Posted by: airkayaks | August 25, 2016

Coupling a Boston Valve Adaptor to a TwistLock Valve

Have you ever stumbled across one of those pesky twistlock valves found on some inflatable kayaks, that can’t be used with an adaptor? If so, you were probably forced to do one of three things – have a buddy hold the valve over the twist lock; carefully negotiate holding the adaptor and twistlock together with one hand while pumping with the other; or give up and blow it up with your mouth.

Inflate the seat base

One customer, Debbie Morris, send us the following nifty fix. According to Debbie, “My brother helped me solve the inflation problem with the small deck valves. We attached a cut piece of hose which fit perfectly over the valve. The Boston valve adapter from our pump fit inside the other end. No more trying to hold the attachment with one hand now. I have enclosed pictures.”

Vinyl tubing

Utilizing a couple inches of flexible tubing with 3/4 inch (20mm) outer dimension and 5/8 inch (17mm) inner dimension, Debbie was able to fit each side over the Boston valve adaptor and twist lock valve, creating a good seal that allowed her to easily inflate her Innova Helios. The tubing can be found at many large home improvement and hardware stores.

Connecting the boston valve adaptor with twistlock

Many thanks for the tip, Debbie!

We recently received our first shipments of the newly updated AE1012 Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame inflatable kayak – a classic model blending performance, price and portability. Having paddled the AdvancedFrame through all iterations since 2002, we were interested to see some of the fine-tuned enhancements.

ancedFrame Inflatable Kayak

In 2015, Advanced Elements began a factory expansion, moving the production line to Indonesia. While plant construction was completed in the fall of 2015, the reopening took longer than anticipated, causing delays in spring 2016 production for several models. Despite stockpiling, huge customer demand caused the AdvancedFrame to be out of stock for nearly a year.

In late spring 2016, the first shipment of AdvancedFrame inflatable kayaks sailed into port, now featuring an integrated 1-PSI pressure relief valve in the floor bladder, enhanced high-backed seating, redesigned hardware and the addition of velcro paddle holders.

As our previous write-up was several years ago, we took the opportunity to also update our readers with details on the newly updated AdvancedFrame AE1012, a 10’5″ inflatable weighing in at roughly 34 to 35 lbs with an MSRP of $539. (Please note: some of this will be repeated from prior reviews.)

Getting Started with the AdvancedFrame Kayak

What's in the bag.

The box as received weighs 41 lbs, measuring 32 x 19 x 11 inches. Inside, the rugged carrying case measures 32 x 18 x 10 inches, and houses the kayak body, seat, repair kit and instructions. The kayak folded size is approximately 30 x17 x 10 inches. The case has just enough room to include a small pump and breakdown paddle (not included). AirKayaks note: Take a good look at how the kayak is folded BEFORE setting up, this will help during breakdown.

AdvancedFrame Kayak Setup/Inflation

We re-acquainted ourselves with the kayak by reading the updated manual. This, too, has evolved over the years and gives excellent explanations on inflation, usage, refolding, etc.

Unfolding the kayak.

First step, unfold the kayak. The AdvancedFrame features an “inner rib” in the bow and stern, which is basically a u-shaped aluminum rib, about a foot long and one-half inch wide.

Aluminum rib in bow and stern

This comes “pre-assembled” meaning it arrives already inserted into two sleeves inside the kayak cover. Unless you remove the inner bladder, they remain in position. When the kayak is pumped up, the inner bladder with rib presses against the kayak cover – that, in conjunction with two bow and stern plastic sheets, give the kayak a sharp silhouette which aids in slicing through the water.

Opening/closing the valve.

The kayak features 7 inflation chambers – two military valves and 5 twist-loks. The military-style plunger valves are simple to use – twist one way to inflate and the other to deflate.

Screw-on valive adaptor

The kayak comes with a screw-on adaptor (found in the repair kit in the mesh pocket behind the seat) which will fit some pumps based on the hose fittings. Otherwise, a standard Boston valve adaptor will friction fit into the opening.

Inflating the side chamber

Pump up the first chamber, located on the top-rear of the kayak, until it begins to fill out. Unlike many other brands, the AdvancedFrame series of kayaks features an inner and outer chamber, with a floating “interior wall.” By pumping up the first chamber partly, you “center” the inner wall. In this case, we pumped it up about 30 strokes with a double action hand pump.

ae7

Pump up the second chamber, located inside the kayak behind the seat, until firm to touch (2 PSI) – this took us another 25 pumps. At this point we noticed that the cover was not quite centered evenly, so we let some air back out, repositioned the main chamber, and pumped it back up. Screw on the black wing nut caps so the plungers aren’t accidentally twisted open later.

Inflating the floor.

Next, pump up the floor. First, make sure the floor is centered and flat. Using the same Boston valve adaptor (conical nozzle about ½ inch in diameter), fit it OVER the twistlok valve on the floor cushion. Pump this up until firm (1 PSI) but there should be slight give when depressed. We pumped it up about 10 to 12 strokes, at which point we heard a slight hissing sound; the pressure relief valve had kicked in. Twist the valve shut. (AirKayaks note: Make sure to tuck the twistlok tube on the floor into the side of the kayak, so that you don’t accidentally twist it open while paddling.)

How do you tell if you’ve pumped it up enough? If you lift the kayak up by one handle, and it sags in the middle, it needs more air.

Pumping up the side chamber.

Move onto the two deck lifts inside the kayak “shoulders” then the two coaming areas that run around the cockpit. Both of these use the twistlok valves. The coaming tubes and deck lifts “sculpt” the body so that water has a tendency to run off – and not into – the kayak. The coaming tubes also allow one to attach an optional spray skirt. As the coaming tubes take half a pump, and the decklifts one pump, they are sometimes just as easily inflated with one’s mouth.

ae12

Last steps, insert the two plastic sheets into the bow and stern sleeves.

Attaching the seat

Then attach the seat by clipping the two straps into the appropriate side clips, and attaching the seat back to the coaming area.

Easy to carry.

Less than 10 minutes and you’re done!

Features and Specifications of the AdvancedFrame Kayak

Molded carrying handles

The AdvancedFrame AE1012 is constructed with two molded rubber carrying handles (bow and stern), but it is fairly simple to carry by hooking the side of the kayak over your shoulder.

Front bungee deck lacing

Front bungee deck lacing begins 31 inches from the bow, and measures 9.5 to 17 inches wide by 16 inches deep.

D-rings

There are four d-rings featuring a new, lower profile, making it easier to attach the optional rapidup sail or dry bags. Three quick release clips allow one to easily access the front zipper and interior; the front decking system is roughly 32 inches from the paddler.

Front zipper for easy access

A front center zipper can open up an additional 24 inches for easier entry or for those interested in a more open feeling.

Cockpit with coaming tube and neoprene knuckle guard

The 32 x17 inch cockpit area (87 inch perimeter) features two inflatable coaming tubes to keep water from running in. There are two quick connect clips at the end of each coaming tube, as well as velcro “zipper lips” which keep the coaming area sealed.  Neoprene knuckle guards span each side, measuring 27 x 6 inches at the widest points.

Velcro paddle holders

New features include two sets of velcro paddleholders – one on each side of the kayak – located 40″ and 83″ from the nose.

High-backed seat

Also new is the high-backed, stiffer, padded seat, featuring adjustable side straps which quickly clip into position. Now 16 inches tall, the back wraps 19 inches and is 1.25 inches thick with breathable mesh. The seat base measures 18 inches wide, by 11-15 inches deep, and is 0.5 inches thick.

Mesh pocket behind seat.

One gusseted mesh pocket measuring 9 inches tall by 6 inches wide, houses the repair kit. There is one d-ring for attaching gear.

Rear zipper and d-rings for attaching gear

A rear zipper opens an additional 10 inches – this becomes handy for storage behind the seat, or for carrying large packs. Four more d-rings are located 24 inches from the stern, measuring 10 inches deep by 12 to 15 inches wide. This is located just behind the paddler and could be a great candidate for some additional bungee deck lacing.

Pressure relief valve

There are two military valves and 5 twistlock valves (2 deck lifts, 2 coaming tubes and floor.) New features include the integrated 1 PSI pressure relief valve in the floor, ensuring the chamber is not over-inflated.

Velcro paddleholders

The kayak consists of three layers. Inflatable PVC bladders are housed in a zippering fabric cover, allowing the bladders to be replaced if necessary. The covered bladders sit inside the kayak outer shell. The kayak upper is comprised of 600 denier polyester/PVC laminate in a diamond ripstop material.

Hull with tracking fin

The hull is a rugged, puncture-resistant PVC tarpaulin with electronically welded seams, integrated tracking fin and landing plate.

AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak

We did measurement tests. The kayak inflated is 10’ 4 feet long and roughly 32 inches wide. There are 54 inches of the upper hull before the cockpit, and 38″ upper hull behind the cockpit. The side bladders are roughly 7 to 8 inches in diameter, making a well about 8 inches deep with the deck lifts.

Interior dimensions are approximately 63 inches long by 17 inches wide. When the seat is positioned towards the back of the coaming area, there is is approximately 46 inches from the seat back to the inner tip, leaving a rear covered well roughly 16 inches deep by 15 inches wide behind the seat inside the cover. This can be somewhat repositioned as the seat straps can be adjusted several inches forward. Weight limitations suggest 235 lbs for a person, or 300 lbs for person and gear.

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak On the Water

Just like all the previous versions, the AdvancedFrame kayak is comfortable, stable, rugged and paddles well. Over the years we’ve taken it out in all types of weather from calm water to swells. It has scraped through shallow water, been dragged along rocky beaches, run through duckweed and tules, hauled around in a pickup truck and battled white caps and wind.

AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak on the water.

For my height (5’4”) the kayak is very comfortable and easy to carry. I’ve been out for short jaunts and 10-12 mile treks.

