Oru Kayak Inlet Review

The Oru Kayak Inlet is a folding kayak, or more precisely an origami kayak. Such a kayak consists of a single sheet of plastic that is folded into a kayak. The manufacturers of such boats promise their customers a boat that is hardly inferior to the rigid hull version in terms of its performance on the water. The complicated and time-consuming assembly of typical folding boats is not an issue for the Oru kayak. Thanks to origami technology and it is supposed to be quick and easy.

Oru Kayak is the best-known manufacturer of origami boats and has been active on the market for over 10 years. We had the opportunity to extensively paddle and review the Oru Kayak Inlet, which is advertised as a recreational and beginner kayak. In this review we share our experience and impressions of the kayak.

Technical Specs

Max. paddlers:
Length:
Width:
Capacity:
Packed size:

1
295 cm | 9’8″
75 cm | 2’5″
125 kg | 396,8 lbs
107 x 25 x 46 cm |
42″ x 10″ x 18″

Material:

Plastic

Weight:

9 kg | 20 lbs

Produced in:

Mexico

Which model has been reviewed?

Oru Kayak from 2023

How did we organize the review?

The Oru Kayak Inlet was provided to us on a rental basis by the manufacturer Oru Kayak. Our review is independent of the manufacturer or store and reflects our own opinion of the boat.

How intensively has the product been tested?

low

high 1 bar = 1-3 km paddled (first impressions)
2 bars = min. 1 day/ 2 half-day tours
3 bars = min. 4 tours
4 bars = min. 8 tours
5 bars = min. 12 tours (very intense)

Where have we tested the product?

Whitewater

Calm rivers

Lakes

Table of Contents

Assembly and first impressions

The Oru Kayak Inlet is characterized by its exceptional compactness and lightness for a folding kayak. When folded, it can be carried like a bag and is therefore very convenient to transport over short distances. Typical uses cases here are transportation by public transport or by car. It should be noted that only a 4 piece paddle would fit when the boat is folded. You would have to carry the life jacket and other equipment in the other hand or in a separate bag or backpack.

However, if you want to cover longer distances on foot with a portable boat, you will usually use a large backpack. Unfortunately, the Oru Kayak Inlet does not fit into any of the usual transport backpacks due to its packed size. Only transportation with a boat trolley would be conceivable for longer distances. So if you don’t want to use a boat trolley and definitely want to transport the boat on foot for longer distances, you should look for a lightweight inflatable kayak (e.g. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralite) or packraft (e.g. Itiwit Packraft 500). These boats are much more compact and can be transported in a backpack.

oru kayak inlet transport
Oru Kayak Inlet when folded

When storing the boat, however, the folded boat as a bag is very practical. It can be conveniently stored in the cellar or in a larger cupboard or corner in the home.

The first question that arises for us is: Can the Oru Kayak Inlet score over conventional folding kayaks thanks to its quick and easy set-up? The simple answer is yes. The kayak impressed us with its quick and easy set-up. If you’ve already set up the boat more than a few times, it’s actually really fun because it’s so quick and easy. A good and detailed description is included in the scope of delivery for the first assembly, which provides you with good support during the first assembly. It takes a little longer to set it up the first time, as you first have to familiarize yourself with the folding technique. At the beginning, you don’t have the confidence to fold the boat with full force. Over time, however, you learn that the material can withstand this effort without any problems. It only takes a few minutes and the manufacturer’s stated assembly time of 3 minutes is completely realistic.

Unfolding the kayak
origami oru kayak dismantling
Folds on the designated lines
oru kayak inlet aufbau erfahrungen
Inserting the bow plate

For the main structure of the boat, the main plate is first bent in the main folds to create the rough hull shape. Small plates are then inserted at the bow and stern. The bow plate is also used to attach the footrest suspension. As soon as these plates are correctly positioned, the main plate is folded further at the bow and stern and closed with click fasteners. This gives the kayak its final hull shape.

oru kayak inlet setup
Closing the click fasteners at the bow and stern

Finally, the footrest and seat are attached. The footrest is attached to the inside of the kayak using click fasteners. This also makes it very easy to adjust the position of the footrest.

oru kayak inlet footrest
Footrest of the Oru Kayak Inlet

The seat cushion is attached to the floor with an elastic band and can therefore not slip when paddling. Behind the seat cushion there is a slot in the bottom of the boat into which the backrest is inserted. The backrest is also attached to the inside walls of the boat with click fasteners.

oru kayak inlet backrest
Anbringung der Rückenlehne
oru kayak seat wedge
The seat cushion is slid under an elastic band
oru kayak seat system
The seating system makes a well thought-out impression

Overall, the seating system makes a very good and well thought-out impression. However, it is immediately noticeable that the seat position in the boat is fixed and therefore cannot be moved backwards or forwards. Variable positioning of the seats is particularly common in inflatable kayaks and allows tall paddlers in particular to position the seat further back if necessary to gain more legroom. Compared to rigid hull boats and many other folding kayaks, however, it must be said that a fixed seating position is not a characteristic of Oru Kayak, but rather the norm. The manufacturer wants to ensure that there is an ideal weight distribution in the boat and that the boat lies on the water in such a way that it can perform optimally. However, the footrest can be easily moved backwards and forwards so that you can adjust it to the required leg length.

What is adjustable on the seat, however, is the backrest. This allows you to adjust the angle depending on how upright you want to sit when paddling. The height of the backrest can also be adjusted. This allows you to choose whether you want to position the backrest in the lower or middle back area. As the backrest is quite narrow, a highback life jacket (with a high-positioned buoyancy chamber on the back) is generally recommended.

oru kayak life jacket
The most comfortable way to paddle is with a highback life jacket

Apart from the good seating system, all other details on the boat also appear well thought out and of high quality. For example, the material edges are protected with additional strips and the bow and stern have been fitted with an additional plastic cap to prevent material damage in the event of minor collisions.

oru kayak inlet quality
Stips protect the edges of the material
oru kayak folding kayak quality
Plastic caps additionally protect the bow and stern

The same applies to the overall material of the boat. It looks robust and gives the impression that it will last a very long time. Only the folding edges are the parts of the boat that have the potential to damage the quickest due to folding. Fortunately, the manufacturer states that the boat can be folded up to 20,000 times without any problems. This is more often than you would ever do in recreational use and therefore eliminates this concern in advance.

However, we cannot judge how well the boat would tolerate major collisions or too frequent grounding over time. In our use, pulling over pebble banks did not leave any marks. Nevertheless, you should bear in mind that this is a recreational kayak. This means that the Oru Kayak Inlet is primarily intended for use in shallow, calm and sufficiently deep water. If you want to paddle in white water, this boat is not the right choice (due to the many groundings and possible collisions).

oru kayak folding kayak material
Overall, the material makes a robust impression

Rewiev on the water of the Oru Kayak Inlet

The low weight not only pays off when transporting the boat, but also when you want to carry it to the water. You can carry the 20 lbs (9 kg) kayak without any help, even when assembled. This is a real advantage over many other folding kayaks, which are significantly heavier.

The fact that the kayak is primarily aimed at beginners and recreational paddlers is also revealed by the boat’s wide cockpit opening. This makes it very easy to get in and out. This open design also gives you maximum freedom of movement on the water.

folding kayak oru kayak inlet experience
The kayak is very easy to carry

As a beginner and recreational kayak, the boat must also perform well in terms of tipping stability. Thanks to the flat and wide hull shape, the Oru Kayak Inlet is also fully convincing here. The boat feels very stable when getting in and out of the water and we never once had the feeling that we would capsize while paddling.

However, if you are used to paddling with inflatable kayaks, which are very stable on the water due to the wide side tubes and every hasty movement is balanced out immediately by the side tubes, you will have to get used to it a little. In the Oru Kayak Inlet, you notice the movements much more, but you soon realize that it is very difficult to reach the tipping point with the boat. Because once you lean to the side, you realize how well the boat is balancing it out

oru kayak tipping stability
The Oru Kayak Inlet is very stable against tipping

However, you should not forget that a very stable kayak cannot be the fastest kayak and that you have to compromise on performance on the water. But that should be fine for a recreational kayak.

However, the exciting question is how good the balance is between tipping stability and driving characteristics. And with the Oru Kayak Inlet, the folding boat technology pays off. Although the boat is quite short, thanks to its design it sits very nicely in the water and can make good use of its hull length. The shaped ends of the bow and stern also ensure good handling characteristics. This means that the kayak accelerates well for its length of just 9’8” (295 cm).

Typical for the dimensions of the kayak (short and rather wide) is the very good maneuverability. This means that the boat can be turned very easily and just a few paddle strokes are enough to change course. For us, this makes the kayak also a good choice for calm rivers that have sufficient draught but can also be narrower at times. The straight-line stability is also impressive, even without a fin. The kayak holds its course well and even if you stop paddling, it doesn’t immediately drift to one side.

oru kayak inlet test
The boat is great fun for recreational use
oru inlet folding kayak test
The kayak is very maneuverable
oru kayak review
The kayak also has a good straight line chracteristic

Overall, we would attest to the kayak’s good driving characteristics and solid speed for recreational use. You shouldn’t expect any speed miracles from such a boat. If you want to be sportier and faster on the water, you should take a look at the Oru Kayak Beach LT or Bay ST, for example, which are significantly longer and narrower and can therefore perform even better on the water.

However, due to the wide cockpit opening at the bow, some spray water quickly gets into the boat. In a good swell, the front canopy would not keep much water out. And even if you paddle longer tours, depending on your paddling technique, some water quickly collects in the boat. The flat seat cushion means you can quickly end up sitting in the water. This may not be a problem in summer when paddling in swimwear, but otherwise it can be annoying. Here we recommend using the additional seat pad from Oru Kayak. This allows you to sit a little higher and not get wet so quickly. If Oru Kayak had made the cockpit opening smaller, the model would look too much like the manufacturer’s other models and lose its recreational character. The design decision is therefore understandable, but you should be aware of the disadvantages.

oru kayak inlet comfort
Thanks to the optional seat pad, you won’t get wet quickly

In addition to the handling characteristics and tipping stability, the space and seating comfort are of course also crucial for a recreational kayak. As mentioned at the beginning, the position of the seat cushion is fixed. However, as the footrest is variably adjustable, the interior also offers enough space for tall paddlers, as it can be adjusted according to the space required.

oru kayak legroom
The Oru Kayak Inlet also offers enough legroom for tall paddlers

The manufacturer recommends the inlet for people with a maximum height of 6’2” (188 cm). This is a good guideline, but we believe that you can also be a little taller for the boat. In the end, the decisive factor here is probably not only your overall height, but also the length of your legs.

The boat not only offers sufficient space for the paddler in length, but also in width. It is even possible to sit cross-legged and paddle. I even paddled in the Oru Kayak Inlet with my daughter. I was able to sit her between my legs and we sat very comfortably and I was able to paddle without any problems. I folded a towel several times so that she could sit on it without immediately getting wet if splash water collected inside. I can well imagine that some dog owners (depending on the size of the dog) who would like to take their four-legged friend paddling with them will also make a good decision with the Oru Kayak Inlet.

oru kayak paddling with child
It is possible to take a small child with you without any problems

In terms of space for luggage, the options are rather limited. There is still enough space behind the seat for a small to medium-sized dry bag. However, there is no more space or options for stowing luggage. Therefore, you won’t be able to go on multi-day trips with the kayak, only day trips. But that’s perfectly fine for a recreational kayak. Nevertheless, a small luggage net on the bow would have been very practical. This would have made it possible to attach a small dry bag so that you could easily access important items while paddling.

Disassembly the Oru Kayak Inlet

Dismantling the boat is just as easy as setting it up, if not easier and faster. This is because no great effort is required to dismantle the boat. You open the buckles, take out the bow and stern plates and remove the seat system and footrest. The kayak is then folded back into a bag and secured with the buckles so that it stays in shape.

It is definitely advisable to wipe the boat dry with a towel after paddling. As the boat is unfolded, this is also very easy to do as, unlike a conventional rigid-hull or inflatable kayak, you have no problem getting into any hard-to-reach corners or tight places. At home, I always open the buckles so that the boat is slightly open and even the last bit of water has a chance to dry off.

Strengths and weaknesses of the Oru Kayak Inlet

The greatest strength of such an original kayak is undoubtedly the combination of good handling characteristics, easy transportability as a foldable bag and uncomplicated assembly and disassembly. The only major disadvantage of the boat is that water quickly collects in the interior and the low seat cushion means you quickly end up sitting in the water. However, this can be remedied with an additional seat pad. All other weaknesses are more due to the construction of a leisure kayak and do not carry too much weight in the overall rating.

Advantages

very easy to assemble and disassemble + low boat weight + can be carried as a bag when folded + well thought-out concept and details + robust material + good workmanship + good legroom + good driving characteristics for a recreational kayak + good tipping stability + wide cockpit opening allows easy entry and exit + good seating system + very good footrest

Disadvantages

high-priced entry-level kayak – little splash protection due to wide cockpit opening – no possibility to attach luggage to the canopy at the bow and stern – thin seat cushion offers little protection against water in the boat – large pack size compared to other portable 1-seater kayaks

Conclusion on the Oru Kayak Inlet

The Oru Kayak Inlet is a successful recreational kayak for beginners but also for experienced paddlers who are looking for a portable and lightweight second boat for an uncomplicated and leisurely paddle tour on an afternoon. The manufacturer keeps all its promises with this boat. The rather annoying disadvantages of rigid hull kayaks (high transportation costs and high space requirements for storage), typical folding kayaks (high weight, time-consuming assembly and disassembly) and inflatable kayaks (compromises in driving characteristics and high susceptibility to wind) are eliminated with the origami kayak. The Oru Kayak Inlet really impressed us in recreational use and gave us a lot of fun on the water. Anyone who is prepared to spend around €1000 on such an innovative boat in the recreational segment will certainly not be disappointed in the end. Above all, it is a recommendation for all those who have held back from buying a portable boat due to the disadvantages of other boat types mentioned above.

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralite Review

advanced elements ultralite kayaking tour

The AdvancedFramce Ultralite of the American brand Advanced Elements is a very light and compact 1-person kayak. The manufacturer is known for its inflatable kayaks with particularly good driving characteristics. How well the Ultralite kayak performs on the water and whether it convinced us as a kayak, we tell you in the following review.

advanced elements advancedframe ultralite

Technical Specs

Max. paddlers:
Length:
Width:
Capacity:
Packed size:
Material:

1
318 cm | 10’4”
81 cm | 2’7”
102 kg | 225 lbs
79 x 45 x 15 cm |
2’6” x 1’5” x 5”
ripstop fabric (deck)
polyurethane Tarpaulin (floor)
polyurethane (chambers)

Weight:
Pressure:
Produced in:

7.2 kg | 15.9 lbs
0.12 bar | 1.7 PSI
China

Which model has been reviewed?

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralite from 2020

How did we organize the review?

The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame was provided to us by OutEquip, the European distributor of Advanced Elements. Our review is independent of the manufacturer or distributor and reflects our own opinion of the boat.

How intensively has the product been tested?

low

high 1 bar = 1-3 km paddled (first impressions)
2 bars = min. 1 day/ 2 half-day tours
3 bars = min. 4 tours
4 bars = min. 8 tours
5 bars = min. 12 tours (very intense)

Where have we tested the product?

Whitewater

Calm rivers

Lakes

First impressions and assembly

In the past, we had already tested the classical AdvancedFrame kayak from Advanced Elements and have often been on tours with it. It has convinced us of its driving characteristics and the quality of workmanship very much. However, the high weight and the large pack size for a 1-person kayak was a pain point for us. This was probably the case for many other paddlers who do not only transport the kayak in the trunk of the car. It is precisely for this target group that the manufacturer offers its AdvancedFrame kayak in a lighter version, which weighs more than half less. In order to be able to compare both boats with each other, we also had the classic AdvancedFrame with us during the review and could thus compare it directly on the water.

