Recommendation for inflatable.


I’m looking for inflatable recommendations.

Here’s what I have now…

I have two kayaks.

  1. a Hobie Mirage Drive Revolution with Full sail equipment.
  2. a Dagger Cypress with Full whitewater equipment

    I use both regularly on rivers, lakes, and saltwater.

    The thing is, that loading both these kayaks every time I go on a trip is getting cumbersome, and neither one fits comfortably on my cabin boat.

    I’m really looking for one kayak that can do it all, and also be easily portable.

    Obviously the Hobie Mirage i9s would be easily portable, have the sailing capability, track well in still water, and be short enough for whitewater, but I’m not sure if I can equip it properly for whitewater. In pictures I’ve seen, it doesn’t appear to have any way to secure thigh straps. The mirage drive hole would probably serve well as a drain for spray, but how high is the center of gravity for good balance on whitewater? Is there anyplace to secure thigh straps. I’d love if somebody who has one can chime in.

    I’m impressed by the semi rigid designs of Advanced Elements AdvanceFrame, and YakkAir’s Boats. I realize that the Mirage drive would be lost, and I’d have to jury rig a sail mount, leeboard, and rudder, but there are kits available for that. Still, I like rigidity even on Class V whitewater, but I’m concerned about the lack of a combing ring to wear a skirt, and if they can be drained like a sit on top.

    Other boats on Paddling.nets inflatable buyer’s guide look flimsy or very limited or uncomfortable to me, but perhaps I’m being premature in my judgement. I’d appreciate feedback.


    Cpt Jack Russell.

Innova Safari
You would lose the sailing and its a slow boat to paddle but its very portable

I looked at the Safari
I wasn’t impressed with the design. Seems very cumbersome. It doesn’t look like it would glide well at all. Also looks like it would have the center fold problems common in rubber rafts. I don’t want a rubber raft that is shaped like kayak. I’m looking for a kayak that is collapsible, but wooden folding kayaks are too breakable for whitewater, which is why I’m looking for inflatables.

The one boat that does it all is…
The one boat that does it all does not exist. there won’t be a boat that meets all of your desires, so you will have to figure out which requirements aren’t actually required.

You may want to read a couple of articles in California Kayaker Magazine - all can be read online for free at

Issue 9 (Summer 2012) had an article on kayaks for small living places. This talks about folding, inflatables, sectionals, etc. and there pros and cons.

Issue 10 has an article on the different types of kayaks. Why whitewater kayaks are like they are, why flat water boats are like they are, etc. You’ll see there are big design differences between the categories.

Just because the Mirage Sport is short doesn’t make it capable for whitewater. At all. It’s a fishing platform with none of the hull design for fast turns and planing. Forget that plan.

There are inflatables designed for serious whitewater but the Yakkairs and the Advanced Elements are not among them. The Yaks are for casual flatwater and only a couple of the AE’s would be nominally suitable for up to Class 2. Anything above that would trash the boat and thrash you. You’ll notice only AE’s open Straightedge model is rated for Class 3 (and frankly I would not want to use that boat in Class 3 – too wide and blobular). All will be an awkward wet ride compared to the ww boat you already have.

Makers like Aire make pro quality inflatable whitewater boats for up to Class 5 but you will pay a pretty penny for one.

None of these boats will be particularly useful for flatwater paddling or fishing, but you already have the Hobie for that.

Don’t be so quick to dismiss skin-on-frame folding boats, especially hybrids like the frame and inflatable Pakboat models (XT’s, Puffins and Quests). These have all the design and features of a “hard” boat (cockpit coaming that will support a spray skirt, can be rolled with practice, narrow beam for tracking, seats positioned for low center of gravity, ability to add thigh straps and foot bracing, space for flotation bags). They can also be rigged with a sail. I’ve taken Pakboat and Feathercraft folding kayaks into Class 2 and know people who’ve used PB’s for Class 3. Most of the models are too long for anything over that, but for most touring and offshore use they are great, and you can transport and store the entire boat in a duffel bag.

