Is an IK a good choice?

I’m an experienced canoeist but a novice to kayaks. I’m looking for something for basic rec and flat water use; lakes, slow rivers, calm bays and the like in seacoast New Hampshire. Storage issues make an IK pretty attractive but there aren’t that many affordable tandems and I’ll end up spending about the same for a tandem IK or a used SOT. Anyone have any special concerns or reasons NOT to go with the IK?

Also if anyone is local to the New England coast and knows a good shop for used kayaks I’d love to know. Thanks!

There are some great IKs on the market

Innovas are probably the best buy. Very durable and great on the water. They have a couple tandems that can be converted to solo (Sunny, Solar 405). Check out the boat people.

Seyvlor has re-tooled and is making some decent boats now.

The Grabner Discovery may be the closest IK to a hard shell.

Yes, IKs can be slow, but they handle rough water better than any other type of boat – in my humble opinion.

Speed will be an issue…
…if you are comparing an IK to a 14+ foot plastic boat. But if you are comparing a GOOD (like Innovas) touring IK to a short, wide plastic rec boat, the difference in speed will be marginal. I had my Sunny out this afternoon and averaged about 3.75 mph over five miles. I would have been faster in a Loon 120, but not by much. If conditions were rough, I am sure the Sunny would be faster. Like Sharkbiter said, IKs tend to do better in rough water because they ride up over chop rather than stop when it breaks over the deck.

Sharkbiter mentioned They are a great resource. also has good information in their inflatable section, including some good commentary on speed.

Good Luck.

Any opinions re Sunny or Helios?
I’ve been looking at both. Like the travel convenience, but am wondering if either/both could be used in Lake MI small surf?

Is the non-bailing a problem? We would carry sponges and bilge pumps.

How does the speed/handling compare?

Also, how practical is it to paddle a Helios solo, esp through small surf?

How do they compare as far as ease of re-boarding if you dump?

Personally, right now, I’m favoring the Sunny (or Solar II) a bit more because of the “speed” and ability to solo paddle, but the Helios is said to handle Class II, so I can’t decide.

BTW, a tandem makes more sense for us because would only need to take one boat when we travel. Otherwise a Safari would be my choice for sure.

Thanks for letting me glom onto this post. Didn’t want to “Gummotex” the list up with a lot of IK messages!

Hopefully we will get some answers that will help us both.

Thanks much!

Thanks and Follow-on Q…
Thanks for the great info so far; I’ve picked up several good research sources from your posts. Given that I’ll be doing mostly flatwater paddling I can get a sense of what sort of boat might suit me.

I noticed that Advanced Elements was conspicuously absent from the posts that mentioned brands. Is there a reason that anyone knows of to stay away? I’ve read the reviews and the appeal is mostly price, plus they appear to be reasonably quick for an IK and seem to track reasonably well. Tried one in a pool at a show this past weekend but it’s hard to judge from that. Anyway, thanks for the info and support and is my new home page!

I own 3 tandem and 1 solo IK’s
Lakes, flat water, and calm bays would not be their strong point. Actually, those would be high on their list of weak points. Slow moving water I would start considering them.

If storage at all permits it, I would go with some other form of hard-shell kayak for those requirements.

Advanced Elements
are not bad, but the longer ones are priced about the same as an Innova. And if Innova is the Volvo of IKs, then A.E. is the Hyundai.

Helios is a good boat, but not the best for paddling solo. One has to sit too far back towards the stern.

I haven’t paddled the Helios, but we’ve had the Sunny out on Lake Michigan in 2’ chop, and in 3-4 foot waves on Lake Erie. Most of the water that gets into the boat is from paddle spash/drip. in the 2’ chop, we were paddling tanden +1 (wife was 7 mo. pregnant), pushing pretty close to the weight limit. The front paddler was taking quite a bit of wave splash, but it was not so much that it hurt the boats’ performance. If actual surfing is you goal, the Sunny would work, but I would go with something that has bail holes. Due to the low profile, you’ll be taking on a lot of water if you get caught in a break. If you can swim, you can re-enter this boat - It’s very easy.

So which boat is this?

Says AIRE…but which model?


I was thinking about the Tomcat, but they sounded pretty heavy and bigger (and more expensive), also.

One of the posters above referenced some Sevylor models. Which ones? Any specifics?

There is a Sevylor solo/tandem that is supposed to be more “technical”. What kind of street (water) cred does it have? It is a whopping 38" or so wide, so I’m guessing SLOW.


