Shopping for an inflatable


I am interested in purchasing an inflatable kayak but am having a hard time determining which is best for me. I am loking for some recommendations. Here are some details of what I am looking for:

–Reliable and good quality, longlasting

–Will be used primarily on lakes and bays and some ocean use along the shore. Would like something that has some good hull speed and good tracking. Don’t want to mess around with making wooden floors etc…

–Would like a model that can be paddled by one or two people. Would consider 2 one-person boats if the price is right.

–If tandem boat it is important that it could be easily paddled by a person of 5’6 in height and moderate strength

–Room for gear is important. Will mostly be used for day trips but we would like to use it for camping overnighters.

–Can carry at least 450 lbs if tandem (gear weight included). 300lbs if one-person boat (gear included)

–We live in San Diego and Las Vegas so weather is good most of the time but would like to use in cooler weather and conditions

–Very important that we can check this boat onto an airliner and travel with it. Would really prefer it be under 50 pounds all packed up

–I hope this is enough information for a good recommendation.

Am I asking for too much?




Sure hope you can find such a boat to


-Frank in Miami

If you find that boat…
You can help me find one I am looking for…

–I want it to track well and go super fast, yet be able to turn on a dime.

– I want to be able to run class IV as well as be able to cruise quickly on large lakes.

–I want to be able to have lots of storage capacity, but I want the boat to be under 35 lbs.

– It should be easy to roll, but at least 30 inches wide.

–It should not be any longer than 10 feet so it fits in my garage.

– I want to be able to fish and have easy access to my beer.

– It should have room for my dog.

– I would like to have a rudder AND a skeg.

– It should have airbags, in the stern and bow as well as deployable ones for head on collisions.

– It would have a wood grain interior with a leather seat.

– I would like to have on-star and the dvd/tv option.

I apologize in advance for this post. Please feel free to add on.


Here’s a reprint of an article by Sue Cocking, the Herald’s Outdoors writer/editor, which appeared in the paper’s Outdoors Section a couple-three weeks ago, covering a trip I went on up the Miami River about 6-8 weeks ago.

Yes, she struggled. What in the world she was doing in a ducky for a trip like that I have no idea –she’s been paddling before, and she should know better. Those of us with more than 1 kayak would’ve been more than happy to have loaned her one. Indeed, I told her so at the launch site on the lee side of Windsurfer Beach island on the Rickenbacker that Saturday morning, and her response was that it was her very own kayak, it’s the only thing she could find small enough to store in her apartment, and she wanted to try it. As far as I could tell, only her third reason made any sense.

It was an interesting trip, and she unfortunately missed out on the upriver parts she didn’t see that I and my fellow paddlers thought were among the best parts of the trip. She also didn’t get to rest, as the rest of us did, a mere few hundred yards beyond where she decided to turn back, where we landed at the Curtiss Park public boat launch ramps –the only such on the river –and had lunch and a restroom break and stretched our legs.

My apologies to those of you who may have seen this before.

Oh well –here’s her story:



Going with the flow on kayak trip



COMING THROUGH: A tugboat towing a freighter needed kayakers on the Miami River to clear the way.

Some South Florida kayakers are so devout that – confronting a mud puddle – they surely would paddle it. So when Jerry Blackstone announced he would lead members of the Blazing Paddles club on an outing on the Miami River recently, he got 14 takers, including me.

It’s not that I’m a devout kayaker. I’m more of a dilettante who flits like a bee from one outdoor activity to the next. But I wanted to take my new inflatable kayak on a shakedown paddle. It turned out to be both a good and bad idea.

Arriving at the put-in in the north parking lot of the Rickenbacker Causeway, I saw that I was the only paddler using an inflatable. Most of the group had sleek, 17-foot fiberglass ocean kayaks, and the others had plastic sit-on-tops.

I wasn’t worried. While they busied themselves un-bungying their craft from car tops and lugging them down to the water, I carried mine in a bag. Using a foot pump, I had it fully inflated in less than five minutes and pushed off the beach.

That was the last time that day that I would find myself leading the pack. While my kayak is wide, stable and dry (in calm water), it is not fast. The entire group pulled 50 yards ahead of me in the first 10 minutes.

As hard as I paddled, I could not keep up. I quickly realized this was going to be a very long and exhausting day if I tried. So, while the rest of the group went all the way around Brickell Key and approached the mouth of the river from the north, I took a shortcut underneath the low Brickell Key bridge. Sadly, we arrived at the rendezvous point opposite the Miami Circle at about the same time. Hoo-boy.


The Miami River that day was a lot like a mud puddle, only much bigger and surrounded by very large buildings that look even more gargantuan when you are sitting in little more than a floating bathtub. The water not only was muddy brown, it also was strewn with every kind of litter. Whoever coined the slogan, ‘‘Don’t Splash Your Trash!’’ would probably blow his/her brains out at seeing Florida’s fifth-largest seaport.

The degree of dirtiness is not surprising. The Miami River is lined with boat yards, fish houses, skyscrapers and cargo terminals with storm-water drains that empty who-knows-what from 69 square miles of urban and industrialized areas. Federal, state and local governments are working to clean it up with an $84 million dredging project that began in 2004.

Ashley Chase, assistant director of the Miami River Commission, says it’s about 40 percent complete, awaiting more federal funds. The storm-water drainage system is being improved, Chase says, and a special scavenger craft periodically plies the waterway, injecting oxygen and picking up litter.

