Inflatable kayaks


I mostly use SOT type kayaks out in the SF bay. I was thinking I would like to get one of my own. My club on the SF waterfront has the SOT for use, but I also like to go up the coast and to the mountains. I was thinking a IK would be good for portability, especially if I want to go on my own.

I am thinking of getting either a used Klepper or a fully inflatable type kayak. I like the idea of the Innova Helios 380X but it looks a little cheesy. I don’t want a ‘banana boat’; have a Sevlor Tahiti and while I can enjoy doing donuts, I’d like to have some control.

Does anyone have experience with the Innova or any other IK tandem using them in both in tandem and solo situations?

Thanks… I’ll stop babbling now.


Had a Helios 380
for a while and used it mainly as a double in San Diego. I was a pretty decent boat, but never had it in rough conditions. Tracked ok and was not bothered by lighter winds.

I used the Helios in a couple coastal spots in CA and it worked out pretty good. If you are paddling by yourself you need to weigh down the front since you have to sit in the back. On open water the rudder helps.

As for portability and optimum use solo, the Innova Safari at 24lbs might be better for you, but I’ve never used it for coastal paddling. It’s narrower than most inflatable kayaks and could be more challenging to use based on your experience.

There are trip reports describing the use of both kayaks on


Innova kayaks
I have a Helios 380 EX and am quite pleased with it. It is a good, tough boat that tracks well and is very nimble.

I’ve taken it down Class II rapids with no problems, but that is the limit–it is not a Class III boat as it does not self-bail. If you are going to do much whitewater you should look at other options (Aire Tomcat or Innova Safari, for example).

It is a tandem boat, however, and unless you are taking equipment, you might do better with something smaller (a 340 EX, for example, or the Safari above). The 380 and the 340 both require you to paddle from the stern if you paddle alone.

Innova makes great boats and has good customer service. For more information, check out, which has the best info on inflatables.

Sevylor SVX200
I have an Sevylor SVX 100 I used for whitewater. I don’t do WW anymore. If I were to buy now for WW I would get the Aire tomcat.

The Sevylor SVX 200 tandem might track better. It is very durable, and less expensive than the others.

I use a Stearns Mad Dog IK for just floating around in small lakes. It is pretty limited, but I have lots of other boats…

As the other responses noted:
the Helios is an excellent inflatable that unfortunately has a fixed seating configuration. I would seriously take into consideration how often the boat would be used as a solo. I paddle either a SVX200 or a AIRE Tomcat when doing whitewater or when it is just easier to take the inflatable rather than a hard shell. After some initial trial and error, I found the solo arrangement, both with and without gear, to be somewhat different than if I sat in the back of either boat and tried to compensate with weight.

I’m relieved someone else finds the Innova look “cheesy”. Was starting to think it was just me.

Did you just call my boat “cheesy”? Them’s fighten’ words.

My Helios ain’t cheesy, why she’s as purty and sweet as anythin’ out there!

I challenge you to a duel tomorrow at dawn. Kayak paddles at 240 cm!

I actually even felt bad mentioning
it, and have never brought it up in any of the other inflatable threads. What’s that about beauty and the beholder’s eye? But still, there is something about their color selection and overall look that makes me cringe. Kinda like when I first sit down in my SVX200 with it’s too-thin floor and ice-melt runoff water.