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RTM Disco Review

Posted by on February 12, 2012

The first reason why I love the RTM Disco is because it’s a fantastic sit-on-top kayak. When most paddlers hear the words “sit-on-top” they think of Ocean Kayak brand boats like the Frenzy or Malibou. These kayaks carry a wide beam and lots of buoyancy which really limits their utility as a kayak in the traditional sense. This is not true for the Disco which at 14 feet long and 26 inches wide looks and paddles more like a light-touring kayak than like anything in the sit-on-top class. It really blows the competition out of the water in speed and maneuverability while retaining the high capacity and stability of the traditional sit-on-tops. It’s the perfect kayak for a paddler who is sold on the sit-on-top feel but really wants a boat that can handle an adventure!

The RTM Disco displays an array of outfitting that helps to make it one of the most comfortable sit-on-tops on the market. The molded seat is form fitting and the padded seat back and thigh straps further support a strong paddling position. The Disco sports a set of luggage-style handles and additional molded handles mid-ship which make carrying this 50lb craft a dream. There is also ample storage space with a forward dry-hatch and a rear well that is large enough to stow a few medium dry-bags. This superb outfitting makes the Disco a comfortable craft for anything from an early morning surf session to a full day on the water.

As much as I love the disco, it’s certainly not perfect. Granted, I’m being very nit-picky with the following comments but here are the few things that I would change. First, I’d get rid of the silly cargo style net that covers the rear storage well and replace it with some bungees. The rest of my changes would be made in the cockpit. I’ve never liked the molded-in foot placements typical of sit-on-tops as they are too “discrete” to properly accommodate most paddles. I often find that the best fit for me is between two of the notches. This would be easily fixed by using a “pedal on rail” set-up. Finally, I would consider adding an additional set of scupper holes in the seat well for better drainage. These small changes would take the Disco from an A to an A+ in my book!

The bottom line: If you’re interested in the freedom of a sit-on-top but actually want one that paddles like a traditional kayak and not like a barge then the Disco is the boat for you.

More Info at:

Final Verdict:

Stats: 14’ long, 26in wide, 50lbs

Pros: Handles like a Kayak, Comfortable, Well Outfitted

Cons: Minor Outfitting Issues, A Wet Ride (like all sit-on-tops)

Kayak Dave Rating:

10 Responses to RTM Disco Review

  1. Charles Hodgson

    I am 6 foot 3″, 210 lb.’s will I fit in this Kayak?

    • arrudad

      Hi Charles:

      It’s hard to say whether or not you’ll be too big for the Disco without seeing you paddle it on the water. My intuition is that your height may leave you a bit crammed with your knees up a bit higher than you may like. Just for reference, I’m only 5’6” and was 135lbs soaking wet when I last paddled the Disco and wrote the review. I don’t believe that your weight will be an issue at all as the capacity of the Disco is much higher and I’ve tested this by paddling the Disco tandem with another paddler about my size. It was a wetter than usual ride but there was still plenty of freeboard.

      You may want to check out the RTM Midway as an alternative. It’s basically the big brother to the Disco with some outfitting modifications. I’ve paddled it on a few occasions and I found it to behave similarly to the Disco in that it handled much more like a light touring kayak than a tradition sit-on top. It was much too large for me but may be a good fit for you given your height. More info can be found here:

      I hope that you get the chance to demo both of these boats as this is the best way to know for certain what works best for you.

      Happy Paddling!

      -Kayak Dave

  2. nan

    HI Guys,
    I LOVE LOVE LOVE my disco. I was using an Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro previously, and found this originally to substitute the lack of finding a new scupper Pro. I love this one even more. Strangely I like the molded footcups better than the slide-rail type. I don’t like to mess around with adjusting and re-adjusting when I go on longer excursions and need to adjust my sitting positions. I often like to take a break into what I call “the lazyboy” position while just tooling along. As far as fitting a larger person (I’m a petite female), my husband who is 5’10” and 170 gave it a go last year and found it just fine for him. And like Dave said, it’s rated for much higher weight. We do multi-day trips and it handles my loaded down gear just fine. In fact, I feel like the extra weight helps it track better for me since it sits deeper into the water. My thoughts on the back net are still on the fence. It does hold my dry bags under it well, and I do like the ability to clip stuff to it, but bungees or straps might be better, I’m really not sure!
    But I feel like I’d gladly recommend the disco to anyone looking for a sit-on-top!

  3. JT

    Nice to see some recent RTM Disco comments. I’ve had mine for two years and love it as much as I love my late model Scupper Pro. It’s alwyas a coin toss for me regarding which one to take out. When the water has some chop to it or conditions are breezy, the Disco simply rocks. It cuts through the chop with ease, almost seems to perform better in textured water! I like the molded in footwells too. They are much more comfortable (to me) than the ones in my Scupper Pro. I am about the sime size as Nan’s husband and use my boats for local recreational kayak triathlons. Love the DISCO!

