Pulse rate: Tootega Pulse 85 review

Although only a small part of what makes up sit on kayaking, riding waves is super fun and can grab paddlers in a choke hold and become extremely addictive. Kayak surfing doesn’t need particularly big swell or ‘epic’ conditions. In fact, the beauty of sit on tops is even the lumpiest and bumpiest of conditions that surfers sniff at is game for SOT paddlers. And yet, if you’re a wave head you’ll need the right tools for the job. We’ve published a few surf related articles in the past but when Tootega delivered the Pulse 85 the green light went off again for yet more frothy brine action.

OUT OF THE BOX

Straight out of the packaging the Tootega Pulse 85 delivers familiar Tootega attention to detail, level of quality manufacturing and is an overall well engineered product – just like we found with the Kinetic 100.  A relatively high nose scoop (rocker) has been cleverly blended into the cockpit’s foredeck. For wave riding it’s important kick is built into the nose, otherwise you’ll be submarining (pearling as it’s known). With certain performance wave craft, however, you sometimes find levels of rocker are to the detriment of other features – such as stability – not so here. Tootega’s Pulse 85 offers a wide platform that should remain super composed, even when conditions get hectic. Moving aft Tootega’s unique moulded carry handles are extremely comfortable when humping the Pulse. Footrests are well designed (although you may have to adjust your paddling position to find the most comfortable foothold), and the correct paddling posture induced seating area is in place, again, just as with the Kinetic 100.

OUT IN THE FROTH

Tootega’s website states the Pulse max load capacity is 90kg. In the name of pushing limits, however, we had paddlers from various weight spectrums (some over the allotted number) take the Pulse for a spin. You can tell a lot when pushing the envelope a little.

Climbing on board the Tootega Pulse 85 is super stable, even if you’re a bigger boned individual. It may sit lower in the water but there’s no denying its composure and balance. At 259cm it’s a short boat – obvious when you consider the Pulse 85 is built for agility – meaning effort is required when covering distance. Sitons HQ’s wave spot lies a few hundred yards offshore and requires a jaunt to access. This meant sweating a little when heading out for a session – the Tootega Pulse 85 tends to pivot with each stroke and correction paddling needs to be applied. After all, it’s designed to turn more than most sit on tops, so this trait fits with its surf pedigree. Out at the peak the Pulse prowls the break looking for liquid walls to drop into. Having lined one up you’ll need to give it some oomph to pick up a swell. The in-built nose rocker of the Pulse needs to rise and get up to speed. If you’ve built enough momentum, however, the incoming surge will do the rest – accelerating all the time as you’re boosted down the face.

CARVE IT UP

We’ll be honest: the first few waves taken ended unceremoniously with us taking a swim. The Pulse differs slightly to other sit ons where paddlers can simply glide into a wave and turn down the line at a leisurely pace. Tootega’s offering wants to be set on a rail (turn along the wave) almost instantly, much like a surfboard. If this doesn’t happen a nose dive is the usual outcome. On particularly sucky beachbreak waves this is even more prevalent. Learning how to lean and set a rail is therefore a key skill to have. Having dropped in successfully the Pulse’s real personality suddenly comes to the fore. Whereas many sit on kayaks meander back towards the lip, paddlers fighting for control, the Pulse 85 reacts when and how you want it to. This allows for proper wave riding, where paddlers can carve up and down (if they choose to), and even in some cases rebound off the lip.

The Pulse is super reactive, having generated momentum on a wave. With a flick of the hips it’s possible to alter trajectory without having to put too much effort in. If you engage the paddle as well, which should always be the case, then you’ve got a real rip machine. Climbing white water and broken swells while navigating back to the peak is super easy (if very wet). The Pulse handles oncoming flotsam with ease and pops out the back of waves like a playful dolphin. It’s then simply a case of lining yourself up for another ride.

Ending your session it’s welcome to load the Pulse 85 onto vehicle roof bars – an act made all the more easy with its light 17kgs. Weary muscles humping big unwieldy kayaks won’t thank you – fortunately this isn’t a problem here. Storing, once back at base, is also simple with the Pulse’s short length.

CONCLUSION

Tootega’s Pulse 85 is the everyman surf sit on top for mid-weight paddlers. With a decent level of wave performance it will open up the act of kayak surfing to a wide audience. Easy to paddle, with zero stability issues, it’ll get riders out to the peak with efficiency and in readiness for wave shredding. Putting the hammer down as you drop in will reward riders with a nimble and manoeuvrable sled that makes the most of gutless conditions. If the waves turn on then the fun factor ramps up.

