Airis Play (or other) Inflatable Kayak

For those of you who have had a chance to ocean surf (or play in class II-III white water) in an inflatable kayak, which one would you pick and why?

Looking at the Airis Play 8 model (possibly the 9 if the cockpit is longer, which I doubt). And there is the Sevylor Inflatable River Xk1 Kayak at half the cost and similar floor pressure…

So what’s your thoughts, mainly for “recreational” surf playing on the ocean? A trip is coming-up and I’m considering one of these or something similar.

Not looking for a long well tracking boat for distance paddling, rather for a well behaving fun boat for playing in waves (ocean or river).

Next year I’ll probably have an aluminum folder built, but no time to do it this time around and the cost seems similar…

EDIT. Before someone asks: I’m 180 lb and tall at 6’4" and am a little skeptical if I will fit OK in the 8’ Play model wihtout having to bend my knees way up to my chin -;(.


Or Wave Ski or Paddle Board (SUP)
Also, are there any inflatable wave skis or SUP paddle boards that can be used as one? I don’t think I’m up for using a SUP, but if it also allows “seated operation” I might consider it -:wink:

That are actually avaialble for purchase and worth buying for the same purpose mentioned here (as opposed to a full replacement of a rigid wave ski)?

I saw a few online references to some Chinese inflatable waveski models but these looked neither available nor could I find any actual user impressions on them…

I Don’t Really Think So
As a kid I surfed every scrap of plywood on the beach, but anything inflatable is going to be inherently uncontrollable in heavy surf

I have three IK’s in the fleet.

– Last Updated: Dec-02-09 7:40 PM EST –

And, I used to have a Sevylor River X. (Well, I still have it, only with a slashed tube it picked up on sharp geology, so I haven't bothered repairing it.)
It lasted exactly one year(about the same amount of time as it's warranty duration--Hey, ya get what ya pay for!) I used it in both Class III-IV and ocean surf...The good things: Pretty good surf rider in salt water. That is, if you're totally new to riding beach waves, you'll have a blast--But I started as a boardie, and now use hard surf boats when at the ocean.

With six holes, the River X self-bails decently but not nearly as good as my more high-end IKs, or others of friend's I've tried. It's light, turns easily, and folds up nice for traveling. The BIG downside of this boat(in whitewater, anyway)is the two and a half inch strake running along the bottom of the hull: It catches on rock tops. A big failing for whitewater, as the boat's specs and design are basically okay as they are 'cept for that. At a sandy ocean beach, after a nice rider, it digs in at shoreline and tosses you forward--I carefully sliced my strake off with a razor for better pivoting. Doing this, loses the "tracking" feature, and makes you use a high angle stroke to go straight on the flats.

The Riv X will also definitely catch water in the seat for someone your size(I'm about the same weight) With little rocker, it punches through waves and not over them. Also, the material itself is not nearly as tough as a full-on PVC or Hypalon Inflatable. The double cross stitch floor is the toughest thing on it--I once surfed out of a canyon on top of it, when the rest of the boat went to hell...But if you can pick one up cheap for say $250 or under, I'd say it's very worthwhile and should just fit your height.

Can't tell ya anything about Airis, never owned one...Or even seen one on any whitewater rivers I've run(and I've run a lot...No brag, just fact.) Probably okay for recreational stuff and fishing.

“inherently” …
Well, where I’ve paddled with my hard shell kayaks (ocean + ww) I 've seen some inflatable SUPs that seem to be working just as good as if they were hard-shells. They do not seem to flex visibly at all. So if the IK is done right, I think it should be controllable, at least as much as some WW boats are in surf (e.g. not too edgy or nimble as surf-specific craft but can still carve left/right to some degree).

Yup, for closer to $200 than $400 I’d get it but I’m not convinced about its capabilities. I’m sure it can float down a river or stay on a foamy standing wave. Not sure if it can have carving at all though. Plus, compared to the Airis Play, it seems the XK1 has alot higher side areas - that combined with an already exagerated width will probably make it less enjoyable to paddle (although I’m tall enough so it might not matter that much)…

Being self bailing is a nice feature on the XK1, but the Play has a lot smaller and shallower cockpit so it won’t carry much water in the first place after being swamped.