Expedition kayak

At 6’2”, my husband can paddle in it for short periods, but after that feels cramped – taller paddlers (over 6 feet) and those opting for multi-day trips should consider upgrading to the AE1009 Expedition (blue kayak shown above) which is much roomier and has more real estate for storing gear.

AdvancedFrameDS-XL Kayak

Another option is the 10’10” AE1044 AdvancedFrameDS-XL (shown above) with 5 more inches in length and also featuring the more rigid, high-pressure, dropstitch floor.

Performance can be enhanced with the optional AE2023-AF1 backbone – it’s a very subtle enhancement in the shorter kayaks such as the AdvancedFrame or Sport, but one I feel is very real. The backbone is pieced together under the floor, giving a totally rigid bow-to-stern silhouette, with a slight vee shape to the hull – this allows one to pick up about 0.4-0.5 mph more in speed.

Rigid enough to stand up in.

My favorite is the high-pressure drop stitch floor (shown in an AdvancedFrameDS-XLC above) ; while more expensive, it offers a weight savings of 4 to 5 lbs, simplicity and enhanced performance/rigidity.

Packing it Up

Packing the AdvancedFrame up is easy. Open all the valves to let the air out – this can be helped by using the deflate mode on your pump.

Folding up the AdvancedFrame

Tighten and close the valves so air doesn’t creep back in, and then simply fold in half the long way, then fold the two ends towards the center, just behind the landing plate and fin. Then fold in half again. This should slip back into the bag if you’ve gotten enough air out.

Bottom Line on the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak

The AdvancedFrame AE1012 inflatable kayak is a winner – a great all-around kayak. First developed in 2002 as the AirFrame kayak, Advanced Elements has tweaked the design over the past 14 years, evolving the AdvancedFrame  into an inflatable classic offering performance, quality and price. In our opinion, it’s a great value and is certainly one of our biggest sellers.

AdvancedFrame with Rapidup Sail

The kayak is comfortable, paddles well, looks good and is quite stable. It is able to handle lakes, class I to II rapids, inlets, bays and coastal ocean. Numerous optional accessories – such as the high-back lumbar seat, an inflatable foot brace, spray skirts, rapidup sail (shown above), the backbone and high-pressure drop stitch floor – can enhance the paddling experience and performance.

AdvancedFrame with canine buddy

The material is rugged and puncture-resistant – certainly strong enough for dog claws, though an extra towel (or Advanced Elements DuraFloor) add another level of protection.

The new pressure relief valve takes the guesswork out of the floor inflation, while the high-backed seat offers vastly superior support than the previous padded seat.

Easily fits in the trunk of a car.

This is a great choice for travel – the carrying case is rugged enough to check as baggage, it’s perfect for RVs and easily fits in the trunk of a small car.

AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak on the water.

All in all, the AdvancedFrame is a great multi-purpose kayak for people of all ages – one of our youngest paddlers was 7 years old, and our oldest customer to-date was 94. Unless you are a larger paddler or plan on longer paddling excursions with multi-gear, the AdvancedFrame is is a great choice.

AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak on the water.

For more info or to purchase, see the AdvancedFrame AE1012 product page on AirKayaks.com,  or watch our YouTube video – this will also be updated shortly.

 

Red Paddle Co recently unveiled their exciting 2017 product line of inflatable paddle boards at Salt Lake City’s Outdoor Retailer Show.

Red Paddle CO FFC System

New for 2017 is the revolutionary Forward Flex Control (FFC) stiffening rod, a patented system designed to give Red Paddle’s Elite race boards even more rigidity, ensuring a competitive edge.

RSS Rocker Stiffening Systems

The current Elite boards feature the innovative, patented Rocker Stiffening System (RSS) utilizing removable fiberglass battens which stiffen the side rails of the boards.

Red Paddle Co FFC System

The additional FFC rod works in conjuntion with the RSS system. Before fully inflating the board and inserting the RSS battens, the FFC rod is clipped to a mounting lever near the top of the deckpad and put under compression, stiffening the board from midpoint to nose.

Red Paddle Co Elite 2017

The new FFC system is part of Red Paddle’s racing development program. With the RSS and FFC systems, nose flex is removed, ensuring an incredibly rigid ride while retaining the portability and storage advantages of an inflatable. By removing nose flex on the board, the Elites become some of the fastest inflatables on the water.

Red Paddle CO FFC System

The new 2017 Elite FFC racing boards – available in 12’6″ and 14’0″ sizes with an updated 25 inch width – should be arriving in late 2016. MSRP is $1629 and $1799 respectively. For details, watch the Red Paddle Co product pages on AirKayaks.com, or ask to get on the Notification List.

Posted by: airkayaks | August 8, 2016

Save $200-$250 on a 2016 Red Paddle Co Sport Inflatable SUP

Coastal Sports, the US and Canadian distributor for the global Red Paddle Co inflatable SUP line, has announced a Super Summer Sports Sale. Now through August 31st, a limited amount of the popular Red Paddle Co Sport 11 and Sport 12-6 models will be available with a whopping $200-$250 off coupon code.

Sport 11 Inflatable SUP

Red Paddle Co is a UK-based company, rapidly becoming the leader in inflatable paddle boards. The Red Paddle Co line now features 17 models ranging in size from 8’11 to 14’0, covering surfing, racing and everything else in-between.

The Sports are the perfect bridge in Red Paddle Co’s 2016 line – great for gliding across bays, lakes, up rivers. The secret lies in their shape. The narrower, bullet shape and longer water line make the Sports zippier and better performing than the Rides. They cut through the water cleanly with better glide, while the squared off tail provides more stability. And they’re easier to inflate and carry around than the Explorers.

Both models feature the patented RSS Rocker Stiffening System. For 2016, the introduction of MSL (Monocoque Structural Laminate) fusion technology resulted in a higher-quality, high-pressure material utilizing less glue. That – coupled with screen-printed graphics and the low-profile, heat-pressed deck pads – culminated in a  lighter board that is slightly more rigid, yet is also easier to roll up.

Which Sport to choose? The Sport 11’0” – with its smaller air volume – offers fast inflation, more weight-savings and great flat-water performance for riders up to 200 lbs, while the Sport 12’6” is also suited to longer touring trips and can be used by larger riders up to 300 lbs.

2016 Red Paddle Co 12-6 Sport Inflatable SUP

Each of the Red Paddle Co Sport models come complete with the Red Paddle roller-wheel backpack, repair kit, instructions, deep water fin, RSS battens, cell phone case and special Red Paddle Co Titan hand pump with pressure gauge, which makes large volume inflation to 16-22 psi easier, leaving you more time to paddle.

As a bonus, AirKayaks is offering a free Accent Max adjustable breakdown SUP paddle, free UPS ground shipping in the lower 48 states, and no US sales tax!

To save $200, visit the 2016 Red Paddle Co Sport 11-0 product page at AirKayaks.com and use coupon code 11sportsale or 126sportsale for $250 savings on the Red Paddle Co Sport 12-6.

This week’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market features a whopping arena of more than 1600 sporting goods manufacturers unveiling their 2017 product lines.

AE1055_SE AngPRO_Main

At Open Air Demo day, Advanced Elements of Benicia, California showcased the new 10′ 6″ StraitEdge Angler Pro, a high-pressure inflatable kayak focused on fishing and comfort.

Designed around the needs of kayak anglers, the wide beam and high-pressure drop stitch floor technology provide maximum stability when casting or bringing in big catches.

AE1055 StraitEdge Angler Pro construction

The 4-6 PSI drop stitch floor – in conjunction with the wider 38.5 inch beam – provides enough rigidity to stand. The floor is covered with a traction pad for protection and grip, allowing one to fully and easily move around.

Tired of standing? The adjustable AirFrame Pro seat features a folding, anodized aluminum frame with removable fabric cover and mesh back. The seat allows one to sit up a few inches higher; the seat back can be adjusted to find that perfect recline position, or can be folded back to allow more interior room.

Two accessory rail systems allow one to add optional 1-inch rail mounts – these can be customized with fish finders, fishing rod holders, GPS mounts and more.

AE1055_SE AngPRO_Top

Other features include an integrated ruler printed on the floor, stainless steel d-rings, bungee deck lacing, paddle holders. Replete with a removable, deep water, tracking fin, the integrated US style fin box can also be used in conjunction with the Current Drives Electrafin, providing battery-powered mobility.

Specifications:

  • Model AE1055
  • Color: Sage/Gray
  • Dimensions: 10’6″ long, 38.5 inches wide
  • Weight: 45 lbs with seats.
  • Max payload: One person with gear 400 lbs
  • Inflation Chambers: 5
  • Folded size: 32 x 18 x 11

The StraitEdge Angler Pro comes with carrying case with shoulder straps, AirFrame Pro seat, drop stitch floor, 2 accessory frames, removable fin, repair kit, instructions. MSRP $999. Available spring of 2017.

AE1006ANG StraitEdge Angler

The StraitEdge Angler Pro joins the current AE1006-ANG StraitEdge Angler, a stripped down version for those fishing folk who don’t need all the “bells and whistles.” MSRP $729.

For further details, watch the Advanced Elements product pages at AirKayaks.com. Or contact us to get on the Notification List.

You can also watch a video posted by Kayak Angler Magazine from Outdoor Retailer Demo Day, below. This also shows the StraitEdge Angler Pro with the motorized Current Drives ElectraFin.

AirKayaks is pleased to announce a special purchase of remaining 2015 Red Paddle Co inflatable racing paddle boards – all Elite 14-0 models are now just $999.

BK9P5152-1920x1280

Well-known for their ruggedness throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand, each of the Red Paddle Co boards utilize high pressure drop-stitch technology – allowing them to be inflated from 15 to 25 PSI – and feature quadruple rail construction, double layering, thick traction pads and fins. Each board comes with the Red Paddle Titan pump, allowing one to inflate a paddle board to 20 PSI in less than 10 minutes.

