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Old 07-20-2016, 09:25 AM   #1
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Are inflatable kayaks any good?

Talk to me, George.
Quote:
Originally Posted by caltexflanc;
I have a story about a cheap Sevylor we had.
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Old 07-20-2016, 09:38 AM   #2
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We have been very happy with our West Marine inflatable Kayak for over 10 years. I'm not sure if it is he same as what they sell now or not? It has a fabric skin unlike the unsupported fabric in the Sea Eagle type of kayak.
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Old 07-20-2016, 09:49 AM   #3
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HW, I think it depends on what you mean by "good". My own experience is that they are terrible kayaks. OTOH, they are lightweight, easy to stow, won't mark up your boat, can be fun to use, etc... We had some inflatable kayaks years ago and they got a lot of use and were enjoyed. We now have some Eddyline Skylarks that we keep on the boat.

If you want to do much paddling, I would get a real kayak. If you want a water toy, an inflatable is great fun. I don't mean that in a disparaging way at all. It just depends on your intended use.

I will say that while the Eddyline Skylarks are wonderful little boats, with age my wife and I have a harder time getting in out of them. My wife because she has increased in girth over the years, and me because of a bad knee and the resultant loss of fitness and mobility. If I was to buy another kayak, I would get one that had a larger cockpit opening to make that easier.

BTW, my 82 year old mother has no trouble getting in and out of them, from the shore, dock, or boat.
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Old 07-20-2016, 10:34 AM   #4
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HW, I think it depends on what you mean by "good". My own experience is that they are terrible kayaks.
Yeah, thanks Dave, I should have mentioned "use."

Windmill pitching and rope starting old Seagulls limits my right shoulder to about 4 paddle strokes a week so, yeah, toy sounds good.
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Old 07-20-2016, 10:35 AM   #5
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Had one and returned it because it was impossible to paddle in the direction I wanted if there was any wind. It was a WM model.
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Old 07-20-2016, 10:48 AM   #6
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At a beachside rental,with a pair of "good quality" inflatale Kayaks, my wife and I gave a pair of those a good sea trial. At the time, we already owned the pair of rotomolded 14' kayaks that we carry on Retreat (see avatar).
The blow ups were a few feet shorter than our plastic kayaks, also a lot wider. The bottoms are flat, with little skegs to try to keep them straight. We got a few miles away, but when we turned around, found ourselves in a current that was preventing a quick return. We found out quickly that if you need a bit of speed to get yourself out of a jam, they go in circles. We had to discipline our paddling to just hull speed, in order to be able to steer at all. Anything over hull speed was a total loss of steerage. By the time we got home, she was exhausted. She was terrified that we would be swept out to sea long before that.

So no, I wouldn't recommend them to anyone.
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Old 07-20-2016, 10:59 AM   #7
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Sea Eagle RazorLite

We've been using the Sea Eagle RazorLite for over a year now. Not cheap but they handle very well on the water, have a skeg and track great. They also store in a bag and are quick to inflate.

Very happy.

https://www.seaeagle.com/RazorLite/393rl
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Old 07-20-2016, 12:34 PM   #8
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Avalon,
Kinda like those SeaEagles.
If our canoe dos'nt work I'll check back to my bookmark.
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Old 07-20-2016, 01:46 PM   #9
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We *might* be testing out the new inflatable kayaks and SUPs from Walker Bay. They contacted us about a review. If we do, we will of course post our findings here.
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Old 07-20-2016, 02:47 PM   #10
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I have tried a few different inflatable kayaks, but haven't yet found anything worth spending money on.

The main problems are poor tracking and poor back support

We do have a couple inflatable stand up paddleboards and are happy with them. They inflate to 15 psi and become very rigid.

Has anyone come across an inflatable kayak which is designed for higher pressure such as this?

edit: Aaah - I just checked the Sea Eagle site as suggested by AvalonGB. They inflate to 10 psi, and may be worth looking at.
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Old 07-20-2016, 03:10 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by dhays View Post
If you want to do much paddling, I would get a real kayak. If you want a water toy, an inflatable is great fun. I don't mean that in a disparaging way at all. It just depends on your intended use.
Wifey B: Did I hear toys mentioned? I love your statement, it's all purpose. We had years ago two styrofoam sailboats. One laughs of course. They were some a dealer bought with his name on the sail to use for promotions and giveaways. Cost him under $100 each. Clearly toys but omfg did we have fun on those things. On a Sunday afternoon when the lake was a madhouse and too rough to enjoy we'd just float around and sail a little on them. Inflatable kayak could be great if one wanted a toy to use occasionally, but not if one really wants a kayak.
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Old 07-20-2016, 03:21 PM   #12
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From my experience and reading...

The worst hard kayak is probably OK.

The worst inflatable is unsat.

The best hard kayak is a dream.

The best inflatable is OK.

There are reviews all over the map so it is hard to say which ones are what...

Plus, expectations are a big part of reviews.

I would love to be able to try one before purchasing it...or it better have a great return policy on it.

Another alternative are the colapsible kayaks like the old folbots (not sure if they are still in business).
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Old 07-20-2016, 03:28 PM   #13
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We tried other Sea Eagle

We originally tried other Sea Eagle models before the RazorLite and didn't care for them. Soft and didn't track well.

The RazorLite uses drop stitch construction so it inflates to a near rock hard level just like high end inflatable paddle boards. Very different than the other inflatable kayaks we tried and didn't care for.

