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Thread: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

  1. #1
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    Default Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    Ken and I are considering getting a couple of inflatable kayaks. We have a couple of skin-on-frame sea kayaks and a couple of rotomolded recreational kayaks. I'm thinking of getting rid of the rotomolded yaks and replacing them with inflatable.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    I had an inflatable kayak years ago. A Sevylor. It worked OK, for playing with near shore or for short trips. I would use it to go visit other boats while anchored at our local sandbar. Perfect for that application. I wouldn't go on a day trip with it. It wasn't floppy, but it was no where near as stiff as a rigid yak. As a result, it did not track great.

    Now, that was before inflatables changed. They are much stiffer today. I would try renting one if possible.

    Kevin
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    Inflatables place convenience over performance. They are fine on a lake or pond, but less so on open water.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    I’d keep the rotomolded boats. Cheap inflatables will be in the dumpster eventually and the rotomolded boats could sit outside in the shade for decades and still be usable.

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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    Whether or not you eventually decide to spend that much cash on them, you should find a Hobie dealer and try their Mirage Drive pedal driven "kayaks". There are both inflatable versions:



    and rigid composite versions. We own a pair of the Hobie Lynx composite model and they are some of the most impressive little boats I have ever used in more than 50 years of kayaking - stable, fast, secure in rough water and they will turn on a dime. They sort of make paddles seem like a really mediocre invention.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdRUlzVxZmI

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    We have a couple Aire Lynx 1 duckies. Hers is at least ten years old, mine is five. No problems so far. Not cheap but they are pretty bomber. We especially like them for low water self-support river trips.

    Scouting a blowout on the Dearborn:

    DRBRN04.jpg

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    IK's are pretty forgiving in whitewater but they are not nearly as responsive as hardshell kayaks, and that can be frustrating at first if you are used to paddling hardshells.

    Salmon River, ID:

    P9050740.jpg


    Selway River, ID:

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    slwy18-35.jpg


    Middle Fork Flathead River, MT. Did that trip with twodot and friends.

    MFF2020-fg01.jpg
    Last edited by J P; 11-05-2022 at 09:47 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    Yes J.P. that was more what I was thinking. I wouldn't think it would be worth it to get a cheap one. We have enough whitewater in Richmond to make for a fun afternoon...no where near as exciting as the photos you posted. But I would need to build up to that anyway.


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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.



    I would keep the skin-on-frames for flat water kayaking.
    Last edited by SKIP KILPATRICK; 11-05-2022 at 04:45 PM.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    We have one of these. Great fun for paddling around Useless Bay (Whidbey) and Commencement Bay close to shore.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    I like my Gumotex kayaks. Very robust build, self-draining floor, lightweight at 26 lbs, safe in rough conditions but can get blown around. I put a small front skeg on mine to improve tracking. Fairly easy to climb back in if I capsize, so no need to perfect my roll. Slower than a hardshell, especially into a chop, but still not too bad. Also it's wet, since it's a sit-on-top. I like mine so much I bought another for my wife. Mine is probably 15 years old and still in good shape. For comparison, I also have touring, homebuilt plywood, and rotomolded kayaks, and the inflatables get the most use.

    Though if I wasn't already over-kayaked, I'd look hard at Todd's Hobie Mirage Drive kayaks.

    IMG_2916.jpg

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    They're okay for flat water and mild rapids. I've run quite a few serious rapids with people in IKs. Main problem is that in water of any size, even the self-bailers fill up fast and are impossible to maneuver. They had to pull out and let their boat drain before going on.

    Years ago, I made friends with Jack Kloepfer (who invented the Paco Pad—Jack's Plastic Welding) and started using his small paddle cats. The Pack Cat is two 12-inch tubes with a seat frame, back support pillow, and a footrest. Since there's no floor, they never fill up or swamp. At about 25 lb. it can be loaded on a frame and backpacked with enough food and camp gear for a few days. We did quite a few first descents that way. They can also be rigged with a cooler, a dry bag, or a doggy deck.



    They're great for fishing because you can stand on a bar to cast without getting out of the boat.

    With a two-seater Pack Cat as a cargo boat (note toilet pail), we've done some lengthy, remote trips, this one on the Escalante River in Utah.






    I paddled a Fat Pack Cat down the Grand Canyon: 80+ big water rapids and only five swims.



    I've also rigged Pack Cats with trolling motors and various sci-gear for research trips.



    I took a Pack Cat in a duffel to New Zealand and did heaps of paddling. Also carried one on the Alaska Ferry to Sitka (with a wetsuit and booties) and spent lots of time exploring the Sound and seeing sea lions, otters, brown bears, etc.

