Here at the club we've been using Innova inflatable kayaks for years. We've paddled them in all types of water and traveled with them to various locales in the U.S. and abroad. It's safe to say that we love them. We love that they pack up small and light (compared to other boats on the market), are durable (especially useful when 'the scoot' is applied, you know, when you sit down and the water is too shallow so you scoot your way to deeper water...avoid if possible), they set up quick (5 minutes when you get the hang of it), and they get you to where you are going fast (you'll want to race hard-shells).
In comes two new inflatable kayaks from Innova - the Swing Single and the Swing Double. Do they live up to what we have come to love about Innova kayaks? Are they better? Find out in our ETC review!
She looks good.
She's green (we'll explain)
She handles nicely
I originally wasn't sold on the black hull but after paddling her around Seattle's Ship Canal and Lake Whatcom, and receiving a few complements while I put her together in about 5 minutes, I decided she had a James Bond quality that suited her. I'm serious about the 5 minute set-up, I timed it.
Rather than having three chambers and an inflatable seat and footrest to pump up like other Innova boats, the Swing sticks with just the three main "tubeless" chambers. The valves work like the clicker on a ballpoint pen - press one way to inflate, the other to deflate. What Innova has added to widen the kayak (like the inflatable seat and footrest does in other models) are two aluminum bars that fit just in front and behind the seat. Zippers open up the fore and aft parts of the boat for storage.
The Swing is green - completely free of PVC and made in the Czech Republic. It's light - it weighs just 22 pounds and packs small. It handles well due to design, the plastic fin on the bottom, and the rigid shape helped by the new cross bars and a higher pressure (3 psi). The Swing is a great addition to the Innova family. It has a lot going for it with few faults depending on how you use the boat (we explain below).
She's green too
She handles nicely...too
She's light...just 26 lbs
No need for foot pedals & a rudder to steer
The three pictures above highlight three important parts of the Swing Double (and the Swing Single except it only has two bars). Seasoned Innova paddlers will like the slightly different "bayonet" valves (push in, push out - no twisting) and the urethane-coated decks that shed water in a jiffy. Having a quick-to-add fin on the bottom (pictured below) is nice and relieves you of adding a pedal-rudder system to help with steering.
I mentioned before a possible fault - not really a fault - just something to know about these new models. The added bars help make this kayak what it is - faster assembly and disassembly and a stiffer boat with great handling. The sacrifice is the size after packing the boat up. Leaving the bars in while rolling the deflated kayak make the whole thing way bigger than some of Innova's other models I'm used to (like the Helios II). Taking the bars out after paddling adds a little time to setup and take-down. If you pride yourself on packing your Innova kayak in an airline carry-on you may have some difficulty with the bars depending on bag size and carry-on size restrictions of your airline.
The reason the bars aren't really a fault, or why you may not even notice, are that a packed up Swing Single or Double with the bars in is still waaay smaller and lighter than competitor boats or hard-shells, the time to take the bars out and put them in only add a few minutes to your launch, and the truth is that your oar (even a 4-part) won't fit in a carry-on airline bag anyway. You'll have to check another bag so the cross bars will just go in it along with your PFDs, pump etc. I once tried to take the two pole parts of my oar as my "personal item" on a US flight...they didn't like it so much.
So what we've got here is what I can't say enough - the Swing Single and Double are great additions to the Innova family. The valves are better, the handling is better, the air release valve is a nice touch (avoids overpressure), a place for an optional spray skirt is a plus, the colors are smooth, PVC free is a good thing, and the quality is what we've come to expect from a great inflatable kayak company.
The Innova Swing Single and Swing Double, reviewed by Everyone's Travel Club on January 20th, 2012. Click the links below to head on over to the Innova site to read more and check out these new kayaks!
Innova Swing Single
Innova Swing Double
~Paul, John ETC
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