inflatable kayaks

over easter i went on a conoeing trip on the river wye, and had an excellent time! there were four of us, and we went with one canoe (owned by one of the four) on the roof of a car, and rented one from a canoe centre when we got there. as i said, we all had a great time canoeing, camping and building massive fires, and it got me and my housemate talking about future river trips, and about the possibility of buying our own canoe. apart from the cost of a good quality canoe (which is high), the main problem of us two doing it in the future was how to get it there on top of my little ford fiesta. it's fine on a 4x4 or estate car, but would cause a problem if we were to go in the future with our own one. the next problem for us would then inevitably be where to keep it, seeing as they are quite big and awkward.

then, in the independent travel section gadgets review (26/7/08), comes the answer: inflatable kayaks. the two man tandem version weighs only 24.5kgs (compared to the 36.2 of the one we used) , and deflates to easily fit in the boot of the car or in a cupboard. it doesn't come with a foot pump, but once you have one (or an electric one, like i have), you have a 13ft kayak complete with adjustable integral seats. it has the double protection of a heavy-duty PVC outer shell over the inner air-retaining chamber, with an extra, third layer of abrasion-resistant material at the bow.

from johnsonoutdoorsuk:

' “These inflatable kayaks are ideal for people who come to us at shows and say we love your boats but need something to fit in to the boot of a car or the locker of a boat,” said Andrew Dron of Johnson Outdoors UK. “They can be packed away, are light enough to carry and are as near as we can get to the performance, durability and user friendliness of our Ocean Kayak range.”

Features include integral seats which can be put in different positions and in the Tandem model you can add a further seat for a child. Seat backs also incorporate pockets and bottle holders. Lashing points are included for the stowage of gear and footbrace kits and thigh straps can be added to give greater control in rough conditions. Stout carrying handles are fitted fore and aft and many Tributary accessories are available to fit out the kayaks for extended touring or expeditions.'

they cost £399 from johnsonoutdoorsuk, which seems quite a lot at first. but compare it to £649 for an old town discovery 158 like the one we used on the wye (below), then maybe it's put in better perspective. and if you spread it over a minimum of two trips, between two of you, then it is only £100 for an adventure holiday (once you've got there of course). after that it has paid for itself!

apart from all of that, my main point has to be that it looks like a great product. from all the reviews i've read, it is a real top quality kayak, and can hold its own in all kinds of conditions. it uses lots of modern materials and technologies to make owning a canoe or kayak, something that is otherwise quite hard for most people to do, much easier, without them needing to hire it from somewhere.

link to timesonline review

link to johsonoutdoorsuk