Bonafide RS117 Review

Bottom Line:

The Bonafide RS117 is a super-stable fishing kayak that benefits from ingenious hull design, and arrives with stacks of storage space and upgradeable touches.

Experts feel this is one of the best boats in its price class out of the showroom. It may not be the most comfortable for taller riders, but it’s always easy to handle and won’t see you sink. That being said, this is one of the best fishing kayaks on the market for sheer value, and the expert kayakers who’ve reviewed this model all seem to agree!

Price Comparison:



based on 3 reviews

Performance Ratings:

  • Handling
  • Stability
  • Comfort
  • Onboard Storage
  • Portability
  • Durability


Size (length x width)11'7" x 33.5"
Weight75 lbs
Capacity425 lbs

Comparison to Similar Kayaks:

Bonafide RS117 Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler Old Town Topwater 120 Hobie Mirage Outback Vibe Sea Ghost 130
Expert Rating
Size11'7" x 33.5"9'5" x 30"12' x 33.5"12'9" x 34"13' x 33"
Weight75 lbs44 lbs82 lbs85 lbs75 lbs
Onboard Storage7.

Bonafide RS117 Review

Reasons to Buy:
  • Incredible secondary stability
  • Simple handles and skid plates make it easy to transport
  • Handles and tracks better than most other kayaks in its class
  • Lots of storage options with intuitive tracks and holders
  • Dual seat positioning for different vantage points
Reasons Not to Buy:
  • Not the comfiest seat around
  • Fairly restrictive for anyone over 6'1" in height

Performance of the Bonafide RS117

Small yet mighty, the Bonafide RS117 impresses most experts straight out of the gate. It’s a fishing vessel that many think performs great on recreational journeys, and it’s designed with ease of movement in mind.

All experts aggregated agree that the hull design helps make this boat one of the easiest to both handle and rely on for stability in its class. The catamaran hull is am RS117 landmark, with intuitive pontoons helping to cut through choppier waters as and when needed.

It’s wide and is largely in-water, meaning paddlers can expect low drag and impressive tracking. It’s reportedly a little “tippy” on the primary stability, but leaning into the secondary proves that this boat is never going to cast you overboard.

It’s a boat that also appears built with ease of fishing in mind, with its two-position seat and comfortable deck pads help to keep paddlers supported over longer trips.

Anglers will also get a kick out of the sheer array of upgrade options open to them on buying the RS117. The gear tracks are always easy to have at hand, but do check out the paddle storage to the front and side of the vessel, too. There’s a scupper towards the front that you’ll want to keep unplugged, too, for a transducer.

Similarly, anglers may also find the rear well with rudder access a nice touch. Experts in general feel it’s a kayak built with ease of customization in mind, and the fact it’s designed to help keep rods and lines out of the way during navigation is a major plus point.

The major downfall of this kayak is, unfortunately, the seat. Majority view seems to be that, while it’s fairly wide, its lack of padding and strange rear hole make it less than supportive during active paddling.

Comfort also takes a hit for taller riders. Any taller than 6’1″, and you’ll reportedly have to sit with your knees pointed upwards throughout your trip.

That said, this appears to be easy enough to dummy out with a kayak cushion, and the cockpit is still packed with convenient features – even a bottle holder where you can discard used plastics, for example.

Carrying and moving this kayak about, finally, shouldn’t create any headaches. Reviewers feel the well-placed handles and skid plates more than allow for ease of dragging and lifting when needed. It’s also not the heaviest boat in its class.

Overall, the Bonafide RS117 seems to score best on sheer value – not necessarily great for entry-level anglers, but it ticks most of the right boxes most of the time.

Expert Reviews of the Bonafide RS117

7.5Chad HooverI genuinely think this is one of the best fishing kayaks on the market for sheer value. It's built to start fishing with right off the bat, and has lots of upgradeable points and onboard storage for rods, tackle, and other gear. The boat's layout is really intuitive for keeping rods and lines out of the way while navigating tricky routes, and thankfully, Bonafide has kept much of their storage standards the same despite scaling back the seat to save on costs.Read more
7.4PaddleTVWhile this kayak is designed for fishing, it genuinely looks like a great recreational boat, too. I really enjoy paddling this kayak - there's not much need to upgrade it unless you really want to. The seat could use a little attention in design, but the storage and ease of use more than make up for it.Read more
8.4Kayak Angler MagThis is an exciting, super-capable fishing boat that clearly boasts the best of Bonafide's handling ingenuity. On top of that, it's very comfortable, boasts tons of upgrade options, and is always straightforward carrying, dragging and storing.Read more

