Gumotex Twist Mk 1
Around 2010 Twists became a new direction from Gumotex: lighter, less rugged boats that suited recreational users. The original models didn’t last.
The Gumotex Twist 1 (LitePack then later teflon-coated Hevealon, 2.6m long, 79cm/31″ wide, 6kg, max. load 100kg) became the replacement for the popular Solar. There’s a good review here and the author, Dave D, sent in some photos and updated impressions below.
Notice the black backrest on his yellow boat are not the bulky and fixed stock items which have been cut out, so making the boat even lighter. I saw a Twist recently and realised they use the textured LitePack material for the whole boat, inside and out. This must be what makes them so light, while being like rubberised canvas it also takes a little longer to dry and a little less slippery on the water. This video below shows some disastrous porosity in a Lite Pack Twist. It can be fairly claimed that was an exception and the boat was replaced, but it’s hard to see that ever happening with full Nitrilon. A few years later the next Twists models were made in Nitrilon Lite.
The Twist 1 was not a lot bigger than my Alpacka Yak (above) and is only twice as heavy. On a recent Medway run I found the boats surprisingly similar in paddling speed. I assumed my flat, wide Yak would be slow. But this was on a day with a good swift current. I think with the more usual Medway deadwater the flat-bottomed Yak would have been more tiring and slower overall. This Twist also had its original seats cut out and replaced with an SoT pad.
As for a Twist II, a mate got one along with a T1, and he likes the lightness above all. Vital stats on that one are 3.6m/11ft 10in; 80cm/31.5″ and just 9k/20lbs, so nearly as long as a Sunny, as wide too but nearly half the weight which makes hauling with boat in a pack much more viable. He has since got a new T2 but prefers the lightness and compactness of the old one, once he’s swapped out the seats.
[Dave D]: Here’s a few more thoughts now that I’ve had a chance to use an original T1 a bit longer:
1. The inflatable seat proved to be junk. It kept developing major leaks – always at the point where it is folded through a 90 degree bend. Clearly this is a stress-point which the kayak’s fabric construction can’t handle. After my first one popped, I sent it back to Gumotex who replaced it – although this didn’t go smoothly: the first time they just sent the boat back to me without having done anything to it! Eventually, they sent me a replacement boat, but when the seat on this one popped I decided to rip the inflatable seat out and replace it with a more conventional back rest as you can see in the photos. This is far better, and also makes the boat narrower – I now don’t skin my knuckles against the side of the boat with each paddle stroke!
2. The inflatable footrest is useless [as it is on many Gum boats – see this]. If you want to paddle, you need to brace your foot against something, and this isn’t it! I decided to remove the cushion and replace it with two foot-loops on an adjustable strap. I was a little dubious about having my feet strapped into the boat in case of capsize, however I’ve found I can get my feet in and out without any trouble.
3. Before making the above two modifications, the boat had a major flooding problem. The stern sat too low in the water, so if you got a wave from behind or if you put your bodyweight too far back in the boat (e.g. because your inflatable back rest had gone down!) then water would swamp the boat from behind. Having replaced the seat and footrests with adjustable ones, I can now set it up so my bodyweight is well forward. This has so far eliminated the flooding problem, but I imagine you’d still have a problem with steep waves hitting you from behind. That said – when it floods you just jump out, turn it over and jump back in again.
4. I still love the boat. Whenever I’m travelling with work, I keep it in the boot of my car with a drysuit and a 4-piece collapsible paddle. If I’m on the motorway at rush-hour, I pull off to the nearest river and do one hour’s hard paddling up and one hour back for a bit of exercise and to de-stress. I often paddle on canals with locks, and it’s great to see the envious looks of canoeists when you do the easiest portage they’ve ever seen! The boat is actually quite quick. A couple of nights back I even started playing in a fast (but shallow and safe) weir by moonlight.
I also use it to take a short-cut across the harbour in my home town. It feels very stable, even when there’s a swell. I’ve put nav-lights on it and I have no problems zipping around and keeping out of the way of boat traffic. Dave D
Additional pics by Robbo