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Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-02-2006, 10:33 AM   #1
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Inflatable kayaks?

So i've been boating a bit lately and decided to get back into some regular kayaking. When I sold my mcmansion I sold my fancy sit-inside and my two person sit-on-top and just kept my old 12' "old town" hardboat thats heavier than a load of bricks but fairly indestructible.

My old paddling grounds were a pair of lakes and a very slow moving river, all fairly limited in debris but with some swampy areas with pokey branches underwater.

The new paddling grounds are a bunch of rivers that converge and split, lots of levied areas that expand drastically in the winter rainy months, and the amount of fixed and floating tree debris is enormous.

I havent hit anything yet, although I often have to meander around a bunch of dead tree limbs. Not so much as a scrape. I've seen a couple of trees approaching me, replete with 2' long branches, at about 5-8MPH as I paddled upriver.

Since getting rid of the Expedition, which could hold the kayak inside and made loading and unloading easy, I've had to strap the Old Town to the roof rack of my Rav4. Between it being a pain in the butt and scratching the roof of the car, I'm not happy with the arrangement.

So I decided to look into some of the inflatables. My only concern is hitting a sharp object and puncturing the boat. One of the rivers thats my favorite to play in is a sierra runoff river thats below 50 degrees and has wide banks and quick moving water. In other words, I dont wanna end up getting rather suddenly dropped into it, even on a 110 degree day.

I've seen some tiers of boat, but nobody sells them in my area so no touchy feely. Reviews run wild on every product from "great" to "sucks" so no coherency there.

I've seen a Coleman 30 gauge PVC boat for $60 that received good reviews from what sounded like rank amateurs. A couple of Sevylor boats in the $130-200 range that are also straight PVC but get good reviews, but a couple of them said "and i've poked a lot of holes in it, but they're easy to fix".

I almost settled on a boat from Advanced Elements called a dragonfly 1, which is also sold by national geographic under their name. About $220 shipped. Polyester fabric sandwiched with PVC.

Everything upstream of that is 350-1200+ and I'm not paying that much. I'd keep hauling the hard boat.

Conditions are low wind, low to moderate current, lots of side current, some boats, some jet skis, frequent sand bars, grainy gravel, trees here and there, nothing too extreme. Have a couple of paved launch areas but prefer some sandy/muddy launch spots.

Any suggestions or recommendations?
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-02-2006, 11:57 AM   #2
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

I also have no idea why I put this in "life after fire", although it sort of fits.

If any moderator with nothing to do with their time cares, move it to "other".

Or leave it here.

Or put it in forum admin.

Or light it on fire.
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-02-2006, 04:50 PM   #3
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

We just used ours this morning! It is a one-person Stearns MKII that I got when I worked for a sailboat chandlery back in 2002. We used it as a second dinghy on our sailboat in the Bahamas 2003. It lives outside, inflated, and is used a couple of times a month, at least. Has faded some, but that is all.
Inflatables are a little slower than a rigid kayak but WAY more comfortable, like a lazy boy. We use it with two regular kayaks and DH can keep up (he prefers it to the regular ones) without a problem. It is also less tippy when getting in from a dock, spoiling some of our usual entertainment!
Needless to say, we kayak in salt water, and creeks full of oyster shells. We don't make a point to ride over big mounds of shells, but the bottom has never shown a bit of damage (it is really heavy duty plastic/rubber/something). Easy to inflate and stores in a neat little bag. Not too heavy. I think with my employee discount it was around $170 back in '02.
I think Stearns makes good stuff.
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-02-2006, 05:08 PM   #4
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

If you can get a light rigid boat, you'll have more paddling efficiency.

I was lucky to get my Kevlar canoe for $350 at a garage sale. *It was pretty beat up, but restorable. *I have to admit I've never seen any similar canoes at other sales. *I'll bet you can find some good ones in the classifieds.

It weighs 55 pounds, and I have a system for putting it on the truck that requires very little effort. *That is, park truck near water, turn canoe over so that tip in 3.5 paces behind the truck. *Lift up the other end and place it on the rack. *Go to tip, lift and slide forward on the rack.

So I'm never lifting more than about 25 pounds.

I also enjoy sanding and refinishing the gunwales now and then, something that's not recommended with inflatables.
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-02-2006, 05:17 PM   #5
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

I've heard good things about the stearns. Cheapest one I could find is about $250 and it looks like its just PVC construction. Thats my biggest concern is losing a chamber a mile or two away from civilization. In a couple of spots I'd have to get to shore in freezing water, then walk through underbrush for half a mile or more as theres no shoreline in a lot of the areas I frequent, then swim across the river again to get back to where the car is.

That would suck.

Looks like some of the more spendy models incorporate a fabric sandwiched between the pvc layers, then wrap a cover over the whole thing, and some incorporate a skid plate on the bottom for landings.

