Which Inflatable For Touring

Gf and I have SOT’s and SINKS. Now that we have a Class C motor home we are looking at a inflatable tandem to start out. I was going to go with a kayak trailer (too tall for kayaks on roof of rv), but don’t like the idea of not being able to see the narrow trailer in the mirror and it seems difficult to maneuver at camp spots. Seeing any inflatables in person is not easy. I’ve narrowed it down to these 3 and would appreciate any comments from those who have paddled them. We paddle lakes, rivers (class I/II), and ocean bays. Speed is not priority, but decent tracking is preferred.

Aire Sawtooth, 13’ single or tandem


Saturn 13’ RK396 (http://www.boatstogo.com/inflatable_kayaks.asp)

SeaEagle Fast Track 465 (https://www.seaeagle.com/FastTrackKayaks)

Any other contenders? Appreciate your comments!

some others

– Last Updated: Jun-24-15 4:13 PM EST –

Aquaglide Chelan:


Advanced Elements Straightedge 2:


Innova Sunny:


Or the Mercedes-Benz of inflatable tandems, Feathercraft Gemini:


There's a used Feathercraft Java for sale for $1500 and this model can be outfitted with a second seat from the Feathercraft website:



Advantage to that one is you could paddle it single or double and the Feathercrafts paddle as well as a hardshell kayak (I have owned 3 of them).

Other options are folding kayaks like the Orukayak (solo only) and Pakboat Puffin and XT series. The Pakboats are sort of hybrids with both skin on frame and inflatable components. I've owned 2 of their boats too. In fact for travel in my own RV I have a Feathercraft Wisper and a Pakboat Puffin.

I like the Java
A bit slow. Easy assembly. Can sail it. Has a good capacity for gear. Works pretty well as a double

Also. look at Innova
I’ve got a Safari. I know it’s not a tandem, but they make good boats. http://www.innovakayak.com/store/store.aspx#ecwid:category=184323&mode=category&offset=0&sort=normal

I own the saturn tandem

– Last Updated: Jun-25-15 9:02 AM EST –

pros- price, durability, seams to be holding up just fine even though they are glued, like the seats and like jamming a thwart behind it, floor is real stiff
drawbacks- heavy to load and heavy to paddle in the flats, the paddle they send with the boat is worthless, slow to drain because the self draining holes are small (I paddle mostly ww), some folks say its hard to get it track (I don't have any problems getting it to go straight)

I own a different aire boat- the tomcat (solo class III version) but I got to tell you I'm shying away from bladder boats- I've had to replace one bladder and had the inconvenience of having one leak at an inopportune time (down in the NRG). There's a reason they're selling that boat cheap and only warranty it for a year unlike most other aire products- bladders in the tributary series are much thinner than their other products lines. I got to say though, lots of people like how the tomcat paddles in ww, I find the seat not very supportive and the tomcat a bit overpriced compared to the competition. They are lighter than my saturn so that should help on the flats.

I know folks who paddle the sea eagle and they seem happy with it. Sorry can't provide more beta on it.

One thing I have noticed about all the tandems, its a little tricky getting the paddling synchronized. The seats are closer together than what most folks imagine.


– Last Updated: Jun-25-15 10:21 AM EST –

has a great reputation -- consider the Superlynx - notice the 10 year no fault warranty -- I have heard of them fixing boats that flew off car roofs. (Not a deal maker but -- all the tie down loops are great for positioning the seats where you want and for securing gear.)
I have owned a couple of Aire kayaks and quality is top notch -- no experience with their touring kayaks though -- their rafts routinely take groups down the Grand Canyon -- durable, trustworthy.


ahh teton john

– Last Updated: Jun-25-15 5:14 PM EST –

when are you going to come around and realize the tributary series is budget oriented and they skimp on the bladders. Do you have one of those boats or did you spend more money and get one of Aire's more reliable products? I believe the boat the op is considering is one of the tributary series that has the low end bladders. Truth is they can probably get by with the occasional class II and be "ok".

My advice if you have a tributary series boat is to underinflate it a bit (run it a little soft) and check periodically for debri between the shell and bladder.

Now as to the quality of the tributary boats- I tend to max out the intended usage, both in difficulty of ww and amount of usage with my tomcat- but then I also do the same with my other ducks which are sevylors, a tandem saturn, and cherokee Riken. I contend that just about everything else out there in the ww realm is more durable than the "tributary series" boats. They look good on the outside, the shell is well thought out but the vinyl bladders are the hidden weak leak. I'm not attacking Aire as a company, I just think there are better "low end" boats in terms of durability. If you're comfortable boating something the thickness of the set of my cheapest vinyl air bags in one of my ww kayaks and using that as your primary flotation (like in a ducky on the grand canyon) then I say go for it! Just know that even Aire doesn't suggest doing that with those models and that they don't warranty those boats the way they warranty their other boats.

