Updated Spring 2023
Full Dropstitch inflatable kayak buying guide
Best touring IKs 2022
Aquaglide Cirrus 150
‘Hybrid’ is a cool word for an IK which combines a rigid high-pressure dropstitch floor (ideally removable; ‘RF’), and conventional round-tubed sides for stability. As such it might be considered the best of both worlds.
Paddlers are intrigued by Full Dropstitch (FDS) IKs like Shipwreck’s Arrowstream, but until hull forms evolve to become more than just a ‘pointed coffin’ box, a hybrid or dropstitch floor IK can be more stable without relying on excessive width which kills performance, especially in shorter boats.
A hybrid IK may also work better than an FDS on windy lakes or the sea. Of course, if you only ever intend to paddle flatwater on calm days, none of this really matters.
According to the graphics of the French Gumotex importer (left; they’re biased, of course!), boxy FDSs can get unstable in choppy waters. Thigh straps help control the rolling, and I also think a wide, flat, barge-like floor doesn’t help. Some hybrids get round this by having relatively narrow floors with side tubes set high up and which act more like stability pontoons or outriggers. The graphic also suggests that tall, flat FDS sides are more affected by waves and wind, though that’s the case with all IKs.
Below is a table listing a few popular hybrid IKs. Note that in nearly all instances the measurements are what the manufacture claims. I’ve found that many under-report weights, exaggerate payloads and other features, or the specs don’t match other outlets selling exactly the same boat.
It’s a handy place to start, but how an IK actually performs adds up more than just length, width and weight. Consider whether it’s:
- Shell & Bladder (S&B) or Tubeless (TL)
- Is the floor removable? (RF)
- Self bailing – ideally closable holes in the floor (SB)
- The pressure in the sidetubes and DS floor
- Payload rating (often vague)
- Fabric: the TPU Aquaglide Cirrus is half the weight of the PVC Chelan
- How easy to convert between solo and tandem seating (usually easy)
- Does it have Pressure Release Valves? (Few do)
- The packed bulk of the boat – PVCs can be huge
- What you get in the package (pump, bag, repair kit, etc)
- And of course availability and price where you live
|Advanced Elements StraitEdge2 Pro||45 lbs / 20.4kg||13′ / 3.9m||36″ / 91cm||TL, SB|
|Aquaglide Chelan 155||42 lbs / 19kg||15′ / 4.61m||34″ / 86.3cm||SB, TL, RF|
|Aquaglide Cirrus 150 (TPU)||19 lbs / 8.1kg||15′ / 4.61m||35″ / 89cm||TL, RF|
|Aqua Marina Steam 412 2022||34.2 lbs / 1.5kg||13.6′ / 4.12m||34″ / 90cm||TL, RF|
|Decathlon Itiwit X100 3-seater||39.7 lbs / 18kg||13.4′ / 4.1m||40″ / 102cm||TL, RF|
|Gumotex Thaya||39 lbs / 17.7kg||13.4′ / 4.1m||35″ / 89cm||TL|
|Gumotex Rush 2||37.4 lbs / 17kg||13.8′ / 4.2m||32″ / 81cm||TL|
|Kokopelli Moki II verified||47.4 lbs / 21.5kg||14′.1 / 4.3m||39″ / 99cm||S&B, RF|
|NRS Paragon XL||48.5 lbs / 22kg||13.5′ / 4.1m||33.5″ / 90cm||TL, RF|
|Sea Eagle Explorer 420X||44 lbs / 20kg||14.1′ / 4.3m||39″ / 1 metre||TL, RF|
|Sea Eagle FastTrack 465||44 lbs / 20kg||15.25′ / 4.65m||36″ / 91cm||TL, RF|
|Verano Cayman Duo||34.6 lbs / 15.8g||12.6′ / 3.85m||33.5″ / 85cm||TL, RF|
|Zelgear Igla 410 verified||35.5 lbs / 16.1kg||13.6′ / 4.15m||29.5 / 75cm||TL, RF|