I got a lot of good comments on inflatable kayaks on my previous message post. Can I bother you all for some opinions on these particular models.....
1.AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayaks (http://www.kayakproshop.com/IKAllmodels.html)
2.B507 - SELF-BAILING INFLATABLE KAYAK - IK 116-SB, B521-Spree One, B523-Yakatat, B524-Cordova,
These are what I'm seriously considering. Looking at under 500 dollar models. Remember, I'm going to use them in slow waters, lakes, intercoastal waterway, not in the surf. Slow rivers, maybe up to class II rapids at most.
Don’t buy the sterns!
I have the b507. It was damaged in mild white water and Sterns wanted a bunch of money to repair it. The damage was seems and zippers failing. There is no abrasion damage or damage from hitting any rocks. The thing simply came apart.
On top of that It didn’t perform well in white water at all and it is really too slow and too wide for decent flatwater paddling.
I have bought many sterns pfd’s before this purchase and never had a problem, but I won’t buy anything from them again. Don’t waste your $399. If you want to try mine we can meet in the Carolinas.
Older Stearns IK116…
I have an older Stearns IK116 (model B500). I purchased it as a travel boat, so it doesn’t get used that often. It is easy to setup ~5-10mins and takedown ~10-15mins. It is well made and has been trouble-free. It is very comfortable to paddle.
In addition to the takedown time, to keep the fabric clean & mildew free I hose it down and hang it upside down to dry when I get it home. If I was using it alot, I think the cleaning & drying would annoy me. If you’ll be using your inflatable frequently, I recommend you checkout some of the rubber coated fabric boats because you only have to wipe those down after using and apply a little 303 protectant once in a while. Innova Kayaks are rubber coated and get very good reviews. I haven’t paddled one but I’ve seen them on the water and they look like they perform well for an inflatable. Last October I was in Mexico day tripping on the Sea of Cortez and one day I spotted a couple paddling an Innova Sunny in tandem mode. Although they weren’t paddling as fast as I was in my rec boat they were doing pretty well even when it got rough when the wind kicked up. Here is a link to Innova Kayaks:
Love My Stearns Mad Dog
I really love my old Stearns Mad Dog. The Mad Dog is the camouflage model. It cost about $100 more, but it is better built. I never had any trouble with mine on many trips. Some of them class II+
The really cool thing is that is is almost invisible along a river bank. Many times people would get within 20 yards and be suddenly shocked to notice me when I had been in plain sight the whole time.
This would be dangerous where there is power boat traffic, but it can also be an advantage sometimes.
It is light enough to pack into places a hard shell boat can not get to, and it is easier than racking a hardshell boat.
I have 6 hardshell boats, but the Mad Dog still comes along when I need a third boat for family or friends.
The Mad Dog hasn't gotten much use over the last couple years, but I bought a high roof van and I am going to buy a Feathercraft Java so I don't have to rack boats on it. The Mad Dog may be getting some more use as an extra in the near future.
It paddles OK for a 9' little boat, and if you later collect a fleet, it will still have its uses.
Checkm out in person, if at all possible
… and check out a Sevylor River X in person for comparison of build quality and hull shapes, etc… Those two you mention look more complex/interesting but flimsier. Sevylor also has new versions of the River X series … looks more refined, improved w/ stiff high-pressure floor, etc. Supposedly these have better valves than the older red/white ones, too (those have Bostons, cheap but easy to carry a spare and deal with). Seats are somewhat different, perhaps better for avg-lrg people … my older River X seats wrap around my hips and are fairly tight and I’m 5’11" 170/ 34in waist.
Newer Sevylors have better bailing …
I can tell by looking at the photos on their PDF brochure … nice gap for water to go down to holes with.
I have two. Best thing since canned beer. They fit in the trunk of my Kia. They take 15 minutes to set up. The look like kayaks. My kids can learn in them and I don’t worry too much. AND… they are less expensive than the Stern’s models.