It’s hard to narrow down what could very well be perceived as our favorite products that we’ve reviewed this year. With thousands of dollars worth of awesome and innovative items on hand, we weighed each item for its added value or convenience, functionality and ease of use, and of course, price. So while you are getting in your last minute shopping for your friends and loved ones, take a minute and look over this list with the avid jet skier in your life (and it might just be you), and see if any of these would make a great gift for the holiday season!
1. Kool PWC Stuff Jet Ski Fishing/Cooler Rack – $390
There’s a reason we list Kool PWC Stuff’s Fishing/Cooler Rack for a second year in a row, it’s easily one of the best items we’ve had the pleasure of testing. So much so, that we couldn’t have attempted this summer’s “Long Haul” record without the use of this easy-to-install, non-invasive storage rack system, which we used to tote over 22 gallons of extra fuel through a pair of 5 gallon cans in the large center section, and an impressive 12 gallons in four Rotopax mounted to its sides, held on by an innovative billet aluminum bracket system.
Now, we only used the Kool PWC Stuff rack for a portion of its true intent, as the sturdy stainless steel and powder coated rack isn’t called a Jet Ski Fishing/Cooler Rack for nothing. Available through Kool PWC Stuff’s webstore are a myriad of options to outfit your rack the way you want, whether for cruising the lake with some added fuel and a big cooler, or trawling the kelp beds with a life bait tank and a quartet of rod holders. No matter how you cut it, the zero cutting, zero drilling Kool PWC Stuff rack is one of our favorites and is sure to be one of yours too!
2. Blacktip JetSports’ Elite Seat Covers – Various
With patterns and designs for nearly every imaginable seat configuration on hand, Blacktip JetSports’ line of Elite seat covers not only can rejuvenate your runabout’s faded and/or cracked and peeling seat cover, but can provide added traction, comfort and flair to an otherwise bland bench seat. Every seat cover is specifically designed to your watercraft’s bolstering, shape and coloring, so you have a cover that not only matches the look, but feel of your PWC.
Placed through The Watercraft Superstore, ordering your Blacktip JetSports Elite seat cover is simple and painless. And don’t fear the installation either, as replacing your seat cover is made easy with just a few hand tools (as shown on The Watercraft Journal earlier this year). Best of all, Blacktip promises a lightning fast turnaround from the time of ordering to the date of shipping (in most cases, 2-to-3 days!), significantly faster than competing seat cover makers.
3. RIVA Racing/Vi-Pec V88R3 Pro-Series ECU – $2399.95
For the top-of-the-line performance enthusiast, there is only one solution to unlocking the full potential of their supercharged 4-stroke Yamaha or Sea-Doo, and that’s the RIVA Racing/Vi-Pec V88R3 Pro-Series Engine Control Unit (ECU). The control module offers much more than just removing any speed limiting features imbued in the craft’s factory programming, but extensive Vi-PEC data logging, easy-to-load calibration maps for a variety of performance levels (with updates supplied through RIVA’s ECU website), optimized fuel mapping, timing curves, boost control and a rev limiter increase.
There’s also added safety features like diagnostic info, air/fuel mixture data, a knock sensor. And while a majority of Vi-Pec users will be content to use RIVA’s supplied maps and curve data (all extensively tested both on the water and in RIVA’s own dyno cell), the supplied software that comes with V88R3 allows for customization to fuel, timing, the rev limiter and boost control, all with retaining the OEM dash display, engine diagnostic and engine safety functions – including use of the Sea-Doo’s iBR system.
4. IPD Graphic’s Yamaha Squarenose SuperJet Graphics Kit (NS Design) – $299
What is old is new again. In the past few years, there’s been a resurgence in popularity in standup skis, particularly with teenagers and those in their early-to-mid 20’s. In fact, standup sales are estimated to be in the thousands for 2015, but seeing that tracking Craigslist and other private sales is almost entirely impossible, we’ve had to gauge this resurgence in the growth of sales for vintage 2-stroke ski parts, equipment and accessories.
That being said, we were stoked to document how easily a “Craigslist find” Squarenose can be made new again just with a decent cleanup and a new set of vinyl decals. IPD Graphic’s new Yamaha SuperJet kits can do exactly that, and make a cheapo 20-year-old ski look sharp as new with just a Saturday afternoon’s worth of work. Through IPD’s detailed website, you can customize the color, design and overall aesthetic of your graphics kit to look just the way you like, including sponsorship logos, race numbers or even have your own name run alongside the tray.
5. Aquacarts’ AQ-19 Cart & Service Stand – $234.95
OK, in all fairness, this is much of a “stocking stuffer,” but the Aquacart AQ-19 Cart & Service Stand has easily become one of the single-most important tools in our shop. In fact, if you ever intend to do any work on your personal watercraft, be it an oil change or pulling the engine, you’re going to need one of these for your shop or home garage. Built to handle anything between a featherweight Yamaha SuperJet or a hulking Sea-Doo GTX iS Limited, its 1,400-pound weight capacity can take it all.
