Which high quality inflatable? long list of wants

starting research for an early spring purchase, looking for a mid to high quality inflatable kayak? fishing kayak? small boat? small raft? whatever seems to meet the criteria listed below

would like to do some mild river floats/mostly calm lakes for 10-15 miles with a good bit of gear
i have much loved 35 inch wide inflatable paddleboards that can hold 400-450 lbs and might work, they are super stable
but would feel a little better about all the gear i want to haul with something with sides…

here is my list

hoping to stay in the $1200-2000 range but open to increasing that a little if i need to

1- stable, so wide as possible but also able to be handled/paddled by one person with gear
2- do NOT want a self bailing floor, will not be doing whitewater and do not want to get wet, this seems to rule out the aire kayaks unfortunately
3- 500 lbs or higher capacity- either 1 200lb person and 150lb gear or maybe 350-400lbs with 2 people and 100 or so in gear
4- weight of kayak folded up needs to be under 50lbs if possible but could probably handle 60lbs
5- lots of d rings or ways to tie down gear
6- open type top? not sure how to describe that, but i need one easy to put gear inside

would love to get drop stitch kayak but have read that sea eagle is tippy, that will not work, stability will be big- not sure else has drop stitch
we will have powerboats going by us some and creating wake
although i will be using dry bags etc i do not expect to EVER flip this boat over, like hard kayaks can do

does anyone know when the kayak companies tend to release new products?

i am also ok with ordering from overseas and taking a while to ship here if needed

thanks for any help

Send a letter Santa and see what shows up!

It is possible to take advantage of drop-stitch construction with a hybrid approach, having a drop-stitch floor for better standing and decent paddling, and traditional tube sides for stability. I have used an Aquaglide Chelan HB1 for a few years and am overall impressed with its performance.

The company also makes an angler version with more weight capacity of 650lbs, and a boat weight of 33lbs. They have been popular boats and are mostly out of stock.

would be nice if santa would just send me one lol

pbenter i actually came across that angler last night and was intrigued

would love to find a dealer to see some in person…
i am in AZ but can easily head over to southern cali if anyone knows of a good place

why an inflatable? Your requirements would be better served by a folding kayak or folding canoe: far more storage capacity, less wind/water resistance due to more rigid hull. Planning to stay “dry” in an inflatable is a pipe dream, completely unrealistic. Only a decked kayak or canoe can offer you a relatively dry ride.

Look at the Pakboat Puffin Saranac, 29 pounds, $1285, 400 pound capacity, convertible from solo to tandem, can be used with or without a deck. Since the deck peels back all the way around with industrial grade wide velcro, packing gear and accessing it is a breeze. I’ve owned 4 Pakboat models (and 3 Feathercraft folders, but unfortunately, that brand is no longer made, though also out of your budget range). Folding kayaks perform much closer to a hardshell boat than any inflatable. Pakboat setup is easy: about 30 minutes solo once you get the hang of it or 15 to 20 minutes with a partner helping. And they are easier to pack up when you want to store them.

Their US dealer is in New Hampshire – small company and very helpful if you call or email them with questions. Check out their website (their “Pakboat Adventures” tab) with reports from people around the world who have traveled widely with their boats. I took one from the US to the UK for vacation a few years ago – easily fit boat and all my paddling gear and clothing in a regular rolling duffel that came in under the airline regulations for free baggage.

There are also a couple of YouTube videos showing the Saranac being set up and paddled on open water so you can see what they look like, open and with the decks on.

By the way, nobody ever “expects” to capsize their boat, no matter what type it is, but realistically you do need to be prepared for it and know how to recover from that event and get yourself back on board and underway. Even the most stable boat in calm water can be dumped by wind, waves or powerboat wakes. To be in denial about that potential reality is a dangerous mistake.

Thanks for the info

Actually saw these and was looking at them earlier , will research them more

These are very stable?

