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Thread: Inflatable kayaks

  1. #1
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    Default Inflatable kayaks

    I was wondering if anyone had anything to say about inflatable whitewater kayaks, I have been thinking about buying one, but not too sure yet. I have been rafting for many years, but find it would be easier to do day trips with less gear. Can they be rolled? It seems like some of the narrower models could be, but I haven't been able to find info on it yet. Any good brand recommendations? I have looked at some of the sevylor models and they seem to have come a long way with their quality on some of their boats, but I dont have any real info.

    Chris

  2. #2
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Aire Trib Tomcat

    Buck for Buck carrying capacity, weight etc... AIRE TIRB TOMCAT is a decent value. Fairbanks area Sportsmans, Beaver Sports, and Blue Moose Rafting.
    Anchorage - Alaska Raft and Kayak and Sportsmans Warehouse.

    I use the Tomcat on the Gulkana, and Chena all the time. We rent them to Moose hunters, and day trippers all the time.

    54 lbs, cost under $650.00, 12' 9" long, self bailing, carrying capacity 450 lbs, rolls up to fit in any trunk or back seet with ease.

    Been in Class III with them and it did fine, rock hopping always fun. I would change out the valve system however in my opinion they are better than any other boat with in 200 bucks of that price range.

    Best of luck in your choice.

    Blue Moose

  3. #3
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    Default

    Some of them can be rolled if you're really good, but most are just too wide. I've seen a video of a guy rolling a Thrillseeker, and he made it look easy. However if you do tip them over, it's a lot easier to right them and climb back on. It only takes a little practice to get it down quick even in deep & rough water. In some ways that makes them safer than hard shell kayaks. It's nearly impossible to get pinned in one, and if you bail out of a hard shell, you have to retrieve your boat somehow. With an inflatable you stick with it and remount. They are also easy to do serious rock hoping with. I've taken one down the Little Su up by Hatcher Pass and it was a hoot. The guy with me in a hard shell was in way over his head. IK's are very forgiving.

    The Aire Tributary Tomcat is a decent boat but has seams on the bottom of the tubes that are very vulnerable to wear. If you buy one, it is recommended that you use a couple tubes of Aqua Seal to coat these seams. Aire's Lynx is a more durable boat but costs a bunch more too. Aire used to make these with either an inflatable floor or a rigid foam floor. The inflatable version is far more popular due to the ease of packing & storing, but the foam floor is a faster boat that surfs & plays better.

    It seems just about everybody is into the IK business these days, and you can find a lot of choices out there. But I would not recommend a Sevylor anything. I know they have gotten better, but most are still made from unreinforced vinyl, and even the ones with fabric in them are not made well. They also do not bail fast, so if you fill it up, and you certainly will, it better be in a place where you don't have to maneuver for a while. I owned a Sevylor Tahiti years ago while living in WA, and it was a blast. But I ripped a seam while in the Washougal River and it never recovered.

    Aire makes the best seat in the business. If you get another brand, consider buying one to install in your boat. You can take it out and use it to sit on around camp too. You can also let some air out and sleep in the boat, for the best bed in camp. Just don't try it in a foam floor model. Even the singles are kind of long though, so you'll either have to have a large tent or use a tarp.

    A two place boat will carry more weight, be more stable, and paddle a bit faster due to the longer waterline. They also actually work with two people as long as there is no gear to deal with. We had a two place Tomcat in the Grand Canyon last year, and in spite of the fact that the users had never been in an IK before, no one tipped the thing over in 21 days of paddling, even while negotiating some very serious water. I remember them following me through a class VII run. (Western Big River Scale) They disappeared for a while, then shot straight out of the hole and into the air. They landed upright and thought it was normal. Big grins were everywhere.

    The single IK's have a shorter waterline, so they turn faster, and play better. I've done a couple self contained multi-day trips in single Aire Lynx IK's, and had to pack only a bit lighter than I do when rafting. I didn't bring the Dutch oven, but all the necessities fit in okay.

