9 Best Inflatable Kayaks for Whitewater Rafting (Rivers & Rapids)

Hitting the water with absolute power is an extraordinary experience and thrill on its own. Yet, the proper equipment and best safety insurance are something not to be compromised. The inflatable kayaks have revolutionized rafting with the best apparatus that can enhance the ride’s skill and pleasing factor. If you are planning something adventurous and outrageous, you might need the best inflatable kayaks for whitewater.

BEST INFLATABLE KAYAKS FOR WHITEWATER

Are Inflatables Good For Whitewater And Why?

The inflatable kayaks are by far and undoubtedly the best piece of equipment you can get to support your crazy and adventurous ideas with the impossible set of features. It can be used for maneuvering over large rocks, having great control over the irregular flow of water. Most specifically, in the complex Classes of III-V, the inflatable kayaks offer the utmost efficiency in stability, comfort, and inflation. Further, these are easy to carry around and involve a convenient experience.

Therefore, this article offers a list of the nine best inflatable kayaks for whitewater based on durability, UV protection, and stability impaired with the comprehensive buying guide having all the essential features. With this, you can trace the right product for yourself.

Our Top Picks

BEST OVERALL

Driftsun rover 220

DRIFTSUN ROVER 220
 

9.7

  • Quality Construction
  • Compact and Self-bailing
  • Suitable for up to Class IV rapids
  • Solo and Tandem options
OUR FAVORITE

Sea Eagle 300x

SEA EAGLE 300X 
 

9.6

  • Suitable for up to Class IV rapids
  • Removable Skeg for better tracking
  • Super tough with drop stitch floor
  • Comfortable seats
BUDGET PICK

Asus RT-AC88U Dual-Band

SEA EAGLE SE 330
 

9.5

  • Suitable for up to Class III whitewater
  • Two skegs for better tracking
  • Inflatable spray skirts
  • A complete package

Our Top Picks

Comparison Table

IMAGE PRODUCT RATING PRICE
BEST OVERALL

Driftsun rover 220

Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Kayak

 

  • Suitable for up to class IV rapids
  • A compact and stable vessel
  • Self-bailing
  • Best for family adventures
9.7
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OUR FAVORITE

Sea Eagle 300x

Sea Eagle 300x Whitewater Kayak

 

  • Suitable for up to Class IV rapids
  • Self-bailing feature
  • Removable skeg for better tracking
  • High-quality construction
9.6
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BUDGET OPTION

Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable kayak

Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak

 

  • Suitable for up to Class III rapids
  • Durable
  • Two removable skegs
  • Scupper hole for drainage
  • Best budget option
9.5
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EASY TO HANDLE

Aquaglide Mckenzie 125

Aquaglide Mckenzie 125 Whitewater Kayak

 

  • Easy handling and better stability
  • Heavy-duty construction
  • 4 mesh drains
9.4
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OUR SECOND FAVORITE

Sea Eagle 300x

Advanced Elements Attack Pro

 

  • Suitable for up to Class III rapids
  • Comfortable seats
  • Phenomenal handling
9.5
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GOOD FOR RIVERS

Sea Eagle 300x

Solstice By Swimline Durango

 

  • Easy setup inflatable kayak
  • For medium turbulent water
  • Removable skeg for better tracking
  • Stability is impressive
9.3
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AFFORDABLE PRICE

Aire tributary tomcat solo

Aire Tributary Tomcat Solo

 

  • Enhanced durability
  • Mesh drainage system
  • High load capacity
9.1
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GREAT WATER PERFORMANCE

Sea Eagle 300x

NRS Maverick I

 

  • Designed for class III rapids
  • Foot bracing
  • Great performance on the water
  • Ten years warranty
9.5
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BEST FOR FAMILY TRIP

Sevylor Big Basin

Sevylor Big Basin 3 Person Inflatable Kayak

 

  • Detachable skegs
  • Suitable for medium turbulent waters
  • Spray covers
  • Three people versatile cockpit
9.0
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9 Best Inflatable Kayaks for Whitewater Reviews

1. ADVANCED ELEMENTS Attack Pro – Top Whitewater Inflatable Kayak

Best Inflatable Kayaks for Whitewater

 

 

  • Design: Sit on top
  • Length: 9 foot 9 inches
  • Width: 35 inches
  • Weight: 25.5 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 225 lbs

First and foremost, the advanced elements Attack is in the highlights with its phenomenal handling and Class III ability. Its self bailer design with the 12 inches rocker is highly effective for the turns. Further, the 35’’ width is well-suited for gliding without compromising the stability of the kayak.

