Gumotex Solar 410C – from 2017 it became the Solar 3
The Solar 410C was a step up from the short-lived, fixed-seat Solar 2 (below). The price in the UK with two seats and a skeg was £470.
It became for all intents and purposes the new Sunny, because the old discontinued 405 Solar and Solar 2 were usefully long touring boats ruined with terrible seat designs: either the original space-wasting thwarts (at least they were replaceable) or worse still, Helios-style fixed seats in the half-coat (Lite Pack) Solar 2 – the pits!
Luckily, the Solar 410 ‘C’ (for ‘Convertible’) has two or even three seats which can be removed and one re-installed the other way round to make a big, single seat kayak with lots of room for stuff – nice. You also get adjustable footrest pads (see here for a lighter and simpler idea), a bit of a half-arsed cargo net in the back, and I see a floor PRV in the video below (still, right). Gumotex never seem to mention this useful feature, but of them I am a big fan.
If not included, the black plastic skeg might be extra (and is worth getting). On the 410C you don’t need a skeg-mounting patch at both ends because unlike a Sunny, you simply move the seats forward or back on the D-rings to change configurations, not turn them the other way. In the unlikely event your 410C doesn’t have a skeg patch, it’s not so hard to glue one on.
The stats for the Solar 410C are 4.1m long (Sunny 3.85m); 80cm wide (Sunny 77cm), weight 17kg (Sunny 16kg) and payload no less than 270 kilos (Sunny 180kg). With pressure still at 0.2 bar/3psi, that looks to be quite a jump in payload for just a little extra volume. If you can imagine three of me sat in the new Solar, that equals 270 kilos – the slightest wave will surely swamp the boat.
But one thing I do wonder with a 410C (and why I got a Grabner instead, even at nearly twice the price), is that with my weight I suspect the longer hull would flex even more than the Sunny. This was why I moved on from the Sunny after many years, although here I discuss ways of getting around that flaw.
Old Gumotex Solar 405/ Solar 2
The original, pre-2007 Solar 405 (left) was similar to a Sunny of the time with a usefully longer payload or tandem paddling. But it used space-wasting thwarts (fat air cushions) for seats. For that reason a Sunny was always better solo touring choice at the time>
The post 2007 ‘Solar 2s’ (right) became even less versatile: horrible fixed seats like the Twist and Helios may give great support, but along with fixed footrests it all means it can’t be set up optimally for solo paddling without chopping it all out.
As on all post-2007 Solars for a while, only the outer wet surfaces were coated, and then the Solar 2 was dropped in favour of the broadly similar but more popular Sunny MkIII, the semi-decked 3.8-metre Helios II (also with fixed seats and decking) or even the shorter Twist I. By 2013 the 410C set things straight again.