 

2015-elite-140tNow is your chance to get one of the best inflatable racing SUPs on the market. Original price on the Elite 14-0 was $1799, a savings of $800. Check out the remaining available 2015 inventory on the Red Paddle Co product pages on AirKayaks.com – but don’t hesitate. When they’re gone …. they’re gone. Airkayaks also has a limited amount of Red Paddle Co Race 12-6 models at the same price.

Savings of $800 with free shipping in the continental US and no tax – what are you waiting for!

Posted by: airkayaks | July 31, 2016

Product Review: Compact Innova Helios 2 Inflatable Kayak

This past week we had the opportunity to take our first look at the Innova Helios 2 inflatable kayak – a two person kayak with integrated decks providing expanded storage options.

Innova Helios 2 inflatable kayak

The Innova line is unique for a number of reasons. First, all the kayaks are handmade in the Czech Republic; the factory has manufactured inflatable boats for well over 50 years. In Europe, a similar line is marketed under the name Gumotex.

We previously published our review on the single version Innova Helios 1. So here is our write-up on the the Innova Helios 2 inflatable tandem kayak, which weighs 36 lbs in the pack, is 12’6″ inches in length and has a payload of 396 lbs for two persons and gear. (Please note: some of the information will be duplicated from other Innova reviews).

Getting Started with the Innova Helios 2

The box as received is surprisingly small – only 25 x 16 x 11 inches – and weighing in at 38 lbs.

What's in the bag.

Inside is a very nifty and compact backpack with adjustable shoulder straps, front pouch pocket and roll top closure. This contains the kayak body, foot rests, repair kit, instructions, valve adaptor and sponge. At only 36 lbs for the pack and contents, the Helios 2 is small enough to be considered carry-on luggage, and will fit in an airplane overhead bin. Packed dimensions are 22 x 15 x 9 inches as received in the bag.

Helios 2 Setup/Inflatation

We read through the included instruction manuals. Just like all the other Innova  products, the Innova Helios manual is surprisingly detailed in some aspects, while lacking in others. As the kayaks are made in Europe, many of the details are based around European specs and regulations and can sound more complicated than it actually is.

Unfurling the kayak body

First step, unpack and unfold the kayak body. What is immediately noticeable is how FLAT the kayak is when deflated – of course, this makes it quite compact for travel.

Optional tracking fin

The Helios 2 has a “shoe” for those using an optional tracking fin. (Please note: both Helios kayaks do not come with the tracking fin, though we tested the following Helios 2 with one.) Install the tracking fin before inflating the kayak. Slip the end with the larger slot in first, making sure that the fin is pointing towards the “back” of the kayak. This enables it to slide in enough to fit in the second side. The first time we tried this, we struggled for a few minutes to get the second slot into position; this gets easier with use. (AirKayaks note: The second time we installed the fin, the kayak was wet and it was much simpler. According to Innova, utilizing McNett UV Tech also helps initially, but after a few times the mounting gets much easier. After the third or fourth time, we found it slipped in/out readily.)

Foot brace

The instructions suggest attaching and inflating the foot braces first, but these come already attached from the factory. The foot brace utilizes a twistlock valve, which performs as it sounds – twist the end to open or close the valve. The Boston valves will not friction fit over the twistlok so you will have to do one of three things – have another paddler hold the valve over the twistlock; carefully negotiate holding the adaptor and twistlock together with one hand while pumping with the other; or give up and blow it up with your mouth. It took about 2 to 3 puffs to get each one filled out.

Setting up the valve for inflation.

The Innova Helios 2 features three main inflation chambers utilizing military valves – one for the floor and one for each side. The military-style plunger valve is simple to use – with your finger, twist the plunger slightly to the “up” position to inflate (air goes in but doesn’t come back out) and “down” to deflate (air comes out).

Military valve and adaptor

Locate the military valve adaptor in the repair canister. The does not come with a pump, but the adaptor friction fits onto the Boston valve conical adaptor found on most pumps.(AirKayaks: Before doing ANYTHING, attach the adaptor to your pump with the string).

Boston valve adaptor and military adaptor

Lock the Innova adaptor onto the military valve with a slight twist, and push the conical adaptor in to friction fit the two. Since the Innova main chambers are inflated to 3 PSI, it is helpful to use a pump with pressure gauge to ensure the kayak is inflated appropriately. We did have a hard time preventing the Boston nozzle on our pump from popping off the adaptor – possibly some slight sandpaper might rough up the surface for a better friction fit. Worst case, one could glue the adaptor to the Boston valve nozzle. Tuck the foot brace under the sides.

Pumping up the side chamber

Pump up the side chambers first. It took us 32 pumps to reach 3 PSI on each side.  If using a pressure gauge, please note that the pressure will only read while you are pumping, since most gauges work on back pressure. At 3 PSI, switch over to the other side chamber. Tuck the foot braces under the sides.

Pumping up the floor

Then pump up the floor chamber, which also took 32 to 33 pumps. Screw on the valve caps to protect the plungers from sand and salt, or from accidentally being pressed.

Pumping up the integrated seat and deck.

The Helios 2 is designed with integrated, inflatable seats/deck covers. Next, pump up the rear deck/back rest to 1 to 1.5 PSI (the pressure is not mentioned in the instruction manual). Since this also utilizes a twistlok, once again you need to balance – holding the adaptor over the valve unless you have someone to hold it in position – this took about 8 pumps holding the pump onto the adaptor. Press the seat back down and move to pump up the front seat. Last, pump up the bow deck – this took about 10 puffs by mouth. AirKayaks note: Here is a nifty little home-made adaptor that works with these twistlocks.

Sets up in less than 10 minutes

Done, less than 10 minutes, surprising simple and very quick.

Deflating the Innova Helios 2 kayak

Deflation is just as easy. Simply turn all the valves to the open position and push out the air. Remove the tracking fin (if installed). The air can be quickly pushed out by either rolling up the kayak towards the valves, or pumping out the final air, using the deflate mode on your pump – once done, turn the valves to the inflate position so air doesn’t creep back in, and replace the wing-nut caps. Then fold the sides in over themselves, with the decks and brace on top. Fold both ends to center, then in half.

Innova Helios 2 Features and Specifications

The Innova Helios 2 is constructed from a 1200 denier rubber-coated laminate material called Nitrylon – this consists of a synthetic rubber coating over polyester on the inside and outside of the tube.

Rugged Nitrilon material

Nitrylon is the same material used in high-end Zodiac-type yacht tenders, and is stronger, more abrasion and puncture resistant than PVC as well as being greener – there is minimal out-gassing.

Mesh net and twistlock valve

There are three 3 PSI inflation chambers utilizing military valves (both sides and floor) and 5 Twistloks (both seats/decks, front deck and the foot braces.)

Mesh net and front deck

The front deck keeps water from splashing over the sides. This includes a mesh cargo net with 4 d-rings spaced 12 to 14 inches wide by 11 inches deep, with the first set located 20 inches from the nose. The cargo net has a tightener clip. The deck is approximately 32 inches from the front paddler and stretches for 34 inches, creating a covered well 9 inches tall.

Integrated mesh net, center deck and front seat

The front seat and center deck cover are one unit. The center deck is 17 inches long, with a second cargo net measuring 17 inches wide x 10 inches deep. This center deck is roughly 28 inches from the rear paddler, and a few inches behind the front paddler. The covered well is 9 inches deep.

Bungee deck lacing and rear seat

The rear seat and deck cover are also one unit. The back deck extends 34 inches with bungee deck lacing and 4 d-rings. This starts 7 inches behind the rear paddler and measures 14 tapering to 11 inches wide, by 9 inches deep. The deck creates a covered well behind the rear seat, measuring 29 x 13 wide x 9 inches tall – a great spot to store gear, though make sure it is properly protected as water can get in. While not totally waterproof, it will keep much of the water out.

Foot brace.

The inflatable foot braces each measure 18 x 8 inches and can be repositioned from 28 to 38 inches from the front seat back with more room in the snout. The rear brace can be positioned from 28 to 39 inches from the rear seat back.

Side carrying handles

There are two rubber handles located each at the left side bow and right side stern. Rope decking around the front deck and rear seating well can also be used as a carrying handle or to attach gear.

Rugged nitrilon material dries quickly

There are 10 grommets along the perimeter (3 front/4 center/3 back) for at attaching gear or running lines. Three small holes at the stern are for attaching an optional rudder system.

Each of the plastic deck d-rings has a cloth loop for attaching more lines or gear.

Removable tracking fin and i-beams

The hull has 5 sculpted i-beam tubes creating the rounded hull shape. The optional tracking fin measures 4.5 inches tall and 7 inches wide.

Innova Helios 2 inflatable kayak

We did measurement tests. The Innova Helios 2 inflated is 152 inches (12’8″) and aproximately 28 inches wide. Interior dimensions of the kayak are about 16 inches wide at the wider points, and about 64 inches from the front seat back to the interior bow. There is 45 inches seat-back to seat-back with 15-16 inches covered. Tube sides are approximately 7 inches deep.

Total payload weight is 396 lbs. person and gear.

Innova Helios 2 On the Water.

We tested out the Innova Helios 2 in some mild chop, using the optional fin.

Innova Helios 2 on the water.

First of all, the Helios 2 is roomy enough for two average adults, though slightly narrow. The kayak handles/paddles very well – it’s speedy and turns pretty easily. It handled swells with aplomb, riding over them easily. The seat backs are comfortable, but one thing to note: As the side walls are lower, boat wake and swells can crest over the sides, pouring water in. As there are no seat bases, one would be sitting in some water – so bring along a pad to sit on.

I then took the kayak out solo.

Hooking arm under the deck to carry.

As the handles are located on the bow and stern sides, it is a little awkward to carry solo. It’s not possible to hook over one’s shoulder, due to the central deck location, but I found by running my arm under the center deck, I could get enough grip to carry it.

Innova Helios 2 on the water.

By sitting in the rear with weight in the front, the Helios 2 paddles very well. The rounded hull is slightly tippier in feel initially, but one easily gets used to it. Tehe slimmer silhouette makes it quite zippy.