The first difference is already noticeable in the bag. The Ultralite version not only has carrying handles, but also shoulder straps, so that the bag can be carried on the back. The AdvancedFrame Convertible Elite 2-person kayak also comes with such a bag, which we have used very often. At first glance, it seems practical that you can remove the shoulder straps via carabiners, but that’s exactly where the weak point lies. The carabiners lie exactly on the shoulders and when carried for a long time, this is disturbing or even painful./

inflatable kayak advanced elements backpack
A suitable transport backpack is already included
backpack kayak advanced elements
The bag can be carried by hand as well
advanced elements ultralite setup
Boat, foam floor, seat and foot brace

Nevertheless, we also know that many other manufacturers do not even include a bag with a backpack system, but only a small carrying bag. Therefore, a bag designed for the boat is a big plus if it is already included. The bag itself contains the boat, the seat, the inflatable foot brace, the foam floor and two small aluminum elements to stretch the front deck. There is also room for paddles and an air pump for inflatables in the bag, but these must be purchased separately.

advanced elements advancedframe construction
Built-in aluminum ribs define the bow and stern
advancedframe ultralite material
The material is significantly thinner than that of the classic AdvancedFrame

In order to achieve a weight saving of almost 10 kg for the boat, the manufacturer must have worked on the materials. For example, the deck is made of a 300D ripstop fabric instead of a 600D ripstop fabric.

When unpacking, we also notice that the boat skin is clearly thinner than compared to the classical AdvancedFrame kayak. However, the boat skin is definitely much more robust than that of inexpensive entry-level inflatable kayaks (e.g. Intex or Sevylor).

A second big weight saving comes from the floor foam. Typically, most Advanced Elements boats have an additional air or drop-stitch chamber for the floor. However, the Ultralite uses a floor foam that strongly resembles a yoga mat. This is rolled out and inserted into the kayak floor. To do this, you lift the side chambers a bit and push them down. By inflating the side chambers, the floor foam finds its hold and can no longer slip. We found the insertion of the floor foam very simple and well designed.

advanced elements ultralite unboxing
The unfolded kayak
advanced elements advancedframe assembly
The floor foam is very easy to insert
inflating advanced elements kayak
The two side chambers are inflated with a pump

To get the boat into shape, the two separate side chambers are inflated. In the classical AdvancedFrame kayaks, there are not two side tubes, but an inner and outer tube. The air tubes are additionally protected by a nylon cover. The side tubes can be removed from the boat for drying or cleaning and in case of repair.

After the two side tubes are inflated, most of the assembly is already done. Then the front deck is stretched by two aluminum elements. The rail is inserted crosswise and the rod is inserted lengthwise under the deck. The stretched deck gives you more legroom, and when you attach luggage to the bow, the luggage doesn’t press the deck down.

advanced elements valve
Valve of the air chambers
advanced elements ultralite kayak deck
Two aluminum elements support the front deck.

Last but not least, the seat is attached to the boat. This can be positioned variably in the boat. Those who are smaller can position the seat further forward and thus have more space behind the seat for additional luggage. Taller paddlers like us, on the other hand, will position the seat as far back as possible to have enough room for the legs. The seat cushion is pressed firmly on the floor under the side tubes. Thus, the seat then lies really firmly in the boat and can not slip while paddling. Finally, the back of the seat is attached to the side tubes by two click fasteners. This makes it very easy to vary the position of the backrest. On the back of the backrest is a small pocket in which smaller items such as sunscreen and co. find space.

advanced elements ultralite seat
The backrest is attached to the side tubes and can be adjusted individually
advanced elements deck bungee net
On the bow is a bungee lacing for luggage
inflatable kayak deck
There is also a smaller bungee lacing on the stern

We also really like the bungee lacing on the stern and bow. This makes it very easy to attach luggage and equipment to the boat and everything is quickly at hand. The manufacturer did not include a zipper on the front deck. This would allow quick access to the inside of the boat for cleaning and drying. However, when paddling the other AdvancedFrames with bow zipper, we found that they are water-permeable. Thus, in stronger waves often came a little water into the boat interior. With the Ultralite, this can no longer happen.

The included footrest is inflated by mouth and can be pushed under the deck into the bow. Of course, it is not obligatory to use it, but we are curious how it can be paddled with this foot brace on the water.

The foot brace and placed under the deck
inflatable kayak foot brace
The foot brace is also well suited for tall people.

After the boat is fully assembled, let’s take a look at the bottom. For an inflatable kayak, the bow and stern are very nicely shaped. By using the aluminum ribs in the bow and stern, the ends of the kayak are very pointed. This promises good driving characteristics, as the water can thus be cut. A non-removable fin at the stern and a keel strip at the bow should further improve the tracking stability of the boat. The fin is very flat, so that the probability of grounding remains minimal.

advanced ultralite bow
The kayak has a well-shaped bow and stern
inflatable kayak hull
Hull of the kayak
advanced elements boat fin
Non-removable fin at the stern of the kayak

Review of the Advanced Elements Ultralite on the water

Since the boat is very light, it can be carried to the water without much effort and very comfortably. Just as convenient and easy to get into the boat thanks to the wide opening in the deck. Tall people have no difficulty getting their legs under the deck and thus the entry is not a shaky affair for paddling beginners. The front luggage net is also ideal for fastening shoes or a dry bag right at the start.

advanced elements ultralite
The kayak is very easy to carry to water
ultralite kayak entry
Thanks to the large opening it’s easy to get it
paddling advanced elements boat
The front bungee lacing provides ideal space for shoes

The use of a floor chamber is very common in inflatable kayaks, but it has been replaced by a floor mat in the Ultralite to reduce weight. In our opinion, this is also very well done, because the boat still seems stable and the floor foam also insulates well from the cold. Although we sat barefoot in the boat and the water was very cold that day, we had no cold feet. On the other hand, the very flexible floor makes you feel every little wave or grounding. This may take a little getting used to at the beginning, but we quickly got used to it.

advanced elements kayak comparison
The classical AdvancedFrame is significantly faster with BackBone

In terms of paddling, the AdvancedFrame Ultralite is a lot of fun right from the start. It has the usual good driving characteristics that we are used to from other boats of the manufacturer. It keeps its track well and we move forward quite quickly. During leisurely paddling, we measured a speed of 4.7 km/h (7.6 mph). If you paddle faster, you can reach a speed of up to 6 km/h (9.7 mph). Above this speed, however, a bow wave forms and paddling becomes more inefficient. The maneuverability of the kayak is fine. Course changes are effortless. But a 180° turn requires considerably more paddle strokes.

With the classical Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame with backbone, we reached a speed of 5.5 km/h (8.9 mph) on the same day during leisurely paddling. When paddling fast, we were able to measure up to 7.5 km/h (12.1 mph). We felt it clearly that the Ultralite is slower, but the Ultralite doesn’t feel like a slow boat. If you’re paddling alone and the one km/h more or less doesn’t matter to you, you’ll be happy with the speed. However, if you are paddling with someone else who has a longer kayak, you will have a hard time keeping up.

Compared to the classic AdvancedFrame, the AdvancedFrame Ultralite cannot be upgraded with a BackBone or drop-stitch floor.

kayak
For leisurely lake and river trips with good water depth, the kayak is well suited

Thanks to the closed construction of the kayak, you are well protected from splashing water. However, if a little water gets into the boat, the raised seat cushion pays off. Many kayaks (like the classical AdvancedFrame) use only a thin seat cushion for the seat and thus you sit faster in the wet. The seat is very comfortable even after long paddling and gives very good support. Likewise, we have come to appreciate the foot brace. With the right positioning of the seat and foot brace, you sit very well in the boat.

We see the AdvancedFrame Ultralite primarily for use on lakes and calm rivers with sufficient water levels. The boat is aimed at day-trip paddlers who want to get on the water quickly and easily for a leisurely tour. For ambitious sport paddlers who want to cover a lot of distance or go on multi-day tours, the Advanced Element AdvancedFrame Convertible Elite is recommended, which is longer and therefore faster and offers more space for luggage.

Regarding the whitewater suitability of the boat, the manufacturer specifies whitewater class 2. We haven’t tried that ourselves yet, and wouldn’t. The boat’s skin seems too fragile for that, and in addition, the fin and the front keel strip cannot be removed. If you get stuck with it, the boat skin could get broken.

kayak tour advanced elements
The foot brace supports really well while paddling

Dismantling the kayak

Dismantling the boat is very simple and fast. Simply let out the air and pump out the rest. Then it is folded again and fits in the bag without any problems. In most cases, however, you will not get around to unpack the boat again at home and let it dry. Especially the nylon covers can not be wiped completely dry and need time to dry in the air. You should never store the boat in a wet or moist condition for a long period of time, as this can lead to mold growth.

advanced elements advancedframe air chambers
The air tubes can be removed from the kayak together with the cover

Strengths and Weaknesses

The Ultralite’s greatest strength is its light weight combined with an integrated deck. In addition, it is easy to paddle on the water. In favor of the weight, the boat skin is significantly thinner and only coated on one side, in contrast to the classical AdvancedFrame. On a river trip with rapids, we had the first unsightly scratches in the boat skin. Therefore, the kayak should only be used for tours with sufficient water depth. Another weakness of the boat that cannot be ignored is the long drying time due to the nylon cover. Especially on long tours (a lot of getting in and out of the boat during breaks and portages) and river tours with small rapids, water gets into the boat and the cover gets soaked with water. Good that you can remove the nylon cover with tube, so that everything can dry reasonably.

advanced elements ultralite quality
There are a few scratches on the boat skin
advanced elements advancedframe ultralite cockpit
Soaked nylon cover after a day trip

Advantages

+ very light + very stable against tilting + very useful bungee lacing on bow and stern + comfortable seat and practical foot brace + good workmanship + air chambers are replaceable + good tracking stability + reliable splash protection when paddling in calm waters due to the integrated deck

Disadvantages

– long drying time due to the nylon material -uncomfortable transport bag – boat skin is sensitive to ground contact (thin and one-sided coated boat skin) – no splash skirt can be attached to the seat hatch – large seat hatch lets in a lot of water during rapids and waves – not suitable for heavy persons

Conclusion on the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralite

With the Ultralite, Advanced Elements addresses a target group that wants to transport and paddle their boat to the nearest lake or river without a car and without heavy carrying. And the manufacturer has succeeded in this, as long as there is sufficient water depth. We don’t consider the Ultralite kayak suitable for whitewater and shallow rivers with a lot of grounding. If you keep this in mind, you can have a lot of fun on the water with the kayak and will appreciate the good driving characteristics considering the low weight. For small or even extensive day trips, the Advanced Elements Ultralite is a very good choice.

advanced elements ultralite kayaking tour
The AdvancedFrame Ultralite does not like ground contact

Aqua Marina Steam 412 Review

aqua marina steam carrying

The Aqua Marina Steam 412 is an inflatable kayak with drop-stitch floor. This is the new edition of the Aqua Marina Steam 412 from 2022. Compared to its previous model, not only the color scheme has changed, but also the width, capacity, spray covers and much more. The manufacturer even speaks of improved running characteristics.

For a 2-person drop-stitch kayak in the upper entry-level segment, it has a decent length of over 4m, has a footrest for both paddlers and two large fins. These are all aspects that should speak for good running characteristics. In addition to that, space and seating comfort are also crucial. In this review, we are interested in whether the inflatable kayak is more than just a beginner’s boat, i.e. whether you can also paddle longer tours with it in the summer and if it’s also an option for beginners with higher demands.

aqua marina steam 412

Technical Specs

Max. paddlers:
Length:
Width:
Capacity:
Packed size:

2
412 cm | 13’5”
90 cm | 35″
180 kg | 396,8 lbs
88 x 59 x 30 cm |
2’9” x 1’9” x 1′

Material:

Polyester & PVC (sides),
Drop-Stitch & PVC (floor)

Weight:
Pressure:

15.5 kg | 34.2 lbs
0.1 bar | 1.45 PSI (sides),
0.3 bar | 4.35 PSI (floor)

Produced in:

China

Which model has been reviewed?

Aqua Marina Steam 412 from 2022

How did we organize the review?

The Aqua Marina Tomahawk was provided to us on a rental basis by Arts-Outdoors, a store and online shop for outdoor gear. Our review is independent of the manufacturer or store and reflects our own opinion of the boat.

How intensively has the product been tested?

low

high 1 bar = 1-3 km paddled (first impressions)
2 bars = min. 1 day/ 2 half-day tours
3 bars = min. 4 tours
4 bars = min. 8 tours
5 bars = min. 12 tours (very intense)

Where have we tested the product?

Whitewater

Calm rivers

Lakes

Table of Contents

Assembly and first impressions

The Aqua Marina Steam 412 makes a pretty compact impression when packed. On the other hand, the foam seats are quite bulky. The package includes a compact air pump with an integrated pressure gauge, a 10-liter dry bag, two large directional fins, repair materials, a water guard for the bow, a valve wrench and a solid transport backpack.

In total, the kayak with accessories weighs 15.5 kg (34.2 lbs) and can be easily transported in the included transport backpack. The backpack has padded shoulder straps, a simple chest and hip belt, and a large mesh pocket on the side for paddles or other accessories. The very simple waist strap is unnecessary in our view, as it is only a narrow strap and the click closure is pretty uncomfortable. Even without using the waist or chest strap, the kayak is very comfortable to carry in the included backpack. The side mesh pocket is nicely sized to fit two double paddles without squeezing.

If you pack the kayak well, you can easily fit the air pump and optionally two life jackets in the backpack. The backpack could be a little more robust overall from the material. After the second paddling tour, there was already a small hole in the fabric, which will be unavoidable in the long run. The previous model only came in a simple carrying bag, so that the perfectly fitting transport backpack alone is a really good upgrade.

aqua marina steam transport backpack
A transport backpack is already included.

To assemble the kayak, we first start by inserting the Drop-Stitch floor into the boat. The Drop-Stitch floor is quite narrow and has two cut-outs on both sides. The cut-outs are a good guide to whether the drop-stitch floor is positioned correctly in the boat. The cut-outs are there to expose the drain openings. However, on sea and calm river trips, the drain holes remain closed.

aqua marina steam kayak unfolded
The drop-stitch floor is a separate element
aqua marina steam drop stitch floor
Before inflating the floor needs to be inserted
aqua marina steam unfolded
Kayak with the inserted floor

What is Drop-Stitch?

With drop stitch technology, the upper and lower inner walls of the air chamber are additionally interwoven with textile threads. This makes it possible to achieve a significantly higher air pressure than with air chambers without the interwoven threads. The air chamber thus achieves very high form stability and rigidity. The drop stitch technology is very common in SUP boards (stand paddling boards) and is used more and more in inflatable kayaks. Learn more about it in our article about drop-stitch kayaks.

We noticed that the drop stitch is not glued cleanly in some places. Small unsightly spots where the glue is not clean are often found on boats produced in China and are not functionally critical. Nevertheless, these spots on our test model are clearly more than what we know. Even if it should not have any functional effects, this is a pity for a new product.

aqua marina steam 412 drain valves
Closed drain openings on the floor
aqua marina steam kayak workmanship
Unclean finishing on the drop stitch base

Now the side chambers can be inflated. The valves are spring valves. When inflating, the pin must stick out. Then the valve adapter of the air pump can be screwed on. The air chamber is quickly inflated, as it requires only 0.1 bar (1.45 PSI) and has a smaller diameter compared to other inflatable boats.

After the two side chambers are inflated, the drop stitch air chamber follows. This is also quickly inflated. The drop stitch is inflated to 0.3 bar (4.35 PSI), which is not much for a drop stitch air chamber.