As has already been recommended, you appear to need to familiarize yourself a bit more with the design and functionality of kayaks and then prioritize your needs. There is no single boat that can serve everything you want because the design elements that work for one sort of water can be the opposite of what is optimal for another.

I don’t need an optimal boat
I don’t need a perfect whitewater boat. I’m not an olympic competitor interested in perfect times. I have done class IV in open cockpit 13.5 foot recreational kayaks. It just gets really cumbersome having to pull over and bail out the boat after every drop.

I don’t even need to roll. I’ve never rolled a boat in the 18 years I’ve been tackling whitewater. Any boat short enough to make the turns around rocks will work great for me.

That’s why my ideal platform is a short, flatbottomed open water collapsible/inflatable kayak that is either self bailing with thigh straps, or combed for a skirt.

I’ll look into those collapsibles you mentioned.

Thanks for the advice on folding kayaks.
I’m seriously considering the Folbot Citibot. That looks like a well made frame that could take the kind of abuse I tend to give, and have the stiffness I like.

I’m sending out an email to the manufacturer for specifics about their warranty.

Maybe another way to narrow it down

– Last Updated: Sep-18-13 7:44 PM EST –

Your comment that loading a hard-shell kayak for each trip is getting "cumbersome" makes me wonder what's going on. It should take much less time to load AND unload a hard-shelled kayak than it takes to inflate an inflatable, never mind what the comparison is like once you include deflating and the extra care inflatables need in preparation for proper storage. People who like inflatables like them for specific reasons, but I can't recall ever hearing that reduced time and effort in trip preparation is one of them. It sounds to me like you must need to modify your roof-rack design, because normally it's people with racks that are awkward to use that say such things as what you did. Loading/unloading a hard-shelled boat can be so easy it's not worth thinking about (it should only take a few seconds to put it on the rack and maybe three or four minutes to secure the main straps, and another one minute per bow/stern line (if used)). I don't care if the boat is heavy or if your car roof is high - with the right setup, neither factor will slow you down much at all.

I'm guess about this of course, but naturally I only say this because I'm assigning some importance to what you said about the difficulty you mentioned. In that vein, I bet if you set up a better rack system, you could narrow your inflatable choice to address ONLY the needs you have regarding the boat you'd like to pack away in some corner of your cabin cruiser, and that should make choosing one a lot easier. Then you can use hard-shelled boats for everything else.

Had my Safari
in ocean surf and class 2-3 whitewater without any issues. Kleppers have been running whitewater for years

“Ready to die”. Your comment with
your profile. You’re talking class 4 and 5 in unsuitable craft, and I’m not sure you’ve been running that stuff with suitably experienced and equipped companions.

I’ve been paddling ww all over the lower 48 since '73, more often than not, solo. But I’m always suitably equipped and I don’t attempt anything above 3+. (Example: Browns Canyon on the Ark.)

I remember a guy in our club who ran all sorts of hard stuff in his Folboat. He wasn’t centered in the boat, and we could see that the boat was making the serious decisions, not him. Then one day on the fairly easy Lower Conasauga, he wrapped that Folboat around a rock and had to walk out.

Don’t end up in Charlie Wallbridge’s yearly river incident report. Your success in the past does not predict safety in the future.

If I were you, I might get an Aire Force. With proper cab forward paddling, it would be “ok” on lakes and surf, and very good through most class 5.

TRAK kayak

I was very impressed by the TRAK kayak at Bay of Fundy Symposium this week. It’s well designed, and indistinguishable from a hard shell boat when you first see it. Sounds like a great fit for what you’re doing.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find an all-around kayak that is ClassV WW capable, but otherwise I think you’ll be pleased. (That said, Jaime Sharp ran Lava Falls on the Colorado in his TRAK.)

TRAK is on display
at the Jersy Paddler. Some folks have been playing with the hydraulic devices that control hull shape. Two of the three devices are now broken. I’d be careful if considering this boat.