Likewise, the unit comes with highly comforting seating options that facilitate the user with backrest support. Despite its compact size and portability, it is able to offer the ideal responsive and balanced cushions. Thereby, it is effortless to carry and handle with ultra-lightweight and tiny packaging.

Additionally, it is a sit-on-top model, so be ready to get wet a little bit as it pushes the waves in the middle, unlike other whitewater kayaks. Another highly appreciated feature is the additional storage that assists the user on long trips. Hence, you can get food or other items for extra support.

Finally, the Advanced Element attack pro is considered in the top list of best inflatable kayaks for whitewater because of the immense performance ability and enhanced portability. Its storage capacity, comfortable seating, and backrest are everything you need. Thereby, this is your go-to for Class III.

What We Liked

  • Solid build quality
  • Stable and hard to flip
  • Drop stitch floor with self bailing ports
  • Adjustable foot pegs

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Bit less of a rocker
  • Pretty low weight capacity

 


2. Driftsun Rover 120/220 – Best Whitewater Raft

Best Inflatable Kayak for Whitewater

 

 

  • Design: Sit on top
  • Length: 12 foot 6 inches
  • Width: 38 inches
  • Weight: 28 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 600 lbs

The high construction quality and the ideal designs are undoubtedly evidence of the high efficiency that comes with the Driftsun Rover. The multi-chamber allows the rigid structure to trap the air with the heavy-duty PVC floor that is unmatched in UV protection. Coupled with this, the 1000D PVC-lined tube is just absolutely ideal for buildup.

Likewise, the design is made specifically with the demands of whitewater. Everything is perfectly adjusted in the small-sized kayak, from the comfortable seating to the camera mount, self-bailing feature to the enhanced support. Moreover, the highly secure paddle strap and storage facility makes it the best whitewater inflatable kayak without any query.

Finally, the footrests and the compact size follow the perfectly suited portability with the utmost durability achieved with the PVC. The accessories included in the model include the pumps, travel bags, and extra paddles to facilitate the user. Overall, it is suitable for beginners and family trips.

In the end, if you are looking for a kayak that can support you in your newcomer skills or family picnics for a calm experience, this Driftsun Rover is highly recommended for you. It offers a highly pleasing seating structure and a top-notch buildup with the footrest and backrest. The storage facility enhances efficiency.

Driftsun offers Rover kayak in both solo and tandem models and is considered to be the best whitewater inflatable kayak for the money.

What We Liked

  • Removable skeg
  • Comfortable seats
  • Lightweight and compact
  • An overall best option for whitewater

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • A bit expensive

 


3. Solstice by Swimline Durango Kayak – 2 Person Whitewater Kayak

best inflatable kayak

 

 

  • Design: Sit on top
  • Length: 11 foot
  • Width: 37 inches
  • Weight: 29 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 440 lbs

One of the unique features that make it stand among others is its easy setup and unmatched portability. This one to two-person inflatable kayak is made up of a Nylon cover with a triple cover bottom. This ensures the best protection against edgy or sharp rocks. Further, it is highly stable in the turbulent waters with this sturdy construction.

Likewise, the kayak has the ability to not topple in the higher and larger waves with the ideal crest formation. This is ensured with the absolute stability and support that comes with the detachable skeg and D-ring tie-down. The seating, moreover, is detachable, which is a plus in this Solstice Durango.

