Tim Evans from Vancouver got in touch via the busy IK&P press office to tell us about his new 10lb (4.5kg) IK. Made from a super strong, light but expensive wonder fabric called Cuben Fibre which regularly features in discussions at Backpacking Light, the 14-foot IK was made to fill the gap between packrafts like his Yak and super light Supai, and a regular, faster IK.
Having worked on his own gear, Tim’s design is based on one of Tom Yost’s well-known MYO packboat templates which I’ve come across in my online travels. He writes:
Commercial inflatable kayaks are much faster [than packrafts], but are too heavy. I don’t want to carry more then 30lbs, which has to include the boat, paddling gear, camping gear and food. What I really wanted was a fast IK that weighed 10 pounds or less. It didn’t exist (as far as I could tell), so I made one. Here’s a video showing the boat.
It’s 14 feet long and weighs 10lbs. As you can see in the video, it’s a lot faster than a packraft. The key to the light weight was Tom Yost’s very simple design concept, modified a bit, and married with the lightest available materials. The hull skin material is very strong, but abrasion resistance is it’s weakness. This can be a problem with barnacle encrusted rocks (as I have found) when paddling in the ocean, but in the lakes I made the boat for, there should be few if any sources of abrasion. The skin of the boat weights about 1.6 lbs, interestingly about the same weight as the Supai.
I made the kayak to redo a trip I did last summer in the Supai. I made an inflatable PFD for that trip (left), which I have tested in the water and it supports me quite well. Since I take several inflatable cushions with me anyway, the extra weight for the PFD is just 260 grams for the shell.
[Regarding the poor abrasion resistance] I think it comes down to calculated risk. I always have some kind of backup plan if the worst case happens. While the kayak skin is a bit delicate, I will take various repair tapes and Aquaseal with me. And since I made the boat myself, I should be able to repair it in the field if I have to.
As for stability, the boat is no worse than any other narrowish kayak. But I have one final ace up my sleeve. I will be taking my Supai as a back up boat (right)! At 1.5 lbs, why not. Since I have already done the trip in the Supai, in case the kayak became so damaged as to be unrepairable (which is quite unlikely), I just do the rest of the trip as I did last time. I will stay within a swim of the shoreline of the lakes and the water is not that cold, so a dunking should not be life-threatening. Sure, there are always unforeseeable hazards, but I think life is too short to play it too safe.