They also carry a good size load and are self bailing if you open the valves in the floor. Again we've been very pleased with them and Sea Eagle does stand behind the 180 day trial program as they took back other models we tried and didn't care for no questions asked. Prompt full refund!
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Old 07-20-2016, 03:37 PM   #14
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I have an Aire Outfitter II that is fair for paddling even in the wind. The main use is taking the puppy to the beach and other short exploration trips. It's light so with a rising tide I can carry it way up the beach or down the beach. I carry it on the swim step most of the time so launch and recovery is easy. I also use an old Outcast Power Drifter for the same thing. It's easier to board and you can stand up in it albeit carefully. Both are very stable compared to hard kayaks.

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Old 07-20-2016, 05:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hmason View Post
Had one and returned it because it was impossible to paddle in the direction I wanted if there was any wind. It was a WM model.
Yes our bottom of the line Sevylor was like that, even with the little plastic keel attached. It was just too flimsy. We got some good use out of it in the protected waters of the 10,000 Islands in SW FL, but it was a PIA beyond that.

Its final voyage was off Key Biscayne, we anchored off outside of No Name.
Ann and a friend were off in the Whaler. I decided that after a couple years of carrying the danged thing around since last using it, I'd take it out. Pumped it up good, clipped on the handheld VHF, PFD etc. start splashing around doing OK. Guy in a nearby sailboat hails me: their dinghy has got loose and is headed towards Stiltsville and Florida Strait. I can see it way down yonder a mile or so, stroke to the rescue. About halfway there my kayak starts slowly deflating (seam broke). The thing starts enveloping me like a cocoon. I began to get seriously concerned I could steer it to the dinghy. Very thankful for the VHF.

I barely make it to the dinghy, now basically astride and completely enwrapped in/on a wad of very partially inflated wet plastic. Had one hell of time getting out of it and into the dink. Great slapstick comedy in retrospect, not funny then! I was tempted to just let it float out to sea on the outgoing current. But I loaded it on the dink (more slapstick). Next: well, the dink is now aground on sensitive coral and grass reef there. Sloooowwwly push off with one of the paddles. Ok quickly we're in the clear. Engine won't start. Row row row your boat not so gently up the stream.
As soon as I could, into the nearest dumpster went the kayak. I remember Ann asking me where it went. I said "it's in a better place now"...
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Old 07-20-2016, 06:37 PM   #16
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We've liked our WM kayak. Good for kids to paddle around.
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Old 07-20-2016, 06:47 PM   #17
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About 10 years ago I bought a Walker Bay Airis 12' kayak and I've taken it all over the East Coast both on my boat and in my car. I love it. It's high pressure 6.5psi so it's pretty rigid and it has a fairly big keel to help it track. At about a grand it wasn't cheap but it's made of the same PVC material found in well made dinghy's and can't be beat for portability. I also purchased a good removable kayak seat to support my back which is helpful if you're planning to paddle long distance. I noticed in the video I've linked that they reduced the new Airis Sports model to 10' which wouldn't be as comfortable for me because I'm 6' 4".



Just a tip: I always inflate mine using a Coleman electric pump up to the point it won't add any more air before I switch over to the high pressure manual pump. It saves a lot of effort.

Recently, I have contemplated purchasing one of the new inflatable SUP's with a sliding seat rowing unit. I am a long distance open water rower and normally row my MASS 24 scull or my 18' Little River Heritage sliding seat skiff on the Long Island Sound but both these are to large to fit on my Mainship 30 Pilot. The portability of the Aris is the reason I originally purchased it. The inflatable SUP and rowing unit would be easy to transport. I much prefer sliding seat rowing to paddling. Here is a video of one version of an inflatable sliding seat SUP.

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Old 07-20-2016, 06:52 PM   #18
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Inflatable kayaks have only two major advantages over hard kayaks in my book...and both come at a huge cost. The first advantage is stowage. That's a given and for the most part, a no-brainer, and requires no further explanation. The second is stability. If you see challenges in your ability to maintain balance and stability in a kayak and want to never again worry about it, go with an inflatable. Other than those two advantages, here is what you will be facing:

1. They are inferior at tracking. Of all the inflatable kayaks I have paddled, I have never seen one track nearly as well as a hard one. The keels help, but not enough.
2. Instead of cutting through waves (or ripples), inflatables roll over them. This is a great loss in efficiency.
3. There is far more surface area touching the water and more water to displace. Do the math, and guess which kayak makes you work harder for less...?
4. In most cases, they need to be deflated in order to be transported -- as you wouldn't want to put them on your car's rooftop and drive 65 miles per hour on the freeway. Set up and take down become time consuming.

In my book, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Unless you need something compact and/or have issues with balancing, then the inflatable may be the right fit for you. Otherwise, the disadvantages are too many and make the paddling experience not as enjoyable as it could potentially be.

Just my two cents....
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Old 07-20-2016, 07:13 PM   #19
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Here is a video of one version of an inflatable sliding seat SUP.

Wifey B: I did that in the gym but it didn't go anywhere.
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Old 07-20-2016, 08:04 PM   #20
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I have this one: Airis Inflatable Kayaks | Airis Sport 11 Inflatable Kayak | Walker Bay Kayaks| #70003

It is better than a $300 rotomolded 9' kayak. Tracks very well. Used it with over 10 knots of wind and 2-3' seas; takes about 1.6 times longer to go upwind vs. returning back.

Would buy it again.

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