Back at Christmas, I made a fairly significant impulse purchase to surprise the family: three inflatable kayaks. There was a pretty incredible sale going on at the time (maybe there were just too many inflatable kayaks on the market?), and I picked up all three for just over $200, total. (Checking the prices now, it would cost me $970.) Of course, my family has never owned kayaks, and we’d only been kayaking once before, when we had some at one of the vacation houses we rented. Still, that seemed like a really good price, and when it’s Christmas, Denisa can attest to how itchy my index finger gets on that buy button.
So we had the kayaks. Yay. But we still hadn’t actually used the kayaks until Saturday. There always seemed to be reasons that kept us from going out. It was too cold. Too hot. Too buggy. But really, a big part of it was that I had no clue how hard or easy it would be to set them up and use them, so that was just a mental block that made it so other reasons seemed easy to listen to.
For the Fourth, we headed to Flagstaff Lake with some friends and took the kayaks for a spin, and I’m ready now to give an overview of how they went and whether or not I’m happy with the purchase.
First, a general comment about the kayaks. They were all surprisingly easy to set up. They each come with a foot pump that puts out a ton of air very quickly. We could inflate a kayak in five minutes or less, I’d guess. There might have been instructions somewhere on how to set them up. I did it on the fly, and it wasn’t difficult. (The one trick was that on one of them, there was an extra screw to tighten to make sure the air didn’t leak out. It was frustrating until I figured that out.)
They deflated easily as well. You just open up a large gasket, and the air rushes out. There’s still some toothpaste-tube-rolling to get the air out, but it’s nothing that’s too onerous. Really, all the things I was worried about related to using an inflatable craft didn’t materialize. Easy to set up and take down, and easy to use out on the water.
All of the kayaks come with their own case (though the quality of the bags leaves much to be desired) and paddles. We used the paddles exclusively for them. They weren’t incredible, but they were totally adequate, and I really appreciated that they could break down and be transported without problems. I fit all three kayaks (deflated) into my Toyota Prius trunk, plus five life jackets. These really are small, and they’re not that heavy.
As I said, I bought three of them. Each of them has their own pros and cons. Why did I buy three different models? Well, for one thing, I needed kayaks for 5 people. So that’s two 2 person and one 1 person. At that point, why not mix it up a bit? I wasn’t sure which one would be best, so I decided to go with the pokemon route and just catch ’em all.
The single person kayak was great. It was the most nimble on the water, and I had no complaints about it at all. If I were wanting to go kayaking just with Denisa, I think I’d honestly rather have two single person kayaks instead of a double, but that has more to do with the mechanics of learning to paddle in tandem than it does with the actual crafts.
The 2 person Explorer model was fine as well. Some more storage, and the same general quality as the one person. The 2 person Excursion Pro is a step up from the other models. A better build design, more rugged material, and so it’s a bit sturdier. I didn’t see such a huge difference that made me wish I’d bought two of it instead one of each 2 person, however. Maybe if I were planning on using them all the time, then that would make a difference.
Overall, I’m very glad with the purchase, and I think we’ll definitely use them again. They all handled very well in the water, and I never felt at risk of sinking or tipping. They were sturdy and just as reliable as the solid-sided kayaks I used before. (Again, though, this is coming from a total novice.) My kids used them all as well, with 12 year old and 16 year old taking turns with the single person.
Would I want to pay almost $1,000 for all of them? Well, no. That seems like a lot to shell out for inflatable kayaks. But if they were to go on a good sale again? Definitely. If I had a truck or an easy way to transport non-inflatable kayaks, that would be one thing. I don’t, so this seems like a great substitute.
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