Back when I was younger I hatched a plan for my best friend and I to fly down to the Virgin Islands (with our parents permission - yeah right). When we arrived we'd rent some kayaks and paddle island to island for a week.
Well, as it turned out (big surprise), we didn't have the resources to make it happen. The main setback? Well, beyond actually getting permission from our parents and coughing up enough money for the plane ticket, there was the cost of renting two kayaks for a week in the Caribbean.
Fast forward to my adult life, living in the Pacific Northwest and surrounded by water. I wanted to get out there. I went to R.E.I. (local outdoor co-op and seller of all things camping and outdoor gear related) and inquired about an inflatable kayak - something I could paddle around here and possibly pack in luggage and take to the Caribbean one day.
The R.E.I. kayak person told me how great the Innova brand kayaks are. He said they are super tough - made of a crazy strong Zodiac-like material, lightweight and packable, and that they dried quickly and wouldn't get moldy in storage during our damp winter months. He also mentioned they are used by Canadian search and rescue on the west coast of Vancouver Island...enough said. I purchased my first Safari new from the company and my second used on Craigslist.
The Safari has three main air chambers (bottom, port, and starboard) and three smaller ones (seat, seat-back, and foot-rest). These can be inflated by a common boat store foot pump using an adapter valve that comes with the kayak. Complete set-up takes from 5-7 minutes (depending on which fin you have...I'll explain in a minute).
It should be noted that the Safari is self-bailing, a.k.a., water that gets in will go out the self-bailing holes (see below) and more importantly, paddlers that weigh about 200 pounds or more will be sitting in a little water (water that won't warm up because you are below the waterline). This can be prevented by loosing a little weight...or...adding something under your seat to raise you up a little, thus, not getting wet. The actual weight capacity for the Safari is 220 pounds.
These holes do come in handy (that's why they put them there) when the water is rough and spilling into the boat, kayak surfing or whitewater for example, or when it is raining - preventing you from having to occasionally pump water out. Just know that if you paddle often in cold water and are in the, how do we say, higher weight class like me, you'll have to make some adjustments. Also know that sitting in even 'warm' water for long periods of time can still be dangerous. If the water is less than body temperature it can mess you up.
The fin. The Safari comes with a fin for under the boat to help with tracking (tracking is how the boat moves when you paddle). Our two Safaris are a little older and have an aluminum fin that attaches with bolts and wing-nuts. Newer Safaris have a plastic one that easily slides in. When paddling in calmer water, using this little fin is a must. I'm always surprised at how much it makes a difference, especially when paddling where there's a current. Assembly is easy: for the aluminum - just remember to deflate the middle chamber a little before you put it on, the plastic one slides right on.
One of the best things about the Safari is that it packs up small. It only weighs 25 pounds, which fits nicely into the included Innova dry bag (picture below, left) or sometimes we just pack them in your average hiking/camping pack for longer hikes.
No cons come to mind with this boat, just know what you're buying - it does have self-bailing holes that let water out when paddling (or in if you push the weight limit of the boat) and although it has cargo space in the front and back, it's not covered cargo space (use a dry bag). It tracks as expected for an inflatable - make sure you use the fin.
The Innova Safari is a lightweight, tough, and versatile single inflatable kayak. It is quick to set-up with a little practice (5 minutes) and fits into a carry-on bag when traveling (it packs down to just 10X17X20 inches). It's 10 ft long, 20 inches wide, and only weighs 24 lbs. It's qualified to float class 3 rivers and has been paddled in waters all over the world. ~Paul ETC
Innova Safari inflatable kayak
Reviewed by Everyone's Travel Club January 3rd, 2012
Want ETC to review your product?
If you have a product and think we could use it on our adventures and travels please contact us! A hotel where you think we should stay? An experience we should have? Let us know.
We also want our readers to know that we won't sponsor any product for advertising purposes only - we've got to use it and like it...or at least think we'll like it!
[at] gmail [dot] com.
We hope you've enjoyed the time you've spent on our site. All images, text and designs are copyright Everyone's Travel Club and may not be used without written permission from ETC.