Posted by: airkayaks | April 13, 2013

Product Review: The Innova Twist 2 Tandem Inflatable Kayak

In December, we received our first complete shipment of Innova inflatable kayaks, which included the Innova Double Twist – a light-weight, packable, tandem kayak. This will be the fifth in a series of write-ups on each of the Innova kayaks, beginning with the Innova Sunny, followed by the Twist single and both Swings.

Innova Double Twist Inflatable Kayak

As previously mentioned, the Innova line is unique in that their kayaks are handmade in the Czech Republic rather than China or Korea.

(AirKayaks note: Please see our review on the new Twist 2 LN inflatable kayak made with Lite Nitrylon. The Twist 2 LN has replaced the Twist 2 LP.)

The Twist series is unique in that they utilize materials that are PVC-free, making them a greener option.

This week we had the first opportunity to take out the Innova Twist Double, an 11 foot 10-inch two-person inflatable weighing a mere 21 lbs with a selling price of $499.

Please note: Some of this information will be repeated from the Twist Single write-up.

Innova Double Twist: Getting Started

The box as received is incredibly small and incredibly light – only 18 x 12 x 8 inches with a weight of 25 lbs.

Fold up into a small package

Inside is a plain drawstring sack, which houses the Twist II body, cinch strap, multiple instruction sheets, tracking fin, foot rest, repair kit, and valve adaptor. At 23 lbs for all this in the sack, and a folded size of 17 x 11 x 7 inches, the Twist II is certainly small enough to be considered travel carry-on luggage – with room leftover.

Innova Twist 2 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. As the kayaks are made in Europe, many of the details are based around European specs and regulations and can sound daunting.

Unfold the kayak

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 II 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. While the first time can be a struggle to get the back side into position, after a couple of rounds it becomes quite easy.

Attach the two foot braces (these comes attached from the factory) by weaving the webbing through the floor connectors and back, but don’t bother to pump them up just yet.

Spring-loaded military valve.

The Innova Twist II 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).

Included adaptor.

Locate the military valve adaptor in the repair canister. The Innova Twist II 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.

Pumping up the floor chamber

Pump up the floor chamber first. 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 one side chamber. Pump up each side chamber until it reaches 3PSI. 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.

Installing the foot brace

Now you can inflate the foot braces. These use a twistlock valve. The Boston valves 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.

Pump up both the front and back paddler foot rests and push them into position.

Inflating the backrest

What is unique in the Twist II is that the seats are an integral part/connected to the kayak. Each seat utilizes one twistlock valve – inflate this the same method as the brace, and then just “push it down” to create a back rest. There is no seat base; one sits on the floor chamber.

You’re done! The Twist II is remarkably easy and fast to set up – just over 5 minutes.

Deflation is just as easy. Simply turn the valves to the open position and push out the air. Remove the tracking fin, but you can leave the brace in place. Screw on the valve wing nuts for protection. Fold up the kayak and then roll up, to get it back into the backpack. 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 II Kayak Features and Specifications

PVC-free LitePack material

The Innova Twist II is constructed from LitePack, a polyester ripstop fabric that is single coated with rubber on the inside to increase air retension. This is treated with a Teflon water repellant to aid in drying and prevent staining. LitePack 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.

Three main chambers utilizing military valves.

There are three 3 PSI inflation chambers utilizing military valves (both sides and floor) and 4 Twistloks (2 backrests and 2 foot braces.)

Removable tracking fin and hull with sculpted i-beams

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

Inflatable back rests.

As mentioned previously, the inflatable backrests are part of the hull body, so not adjustable; when inflated, the front seat forms a rigid “shelf” over the rear paddler’s feet, The front back rest measures 13″ high and 19 inches wide, and is positioned approximately 59 inches from the tip of the bow. The rear seat “shelf” partially covers the back storage, which also increases the rigidity as one rests against it. The back rest measures 13 inches tall by 14 inches wide, and is positioned approximately 43 inches from the front paddlers back rest.

Integrated rear storage with bungee deck lacing

Behind the seat is an “open” storage compartment with bungee deck lacing, which helps prevent belongings from falling overboard. The compartment is 33 inches long by 15 inches wide, tapering to 6 inches towards the stern. The seat back creates a 7-inch “covering” about 6 inches deep.

t2-7

There are two low profile rope handles located each at the bow and stern, and two molded rubber handles on each side, but the kayak is so lightweight it is easy to hook it over your shoulder.

Inflatable foot rest.