Although a little air escapes from the pump during inflation and the double stroke pump is quite small, inflation was very quick and easy.

aqua marina steam inflation
Inflating the kayak with the included air pump
aqua marina steam air pump gauge
Pressure gauge for measuring the air pressure
aqua marina steam kayak drop stitch valves
There are a total of 3 spring valves

Admittedly, the air pressure of the air chambers for an inflatable kayak with an insertable drop-stitch floor is lower than average. The cheaper Itiwit x100+ even holds 0.2 bar (2.9 PSI) in the side chambers and 0.35 bar (5.1 PSI) in the drop-stitch floor. The lower air pressure in the Aqua Marina Steam, especially the air pressure in the side chambers, makes a noticeable difference on the dimensional stability and stiffness of the kayak. Compared to the drop-stitch floor, the rest of the hull with its side chambers has a very good finish.

aqua marina steam drop stitch kayak spray guard
Water guard, which stretches the spraydeck of the bow

For additional protection against waves that would otherwise come splashing into the boat from the front, the front spraydeck can be stretched with a plastic part as a kind of wave/water guard. If then a wave comes on the bow, the water does not run into the interior but sideways off.

aqua marina steam kayak seat
Inserting the seats
aqua marina steam boat seat adjusting
Attaching the seat with carabiner

Then the seats are inserted into the boat. To do this, the seats are fixed to the floor using Velcro. The backrest is attached to D-rings on the side chambers with four carabiners. The D-rings make a high-quality impression and are double reinforced on the side chamber. The advantage of the carabiners is that you don’t have to adjust the straps again on the next trip.

The upper straps of the backrest are attached to the side chambers in front of the seat and the lower straps are attached to the side chambers behind the seat. This way, the backrest cannot fold forward or backward. The upper straps can also be used to readjust the individual position of the backrest.

The footrests are already mounted in the interior. We try it out and we (1.89 m / 6’22” and 1.76 m / 5’77”) immediately notice that for us the distance between seat and footrest is clearly too small on both seats. Both footrests have two positions, and the footrests are already attached to the outer tabs. So we could only move the footrests closer to us, which doesn’t help.

aqua marina steam kayak space front
Maximum legroom with footrest (front)
aqua marina steam kayak rear
Maximum legroom with footrest (rear)
aqua marina steam footwell foot brace
Removal of the footrest

So we place both seats much further back in the boat to create more space, because there is still enough room behind the second seat. However, the problem now is that the upper straps of the backrests are not long enough. We checked the manual again to make sure we installed the seats correctly. Also, the straps of both seats have the same length, so they have not been switched either. If we attached the lower straps of the backrest (which are actually a bit longer) in the front, the backrest would barely provide any support.

That is pretty annoying. A few more attachment loops on the floor for the footrest and longer straps on the backrest would have solved the problem. Presumably, the kayak was designed for markets where people are much smaller. So, without further ado, we decide not to use the footrests and remove them.

At the back of each seat there is a small pocket and two mesh pockets in the form of a drink holder, which is very practical for a leisurely tour in the summer.

aqua marina pocket seat
Cup holder and small pocket on the backrest

After that, we mount the two fins on the bottom of the kayak, which should provide a better straight running characteristics. Do not mount the fins on the boat until you are done with the seats and footrests.

aqua marina steam fin mounting
Plugging in the direction fin

In the photo you can see how narrow the drop-stitch floor is. You can also see that the kayak has a high rocker. In addition, both the bow and stern have plastic caps to better protect the kayak in case of collisions.

aqua marina steam kayak hull
Hull of the Aqua Marina Steam 412

Furthermore, the Aqua Marina Steam 412 has a total of 4 carrying handles, one each at the bow and stern as well as centrally on the side chambers. This allows you to carry the kayak both alone and with another to the water. If you want to store some luggage (e.g. the included 10 liter dry bag), you can use the luggage net at the stern.

aqua marina steam capacity
Luggage stowage
aqua marina steam dry bag
10 liter dry bag (included)

Furthermore, the Aqua Marina Steam 412 has a total of 4 carrying handles, one each at the bow and stern and centrally on the side tubes. This allows one to carry the kayak both alone and in pairs to the water.

aqua marina steam carrying
Das Aqua Marina Steam 412 lässt sich zu zweit
aqua marina steam transport to water alone
… and also transport well alone to water

Rewiev on the water of the Aqua Marina Steam

The entry is easy and turns out to be pleasant and safe due to the firm drop-stitch floor, even if it is “only” 0.3 bar (4.35 PSI). However, the two fins ensure that the boat must be placed in parallel with the shore. With the bow to the shore it works less well, because otherwise you would get stuck with the front fin. When landing on the shore, you should also keep in mind not to paddle the kayak directly onto the shore, otherwise you will touch the ground. Rather, position the kayak in parallel just before landing and then get out. Alternatively, you could leave out the front fin. However, we are interested in the paddling characteristics with the two fins.

aqua marina steam 412 space
There is not much legroom for tall people

Our first tour with the Aqua Marina Steam takes place on a cloudy and slightly rainy day on a lake. After a short time we are positively surprised by the driving characteristics. Although the kayak has a high rocker, it runs well for a kayak in this price range. We have the feeling that we are making good progress on the lake. Speeds between 5.7 (3.5 mph) and 6.2 km/h (3.85 mph) are no problem with a normal paddle stroke.

We also like the straight running characteristics quite a lot. The kayak runs much better straight than expected. When both stop paddling, it doesn’t drift right away. It takes a while and drifts only slowly. This is where the two large fins make a difference. Despite good straight running, the maneuverability on the lake is also good. The kayak can be maneuvered easily and quickly. In terms of handling characteristics, it offers more than the Itiwit x100+ 2-seater.

aqua marina inflatable kayak review
Paddling the Aqua Marina Steam 412 on a lake

The paddler in the back does not miss the footrest when paddling, as he can rest well on the backrest of the front seat without disturbing the other paddler. Nevertheless, there could be more legroom. Tall people (I sat in the back at 1.89 m and had the seat positioned as far back as possible) have to angle their legs too much. Unless the front person is shorter, so the front seat can be positioned further forward.

For the front paddler, a footrest would definitely be a nice feature on a longer trip, especially since you expect to be able to use a footrest when you buy the kayak. This only works if you’re shorter. If both paddlers are perhaps only 1.60 m (5’25”), it could probably work. Of course, in the end, it depends primarily on seat length, not height. If the use of a footrest is important to you, sit at home to test it before you go out on the water. However, for small leisurely paddling trips (with 2-3 h of paddling), you can safely do without a footrest, especially since the footrest is also just a kind of bar.

Although we had only small waves on the lake, the one or other wave came in the front side of the boat. What is noticeable is that the side walls are quite low. Probably, this is a possible reason why the one or other small wave came into the interior faster. Fortunately, the water in the boat gathers under the drop-stitch floor and in the cut-outs where the drain openings are located. So you don’t have water standing directly in the boat. In addition, the seat cushions are thick enough that you wouldn’t be sitting with your bottom right in the wet. Also, the seats stay in place and do not slip away. Overall, the seats offer a good seating comfort, especially the backrest gives a good support when paddling.

aqua marina kayak experience
Paddling the Aqua Marina Steam on a river
air pressure aqua marina steam 412
Soft side chambers
aqua marina kayak weight
The spray skirt hold well and tightly to the coaming.

On a river tour, we were convinced by the kayak’s tipping stability. Although it is not as stable as the Itiwit x100+, it still offers a sufficiently high tipping stability, so that even beginners feel comfortable in the Aqua Marina Steam.

We were particularly struck by the kayak’s low stiffness. If you lean on the side tubes to sit properly in the seat, the air chambers give way quite a bit on the one hand, and on the other hand you push the boat apart a bit. This is only known from cheaper boats, but not from drop-stitch kayaks. The kayak also sagged during the transfers due to the low air pressure. There are other reasons for this: First, the air pressure decreases in cold water and second, there was some water in the boat because some splash water got into the boat. With a Gumotex boat with similar dimensions (e.g. Gumotex Solar or Gumotex Swing 2, both with 0.2 bar / 2.9 PSI in the side chambers and in the bottom chamber) we never had the problem that during a transfer the boat sags to the bottom.

It is a pity that the narrow insertable drop-stitch floor is not attached to the actual boat hull (e.g. via two straps as on the Itiwit x100+). So we noticed that in the event of a capsize or too much water in the boat, the drop-stitch floor can be pushed up and come loose.

On river trips with low water levels, where unsightly groundings are to be expected more often, it is better not to attach the fins. Otherwise there is a risk that your kayak will often touch down or even get stuck. This happened on a river tour with the Aqua Marina Steam. The consequence is that you have to get out. One fin even broke off on the Aqua Marina Steam. This shows that the fin is made of a plastic that is too inelastic.

aqua marina steam broken fin
broken fin

Meanwhile, many 2-person inflatable kayaks can be reconfigured so that you can paddle the kayak very well alone. Aqua Marina does not offer this option. Rightly so! Because there are no separate attachment points for the footrest and seat for the 1-person configuration. Nevertheless, it was possible to attach the backrest so that it provides sufficient support while paddling. We definitely miss a footrest here then. Also, the kayak has more rocker, the waterline is shorter and the running characteristics decrease noticeably. The kayak is not designed for this, but you can still take it for a leisurely short paddle tour. However, we personally wouldn’t want to paddle with it for more than half an hour or at most an hour in this configuration (unless you let yourself drift down a river with just a few paddle strokes).

aqua marina steam 1 person configuration
The Aqua Marina Steam 412 is not designed for single usages
aqua marina steam 412 single use solo
Nevertheless, it can also be paddled alone for short distances

The Aqua Marina Steam has, among other things, the rocker and the many drain plugs to be able to use it better in white water. The kayak is even advertised for use up to whitewater level 3, to possibly suggest a higher value!? The kayak has in any case a sufficiently high tilt stability (but less than compared to the Itiwit x100+), but personally we would not paddle with the kayak in white water level 3. For white water level 3 it needs thigh straps and reasonable foot support, where not the heels but the balls of the feet can be put on. A self-bailer function through the numerous drain openings is in our view not yet an argument to be able to use the kayak safely in WW3. In addition, the narrow drop-stitch floor is only inserted in the boat and is not attached anywhere. In the event of a capsize, it could come loose. Last but not least, it should not be forgotten that whitewater has a very low water temperature most of the time. The side chambers would become even softer due to the low water temperature, so reinflation is necessary.

Dismantling the Aqua Marina Steam 412

The kayak is as easy and quick to dismantle as it is to assemble. The boat is easy to wipe dry and put back together. It went without problems everything back into the transport backpack.

aqua marina steam dry
Drying the interior

Water, which stands in the interior of the boat, can be very easily emptied via the drain plug in the stern or bow. If the seats are wet, they must be dried in the air.

Strengths and weaknesses of the Aqua Marina Steam

We liked the simple and quick assembly as well as the running characteristics best. The running characteristics are not comparable with an Itiwit x500, nortik scubi 1 XL or Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Elite, but they are better than expected for this price range.

We were disappointed by the positioning of the seats and footrests. In addition, we would have expected a higher stiffness for a kayak in this price range, because the side chambers allow only 0.1 bar (1.45 PSI).

Advantages

+ good running characteristics (good speed, nice straight running in this price range, good maneuverability) + sure-footed when entering due to the insertable drop-stitch floor + compact air pump with integrated pressure gauge included + very quick and easy assembly/disassembly + good seats + numerous carrying handles and luggage net with cord for lashing luggage + good transport backpack included + bow and stern additionally protected

Disadvantages

Low stiffness (among other things because of side chamber only up to 0.1 bar (1.45 PSI) and narrow drop-stitch floor) – seats can only be positioned in the boat to a limited extent (thus little legroom for large paddlers) – despite splash guard panel, little splash water protection due to low side walls – footrests can only be used by small people – drop-stitch floor partially glued uncleanly – seats must dry separately and cannot simply be wiped dry – not very useful as a 1-person kayak – directional fins break easily with intensive ground contact – unsuitable as a whitewater kayak (up to whitewater level 3 as specified) from our point of view (no reasonable support via footrests and thigh straps, insertable drop-stitch floor is not fixed to the hull, . ..) – Locking caps of the drain plugs can quickly open during transfers

aqua marina steam 412 drop stitch kayak review
Aqua Marina Steam 412

Conclusion on the Aqua Marina Steam Drop-Stitch kayak

With the rocker and the drain plugs, as well as the longer design and the two large fins, Aqua Marina wanted to bring a real all-rounder to the market with the Steam 412, which can be used both for white water and for lakes and calm rivers. The driving characteristics of the kayak convinced us for this price range in calm waters. In white water, we would use the kayak only up to white water level 1, despite the steering option. Unfortunately, it is not an all-rounder in terms of seat configuration (i.e. reconfigurable as a 1-seater kayak), as the separate attachment points for seat and footrest in the boat are missing.

What also disappointed us is the positioning of the seats and footrests in the 2-person configuration, which is what the kayak is actually intended for. The footrests can’t be positioned far enough forward, and the backrest straps are too short to place the seats far enough back. So the use of the footrest is reserved for shorter people. This is actually a pity, because there would be enough room for two tall adults in the inflatable kayak. If you only want to go on short, leisurely tours, the lack of a footrest won’t bother you. On the other hand, those who plan extended day trips should not neglect this aspect.

Also, we would have expected a kayak with an insertable drop-stitch floor to have a higher overall steadiness. The side chambers are quite soft at 0.1 bar (1.45 PSI). Even a kayak (e.g. Itiwit Touring) with 0.1 bar (1.45 PSI) and a polyester shell makes a more stable impression overall. The hull is overall cleanly glued. However, we could determine a few unclean glued joints at some points of the drop-stitch bottom.

Aqua Marina Tomahawk Review

aqua marina tomahawk kayaking review lake

The Aqua Marina Tomahawk Air-K 440 is an open 2-person full drop stitch kayak, i.e. both the bottom and the side chambers are made of drop stitch material. The construction method makes the kayak look like a hardshell kayak, because you won’t find voluminous air chambers in the Tomahawk. Aqua Marina is not the only brand of full drop-stitch kayaks, as full drop-stitch kayaks have been on the market for several years and in recent years this type of inflatable kayak has become increasingly popular. Among the Aqua Marina kayaks, the Tomahawk is one of the most popular kayaks of the brand. We have tested the Aqua Marina Tomahawk and would like to share our experiences with you in this review.

aqua marina tomahawk kayak

Technical Specs

Max. paddlers:
Length:
Width:
Capacity:
Packed size:

2
440 cm | 14’4”
78 cm | 2’6″
210 kg | 44.8 lbs
100 x 60 x 33cm |
3’3” x 2” x 1’1”

Material:

Drop-stitch material
with PVC coating

Weight:
Pressure:
Produced in:

20.3 kg | 44.8 lbs
0.68 bar | 10 PSI
China

Which model has been reviewed?

Aqua Marina Tomahawk Air-K 440 from 2022

How did we organize the review?

The Aqua Marina Tomahawk was provided to us on a rental basis by Arts-Outdoors, a store and online shop for outdoor gear. Our review is independent of the manufacturer or store and reflects our own opinion of the boat.

How intensively has the product been tested?

low

high 1 bar = 1-3 km paddled (first impressions)
2 bars = min. 1 day/ 2 half-day tours
3 bars = min. 4 tours
4 bars = min. 8 tours
5 bars = min. 12 tours (very intense)

Where have we tested the product?

Whitewater

Calm rivers

Lakes

Table of Contents

First impressions and assembly

The kayak is supplied with a transport backpack. The big advantage is not only that you do not have to buy an additional transport bag, but that you already have a bag that is perfectly suited for the boat.