Helios 2 paddled double

This would also be a great choice for an adult and child or dog, or those needing storage space to haul gear. The numerous grommet locations looked like they could be fashioned to attach homemade spray decks/tarps. The covered decks – while not impervious to water – will still be helpful in preventing some splash-over, as well as keeping out some wind.

Rugged enough for canine claws.

The material is rugged enough that I would not hesitate to bring along a canine buddy – and there’s certainly room. The photo above shows me paddling with my buddy Eddie in the Innova Sunny, constructed from the same material.

Packing up took just a few minutes. The “smooth skin” of the Nitrylon material allows one to just wipe down the kayak to dry it off, and then fold up into the pack. I did notice slight scuffing  – Innova says the McNett UVTech is very helpful as a coating to keep the kayak lustrous and prevent scuffs.

Bottom Line on the Innova Helios 2 Inflatable Kayak:

Innova Helios 2 on the water.

The Innova Helios 2 is a wonderful inflatable kayak for those wanting portability, simplicity, easy entry and lots of storage options. The kayak paddles smoothly and tracks well. I highly recommend the optional fin, which helps the kayak tracking and performance in swells.

Optional rudder attachment

Those paddlers wanting more control can purchase the optional Helios rudder.

Set up is very simple and takes less than 10 minutes. Take down is equally simple – wipe down and fold/roll up.

Innova Helios 2 inflatable kayak

The integrated front, center and rear decks provide a fair amount of protection from the elements, while providing lots of interior storage space for day or camping gear, as well as numerous options to bungee items to the upper hull.

The Nitrilon material is rugged and easy to clean, yet still packs up extremely flat and compact.

Environmentally-conscious paddlers will find the minimal-PVC and China-free construction appealing.

Easily fits in the trunk of a car.

The included backpack is compact and rugged, perfect for a trek into remote areas or riding mass-transit. It can also be stashed in the trunk of a small car, and is small enough to qualify for carry-on during your next plane flight – it’s a great choice for travel.

Availble in red or green

MSRP on the Helios 2 inflatable kayak is $999, and it’s available in two colors – green or red. For more information, or to purchase, visit the Innova Helios 2 product page at AirKayaks.com. The Helios also comes in a one-person version at $799.

As mentioned in prior posts, we received our first shipment of the newly-updated Innova Twist and Swing inflatable kayaks for 2016.

Made in the Czech Republic, the Twist and Swing models are now constructed from Light Nitrilon (LN), a lighterweight version of the rugged material used in the traditional Innova Sunny, Helios and Safari models. Light Nitrilon is known for making the kayaks more rigid as well as water and abrasion resistant, without substantially increasing weight. It’s also PVC-free, thus environmentally friendly.

Innova Twist LN Inflatable Kayak

New features also include improved seating and beefed up foot brace. The new seating arrangement is removable and inflatable, making it easier to reposition the paddling location, optimizing paddling performance and comfort.

This week we had the first opportunity to take out the  revamped Innova Twist LN, an 8 foot 6-inch inflatable weighing a mere 18 lbs (including seat and foot brace) with a selling price of $449.

Please note: Some of this information will be repeated from prior write-ups.

Innova Twist: Getting Started

The box as received measures 22 x 16 x 10 inches, weighing in at 20 lbs.

What's in the box.

Inside is the Twist LN body, cinch strap, multiple instruction sheets, tracking fin, foot rest, repair kit, seat, bilge sponge and valve adaptor. The Twist LN body with seat and brace weighs 18 lbs with a folded size of 20 x 15 x 78. AirKayaks note: While the instructions say the Twist LN comes with a drawstring carrying sack, these were not included in the first shipments. The bags are currently being shipped over and will be added to the boxes.

Innova Twist Setup/Inflatation

We read through the included instruction manuals. As with all the Innova manuals to date, the instructions are quite detailed – there is one instruction sheet for fin installation, one for utilizing the valves, and another on the kayak in general. Most include IKEA-style graphics which are occasionally just short of a brain twister, and while some steps are dauntingly detailed, some are not mentioned.  As the kayaks are made in Europe, many of the details are based around European specs and regulations.

Unfolding the Twist LN

First step, unpack and unfold the kayak body. What is immediately noticeable is how FLAT the kayak is when deflated.

Removable tracking fin

Install the tracking fin before inflating the kayak. The Twist LN utilizes a single fin with double slots. Slip the end with the larger slot in first, making sure that the fin is pointing towards the “back” of the kayak. This enables it to slide in enough to fit in the second slot.

Installing the tracking fin

While the first time can be a struggle to get the back side into position, after a couple of rounds it becomes quite easy. Pull up on the fin to ensure you have a good fit.

Attach the foot brace (this comes pre-attached from the factory) by weaving the webbing through the floor connectors and back. Pump up the foot brace – this uses a twistlock valve.

Inflating the foot rest.

As it sounds, twist the end of the lock to open the valve. The Boston valve adaptor will not friction fit over the twistlok so you will have to do one of three things – have a buddy hold the valve over the twistlock; carefully negotiate holding the adaptor and twistlock together with one hand while pumping with the other; or give up and blow it up with your mouth. It took us about 4-5 puffs to inflate it. Make sure the twistlock is facing down, so that your foot doesn’t accidentally kick it open.  AirKayaks note: Here is a nifty little home-made adaptor that works with these twistlocks.

While the Innova instructions suggest pumping up the side chambers first, then the floor, here is where we will veer away (though please note, the photos were taken following the instructions). The Twist LN has a fairly narrow beam, and by following the recommended steps, we had trouble installing the seat. This also has a bonus effect of widening the kayak slightly.

Inflating the seat

Next, install and pump up the seat – when first setting up the Twist LN, you will see it arrives in-position, with two side straps and one floor strap. Just like the foot brace, the seat utilizes a twist lock valve. This took 5-6 puffs.

Now pump up the floor.

Opening/closing the valve

The Innova Twist LN features three main inflation chambers utilizing military valves – one for the floor and one for each side. The military-style plunger valve is simple to use – with your finger, twist the plunger slightly to the “up” position to inflate (air goes in but doesn’t come back out) and “down” to deflate (air comes out).

Military valve adaptor

Locate the military valve adaptor in the repair kit. The Innova Twist LN does not come with a pump, but the adaptor allows one to use the Boston valve conical adaptor found on most pumps. (AirKayaks note: Before doing ANYTHING, attach the adaptor to your pump with the string.) Lock the Innova adaptor onto the military valve with a slight twist, and push the conical adaptor in to friction fit the two. Since the Innova main chambers are inflated to 3 PSI, it is helpful to use a pump with pressure gauge to ensure the kayak is inflated appropriately.

Military valve adaptor and Boston valve adaptor

Now pump up the floor chamber. It took us roughly 30 strokes to reach 3 PSI. If using a pressure gauge, please note that the pressure will only read while you are pumping, since most gauges work on back pressure.

At this point, make sure the seat is evenly situated on the floor, tucking the seat base edges under the side chambers. Do the same for the foot brace.

Pumping up the chambers

Next pump up the side chambers.  It took us roughly 23 strokes each side with a double action hand pump to reach 3 PSI. It may be helpful to alternate the sides once or twice, making sure both the brace and seat are in position; this helps spread the side walls a bit wider.

Screw on the valve caps to protect the plungers from sand and salt, or from accidentally being pressed. Please note – the military valve push pins can sometimes deceptively look as if they are UP while in the deflate mode. When this happens, as soon as you remove the pump adaptor all the air will swoosh out. So, make sure they are truly popped up. On the positive side, this is so easy to pump up, it’s not a big issue.

Easy and quick to set up.

That’s it, you’re done. The Twist LN is remarkably easy and fast to set up – just over 5 minutes.

Deflation is just as easy. Simply turn the valves (military and twist lock) to the open position and push out the air. Remove the tracking fin, but you can leave the brace and seats in place.

Fold the kayak in half, and then in half again the long way.

Packing up the Innova Twist LN

Then start to fold up from the front, pushing the air out through the valves in the back.  Fasten the kayak body with the cinch belt. As a side note, while you can press out most of the air and get the kayak back into the pack, to really minimize the size/footprint, it is best to pump out the final air, using the deflate mode on your pump. Turn the valves to the inflate position so air doesn’t creep back in, and replace the wing-nut caps.

Innova Twist LN Kayak Features and Specifications

The Innova Twist LN is constructed from Light Nitrilon (also spelled Nitrylon).

Light nitrylon material

Light Nitrilon (LN) is a lighter-weight version of the rugged Nitrilon material used in the traditional Innova Sunny, Helios and Safari models. The base polyester ripstop material is coated with an outer layer of synthetic rubber, improving longevity as well as making the kayaks more rigid, water and abrasion resistant, without substantially increasing the kayak weight. LN is PVC-free, making it more environmentally friendly than standard inflatables using PVC bladders – there is no out-gassing. And unlike many other inflatables, both the upper hull and underside utilize the same material.

Military valve and pressure relief valve

There are three 3-PSI inflation chambers utilizing military valves (both sides and floor) and 2 Twistloks (1 backrest and 1 foot brace.)

New for the 2016 Twists is a pressure-relief valve in the floor stern, which ensures that the floor is not over-inflated. If the floor is accidentally overpumped, or becomes heated in the sun, the valve releases when the pressure reaches 3 PSI.

Sculpted hull and tracking fin

The hull has a removable tracking fin measuring 4.5 inches tall and 7 inches wide, with seven sculpted i-beam tubes creating the hull shape.

Inflatable seat

Also new for 2016 is the removable, inflatable backrest. The new seating arrangement allows some flexibility in repositioning the paddling position to optimize paddling performance and comfort. The seat measures 15 inches wide and 12 inches tall for the back rest, and 15 x 15 inches for the seat base, both inflating up to 2 inches. The seat is attached via two side straps connecting to two d-rings on the kayak side chambers; these are located 54 inches from the nose.

The seat base is fastened via strap to a connector behind the seat on the floor, located 34 inches from the stern – this could also be used to attach gear.