My concern with self bailing is sitting in water for 7-8 hours not getting a little wet from paddles etc

I am not planning to be in rough water although realize unexpected weather etc happens

Agree with the capsizing issue but really hoping to avoid that with gear…
I do have safety straps/ladders even for the paddle boards and will be more cautious with this bigger craft

Wonder about raft type boats but I don’t know how you steer/handle them in flat or slow moving water…

Stabilty is a function not just of the boat design but the abilty of the paddler. But Pakboats tend to be stable for several reasons. One is that the Puffin (and their earlier XT models) are moderately wide with a relatively flat hull; another is that they have inflatable sponson tubes along the inside of the hull to add flotation and tighten the skin. And third, like all skin on frame boats they flex somewhat in riding over rough waves and absorb some of the force if the water instead of being thrown around. Unlike inflatables, you can use sprayskirts on the rigid cockpit coaming of Pakboat kayaks, to further assure a dry ride. Their advantage over most inflatables is being faster and easier to control especially in wind and currents. You can get blown off shore in an inflatable and have trouble paddling back to shore.

These are well made and durable boats that people have taken on research expeditions all over the world.

I have a Sea Eagle 473rl that I paddle with my daughters. The kids (5 and 7 yo) keep moving around in the boat, changing places etc. Tippy? Maybe, compared to ultra stable fishing SOT. The 473rl is much narrower on the water line that on the top. Unstable? I wouldn’t say so. I paddle in a lake with lots of motor boats, including a couple of wake boats whose owners think the lake belongs to them. While I avoid taking a big wake on the side, I have had to brace to prevent a capsize at only one occasion. That was when a wake boat came too close and one of my daughters got nervous and pulled her paddle up with the paddle face parallel to the surface pulling the kayak down. Still, I was able to brace a tandem by myself. The sides of the 473rl are flat and tall, providing good stability when the kayak gets on its side. If I may exaggerate the parallelism, it is a bit like edging a sea kayak. A totally flat bottom kayak might have flipped on the same conditions.

Thanks for the feedback on the sea eagle, good to hear

I should fill this in with more of what i want to do with the “boat”

To preface i have 2 irocker blackfin inflatable paddle boards, one is 35 inch wide and the other 34

These are the only boards i have owned , it seems they would be really hard to flip over and i attribute that to the width

Both super stable although you can tell a difference on the 34 inch
We LOVE these and weight capacity/stability wise they would easily do what i want
But see below for why i would prefer some sides or at least higher out of the water

A few months ago we used them to float down the lower salt river from below saguaro lake to the end and they did great
River was running about 800cfm and low in a lot of spots, pretty sure this is a class 1 river in that area , maybe up to 2 when they let a good bit of water out of the damn?

The problem with this float and the others i have researched in a 4 hour drive from here is it takes two people/two cars, and half the day is spent getting cars dropped off etc

I travel for work and am in a position to easily do some river floats by myself

So wanting to bring one of my folding electric bikes/folding trailer on the boat , float down the river and use that to get back to the van

Looking at floats like the lower salt river again, going from below Hoover dam to willow beach, maybe needles to lake havasu etc

Just long day floats

No folding bikes get really small, the one i have now and would like to use is a montague and folds to 36x28x12
Folding trailer is probably about the same size but narrower
Will have 2-3 medium to large dry bags or floating coolers like the ice mule boss with stuff too

Overall it is bigger stuff rather than weight

Preferably i am going to get the bike low into the boat… that means going wide which for stability is good anyway
Right now it seems the fishing inflatable kayaks may be the way to go
Actually considering the gigbob also and putting the bike behind the seat and bags on the sides, waiting to hear back from nrs on some more specific dimensions
wont do 2 people but we could get 2 if the first one works well
Wish they made a gigbob just a little bit bigger , the reviews on these seem good and would get stuff away from the water
Thinking even with wind the 2 oars would be ok for handling…?

Not worried about things getting a little wet-will have anything that needs to stay dry in dry bags but prefer not to get soaked so thinking non self bailing, sides or higher out of the water like the gigbob

Problem with all of this is buying sight unseen and not knowing how things will fit, would love to see several different models in person but that seems hard to do

do realize that watching the wind with these types of set ups will be a big deal and might push some trips out or cancel some but i dont want to be out there in that anyway

Here’s a video showing how a French paddler uses her Dahon folding bike with a solo Pakboat Puffin. Notice how much room there is inside the hull and how small the kayak packs and easily lashes to the bike’s rear rack. You would not need a trailer with a Pakboat because they are so light and compact.

