 2007.

The Solo has been tested on the mostly, shallow, rocky rivers of South Africa (eg. Sabie, Blyde, Ash) as well as some small and large rivers and in Sweden (eg. Piteälven, Kultsjöån, Kalixälven) and Norway (Upper Rauma, Lower Jori, Buadalen, Sjoa, Gåsvasselva, Krutåga, Unkerelva etc.


The peaked deck can be seen clearly here on the tail of the Solo.


Recessed drain plug in the tail is well protected.


Strong, die-forged aluminium grab handles are a pleasure to grab onto.


Boat stats according to Fluid:


245cm / 8'


65cm / 25.5'


280 litres / 74 gal


19 kg / 41 lbs




87cm / 34.25"


49cm / 19.25"

Paddler Weight:

65-125 kg / 140-275 lbs


+ Overall seating position is very forward and the boat feels shorter than it is when you sit inside. The Solo is very manoeuvrable and turns on a dime.

+ Easy to boof. There is plenty of speed from the boat and it hops over holes.

+ The boat has quite a bit of overall rocker which not only makes it manoeuvrable but also cushions flat landings. There is also ample volume in the bow, ‘under your feet’ and this seems to help the boat return to a stable, horizontal position if you’ve had a bad boof and not gone quite enough to the horizontal.


+ Slightly peaked decks, both front and rear, give quick and stable resurfacing without bulleting to the surface like a water melon seed.


+ Excellent outfitting and super comfortable, also easily adjustable and very simple to use. Back band always in place, very soft (the material) yet firm and also quite large and durable. It has never pinched me. The back band adjusts via some ratchets on the seat in front of you and works very well. No more damage to your spraydeck with cockpit rim mounted types. Soft seat too. Hip pads work well with a simple Velcro and straps kind of setup. Thigh braces have been greatly improved in terms of comfort and stiffness.


+ Plastic pillars in the front and rear of the boat make the boats hull super stiff. This is not to say that they have done this because they’ve used less plastic to make a lighter hull and save weight. No, no this is for extra stiffness!

+ There is also a kind of a rib that sits in the front of the boat and the bulkhead attaches to this. It also acts as a step out platform in case of a vertical pin and also, increases hull stiffness.

+ Another smaller rib/stiffener sits under the central plastic pillar in the rear of the boat. Again, adding stiffness yet not hindering the ability to stow gear in the stern. You can load tons of gear in the stern for those overnight trips.

+ The Solo comes standard with a healthy amount of foam already under the seat to fill any gaps. Most manufacturers don’t do this. Naturally this reduces the tendency of oil canning although I have never seen a Solo (small or large) that has oil canned.

+ Drain plug is recessed nicely and thus protected from damage from rocks etc. when things go bad.

+ New die-forged aluminium grab handles are strong, good looking and far better than the previous handles supplied.

+ The boat comes with 2 bulkheads in 2 different sizes. This ensures that the bulkhead fills the maximum area according to where you have it set and how tall/short you may be. The boat also comes with various pieces of foam in different shapes and sizes and some hip pad spacers as well as a Fluid water bottle and a sponge in the shape of Africa


Back rest are adjusted via ratchets on the bottom of the seat, in front of one.


Plastic central pillar in the bow with the rib like stiffener step shown. The boat comes with two different size bulk heads according to your needs.


Plastic central pillar in the stern of the boat too. This makes for lightweight, super strong, super stiff hull. It also makes loading in more gear possible because of its narrow width.


Available in red...


...in orange... (unknown paddler on the Piteälven, Sweden)


...in yellow... (expedition model shown - Wihan Basson on the U2 section of the Sabie)


...and the green as the fourth model specific colour. (Adrian Tregoning on the Krutåga, Northern Norway. Photo by Juho Vaarala)

Red, orange and yellow is available in every Fluid model and then a fourth colour is model specific. Green for the Solo, blue for the Flirt, purple for the Spice etc.


- Thigh braces could be improved again so as to grip the knee/thigh on the outside. I added a few blocks of foam and it worked like a dream.

- Not much else to complain about. Sweet boat.


I love this boat and paddled it almost all the time on my recent trip to Scandinavia. The only thing holding me back running bigger drops and more challenging rapids was my own ability and mental state. The boat handled everything I threw at it. With its rounded edges and high volume ends you will always be upright and on top of the water, sticking your line.



The super stiff hull just glides over rocks in shallow rivers and this helps you keep your speed in shallow boulder gardens. The overall stiffness also makes for a responsive boat. Something that really feels good. On big water, the semi-displacement hull works very well and enables one to ride laterals far easier than a full on displacement design and move around in the river with ease. The hull is rounded enough to prevent you tripping up on anything while going down slides. When you’ve lost your speed and the water is whipping underneath your boat, it remains predictable and easily accelerates again with a few strokes.


With the high volume tail that looks like the abdomen of some sort of insect you can really load it up with overnight gear or anything else that you may need.


Adrian Tregoning - Upper Blyde - Curtain Falls. Photo by Neil O'Leary.


Adrian Tregoning - Upper Blyde - Alleys Staircase. Photo by Neil O'Leary.


Adrian Tregoning on the Kultsjöån, Sweden. Photo by Tuomas Vaarala.


Adrian Tregoning on the Kultsjöån, Sweden. Photo by Tuomas Vaarala.


Adrian Tregoning on the Ash River - Fish Pond Rapid. Photo by Dave Rice.


Adrian Tregoning on the Piteälven, Sweden. Photo by Tuomas Vaarala.


Wihan Basson on the Ash River, Fish Pond Rapid in the Expedition version of the large Solo.


With hatch or without hatch, that is the question when choosing your large Solo.


The boat is not too heavy and on a par with most other creek boats. I wouldn't want a light weight creek boat that would fold on me in any case. The Solo is built to high quality standards and everything is strong and functional on this boat.

Try it, you might like it.




By: Adrian Tregoning.

Photography: Adrian Tregoning, unless otherwise stated.

Disclaimer: I am sponsored by Fluid and this review is based on my thoughts, experiences and most importantly my own opinion. I do however believe it’s an accurate review on the boat and its performance. Use it, don’t use it.