Looks like nobody in AK uses an innova kayak... :/
Innova Kayak (Helios boats)
My reply is based on experiences with these boats, others of traced lineage, qualities, overall fabrication, etc.
Are Innova boats a decent product?
Yes. Touted to be of harder core commercial and great rescue craft comes a bit overstating... however these boats are representative of a hand made, 'greener' to some degree, better than middle of the road, versatile, recreational/adventure class craft of proven features with accessories that can overlap into some extremes.
What are they made of?
This is a hand made glued boat of synthetic & natural rubber lamination blending over either 500 D nylon or 1200 D polyester base-cloths. Good comparison would be a lighter duty Hypalon raft material of sorts with similar characteristics, performance, and longevity.
What are some attributes?
Boat is very portable and packable, relatively durable, good air retention, cold crack and chemical resistant, may last a long time (like 20-30 years), versatility built in, affordability, lightweight, and easy to make 'basic repairs on, outlets like REI sells them with some type of extra satisfaction on purchase.
What are the very real shortcomings?
Overly complex by design, softer inflation than plastomer boats, pricier than PVC, less overall performance, not all that high capacity (think not as good load-bearing providing shallow draft), not as forgiving as several other selections in its class (TIPPY, NON BAILING), and repair to an integral I-beam issue is often not a simple FIELD fix (blow-outs or hemorrhaging from over inflation, excessive heat, impacts, etc.)
Overall a good purchase?
Probably so... they (models you have) are in my opinion somewhat outdated by some standards, yet will serve you well for what you described like older boats I have in the quiver.... note high cards and some of the limitations.
Great review, Brian. Many thanks.
I see those pros and cons you mention right before my eyes.
I plan on bringing one to Mexico...they come in a backpack that will fit in a carry-on overhead bin. That is something that my last Grabber outside or Aire traveler could never dream of achieving. These aren't the same animal, they are lighter duty, but still appear to be uber durable overall.
With both at $300 each and as-new, it should be a fun experiment. I live near NRS in Moscow and will stop in and see what they have to say.
We own 4 at the time used to own 6 but sold two. Two safaris, one helios and an experimental one that eventually was marketed. The helios stays on the Big Island with our son so we have a boat there all the time. We like them all and have used the heck out of them but again like the dry suit discussion we take care of our products with washing, UV protection, never leaving in the sun for long and if on the beach for lunch and no shade we remove some air.
Originally Posted by sisusuomi
I have two Helios 380's of exactly the vintage you have pictured here. I love them. I bought them for taking out on my small motor boat and using for day paddling on the marine waters of Kenai Fjords and Prince William Sound. Our motor boat is too small to carry hardshell kayaks, so these were a perfect option. I purchased mine new for $800 each at REI several years back. I would say you got a screaming deal on yours. We typically day paddle them with two in each kayak--1 adult in the stern and 1 kid forward. I also used one of mine several years ago as a solo boat with gear in the forward compartment for a float of the Tlikakila River in Lake Clark National Park. The float was accompanied by two rafts, so they really carried the bulk of the gear. The Innova performed beautifully on this up to Class III river, but the lack of self-bailing made for some cold buns as I often sat in a puddle of frigid water! Have planned to float the Kenai for the past few years but just haven't made that one happen yet.
Great boats in my opinion that benfit from a 303 protectant treatment at the end of the season.
OH--we also bought the rudder kit for one of them to try it out but never liked it--I rarely use it.