WOW, so cool

Will do more research into these, need to contact the company
My bike is bigger than that by a bit…
But i have other bikes and might could use a smaller one
Or purchase one

I guess in my head not being a big time kayaker etc my feel is inflatables would be safer, something like the gigbob just seems like i cannot turn it over or it would take some big waves to do it…
And it will always float if it flips

And i have been so impressed with my drop stitch paddle boards, we have used them a good bit and they show hardly any scratches etc…

Can you guys clear this up for me, doing research looked at kayaks vs canoes for stability and read that canoes were more stable

Then 3 hours later read a review on something and they said canoes are more tippy???

I saw the sea eagle drop stitch canoe and thought it might work but then a review said it was more tippy than the other boats they have

One more question i see in that video she has the cover up on 1 side to accomodate the bike or something
One thing i wondered about that is can you use only half the cover?
I am not a kayaker and do not want to learn to roll over etc
We will always use the paddle boards for water stuff except when doing these river floats and needing the bike

Do not want to be covered into the boat but did think if i could put half a cover on that it would keep water off the gear somewhat and secure it if the boat tips - is that possible?

Will research the pakboats more tonite , super impressive, thanks for linking to this video

Blah wish pakboats were not on the other side of the country lol

Would love to see these in person
Will write the company tonite and see what they recommend

Dang it there is a really nice one a few hours north of Los Angeles for $600 on craigslist…
Bet it will be gone before i could get over there

If that was closer i would buy it right now

This one says it is a puffin 2, when you pull it up on google it shows 729 on rei back then, is this a lower level model? Any reason not to try to buy it, , might have a friend in Santa Maria that could go get it

Will see if i can get a link to it on here, it is on craigslist San Louis obispo

Well after reading more about the pakboats and not being able to get older parts etc think if I go this route will get a new one

Not looking for a project in any way even if it saves a little money

There is no simple answer to kayak vs canoe stability. There are hundreds of variants for both and stability depends primarily on waterline width and where the center of gravity is with you and all of your gear in it.

If you want to haul a lot of bulky gear, a canoe is generally the way to go.

Canoe or kayak, the best policy is to tether or tie everything down so it will not become separated from the boat and not shift. I would not count on a partial cover to secure gear in the event of a capsize. Bikes are not known for their buoyancy. Be careful how you load the boat in terms of weight distribution and test it in safe conditions. A friend of mine nearly died when solo kayaking in Alaska. He was dropped of by seaplane with his Folboat and came close to capsizing a few hundred feet off shore because the boat was so badly loaded. He almost didn’t make it back to shore.

If your boat is partially swamped is your electric bike rated for immersion.

lol, intend to take cheap ebikes on this for that very reason, although they are all water resistant/waterproof to a degree
doubtful the electronics would survive being submerged

should have been clear that i will DEFINITELY tie everything down well, was just thinking the half cover would be more coverage/security

thanks for the info on kayak vs canoe
i am pretty good at balancing loads on stuff and would be really careful doing that on the water- good suggestion to test it out each time stability wise close to shore

right now i carry 70% of these loads on the paddleboards almost every time out, and i pay attention balance wise with those and shift stuff as needed

have not heard back from pakboats yet on what they suggest for this kind of use- whether canoe or kayak and which model

it does make me a little leery that pakboats has just been sold…
this seems a unique boat and needing parts 7-8 years from now and them being available would not be cool

nrs said they do not think the gigbob would work, the kayak they recommend will not be in stock until may!

depending on how much the kayak ends up costing i may buy a gigbob just for fun lol, i like the way they look
really do like the versatility of the paddleboards, being able to stand for a while, sit different ways etc and the gigbob incorporates all those aspects
it is also out of stock…

sometimes we are short a paddleboard for friends so might buy gigbob instead of a 3rd one
originally i was looking at inflatable kayaks back this summer when i bought these pb - had never heard of or seen a paddleboard…
what drew me to that instead of a kayak was stability and ease of getting back on in the middle of the lake

but thinkl a kayak or canoe will be better for hauling the bike
if i knew there would be flat slow floating water every time and no small rapids i would just use the paddleboards we have but feel like it is unlikely to be the case every time, if at all

thanks for all the sugestions and info

I’m wondering if you have given packrafts a thought?