Built from heavy-duty 2-inch 14-gauge steel square tubing, and powder coated bright white, the AQ-19 rolls on four-axis, locking 5-inch diameter swivel casters that roll smoothly across polished or coated concrete or cracked and porous asphalt with no problem. We’ve come to love our Aquacart and there’s no way that we’re giving it back. After you’ve gotten yours, you’ll feel the exact same way.
6. Airhead Dry Pak Camera/Smart Phone Case – $19.99
If you’re like us, you’re umbilically tethered to your cell phone. Not only is it our primary source of communication with the outside world, but its also our camera, photo and music library, contact Rolodex, and entertainment center. Once Apple figures out how to get an iPhone to feed and bath us, it will be almost the only thing we’ll ever need. So naturally, we bring our smart phones with us when we ride and that’s why keeping it safe and dry is so important. That’s why we recommend Airhead’s Dry Pak Camera and Smart Phone cases.
We were able to review the Dry Pak Camera Case earlier this year and continue to use it even after we switched from a UAG impact case to a waterproof Lifeproof case. The sealable pouch is made with a thick optically clear TPU that allows you to navigate your phone’s screen even while in the pouch and wearing gloves! Available in a variety of sizes, our 6-inch wide x 5 inch long x 2 inch deep case not only accommodated our phone, but our car’s electronic key fob and wallet as well.
7. Jobe Watersports’ Youth Progress Neo Vest – $115
Our days on the lake tend to be more family-oriented than time spent on the shoreline razzing our buddies as they fumbled trying to lean-in and cut a buoy. With the median PWC buyer in their mid-forties, many are in the proverbial same boat. That’s why Jobe’s Youth Progress Neo Vest kept creeping back up our list for this year. Although much pricier than most kid’s vests, the Youth Progress Neo vest is specifically designed for your little ones, and goes on and off easily thanks to a big thick front zipper and dual buckle. Made with soft neoprene and PVC foam, it won’t rub or scratch your kids’ soft skin either, which should keep the complaining to a minimum. Yeah, we know. You’re welcome.
8. EZ Throttle Sea-Doo iTC Throttle Extension – $19.99
Another returning favorite to our annual list is the EZ Throttle Sea-Doo iTC Throttle Extension. This EZ Throttle is made specifically for the Sea-Doo models (2009-and-up) using BRP’s class-leading Intelligent Throttle Control system (iBR). Because of the sensitivity of the fly-by-wire trigger system, the EZ Throttle attaches to the factory throttle different from that of say, a Yamaha WaveRunner. The EZ Throttle was also used during this summer’s “Long Haul” attempt and proved itself incredibly useful in keeping our hands comfortable and from cramping over long periods of riding. For the long distance rider or those who suffer from fatigue, the EZ Throttle continues to be one of The Watercraft Journal’s top items.
9. Thrust Innovations’ Billet Adjustable Hood Latch – $84.95
There’s a level of craftsmanship seen on freestyle and freeride skis that simply isn’t found anywhere else in modified performance watercraft. Even the 100mph HydroDrag racers’ runabouts aren’t swinging this much bling. And a major contributor to these aquatic acrobats looking so good is Thrust Innovations. We recently checked out Thrust’s new Billet Adjustable Hood Latches. The very first adjustable hood latch on the market, adjusting the tension on your standup’s hood is as easy as loosing and tightening one bolt. The patent-pending design is made from CNC machined 6061 aluminum and can be had in one of five colors.
10. Gibbs Quadski XL – $50,000
If you thought the Aquacart was “a little much” for our list, then you’re gonna love the Gibbs Quadski XL. The Watercraft Journal was the first PWC publication to review this massive watercraft/quad hybrid and were impressed at the technology imbued into this machine. Standing 53-inches tall with over eight-and-a-half inches of ground clearance, the massive 140.2-inch long two-seater ATV/runabout is a full 12-inches longer than its one-seater sibling, and is 62.5-inches wide.
On land, the XL is shifted through a sequential, electronically-controlled gearbox with a centrifugal clutch (with an electronically-operated land reverse gear), and propelled on water by a proprietary lightweight jet drive pushing thrust through an 11-vane stator via a stainless steel 5-blade impeller. Powered by a BMW 140-horsepower K1300 (1293cc) water-cooled 4-stroke in-line 4-cylinder, the Quadski maxes at 45mph, be it on land or at sea. Transitioning between land and sea modes is slow, and the craft is not the most nimble in either configurations, but is the only machine to do either adequately well.