Bungee deck lacing

Behind the rear seat is an “open” storage compartment with bungee deck lacing, which helps prevent belongings from falling overboard. The compartment is 17 inches long by 13 inches wide, tapering to 7 inches towards the stern. The storage well is 9 inches deep by 12 inches wide behind the seat, tapering to 3 inches deep and 5.5 inches wide at the rear.

Corded handles

There are two low profile rope handles located each at the bow and stern. While there are no side handles, the kayak is light enough to easily hook over your shoulder.

Inflatable foot rest

The inflatable foot brace is attached via a web clipping system. The brace measures 17 inches long by 15 inches wide and has three “humped” foot positions about 6 inches apart; these are located “as received” at 32, 39 and 46 inches from the seat back. If the brace is not fully inflated, it can be moved roughly 3 inches – by moving the brace and extending/shortening the webbing, giving lots of versatility. There are 12 inches from the “open bow” to the beginning of the foot brace.

Coaming lip is a splash guard

A spray railing/coaming lip sits up approximately 1.25 inches around the cockpit perimeter in the bow and stern areas, only. This extends back 12 inches from the bow and 36 inches from the stern.

Birdseye view of the Innova Twist LN

We did measurement tests. The Innova Twist LN inflated is 8 feet, 7 inches long and approximately 29 inches at the widest point. Inner dimensions are roughly 12 inches wide with the seating well approximately 8 to 9 inches deep. The side tubes are roughly 8 inches in diameter.

With the seat in the “as-received” position, there is roughly 62 inches from the front seat back to the bow and 34 inches behind the rear seat back to the stern tip. If you do not fasten the seat back clip, the seat can be adjusted roughly 6 inches forward and 4-5 inches back.

Total payload weight is 220 lbs. person and gear.

Innova Twist LN On the Water

I tested out the Innova Twist Single over a couple of days.

Twist LN Inflatable Kayak on the water

First, I took it out for a short jaunt in mild chop. The kayak is pretty rigid and is easy to paddle. As with all lighter-weight and shorter kayaks, there will always be a certain amount of “wag” in the snout, particularly if you attempt to power paddle. This will be less noticeable with heavier people, by adding weight to the front, or using shallower/gentler strokes.

twln24b

It is to be noted that the interior dimensions are somewhat slim, so larger people would be much better suited to the Twist 2 paddled solo.

Twist LN Inflatable Kayak on the water

I came back to shore and added a pack with 10-12 lbs of gear. By removing the brace, there was enough depth to stuff the pack into the nose, and for those not overly tall, the pack acted as a foot brace. The added weight in the front made a huge difference in paddling. The Twist rides over swells quite easily, and with my weight/gear in the front, handled the side wind pretty well. On the downwind, it would drift a little but it wasn’t bad.

One thing to note – as the bow is somewhat open, the “coaming lip” will prevent some water from splashing inside, but not all. In wave situations the water can crash over, hence the included bilge sponge. But the inflatable base on the new seats puts one up a couple inches, out of the water, unlike the prior Twists. They are also more comfortable, and the adjustable straps allow you to find the sweet spot for your weight.

Twist LN Inflatable Kayak on the water

The rear storage well can fit a good amount of gear – both under and on top of the bungees. I attempted to put weight in the back, under the cargo lacing, but that put the Twist off balance, raising the nose out of the water. So put lighter goods in back, and a heavier pack in front.

In calm water with added weight, the Twist handles pretty well – and it turns on a pinhead!

The Lite Nitrylon material sheds water pretty easily, making it a snap to dry off or wipe clean.

Innova Twist LN Inflatable Kayak Bottom Line:

Light as a feather!

The Innova Twist is a good travel and backpacking companion. The newer Light Nitrilon material is rugged, yet at 18 lbs, still light-as-a-feather, and easily trekked into remote areas. The small folded footprint makes it a great choice for RVs, plane travel and those limited by space.

Easily fits in the trunk of the car.

It can easily be stored in the trunk of a car for spur of the minute activity. Set up is extremely easy, and takes roughly 5 minutes.

The open cockpit design makes entry and exit a boon to seniors or those with physical limitations. The new removable seat allows a certain amount of flexibility in the seating positions, while the ability to inflate the seat back and base provides varying levels of comfort and support.  The smoother, water-resistant coating provides for easy cleaning and drying, making take-down less of a chore.

The Twist LN is incredibly nimble and – with weight in the front – paddles pretty well, though the narrower footprint make this a better choice for smaller people. Larger paddlers, or those wanting more carrying capacity, should take a look at the Twist 2 – see our Detailed Review on the Twist 2 LN.

Twist LN Inflatable Kayak on the water
Those paddlers that just want to get out on the water, and have fun without a lot of fuss, will find the simplicity of the Twist quite appealing.  Environmentally-conscious paddlers will find the PVC and China-free construction equally as attractive.

The Innova Twist LN is good for paddling calm waters, mild swells, slow moving rivers and light surf – and small enough to make exploration of distant waterscapes a reality.

MSRP is $449. For more information or to purchase, see the Innova Twist LN product page on AirKayaks.com.

In May we received our first shipment of the newly-updated Innova Twist LN and Swing LN inflatable kayaks for 2016. Made in the Czech Republic, the new Twist and Swing models are now constructed from Light Nitrilon (LN), a lighterweight version of the rugged material used in the traditional Innova Sunny, Helios and Safari models. Light Nitrilon is known for making the kayaks more rigid as well as water and abrasion resistant, without substantially increasing weight. It’s also PVC-free, thus environmentally friendly.

Innova Swing LN inflatable kayak.

Other new features on the Swing LN include an improved coaming area which can take optional redesigned spray skirts.

This week we had the first opportunity to take out the revamped Innova Swing I LN, a 10 foot 4-inch one-person inflatable weighing a mere 22 lbs (including seat and foot brace) with a selling price of $599.

Please note: Some of this information will be repeated from prior write-ups.

Getting Started with the Innova Swing I LN Inflatable Kayak

The box as received weighs 26 lbs with dimensions of 29 x 16 x 12 inches.

What's in the box.

Inside is the Swing I LN body – neatly folded with a cinch strap – multiple instruction sheets, 2 metal insertion bars, tracking fin, seat, foot rest, repair kit, sponge, and valve adaptor. At 23 lbs for the combined package with accessories, and a folded size of 25 x 16 x 11 inches, the Swing I LN is small enough to fit inside plane overhead cargo bins.

Innova Swing LN Setup/Inflation

The main instruction manual covers set-up for both the Swing I LN and Swing II LN kayaks, thus there will be overlap in both of our write-ups. As with all the Innova manuals to-date, the instructions are quite detailed – there is one instruction sheet for fin installation, one for utilizing the valves, and another on the kayak in general; the Swing has added instructions detailing the “insertion bars.” Most include IKEA-style graphics which are occasionally mind-boggling and while some steps are dauntingly detailed, some are not mentioned.  As the kayaks are made in Europe, many of the details are based around European specs and regulations.

Unfolding the Swing body.

First step, unpack and unfold the kayak body. What is immediately noticeable is how FLAT the kayak is when deflated. Ascertain which is the bow and which is the stern; while the instruction manual says the stern has the Innova logo, the logo and the floor valves are located at the front of the kayak.

Removable tracking fin

Install the tracking fin before inflating the kayak. The Swing I LN utilizes a single fin with double slots.

Installing the tracking fin.

Slip the end with the larger slot in first, making sure that the fin is pointing towards the “back” of the kayak. This enables it to slide in enough to fit in the second slot. While the first time can be a struggle to get the back side into position, after a couple of rounds it becomes quite easy.

Foot brace

Attach the foot brace (this comes attached from the factory) by weaving the webbing through the floor connector and back.

While the next step is to “attach” the seat, the Swing seat is actually permanently attached to the kayak floor with an elastic web, but also has two side straps and a rear seat clip. This is where we will veer a little from the instructions.

Installing the deck lift

Take out the two aluminum reinforcement bars (deck risers) that give the kayak its upper shape. These are labeled 1 and 2 with a left (L) side and a right (R) side. These correspond to numbered slots inside the kayak, and are not interchangeable. Layout #1 before the front seat and #2 behind the seat.

Installing the deck lift

The bars are installed in the same manner as the tracking fin. Match the labeling on the bars to the labeling on the bar “slots” inside the kayak, first #1 (left and right) then #2 (left and right).

Installing the deck lift

This takes a bit of gyration the first couple of times, but gets easier with subsequent installations. To reach the rear section, it is helpful to open the zipper for adequate work space, sliding in each side.

At this point – before doing anything else – loosely attach the seat-back loop to the metal bar #2, leaving the side straps unfastened. Completely zip up the rear deck. If  you don’t do that, it is impossible to close it after inflation – take it from the voice of experience.

Open/close the military valve.

The Innova Swing I LN features three main inflation chambers utilizing military valves – one for the floor and one for each side. The military-style plunger valve is simple to use. With your finger, twist the plunger slightly to the “up” position to inflate (air goes in but doesn’t come back out) and “down” to deflate (air comes out).

Boston valve adaptor (left) and Innova Swing adaptor (right)

Locate the military valve adaptor in the repair bag. The Innova Swing I LN does not come with a pump, but the adaptor allows one to use the Boston valve conical adaptor found on most pumps. (AirKayaks note: Before doing ANYTHING, attach the adaptor to your pump with the string.) Lock the Innova adaptor onto the military valve with a slight twist, and push the conical adaptor in to friction fit the two. Since the Innova main chambers are inflated to 3 PSI, it is helpful to use a pump with pressure gauge to ensure the kayak is inflated appropriately.

Pump up the side chamber

The Swing LN main chambers are pumped up first. If using a pressure gauge, please note that the pressure may only read while you are pumping, since most gauges work on back pressure. It took us approximately 25 strokes each with a double action pump – approximately one minute per side – to reach 3 PSI on each chamber.

