TPU IKs – the Mis ing Link
AquaGlide Cirris TPU IK
Thanks to IK&P reader Pavel for pointing me towards newish IKs from Israeli brand, AquaXtreme.
To look at, the 4.2m (13.8′) x 90cm wide Explorer II is nothing special, the familiar profile of a round tube, non-dropstitch IK. AquaXtreme also make some slick-looking folding kayaks so, as rodeos go, they’ve been around the paddock.
What makes the Explorer and similar Edge models (left) different is that they’re made from up and coming TPU, like AquaXtreme’s range of packrafts (or just about all packrafts, in fact). And as we know, TPU folds up more compactly and is much less heavy per square metre than PVC while being strong enough, as well over a decade of TPU packrafts have proved. TPU also dodges PVC’s perceived ‘toxicity’ issues.
TPU being thin, the only thing a 4.2-m Explorer might not be is innately rigid once pumped up, to which the answer is: more psi assuming the welds can hack it, This has been proved to work with packrafts in recent years. Rigidity is especially important in any longer IK with a single paddler sat in the middle, hence the advent of drop-stitch IKs a few years ago – a solution that in my opinion was not always elegant or functional.
Explorer II details and imagery on AquaXtreme’s website are skimpy: payload is claimed at 220kg while the all-important pressures look good at 2.5psi (0.2 bar) in the side tubes/floor?, but just 1psi (0.14 bar) in the floor.
It’s unclear if the floor is a loose insert ‘lilo’ sat on a packraft-like red floor sheet, as appears below, or integrated as a skeg photo (left) suggests.It’s possible it’s both (‘i-beam floor’ is mentioned) plus the ‘1psi ‘insert’ floor to allow it to be a self-bailer via the 4 floor drain valves shown. With valves open the insert would displace pooled water inside the boat to sit you above what’s left. But fitting self-draining ports in a complex I-beam floor is not a thing I’ve ever seen in an IK, so something doesn’t add up with the details and photos available.
I also see what must be PRVs alongside the side tube inflation valves as well as the (insert?) floor. These are always a good precaution to stop an IK over-pressurising and rupturing if left in the heat, but something which many manufacturers are oddly coy about.
Weight is said to be 8.2kg; a bit more than half of what you’d expect in a PVC or rubber (hypalon) IK of the same length and the price is $999 with free post, plus tax where you live. There’s no mention of a barrel pump included, but you’ll need more than the air bag listed with their smaller, 2-psi rated Edge IKs.