But the scavenger’s good work was not evident on our paddle.

Said Blackstone: I thought it was filthy. I think my spray skirt got damaged chemically.''<br /> <br /> A spray skirt is a shield that keeps a paddler's lower body dry in a sit-inside kayak. I wished I had one every time a boat wake sprayed my legs and arms.<br /> <br /> But our trip was anything but boring. The group had to clear the way for a tugboat towing the freighter Lady Lotmore backward up the river. On narrow Wagner Creek, we were greeted by barking Rotweilers, quacking Muscovy ducks and fishermen on weathered boats. In the turning basin, we admired the historic Hindu Temple home built by John Seybold, a turn-of-the-century businessman known for the downtown landmark Seybold Building.<br /> <br /> By the time we got to ''The Caves'' in Lawrence Canal just west of the NW 17th Ave. bridge, my energy was flagging. I quickly glimpsed the barred pathways of the two limestone entrances, then made my way out of the canal and west to the nearby boat launch at Sewell Park.<br /> <br /> Before departing, Blackstone kindly offered to send a cab to pick me and my kayak up at Sewell Park. But I declined, and fortified with water and several handfuls of grapes, embarked on a solitary paddle back to the Rickenbacker.<br /> <br /> To my utter amazement, I encountered a pair of manatees at the mouth of the river. How could they survive amid all this garbage, I wondered? But the sea cows -- wisely -- were heading out into the bay. I hoped they'd stop and sniff my weird-looking craft, but they eyed me warily and kept going.<br /> <br /> BRIEF ENCOUNTER<br /> <br /> Opposite the Brickell Avenue condo canyon, I encountered a solitary paddler who was not part of our group. Inanely, I inquired,Do you have any Grey Poupon?’’

He ignored my goofiness and asked if I were coming from the river. When I told him yes, he nodded and continued on.

Arriving at the put-in, I was enormously pleased to have made it safely and ahead of the rest of the group. I later found out they came in only an hour later.

As I deflated my kayak, a dog tied to a nearby tree barked and lunged at me. Hands on hips, I stared it down and asked if it would like to take a ride on my shrunken boat. It shut up.


Sue’s an experienced outdoors person -freshwater bassing, bluewater marlin hunting, reef angling, backwater fishing, flats fishing for bones, canoeing & kayaking & camping, diving and spearfishing… But she just “had to” bring he inflatable along.

Those are some of the reason why most flatwater realms are not so hot for a ducky to


-Frank in Miami

A serious response

– Last Updated: Jun-09-06 11:26 AM EST –

You should look at the Innova Sunny.

It meets all the requirements you listed, and has about the best hull speed for inflatables under $2000.

The idea of comparing the performance of a 12-foot inflatable, or any 12-foot boat, to a 17-foot fiberglass sea kayak is ridiculous.

The question is really does the boat meet your needs and get you out on the water? In an IK, you will never be able to keep up with seasoned paddlers in long sea kayaks. With a good inflatable though, you can hang with most plastic kayaks of the same length. If you want to do 30 mile trips in a boat that can handle traditional sea kayak techniques, an IK is not for you. If you want a flexible-use boat that is easy to store and pack, there may not be a better choice than an IK.

As an aside, I noticed in the Miami-Herald Article that the author "inflated her kayak with a foot pump in about 5 minutes." Though she doesn't say who manufactures her boat, the only kayaks that I imagine can be inflated that fast with a foot pump are something you get at wal-mart for 49.95. With a lot of practice, it takes me 12-15 minutes to fully assembly and inflate the Sunny with a foot-pump.

Innova Helios

– Last Updated: Jun-09-06 11:28 AM EST –
Comes pretty close. Is rated for 396 ibs, paddles well solo or double.

Take a look at these.

Second The Innova Sunny and Helios
If you want top of the line: Grabner Discovery.

Advanced Elements
People can say what they want about inflatables. Obviously, they’re not going to keep up with 17’ sea kayaks. So what?

My bro paddled an inflatable tandem as his only boat on the TX coast for years, before he finally upgraded to a plastic OT canoe. He got to see lots of good stuff from that blowup boat, too. At the time, it fit his needs.

Anyway, have a look at the offerings from Advanced Elements. They may have something, or a pair of somethings that’ll work for you.

Innova vs Grabner
I’ve been paddling a Grabner Holiday II for 5 years. My paddling partners have Innova Sunny.

The quality of Innova (Gumotex in Europe) is almost matching Grabner’s, but Innova is a lot cheaper.

The Innova Seaker can compare with the Grabner Discovery.

Here is a very interesting IK from new zealand :

advanced elements…
has one that can change from a tandom to a single.


Thank you
Thanks to all who replied. It looks like the Innovaand Advanced Elements models are definitely worth looking into.


interesting concept

– Last Updated: Jun-10-06 8:25 PM EST –

inflatable boat and an inflatable girlfriend, both kept in the closet when not in use.

Check out the photos under the year links on this official Bubble Baba website (in Russian)

Ok i know very little about inflatables, but i think the Feathercraft Airline line up of inflatable sit on tops sound neat, especially the Jetstream. By all means,Feathercrafts are almost as expensive as composite touring kayaks but if youre looking for quality, FC is second to none from what i’ve read.