    Pack Cats are really adaptable, useful, safe, and maneuverable in big water.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    I have an inflatable kayak that my father bought from wedding presents money without asking my mom for opinion.
    It's from people's republic times, made of thick rubber, is heavy as heck, leaks a bit on one tube from somewhere I can't see, the keel is half destroyed, it smells of old rubber, and due to rubber tubes it's beamy, harder to paddle and hard to get through reed while having less room inside.

    I still absolutely love it.


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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    Those pak cats look fun, really versatile. Great adventures - color me green!
    There's a lot of things they didn't tell me when I signed on with this outfit....

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip-skiff View Post
    They're okay for flat water and mild rapids. I've run quite a few serious rapids with people in IKs. Main problem is that in water of any size, even the self-bailers fill up fast and are impossible to maneuver. They had to pull out and let their boat drain before going on.

    Years ago, I made friends with Jack Kloepfer (who invented the Paco Pad—Jack's Plastic Welding) and started using his small paddle cats. The Pack Cat is two 12-inch tubes with a seat frame, back support pillow, and a footrest. Since there's no floor, they never fill up or swamp. At about 25 lb. it can be loaded on a frame and backpacked with enough food and camp gear for a few days. We did quite a few first descents that way. They can also be rigged with a cooler, a dry bag, or a doggy deck.



    They're great for fishing because you can stand on a bar to cast without getting out of the boat.

    With a two-seater Pack Cat as a cargo boat (note toilet pail), we've done some lengthy, remote trips, this one on the Escalante River in Utah.






    I paddled a Fat Pack Cat down the Grand Canyon: 80+ big water rapids and only five swims.



    I've also rigged Pack Cats with trolling motors and various sci-gear for research trips.



    I took a Pack Cat in a duffel to New Zealand and did heaps of paddling. Also carried one on the Alaska Ferry to Sitka (with a wetsuit and booties) and spent lots of time exploring the Sound and seeing sea lions, otters, brown bears, etc.

    Pack Cats are really adaptable, useful, safe, and maneuverable in big water.
    I like that.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    A practical problem for overnight trips with an IK is that most lack space to rig a drybag behind the paddler, so it goes up front— the worst place for weight. Instead of sliding up a wave the boat will punch in and swamp. Packrafts are even worse in that respect: horrible handling charactersitics with any load.

    One aspect where an IK works better is surfing waves. Since the Pack Cat lacks a floor, it doesn't get as much lift rising on a swell. But if an ocean wave breaks into an IK, you can't maneuver (i.e. pull out). Wherever the wave goes, so do you, for better or worse.

    On a Grand Canyon trip, I watched Jack surf a Pack Cat for several minutes on a wave above Bedrock Rapid, where a flip would be disastrous.

    Last edited by Chip-skiff; 11-06-2022 at 07:13 PM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    My middle daughter has one, and they use it just like it was designed to be used (I guess): they pack it into all sorts of remote mountain lakes and rivers. She loves it. I think my son-in-law told me it weighs about 55 pounds in the pack you have to carry it in.

    We have a couple of poly Old Towns here that we use and we love them, but for their purposes this blow up thingee is perfect.

    Mickey Lake
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    WOW great thread !!!

    We don't have inflatable Kayaks, but we have two inflatable SUP boards that we use all the time. I have only one piece of advice get electric pump that uses your Vehicles cigarette lighter outlet. It will make a world of difference in your enjoyment. Hand pumping, gets old fast and you will restrict your comfort with just getting out on on the water.

    We use this one and recommend it.



    https://www.amazon.com/OutdoorMaster.../dp/B07QXSM5RG
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    I don’t have the video handy but there was a fella who would take a tiny little inflatable raft around the islands near Kodiak Alaska. He’d pack up his stuff paddle across to another island and pack the little boat into his backpack then hike across the island. Then put it back in the water.

    Seemed pretty dangerous but he made lots of trips. Any hard shell boat left on the beach would become a chew toy.

    There’s a name for camping with these little boats that also escapes me.

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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    The Pontoons from Classic Accessories are also pretty decent. We eventually replaced the seats on ours for better seats at a more comfortable angle, and for lake use we have trolling motors for them. I built mesh trampolines to fill that forward foot area. They use a vinyl liner inside a sewn nylon and reinforced PVC skin. What amazes me is that I haven't needed to pump them up to pressure again in two years.

    https://classicaccessories.com/fishing/pontoon-boats

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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    Those wee fishing cats are great for easy water. The folding plastic seats are remarkably comfy.

    They aren't designed for serious whitewater (grade 3 and above). The issue is the pronounced rocker (bottom curve) of the tubes, which makes them easy to maneuver (with a consequent loss of tracking ability). Friends who guide raft and driftboat fishing on whitewater rivers hate the things, because they frequently have to assist or rescue people who hit waves, spin sideways, and flip. Strong upstream winds can knock them askew at the top of a wave, and floop!