    They are a lot easier to outfit than a raft, and are great fun for all. They are a wet boat though, and any little wave will land in your lap. So you either have to wear good rain gear (without a fly, and with ankle elastic) or use a drysuit. The drysuit is the best option because it will still keep you dry if you roll. Adds to the cost of the boat though.

    I have an old single seat Thrillseeker that I'm going to sell this spring (or now perhaps). It sells new for over $1300, and I'm wanting $300 for it. It's faster and surfs better than a Lynx, and it has a shorter waterline, so is more maneuverable too. I'm keeping the Lynx because I'm getting too old & slow for a boat like the T-Seeker. Info can be found at http://www.tseeker.com/

    PM me if you are interested.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Speaking of local day trips... An IK is a lot more fun on Eagle River than a Raft. No experience necessary either. I have three of them and load total novice friends into them. By the time they get to Campground Rapids they are up to the challenge. The fun part is playing on waves & in holes until you flip. Only do this if you are wearing a drysuit though. Also the first canyon on Sixmile is doable with only a bit more practice, as long as you do it at low water. The Nozzle in the second canyon is my nemesis though. I only had about a 50% success ratio in there. Actually, the third canyon was easier than the second for me.

    Lyon Creek (headwaters of Sixmile) in Turnagain Pass is a very good IK run that is easy enough for novices and still not boring. Too small for rafts though. Peters Creek (the one in Anchorage) has also been done in IK's, as has Ship Creek, but both are a bit past me. With an IK you can go a lot of places you would not get your raft through. Your options really open up.

    IK's are also great to take on raft trips for your friends to paddle through otherwise long slow float days.

  5. #5
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default day trips

    around the kenai area we have several fun runs,
    The kenai river from kenai lake to jims landing is easy and scenic and will take several hours to complete, especially if you are doing some fishing along the way.
    the Swanson river from the put in at swanson river road and take out at Capt cook state park in cook inlet will take from 9 hours min to 13 hours to limp wristed paddlers...
    the Kasilof river from Tustemena lake to the bridge is a two hour trip, and fast and fun towards the end,,, also you can paddle all the way to cook inlet in a about 3 hours of extra paddling,, but make sure you do this on an outgoing tide, as paddling against the tide takes alot longer...
    been there done that...lol
    then some other rivers for short fun runs are the Ninilchik river from up river at a bridge that is accessed from oil well road and take out at the cookinlet beach.
    the Deep creek stream is a fun short run from the Sterling bridge to the inlet also
    and the Anchor river from access roads up stream to the inlet..
    they have enough water to support IK's and are pretty friendly to most beginners or intermediates.. the Ninilchik and deep creek and Anchor are shallow and you can stand up in these at most any point..
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

  6. #6
    Member Riptide's Avatar
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    Default I love the Soar boats

    http://www.soar1.com/soar_16.htm

    They've kicked but all over alaska!

  7. #7
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    Default ended up getting

    Two aire tomcats, as they seem to be a good compromise boat. Thanks to everyone that gave me information. Now I just need to find a group of whitewater kayakers to play with. I will definately be playing this summer.

    Chris

  8. #8
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    Default

    You'll enjoy the Tomcats. They are a good boat at a good price.

    If you're looking for kayakers to play with, you might want to check out Knik Canoers & Kaykers (http://www.kck.org). They meet the third Thursday of every month (except December) in the Wilda Marsten Theater, downstarirs at Anchorage Library on 36th. $15 membership is optional. Hang around after the meetings and ask about kayers. Someone will point them out.

    There are more sea kaykers, rafters and canoeists than whitewater kayakers, but there is still more than a few that come. Usually there is a trip planning meeting in April or May, the rest of the time they have presentations on boating related issues, gear displays and trip reports. They also have a safety class meeting in the Spring, and offer boating classes for just about every type of paddle craft. Some years back I did the IK classes, but someone else has stepped into that now.

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