As mentioned in previous write-ups, Confluence Watersports is well known in the kayak world for their hardshells and paddling gear. Recently, they’ve gravitated into the inflatables market under the Harmony product line, with the launch of three inflatable kayaks – the Orbit 245 solo, the Odyssey 295 tandem and the Odyssey 345 for 2+ adults.
This is the second review in the series, and features the Orbit 245, an 8 foot one-person inflatable kayak weighing in at 19 lbs.
The box arrived weighing 32 lbs, 27 x 22 x 10 inches. We opened it up and pulled out the backpack, which houses everything – kayak, hand pump, pressure gauge, foot brace, seat, instructions, maintenance kit.
The kayak folded size is 26 x 21 x 8.5 inches. Everything in the pack weighs 26 lbs (bonus point #1) and it all fits in the bag (bonus point #2).
We read through the instruction manual and began to set the kayak up. The original instruction manual we received wasn’t adequate/correct for this model, but we understand all current shipments have the new instructions, which are a great improvement. (AirKayaks note: The new instructions can also be found on the airkayaks.com website at http://www.airkayaks.info/)
Unfold the kayak. There are three inflation chambers utilizing Boston valves. If the valves are not attached to the kayak, place the little retaining ring around the lip at the base of the valve on the kayak – this ensures that you don’t lose the valve down the road. Next, screw the bottom half of the valve onto the kayak, making sure the valve openings are centered in the fabric opening, and that none of the fabric is interfering with the valve placement – our first attempt, the base valve did not screw on correctly and we lost air. To pump in air, unscrew the top half of the Boston valve.
The instructions mention a removable tracking fin, but those are only found on the Odyssey models; the Orbit has a small integrated fin and front landing plate.
Our first problem was trying to couple the valve adaptor to the valve. While the instruction manual directs you to use the screw-on adaptor, there was not enough “lip” for it to grab. We then tried using the Boston valve attachment (conical nozzle about ½ inch in diameter), but the material was so glossy it would not friction fit and kept blowing off the valve. We managed to solve this with a small rock – simply by rubbing it over the surface of the adaptor on the pump, we roughed up the surface enough for it to grab. Problem solved.
Partially inflate the floor chamber. We recommend next partly inflating the rear chamber, as it utilizes a recessed chamber that is a bit tougher to get one’s hand into, if not perfectly centered. Then partially inflate the front main chamber valve. Then go back and top off the three chambers until they feel firm (1.5 PSI) and wrinkles on the main chamber are smoothed out. The floor has a fabric covering, which has a bit more give.
Next, position the seat over the velcro strips on the floor, and then attach the covered foam seat to the kayak by clipping the back seat strap through the (only) d-ring on the kayak.
Finally, get inside the kayak and figure out which foot brace position will work best. Thread the foot brace through the loops, clip shut and voila! You’re ready to hit the water.
Features and Specifications
The Orbit 245 features 4 padded grab handles, one on each side. A sculpted rigid spray deck on the bow helps deflect water that may come up over the kayak sides.
The kayak comes with a nifty padded foot brace with four bracing positions. Two velcro “paddle parks” allow one to attach a paddle on the right hand side when not in use. Neoprene padded knuckle guards cover both sides, preventing knuckle abrasion.
The kayak has a tough outer shell of 840 denier nylon and tri-laminated 500 denier PVC tarpaulin, with HF welded bladders. The floor bladder has a fabric cover, providing added protection to abrasion, fish hooks or “sharp doggie nails.”
The kayak chambers have zippers, allowing the bladders to be replaced if ever necessary.
Lastly, the backpack is very nifty and roomy. A zipper runs across three sides, making it simple to remove/pack up the kayak and gear. Padded shoulder straps, side cinches, top and bottom grab handles make transporting the kayak simple. Gussetted side mesh pockets with drawstring closures allow you to carry some extra gear. Backpack measurements are 26 x 17 x 9.5 inches with 15 inch deep side mesh pockets.
We did measurement tests. The kayak inflated is 8 feet long and 32 to 33 inches wide, just as advertised (bonus point #3). The side bladders are roughly 9 inches in diameter, making a well about 7 inches deep. Interior dimensions are 50 long x 16 inches wide. The interior length from the back of the seat (which rests against the back perimeter chamber) to the foot brace positions ranges from 40 to 48 inches. Max weight load is 287 lbs for one person and gear.
On the Water
Right off the bat, my first (5’4″) impression was that the Orbit 245 was quite roomy for being only 8 feet long – in fact, I had to move the seat up to reach the closest brace position.
With the covered floor, I could easily see a small dog sitting in the bow. In fact, when I turned my back, I felt a large whoomph and Eddie, my canine paddling companion, leapt into the front and refused to leave. Even at 40 lbs, I had no problem paddling with him sitting in the front.
While one expects some “nose wag” in the smaller, ligherweight kayaks, it was actually nice and fun in small chop. While only out for 15 minutes on a large lake, I didn’t notice water getting in – some of this is prevented by the molded spray shield on the bow. The kayak opening is very easy to get into, and the kayak itself is very stable. The side grab handles are positioned low enough that they didn’t interfere with my paddling.
My only gripe was the lack of d-rings and deck lacing, making it a challenge to attach gear. I did finally pull out my Chinook Aquawave deck bag, and was able to attach that to the loop on the back of the seat, and the rear handle, allowing me to carry some lightweight gear.
The padded seat is 11 inches tall, comfortable, and rests against the kayak main chamber so it feels firm with good support.
Next, my 6’2” husband – skeptically – took it out for a short spin in some mild swells. While many shorter kayaks leave him cramped, every inch of the 8 foot Orbit seems to earn its keep – by removing the foot brace, he was pleasantly surprised to find he could completely stretch his legs out. While mentioning a small wag in the front, he felt the kayak was quite paddle-able.
The Orbit 245 is a great little kayak – clean and streamlined, it looks and feels good. It paddles and tracks with just a little wag – this can be prevented by keeping your stroke on an even keel or placing some weight in the front. It’s very stable, surprisingly roomy and the open design makes it very easy to get in and out. The four carrying handles are almost overkill, as you can easily balance it on your shoulder or tuck it under your arm. The included backpack is a great asset, particularly since everything fits inside.
As the entire package weighs 26 lbs, this is a great choice for some backcountry trekking to remote water. It also is a good choice for travel – whether airplane, RV, bike or mass transit – and would be good for some light whitewater, rivers, lakes, inlets and mild surf. Addition of D-rings would be a major plus.
If you’re looking for a smaller, simpler kayaking option – and weight or storage is an issue – this is a great choice for cruising around and having some fun! And if you need a little more room, the Orbit 245 sibling – Odyssey 295 shown in blue – is an excellent choice for larger kayakers or those with larger storage requirements.
You can also view our YouTube video on the Orbit 245
For more information on all three Infinity kayaks, see http://www.airkayaks.com/categories/Harmony-Infinity/