Honestly, your be better off in my $300.00 sevylor in the "grand canyon" scenario. Not all pool toys are created the same way. I'm not against all bladder boats- just the ones with the thinner vinyl bladders- Not much you can do when the seams blow out but replace the bladder. Hope that doesn't happen at an inopportune time for ya. Let's say right above middle keenys (NRG), been there done that with my son and his buddies. Paddling half a boat is better than paddling no boat at all and at least my son didn't have to hike out on the rr tracks. We repumped after every rapid- double z, kaymoors, millers and he swam the boat through with just the one tube inflated to the very end of fayette station. Made for a memorable trip.

But hey Aire's a great company and even I got one of their boats, before I knew better, and it looks pretty. I know Aire makes some very good boats. I've paddled a friends super duper on the lower gauley but Never owned one, high end- expensive, like super dupers and such. Just realize they also make some cheaper boats.

If aire wants to sell "low end" boats they need to sell ones better than the competition for me to be interested in purchasing one of theirs again. My last purchase was another sevylor for half the cost of the tomcat. I had the added cost of making a better seat for it but right now I got more faith in that pool toy than the higher priced Aire. 2 1/2 or 3 ft in the New River gorge- a good place to find out which boats really hold "air" and which ones come up short- that's the kind of reputation I'm talkin' about. Out of the 5 ducks I own the last one I'd take on the Grand Canyon would be the tomcat, its used eight of its lives up already.

Hey, I Thought It Was Wanda…

Aire Super Lynx

– Last Updated: Jun-27-15 5:55 PM EST –

which is the one I said to consider (and provided the link to), is not in the Tributary series, but in the 10-year no fault warranty series.
I only read the first sentence or so of your post (I'll go back now and read more).

Added: I can't speak to the quality of Aire's Tributary Series IKs compared to what might be called budget lines (just no experience with any of those others). All I can say is I have seen Tributary Tomcat IKs on numerous multi-day river trips w/o incident. Because I have a tandem Hyside and an Aire Lynx single, I would select them over my tandem Trib for a multi-day wilderness trip (but then they cost way more, too; and I bought them new, so am very aware of their condition). I suppose, if I WERE to take a Trib on a multi-day wilderness river trip (especially w/o raft support), I would be sure to bring an extra bladder just in case. Again, I can't speak to the lower priced IKs you mention.

not gonna be easy
Seeking a boat that will handily negotiate class III rapids AND track straight for coastal touring is a bit of a pipe dream. The optimal characteristics for the two uses tend to be contradictory.

let me ask
the assembled experts…

does paddling n inflatable caws lower back pain ?

depends on the boat
…and on the paddler. That’s true of any type of kayak.

no solid
surface for back and arm muscles to move from. There’s lower back muscles bracings against leg muscles. Not only using double the energy expenditure ( just guessing) but in a possibly new motion series those muscles are not exercised to.

This is a departure from normal paddling motion in a rigid hull.

I had not read of ‘lower back’ during casual reading of packraft material but the PR’s are tough and floating downhill.

You would understand that if the lower back is a problem discovering that would come after buying one not before.

abs are the problem
in my low end boats- hard to sit upright, almost feel like I’m doing sit ups and trying to paddle. Just raising the seat helps- and making it more rigid- In one I replaced seat with a thick block of closed foam and sitting on that extra height on something rigid helps tremendously. I have some detachable thwarts and like to jam them in behind the seats on my saturn for added support. Some ducks have built in thwarts or an air chamber for support. So far I’ve found them to be the most comfortable. I can’t imagine paddle any of my ducks very far on flatwater. I take them places where the current will do the work. Great for beginners on ww. Just keep the distances short, the current steady, and the weather warm- they tend to be wet- not good for winter paddling unless you like sitting in freezing cold water.

not necessarily
Most people I know with lower back issues are well aware of their structural difficulties before attempting to paddle. This is distinct from those whose level of fitness, flexibility or technique turns out to be insufficient for comfortable paddling, but those are conditions that can be remedied.

I have folders (partially inflatable) with inflatable seats, which are comfortably supportive when I rest against them. But I don’t ever lean against back supports in any boat when actively paddling. I paddle in an upright position with the tensional force against which my energy is driven being between my footrests and my firmly wedged in place pelvis (which in all my kayaks is non-dependent on the seat back or back-band). Leaning back hampers using my obliques and lats to transfer that power to the paddle. I’ve paddled all day in canoes or whitewater rafts with zero back supports and had no discomfort. In fact the only time my back has ever bothered me at all while paddling was on lily-dipping drift outings when I slouched against the back support for too long.

footpegs and lower back support
I have not experienced back problems from paddling inflatables. I have installed foot pegs or otherwise rigged to have solid support there for being “locked in.” My Aire boats have seats that work fine for me, but some folks prefer the inflatable seat offered as an option. (Yeah, leaning back is not the way to go; and I do suppose it is really the pelvis support that locks you in right – I’m not an anatomy guy!)

I named the Java
Wanda Tibbs