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    A fishing buddy has the classic inexpensive sea eagle inflatable tandem kayak. We used to do a short morning run down the Poudre River of mostly class 2 and some rowdy haystack waves. It was typical to stop and empty the self bailing kayak twice in the 3ish miles and it would be getting sluggish again at the end. It was fun, but as stated before not something you want to be in on a class III.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    They aren't designed for serious whitewater (grade 3 and above). The issue is the pronounced rocker (bottom curve) of the tubes, which makes them easy to maneuver (with a consequent loss of tracking ability).
    Yes, they will spin easily, but in the hands of somebody who knows what they are doing the boats are decently capable. Like any boat in whitewater, operator knowledge and skill is always the most important issue. The key to this thread is likely to be the intended typical uses for the boats, which, as far as I can tell has yet to really be established. Most boats do some things better than other things.


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    Okay. Some people run class 3 in Coleman canoes.

    I know. I've seen the canoes snapped in half on boulders.

    Why take on a multi-day trip in a boat that's marginal for the purpose?

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    For IKs and other small inflatables, a foot pump is the ticket.


    You can pack it on a trip and keep a whole bunch of boats up to pressure.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    Why take on a multi-day trip in a boat that's marginal for the purpose?
    While the boat may not meet your standards, the truth is that it made it through just fine, with no damage and upright with no catastrophes, which was pretty much the objective in the first place, and it could most likely do it again without a problem.

    I've had the original model of one of those foot pumps for about 30 years, originally bought for my Avon Sportboat, and with both high volume/low pressure outlets (the main bellows) and an additional, internal bellows with a low volume/high pressure outlet they really do work well. I just wish they would upgrade some of the fittings a bit, and I'm on my second or third set of bellows fabrics, as they do wear out. Good pump though, and a lot easier on my back than the upright, piston-style pumps.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip-skiff View Post
    A practical problem for overnight trips with an IK is that most lack space to rig a drybag behind the paddler, so it goes up front— the worst place for weight. Instead of sliding up a wave the boat will punch in and swamp.
    Different strokes …

    For some whitewater conditions, many boaters prefer to rig with a bit more weight forward. With loaded rafts and Ik’s, I like balanced trim in easier water and where lots of maneuvering is required, e.g. low water boulder gardens. In more pushy water with large waves and holes I prefer a little weight forward. Sea kayaking I pack for balanced trim.

    Re. pumps for topping off: I have a foot pump which is OK, but a little fiddly keeping the hose in the valve, and sometimes awkward to use on rough terrain or with the boat in the water. Have a barrel pump as well but haven’t used it in a few years as it can be hard on your back, and like a foot pump there’s a hose to deal with. I’ve come around to appreciating the simplicity and compactness of hand pumps like the K-Pump, of which we have two. And they work well enough to use for fully inflating an IK.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    One further issue with the little fishing cats: center of gravity.

    Most have the seat mounted above the top of the tubes, some several inches higher. While this is good for fishing (better visibility and longer casts), it's not so good in whitewater. When combined with the extreme rocker of the short tubes, it makes such boats more likely to tip and flip. Judging by what my fishing guide friends say about such incidents, it happens fairly often.

    The seat on an IK is usually a pad resting on the floor. The seat on a Pack Cat is a suspended mesh panel a few inches lower than the top of the tubes.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    Pulled the trigger on two of these.
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  32. #32
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    Have fun and report back, is it still nice enough there to get them out?

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    One for me one for Ken. We got identical packages and ordered direct from the manufacturer. They each came with two seats so if we want to take the grandkids one can ride with each of us. Also included were: bow and stern storage pouches that zip and velcro closed, two paddles (4 total), 12 volt pumps, large two speed manual piston pumps, watertight repair kits, removable skegs.

    The floor is amazing it is rock sold with 14 PSI. The two tubes are solid with 3.5 psi.
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  34. #34
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    Quote Originally Posted by switters View Post
    Have fun and report back, is it still nice enough there to get them out?

    I think we will have a chance it has been really warm this week. it was in the 80's last weekend through monday and then in the 70's to day mid-60's. The hurricane is going to dump heavy rain and bring cooler temps tomorrow. It isn't unusual for us to have 70F days into mid-December. Of course we have had snow in November before. Cold weather isn't normal until the end of December- Early March.
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  35. #35
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    Default Re: Inflatable Kayaks, experience and opinions.

    12.5 Feet long 38 inches wide.
    16 scuppers for white water, rated to class IV.
    Max capacity 3 people and up to 750 lbs.

    The owners manual states to buy a proper Long T-Paddle try it as a SUP for additional workout. .... yeah, i don't know about that.
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