IK or Rigid

I am about to make a major purchase and am still undecided between an IK or a rigid kayak. I understand SeaEagle has a great kayak in the new fasttrack. Are there any questions I should be asking myself to help me with this decision?

yeah, a load of questions
storage space, transport vehicle, what are you paddling condition wise etc…

IMO, inflatables are good if you don’t need to be efficient, or want to run stuff 2 classes beyond your ability. In other words, good for paddling extremes, putzing around on ponds, or running big big water and drops. The cheaper ones are vinyl, the ww boats hypalon or similar material.

I bought an IK
I bought the Sea Eagle Fast Track. Because I don’t have room for storage and wanted it as an easy pack along option for long trips. I am so glad I bought it because it’s already been so much fun.

I have been on a couple trips with friends in rigid kayaks, and my IK kept up just fine. I have also been on trips with a friend in a different IK and I really noticed a difference in tracking and handling in my Sea Eagle–so did my friend and she was jealous. I think her boat was an Aire, don’t remember which one.

It really depends on your needs and what you like to do. The main thing that made me buy an IK was that I live in MT and have no garage, and I like that I can pack it up and it fits in the trunk of my car. I think I get more use out of my boat than I would from a rigid kayak because I don’t have to deal with loading and unloading. Right now it’s rolled up in my closet waiting for spring.

Check out these folks

Pretty good info on inflatables.

another inflatables site
The folding kayak forum site has sections on inflatables, too.


Think about what type of paddling
you intend to do. Most IKs are best for flatwater or whitewater as was previously mentioned. However, particularly on flatwater, all IKs are not created equal. If storage is an issue, you can’t really beat an IK over a hardshell. However, I’d take issue with the idea that an inflatable can be in the water quicker than a hardshell. Honestly, depending on the inflatable it can work out about the same. I’ve owned a few inflatables and they do pack up and stow with far less space than any hardshell, but they still take time to set up and get on the water. The best times I think I ever clocked on setting up an inflatable were probably in the 15 minute range. However, that 15 minute figure is without the benefit of any type of electric inflation device which typically can decrease the amount of time spent pumping up the boat. The most straight tracking IK I’ve ever owned was an Advanced Elements Expedition touring kayak. The AE Advanced Frame boats all have shaped bows and sterns along with a little mini-skeg which help tracking. They also can use an accessory piece called a “back bone” that goes under the floor and provides more of a keel to the boat making the tracking even better. I never had any problem keeping up with other rec boaters in hardshells. Would I have trouble keeping up with someone in a sea kayak? Yeah, probably. Storage issues should probably be the main reason for choosing an IK over a hardshell. An IK will probably NOT set up any quicker than you could get a hardshell off a rack and in the water, so that argument really isn’t valid either. That’s one criteria. The other should be performance. If you don’t have storage issues, well then you need to look at what you want out of the boat. Decent hardshell boats can be had for the price of the nicer, better performing inflatables, so consider that too. One place IKs will win out over hardshells any day is in stability. Pretty much most IKs are extremely difficult to flip over and thus are almost always going to be better than hardshells if stability is a major concern. There’s probably more I could come up with, but this should give you something to think about. And for the record, give the choice between a hardshell kayak or an inflatable kayak, I prefer the inflatable simply because they’re so much more stable. I’m a slow-moving flatwater paddler as well so I don’t have any need to move fast either, so no need for a hardshell there either. I also have storage issues, but I was able to keep a hardshell kayak in my apartment for a while, but honestly I just didn’t like the handling. It never felt as stable as my inflatable did. I recently sold my hardshell and got another inflatable, but the boat I purchased is not a typical kayak, or canoe for that matter. It’s a bit unusual but probably one of the most versatile boats I’ve ever seen. You can see them here:


IK it is
Thank you all for your input, your opinion has persuaded me to purchase an IK. Storage and stability are key, now I just have to decide which one. I like the seaeagle fasttrack, but since I saw the Innova Seaker 1, I am liking that one too. Sure wish I could try them before I purchase one. Any thoughts?

I wonder how well they track
I know a lot of folks really like the Sea Eagle boats as well as the Innova boats too. Looking at their hulls I wonder how well they track. I know from personal experience that the Advance Elements Advanced Frame boats do have a hull shape that more closely resembles that of a hardshell kayak and thus tracks very straight. You should read all the reviews you can find about any boat you consider so you can find out what other people think about how they really perform.