Pump up the floor

Finally, pump up the floor chamber to 3 PSI – this took about 22 strokes. Screw on the valve caps to protect the plungers from sand and salt, or from accidentally being pressed. Please note: the military valve push pins can sometimes deceptively look as if they are UP while in the deflate mode. When this happens, as soon as you remove the pump adaptor all the air with swoosh out. So, make sure they are truly popped up. On the positive side, this is so easy to pump up, it’s not a big issue.

Attach the seat

Attach the adjustable seat side straps to the kayak, and then fasten the rear strap which keeps the seat back upright.

Plastic coaming tubing

At this point we are left with a coiled white tube – and no instructions. From our past experience with the Swing EX, we knew this was a coaming pipe – a long piece of plastic tubing that will slip inside the coaming casing around the cockpit. Once installed, it will help prevent water from pouring back in while paddling, and will also allow you to utilize an optional standard spray skirt, if desired.

Insert the plastic coaming tube.

This was probably the hardest part in setting up the kayak. Pull the plastic tube apart, and located the opening at the back of the cockpit. Slide in the tube. This is very easy until you hit the front curve, where it hangs up. By angling, pushing on the tubing and grasping, keep at it and you can get it all the way inserted until it comes back out the other side. Re”cork” the tube and fasten the flap. (AirKayaks note: We subsequently spoke with Maureen at Innova, and she suggested inserting the plastic tubing BEFORE inflating – less tension. We have not had a chance to try that out.)

Easy to carry and lightweight

You’re done! The Swing I LN is remarkably easy and fast to set up – less than 10 minutes.

Easily folds up for storage.

Deflation is just as easy. Simply turn the valves to the open position and push out the air. Remove the tracking fin. For the smallest package, remove the metal bars and coaming tube, and detach enough seat connections to make it flat – you can leave the bars in place, but it won’t fold up as small. Fold in the kayak sides so you can only see the red upper. Fold over each end, and then fold up the kayak again, meeting in the middle – a diagram in the instruction manual is quite helpful. Tie it up with the cinch strap and you’re done. As a side note, while you can press out most of the air and get the kayak back into the pack, to really minimize the size/footprint, it is best to pump out the final air, using the deflate mode on your pump. Turn the valves to the inflate position so air doesn’t creep back in, and replace the wing-nut caps.

Innova Swing I LN Features and Specifications

Just like the Twists, the Innova Swing I LN hull is constructed from Light Nitrilon (also spelled Lite Nitrylon). Light Nitrilon (LN) is a lighter-weight version of the rugged Nitrilon material used in the traditional Innova Sunny, Helios and Safari models.

Innova Light Nitrilon Construction

The base polyester ripstop material is coated with an outer layer of synthetic rubber, improving longevity as well as making the kayaks more rigid, water and abrasion resistant, without substantially increasing the kayak weight. LN is PVC-free, making it more environmentally friendly than standard inflatables using PVC bladders – there is no out-gassing.

Ripstop material on the deck upper.

The deck (upper) is constructed from a urethane-coated ripstop nylon to ensure water repellency, with seams glued to the hull.

Military valve and pressure relief valve

There are three 3 PSI inflation chambers utilizing military valves (both sides and floor). Next to the floor valve is a pressure release valve. The US-distributed Swings have a black hull, which can absorb heat in hot sun, causing the chamber to expand. The pressure release valves are designed to release air pressure at about 3 PSI, ensuring that the floors do not become over-inflated.

Molded handles

Two low-profile, molded rubber handles are located in the bow and stern, but you can also carry it by hooking over your shoulder.

Front bungee deck lacing and zipper

Two bungee decking systems – with 4 d-rings each – are located on the bow and stern, allowing one to attach deck bags and gear. The front deck lacing measures 17 inches tapering to 12 inches, by 11 inches and is located about 29 inches from the bow. Underneath is a 27 inch front zipper, allowing one to access the foot brace and any gear that one might want to store in the snout.

Rear bungee deck lacing

The rear deck lacing measures 18 inches tapering to 11 inches, by 10 inches and begins 22 inches from the stern. A second 25-inch zipper is located on the rear upper. Small items can be accessed through the zipper, though the bungee is in the way. Larger items can be stashed inside by putting down the seat.

Deck riser bars.

Two aluminum bars/deck lifts sculpt the kayak body, supporting the coaming area and allowing water to run off. The bars also provide added rigidity to the hull, raise the seating well to about 10-11 inches in depth, fix the side-to-side dimensions and provide longitudinal stability, making the kayak stiffer.

Foam seat

The foam backrest seat is permanently attached to the floor with elastic lacing. Two seat side straps and one rear seat strap keep the seat fixed into position. Seat dimensions are 20″ wide by 12.5 inches tall for the seat back, and 14 inches deep by 15-13 inch wide for the seat base; the seats are about 3/4 of an inch thick.

Coaming tube.

The cockpit opening has a 1.75 inch coaming lip, preventing much water from dripping into the seating area. Plastic tubing provides enough form to allow one to attach an optional Innova spray skirt. The seating well opening is 31 by 19.5 inches, with a perimeter of 83 inches.

The cockpit opening begins 53 inches from the bow, and the backside is 44 inches from the stern.

Innova Swing LN inflatable kayak.

We took overall measurements. The Innova Swing I LN inflatable kayak is 10 feet 6 inches long, with an exterior width of approximately 33 to 34 inches and interior width of 17 to 18 inches. The side tubes are approximately 8 inches in diameter, while the deck lifts raise the interior depth from 9 to 11 inches. Payload is 265 lbs. for one person and gear.

Foot brace.

There is approximately 68 inches from the seat back to the interior bow. The padded foam brace measures 12 x 5 x 3 inches deep, and can be positioned 38 to 45 inches from the seat back; at the 38 inch position, there is another 26 inches forward of the brace, which could be used for some storage.

There is roughly 39 interior inches behind the seat, 18 inches wide and 8 to 11 inches deep, tapering to a point. This under-deck area can be used for storage, and is accessed via the top zipper, or putting down the seat back.

The seat can be moved up to 3 inches forward if needed.

Sculpted i-beam hull

The hull has a removable tracking fin measuring 4.5 inches tall and 7 inches wide, with 7 sculpted i-beams.

Innova Swing I LN On the Water

I took out the Innova Swing LN for a short jaunt on a slightly windy, choppy day.

Easily slipped into by smaller people.

At 5’4″ I had no issues getting into the kayak seating well, and was able to reach the foot brace. First thing I noted was how roomy it felt. Due to the front tension bar, the kayak had more wiggle room than most – from side-to-side as well as deck height.

Innova Swing LN on the water

On the water, the kayak paddled pretty well, riding over the waves. Headed downwind it was a bit drifty, and I had a little tougher time keeping on track. Taking it back to shore, I added a 12 lb pack to the front of the kayak (it also could fit up inside the snout and be used as a foot brace if shorter) – this evened out the kayak weight distribution and made a huge difference. It should be noted that larger people don’t have this problem.

Innova Swing on the water

Whle my 6’2″ husband did not take out the updated Swing LN, he did take out the prior version which has the identical footprint.  As a taller person, he had a little trouble easing himself into the seating well, and hit his back on the metal bar. He also felt the kayak paddled and tracked well. In particular, he was impressed with how roomy it felt compared to other kayaks the same length – as the Swing utilizes left and right inflation chambers (rather than inner and outer), it has a little more leg room. And as the deck lifts raise the hood slightly higher, foot crunching is less of an issue than with other enclosed inflatables.

The only issue of note is that the kayak seats are a thin foam, and have a low back against the aluminum bar – this can become uncomfortable over time. If this becomes an issue, loosen up the back seat strap, and tighten up the side straps, in effect moving the seat forward from the bar.

Lots of interior storage space

The rear storage well can fit a fair amount of gear, though it is a little difficult to access – one needs to either unstrap the kayak seat back, or unzip the rear zipper. When the kayak is inflated, it is a little tough to get the zipper fully closed. So it’s best to store items that you won’t be needing while on the water.

On the beach, much of the water ran off, and the new Lite Nitrilon made drying much easier.

As a last note, the kayak does not come with a carrying case, but an inexpensive backpack would do the trick.

Bottom Line on the Innova Swing 1 LN Inflatable Kayak:

Innova Swing on the water

The Innova Swing I LN is a great choice for travel, particularly if one needs an enclosed cockpit for cold-weather paddling. It’s rugged yet lightweight – at 22 lbs (kayak, brace, seat, fin and bars) it weighs 5 to 12 lbs less than most other single inflatables of comparable size, and can be easily backpacked into remote areas, or stored in the trunk of a car.

The kayak is roomier than many “sit insides.” Due to the deck lifts the interior seating well has more headroom than other inflatables, and the enclosed deck provides protection from the wind, water and elements not found in open style cockpits or sit-on-tops.

New Swing LN spray skirts

The new plastic coaming works better than the velcroed coaming found on the earlier Swings, but is tougher to install. Updated optional spray skirts are available for both the Swing I LN and Swing II LN, allowing a wider range of paddling choices in inclement weather.

Light nitrylon material on the hull

The new Lite Nitrylon material is certainly a step-up, providing more ruggedness and rigidity without drastically increasing the weight. The smooth skin also makes drying out the kayak hull less of a chore.

Easy to carry and lightweight.

The lighter weight is a great option for smaller people, those with some physical limitations/disabilities or seniors, as it can easily be carried, though the fixed cockpit opening may not be as user-friendly for larger paddlers, or those with joint problems.

Multiple storage options – interior front snout, behind the rear seat and two decktop bungee lacing systems – make this a great choice for camping trips and explorations.

Easily fits in the trunk of a car.

The kayak folds down small enough to classify as “carry-on” luggage, so it’s a great choice for far-off vacations. As the metal bars might be considered weapons, plan on staying safe and putting those in your checked-in luggage, which brings down the kayak package size even smaller.

Rated through Class II waters, the kayak is perfect for light whitewater, slow moving rivers, lakes, bays, inlets and coastal ocean.

