They don’t make the Solar 300 anymore – it’s been superseded by the lighter Twists, although the similar full-coat, white-water Safari is still made All these Gumboats and a few others may benefit from the footrest mod as described below, as might the 410C and Seawave which both use a similarly mushy footrest pillow.
Our Solar dates from 2006 and although (or because) it doesn’t get used much it still looks like new. And it’s lost no air to speak of lying in the garden for over a month (can’t say the same for my K40).
But the seat/footrest arrangement is poor, like all Gumos from that era. The seat pivots at the right angle base as you lean on it, because the top edge is attached to the bottom edge instead of the actual boat, like any sensible IK. You lean back, it lifts up – no good. I messed around a lot with my old Sunny before I got smart and simply glued some D-rings onto the top of the hull sides, which Gumo started doing soon after. This way when you lean back or brace against the footrest, you’re locked to the boat and so get more drive.
The pillow thwart footrest is OK, but I ditched that at the same time on my Sunny to use a small Otter box. For the Solar, the g-friend is short and can’t reach the footrest pillow even set right back.
I glued on a pair of big D-rings with Aquaseal (hopefully bonding PVC D-rings to the Nitrilon hull) to the top of the hull sides to provide a fixed point to tension the seat back. And I removed the footrest pillow and replaced it with a bit of sawn-off four-inch drain pipe, tapeing the pipe ends to limit any rubbing against the hull. The seat straps were sewn into a loop and clipped to the D-rings.
Hopefully this mod will improve bracing in the Solar – it’s the bane of all IKs (and SoTs for that matter) which without bracing are like paddling a log. This ought to improve response, giving you something to drive off. The footrest (the tape goes through a slot under the pipe) can easily be moved, even when inflated. I suspect it may well transform the Solar which is a nippy IK. The next step would be to fit thigh straps as found on the current Safari – then you can do cool stuff like this – but for the use our Solar gets, the current improvement will do.
Recently I also glued on the later style skeg patch (left) to take the plastic fin. No more faffing about with butterfly nuts and bolts and bits of bent alloy. The patch costs £12 and so does the skeg, which I also fitted to my Grabner Amigo.
- Urban Packrafting: London’s Regent’s Canal
- Packraft sailing; MRS Nomad S1 + WindPaddle II
- Tested: Anfibio DeckPack
- Tested: Anfibio Fly ultralight paddle
- A Packboat in your Car
- MRS Nomad S1 – a few mods
- Olympus TG-5 camera for kayaking
- Wandle: An Urban Packrafting Nightmare
- Packyaking in Whitianga (NZ)