Handling of the Bonafide RS117

Expert Rating: 8.2

8.0Chad HooverThe hull's keel design helps the RS117 track pretty well on different waters - a must for a kayak on the shorter side. The tapered scuppers on the underside are ideal for helping to keep me moving in choppy waters, where spray would usually come splashing over the boat. It maintains a reasonable speed while still keeping stable, though it's not going to win any races. It tracks better than most other boats in the same class.Read more
7.5PaddleTVIt's not the slowest, but not the fastest - but that's to be expected. That said, its handling and stability are both boosted by the fantastic catamaran-style hull, which makes it a breeze to paddle.Read more
9.0Kayak Angler MagChopping through water is surprisingly easy. This kayak's got a sharpness to its pontoon relay that means I never have an issue with drag while paddling. It's got tons of hull actually in the water, which means I always found the tracking to be on-point. Its width helps in this regard, too, as does the keel rocker - honestly, it's a marvel of handling design, I'm never fighting this boat.Read more

Stability of the Bonafide RS117

Expert Rating: 8.8

9.0Chad HooverIt's a very stable boat - even thanks to the flooring ridge that helps to distribute weight. Traction pads onboard really help to keep you safely stood. The pontoons alongside the bottom of the boat really help to boost primary and secondary stability. It's going to feel tippy at first, but it really holds on the lean. Standing up manuevring is nice and responsive, too.Read more
8.0PaddleTVIt's one of the most stable boats for fishing and recreational trips. It doesn't have the best primary stability, but its on-edge control is fantastic. It's also easy to stand up in, even on one leg!Read more
9.5Kayak Angler MagThis is a kayak that's obviously and demonstrably stable the moment you start paddling. This is thanks to the catamaran hull - it really isn't going to tip, no matter how hard you try.Read more

Comfort of the Bonafide RS117

Expert Rating: 6.8

6.5Chad HooverThe seat is pretty comfy, though it has a gap in the rear that's a little weird in practice. It's improved massively with a kayak cushion (sold separately). It's not always comfy for larger paddlers, so make sure to tighten it up. There's two positions, but the low position doesn't work brilliantly for everyone. The high position gives me a nice vantage point, and the ridge in the boat floor helps keep me stable. Bonafide's removed fancier seats from their kayaks to keep price points low, but it still works in practice. The seat's designed for efficiency, not performance! Taller riders, take note - your knees may ride a little high even with foot braces right to the ends.Read more
6.5PaddleTVIt's a fairly comfortable kayak if you use it in the right position. The seat's nice and wide - and it has lots of lumbar support - but it's just not comfortable for paddling. It's not the best for taller riders - you're going to end up with knees sticking up if you're over 6'1" in height.Read more
7.5Kayak Angler MagThe foot pads here are impressively secure. The deck's nice and wide with comfortable pads for standing up on. The seat clips in nice and easily, and it's very supportive despite a lack of padding.Read more

Onboard Storage of the Bonafide RS117

Expert Rating: 7.2

7.0Chad HooverThere's no front hatch, but the front well with cover is reasonable for some gear that you want to grab easily while paddling. The oar pocket and clips are great when standing to fish - it's always easy to access. The dry hatch is waterproof according to the manufacturer, but personally, I wouldn't risk it. The rod holders are nice touches, and it's easy to upgrade with other gear using the tracks. What I really like is that I can store a ton of gear toward the back, and keep my rods standing upright and out of the way.Read more
7.5PaddleTVI like the potential upgradeability of this boat - for example, you can easily fit a rudder without having to drill. The front compartment and gear tracks are well-positioned for ease of access - and while there is a dry port, I really wouldn't put anything precious inside (it's likely to let water in)!Read more
7.0Kayak Angler MagThe open bow well is a nice feature that's great for tackle boxes. The dry box is great for more sensitive gear, and I love the fact that I can easily customize the gear tracks - and that I can use a scupper to pass down a transducer. I can even keep tackle trays under the seat, too. Do also check out the small rear tankwell for crates, and a day hatch if you want to easily pop in a rudder or store extra gear.Read more

Portability of the Bonafide RS117

Expert Rating: 8.0

7.5Chad HooverThe fat grip handle towards the front of the boat is great for attaching drag straps, making it easier to manuever the boat. The sacrificial keel pads also make it nice and easy to customize for safer dragging when needed.Read more
7.5PaddleTVClear and well-positioned side and end handles mean you'll always have a grip on this boat when you need to move it around.Read more
9.0Kayak Angler MagThis is a super-light craft that's a breeze to roll on and off and get to the water and back. The handles are nice and easy to grab, and I even find it easy to maneuver one-handed. Dragging, too, is simple thanks to skid plates.Read more

Durability of the Bonafide RS117

Expert Rating: 7.0