Innova Swing LN on the water

Those paddlers that want a 1) lightweight, 2) portable kayak offering 3) quick setup and breakdown, with a 4) more enclosed design will find the Innova Swing I LN quite appealing. Environmentally-conscious ecotravelers will find the PVC and China-free construction equally as attractive.

For more details or to purchase, visit the Innova Swing I LN product page at AirKayaks.com.

You can also watch our YouTube video on the Innova Swing LP – this features the previous version in LitePack rather than Lite Nitrylon:

We recently posted our Sneak Preview on the new Twain inflatable tandem packraft from Kokopelli Raft Co., an inflatable kayak/packraft for one or two paddlers, weighing in at a mere 13.6 lbs.

Set up as tandem

For those unfamiliar with the term, “packrafts” are loosely defined as a an inflatable raft weighing under 10 lbs, that can easily be packed/rolled up, making them a great choice for accessing remote locations. While the sport originated in Alaska, the popularity is rapidly expanding globally.

Kokopelli won Gear Junkies “Best In Show Top Gear for 2016” at last summer’s Outdoor Retailer. The current Kokopelli line-up consists of four whitewater models – the Nirvana and Nirvana XL in self-bailing and spray deck versions – joined by three new touring series, the Castaway, Castaway XL and Twain two-person version.

Weights range from 7.3 to 13.8 lbs, with the Castaway XL and Twain sporting removable tracking fins and removable floors. All models come with an inflation “bag” weighing a mere 4 ounces, as well as an inflatable seat(s), though they also can be pumped up using a traditional hand or foot pump. Prices range from $725 to $999 dependent upon the model and options.

While many reviews focus on whitewater backpacking, we will begin with the new touring/flatwater packrafts, in particular the two-person version.

Following is our writeup on the Kokopelli Twain Inflatable Packraft, a 10 ft 2 inch tandem kayak. Please note, some of this will be repeated from prior write-ups.

Getting Started with the Kokopelli Twain:

What's in the box

We unpacked the box and laid out the pieces – inflatable packraft body, inflatable floor, two seat backs, two seat bases, fin, inflator bag, instructions, 2 cinch belts and repair kit. Initial measurements showed the kayak body weighs 9.2 lbs (26 x 13 x 7 inches folded), or 14.5 lbs with everything minus the box. Boxed up, the dimensions are 27 x 14 x 7 inches with a shipping weight of 17.65 lbs.

For the minimalists reading this blog, we have detailed the weights of the individual pieces as follows:

  • Two seats (four pieces) weigh 21.7 oz. Each seat base is 5.3 oz, measuring 20 x19 inches flat. The seat backs each weigh 5.6 oz and measure 23 x 12.5 inches flat – this includes the webbing and clips.
  • The floor weighs 3 lbs, measuring 25 x 12 x 1 inch.
  • The two straps are 2.1 oz., inflator bag 4.4 oz, fin 2.1 oz and repair kit 2.6 oz.

Kokopelli Twain Inflatation and Setup:

The generic instructions include inflation and storage techniques, as well as use of a spray skirt (available for some models) but lack details on actual set up; we will outline the steps we took, below.  In general, set up is straight-forward  – unpack, unfold, inflate.

Unfolding the kayak body.

The first step is to unfold the kayak – it is remarkably flat – and orient yourself; the rear/stern has numerous seat buckle attachments on the sides.

Inflator bag

Included with the Twain is an inflator bag with Boston valve-style fittings – we will go into detail on this later.

Inflating the floor by mouth

Next, pump up the floor outside of the kayak body. The floor uses a twistlock valve, simply twist open the valve to inflate. Here was our first issue. The inflator bag will not couple with the twistlok valve, so we started to inflate it orally. After about 10 puffs, we realized this was going to be a long and dizzy process (indeed, Kelley Smith at Kokopelli said it took him about 7 minutes to inflate with his mouth) so we pulled out a double action hand pump.

Pumping up the floor

The Boston valve fitting will not friction fit over the twistlock valves, so we were forced to hold the adaptor over the twistlock with one hand, while inflating with the other – this is not really that big of a deal, and if you are paddling tandem, you have an extra pair of hands to hold it for you. AirKayaks note: Here is a nifty little home-made adaptor that works with these twistlocks.

Installing the floor.

It took about 15 strokes to get it filled out, but still “bendable” – this is important, as you need to angle it into the kayak body. Twist the valve shut, and lay the twistlok side face up, and positioned at the back of the kayak. Then go around the perimeter, tucking it into position, and bending it under the kayak nose, keeping everything centered.

Some give in the chamber

At this point you can finish inflating the floor until firm, with slight give when you push your thumb on it. Then contort yourself over to finish blowing up with your mouth.

Boston valve with cap open

Move on to the two main chambers, which use recessed Boston valves. Boston valves are two-part, screw-on valves. The bottom portion is threaded onto the kayak, the top valve is screwed open for inflation and then tightened shut after inflation. Air is easily released by unscrewing the base connector. How does it work? A flap inside the valve opens when air is pumped into the kayak, and falls shut when not pumped so that air will not rush back out.

(AirKayaks Side note #2: The Boston valves have a tether that keeps the valve attached to the kayak, ensuring that the valves don’t get lost after deflating. Make sure that the string does not get in the way when screwing on the valve base,and the valve is not cross-threaded, or you may have some air leakage.)

The Kokopelli instructions suggest entirely unscrewing the Boston valves from the packraft body, then taking the inflator bag, and screwing it onto the packraft body. At this point, we want to mention that a “comedy of errors” ended up being a boon. While we had read the instructions, it was not possible to couple the inflator bag to the valve opening on the Twain, as we only had a female connection. (We subsequently found the inflator bag arrived inside-out, so the male connector to screw onto the kayak body, was inside the bag).

Various valves and attachments

So, there are two methods to inflate the Twain using the inflator bag – both with pros and cons. We will outline both here, you can decide which method you wish to use. For reference, we have included a photo of the inflator bag fittings, and the Twain packraft fittings (shown in gray instead of black), above.

Following the instructions, remove the Boston valve (C and D) from the Twain and screw on the inflator bag (Side A).

tw12

Shake the inflator bag to capture air, fold up, and the squeezed air will fill the kayak. When no more air can be squeezed in, unscrew the inflator bag from the Twain and QUICKLY screw the Boston valve (Side D) back onto the packraft, trying to minimize the amount of air that leaks out. Then pull on the Boston valve enough that you can grasp it with your mouth, and start puffing into Side C to re-fill the body back out. This method allows you to get air in very quickly, but there are associated issues. One, the well is recessed so it is tough to get your fingers in (you need to pull the valve base out to grasp it), two – if you are in a hurry to get the Boston valve attached to the Twain, you may cross-thread it, three, if you aren’t quick, you can lose a lot of air and four, it’s tough to get a grasp on the valve with your mouth, unless you pull the valve out of the recess.

Screwing on the inflator bag

Now we have the second method – which works great but takes 2-3 times longer to get air into the body. Screw the Boston valve adaptor (Side D) onto the Twain carefully, and open the top of the valve (C).

Inflator bag attached

Find the female connection (B) on the inflator bag and couple this with the Boston valve (C). What’s nice about this method is that we would not need to remove the Boston valve fitting and lose air.

Catching air in the inflator bag

With the inflator bag now attached to the Twain, we faced into the wind, shaking to get air in.

Sealing the inflator bag

Then pull the two pole handles together, tucking in the sides to create a vacuum, and roll down, forcing air into the body.

Pushing air into the chamber

It helps to grab, clutch in your arms, and squeeze. Once you can’t squeeze any more air inside (it took us about 8-9 bags full, taking about four minutes for one side of the Twain body) then reach inside the inflator bag to find (A). Use (A) as a stem to blow air into the packraft – this took us about 7 or 8 puffs and the chamber was nice and firm. Then unscrew the inflator fitting (B) from the Boston valve cap (C) and screw the cap (C) back on.

We spoke with Kelley Smith at Kokopelli about this – as with everything, a trade-off is involved. It is much faster to inflate the packraft when the inflator bag is directly attached to the body (instructions method), but you may lose as much air making the switch. We leave it to each individual to figure out what works best for them.

Using a double action hand pump

Along that vein, for the second chamber, we decided to try a double action hand pump. While much heavier and bulky, there may be many times when that is not an issue. The Kokopelli instructions say never use a pump, but they actually mean, don’t over inflate (stay under 2 PSI). We friction fit the Boston valve adaptor into the Boston valve cap. It took us 29 pumps for a total of 54 seconds of pumping to get the kayak almost firm, at which point we removed the pump and topped off the chamber with about 6 or 7 puffs by mouth, until we could get no more air inside. A quick check with an aftermarket manometer showed our side chambers were running about 1.5 to 1.7 PSI (perfect).

Using duct tape

Now is the time we will mention our quick fix for the floor inflation using our miracle product – duct tape. A half inch strip does a great job of binding the double action hand pump Boston valve adaptor over the twist lok on the floor, if one needs to pump solo. We also found that the same strip of duct tape worked great binding the inflation bag (male side “A”) to the twistlok.

Blowing up the seats

With the body inflated, we moved to the easier parts. Inflate the four twistlock valves on the seat backs and bases orally (this took about 3 puffs for the seat back and 5 for the seat base.)

Attaching the seat clip

There are four upper tube clips each side (2 large and 2 small) and two lower side clips (small) each side. Take the seat bases and attach them to the lower side clips.

Attaching the seats

Then take the seat backs and attach the front straps to the wider clips, and rear straps to the smaller clips – not easy to screw up as they are different sizes. You can tighten as needed, or wait until you actually sit inside the kayak.

Removable tracking fin

Last, attach the removable tracking fin, which enhances paddling/tracking in deeper water. Make sure the fin is pointing towards the rear of the kayak. The Twain utilizes an Air 7 box with a Click Fin. While the fin is actually quite simple to install, we were hesitant to press hard at first. Slip the fin into the slot, then hold the fin base with one hand, and the fin box with the other. Pull back and it will click into position.