The backpack of the Aqua Marina Tomahawk can be opened all around via a zipper. This large opening ensures that you can easily pack and unpack backpack. On one side of the backpack there is also a side pocket. Such side pockets are good for stowing multi-part paddles (paddles are not included in the package and must be purchased extra). Unfortunately, only one four-piece paddle fits in the side pocket of the Tomahawk backpack. The second must be stowed in the main compartment or in a separate bag. The shoulder straps of the backpack are lightly padded. For the storage of the kayak and short transport distances, the backpack is more than enough. However, if the way to the next station is longer than 10 minutes, we would have liked a hip belt and more padded shoulder straps due to the high weight. For example, the backpack from the Aqua Marina Steam is better padded, although the Steam is lighter. Overall, the backpack is a nice addition from the manufacturer. However, if you want to transport the boat over longer distances on your back, you are probably better off with a higher-quality backpack.

aqua marina air-k 440 transport bag kayak review
Supplied transport backpack
aqua marina tomahawk drop stitch kayak pack size
Pack size of the kayak
aqua marina tomahawk inflatable kayak
In total, the kayak is 4.4m long

The Aqua Marina Tomahawk, almost like any full drop-stitch kayak, is quite bulky and heavy with its PVC coating (the Tahe Breeze is an exception in the segment with a simple PVC coating). For example, a Gumotex Seawave made of polyester coated with rubber with similar dimensions is much more compact and partly lighter than a full drop-stitch kayak.

Unpacked, the Aqua Marina Tomahawk appears with a length of 4.40 m pretty long, slim dimensioned and streamlined. From the first impression, the drop stitch kayak makes a high-quality impression. The Drop-Stitch material consists of a polyester fabric and 2 PVC layers as a coating.

In addition to the transport backpack, there is a high-pressure air pump with an integrated pressure gauge in the scope of delivery. It has a single and double action function. You use the double action function at the beginning, whereby you pump air into the air chambers during both the downward and upward movement. This way you quickly get maximum air within minimum time into the chambers. When you have reached a certain high air pressure, pumping with the Double Action function quickly becomes exhausting. Then switch to the Single Action function. With this function, only air is pumped into the air chambers during downward movement, and pumping becomes easier again when the air pressure is high. In addition, two solid kayak seats, two footrests, two fins, a valve wrench and repair materials are included in the package.

The Tomahawk consists of 3 separate air chambers, each has a spring valve. The valve cap is unscrewed, the pin of the spring is pushed out and the adapter of the air pump is put on. After that the pumping starts. You can read the air pressure directly from the pressure gauge on the air pump during inflation. Each air chamber must be pumped up to 0.68 bar / 10 PSI, which is a common value for a full drop-stitch kayak. Inflating is really easy and fast. Without much effort, the inflatable kayak with its flat air chambers is inflated after a very short time. The side chambers and the bottom have a thickness of 7 cm when inflated.

aqua marina tomahawk drop stitch kayak inflate review
The high pressure pump is already included in the scope of delivery
aqua marina kayak valves inflating
The kayak has 3 valves
aqua marina tomahawk air pumpe pressure gauge
The air pump has a pressure gauge

Now that the boat is inflated, the seats are placed into the boat. These are solid seats. The seat cushion is attached to the Velcro strip, which is located on the floor inside the boat. This is to prevent the seat cushion from slipping while paddling on the water. The backrest is attached to D-rings on the side chambers with four carabiners. The D-rings make a high-quality impression and are double reinforced on the side chamber. The advantage of the carabiners is that you do not have to adjust the straps again on the next kayak tour.

The upper straps of the backrest are attached to the side chambers in front of the seat and the lower straps are attached to the side chambers behind the seat. This prevents the backrest from folding forward or backward. The upper straps can also be used to readjust the individual position of the backrest. In addition, there is a small simple pocket at the back of the backrest for storing utensils, such as sunscreen or snacks (not waterproof and also not completely closable. Items can be lost in the event of a capsize).

aqua marina tomahawk drop stitch kayak assembly
Inserting the seats
aqua marina tomahawk mounting seat
Mounting the backrest

Once the seats are positioned, the next step is to install the footrests, which do not differ for the front and rear seats. Both footrests have two straps each, which are threaded through the D-rings on the side chambers. The straps are then closed via a bar buckle or ladder buckle and adjusted in terms of length. We especially find adjusting the length of the straps via the bar buckles cumbersome and annoying. 

It is also noticeable that some space in the bow is wasted as potential footwell. The footrest is too wide and the bow too narrow to position the footrest further into the bow. We (1.86 and 1.89) therefore had to move the front and rear seat significantly backwards, so that both paddlers have enough space. Of course, you give away some space in the stern to store luggage and equipment.

aqua marina tomahawk foot brace kayak
Attaching the footrest
aqua marina tomahawk foot brace 2 persons
Max. position for the front footrest
aqua marina tomahawk kayak foot brace
Correctly adjusted footrest

After the seats and footrests have been adjusted to suit your needs, the fins can be slid into the two slide-in boxes provided on the underside of the boat and secured with a cotter pin. The fins are relatively heavy compared to fins of other air kayaks.

A directional fin provides better straight-line tracking and is very common on inflatable kayaks, but two fins of this size are rare to find. We are curious to see how good the straight running of the Aqua Marina Tomahawk will be.

For additional protection against waves that would otherwise slosh into the boat from the front, the front spraydeck can be stretched with a plastic part as a kind of wave/water deflector. If then a wave comes on the bow, the water does not run into the interior.

aqua marina tomahawk full drop stitch kayak fin skeg mounting
Mounting the fins
aqua marina tomahawk kayak water splash guard
Inserting the water splash guard
aqua marina tomahawk drop stitch kayak review
Kayak hull

A hard-shell element is incorporated at the end of the bow and stern respectively, shaping the ends of the kayak well and protecting the air chambers in case of contact with shore or rocks. 

Besides the carrying handles and the safety loops at the bow and stern, there is unfortunately no luggage net or similar. Many inflatable kayaks with an open cockpit (e.g. Tahe Breeze, Aqua Marina Steam, Gumotex Solar, Itiwit x100+, …) have a luggage net at the stern to securely attach luggage so that it does not take up space in the interior. Unfortunately, the Tomahawk does not have such a luggage net. The spraydeck at the stern of the Tomahawk is also quite small. This at least has the advantage of stowing a larger backpack or pack behind the second seat and making it easier to get into the corners when drying. For stowing luggage inside, some manufacturers like to work with D-rings on the floor so that the luggage can be secured. But even for such features to secure luggage, you look for the Aqua Marina Tomahawk in vain.

aqua marina tomahawk kayak review drop stitch 1 person
Tomahawk Air-K 440 as 1-person configuration

Although Aqua Marina advertises the 1-person configuration on the Air-K 440, the kayak is only half-heartedly designed for this configuration. For the 1-person configuration, there are no Velcro strips and no additional D-rings to secure the seat in the center of the interior. Instead, the D-rings of the 2-person configuration are used. We’ll go into how well this works on the water in the section below.

Review of the Aqua Marina Tomahawk on the water

The Aqua Marina Tomahawk has a total of four carrying handles. The carrying handles at the bow and stern are ideal for transporting the kayak to the water or transferring the kayak in pairs on river tours. More than lightly loaded (small daypack in the boat) we would not carry the boat with the handles, however.

If you are traveling alone, you can use the carrying handles in the middle on the inside of the side walls. This shows how unwieldy such a long boat can be. Nevertheless, the handles are absolutely sufficient to put the Tomahawk alone at short distance into the water. 

aqua marina tomahawk kayak single transport
Carrying handles in the middle
aqua marina tomahawk air-k 440 kayak transporting
Carrying handles at the bow and stern

Due to the open cockpit, entry is very easy. The two directional fins can be annoying on the shore. If you get in too shallow water, they tend to stick to the ground, so that you can’t get off the spot. This is partly because the fins are pretty long and there is a fin in the front as well as in the back. It is better to place the boat in the water sideways to the shore or to enter via landing stage. Alternatively, you can also leave a fin off so that the entry on the shore works better.

aqua marina tomahawk kayak review stability
Despite tippiness, the kayak has a late capsize point

When paddling the Tomahawk, it is immediately noticeable at the beginning that it feels very tippy at first, as if it would tip over at the next movement. If you trust the boat and give it some time, you will be rewarded. The drop-stitch kayak is tippy, but the stability of the kayak on the water is much higher than felt at the beginning and the actual capsize point comes very late. We have challenged several capsizes on summer tours. We were surprised how late the kayak actually capsizes then. Before it tips over, it literally continues on the sidewall. If you’re fit or athletic, you’ll also manage to get out of the water back into the kayak without any problems. 

If you are timid, you will not like the Tomahawk. There are much more stable inflatable kayaks on the market (e.g. Aqua Marina Steam 412, Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Convertible, Itiwit x100+ 2-seater, Gumotex Thaya, …). This aspect should not be neglected in a 2-person kayak. If you want to paddle with your partner or friends who may have never paddled before, it is easier to win them to the new activity if they feel safety and comfort at the beginning. Also, in a 2-person kayak, there are always two people who need to find the right balance together. Finding this joint balance is more important in a tippier kayak than in, for example, an Itiwit x100+ or Gumotex Thaya, which hardly tilt at all when there are unsteady movements in the boat.

aqua marina tomahawk kayaking review lake
Very good gliding properties and good straight running

Speeds of 6 to 7 km/h during leisurely paddling for two are possible without any problems. The kayak accelerates very well and has a good glide with only a very small bow wave. Overall, the trim of the kayak is really good on the water and forms a nice long waterline. 

With the two fins, the straight line runout is also very good. If both people stop paddling, the kayak does not drift, but keeps track. These are definitely ideal conditions for a relaxed and yet speedy tours, where the kayak continues to run straight even during a short break.

aqua marina tomahawk river tour kayaking
On small and shallow rivers we wouldn’t use the fins

On large rivers and lakes with sufficient depth and space, the two fins are a real gain. On small rivers, however, the kayak with two fins would be too little maneuverable for us. Here we would use only one fin at most. On rivers with obstacles, we would not use a fin at all, because the fin is too rigid and the risk of getting stucked or the fin breaking away is too high. This happened to us on the Aqua Marina Steam on a river tour, which has the same fins and slide-in boxes on the bottom. Other manufacturers like Gumotex have a fin attachment that allows the fin to bend to the side. With the Tomahawk, however, this is not possible, because the fin is in a fixed insertion rail. 

aqua marina tomahawk kayak loading capacity
Air pump and transport backpack (shoes, food, drink, daypack) stowed in the back

For multi-day trips, we think the Tomahawk lacks space for luggage and protection from splashing water, light rain and cold. Here, other inflatable boats are clearly ahead (e.g. Verano California Duo*, Gumotex Seawave or Rush 2, Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Convertible Elite, nortik scubi 2 XL). If you still want to take the Tomahawk on multi-day trips in summer, you should take the 3-person kayak Tomahawk Air-C 478*, which is 38 cm longer. However, it should be noted at this point that the Air-C 478 has no footrests. For use by three people, footrests are probably not even necessary. Due to the short interior space for 3 people, the front person rests his feet in the bow and the rear people against the backrest of the front paddler.

aqua marina tomahawk drop-stitch kayak 440 1 person
Optional thigh straps
aqua marina tomahawk kayak dropstitch
Optional foot brace

When paddling the kayak alone, the trim on the water remains amazingly good despite the boat’s length thanks to the drop-stitch technology, so that even as a solo paddler you can make very good progress on the water in the Tomahawk Air-K 440. The maneuverability with two fins is only moderate for a 1-person kayak. 

Space is more than enough for one paddler and luggage in the 1-person configuration in the Tomahawk Air-K 440. The large transport backpack can be placed in the back behind the seat. The unused D-rings can be used to attach the backpack or additional dry bags. 

In the 1-person configuration, the footrest is indispensable to find sufficient support in the boat. The footrest is fine or better than nothing, but proper footrests such as with the Itiwit x500 would have been a great feature to allow the kayak to be paddled more cleanly. The aspect that the seat cushion is not attached to the floor via a Velcro strip in the 1 configuration proves to be practically uncritical.

Dismantling the boat

Dismantling the boat is quite simple. Water standing in the interior of the boat is very easy to drain through the drain holes in the stern. If the seats are wet, they must be dried in the air. 

The kayak is dismantled as quickly as it is assembled. It is easy to wipe dry and put back together. If you fold it neatly, the kayak goes back into the transport backpack without any problems. The backpack is sufficiently large dimensioned to still stow the air pump or life jackets. 

aqua marina tomahawk drain opening
Drain holes in the stern

Strengths and Weaknesses

We liked the glide and straight line performance best for an inflatable kayak with a full drop stitch construction in this price range. Nevertheless, the Tomahawk does have a few weaknesses that you should be aware of before buying. 

Advantages

+ spacious transport backpack included + high pressure air pump included + comfortable seats + good running characteristics and very good straight running with two fins + enough space for two large paddlers + solid workmanship + very easy and fast assembly and disassembly

Disadvantages

– moderate footrests (difficult to adjust) – seats have to dry separately and can’t be simply wiped dry – very tippy at the beginning (especially in the 2-person configuration) – directional fins break easily when touching the ground intensively – no luggage net (few stowage and fastening options for luggage) – low splash protection (no possibility to close the cockpit)

Conclusion on the Aqua Marina Tomahawk

The Aqua Marina Tomahawk is a classic full drop-stitch kayak that is ideal for half-day to day trips on calm waters in the summer. It is aimed at recreational paddlers who accept a certain tippiness in favor of better running characteristics. Due to the good gliding characteristics and the good straight running, it allows a speedy progress with comfortable paddle strokes. The solid workmanship, the slim construction and the drop-stitch chambers give the kayak a high value. 

aqua marina tomahawk review paddling
With the Tomahawk Air-K 440 on a lake in Southern Germany

Although the Aqua Marina Tomahawk Air-K 440 has a length of 4.40 m, there is little space / options for stowing or attaching luggage. A small 10 liter pack can be stowed in the front in the bow and the large transport backpack (with some content) and the air pump in the stern. For multi-day trips this would be too little. Therefore, we see the kayak primarily as a kayak for day trips.

Folding kayak – Complete Buyer’s Guide

origami folding kayak

The idea of foldable kayaks is anything but new. Folding kayaks have been in use for a long time. That’s why this concept of the kayak type is also very mature. Today, manufacturers of folding boats convince mainly with the use of new materials and better construction methods.

Table of Contents

What is a folding kayak?

The history of folding kayaks goes back long time ago. The concept of a skin-on-frame kayak is actually based on the inuit kayak. At that time the boat skin was made of animal skin stretched over frames made from wood or bones.

So, a folding kayak follows the concept of having a frame that is covered by the boat skin. On the internet there are many websites that don’t differentiate between folding and inflatable kayaks. They often call inflatable kayaks folding kayaks as well because when they are deflated you fold them up for transportation and storage. However, this is wrong. The shape of a folding kayak comes from the frame. In contrast, the shape of an inflatable kayak is formed by the inflated air chambers. That’s something to keep in mind because these two different concepts bring advantages and disadvantages where we talk later about. And in order to be complete, we also have to mention that there are hybrid kayaks, which are a combine elements of an inflatable and folding kayak. And it won’t stop there because innovative manufacturers have introduced the concept of origami kayaks. But we discuss these kind of kayaks later in this article in detail.

traditional folding kayak
Modern folding kayaks look like hardshell kayaks at the first glance

Today, the frame of folding kayaks can be still made of wood. However, a wood frame is pretty heavy and that’s you mostly find frames made of aluminium and plastic. For the boat skin tough fabrics with a waterproof coating are used. And all folding kayaks follow today the same goal to provide paddlers a kayak that is easy to transport and that performs like a hardshell kayak on the water.