I have read reviews and seen videos of the fasttrack and kayakers have a very high opinion of this boat. It tracks very well and is very stable. I have not seen any reviews on the Inova but I am looking for them. I want to talk to the “boatpeole” before deciding.

Try before you buy
If you can’t try before you buy, take your money elsewhere.

try before you buy
I am pretty comfortable with the SeaEagle, I have a 330 and they do have a 6 month risk free trial. If I am not happy with it I can return it no questions asked. How cool is that? I think I have decided on the fasttrack, it’s stable, and tracks well, plus it will accomodate alot of equipment. I do not know anything of the Innova as of yet.

Advanced Elements IK

– Last Updated: Feb-20-12 10:56 PM EST –

I have a 10' Advanced Elements Advanced Frame IK. I looked at other brands and most didn't really resemble kayaks but were more like inflatable boats. I actually wanted a kayak and the AE boats fit the bill nicely.

For one, they are more than just inflatables. They have a rigid bow and stern and an optional backbone bar (highly recommended) along with several air chambers and are made of cloth and tough vinyl and rubber. It is also shaped like a kayak in that it has a cockpit (along with optional skirt) and a small skeg.

It's not only tough and durable but it paddles, steers and tracks as well as a hardshell. I've used mine on large, open bays and small, fast river and it does great. It's extremely stable and I can keep up with all but the fastest of sea kayaks.

On a small river it's better than most rec boats. It turns on a dime and is extremely light and has no problem dealing with obstacles, brush, logs, etc. People are always amazed at how well this boat paddles and holds up. I've converted even the most skeptical hardbody owners to the AE boat.

It's downside is that it doesn't have the interior storage space of a rec boat (so pack light!) and an IK is a pain in the butt to set up and take down. My car is a convertible and bought the IK before I finally got a kayak trailer. The kayak trailer pretty much eliminated the need for an IK.

Since buying the trailer the IK hasn't been deflated. I now use it in the exact same manner as a hardbody and it sit in my garage next to my sea kayak and white water boat.

Even though I don't need IK I've opted to keep it in lieu of a hardbody rec boat. Why? Because it more stable and performs as well as a hardbody rec boat and it's a really fun boat to use on a river but IMO owning an IK is a pain in the butt. I really hated having to blow it up and deflate, dry it out, etc. I find it much easier to own a hardbody.

I've had the AE Advanced Frame for six years now and can't recommend it enough though if you are indeed looking for this type of boat.

AE also has several options, including a frame boat now. Go to http://www.advancedelements.com/products.html

I paddle and own hardshells, folding and
inflatable kayaks. I have an Innova Helios 380 and its a great boat. One potential problem with the Seaker is its weight. It is too heavy to take on aircraft without incurring overweight charges. And it can not be split up in bags like a skin on frame folder. You might consider a folding kayak, Feathercraft and Folbot make great boats and Folbot really stands behind their products. As far as trying before buying, it is not always practical or necessary. Folbot will let you return a kayak if you don’t like it. All 6 of the kayaks in the stable were purchased without trying and only 2 of those are boats I have owned before. Love them all.


– Last Updated: Feb-23-12 9:43 AM EST –

I agree with what others have said, it depends on what type of paddling you are planning.

My wife and I are flatwater rec paddlers and started out with an Advanced Elements AF convertible (tandem). As a few people mentioned the AF models rigid bow/stern frame makes a nice compromise on performance by cutting through the water more instead of floating on top but performance of even a rec hardshell boat will be better then an IK. If you are paddling alone performance may not matter as much. If you are padlding with groups then you probably will have trouble keeping up.

There is about 15 mins of setup and break down time but I always consider that almost equal to loading/unloading from roof racks for hardshells. You do have to dry the IK but if you wipe it down with a towel before deflating is really helps. In fact the whole inflation/deflation process goes pretty easy once you get it down to a system.

In the end the thing that converted us to move up to a hardshell boat was 2 factors.

1) We got hooked on paddling and we were ready to move up to a hardshell boat and all that comes with storage and transport.

2) The waters we liked to paddle most were quiet rivers that were littered with downed trees. We viewed all of the debris (much of it underwater) as spears waiting to puncture our IK. It slowed our pace to a crawl because we had to be careful that to run into anything hiding underwater. Yes IKs have separate air chambers but we really didn't want to test it out and have to worry about getting stranded somewhere remote.

#2 was our biggest reason for moving up to hardshell. If we paddled mostly lakes the IK would have been fine.