Additionally, it is highly resistant to any wearing or UV rays with the Nylon and PVC combined construction. If you are someone who is up for experimenting in highly complicated water, this is one of the best inflatable river kayaks offering high effectiveness with the high-pressure pump and valves. On the whole, it is a wise choice for intermediate skilled users.

The premium features and high-quality functioning Durango kayak is essential for anyone looking for an effortless and best-supported ride. Its supporting accessories and easy installation are popular among the user. Coupled with this, the high stability and balancing features add value to the product.

What We Liked

  • I beam floor
  • Heavy duty construction
  • Tracks decently

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • A single drain hole

4. Sea Eagle 300x – Self Bailing Inflatable Kayak

  • Design: Sit on top
  • Length: 9 foot 10 inches
  • Width: 39 inches
  • Weight: 28 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 350 lbs

One of the best inflatable kayaks for the highly turbulent water and complicated rafting, this Sea Eagle serves enormous value. Its rigid structured floor and double layering are incredible for top-notch protection against sharpy rocks and UV. Additionally, the self-bailing system is here to drain the extra water while enjoying the thrilling experience.

Moreover, the dry-flat water paddling and the slide-in skeg helps in achieving strong stability suitable for Class IV whitewater rafting characterized by heavy waves and turbulence. This support and stability instill confidence and boost the gaming performance coupled with the 7’10’’ AB paddle.

It is also specifically designed to offer traction for flat waters known for no movement. Apart from the performance efficiency, the Sea Eagle 300 X comes with a storage place that can assist family trips. Overall, the concerns of safety, durability, and portability are highly regarded while manufacturing this product.

Finally, this Sea Eagle 300X has the ability to be considered in the list of best inflatable kayaks for whitewater and flatwater with enhanced construction quality and compact size. The size, stability, self-bailing system, and water-paddling, everything is here to advance the game and ease the user.

What We Liked

  • Tracks and turns well
  • Great for large kayakers
  • Excellent stability
  • Easy installation of electronics

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Expensive
  • A bit heavier

 

If you want to paddle in open waters , check out the best inflatable kayaks for ocean and sea use.


5. Sea Eagle 330 – Best Inflatable Sport Kayak

sea Eagle 330

 

 

  • Design: Sit on top
  • Length: 11 foot
  • Width: 34 inches
  • Weight: 26 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 500 lbs

Firstly, with the ability to hold two adults, the Sea Eagle stands tall and floats easily without any apparent problem. The seating can be arranged according to the user’s preference with the two skegs. These skegs offer the perfect traction for stabilization. Further, the unit includes the scupper hole that drains the water from the kayak.

Furthermore, it is suitable for calm waters without any blatant turbulence. Thereby, if you are searching for an inflatable that can assist your newcomer’s skill, the Sea Eagle 330 is the one. Because it is tall and narrow, the stability is in the user’s hand and becomes automatically complex, making it inappropriate for the waters with high activity.

Coming to comfort and installation, SE330 offers absolute convenience for the user. The installation, seating, and paddling are infamous considering their usage in the still waters. The durability is improved with the polykrylar PVC that makes it long-lasting. Thereby, it ensures your investment is not going in vain.

In the end, the Sea Eagle 330 with a single paddle option can be a decent choice for the whitewater. Although there are some gaps in the construction, it is specifically designed to offer a calm, comfortable and delighted experience. This can be your saviour in the flat waters within a limited price range and enhanced durability can aid you with little activity.

Need a spacious unit for your furry friend we would recommend you to check out our list of best inflatable kayak for dogs.

What We Liked

  • Can resist the class II rapids
  • Spacious enough for two adults
  • Resistant to impacts and punctures

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Tracking is average

6. Aquaglide McKenzie 125 Inflatable Kayak – Tandem Whitewater Kayak

2 person whitewater inflatable kayak

 

 

  • Design: Sit on top
  • Length: 12 foot 2 inches
  • Width: 34.5 inches
  • Weight: 128 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 600 lbs

The mainstream highlight of the Aquaglide is the stability and easy handling of the kayak. It is easy to get on the kayak after you fall out because of the wide and long design. This model is made up of 1100 Denier PVC material that is sturdy enough to support long-lasting durability. It also aids users in UV protection.