The different types of folding kayaks

Nowadays manufacturers follow different designs and concepts. We would classify them in three categories: 1. traditional folding kayaks that follow the concept of skin-on-frame kayaks, 2. hybrid kayaks that are mix of traditional skin-on-frame and inflatable kayaks and 3. origami kayaks come without any frame but only with a plate, which folded to a kayak. Each type comes with its advantages and disadvantages.

Traditional folding kayaks (skin-on-frame kayaks)

Traditional folding kayaks have a long tradition. The modern type has been invented in Germany. In 1897, architecture student Alfred Heurich built a folding kayak from bamboo poles and sailcloth, which he later replaced with ash wood and canvas. He sold the idea a little later in 1907 to the sporting goods dealer Johannes Klepper, who sent the folding kayak into mass production. In doing so, he laid the foundation for the success of the folding boat for the masses.

folding kayak with wood frame
Folding kayak with wooden frame
folding kayak with aluminium frame
Folding kayak with aluminium frame

Today, the company Klepper still exists and sells mainly its boats in the german market. However, their website is also available in English and they do ship their boats internationally. Kayaks from Klepper are still pretty heavy because the frame is still made from wood. However, the boat skin is made of robust TPU material. The production has been moved a few years ago from Germany to Poland. Prices for their kayaks start from 3.500€.

Another manufacturer with a very long tradition in building folding kayak is the French company Nautiraid. They make folding kayaks for over 70 years and similar to Klepper they have boats with wooden frames but also with aluminium frame. Nautiraid has a very good reputation in terms of quality and workmanship. The foldable kayaks start from around 2.000€.

Another brand, which sells its foldable kayak especially in Europe is nortik. They have also a website in English where you can directly order your boat. The boats are made in Russia where they collaborate with an experienced manufacturer of folding kayaks. They offer some very interesting models for expedition paddlers and prices are starting from 2.500€. The frame of the kayaks are made of aluminium to reduce weight. We have paddled already some models from that brand and can really recommend their kayaks.

nortik folding kayak review
Paddling a classical folding kayak – nortik argo 2

Folding kayaks are quite popular especially in Europe and that’s why you find here a few more manufacturers than anywhere else. However, there is also a Canadian brand that started in 2006 to build folding kayaks. They claim to make the best touring kayaks and attracted some attentions with their kayak over the last years especially in the online community. It is designed for performance as well as for great transportability. It weights about 19 kg (42 lbs) and with the included transport bag it comes up to 24 kg (53 lbs). This is pretty light for such a folding touring kayak. The kayaks are made in the Philippines, start around 3.600$ and they ship their boat worldwide.

Traditional folding kayaks are the right choice for people who paddle very regularly and don’t wont to make a compromise on driving characteristics and performance on the water. Most of them are touring kayaks that are perfect for long distance paddling tours. Beginners and leisurely paddlers can buy such a kayak as well if they are looking for a really portable kayak that also performs very well on the water. But most of the time there are better off with another kayak type, especially with an inflatable kayak. Traditional folding kayaks are pretty expensive and the assembly requires some time and force. For a short afternoon paddling tour you won’t be happy to spend half a hour for assembling your boat.

Hybrid kayaks

Hybrid kayaks try to reduce the disadvantages of traditional folding kayaks: the long assembly time. Because putting a frame together and stretching a boat skin require especially in the beginning some exercise and a lot of time. You have to like assembling your boat every time you get on the water, otherwise you will quickly end in frustration.

That’s where hybrid kayaks come into play. Manufacturers of those folding kayaks have reduced the frame components to a minimum and use air chambers on the side instead. So, they are a combination of folding and inflatable kayak at the same time.

Hybrid kayaks only have a few frame elements but therefore air chambers on the sides

The most popular brand of these kind of hybrid kayaks is Advanced Elementes from the US. They really reduced the frame to a minimum. The AdvancedFrame kayaks have only built-in aluminum ribs in the bow and stern, which is supposed to slices through water like a knife and rivals the trackability of hard-shell kayaks. Anything else are inflatable air chambers. For the bottom, there is also a backbone (bow-to-stern frame to improve rigidity and thus performance) available, which can be seen as an additional frame element. However, they also offer a drop-stitch floor, which does the same job in terms of rigidity.

advanced elements inflatable kayak review
Paddling the Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Convertible Elite

Because of the few frame elements the kayaks are considered rather as inflatable kayaks than folding or hybrid kayaks. We have already paddled the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame 1 person kayak and the AdvancedFrame Convertible Elite where you can read the review on our site. They value for money of these kayaks are pretty good.

advanced elements frame
Aluminium ribs for bow and stern at the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Elite

The german brand nortik also offers hybrid kayaks and they are pretty popular in Germany and some other European countries. They have more frame elements than the kayaks from Advanced Elements and thus it takes a little bit more time to assemble the kayak. However, the assemble time and effort is still good compared to. traditional folding kayaks. Many folding kayaks are pretty heavy but the hybrid models from nortik are really light. The popular nortik scubi 1 XL weights only 14 kg (31 lbs).

nortik scubi 1 xl review
Paddling the nortik scubi 1 XL

Hybrid kayaks solve the issue that many people have with traditional folding kayaks: the long time and effort you need to assemble that type of kayak. Hybrid kayaks are much easier and faster to assemble and are an interesting option for people that are looking for a good performing recreational as well as for an expedition kayak.

Many hybrid kayaks are also much less expensive than traditional folding kayaks and are consequently also a good option for paddling beginners that want to get into the paddling sports seriously.

Origami kayaks

Origami kayaks are actually kayaks folded from paper, because the term origami refers to the art of folding paper. It is precisely this art of folding that some manufacturers take advantage of. The idea is to make a boat from one element by folding it into the hull of a kayak.

Origami kayaks are considered the innovation among folding kayaks in recent years. Thanks to the pre-folded plate, such kayaks are very quickly assembled and ready for use. Due to the possibility of using a solid boat material, origami kayaks have very good driving characteristics. In the folded state, they are also easy to transport and store.

origami folding kayak
The assembly of a origami kayak is easy

The are different brands on the market that offer origami kayaks. The best known brand is Oru kayak, which have offer different types of origami kayaks. We have reviewed their recreational kayak, the Oru Kayak Inlet. They even have a 2 persons kayak.

Alternatives to folding kayaks

Many people are afraid of the high purchase costs and the often long assembly times of a folding boat. An alternative to folding kayaks can be a hardshell or an inflatable kayak. In addition, it is also possible to consider a canoe or a packraft.

Hardshell kayaks

If you’ve ever paddled a kayak, you’re likely to have sat in a hardshell kayak. Hardshell kayaks are without a doubt the most common kayaks. Rental centers often exclusively have such kayaks, as they are especially durable and long-lasting. For a kayak rental at a lake, even a folding kayak doesn’t make much sense, because the boats almost never need to be transported.

A hardshell kayak is really only an alternative for someone who also has a car and has enough space at home for storage. If you want to take your boat with you on vacation by plane, you will quickly reach your limits with such a kayak. But if you want to paddle exclusively in the region or ideally on the lake near your home after work or on the weekend, a hardshell boat is the best choice.

hardshell kayak
Most kayak rentals have hardshell kayaks
kayak transport
Hardshell kayaks require a car for transport

Inflatable kayaks

In addition to folding kayaks, inflatable kayaks are also aimed at the same target group. Nature lovers without a car and who still want to take their own boat everywhere. Inflatable kayaks do have a reputation for having poorer driving characteristics than other types of kayaks, but the difference is not that great with really high-quality inflatable boats. We also do not share the concern of many that an inflatable boat is doomed to sink as soon as a small damage occurs to the boat. Good inflatable kayaks are very robust and can take a lot of stress. They also have several air chambers, which ensures the prescribed safety.

Many beginners like to go for an inflatable kayak, as there are also models for beginners in the lower price segment. Compared to folding kayaks, the assembly is much less complicated. Basically, only the air tubes are to be inflated and the paddling can already start.

itiwit touring kayak pumping
Inflatable kayaks are easy to assemble
itiwit x500 kayak
There are also inflatable kayaks with very good driving characteristics

Final notes on the folding kayaks

Folding kayaks have been a real alternative to hardshell boats for many decades. They can be stored compactly and transported without a car. Thus, you have the possibility to go paddling everywhere with your kayak. Due to the higher purchase costs, however, these kayaks are aimed more at expedition paddlers and people who regularly go on tours and want to make almost no concessions in the driving characteristics. The majority of models from established manufacturers are high quality that they promise to last a long time. However, those who are just getting into paddling and are not yet sure how intensively they will devote themselves to the new sport may be better off with an inflatable kayak.

Itiwit X100+ 3 Person Kayak Review

itiwit inflatable kayak review

The Itiwit x100+ is an inflatable kayak with a drop-stitch floor from Decathlon, which is aimed at beginners and occasional paddlers for paddling short tours on the water and leisurely half-day trips. It is not the only inflatable kayak from Decathlon. We’ve already had the chance to test the Itiwit Touring 2/1-seater, the Itiwit x100+ 2-seater, and the sporty Itiwit x500. Compared to the popular Itiwit Touring series, the x100+ is a significant development. It costs more, but offers clear advantages from our point of view. Find out more details about the kayak and how we liked the x100+ 3 seater as a 1-, 2- and 3-person kayak on the water in this review.

itiwit x100 3 seater kayak

Technical Specs

Max. paddlers:
Length:
Width:
Capacity:
Packed size:
Material:
Weight:
Pressure:

3
410 cm | 11’1”
102 cm | 3’3”
245 kg | 540 lbs
43 x 20 cm | 1’4” x 7”
PVC Tarpaulin, Polyester
18 kg | 39.7 lbs
0.2 bar | 3 PSI (sides),
0.35 bar | 5 PSI (floor)

Produced in:

China

Which model has been reviewed?

Itiwit x100+ 3 seater from 2021

How did we organize the review?

The Itiwit x100+ was provided to us by Decathlon, a French manufacturer and distributor of sports equipment and clothing. Itiwit is a brand for the paddle sport of Decathlon. Our review is independent of the manufacturer or shop and reflects our own opinion of the boat.

How intensively has the product been tested?

low

high 1 bar = 1-3 km paddled (first impressions)
2 bars = min. 1 day/ 2 half-day tours
3 bars = min. 4 tours
4 bars = min. 8 tours
5 bars = min. 12 tours (very intense)

Where have we tested the product?

Whitewater

Calm rivers

Lakes

Table of Contents

First impressions and assembly

The boat weighs 18 kg and can be transported comfortably over short distances to the water or train station with the included backpack. The backpack has wide shoulder straps and two side pockets where the paddles can be inserted. In addition, the lower part of the backpack is waterproof, so a wet boat in the backpack does not soak the backpack.

itiwit x100 3 seater backpack
The boat is quite heavy, but can be carried comfortably in a backpack over short distances
itiwit x100 dimensions
The backpack has a large opening
itiwit kayak bag
Additional quick manual

As with all transport backpacks for kayaks from Itiwit, we like the large all-around zipper opening, which makes packing and unpacking the boat much easier. Included are repair materials, patches (for short term and quick repair of holes), a compression strap, three fins for better straight running characteristics, a valve wrench for retightening the valves and an inflation connector for the air pump.

An air pump and double paddles are not included, which is completely understandable for the price. Double paddles in a cheap complete set (e.g. Intex Challenger K2, Intex Excursion Pro, Bestway Hydro-Force Ventura or Sevylor Adventure Plus) have never been able to convince us so far. Both paddles and an air pump can be purchased at Decathlon or elsewhere.

The assembly of the kayak is very simple. On the inside of the backpack there is even a short picture instruction for the assembly, which is very helpful if you sometimes do not have the instructions with you or want to quickly check a step. The boat is first rolled out completely. The inflatable kayak has two side chambers and a separated drop-stitch floor, each inflatable via its own valve. The valves are high quality spring valves that are easy to operate. On the valves there is a label to which maximum air pressure the air chamber may be inflated and which one should be inflated first, second and so on.

The gray Drop-Stitch floor is inflated to 0.35 bar. 0.35 bar is not much for Drop-Stitch, but it is enough to get a sufficiently firm kayak floor. The inflated floor is placed in the boat. In the front and in the back of the boat there is a strap, so that the Drop-Stitch floor is firmly fixed to the boat and cannot slip.

What is Drop-Stitch?

With the Drop-Stitch technology, the upper and lower inner walls of the air chamber are additionally woven with nylon threads. This is the only way to achieve a significantly higher air pressure than with air chambers without the tangled nylon threads. The air chamber thus achieves very good dimensional stability and rigidity. The Drop-Stitch technology is very common for SUP boards (Stand Paddling Boards) and is used more and more for inflatable kayaks. Learn more about this type of inflatable boats, in our buyer’s guide for Drop-Stitch kayaks.

itiwit x100 3 seater assembly
Unfolding the kayak
itiwit kayak drop stitch floor
Boat and separated drop-stitch floor
itiwit x100 pockets
Attaching the drop-stitch floor

The side chambers are inflated up to 0.2 bar. Considering the price, this pressure is a really good value for air chambers without drop-stitch technology. Thus, the kayak not only has a solid bottom due to the drop-stitch floor but also an overall form-stable hull, which makes a much higher quality impression compared to Intex or Sevylor boats.

Lately, we have been using the Quechua electric pump for inflating inflatable boats, which is powered by a rechargeable battery. The boat’s included valve connector fits the electric pump perfectly. The electric pump manages to fill most of the air chamber with air. We then create the final air pressure with a double-action pump. This means 2/3 to 3/4 fewer strokes are needed with the double stroke pump. This is a very pleasant comfort, especially on hot summer days.

itiwit electric pump kayak
Inflating with an electric pump
air pump itiwit kayak
The kayak has three air chambers
assembly itiwit x100 3 seater
Inflating the kayak with a double-action pump from Itiwit

After the kayak is fully inflated, mount the 3 small fins on the bottom of the kayak. Each of the fins is inserted into its fin tray and secured with a cotter pin. Fins are common on inflatable kayaks to improve straight-line stability. This is because, compared to rigid kayaks, inflatable kayaks float on the water rather than in it due to their high air buoyancy.

Due to the small size of the individual fins, the Itiwit x100 has a shallow draught even with fins. This has the advantage that you can already enter the boat in shallow water and groundings are reduced in general.

itiwit kayak skeg
Mounting the fins

When looking at the bottom of the inflatable kayak you easily see that it’s is designed for maximum stability. The bottom is very flat, almost like a board. In addition, the side tubes are mounted very low, so that the kayak has a maximum width on the water surface. This is good for tipping stability but disadvantageous for the performance on the water.

In addition, there are two drain openings in the center right and left. These can be opened from the inside to drain water standing in the boat during a break on the shore. In the stern and bow there is also a drain opening, which are intended for draining the boat before dismantling.

itiwit x100 3 persons kayak hull
Drain valves at the bow, stern and in the middle of the kayak.

The seat cushions of the seats are inflated via a small Boston valve with an air pump or inflated with your mouth. So you can decide the hardness of the seat cushion yourself. As with the other Itiwit kayaks, the seat has a good height. On the one hand, it makes sitting in the boat much more comfortable and on the other hand, you do not sit immediately in the wet, if water comes into the boat.

itiwit x100 seat
Inflating the seat cushion
itiwit x100 manual how to
Placing the seat in the kayak
itiwit kayak seat adjustment
Attaching the backrest

A 20-30 liter dry bag can be attached on the stern with the bungee cord. There is also room for a larger backpack behind the third seat. This is then no longer completely on the stern, but hangs partly then inside the boat.

itiwit kayak space for luggage
Thanks to the bungee cord on the stern you can easily store a dry bag

Review on the water of the Itiwit x100+ 3 seater

The Itiwit x100+ is a 3-person kayak that can also be reconfigured as a 2- or 1-person kayak. We tested all three configurations on the water. The side and front and rear carry handles make the inflatable kayak easy to carry alone or with someone else to the water.

