Zelgear Igla 410 – first paddle

Zelgear Igla Main page

In a line
Fast, light, well-made and great value European-made hybrid tandem, the Igla’s removable floor and stacked [twin] side tubes keep the width down while retaining stability.

Everything in the huge bag except a paddle
Removable DS floor for quick rinsing and drying
Unusually light on the water
Adjustable footrest tube
Seat feels great
Knee braces are stock
Twin (stacked) side tubes keep width down
Ready for optional rudder (supplied)
Closeable sidetube PRVs
Fittings for a deck (supplied)
Three-year warranty
About £720 + tax at current rates (32,400 грн)

Like many PVC IKs, it’s bulky (if not necessarily heavy)
Alloy skeg appears to be an extra; and would prefer it in plastic
Skeg can’t be removed without deflating DS floor
Limited overseas dealer network

With clear skies forecast I took the Igla for a quick spin down the tidal River Frome out of Wareham quay. Some 1150 years ago marauding Vikings besieged the Saxon port in a bid to establish a flat-pack furniture enterprise. The ever dependable Alfred the Great sent them ‘packing’.

The recent thaw and rains on top of an incoming spring tide saw water just lapping over the medieval quay’s kerb and nearby pub lawn which for me meant an easy put in. Once cooling in the water I gave the kayak a quick top up and realised the closeable PRVs are quite handy in that you can close them as they start purging at 0.25–3 bar and so maintain firm sidetubes. Today, with temperatures in single figures there’s little risk of overheating blowing the boat to smithereens. I need to track down my manometer to see what the pressures actually are.

After hopping in I did a bit of pre-emptive wobbling while holding onto the quayside to ascertain stability. I don’t want a repetition of the shaky Shipwreck FDS I tried a couple of winter’s ago. The Igla seems good; a bit more tippy than the super-stable Seawave but unlike many FDS IKs, the round side tubes give it a bit more beam at water level. I adjusted the footrest tube further forward but later realised I may have been sat a little too far forward for level trim. I get the feeling these rock-solid drop stitchers are a bit more sensitive to trim as there’s no sag in the floor.

I see now that floating on the water the bow and stern prows are just above water level. With these relatively water-slicing forms (for an IK) I wondered whether the Igla might manage without a skeg but decided not to risk it.
You can’t fit/remove the twin-fin alloy skeg with the DS floor inflated, so I made a quick copy from a plastic container (below). My MYO skeg was a bit flimsy but setting off downstream the Igla tracked fine while turning as easily as the Seawave. It wouldn’t be hard for Zelgear to redesign the skeg and mounting to make it easily removable while still being secure. And while they’re at it they could make it in ABS plastic.

I’m pleased to report the six-point seat feels about as comfy and supportive as I’ve seen in an IK out of the bag. No need for the usual adaptations or outright swaps. Gumotex take note. It weighs only 700g but offers great support, even from the inflated backrest. And semi-deflated, there was no wobble from the seatbase on the hard DS floor. If you’re looking for a good IK seat, try and get one of these.

The slim footrest tube too works better than I thought, thanks to the hard floor, and with knees braces cinched up, I felt secure in the boat. It’s a tad less stable than my Seawave of the same width but not enough to bother you on flatwater, as least. The Mrs was walking along the south bank and I was going to ferry her over to the north side to walk back, but we got separated in the reeds so I headed back into the growing westerly before the spring tide turned on me too.

Before I did, I hopped out and pulled out my plastic skeg. Doing so soon established that like most IKs, the Igla did indeed benefit from a tracking fin. The boat was paddleable but micro-corrections were required to keep it on track; do nothing and the bow comes round. Again, very similar to my old Seawave and unlike the FDS Shipwreck which tracked fine without it’s huge skeg but could turn better, too.
Bang on time, at 12.20 the tide turned and soon, helped by the run-off from the Purbeck Hills, the river was belting along under Wareham bridge. That’s good to know for later paddles out of here.

Having not paddled for months, that little outing wore me out, but I like the Igla. It looks good, performs well, has many useful fittings which other IKs don’t and, for a European-made boat, is a bargain at current prices. Add tax and shipping (if needed) and it still ought to come in at under a £grand. I’m looking forward to taking it out for a longer session into Poole Harbour and beyond.

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