I whish I could see them in person but no one locally seems to carry these and they are not popular 'round here - the only inflatables I’ve seen are big rafts and SUPs…

Innova Safari carves a nice turn,
even with it’s I-beam floor…But more pricey than Airis/Sevylor.

I Still Have An XK1
I have nothing against inflatables. I started with inflatables, and I still have several rubber duckies, including an XK1 from my WW days.

My camo Sterns Mad Dog that used to be my stealth boat still goes to the lake in the van sometimes.

I don’t know about inflatable SUP. They probably have rigid stringers that stiffen them up.

It takes a hard, rigid surface to really capture the force of a wave. I would throw a boogie board in the van before an inflatable for surf, but then I am a sponger from way back,

I hear you …

– Last Updated: Dec-03-09 1:51 PM EST –

But I would like something I can throw in the airplane, not the back of a van -;)

The SUPs I see a couple of guys regularly padle on the WW I frequent look like long boards from the old days. They are about 5" thick, quite wide and probably 8-10 feet long (just eyeballing them). I am not sure what pressure they put in them (probably 10-12 PSI), but when they try to surf them on the standing waves or (unsuccessfully) in the play holes, I see no discernible flex. I'm sure there is some, but not enough to matter until one is really serious and capable. But these things appear very capable in general and quite durable - these have been paddling theirs regularly on the WW where my own WW hardshell boat has picked a considerable number of scratches and I do not do anything much more different than they try to do (at least in terms of rock-knocking/scraping, that is)...

The bottom of the XK1 and the Play models seem to be made of similar construction as the SUPs I mention above. The sides is where they appear to be soft as pool-toys, unfortunately...

EDIT - by watching more closely, it seems the sides of the Airis Play are also part of the floor - all inflated to 6.5 PDI, where only the area where the cockpit area is a separate piece (not sure about the inflation rating on it). So the sides should be pretty rigid as well...

The more I think about it …

– Last Updated: Dec-04-09 11:31 AM EST –

... the more I'm convincing myself to get an inflatable SUP instead of an inflatable kayak.

A SUP board will let the kids play with it in the shallows better than a small kayak I think... And with some small mods I can probably turn it into a sit on top with adequate bracing hook-ups for straps to enjoy in mild ocean surf conditions. Might as well give that SUP thing a fair try on the ocean -;)

But, man, these things are expensive (for the good ones) and I do not see why. ULI or the like run over $1,200 bucks for something that is not that complicated to make... I'll probably check out the Sevylor model for 1/3 that, which will probably serve me just fine as a beginner and only occasional SUP user. I do not foresee a purpose in a SUP for me other than on short vacation outings a couple of times a year with the family, so can't justify even if I had the means to buy a $1K plus board, but the $200 ones seem way too pool-toy like to even consider...

Ideas welcome!

It’s done, but you can still chime-in
Finding the Sevylor SUP on sale locally for $350 settled it for me. I’ll be giving it a try during this holiday break. If it turns out to be good enough for a beginner for light surfing, I’ll keep it.

But still open to alternatives, so if you have ideas - share.

Give a report after your first rides.
Maybe even take some pics!

Congrats on your decision.

Everybody Is Doing it
I see more and more SUP board out hee, and last year they had a class for them at the Santa Cruz Surf Kayak Festival.

So where are you going surfing?


– Last Updated: Dec-04-09 6:28 PM EST –

We're going to Puerto Rico soon. I don't know how much surfing I'll be doing as I have to stay with the kids at a relatively sheltered bay most of the time, but I might do some here and there. The kids will be the main users splashing about on it in the shallows...

It also might get some use next year here on the Atlantic Ocean (Assateague Island area) during the summer.