On the water, the kayak has a very high tipping stability in all 3 configurations, making it ideal for paddling beginners. Due to the firm drop-stitch floor the entry and exit is very easy, because the floor hardly gives way compared to traditional inflatable kayaks without drop-stitch floor.

itiwit x100 3 seater kayak
Itiwit x100+ 3 seater as 3 person kayak
itiwit kayak 2 or 3
… as 2 person kayak
inflatable kayak itiwit solo paddling
as 1 person kayak

The Itiwit X100+ 3 seater as 1 person kayak

In the 1-person configuration, the rocker of the kayak (the curved part in the bottom of the kayak hull that connects the bow with the stern.) is the biggest, so the waterline is much smaller than the actual length of the kayak. The water position of the boat is significantly worse compared to the 2 and 3-person configuration, as you can see for yourself in the photos below.

Also, like the Itiwit Touring 2-seater or Itiwit x100+ 2-seater, it lacks a footrest if you seriously want to paddle the kayak alone for a longer distance. On rivers, where you want to float down for the most part, paddling from time to time a bit and otherwise just correcting the direction, it may still work. On standing water, we recommend the Itiwit x100+ 3-seater as a 1-person kayak only if you occasionally want to go on a small leisurely paddling tour, i.e. where staying and relaxing on the water is the focus.

itiwit x100 3 seater inflatable kayak
If you want to paddle the kayak mainly alone, you are better off with another inflatable kayak

The Gumotex Solar (2+1 person kayak with the same boat length) works much better as a 1-person kayak. You can paddle it solo without any problems and reach a good speed.

The Itiwit x100+ in the 1-person configuration feels quite bulky and unwieldy on the water. The paddle stroke should not be too strong, so that the tracking while paddling still remains in an acceptable range.

The Itiwit X100+ 3 seater as 2 person kayak

With 2 people, the kayak can be paddled much better. However, we have the feeling that you sit quite far from each other, ie the front paddler sits quite far forward and the rear paddler quite far back. This puts weight on the stern and bow, so the kayak lies better in the water and creates a longer waterline.

Nonetheless, we would have liked longer seat side straps and a continuous Velcro strip on the bottom so you can place the seats more variably in the boat. The Velcro strip for attaching the seat cushions to the floor would do the job. This is because the person behind has a lot of legroom, which he cannot use in most cases, and the person in front still has enough legroom, but much less.

When paddling with another person, the straight running characteristic is alright. However, if you stop paddling, the boat drifts quickly. A speed of 4.8 to 5.5 km/h (3 – 3,4 mph) is possible on average, depending of course on your own paddle stroke, the double paddles themselves, the weight distribution and the weather conditions.

itiwit inflatable kayak review
It can be well paddled by two people

The Itiwit X100+ 3 seater as 3 person kayak

Although the kayak is quite short for a 3-person kayak with a length of 410 cm, paddling with 3 people works quite well. We (189 cm / 76 kg, 186 cm / 74 kg, 174 cm / 82 kg) did not have enough space to stretch out our legs slightly bent. 

Still, the interior of the kayak is wide enough so that you can sit well in a slight cross-legged position. Since the seat cushion is high enough, sitting or paddling cross-legged for several hours is not uncomfortable. Alternatively, you sit in the boat with your legs strongly bent. Regardless of the seating position, we and friends of ours see the Itiwit x100 as a kayak to use for a short and relaxing afternoon trip (2-3 hours).

3 person inflatable kayak
Paddling the Itiwit x100+ 3 seater close to the max. load

When paddling with three people, it is quite possible for the rear paddler to steer the boat alone. On a lake or very calm river, at least two people should paddle to make reasonable progress. However, on rivers with noticeable current, it is also sufficient for the rear paddler to do some paddling and steer with good foresight, meanwhile the front people mostly relax and enjoy their time on the water. This was much more relaxing for the rear paddler in that case than if all three people were paddling.

When all three people are paddling, the paddlers need to be well synchronized. Otherwise, the rear paddler must not only steer but also constantly compensate for the uneven paddle strokes of the front paddlers. Due to the short boat length for a 3-man kayak, paddlers with their double-bladed paddles will quickly get in each other’s way if they are not paddling in sync. Three paddlers can reach 5.6 km/h (3,5 mph), up to a maximum of 6.1 km/h (3,8 mph). Please consider these values only as rough reference values.

itiwit x100 kayak river
Paddling the kayak with three people

The side cutouts in the middle of the drop stitch floor (where the drain holes are) have proven to be very practical. If a little more water comes into the boat, the water mainly accumulates there and the bottom remains free of water. In addition, the seat cushions are nice and high, so in most cases the seat remains dry.

Also super handy are the pockets on the bow and on the backrests. This gives every paddler the opportunity to store a snack and a drinks bottle within easy reach.

Itiwit x100+ 2 seater vs 3 seater

Itiwit x100+ is available in 2, 3 and 4 seater versions. The kayaks differ in price, weight, dimensions, load capacity and color. Otherwise, the two kayaks are identical in terms of tipping stability, material, air pressure and features.

itiwit x100 review 2 vs 3 seater
Itiwit x100+ as a 2 seater (yellow) and 3 seater (blue)

If you are looking for a 3-person kayak, the decision between the two models is already made. But how does it look if you want to paddle the kayak only alone or with another person? Should you buy the 2-seater or better the 3-seater?

The 3-seater has a 50 kg higher load capacity (i.e. 245 kg instead of 195 kg), which means that the paddlers can weigh more and at the same time still carry some extra stuff. There is also significantly more room to stretch your legs in the 45 cm longer 3-seater, especially for the rear paddler. In addition, you have the possibility to place one or two large bags in the middle without disturbing the paddling. For two, the 3-seater is about 0.5 km/h (0,3 mph) faster and drifts less when you stop paddling.

Only because of the slightly better driving characteristics, however, we would not advise the 3-seater. If you really want to have noticeably better driving characteristics, you should rather buy another kayak like the Gumotex Solar (same boat length), which can be paddled very well both alone and with another paddler.

The Itiwit x100+ 3-seater is recommended if you really want to use it as a 3-person kayak, or at least have that option. Also, the 3-seater is recommended if you need a higher load capacity. Then the slightly better driving characteristics are a nice side effect. In the end, from our point of view, both are inflatable kayaks for paddling beginners who are looking for an inflatable kayak with a robust boat skin and high tipping stability.

Dismantling the Itiwit x100+

The big advantage with the Itiwit x100+ over an Itiwit Touring 3-seater is that it is much faster to dismantle. The seats and the drop-stitch floor are removed from the boat. If there is water in the kayak, you can drain it through the screw-on drain holes. Afterwards, the inflatable kayak can be easily wiped dry with a towel. Since the boat is designed very open, you can reach everywhere with the towel.

itiwit kayak quality
The kayak has a high rocker
drain valve itiwit kayak
Drain opening at the stern
inflatable kayak itiwit decathlon
Dismantled kayak

During dry wiping, we again took a closer look at the bondings. Here we had to find processing problems last year with the Itiwit x100+ 2-seater. The bottom was not cleanly glued to the side tubes. This did not affect the functionality of the kayak, but is still not nice for a new product.

It’s a real pity that we found workmanship issues in this area on this one as well. It’s a pity because the bottom is sometimes the most heavily used area and otherwise the boat is cleanly finished overall. When wiping dry the crevices between the floor and the side tubes, which were still filled with air, it sounded like Velcro was coming loose. Most likely it was the bonding. In the following photos you can see this place where the bonding came loose.

itiwit x100 repair
Unclean glueing between bottom and side chambers

The next time we dismantle, we will let the air out completely and then wipe it dry. This puts less stress on the bonding. A stable bonding should still put it away without problems. When asked at Decathlon, the manufacturer told us that such a thing is not normal and can not assure us whether it has an impact on the durability. On the next tour, it had no effect on the functionality and the adhesions did not loosen further. Nevertheless, we advise you to check the adhesions when buying the boat.

Strengths and weaknesses of Itiwit x100+

The Itiwit x100+ is one of the most tip stable inflatable kayaks we have paddled and offers a high level of features for the price (3rd seat included, good seating comfort, drop stitch floor). Overall, the kayak has a good finish. Only the gluing between the floor and the side tubes have small defects. We had the same defect last year when testing the Itiwit x100+ 2-seater.

The material is robust and if the bonding on the inside of the bottom was clean, we could not complain. Nevertheless, the kayak does not come close to the high quality of a Gumotex or Advanced Elements kayak. In the entry-level segment (eg Sevylor, Intex, …), however, the Itiwit x100 offers much more in terms of workmanship and robustness.

Advantages

very easy assembly and dismantling + spacious interior + very high tipping stability + robust boat skin + high air pressure and thus very good stiffness for a boat in this price range + safe entry and exit through drop-stitch floor + Third seat already included + high seat cushion and good seating comfort + replaceable drop-stitch floor + high recreational value (paddling with family or friends) + useful features (paddle holder, side carrying handles, bungee cord on the bow to store luggage, bag on the backrest, …) + transport backpack included + suitable as a bathing boat (due to the high tipping stability entry out of the water is possible) + spare parts can be ordered separately

Disadvantages

wider and flatter hull and therefore slower – the bottom with the side tubes was not sufficiently or improperly glued for our model (so far no effect on the functionality of the kayak) – moderate driving characteristics – least suitable as a 1-person kayak – in 2-person configuration, the two seats can only be variably placed in the boat to a limited extent

Conflusion on the Itiwit x100+ 3 seater

From our point of view, Decathlon has done a lot right with the Itiwit x100+ and developed an inflatable kayak that clearly stands out from the inexpensive inflatable kayaks from Intex, Sevylor and Bestway and, with the drop-stitch floor, offers real added value in this price range.

The x100+ is significantly more dimensionally stable due to the drop-stitch floor and the higher air pressure of the side tubes, it has a significantly more robust boat skin (which can also be repaired if damaged), it has a higher seating comfort due to the high seat cushions and stable backrests, it is more tilt-resistant and it can be easily wiped dry after the tour. In terms of driving characteristics (especially speed, tracking stability, gliding characteristics), the x100+ offers no significant advantages over the boats from Intex, Sevylor and Co.

If you are looking for a kayak with great driving characteristics, which can be used for long day trips (> 20 km), regardless of whether alone, with another paddler or two other paddlers, should take a closer look at other inflatable kayaks from manufacturers like Advanced Elements or Gumotex.

decathlon itiwit x100 3 seater review
Itiwit x100+ 3 seater

Although the inflatable kayak offers the least space as a 3-person kayak, we liked this configuration the best. It’s just great to have the option to go paddling in a kayak with two other friends for a nice leisurely paddle together. This is also a great way for families with a child to spend time together on the water. Because of the high tipping stability, you can quickly convince friends and family members to come along for a paddle tour. For families with small children, the very high tipping stability is a real plus in terms of safety.

As a 2-person kayak, the Itiwit x100+ 3-seater makes sense especially if you need the higher payload capacity and the extra space for luggage. It is an advantage that you can also paddle the boat as a 1-person kayak. For small and leisurely paddling trips it may be sufficient. However, if you want to go on tours alone with it more often, you won’t do yourself any favors with the boat. The kayak is not designed for that.

Itiwit X500 Review

itiwit x500 kayak

Decathlon promises with the Itiwit x500 a hardshell-like kayak at an attractive price, which is still easy to transport. It should not only be light and robust but also quickly assembled. The Itiwit x500 is a full drop-stitch kayak that is inflated to 0.7 bar. Drop-stitch kayaks are a big trend among inflatable kayaks in recent years. A special feature of this kayak is that it has an integrated cockpit and the boat is only 64 cm wide. This speaks on the one hand for good running characteristics and on the other hand for a use of the kayak over the whole year, because the cockpit can be closed completely with a spray cover. In this review, we would like to take a closer look at the kayak, report on our first experiences on the water and give an assessment of who the kayak is suitable for.

itiwit x500 drop stitch kayak

Technical Specs

Max. paddlers:
Length:
Width:
Capacity:
Packed size:
Material:

1
380 cm | 12’5”
64 cm | 2’1”
159 kg | 200.4 lbs
43 x 20 cm | 1’4” x 7”
PVC coated Drop-Stitch

Weight:
Pressure:
Produced in:

16 kg | 35.3 lbs
0.7 bar | 10 PSI
China

Which model has been reviewed?

Itiwit x500 from 2021

How did we organize the review?

The Itiwit x500 was provided to us by Decathlon, a French manufacturer and distributor of sports equipment and clothing. Itiwit is a brand for the paddle sport of Decathlon. Our review is independent of the manufacturer or shop and reflects our own opinion of the boat.

How intensively has the product been tested?

low

high 1 bar = 1-3 km paddled (first impressions)
2 bars = min. 1 day/ 2 half-day tours
3 bars = min. 4 tours
4 bars = min. 8 tours
5 bars = min. 12 tours (very intense)

Where have we tested the product?

Whitewater

Calm rivers

Lakes

Table of Contents

First impressions and assembly

The Itiwit x500 comes with a large backpack, which makes a rather bulky impression. 16 kg (incl. backpack 18 kg) is not little for a 1-person inflatable kayak. However, here you must not forget that it is a full drop stitch kayak with an integrated cockpit.

itiwit x500 kayak transport
A transport backpack is already included.

Although the backpack is kept simple, it is very functional and completely sufficient for transporting the kayak to the water. Compared to the included backpacks of many other inflatable boats, the backpack even has a waist and chest strap that make transporting the kayak to the water much more comfortable.

The shoulder straps even have load straps so you can adjust the position of the backpack on your back. So you can decide for yourself whether you want the backpack close to your back and tighten the straps for full control (for example, if the launch site is on the rocky shore), or loosen the straps for more freedom of movement and air at the back.

There is also a side pocket on each side to put your double paddle in. The orange strap not only compresses the backpack from the outside, but also holds the paddle extra tight.

itiwit x500 backpack paddle
The backpack has a waist and chest strap, as well as side pockets for the paddle.
itiwit x500 kayak sizes
Folded backpack
itiwit x500 footrest seat
Kayak with seat and footrests

The opening of the backpack is pretty large. The kayak is compressed inside the backpack with another strap. In addition, the backpack contains the seat and footrests.

The Itiwit x500 has a total of five air chambers. Three of them form the kayak hull and the other two form the cockpit. The air chambers are inflated via spring valves that are easy to operate. They are similar to the valves on other high-quality inflatable kayaks (e.g. Advanced Elements).

What is Drop-Stitch?

With the Drop-Stitch technology, the upper and lower inner walls of the air chamber are additionally woven with nylon threads. This is the only way to achieve a significantly higher air pressure than with air chambers without the tangled nylon threads. The air chamber thus achieves very good dimensional stability and rigidity. The Drop-Stitch technology is very common for SUP boards (Stand Paddling Boards) and is used more and more for inflatable kayaks. Learn more about this type of inflatable boats, in our buyer’s guide for Drop-Stitch kayaks.

To pump air into the air chamber, you push out the orange pin. Then turn the cap of your air pump. The valves for the air chambers of the kayak hull are located at the back of the stern, which you can reach through the roll-up closure of the luggage hatch. First, inflate the bottom chamber and then the side chamber up to 10 PSI (0.7 bar), which is a common value for the operating pressure of a full drop-stitch kayak.

