Hybrid (DS Floor) Inflatable Kayak Buying Guide

See also:
Full Dropstitch inflatable kayak buying guide

‘Hybrid’ is a cool word for an IK which combines a rigid high-pressure dropstitch floor (usually removable; ‘RF’), and conventional round-tubed sides for stability, and so might be considered the best of both worlds.
Paddlers are intrigued by Full Dropstitch 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.

A very narrow Woosung DS surfski with raised side tubes for stability

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 would 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)
  • The pressure in the sidetubes and DS floor
  • Payload rating
  • How easy to convert between solo and tandem seating
  • Does it have Pressure Release Valves? (Few do)
  • The packed bulk of the boat
  • What you get in the package (pump, bag, repair kit, etc)
  • And of course availability, price and warranty
Advanced Elements StraitEdge2 Pro41 lbs / 18.6kg13′ / 3.9m36″ / 91cmS&B, RF
Aquaglide Chelan 15542 lbs / 19kg15.08 / 4.61m34″ / 86.3cmTL, RF
Aqua Marina Steam 41235 lbs / 16kg13.4′ / 4.1m31.5″ / 80cmTL, RF
Decathlon Itiwit X100 3-seater39.7 lbs / 18kg13.4′ / 4.1m40″ / 102cmTL, RF
Gumotex Thaya39 lbs / 17.7kg13.4′ / 4.1m35″ / 89cmTL
Gumotex Rush 2 37.4 lbs / 17kg13.8′ / 4.2m32″ / 81cmTL
Kokopelli Moki II47.4 lbs / 21.5kg14′.1 / 4.3m39″ / 99cmS&B, RF
NRS Paragon XL48.5 lbs / 22kg13.5′ / 4.1m33.5″ / 90cmTL, RF
Sea Eagle Explorer 420X44 lbs / 20kg14.1′ / 4.3m 39″ / 1 metreTL, RF
Sea Eagle FastTrack 46544 lbs / 20kg15.25′ / 4.65m36″ / 91cmTL, RF
Verano Cayman Duo 34.6 lbs / 15.8g12.6′ / 3.85m33.5″ / 85cmTL, RF
Zelgear Spark 45050.7 lbs / 23kg14.7′ / 4.5m32.7 / 83cmTL, RF

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