The inflatable foot braces are attached via a web clipping system. The front brace has three foot positions – by moving the brace and extending/shortening the webbing, these “rests” can be located from 25″ to 42″ from the seat back, giving lots of versatility. The rear brace measures 11 x 18 inches and has two positions; this can be placed about 29 to 40 inches from the seat back. There are two loops on each of the floor brace webs, allowing one to fasten gear if desired.

Spray railing/coaming lip

A spray railing/coaming lip sits up approximately 1 inch around the cockpit perimeter.

Top view of the Innova Twist II

We did measurement tests. The Innova Twist II inflated is 142 inches long (11 feet, 10 inches) and approximately 32 inches at the widest point. Inner dimensions are roughly 15-16 inches wide with the seating well approximately 8 inches deep, plus the lip.

Total payload weight is 396 lbs. persons and gear.

Innova Double Twist On the Water

We tested out the Innova Twist Double over a couple of days.

Paddled tandem.

First, my husband and I took it out for a short jaunt in slightly choppy water. The kayak is pretty rigid, rides fairly high in the water and is easy to paddle – the seating is also surprisingly comfortable. My husband – at 6’2″ – had to bend his knees quite a bit to fit behind the seat, and found this interfered with his paddling; he thought persons 5’10” or less would be okay as a rear paddler. At 5’4″, I was quite comfortable in the front, but felt the snout was a little “high” in the water.

We returned to shore and swapped seats. Bingo. I had no problem with leg space in the rear seat, and he had no problem with leg space in the front. Additionally, his added weight caused the snout to ride a little lower, and paddle a bit better.

Paddled solo

I then took the kayak out solo, sitting in the rear seating position. As with all lighter-weight kayaks, there will always be a certain amount of “wag” in the snout if weight is not equally positioned. This will be less noticeable with heavier people, or by adding weight to the front.

Paddling with a canine companion

I then brought out my new paddling buddy – Woodie – on his maiden voyage. The added weight of 40 lbs in the front evened out the kayak, and it paddled smoothly. The kayak is roomy enough and tough enough for a canine companion – or a small child – in the front. While the material seems to be quite rugged, if bringing a dog you might want to put a towel on the floor to be on the safe side. What became quite apparent is that the Twist II is quite stable – despite Woodie’s repeated attempts to climb out and drink water, there was never a moment that the kayak felt tippy.

One thing to note – the “coaming lip” will prevent some water from splashing inside, but not all. As you are sitting on the kayak floor, you will get wet. At times like this, I found that by flipping back the inflatable foot brace, it worked great as a elevated seat base.

The Innova Twist II also turns on a dime.

Paddled solo.

My husband then tried the Twist II as a solo. Larger people can sit in the back and flip up (or deflate) the front seat, allowing their feet to fully extend while also leaving plenty of room for gear. While he found it to be quite roomy, he did feel the need to sit a little higher – the flipped-back foot brace worked well.

The rear storage well can fit a good amount of gear – both under and on top of the bungees. Backpacking vacationers might pick up more room by fastening a small pack between the front handle and the foot brace floor clip, utilizing the brace as a seat base.

On the beach, much of the water ran off, but under the waterline it took a little air-drying. Despite battling through patches of algae, it wiped pretty clean.

Innova Twist II Bottom Line:

The Innova Twist II is a perfect travel and backpacking companion for those that need a tandem option, or a larger kayak that can hold lots of travelling gear.

Lightweight, easy to carry.

It’s rugged, at 21 lbs light-as-a-feather, and easily trekked into remote areas. The small folded footprint (no larger than a schoolbag) makes it a great choice for RVs, plane travel and those limited by space. It can easily be stored in the trunk of a car for spur of the minute activity. Set up is extremely easy, and barely takes 5 minutes.

The kayak is roomy enough for two – even for someone 6’2 inches – yet still offers a good amount of storage space in the rear well.

The Twist is small enough to take anywhere.

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 Double Twist quite appealing. Environmentally-conscious paddlers will find the PVC and China-free construction equally as attractive.

twist2

Parents wanting a lightweight and simple paddling option will find this is a great choice for enjoying the water with a child.

Twist Single and Twist Double

The Innova Twist II is good for paddling calm waters, mild swells, slow moving rivers – and small enough to make  exploration of distant waterscapes a reality. And if you want a smaller option, take a look at the Innova Twist I – an 8.5 foot single version weighing in at 16 lb.

Watch our YouTube Video on the Innova Double Twist inflatable kayak:

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For more information or to purchase, see the Innova Twist II product page on AirKayaks.com, or view the other Innova inflatable kayaks. Stay tuned for more product write-ups – in particular the Helios I and II.

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