News of new air boats comes in with the tide.
Alpacka have gone hardcore and have released their new ‘heavyweight’ whitewater boat, the Alpackalypse. Heavy as in <5kg, but that includes an innovative spray skirt/frame plus a inflatable hip pads and thigh braces rather than actual straps (which they’ve always discouraged). To aid agility and rolling the boat’s 236cm long by 84cm, a bit narrower than normal. And for durability and rigidity it’s made from urethane over a base of Vectran fabric: ‘a high-performance multifilament thread spun from liquid crystal polymer’ [and hand-whipped kryptonite?]. There’s a foot brace too for when you hit the water at the speed of a plummeting boat, as below. The Cargo Fly internal storage system comes as standard; they’re trying to pitch it as ‘a travel boat [where] … a traditional hard shell kayak is impractical’. It might be running the Vectran hull at a higher-than-normal pressure too, as there was talk of a hand pump, not the usual airbag. All the better to throw it down any waterfall you dare, as long as you have $1900 floating around.
More here. Video below: testing in 2013.
Russian folding kayak maker Triton (sold as Faltboot in Germany) are behind a prototype Nortik Trekraft which bears a striking resemblance to similar products known as ‘Alpackas’.
Exterior dimensions seem similar to my Yak and weight is said to be under 3kg. It’s expected to sell for is €600. An IK&P preview here and more here in German and our 2015 actual test here
Meanwhile in China there’s even more blatant copying going on, though you do wonder what’s taken them so long. Micro Rafting Systems look like some 2011 Alpackas, but are made from a slightly heavier TPU and have parallel sides as well as some odd, over-long models. But unless you buy ten or more, the price of $800 before shipping and tax is actually more than I paid for my US-made Yak. In fact it makes you realise how inexpensive the handmade Alpacka’s are. I suppose MRSs will start appearing on our ebays before long.
Fast forward a few months and nothing yet on ebay but the Packrafting Store in Germany is now importing them for €999. Having tried one for a day I can tell you the build quality and materials are much closer to Alpacka than you’d expect and almost justify the high price. More here [link].
And finally from Gumotex comes news of the Framura IK, now out in the UK from
For coastal ‘yaking the numbers look great: 16kg and 4.1m x 75cm wide: that’s 29.5″ and about as wide as you’d want to be in a proper IK. I see that in France it appears to be homologated for use as a kosher ‘Cat C, 10km from shore’ sea kayak while in North America it’s sold as a Swing EX.
From the bow shape it looks like it’s based on the slightly shorter but much wider Swing 2 – or the longer but also wider Seawave. That lightweight deck is fixed and has Swing-like struts to keep it up and to shed water. Access is by straight zips or down the hatch.
As for pressures, the Framura will run 0.2 bar/2.9psi, not the 0.25 bar of the Seawave. But I also hear that the Gumo recommended max pressures are on the conservative side: the sides can be run up to 50% higher with great improvements in rigidity (the floor runs an 0.2 bar PRV so can’t be over-pressured). I also read somewhere they got 12kph out of a Framura while testing at sea. The best I ever got out of my Java or Incept was a short burst of 10kph. Not sure I’d be dragging my prototype IK over the sand like that.
In 2016 they introduced a rudder kit (left) for the Framura/EX. I made one for my Seawave but in the end, could not be bothered with it on day paddles. On multi-day runs where you get the weather you’re given, a rudder may be a good idea.
Must say I like the look of the 4.1-metre-long Framura which by the way, is a nice spot on the Italian Riviera, not far from Portofino. Not, as I thought, a hint that the new boat uses a frame(ura) to maintain rigidity. That rarely works with IKs, in my experience. More Framura pics below; stills from this video. See also this.
“My solution: Gumotex Solar 410C … the difference is ludicrous!”
Happy Gumotex owner after running a Sevylor Hudson for a few years.
Great website – what a wealth of information. I wish I had read it before buying my Sevylor Pointer K2, I would have bought a Gumotex. Never too late; it just costs you more. Anna M.
In my opinion the long-established Czech Gumotex rubber factory in Břeclav make the best-value, proper IKs in Europe (in North America they’re branded ‘Innova’). All you have to do is pick the best one for your needs. To see the latest catalog, click this.
Gumotex also made some expensive, high-pressure, super-tough models, such as these raft-wide Ks.
In 2011 they stopped selling the Sunny in Europe. The 25cm longer, but similar Solar 410C took its place – and in 2017 it became the near-identical Solar 3.
Compared to some IKs, Gumotex are simple, robust and gimmick free, and over the years the design has been refined: better skeg fitment, better removable seats (but still heavy), lighter material options while keeping PRVs in the floors. Better push-push valves, a new suppler and lighter Nitrilon, and now with fitted or removable decked boats like the Seawave or Framura.
The sporty Safari (with a 330XL version) the Solar 3 as well as the Swings and the versatile Seawave are all great boats, and the Nitrilon Twists are light. Some might add the old, semi-decked Helios 1 and 2 to that list as well.
I haven’t owned or tried every Gumotex IK mentioned here, but in most cases know people who do- or have. The video below shows what sort of whitewater fun you can have with Gumotex IKs and even canoes.
Gumotex IKs are what I call ‘tubeless’ (this definition has since been adopted by Innova). There’s more here but in short this is the European way of making IKs: simply gluing all the sections into a sealed inflatable vessel, like a packraft. It’s expensive but has advantages over the bladder ‘inner tube’ boats more common in the US.
Most Gumotex IKs are made out of Nitrilon, their version of DuPont’s hypalon: the original tough, EDPM-like synthetic rubber-coated fabric as used on white water rafts that lasts forever but has now been superseded by similar but lighter fabrics.
You might have thought that full-coat Nitrilon over a bit OTT so a few years ago Gumotex introduced LitePack (later called Nitrilon Lite) on low-end IKs like the Twist, with the rubber coating only on the outside. It saved weight but the boats proved to be less durable and Nitrilon Lite was quietly dropped in 2018. (A mate of mine has many failures with his Lite Twists).
As mentioned the current Nitrilon (as on my Seawave) feels thinner and more supple than the original less shiny and stiffer Nitrilon of years ago. Maybe it’s not as tough but I bet it’s lighter.
One thing you should know with Gumboats is that all except the Seawave (and the Ks) are rated at 0.2 bar or 2.9psi, something for which a Bravo footpump is fine. This is better pressure than many other IKs, but not like the 0.3 bar boats from Incept and Grabner. I’ve read of Gumboaters running more than the recommended pressure in the side tubes to make the boats stiffer and more responsive. I suspect they could take it as long as they don’t get too hot out of the water. Running at the recommended pressure can mean that when a boat gets over 3.5m long – like the Solar 3 – it will flex in the swell or rough water. This was a nuisance with my Sunny in roughish seas because it swamped over the sides.
But even on flat water, long boat flexing can mean reduced speeds if you’re heavy like me. Apart from going on a diet, I considered various ideas to fix that, but in the end settled on a discontinued Grabner Amigo, a basic boat best described as a ‘high pressure’ Solar 3. It was solid as a brick but expensive. I sold the Amigo and since 2014 have run a Seawave which I have adapted in various ways, including running over-pressure side tubes with added PRVs.
For waterside holiday fun to longer touring expeditions, you can’t go wrong with a Gumotex IK.