We used the Itiwit high pressure pump for inflation, which is a double action pump. You pump up the first 0.35 bar in double action mode (i.e. double stroke). This way you pump a lot of air into the chamber in a very short time. The last 0.35 bar you pump up in single mode. In this mode, you generate the necessary pressure of 0.7 bar. Inflation was very fast with the pump, without really having to use force. Not every air pump creates this necessary pressure of 0.7 bar, which should be considered when buying the air pump.

itiwit x500 inflatable valve
For the hull, pump up the three separate air chambers.
itiwit x500 air pump
The valves are easily accessible via the roll closure opening.
itiwit x500 setup
Inflation was super easy with a double action pump.

Side and bottom chambers of the kayak are glued together and additionally taped. In the area of the valves, where the tape ends, the chambers are glued together uncleanly or at least too much glue was used (see photo above). According to initial assessment, it is not a detriment, but nevertheless, excessive glue residue testifies to careless processing.

Next, there are two small air chambers in the cockpit in front of and behind the seat hatch that also need to be inflated. These air chambers shape the cockpit and create a slight upward bulge.

itiwit decatlon kayak cockpit
Air chamber on the cockpit behind the seat hatch

Compared to other inflatable kayaks, the x500 does not require a single strap to secure the seat. The kayak seat is made of a firm foam. The seat surface is 50 x 25 cm. On the bottom of the seat there is a recess on the left and right respectively, which are placed on two wedges in the interior. The backrest, which has a height of 25 cm, is pressed under the coaming and held in position by the air chamber under the cockpit. The backrest closes with the coaming in such a way that the cushion of the backrest still protrudes slightly.

Neither the seat nor the backrest can slip. Especially with the backrest, you have to tighten the straps from time to time with other inflatable kayaks on longer tours. This is not necessary with the Itiwit x500. However, this also eliminates the possibility for individual adjustment of the backrest. The position of the seat and the angle of the backrest is therefore fixed.

x500 inflatable kayak seat
The seat is placed on the wedges.
kayak x500 seat
Then the backrest is pressed under the coaming.
itiwit x500 footrest
The footrest is slid onto a rail and secured with a strap.

In the footwell, there is a rail on each side for sliding in the footrest. In addition, the footrest is attached to the side wall via a strap and buckle, via which the footrest can be adjusted on each side. We (186 and 189 cm) do not use the full length of the rail and strap by far. The assembly of the footrests worked very easily.

Due to the thin drop-stitch side walls, there is still enough space in the rear for the large air pump or a 40-liter dry bag. The opening of the luggage hatch is large enough to easily place luggage inside. Although the roll-up closure of the luggage hatch closes like a dry bag, it is unfortunately not waterproof according to the manufacturer.

itiwit x500 kayak test
In the rear there is enough space for a 40 L dry bag.
itiwit x500 space
The opening is sufficiently large.
itiwit x500 cockpit space
Closing the luggage hatch.

Unfortunately, our brand new model has two small holes in the roll closure of the luggage hatch. Although it is very easy to repair, holes in the material of a new product are very annoying. That’s a pity!

Itiwit x500 kayak damage
Holes in the roll closure (luggage hatch in the rear of the Itiwit x500)

The lower hull of the Drop-Stitch kayak is very well shaped. There is a clear keel line between the bow and stern, forming a V-shape. This promises a good straight-line stability on the water.

itiwit x500 hull
A clear keel line can be seen on the lower ship

The keel line is additionally reinforced with PVC material. In the bow and stern area, the reinforcement is even more pronounced by a black rubber-like strip. Thus, the most stressed areas of the kayak are well protected when touching the ground and when landing on the shore. Here you can see that the manufacturer has not saved on material and wants to focus on durability.

In addition, under the black keel stripes are an integrated plastic strip, which protrudes slightly along the entire keel line and thus forms a kind of track profile.

In addition, the bow is nice and sleek, so water resistance is minimal. Other manufacturers of full drop-stitch kayaks also use similar designs, such as hard shell elements (e.g. BIC YakkAir) or aluminum rails inside the boat (e.g. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame), to create a pointed bow so that the kayak cuts the water better.

itiwit x500 bow
The x500 has a well-shaped bow.
itiwi x500 material
Black keel stripe
itiwit x500 quality
Additional PVC material on the keel line

Overall, the kayak is cleanly finished from the outside at the many glued joints. The material makes a robust impression. Nevertheless, we noticed a few small details. On the one hand, the black keel strip disappears under the boat skin. However, the material and boat skin do not seal 100% at the closure point. This does not lead to water ingress, but in the long run to unnecessary dirt accumulation. Secondly, the additional PVC material on the keel line consists of two parts that are glued overlapping in the middle. The overlap should have been glued in reverse (i.e. correctly from bow to stern). So there are two uneven spots on the lower hull in the direction of the current, which can be a weak point especially in shallow flowing water with unfavorable grounding, unless they are 100% glued.

inflatable kayak x500 handle
Carrying handle at the bow
itiwit x500 details
Life lines on the side

Both the bow and stern of the kayak has a carrying handle, so that the kayak can be carried by two or alone with the help of a boat trolley over some longer distances. For short transport or putting the kayak into the water, we use the coaming as a carrying handle.

In addition, there are two safety lines on each of the two outer walls to hold on to the boat in case of capsize. This is especially important on open water. These are also very handy for pulling the kayak to shore. For carrying the kayak to the water on these safety lines alone, we find the position of the handles too far apart. In that case, you carry the boat to the water with your arms stretched wide. Therefore, the safety lines are less suitable as carrying handles.

itiwit x500 transport to water
The best way to carry the assembled x500 alone is over the shoulder

Review of the Itiwit x500 on the water

Stability of the Itiwit x500 kayak

The Itiwit x500 is clearly more tippy than most inflatable kayaks (e.g. Advanced Elements Advanced Frame, Gumotex Rush, nortik scubi 1 XL, …) but from our point of view not more tippy than e.g. the Gumotex Framura or BIC YakkAir.

Due to numerous reviews in the Decathlon store, we were prepared to capsize with the kayak. However, this didn’t happen. On the one hand, there is a revised version of the kayak since mid-2020, in which the tipping stability was increased. The V-shape has been flattened in the seat area.

On the other hand, you can significantly increase the tipping stability by sitting correctly in the kayak. To do this, adjust the footrests so that you have a total of five points of contact with the kayak with your feet on the footrests, your knees on the cockpit, and the lumbar region of your back with the seat, all under slight pressure. Then the tipping stability is really good for such a narrow inflatable kayak with a pointed keel, so that even rapids in rivers are no problem.

itiwit x500 whitewater experience
With the right seating position, the Itiwit x500 is sufficiently tilt-resistant

Nevertheless, you can also adjust the footrests on the water, e.g. loosen them on calm waters to stretch out the legs. In this case, the kayak will feel more tippy and hasty movements should be avoided.

Space and comfort

Thanks to the drop-stitch sidewalls, the kayak has a spacious interior despite its small external width of 64 cm. For a day trip, the luggage volume of the kayak is very good. For multi-day trips, however, it will be tight if you don’t have compact camping gear. There is enough space in the stern for the large air pump, the kayak’s transport backpack and small dry bags. If the air pump is not in the rear, a larger dry bag (40 liters) also fits in the rear.

Alternatively, a backpack or dry bag can be attached to the luggage net at the front of the bow. There is no way to attach luggage on the rear cockpit. However, you can use several tension straps to attach luggage to the rear side safety lines. D-rings or loops on the cockpit would have been a better solution though.

itiwit x500 luggage net bungee
Some luggage can be attached to the cockpit at the front.
The Itiwit backpack (optional accessory) has extra straps to attach to the canopy
itiwit x500 review water lake
So items are stowed safely and dryly and can still be reached quickly on the water

The footwell is sufficiently long so that even tall paddlers have enough space. However, the cockpit limits the height of the footwell. Paddlers who have at least a shoe size 45 and also go paddling with sneakers should test sit in the store beforehand, or alternatively, when ordering online, before the first use in the water at home, to see if the height in the footwell is actually sufficient.

Compared to most inflatable boats (e.g. Gumotex, Advanced Elements, …), the seating comfort is lower due to the harder seat and lower backrest, but higher than hard shell kayaks. Those who mainly want to paddle comfortably reclined in the kayak will quickly complain of back pain and have little pleasure with the x500. Since the backrest is only 25 cm high, most life jackets usually do not provide additional padding either, so that this does not result in increased comfort.

itiwit x500 river
The Itiwit x500 requires an upright sitting position.

A backrest rising above the coaming would conflict with the concept of a sea kayak (e.g. because of simplified re-boarding in the event of a capsize). However, if you take care of a straight upper body and sit properly on the seat (i.e. with the bottom up to the backrest), you do not need a high backrest. The backrest does not serve to lean in (nevertheless possible for a short time or breaks, but uncomfortable in the long run) but as a relief for sitting upright and as a further fixed point between paddler and kayak. Considering a correct paddling position, we find the seating comfort of the x500 good.

Seat hatch, coaming and spray skirt

The cockpit has a sufficiently large and oval-shaped seat hatch to get in and out of the kayak without much effort. Even without a splash skirt, the cockpit provides good splash protection. Due to the two air chambers under the cockpit in front of and behind the coaming, the cockpit is slightly curved so that splash water immediately flows away from the cockpit and does not accumulate or flow into the seat hatch.

itiwit x500 kayak cockpit
The seating hatch is oval and spacious.

The seat hatch can be closed waterproof with a spray skirt. This allows you to use the kayak in the cold season and in coastal waters. Attaching the spray skirt is not fun at first and takes a lot of getting used to. Compared to the fixed coaming of a PE kayak, the flexible coaming of the Itiwit x500 requires some technique and a little patience to attach a spray skirt.

itiwit x500 stability
Especially in the beginning, attaching the spraydeck is quite difficult.

We used the Itiwit neoprene spray skirt. The edge of the spray skirt is sewn so that the rear part can be pushed under the coaming. It is important to put the back part of the spraydeck in first. The remaining edge of the spraydeck must be pushed under the coaming. To do this, you need to bend the coaming up a bit. After several failed attempts, the fingers hurt and it becomes a real fumbling. In winter, with cold hands, we imagine that this is even more difficult. With a little practice, however, the attachment of the spray skirt works better and better. Instructions for attaching the spray skirt are available on YouTube from the manufacturer.

If the spray skirt is attached, it sits very well and does not come off by itself. Nevertheless, the spray skirt can be easily detached from the coaming with a handle (at the loop). Therefore, we find the spray skirt a useful addition to the kayak to be able to close it completely.

drop stitch kayak x500 review
Once the spray skirt is attached it does not come off during paddling.

Paddling performance

We paddled the kayak with the Itiwit Carbon double paddle (210 cm long), which worked very well for us. A 230 – 240 cm long double paddle, which we usually use with our inflatable kayaks, would be significantly too long with the narrow Itiwit x500.

itiwit x500 kayak review
The narrow kayak width and the pointed keel contribute to the good paddling performance.

For an inflatable kayak, it has really good dimensions thanks to the drop-stitch side chambers. We have never paddled a narrower air kayak. The positive effect of the narrow hull width in combination with the pointed keel can be felt immediately when paddling.The kayak runs well through the water. The kayak accelerates quickly. Speeds of 3.7 – 4 mph are possible without effort with a light paddle stroke over longer distances. We paddled the Itiwit x500 at a maximum of 5.4 mph, at which point a bow wave forms and paddling is no longer efficient. Note that these are approximate values.

The kayak has very good trim on the water and forms a high effective waterline with its short rocker. For a 380 cm long inflatable boat without fin, the straight-line stability during paddling is very good. If you stop paddling and drift, the kayak will drift just slightly in either direction instead of keeping track. However, this is completely normal for inflatable boats. We only know similar good paddling characteristics the AdvancedFrame Convertible Elite.

The Itiwit x500 is noticeably less maneuverable due to its V-shaped lower hull. For small blocked and winding rivers, the x500 is clearly at a disadvantage due to its design.

itiwit x500 decathlon test
The Itiwit x500 has a good trim on the water and a short rocker

Compared to the inflatable kayaks tested so far, a significantly better upper body rotation is possible because the fixed footrests on the side chambers support the rotation of the upper body during the forward stroke. The stroke force when paddling is thus higher, without the boat constantly pulling to the left or right at the same time (which is normally the case with inflatable boats). With the Itiwit x500, overall significantly more paddling technique (e.g. weight shifting to make turns, …) is possible than with a conventional inflatable boat (e.g. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame).

A skeg for the x500 is not necessary from our point of view. The straight-line stability is already good enough. If you are a fan of a steering system, you will miss it on the x500. Steering systems are mainly practical to countersteer in wind and current without having to paddle against it all the time. However, we have to say that we would not prefer a steering system, especially on this model. If the steering system could be operated via the footrests, they would be movable and lose the necessary resistance when paddling.

Steering pedals in the middle on a rail, on the other hand, would unnecessarily increase the weight and price of the boat. However, an optionally available steering system from Itiwit would be an attractive option.

itiwit x500 kayak paddling characteristic
You can make use of paddling techniques like for hard shell kayaks

Dismantling the Itiwit x500

After paddling, the footrests and the seat can be easily removed from the boat. There is a recess in the seat. You reach in there and lift the seat. This way the backrest comes off the coaming without any problems.

You usually have to reassemble the kayak at home (at least inflate it slightly) and let it dry. The boat skin is quick-drying, so it is easy to wipe it dry with a towel. However, we do not consider the entire boat to be quick-drying for two reasons. First, the two carrying handles and four safety lines soak up water due to the material (especially the side safety lines). Second, you can’t wipe the footwell dry through the cockpit because you simply can’t reach it (unless you don’t make the interior footwell wet).

itiwit x500 experience
You should let the kayak completely dry at home

Due to the integrated cockpit with coaming, the PVC coating of the boat skin and the drop-stitch material, the kayak is not only bulkier but also stiffer when folded. This is especially noticeable in the off-season when the waters are still very cold.

The kayak should be folded in 4 equal parts so that it fits back in the backpack. The lower part of the backpack is coated so that the bottom of the backpack does not get soaked. So you only need to roughly wipe the folded kayak and pack it in the backpack.

Strengths and weaknesses of the Itiwit x500 kayak

The biggest strengths of the Itiwiti x500 are the very good paddling characteristics and the very simple and fast assembly. The kayak can be assembled within 5 min and you get a kayak that glides really well through the water. It comes closest to the paddling characteristics of a hard shell kayak among the inflatable and drop stitch kayaks.

The workmanship of the kayak makes a solid impression, but it doesn’t seem as high quality as more expensive inflatable kayaks. There are details (small holes in the luggage hatch, partially unclean gluing) where we would have wished for a cleaner finish. However, these do not indicate any functional impairments at first glance.

Advantages

innovative inflatable kayak (many things rethought) + very simple and fast assembly + very good and flexibly adjustable footrests + extremely good paddling characteristics for an inflatable kayak (ideal for experienced paddlers and sporty paddling beginners) + very good price-performance ratio + good transport backpack included (without problem 30 minutes transport on the back) + good stowage of luggage in the stern and bow + plenty of legroom for large people + robust boat skin ratio + good transport backpack included (can be transported on the back for 30 minutes without any problem) + good stowage of luggage in the stern and on the bow + plenty of space and legroom for tall people + robust boat skin + finally a full drop-stitch kayak with a cockpit (thus usable throughout the year, also for paddling near the coast)

Disadvantages

– kayak can not be wiped completely dry after the tour, but footwell and safety lines must dry – for small and fast flowing rivers too long and too little maneuverable – no kayak for absolute paddling beginners, who are also less agile and less sporty – more tippy than conventional inflatable kayaks (due to construction) – workmanship could be better in some places – no optional steering system available – little space and attachment points for luggage on multi-day trips (here D-rings on the canopy would have been handy) – only repair material but no repair kit (incl. glue) in the scope of delivery – luggage hatch not waterproof

Conclusion on the Decathlon Itiwit x500

We enjoy paddling the Itiwit x500 a lot because it runs really well on the water without much effort.

itiwit x500 kayak
For large waters, the Itiwit x500 is very suitable.