I just dont know if that'd be much better, and theres such a dearth of information combined with contradictory opinions and aggravated people that I feel like i'm in the middle of an SWR debate involving paid off mortgages drawn on canadian banks.

Less tippy access is good. I did a nice head plant in 18" of water trying to get fancy getting into my hard sit-inside :P

This is the one I'm eyeballing
http://www.kayakproshop.com/AEDragon1.html
Also appears to be sold as
http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/s...&keyword=kayak

Comforting that this is the one model NG picked out to sell, although I dont know if that comfort is misgiven.

PVC fabric (polyester?) sandwiched tarp bottom with a less heavy sandwiched top. Rubber skid plate on the bottom for shoring the boat. Two 'rudders' on the bottom to keep it tracking straight. Padded seat with seatback (which a lot of inflatables are lacking). Dry bag with netting included.

Seems like a deal for $219. Only thing thats distracting me is trying out one of these
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ance&n=3375251

Which is just heavy gauge PVC, no cover, integral but separately inflated backrest seat, no skidding, sounds like thin cheap aluminum rudders on the bottom you have to periodically straighten with pliers, not in the same league with the above or your stearns.

But for under $60 shipped...its getting tough to not just give it a whirl and see if its good enough.

Most of the reviews on the cheaper coleman sound like they're really amateurs playing with a blow up toy.

Only people doodying on the dragonfly sound like hardcore hard boaters who wouldnt have any happy comments about my current POS yak.

Al - definitely no sanding of the inflatables. Its certainly joyous and quite rewarding, but very limited in scope. Either of the two rafts i'm looking at will squeeze into my truck either fully inflated or justdangnabitalmost inflated. That'd be pretty sweet. I'd use it all the time. Its not the weight thats the aggravation, I can lift plenty more than this weighs. Its the strapping and unstrapping hassle on both ends. Open up the back and toss in the boat really, really would encourage me to get on the water more often. Heck, it REALLY is the primary reason why I bought that Expedition back in 1999...my boat fit in it.
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-03-2006, 06:36 AM   #6
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

Research at paddling.net, check out the message boards. If you can afford
kevlar, or get a used kevlar kayak, should take care of the weight problem.
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-03-2006, 07:50 AM   #7
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

Thanks for the forum tip.

Once again, weight is not the problem. Size is the problem. Gotta fit inside an SUV thats got room for about a 9' boat. Inflatables solve that by allowing you to make the boat 1' long if you have to go that small...

Unless someone comes up with a boat that self-lashes to a roof rack. Then it can weigh 200lbs for all I care!
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-03-2006, 07:59 AM   #8
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

CFB, I think the inflatable dragonfly looks worth a try. Its the right size and weight and it sounds like it will stand up to moderate use. I think the biggest issue will be somewhat lousy tracking, but that's an issue with any 9' boat. Only other thing I can think of is how big are you? I get the impression from looking at the manufacturer's website that a larger guy would probably find the boat to be a bit too small.

Dang it, now you've got me thinking about one of these things! The dragonfly would be just about small and light enough that I could drag it down the side of the avine and get to the lake 2 blocks away... Can't do tha with my 18' tandem canoe (which is very "entertaining" to get on the Subie's roof rack, BTW).
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-03-2006, 08:20 AM   #9
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

Yeah size is a problem. I'm over the height and weight limit for a number of the smaller inflatables. Heck a couple of them top out at 175-180lbs. And I like a little leeway on manufacturers capacity limits on boats...bad thing to push.

I'm used to bending my knees a little in the hardboat i've got now, so its not that big of a deal. I carry a spare crappy orange life preserver and tuck it under my knees for comfort.

Well I jumped the gun and put in an order for the dragonfly for $219 shipped, no tax, free shipping from that kayakproshop, located in WA, looks like just a little web presence for a small store thats attached to a sports complex. We'll see how well they do delivering it and what it looks like. I couldnt find anyone with anything bad to say about it, except that its not a hard boat and of course anything with air in it just plain stinks.

I almost bought the coleman as a WTF just to see what it was made of and eat it if it wasnt that great, but for the $150 price difference I might as well get something good. If it was a $300 difference I'd have tried going cheaper.

I'll file a full review in a week or so...I imagine nobody at the store is working today and even if they are, I doubt UPS is going to be on the job until Wednesday. Small chance of getting it before the weekend, but not much.
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-03-2006, 08:26 AM   #10
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

Yes, please give us a review. If it is usable, this boat might be just the thing for me.
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-03-2006, 08:48 AM   #11
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

Based on the Coleman canoes I've seen, it was a good decision to stay away from that brand.

Can't wait for your review (with photos, please).

