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The San Diego Kayaking Meetup Group Message Board Mission Bay › Anyone have an inflatable Kayak?

Anyone have an inflatable Kayak?

A former member
Post #: 1
New to kayaking, don't expect to do any paddles more difficult than Mission Bay. The inflatables look like a solution to inability to lift a regular kayak, but the inflation process seems not too practical. The young athletes don't seem to understand the issues. Any oldsters out there who can offer some of their own experiences with inflatables or the new "fold up ones" i've been seeing on line lately (but none to be found in san diego.)
A former member
Post #: 1
Hi Lee,

I own an inflatable kayak! I just purchased it not too long ago (it is an advanced elements convertible). While I am younger (32), I am not quite sure I fit into the "athlete" category, but I am in decent. I won't pretend I know exactly what you are looking for from an "oldster" point of view, but I may have an idea as my mother in her mid 50's is an avid kayaker. I will try to give as much raw info as I can so you can make an informed decision! I am not familiar with the fold up kayaks, but I will tell you what I know about inflatables.

First, they are incredibly stable. Since the air chamber is at the edge of the boat and above the water (you sit below it) it is very very difficult to tip over, especially in mission bay where it is fairly calm. I think they are great for a beginner for that reason.

More on to what I think you are looking for... The portability is second to none. They are very easy to fold up toss in the car and get it to where you are going with out too much hassle. Mine is a 15 footer, (which is probably larger than you are looking for) and it takes about 10 min to set it up (well, the first few times it took a bit more while I made sure I did it right). I have been taking mine to a beach launch area (Vacation Island). I take the bag close to the shore, pump it up, put the bag and pump back in my car, then drag it to the water and shove off.

As far as getting to and from your car, that will depend on the weight of the model you get. Mine is rather large at 15 feet and 60 lbs. There are much smaller and likely more manageable sized ones as small as 7' 10" weighing in at 16lbs and there are several sizes in between. I would recommend you research the size you want and look for a weight that you can easily manage, then find a happy medium. If you are not sure of a good weight, try to find something of similar weight and walk around with it for a bit. If you find the model at a store, carry it around a bit to see if you can manage it. Once it is inflated it is pretty easy to drag around, but you want to make sure you don't drag it on pavement or concrete as that will damage the bottom of the kayak, so carrying it folded up at least to soft stuff is pretty important.

As far as inflating the kayak, Advanced Elements has a great double action pump that moves air whether you push or pull the pump. (Just a note, I am not trying to push Advanced Elements, it is just what I have and what I know...) The pump is very easy to use and really moves a lot of air. It somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 pumps to fill all of the air chambers in my kayak completely. I imagine smaller kayaks will take fewer. The valves on the kayak prevent air from leaking out so you can take your time filling it.

It is possible to fill the kayak with an electric pump but it may not have the power to get the main compartment full enough, so you could start with the electric and top it off with a hand or foot pump. I have only used the dual action hand pump so I am not sure how an electric pump works, but I saw reviews when I researched my kayak that said they worked just fine. So you may not even need to manually pump it up. The electric pumps can be found battery powered or cigarette lighter powered from a vehicle. Oh and the dual action pump can be switched to a "deflate" mode which is really great for getting all of the air out of the kayak and making it very very easy to fold up and stick away!

All in all the large kayak I have is portable, easy to set up, and is fairly convenient. Since I have done most of the moving and setting up of the kayak myself I figure the set up time is comparable to loading and off loading a kayak on my own, plus I could store it in the trunk of a car if I wanted to. I have noticed that my back gets a bit sore while bending over and moving the parts around and pumping up the kayak. I am fairly tall at 6'1" and I fill it up on the ground. I am sure I will fix my technique when I am more familiar with setting it up and fix that problem. Also sitting in the nice set up kayak fixes that problem too!

Oh and a tip: I found that when it comes to drying out the kayak after an outing, it helps to partially fill the main bladder with air. This makes it easier to move around and helps the air to all the nooks and crannies.

I hope that helped! Feel free to ask any questions!

San Diego, CA
Post #: 82

I started with an inflatable kayak (also an Advanced Elements, the AdvancedFrame, which is smaller than Jeremy's boat). I'll echo what Jeremy says: these are pretty easy to put together once you get past the initial learning curve. The things I didn't like about them were:

- Cleaning them off
- Figuring out the right level of inflation (you don't want to under or over-inflate; I didn't have a pump with a gauge, which would have helped)
- Slower boat. Advanced elements is great for inflatables, but inflatables do lag behind.

I ended up transitioning to a two piece kayak, the Point 65 Martini. I can fit that inside my car, and assembly is quick, and the design is ingenious (snaps together; the seat is self-contained in the front piece, meaning no leakage). I don't roof-mount my kayaks - they fit in the back of my car. Point 65 just came out with a performance kayak as well. I bought mine at Aqua Adventures on Mission Bay; I hear they have the new Point 65 performance kayak, along with the Martini, and also a two-piece sit-on-top. And I think they sell the Advanced Elements kayak there as well. And they let you "test drive" any of the kayaks.
A former member
Post #: 523
Last year, I bought a really (embarrassingly) cheap Coleman inflatable tandem kayak that I filled with a battery operated pump and topped off with a dual-action manual pump. I highly recommend that route. One time, I forgot to recharge the batteries on the pump and ended up tiring myself out pumping before even taking the kayak out to the lake! LOL.

I sold my Coleman and bought a hard-bottom sit-on-top.
A former member
Post #: 2
thank you. very helpful, i will look at the coleman---might just be fine for my requirements. lee
A former member
Post #: 524
Hope you get one soon while it's still summer. :) Just remember, any flat-bottomed kayaks are slow. If you want to paddle with a group you like, get a kayak that will keep up with everyone else.

I attended my first kayak outing with this group last night and learned that my hard bottom kayak was painfully slow when compared to the more sleek, touring kayaks that everyone used. I highly recommend renting a kayak at Aqua Adventures (no affiliation). That way, you and everyone else will be paddling at the same speed instead of (like me last night) trailing at the very end. Dave (Organizer) was kind enough to check up on me once in a while. I didn't get to socialize with the group because I was too busy paddling, trying to keep up.
San Diego, CA
Post #: 1
Hi Lee. My wife and I went with a SeaEagle FastTrack 385 inflatable. We did a lot of research before our purchase and even called SeaEagle for some advice on which model and seats to go with. We've been very happy with our purchase. It only weights 35 lbs. and is easy to carry. The Fasttrack 385 comes with paddles, seats, carry bag, skeg, and a foot pump. It take us about 8 minutes to inflate it and away we go. It also has a 90 day, return it if you don't like it, guarantee and a 3 year warranty. Our foot pump failed after about 30 uses. A single email to SeaEagle and we received a free replacement. The replacement is still going strong. We've added PFDs, and foot rests and a detachable bow and stern light for when we kayak at night. We primarily kayak on Mission Bay. The DeAnza cove boat ramp is only 5 minutes from our house so Mission Bay is very convenient. We also launch from the other 4 boat ramps on Mission Bay. It all depends on which part of the bay we want to explore and what the tide is doing. We travel a lot and the portability of an inflatable can't be beat.
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