Similarly, the performance is remarkable with the four drainages and the EvoBeam technology that provides the practical water extraction system. Further, the paddling and multi-chamber ability traps the air and makes the floor rigid. This rigid structure offers improved safety standards.

Finally, the inflation valves are easy to install within 10 minutes and add convenience for the user. For further assistance, the model has a separate storage box and two adjustable and detachable seats. On the whole, it is a unit supported by high stability, enhanced control, and extra comfort.

In essence, the Aquaglide McKenzie is an ideal kayak for anyone searching for high stability and rafting efficiency. Thereby, the performance-oriented unit is focused on giving you absolute control, comfort, and portability. Additionally, the PVC construction in an ultra-compact size is highly appropriate for users.

What We Liked

  • Easy handling
  • Suitable for range of water types
  • Excellent stability
  • Quick drainage system

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Doesn’t come with a pump and paddle
  • A bit expensive

 


7. Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak

sevylor big basin

 

 

  • Design: Sit on top
  • Length: 12 foot 3 inches
  • Width: 37 inches
  • Weight: 35 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 500 lbs

First of all, the construction of the Sevylor is the premium and top-notch PVC with the Nylon cover and the 1000D tarpaulin bottom. All these materials are of high quality, abrasion-free, and offer the ideal protection against UV. Further, it elevates longevity with the Airtight system that ensures air is trapped in the bottom layer.

Similarly, the three people versatile cockpit is another treat for the user that includes the adjustable and detachable skegs that allow ease for the user. The removable skegs are highly practical for traction and promote stability. Apart from this, the spray covers are here to save you from water splashes and keep you dry.

Finally, the D-rings are highly convenient to use and offer an easy base to attach to other equipment. The package also includes a rugged carry bag that allows easy usage and holds the kayak. Lastly, high-quality valves and pressure gauge ensure correct inflation and deflation.

In the end, the Sevylor is highly suitable for the medium turbulence in the whitewater with high technological advancement and quality attributes. Thereby, the airtight and multiple air chambers trap the air and make it highly resistant to any damage. On the whole, this best inflatable river kayak is here for user support, from portability to durability and much more.

What We Liked

  • Stable for such a large vessel
  • Tri-chamber design
  • Removable fin for better tracking
  • Portable

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Pump, paddles, and repair kit needs to be purchased separately
  • A bit heavier

 


8. Aire Tributary Tomcat

best inflatable kayak for whitewater

 

 

  • Design: Sit on top
  • Length: 10 foot 10 inches
  • Width: 36 inches
  • Weight: 34 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 375 lbs

First and foremost, the Aire Tributary Tomcat is an imported and budget-friendly option with a great value of the features. It further is highly facilitated by the high load capacity and storage space. Thereby, with the mesh drainage system, improved shape, and better support system, the Aire tributary Tomcat is considered one of the best whitewater inflatable kayaks.

Likewise, it has an Aircell construction with a self-bailing system that ensures ease and convenience with the perfect water extraction. The enhanced durability is by-far highly effective and recommended for beginners with the PVC Vinyl construction. The outer shell is highly resistant to wearing and abrasion and protects from harmful sun rays.

Furthermore, the design comes with two of the thwart style seating that is adjustable with the two handles and a D-ring stern that allows easy and comfortable handling. Apart from this, the accessories and easily installed attachments add value to the selling coupled with the one year warranty.

Overall, the Aire Tributary Tomcat is here to save the day with the perfect water extraction, high stabilization, efficiency control system, and enhanced durability. It is designed for anyone who is new to the waves and needs a bit of experience. Moreover, the hardcore bottom doesn’t compromise portability and handling.