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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-03-2006, 06:51 PM   #12
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

I have a composite kayak and it is hard to haul anywhere. I too am thinking about a foldable or inflatable, so let us know how the dragonfly works out. I had been leaning towards a Stearns. I really like the foldables like the folbots, but too pricey.
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-03-2006, 08:57 PM   #13
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

I dont think you'd go wrong with a Stearns, and the Innova's look pretty solid too. Unless you're whitewater rafting in rock country or doing open ocean work that is.

I'm hoping the dragonfly gives me the bang for less bucks than those more premium brands. The advanced elements line is sold by both REI and National Geographic, and I'd like to think their buyers have a good grip on value and quality.

No "your boat shipped!" emails from the kayakproshop today, so my presumption that they'd not be working today seems correct. We'll see if it ships on wednesday, as they quoted "Ships in one business day!". No matter, if they screw up, the boats available from a few dozen other places for $20-30 more.
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-04-2006, 07:12 PM   #14
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

I stand corrected. Just got an email that as of 6:44pm today my order was "shipped by manufacturer", although the tracking number is blank. Someones working on a holiday...

If it was direct shipped by Advanced Elements, thats very cool, as they're in California, not Washington, so theoretically I could have this by the weekend...in fact, they're about 4 hours drive from me...
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-05-2006, 12:20 PM   #15
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

I have paddled a couple different Innovas and I thought they were pretty good. They are ridged enough to paddle efficiently and one I tried had a rudder which is a must if you paddle in open places like the ocean or a big lake where winds can come up. If you are doing whitewater you want a short unit (commonly called duckies) that can turn well and bounce off rocks. I don't know much about them. I tried a Stearns and thought it was not a good model for the ocean although it does have skegs to reduce getting blown around. For small lakes and slow rivers it could be just fine. Out on the ocean inflatables can be fun for diving/snorkling maybe you want to be carefull with fishing because of the hooks. They will also be wet like sit on top kayaks not like the kayaks you sit in. I have had a bunch of kayaks and I have 3 now, a single wood kayak and a single and double folding kayaks. I tend to prefer the folding kayaks over the inflatable as they are remarkably seaworthy (people have crossed oceans in them) and they can be sailed., But they do cost more and they don't bounce off things as well as inflatables.

Hope your boat works out as planned, it will be nice to get the full report. If you are going to paddle in cold water remember to dress appropriately.
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-05-2006, 12:34 PM   #16
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

I have an Innova Sunny. It is a big step up from the PVC types. It is also considerably more expensive. It is a 2-person kayak that can be rigged for one. The whole thing fits into a big pack that fits easily into a trunk or back seat. I got mine on ebay. I looked at the PVC kayaks, but they all seemed to be glorified pool toys. The Sunny has a skeg that makes steering a lot easier. It moves pretty well. I use it for fishing in the Florida surf and the backwaters off the ICW. It is tough and has been scraped along oyster bars without harm. I am careful with the hooks. It has 3 chambers so that even if you got a puncture, you would still be floating. I also have a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120. Wilderness also makes an 10 and 8-footer. The 120 fits easily on the roof of my Subaru Forester. Haven't tried sticking in the back yet, but would guess that it would extend maybe 4 feet. Good luck with the Dragonfly.
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-05-2006, 03:12 PM   #17
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

Here's a page with some fun canoe stories (with pictures) that will make you want to get out there.
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-05-2006, 03:27 PM   #18
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by yakers
They will also be wet like sit on top kayaks not like the kayaks you sit in.
Good info. I saw that some of the kayaks more tuned towards white water use are "self baling". As I understand it, the kayak has an opening thats at the rear end level but above the water line, so water that enters the kayak will run out the opening...eventually. Some of the ones I looked at also had the attachments to put a skirt on to keep water out.

Word is that these are a lot easier to get in and out of than hard boats, which will be nice.

One thing I wouldnt do regarding fishing and inflatables:

http://www.fieldandstream.com/fields...140387,00.html

Fishing for Mako sharks. With flyfishing gear. From a kayak.
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-06-2006, 06:09 AM   #19
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
One thing I wouldnt do regarding fishing and inflatables:

http://www.fieldandstream.com/fields...140387,00.html

Fishing for Mako sharks.* With flyfishing gear.* From a kayak.
Not sure if it was an inflatable, but within the last couple of years an 18 YO guy in a solo kayak caught the state record Striped Bass off the coast of NJ. I think it was 60 or 70 pounds. Imagine trying to get it back to the shore...
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?
Old 07-06-2006, 10:49 AM   #20
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Re: Inflatable kayaks?

I saw a video of some guy in an inflatable pulling in a pretty big sailfish. For a minute there it was unclear who was going to 'have' who...yep here it is...100lbs worth

http://www.advancedelements.com/Press.html

Scroll down and see the quicktime window. Higher end model of the same brand I'm waiting on...
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