The Pakboat decks remove completely (they have industrial grade wide Velcro all around the perimeter) and with their Puffin and Quest models you can use the boats with or without the deck, something few other brands and models of boats can offer, other than a full spray deck on a canoe.

I fear you have an abnormally exaggerated dread about “stability”. This is common to people with little experience in canoes and kayaks and is just something you need to get past – and WILL get past – in time. There is a wide range of stability across models in canoes and kayaks, and a lot of it is more situational than integral to the boat itself. A wider flat bottomed boat can be more unstable in rough water than a narrow-beamed vee hulled boat that feels “tippy” to a novice in flatwater. And loading any boat changes the waterline and can make it either more stable or less stable.

Pakboats, due to their inflatable sponsons, are pretty unsinkable. I would not worry about Pakboats changing hands, this is something that happens throughout the recreational products industry. You really can’t predict who is going to own any company from whom you buy any more so obsessing about that is only going to throw another monkey wrench into your considerations.

And as far as worrying about “getting parts” for an older boat, my venerable 2004 Pakboat Puffin still has everything intact after years of use, other than a newer deck I bought from Pakboat and modified to fit it when the old one got faded and ratty looking.

Anything that collapses (including inflatables) is going to be vulnerable to some extent to part failure so just accept that. But honestly, having owned 7 folding kayaks, there was never anything on them that I could not have repaired somehow if it failed. I’ve had a couple of small leaks that were easily patched and two bent frame sections that I had to straighten. But I had no major fails with any of them.

The Puffin II was the predecessor of the Puffin Saranac. I don’t think it can be paddled without the deck like the modern versions because the seat integrates with the cockpit coaming on the older models. But, as you noticed in the French video, you can pop the Velcro seal along the seam if you need to have something sticking out. That does leave a gap where waves could leak in but it is high enough above the waterline that should not be a huge issue is relatively calm water. The Pakboats are reliable in mild rapids/whitewater too since they have some raft-like personality with the inflatable inner walls. Their main advantages are being so light, having more structural rigidity than inflatables due to the frame and having higher volume for storage.

A less “practical” advantage, at least for me, is that I love the way a folding kayak feels in the water. I feel more connected to the water in one, almost as if it is a living thing – you can sense the push of the current and waves through the fabric and the boat sort of “rides” the water rather than fighting against it. I feel more secure in my folders too, even the narrowest (which are slender enough to roll). The only drawback I have experiences with them is that they will hang up on gravel or sand bars so you have to climb out and walk them to deeper water – can’t just push through like you can with a hard plastic boat. But that has never been a major problem,

you are right, am probably overthinking the stability stuff
honestly if it was just me on it that would not worry me much
not wanting to flip the craft is mainly because of the bike getting submerged
and my concern of big waves from ski boats etc and unexpectedly pushing us over…
seems the more stable the craft on its own even with trade off for more weight or cost is worth it

this stuff seems a lot like the ebike stuff, i have been in that for years and often ‘real’ bikers and retired people riding 5 days a week for fun/fitness have different wants and needs for their bikes than people who have time to ride for fun/fitness 2 weekends a month

i dont have the time to become a serious kayaker and spend every spare minute on the water, this is for fun
so i want something that will compensate for that lack of skill as much as possible
that being said i am an extremely cautious person and tend to be very careful in stuff like this, realize the water can be deadly and i need to pay good attention, load the craft well and be as safe as i can

you guys would probably think i was crazy if you saw all the safety stuff on PB for a 3-4 hour day on the lakes with them…
my friends think i am overkill in safety on everything- to the point of being annoying

you are correct about the longevity too, all of this stuff has a certain lifespan and 10 years would be more than fine

still have not heard back from pakboats yet, if no reply by the weekend will write again

will check out these links to the rafts, in my head thinking rafts would be harder for one person to move/handle in flat water but i have no idea if that is true lol
will check them out now

thanks for all this info everyone!