What We Liked

  • Stable and comfortable
  • Can be easily paddled up to class IV rapids
  • Self bailing system
  • Affordable as compared to other aire kayaks

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • No paddle and pump included

 


9. NRS Maverick I Whitewater Inflatable Kayak (Best For Rough Waters)

NRS Maverick I

 

 

  • Design: Sit on top
  • Length: 9 foot 9 inches
  • Width: 35.5 inches
  • Weight: 33 lbs

NRS came in the market with a well-earned reputation and arrived as a treat for users with all skill sets. Let performance aside, the security in the model is just phenomenal. It has tight straps and separable foot bracing that assist the user in achieving safety and stability. On the whole, it can get through highly rough water flow.

Consequently, the pressure valves are effective and correct the inflation and deflation with great stability. It is specifically designed for the Class III whitewater and possesses a wide and long construction that makes it easy for users to get on after falling. The material used in premium PVC vinyl assists the long-lasting durability.

Last but not least, it is a performance-centered design based on easy-to-lift features, high maneuvering ability, compact size, and high stabilization within a decent range considering high efficiency. Coupled with this, the ten years warranty is an additional service for the users. However, you might need to install an extra storage space for the ride.

Finally, the NRS arrives as a savior for anyone passionate about rafting. It facilitates the user with the best controls, inflation, air trap, and compact size. Its wide and long design with high stability is popular among the user. Therefore, the design is highly intelligent with the best features and justified price.

But I would say that it is a very expensive vessel considering all the other inflatable kayaks designed for whitewater.

What We Liked

  • Best for class III rapids
  • Ten years warranty
  • Foot braces
  • Incredible water performance

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Very expensive
  • A bit heavier

 


Important Features to Consider before Buying a Whitewater Kayak

Buying an inflatable kayak for whitewater can be a task considering every user needs different apparatus based on his/her skill level and usage. However, some of the features remain universal when it comes to buying the best inflatable kayak for irregular water. Following are some pre-requisite features that can help you in tracing the right product for you.

Portability Matters

carrying an inflatable kayak

Portability is a significant feature while buying the best inflatable kayak for white waters because of the enhanced turbulence and the water’s ever-changing gradients. For the purpose of achieving full control and improved stability, it is of paramount importance for the user to have a portable inflatable kayak. You can get an ultra-lightweight and compact size that can fit in the car trunk for further convenience and can be carried around.

Design And Material

inflatable whitewater kayaks construction

There are many materials and designs that inflatable kayaks come with. Talking about the design, it is essential to consider the kayaks that are wide and short. This can ensure enhanced support and involves less struggle in steering the kayak alike. As white waters are best known for the complicated and complex application, it is convenient and comfortable for the users to have a wide and short kayak.

Likewise, the material is highly crucial for durability and longevity. Thereby, the fabric should have a strong foundation to save you from any pointy or edgy rock. Furthermore, it is portable enough to be packed in the car’s trunk. Some of the important materials to consider includes;

Pennel Orca, known as synthetic rubber, is famous for its strong fabric and high durability. Its characteristics involve;

  • They are anti-wearing and offer scraping resistance.
  • It offers opposition against the UV rays.
  • Provides protection against high temperatures and other chemicals.

Nitrolym is a combination of synthetic and natural rubber known for environment-friendly fabric and decent durability with high portability. Some of the quality attributes include;

  • It offers resistance against wearing and tearing.
  • This is stronger and easier to control than PVC.
  • Provides high stability and portability.
  • Considered ideal for high temperature and cold weather alike.

Finally, based on your need and the budget, you can trace the right inflatable kayak for white water-based on resistance against wearing, high portability, enhanced durability, and so on.

UV Protection

Ideal UV protection is undoubtedly a criterion to get the best inflatable kayak for a whitewater or any water to invest in. Thereby, these kayaks ensure maximum efficiency and result in eliminating the potential risks that come with the sun’s harmful rays and prevents the paddles from fading and tearing.

In the contemporary models, the manufacturers have come up with premium materials such as polyurethane and polykryler that are highly popular for decent protection and extend the kayak’s overall longevity. Henceforth, while buying the best inflatable kayaks, always prioritize the ones with the heavy chemical base to provide you the ideal protection.