Although we used the Tootega Pulse 85 without a seat (fitting isn’t a necessity) the option of attaching one is offered. Thigh straps, however, would make a good addition if you’re serious about surf. Being able to engage the boat’s rail with increased precision will give an even more rewarding ride and allow it to be chucked about like a yoyo. Easy to transport, store, carry and with superb attention to detail, Tootega’s Pulse 85 spans the gap between high performance waveski and fair weather beach toy with ease. Bigger boned individuals should consider the brand’s Pulse 95.

Manufacturers

TOOTEGA PULSE 85 FEATURES

  • Drinks Holder
  • Fittings for Backrest
  • Fittings for Knee Straps
  • Integrated Carry Handles
  • Storage Hatch
  • Stowing Mesh

TOOTEGA PULSE 85 DETAILS

Manufacturer Hull Type Length Width Weight Max Load Seating
Tootega Standard 2.59m 0.72m 15.50kg 90.00kg Solo
  • Stability 100%
  • Straightline 65%
  • Maneuverability 100%
  • Comfort 95%
  • Build 100%

5 Comments

  1. Dave Sawyer

    My family and I spent two weeks on holiday in August 16, mostly at a water activities centre by the sea. We tried various craft on the water but the Pulse 85 was just so much fun. After returning to shore on the first outing one staff member asked how I got on. Quoting Will Smith in Independence day, “I gotta get me one of these!!”. So the next day, I did. Two of them!! A standard Sunburst and a Green “Hydrolite”. Been out in them every weekend since. Outstanding. They need a decent seat, which I got as part of the package, and scupper plugs when on calm water. Looking to get leg straps also.

  2. Kevin McGowan

    I have this kayak over 2 years now, I have surfed it and flat water close coastal.
    My usage would be up until now about 70%-30% to Surfing.
    I find this kayak to be without a doubt the best SOT kayak on the market.
    I have owned 4 SOT over a period of about 9 years but this one is the one that is certainly the only one that you could really surf and carve through the waves.
    Others I owned were RTM Loko.. (not bad surfer) – Feelfree Nomad (not a good surfer) – Ocean Kayak Mysto (not a brilliant surfer considering its marketed as a surfer).
    I was advised to go for the 85. Which is brilliant as its more agile and lighter than other comparable kayaks.
    Tootega are very approachable and I have called them on a few occasions for advice and opinion.
    Apart from the surf this boat can cruise along close coastal very comfortably.
    I love the deep seat position as you don’t need padded seat at all.
    This kayak can surf incredibly well. Run along the face or carve up and down the face or rebound of the lip.
    Its a dream to surf, I love it.
    I would highly recommend this boat for people living or using it near the coast..
    Also if you like to surf this is the only boat out there……
    The only downside is after over 2 years the hatch failed , but not expensive to replace.
    I actually replaced it with one with a rubber seal under great seal.
    Having to replace these every few years is par the course when using it solely at beaches.
    The build quality of the kayak itself is incredibly strong.
    Highly recommend.

  3. Joolz

    This is our go to kayak for surfin. I would like slightly more manoeuvrability but its all good!

  4. missp_57

    I’ve fallen in love with the Pulse 85! Finally a kayak that is light to carry and easy to maneuver.

    Deciding which kayak to buy for my first was always going to be hard and having researched into several different makes of kayaks I decided to venture out to see them all in the flesh. I took a trip to AS water sports in Exeter who kindly let me try a Perception Scooter, Islander Calypso and the Tootega Pulse range on the river.

    Straight away the Pulse 85 was gaining plus points as it was so light and well balanced making it easy to carry; this was of great importance to me. Once on the water is was clear that all the kayaks handled pretty well but I felt so stable and afloat on the Pulses, this combined with the lightness of the kayak had me hooked, I had to get it there and then!!!!

    I had to get out on the Pulse the next day, I couldn’t wait to try it on the waves. I hadn’t realised when I tried the Pulse how awesome and absolutely amazing it would be to surf. With the stability and maneuverability I was catching waves and felt like I was flying over the water!

    I have now had my 85 for 9 months and loved every second of it, so much so that I have converted several of my friends into getting one and now we even go away for weekends just so we can get some extra play in!
    Thanks Tootega, I would recommend the 85 to anyone and everyone!
    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

  5. Jane Dow

    The Tootega Pulse is a fab kayak for paddling along the coast. When we bought our boats (hubby has the bigger 95) we were very unsure of what would best suit. I’m happy that we went for these though as they’ve been nothing but fun. We usually paddle around Carbis Bay in St Ives. Sometimes we get small waves but most of the time it’s relaxing afternoons investigating the coast. A few weeks ago we went from St Ives harbour all the way round to Godrevy which is a fair old way. I thought it would be hard work but my beloved Pulse was great. Can’t wait to do more!

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