From the looks of it, may catch more wind than the Sunny also? There are some issues with durability on the pnet reviews also.

Reviews in that same section note the Advanced Elements closed design traps water inside, making it hard to dry out. That was a drawback that sort of steered me away from it.

Sevylor K17
A 17’ designed for ocean travel.

I have an Advanced Element and it dose take more time to clean and dry out – as compared to my Innova. But it’s still a decent boat.

Hard to say but looks very much like
a Lynx II.

I’ve been fairly happy with my AIRE Tomcat. I find it heavy but not as heavy as the comparable Sevylor’s. Sevylor has spent some effort the last couple of years to get out a decent IK. Something beyond their Tahiti image. The SVX200 was a step up and this year’s model is more refined than earlier years with the high psi drop-stitch floor.

I have the Tomcat and both SVX100 & 200 models. I would throw in another option, the NRS Bandit. Probably a little slower and quirky than the current boats being discussed on flat water, but extremely lightweight. Much better performing on moving water also. I paid $425 new on sale for the Tomcat and $450 new for the SVX200 on eBay.

My tandem is 21 lbs. Weight was one of the big criteria as I wanted to be able to solo it through an airport and portage with it. I typically use these for multi-day trips out west and found I just could not lug a standard tandem IK and a weeks worth of gear through an airport. On my last trip, the boat duffle according to the airport scale was ~35 lbs. That included boat, pfd, 2 sets of booties, paddle, dry suit, pump, and painters.

I have quite a few pictures of these 3 boats on multi-day trips at my web site:

The Tomcat pictures are under the Gila trips, the Bandit under the Verde trip, and the Sevylor under most other trips.

Warranty is another issue. Essentially Sevylor offers none, Tomcat a year, Bandit multi-year, I’m not sure of the Innova’s and others. I have had no issues, not even a slow leak. Sevylor comes with crappy Boston valves but they are only a couple bucks apiece so I take two each trip.

Speaking of inflatable kayaks
What do the learned folks at this forum think of the bic kayak?

have not seen a Yakka…

– Last Updated: Apr-11-06 11:42 PM EST –

but I'm a little skeptical. 56"X30" folded X 48 lbs. does not seem very packable. I'm pretty certain it won't fit in my trunk. At 9'4X30", I tend to doubt that the rigid hull improves performance dramatically. Seems like they are aiming at a pretty narrow "in between" market.

I am curious to hear from someone who has paddled this boat. They (and all IKs) are tough to find in ohio. I had to order mine from the West Coast.

Replacing valves
What is involved in replacing valves? Where do you get them from?

We will also have to order ours in from someplace.

I kind of wonder why they aren’t more available. Is this something due to the boats themselves or just because people don’t know about them?

I’ve seen a few positive reviews for the

Very easy set up, however, it’s way too short…

Replacing valves would depend on
the type of valve installed for that boat. Sevylor uses very cheap screw-in Boston valves which can be changed without tools in seconds. The more reliable up-scale valves (military excluded) typically are two part assemblies plus a cap. One part with the poppet goes inside the tube while it mates with the surface flush mount. Sometimes you can unscrew the assemblies by hand, but usually requires a valve wrench. The most common valves are Leafield, H-R, Summit, and military. There are many web sites with docs, but Clavey is pretty good.

Thanks for the repair guide and more ???
Gives us a realistic view of what’s involved.

Any opinions on the Aire Lynx II or Super Lynx?

Sounds like a lot of $$ for an inflatable.

I’ve read that it’s faster than the Sunny, but it’s wider. Could it be the materials or construction involved??

I’ve been looking at the Aire Lynx stuff because of the scuppers, but then again…$$$

Do the Aire boats have any sort of skeg, or do you need to add a rudder?

There is one model I found that has closeable scuppers…the Advanced Strait Edge. Solo kayak. Wish more of them would have that.

It has an aluminum piece that you insert into the bow. Haven’t heard anything about that one, though. Anyone know anything about it? Sounds like the aluminum piece might be sort of a pain.

I have to admit these inflatables are very intriguing. It’s just the idea that anywhere you go, you can pull this boat out of your trunk and voila!

The Straitedge
looks like a good boat for the river or playing in surf. But at 9’8" it would be too short for anything else (for me).

Yes, inflatables are convenient to carry and store, but they have another advantage as well: they handle rough water well because they flex in waves and chop instaed of getting pushed over.