  4. Capn Jimbo

    Capn JImbo here. I reviewed this amazing design years ago and it is still the best design on the water in its class and price range. Don’t like the net? Don’t use it, it is removeable – however, divers will love it. As far as foot pedals are concerned most of what is available on other designs are cheesy, break and are really counterproductive. They break, dig into your feet, are a pain to adjust underweigh, catch fishing lines, etc. Footwells are preferred by good paddlers because a good stroke starts from the foot, with power being applied to the leg, hip and finally torso rotation.

    The molded in footwells promotes a strong and good stroke. As far as positioning goes you can easily adjust your position with a common backstrap (NOT a seat), or simply glue on a thin foam pad. With footwells, it’s so simple to change your foot position at will.

    The seat – very similar to the Scupper Pro or racing surfskis does NOT require drag inducing scupper holes. You already have a nice big plug, called your gluteus maximus. The seat is form fitting and when you sit down – viola! – the water is ejected. Not an issue. The footwell scuppers are fine, as they are semi-venturis and the Disco comes with scupper plugs, which most will use from launch.

    For my review:

    Thanks for your review of design that to date has no equal in its class.

  5. andy

    Thanks for your comments guys, really useful.

    Just had my beloved scupper pro stolen so looking to replace it.From your comments you have experience with the Ocean Kayak scupper pro.

    I used the pro for sea passages carrying camping kit.

    Do you guys think the Disco + will hold up or do I stay with the scupper pro?

    If you are offered a mango and flame scupper pro with footpegs,centre hatch, scotty gear mount and additional side carrying handles let me know. The scum that nicked it will have no idea what they have but may be attractive to kayak fishermen.

    Thanks in advance


    • alexrusso12

      Hi Andy,

      Sorry for the loss of your Scupper Pro. Since the Scupper Pro is not longer in production, many paddlers who previously had an attachment to its performance tend to follow the Ocean Kayak Trident 15 or the RTM Midway as a close replacement.

      In terms of the Disco+, The biggest differences between the Disco+ and the Scupper Pro is the overall hull design and length. The Scupper Pro is almost a foot longer than the Disco which adds extra tracking ability to the Scupper.

      If you are looking for a closer replacement to the Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro I would suggest looking into the RTM Midway which is essentially a longer (touring version) of the Disco+. The Disco+ is intended as more of a play boat with some light coastal touring ability, but if you are looking for a kayak for longer sea passages with cargo capacity I would turn towards the RTM Midway.

      If you wanted to stay within the Ocean Kayak family, you may want to look into the Ocean Kayak Trident 15 which carries similar dimensions and performance as the now retired Scupper Pro.

      I hope this helps!

      • Capn Jimbo's Ft Lauderdale Yakfishing Club

        Andy a lot depends on your weight. While I agree the Midway is larger than the Disco, a lot depends on the space and weight of your gear. Counting you and the gear, the Disco’s limit is roughly 200 pounds or a bit more.

        I own and have reviewed both the Pro and the Disco and the Disco is superior in every way possible short of storage capacity. The Pro has so much rocker that it tends to be blown off course rather easily, while the Disco tracks much better, and can be turned almost as well.

        But here’s the real news. RTM used to manufacture the Pro years ago. After they stopped, they modified the molds just a tad and their RTM Tempo is almost indistinguishable from the Scupper Pro. The difference is that the RTM Tempo has better fittings, and a little less rocker (which improves the tracking. Side by side it’s hard to tell the difference, but in truth the Tempo is a slightly better performing Pro clone.

        Hope that helps.

      • wrybread

        I have to disagree about the Trident 15 being good for touring. I have the Trident 13 and its an absolute dog. Great as a fishing platform, but not for going distances. With that super wide beam I can’t imagine the Trident 15 would be better. Don’t get me wrong, its a great boat, just not for touring, at least in the style of a Scupper Pro.

        I love my Disco, but I’m about 210 pounds, so its a very wet ride for me. Its a wet ride for my girlfriend too, and she weighs like 130. With the seat design there’s just no way around it. For me the Disco is great for playing around in light ocean waves and things like that, and since I use it in the Pacific ocean off Northern California, I wouldn’t think of taking it out without wearing a wetsuit. And neither would my girlfriend, so its not just a weight thing.

        For touring I’d highly recommend a solid top kayak with a rudder. Once you try one for going a distance over flat water its hard to go back to sit on tops. They’re soooo much faster, and so much dryer and keep you so much more protected. Once you get the hang of it you won’t capsize if you’re at all careful.

        But that said, the Disco is an absolutely awesome all around kayak. And I absolutely love mine for fast cruising around, its like a little sports car.

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