Stability

Coming to stability, the inflatable kayak that has an internal bracing is unmatchable while counting the efficiency for stability and support. It is characterized by the rigid and closely bound structure that pulls the whole body together and offers the best support to the user. Although it is a little difficult to deflate and handle the kayak with internal bracing, but still the performance ability is higher than any other.

Number of Chambers

If you are going for an inflatable kayak for the white water, it is recommended to go for the one that comes with multiple inflation chambers. It is highly significant for the overall performance, keeping in mind it offers high air rigidity. This rigid structure doesn’t puncture the air and allows the perfect packing of the air molecules. Another remarkable characteristic of these multiple chamber kayaks is that it doesn’t bend from the middle that is usually the case in single air chambers. Consequently, high speed with remarkable performance efficiency is achieved in the process.

A Brief Note On The Whitewater Rapid Classifications

whitewater classification

The whitewater class system was introduced to help the users follow the right water having the clear purpose of rafting. For instance, if you are looking for an experience to relax and soothe yourself or rather want an intense, thrilling and experimenting journey to get the maximum adrenaline in a ride, you must consider the infamous classification of whitewater that can serve you appropriately. Some of the major facts about the difficulty in compliance with the class system are presented below;

Class I

Class I is the lower level of the whitewater when it comes to difficulty and has convenient safety protocols with smaller waves ability. It is a priority for beginners or anyone who is going for a comforting ride to enjoy with family. With the ease of taking pictures and getting delighted with this wholesome experience, it is popular among common people.

Class II

Class II is characterized by the regular water flow and medium-quick yet moderate waves with a less intense difficulty level. It includes open and wide passages with the little sharpy and edgy rocks that are the only source of complication in this water. Thereby, it is handled by the users having an intermediate skill set.

Class III

Class III is relatively difficult with the high waves and the strong winds coupled with irregular water motion. It includes the narrow and long passages that are a source of complications with the visual hurdles that can be a task for users. It usually involves the expert skills to overrun or a professional with quite a set of skills.

Class IV

Class IV is a manifestation of strong and standing waves with irregular and disturbing water flow and involves a large degree of complexities. It is run with the proper equipment and needs premium apparatus, e.g., floating bags. It involves highly professional experts to play the game with extreme accuracy.

Class V

It is marked by extremely great difficulty and the rapid flow of water with continuous motion having no interruption with large rocks. Hence, the steep gradient and the highly turbulent water present an uphill task of controlling and adjusting the inflatable kayak. For this, not only professionals but high safety protocols must be considered.

Class VI

Class V includes unmatched complexities and complications with the larger waves, irregular waters, high turbulence, and constant fear of threat. It requires Olympic winning expertise and the best of best safety insurance, and the ultimate favourable weather predictions. Hence, if you want to get the utmost thrill, this class is for you.

See more kayaking terminologies .

Conclusion

Finally, based on all these essential and critical characteristics, you can opt for the best one. Thereby, equipped with the best control, efficient stabilization, perfect balance, water extraction, and the ultimate durability, here are some recommendations. These suggestions are the answers to all your questions, including the most asked; what is the best inflatable kayak for whitewater?

  • Sea Eagle 330 Deluxe (Best 2 Person Inflatable Kayak) is a demanding product with its high durability, efficient water drainage system, and dual usage.
  • Aire Tributary Tomcat is efficient with the large storage, high portability, and support system.
  • ADVANCED ELEMENTS Attack Pro Inflatable Kayak is the best with the tiny packaging, self-bailing system, and comfort.

In essence, enjoy your outrageous game with the best equipment at hand that can aid you in the whole process without any complexities. Yet, the shopping must be based on the class you are going for and the features you need.

What is the best inflatable kayak for Whitewater?

In our opinion and considering all the aspects of durability, performance, self-bailing capabilities, comfort, and construction, Driftsun Rover 120/220 is the best inflatable kayak for whitewater.

What is the highest level of rapids?


The international rating system has classified the rapids as follows:
Class A – Still or calm water
Class I – Easy to maneuver
Class II – Moderate
Class III – Average difficulty
Class IV – Difficult
Class V – Extremely difficult
Class VI – Extraordinarily difficult

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