I don't think I'll be trying it on the Potomac, but who knows -;)

I'm sure to post someting once I get it, though having never steppend on a SUP before I'm not sure how useful that might be for others, except perhaps the quality of the board (e.g. is it leaking air, is it rigid, etc.)

More XK1 FYI…
Ya probably don’t need to hear this but, on line at the supermarket checkout last night, I saw one for sale in the local want ads classified. Price $150.

Then I remembered I had some photos of the damn boat in-action taken solo, somewhere. Dug ‘em up fer yer viewing pleasure. (As I’m 6’, you can see where my legs fall:


– Last Updated: Dec-05-09 11:32 PM EST –

Looks like you had put yours to good use!

Over the past couple of days I watched some instructinoal videos on youtube for SUP and I think I'm going to like it. Though I've windsurfed for quite a few years, I've never surfed so I'm sure it will be a steep-ish learning curve for me.

But just a couple of seasons ago I tried snowboarding for a first time too. Was able to pick the basic moves quickly enough. Probably have only a dozen hours on the snow total under my belt (during about 3-4 weekends over two seasons or so). But that allowed me to get to an "advanced beginner", IMO, level where I could actually enjoy it, pick any slope on the resort, and not fall off uncontrollably too much. So I think there is some hope for me in staying upright on the SUP eventually. Though falling off a snowboard on a hard-packed slope has a much more direct feedback and gives a quick insentive to learn not to fall or to fall so that it does not hurt, compared to falling off a SUP in nice calm warm water -;).

The thing should arrive next week (even though the store I bought from is local they have to ship it from who knows where). I don't even know if I'm going to have a chance to try it on the water before the trip. May be during a pool session if I'm lucky...

Got the SUP today - first thoughts
The Sevylor inflatable SUP, the Samoa model, just arrived at my door today. And since some of you asked for more info, here it is:

The box was quite heavy - FedEx listed that at 35lb but that’s with the double-boxing and includes a heavy duty looking backpack that almost seems to be possible to use as a large dry bag as well. Inside that was the rolled-up SUP with a fat belt around it to carry, a beefy pump, a pressure gauge, and a set of pump fittings - most of them I have no idea what for (not for the SUP, probably for balls and other inflatables).

The SUP itself seems solid enough and rather heavy - it is specified at 25lb and my scale shows that it is at least as heavy if not a few lbs more when inflated. After sweating to inflate it to about 9 PSI it feels quite rigid. Inflating it is not an easy task after you get past about 6 PSI - requires some muscle but is a relatively fast process if you are willing to sweat a bit.

As for rigidity, it is quite rigid, IMO. In fact, with my 180lbs I could sit in the middle of it with my feet dangling down with the two ends supported by armchairs backs at points placed about 1/4 to 1/3 from each end. Of course, it yields a little in the process but not much and does not feel like it would bend in two. So it seems rigid enough.

Workmanship is not first class, as expected at the price. Obviously, “handmade” -;). Almost straight with just a tiniest hint of a twist of the bow to one side at the front that I don’t think would matter. Not too bad overall. But there is one 1-1/2" diameter by may be 1/8" tall bubble on the bottom of the bow (would be above water) that bothers me and if it grows it may eventually become a problem. Unfortunately, no time for an exchange right now before my trip, so I’ll be watching that bubble over the next few days to see if it changes in any way.

The specification indicates it can be inflated to 10-12 PSI. At 7 it is already quite rigid and probably fine for a light paddler. At 9 it is solid. I imagine that at 12 it will be even stiffer but I have not inflated it that much yet. It is very rigid when stepped on - feels solid. Even with my entire weight on a single heel of my foot, it only makes a depression down less than 1/2 inch. If I step with my entire foot it feels entirely rigid and there is absolutely no feel of squishiness.

Next is to try it on the water if I get the chance before the trip. Since I’ve never stepped on a SUP in my life I have no idea what to expect. But at 30" wide and totally flat with full ends, I expect it will be pretty stable. If it does not surf well it won’t be the board’s fault -:wink: