When I think of kayaks, I generally think of the hard plastic versions (I own one) or, if I’m feeling highfalutin’, handmade wood versions. At the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market this year, I had the good fortune to connect with Innova Kayak, make a connection, and receive a demo of the Swing I to try out. And thus I entered the world of inflatable kayaks.
Now inflatable kayaks might have you thinking of pool toys, or an easily popped balloon on water, but you would you be so wrong. Not that inflatables cannot lose air or be torn, but the Innova Kayak I received is made of “Nitrylon” (a lamination of nitrile synthetic rubber and natural rubber over 1200-denier, low stretch polyester fabric), which reduces air seepage over time. It also has a pleasant heft that makes one feel safe, yet isn’t heavy enough to make this hard to carry or feel sluggish in the water.
The Swing I is simple to set up. One inserts two metal ribs for hull rigidity, a plastic tube to create a cockpit, a plastic skeg for maneuvaribility, and then inflates 3 air chambers. That’s it, easy as pie.
I tried the Swing I several times, including on a local river that was running harder than I expected and created some comical thrashing on my return trip upstream. Through it all, the Swing I kept me relatively dry (excepting my own splashing with the paddle), comfortable, and relatively in charge (what can I say? I’m a beginner.). Initially it feels strange to sit on top of an inflated air chamber (and I really held my breath when scraping over submerged tree limbs), but the lightness and comfort soon won me over. This is definitely a kayak inexperienced paddlers can feel comfortable in.
The kayak weighs about 25 pounds and is 10’6″ long, making it easy to carry. As someone who does not live near navigable water, it was important that my kayak be easily transported – the Swing I definitely is.It is also easy to store when deflated. Two notes of caution – neither an air pump, storage bag, nor a paddle are included in the purchase, so you’ll need to own them or order them at the same time.
If you’re looking for a quality kayak that is beginner-friendly (though I suspect experienced paddlers would also enjoy this) and easily transportable, take a look at the Swing I and other kayaks from Innova.
*This product was provided for editorial purposes – all opinions are my own.