Attaching the fin

At this point, pull up on the fin to make sure you have it locked in position. You may want to bring along a towel, as the fin and bottom hull of the kayak are black, and can become somewhat burning in the sun.

Lightweight

That’s it! You’re ready to paddle.

Features and Specifications on the Kokopelli Twain

Side taping

The Twain Packraft features side tubes constructed from a 210 denier, double-coated nylon; one-inch seam welds with reinforced tape ensure durability and the highest-quality, air-holding properties, capable of holding 650 lbs.

Uderside

The floor is a beefed-up 840 denier double-coated nylon with v-tape floor construction for even more durability.

V-taped floors for durability

The v-tape provides added strength to the floor seam, so that the floor doesn’t tear out when stepped into – see the photo above. The oversized 11-inch tubes ensure stability on the water as well as providing some protection from swells.

Bsoton valve

There are 7 inflation chambers – the two main chambers with Boston valves, and 5 twistloks for the floor and seats.

Easy to carry

The Kokopelli Twain does not have carrying handles (weight savings) but is ultralight and easy to carry under you arm, or hooked over your shoulder.

D-ring

There are four cloth outer d-rings on each side; the first two sets are 12 and 28 inches from the nose, measured around the perimeter. The back two sets are 22 and 63 inches from the stern; the second and third set are 41 inches apart.

koko-twain

Measuring from the inside straight back, the upper seat clips are located 31, 51, 69 and 85 inches inches from the interior nose, on the side walls (positioned about 8 inches up the side walls). The lower side clips are positioned at 48 and 84 inches from the interior nose, up about 3 inches on the wall. Tube widths are 12 inches in the bow, and 20 inches in the stern.

Inflatable seats

The inflatable seats consist of a back support and seat cushion, with one twistlock for each piece. The seat base is roughly 16 inches deep and 14 inches wide, and roughly up to 4.5 inches thick. The back rest sits up 12-13 inches above the floor, or 9 inches above the inflated seat base; it curves about 17 to 18 inches wide. There are two connectors on the seat base, and four on the back rest.

Tracking fin

There is one removable Click Fin measuring 5 inches deep and 6 inches front to back.

The inflator bag is 32 inches deep by 27 inches wide with the Boston valve adaptor fittings and two handles. There are two 36″ long cinch belts for keeping the packraft body rolled up when deflated.

TiZipped compartment

This particular Twain featured one tizip chamber (this is an upgrade), used to store gear inside the bladder. The waterproof, airtight zipper is roughly 16 inches long, beginning 11 inches from the rear, on the right rear chamber. The d-ring in that area is underneath the tizip, sitting lower than the other side d-rings.

Set up as tandem

We did measurement tests. The kayak inflated is 10 feet 3 inches long and about 36 inches wide. The side bladders are roughly 11 inches in diameter, making the sides about 10  inches above the seating area. Interior dimensions are approximately 7 foot 2 inches long by approximately 15 inches at the widest point  tapering to 9 inches in the very front.

When set up as a tandem – with the rear seat back as far as it can go, and the front seat back aligned with the yellow side seam, there is 44 inches from the back of the front seat to the interior snout, 33 inches from rear seat back to front seat back, and roughly 7 inches wide by 5 inches deep behind the rear seat. The back seat can move up about 4 inches, and the front seat about 3 inches either way.

Set up as a solo

For solo paddling, we took out the rear seat. We then moved the front seat back as far as it could go, attempting to get just “rear of center. ” To do this, we fully lengthened the upper front straps as long as they could go, then loosened the the upper back straps, putting most of the weight/stress on the upper straps. Then tighten up the bottom straps. This creates 37 inches behind the seat roughly 12 inches wide and tapering down, and 50 inches from seat back to interior snout – lots of room.

Weight limitations are 650 lbs for persons and gear.

Kokopelli Twain Pack Raft On the Water

We took the Twain Pack Raft out as a tandem on a somewhat calm day.

Kokopelli Twain Inflatable Packraft, paddled tandem

With our combined heights of 6’2″ and 5’4″, the seating room was surprisingly, perfectly adequate. While my husband’s knees were bent, he felt quite comfortable and did not take much time adjusting. We were both impressed with tracking and handling – for a lightweight, shorter kayak, the Twain was pretty speedy and neither of us noticed much wag in the nose. And what’s most impressive, it turns on a dime!

Kokopelli Twain Inflatable Packraft, paddled solo

We then repositioned the seats for solo paddling. I took the Twain out first. As a single kayak, it’s quite roomy and handles pretty well. Using a double-bladed kayak paddle, one must assume a high angle to clear the side walls. I did feel more weight in the front would help, and there was a little wag, so stashing a backpack is perfect.

Kokopelli Twain Inflatable Packraft, paddled solo

My husband then went out solo. He liked the open design and also remarked on how maneuverable the Twain was. His only issue – he felt he was sitting pretty low, and would have preferred more height as his shoulders were raised a bit high. But, he didn’t notice any wag and felt it paddled great.

I later took the Twain out in some chop. The kayak rides over swells, but with wind – and the oversized side tubes – it’s more difficult to handle. Added weight inside the pack raft nose would help.

One thing I noticed that is quite different from the standard, heavier kayaks – since the Twain material is lighter-weight, and the tubes are much larger, changes in temperature have more of an effect. When pumping up in ambient temperature and then launching into colder water, the air contracts quite a bit, causing sag. Conversely, if the boat seems underinflated, putting it in the sun tightens it up quickly. So, be prepared to tweak the chambers dependent on the conditions, and absolutely make sure you bring your inflator bag or pump on board.

TiZip

Please note, while this was the Tizip version, we did not utilize it for this review. We will do a followup at some point on storing gear inside the Kokopelli Tizip chambers.

We asked Kelley Smith about durability. According to Kelley, of the few issues they’ve seen with the packrafts, most occur off the water – just a little common sense prevents this. When rolling up your packraft, make sure you have a towel, grass or tarp underneath – don’t push on sharp objects. Slip the kayak body into some sheath so that when back packing or climbing, it doesn’t get snagged on rocks or trees. And never over-inflate, or leave it fully inflated for any length of time in the hot sun. Luckily, most pinholes and tears can easily be repaired with the included patch kit.

I do want to add in a little story on durability. Last summer I had our first Kokopelli Nirvana packraft stored inflated in our building on the water. As the roof was being replaced, I asked the contractor to cover the kayaks with tarps so they wouldn’t get damaged. Of course, no one did, but I didn’t find out until the job was complete. At which point I pulled out the Nirvana and was stunned to find 27 four-inch nails which had accumulated in the bottom – but happily without a hitch. To this day it’s still fully inflated.

Because of the black hull, I do want to caution paddlers not to leave the kayak upside down in the sun fully inflated, unattended, for extended periods of time.

Packing up the Kokopelli Twain Inflatable Packraft

Packing up the Twain is slightly trickier than the other, smaller models for three reasons: 1) the longer length, 2) the added floor and 3) the fin box. It took us a couple of tries to get it right.

First, lay the Twain body on a tarp or softer surface, and remove air from all the bladders. In this case, we opened the seat twistlocks, removed the seats, rolled them up to extrude the air, then closed the twistlocks so air doesn’t come back in. Open the floor twistlock and unscrew the two Boston valves from the main chambers. We left the floor in the body.

Fold in half the long way.

Flatten out the Twain body, then fold in half the long way, smooth it out. Then, fold in half the short way. This then puts all three valves together at one spot, the two Boston valves and the floor twistlock.

Fold up.

Starting at the “fold” begin rolling/folding up and with luck you will roll/fold over the fin box. This continuously pushes air out of the chambers. Tuck over the end with the valve openings, and then fold the body over that. Lay out the seats flat just inside the last fold. Fasten the cinch belts around the body – if you’ve taken care, the cinch belts will be long enough to fasten.

With longer cinch belts and if space is not an issue, there are no problems.

Bottom Line on the Kokopelli Twain Inflatable Packraft

koko-cast1

The Kokopelli Twain Packraft is a great choice for those needing a highly portable, performance-oriented kayaking option for flatwater paddling – and it’s one of the only choices available for tandem paddling, or those needing plenty of room for gear. In fact, the addition of the floor and removable tracking fin open up another world of paddling outside of traditional whitewater use.

It's lightweight!

At 13.6 lbs, it’s lightweight, easy to assemble and packs down to a small footprint. As a tandem, the Twain is roomy enough for two adults, but is also easily paddled by one – making it a great choice for those with lots of gear. While some of the ultra-lightweight and shorter kayaks can bob around, the longer silhouette and added tracking fin allows the Twain to be better seated in the water – it’s speedy, paddles well, and it’s so maneuverable it can almost break-dance.

Rugged

The two-chamber design provides greater safety than traditional one-chamber packrafts, while seam welds with reinforced tape ensure durability and the highest-quality, air-holding properties – it’s pretty rugged for a lightweight!

The ability to strip down to bare basics for remote backpacking, or utilize standard kayaking equipment and pumps, makes it quite versatile. This is a great candidate for air travel.

Floor

The included inflatable 4-inch 240 denier floor provides extra buoyancy and rigidity, allowing the paddler(s) to sit higher, keeping out of the water, yet could be removed for those interested in conserving weight. When paddling solo, added weight in the snout is quite helpful, as well as boosting up the kayak seat base a bit to clear the side tubes.

Paddled tandem

The Kokopelli Twain is a good choice for slow-moving rivers, lakes and flat inlet kayaking, or for some light whitewater – probably through Class II.

Easy to get into

The open design will also appeal to those who need easy entry and exit – such as seniors or those with physical disabilities – as well as paddlers with a myriad of gear to transport.

Set up as a solo

The Kokopelli Twain inflatable packraft starts at $875. For more details or to purchase, visit the Kokopelli Twain product page at AirKayaks.com. Stay tuned, we’ll be putting up a video within the next couple of weeks.

You can also watch this beautiful video short, featuring three friends trekking across Mongolia with their mountain bikes and Kokopelli Nirvanas!

 

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