With the Itiwit x500, Decathlon addresses a very specific target group: Athletes who see kayaking as a sporting activity, and experienced paddlers who want to make only minor sacrifices in terms of paddling characteristics in an inflatable kayak. Both people are united by the need for easy transportability and storage. In addition, the x500 is very quick and easy to set up, so spontaneous and short paddling trips are always justified.

Recreational paddlers or leisurely touring paddlers are, in our view, better off with another inflatable boat. The Itiwit x500 is not a kayak to lean into and paddle along. It is also not a kayak to chill out on the water, but a sports equipment. You can take it on leisurely tours, but with the appropriate posture.

The Itiwit x500 will definitely still take on numerous tours and expand or update the test article with long-term experiences at the latest at the end of the season.

The lower hull of the drop-stitch kayak is very well shaped. There is a clear keel line between the bow and stern, forming a V-shape. This promises a good paddling characteristics on the water.

Drop Stitch Kayak – Complete Buyer’s Guide

itiwit x500 kayak

For the last few years, drop-stitch kayaks have become more and more common on the market and are increasingly establishing themselves in the field of inflatable kayaks. There are different designs of drop-stitch kayaks. There are models where only the floor, only the side chambers or for the complete boat is made of drop-stitch material. By using this technology, the air kayak is much stiffer and the driving characteristics are said to improve, according to the manufacturer. In this article we would like to discuss, among other things, the advantages and disadvantages, the different construction methods and a few selected drop-stitch kayaks.

Table of Contents

What is a drop-stitch kayak?

The drop stitch technology found its way into water sports, especially in stand up paddling boards. Without a rigid air chamber, standing on the board would not be possible. Exactly this technology is also used in drop stitch kayaks.

A fiber fabric (polyester or nylon) is used. Here, the upper and lower inner walls of the air chamber are interwoven with thousands of textile threads of the fabric material. This technique makes it possible to inflate the air chamber with a much higher air pressure, so that the air chamber appears as stiff and flat as a board.

A single or multiple waterproof and airtight coating (PE, PVC or rubber) is applied to the fabric, which enables its use in water.

inflatable kayak construction

classical inflatable chambers (I-Beam floor)

inflatable drop-stitch kayak construction

inflatable kayak with drop-stich floor

kayak with drop-stitch floor and side chambers

So a drop-stitch kayak is nothing more than an inflatable kayak. However, unlike traditional inflatable kayaks, they are similarly dimensionally stable as a hardshell kayak. Usually, you don’t even need a special air pump, as the usual double-stroke pumps for inflatable kayaks can produce the increased pressure without any problems.

In the context of drop stitch, the term “high pressure air chamber” is often used. This has the background that air chambers made of Drop-Stitch allow a higher pressure. Thus, the air chambers are significantly stiffer than conventional air chambers. Manufacturers of drop-stitch kayaks like to distinguish their high-pressure chambers from tradtional air chambers with the term “low-pressure chambers.” However, the transition between air chambers without drop stitch (currently between 0.069 and 0.35 bar) and air chambers with drop stitch (currently between 0.34 / 4.9 PSI and 1.03 bar /15 PSI) is rather fluent. As you can see, there is no fixed air pressure at which point an air chamber is considered a high-pressure chamber, or what air pressure drop-stitch chambers have. The air pressure varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Advantages and disadvantage of drop-stitch kayaks

From our point of view, drop-stitch kayaks will not replace the classic inflatable kayaks, but will complement them more strongly. The biggest advantage of a drop-stitch kayak is that the boat can be inflated with a significantly higher air pressure. The inflatable kayak is said to be closer to that of a rigid hull kayak, especially in terms of driving characteristics. It is true that this gives the inflatable kayak better stiffness and, depending on the hull shape, better performance on the water due to the use of drop stitch. It should not be forgotten that drop-stitch kayaks also have a higher buoyancy than hardshell kayaks due to their air chambers, and thus float on the water rather than in it. Therefore, the big disadvantage of an air kayak remains: the susceptibility to wind.

If you take a look at the hull of the inflatable kayak you can easily see whether there have been any drop-stitch elements used or not.

inflatable kayak hull
without drop-stitch
drop stitch kayak hull
with drop-stitch floor
full drop stitch kayak hull
full drop-stitch

Another look at the interior of the kayak shows also the difference between the different drop-stitch constructions. The drop-stitch floor eliminates the typical I-beam floor of an inflatable kayak. The fixed floor allows you to get in and out of the kayak more comfortably, as the floor does not give way as in traditional inflatable boats. Also, an inflatable kayak with a drop-stitch floor appears higher quality and “cleaner” inside. At first glance, you would think it is a rigid hull kayak.

kayak without drop-stich floor
without drop-stitch
kayak with drop-stitch floor
with drop-stitch floor
kayak with full drop-stitch floor
full drop-stitch

What is is an I-Beam floor?

An I-Beam floor is an air chamber divided into several segments. Any inflatable boat without the use of drop stitch needs such a construction, so that the bottom remains flat during inflation. Otherwise, the air chamber becomes as round as the side tube of the inflatable boat.

Inflatable kayaks with drop-stitch floors and wide side tubes (e.g. Gumotex Thaya, Gumotex Rush, Itiwit x100+, AE AdvancedFrame Convertible Elite, …) are more stable on the water than traditional inflatable kayaks due to the flat and stiff drop-stitch floor. However, the stability depends also on other factors, such as the width of the hull. In addition, if not only the floor but also the side chamber is made of drop-stitch, the side walls are thinner than in traditional inflatable kayaks. Thus, you have more space in the interior. However, with such full drop-stitch kayaks you also have a higher risk of capsizing than with traditional inflatable kayaks, because the side tubes are thinner and the capsize point is reached earlier.

If you paddle in rough conditions (such as whitewater and swells), you will have some disadvantages with a drop-stitch kayak. The majority of drop-stitch kayaks (except Gumotex Rush and Itiwit x500) do not have a canopy. Since a drop-stitch kayak does not have an I-beam bottom, water cannot collect in the grooves of the i-beam floor. The water stands in the boat faster. Also, the kayak floats on the water, and behaves like a board in small waves. The boat rides the waves less smoothly, but really slaps up. Therefore, there are only drop-stitch kayaks up to a maximum whitewater class of 2. Not to mention that drop-stitch kayaks are clearly more complex in terms of construction. Therefore, drop-stitch kayaks (even if they are produced in Asia) are usually more expensive than traditional inflatable kayaks.

Inflatable kayaks with drop-stich floor

In these drop stitch kayaks, the floor consists of a drop stitch chamber and the sidewalls of traditional air chambers. The flat drop-stitch floor and the wide side tubes make the kayaks particularly stable against capsizing. There are kayaks with removable and fixed drop-stitch floor. We want to present in the following some concrete kayaks with drop-stitch floor.

One of the cheapest inflatable kayak with drop-stitch floor is the Itiwit x100+ from Decathlon. The drop-stitch floor is removable, which is inflated to 0.34 bar (5 PSI). The side chambers are inflated to 0.2 bar (3 PSI). It can be paddled as an open 1- or 2-person kayak. It’s very stable due to its wide hull and flat drop-stitch floor. In favor of stability, the paddling characteristics are only moderate as a 1-person kayak, and slightly better as a 2-person kayak. It is aimed at beginners who are looking for a portable recreational kayak for short trips on the water. The robustness as well as workmanship and the equipment of the kayak are very good for the price. The Itiwit x100+ is also available as a 3-person kayak: Itiwit x100+ 3-seater.

ITIWIT X100+

itiwit x100

for 2 persons

very stable

great value for price

Sea Eagle 420x

sea eagle 420X kayak

for 2 persons

pump and paddles incl.

comfortable seats

Aquaglide Navarro 110

aquaglide navarro 110 kayak

for 1 person

protective deck

good driving characteristics

A  big name among inflatable boats is the manufacturer Sea Eagle. They sell their kayaks in set where paddles and the right air pump is already inlcuded. You just need to get some PFDs. Their drop-stitch kayaks are high-quality and that’s why they cost a bit more.

A pretty well-known manufcaturer of inflatable kayaks in the US is Aquaglide. They have a wide range of different kayaks and also some drop-stitch kayaks. The Navarro is available as a 1- or 2-person kayak and comes with an integrated cockpit. This is very useful because it protects you from splashing water and waves, so that you get less wet when paddling.

Full drop-stitch kayaks

Inflatable kayaks with a full drop stitch construction have both the floor and the side chambers made of drop stitch material. They are also called full drop stitch or high pressure kayaks. They are significantly less stable than inflatable kayaks with I-Beam or drop-stitch floor only, due to the thin sidewalls.

SEA EAGLE 473RL

sea eagle drop stitch kayak

for 2 persons

pump and paddles incl.

great driving characteristics

AQUA MARINA TOMAHAWK

aqua marina tomahawk air-k 440

for 2 persons

sportive design

great driving characteristics

ITIWIT X500

itiwit x500 drop stitch kayak

for 1 person

innovative construction

feels like a hardshell

Sea Eagle has also full drop-stitch kayaks where the floor and side chambers are made of drop-stich. The Sea Eagle 473rl is an open kayak, which is even equipped with adjustable footrests. You can get this kayak also as a 1 person kayak.

Aqua Marina is especially very well-known for it’s SUP boards but they have also inflatable kayak and the Aqua Marina Tomahawk is their full drop-stich kayak. Regarding design it’s pretty similar to the Sea Eagle kayak but it’s a bit shorter.

The Itiwit x500 is a development of Decathlon, which is aimed at ambitious paddlers. It is a very narrow cut kayak with a very high air pressure of 0.7 bar (10.2 PSI). This promises good paddling characteristics on the water. Due to the narrow design, it is much less stable than traditional inflatable kayak and less suitable for beginners. In addition, the kayak has a canopy with coaming, so it can be completely closed. Thus, the x500 is also suitable for paddling in the cooler season. The x500 is also available as a 2-person kayak.

In general, the models of the brands are very similar in construction and differ mainly in the technical specification and details (except for the Itiwit x500). Presumably, the kayaks of the different brands come from the same producer Woosung from South Korea. The company produces drop-stitch boats in China with its SelyTech material. Due to the similarity, it is difficult to make a correct selection at first glance. That is why we would like to discuss the differences in general at this point.

itiwit x500 kayak
Paddling a full drop-stitch kayak: Itwit x500

Each brand speaks of a very robust material. The fiber fabric of a full drop stitch material is coated with PVC in almost all models. The single and double coating are the most common, but often not specified by some brands. However, the weight of the kayak gives the first indication. If two kayaks have almost the same dimensions, the kayak with the heavier weight has several coatings.

The weight of a full drop-stitch kayak can therefore vary greatly depending not only on the dimensions, but on how many threads are used inside the chamber and how many PVC layers are used for the outer skin by the manufacturer. A drop-stitch kayak for 2 people can thus weigh between 15 (33 lbs) and 25 kg (55 lbs). The heavier kayak will be more robust, but also heavier to transport.

The air pressure also differs between models. The air pressure determines the stiffness of the floor and side chambers. Air pressures of 0.5 (7.3 PSI) to 1.0 (14.5 PSI) bar are common. Even from 0.5 bar (7.3 PSI), the kayak is very dimensionally stable, so it has a well-formed bottom for solid performance on the water. Some manufacturers additionally provide the kayak with hardshell elements at the bow and stern tip, so that typical V-shape is created and the paddling properties of the kayak are improved even further.

drop-stitch kayak skeg
Most drop-stitch kayaks come with fins
drop-stitch technology for kayak
Floor and side chambers are made of drop-stitch
full drop stitch kayak stern
Some full drop-stitch kayaks come with hardshell elements at the bow and stern
aqua marina tomahawk kayak review drop stitch 1 person
Thanks to the thinner side chambers, there is more space inside the kayak

For better straight line stability in deep water, most kayaks can be equipped with one or more skegs, which are included. If you paddle to travel quickly, you should make sure that the chosen model is as long as possible. Most 3-person kayaks, which are particularly long, can also be paddled by two people.

Full splash protection with a canopy is offered only by the Itiwit x500 or the Jaybay.Zone kayaks. The other models are open kayaks and have only small splash guards at the bow and stern. The open design and thin beveled sidewalls allow more splash water to enter the interior than traditional inflatable kayaks. Open full drop-stitch kayaks are therefore mainly intended for lakes, wide and calm rivers, and in nice weather. Thus, the kayaks are less suitable for paddling in rough weather, waves, or whitewater.

In addition, full drop-stitch kayaks differ in terms of features. If you want to have a lot of space in the kayak, your model should have front and rear luggage nets. Then you can attach backpacks or dry bags (up to 40 liters) there. If comfort is important to you, you should pay attention to the seats. Seats with high backrests and high seat cushions are comfortable. A high seat cushion also prevents you from sitting in the wet immediately if water gets into the boat.

Hybrid kayaks with drop-stitch

In addition, there are hybrid inflatable kayaks with drop-stitch floor or side chambers. These kayaks consist of a construction of a frame (folding kayak) and air chambers. In the process, the frame forms a shape of the kayak. In our opinion, these kayaks offer really good paddling characteristics.

Advanced Elements offers an inflatable kayak with removable drop stitch floor. The drop-stitch floor is inflated to 0.41 bar (5.9 PSI) and the side chambers to 0.14 bar (2 PSI). In addition, the AdvancedFrame kayaks are equipped with aluminum ribs in the bow and stern,. This gives the inflatable kayak a more defined keel and the bow cuts the water better. We find the paddling performance of the AdvancedFrame Convertible Elite (2-person kayak) really good. With a length of 460 cm (15’1”), it is one of the fastest air kayaks that we have paddled so far, and also convinces with a very good straight line stability. The boat skin is also robust and the workmanship of the boat solid. Disadvantage is the long drying time because of the nylon material and the high weight of 23.5 kg (51.8 lbs) for a 2-person kayak.

AE ADVANCEDFRAME CONVERTIBLE ELITE

advanced elements advancedframe convertible

for 1 or 2 persons

very stable and fast

highly configurable

AE AIRFUSION EVO

advanced elements airfusion evo

for 1 person

integrated deck

great driving characteristics

The AdvancedFrame is available as a 1- and 2-person kayak. The 2-person version can be paddled very well solo or tandem. The AdvancedFrame can be optionally equipped with a canopy and rudder.

Advanced Elements AirFusion EVO is one of the latest models from the manufacturer. With a width of 61 cm (2′), it is the narrowest inflatable kayak we know. The side chambers are made of drop stitch and are inflated to 0.41 bar (5.9 PSI). The kayak has no air chamber in the bottom, but a keel rod. The drop-stitch seat is mounted on the keel rod, so you can sit comfortably in the kayak without feeling the keel rod.

The AdvancedFrame is available as a 1- and 2-person kayak. The 2-person version can be paddled very well solo or tandem. The AdvancedFrame can be optionally equipped with a canopy and rudder.

The nortik Scubi 2 XL consists of two side air chambers that can be inflated to 0.35 bar (5 PSI). The Scubi 2 XL has not only a keel rod, but consists of a frame, a keel rod with stern (stern and bow rod) and transverse ribs that span the bottom widthwise.

The kayak can also be equipped with an optional drop-stitch floor, which has an air pressure of 0.7 bar (10 PSI). The floor gives a firm bottom and, according to the manufacturer, should result in even better riding characteristics.

nortik scubi drop stitch floor
The nortik scubi 1 XL with optional drop-stitch floor

Itiwit Touring Kayak Review

decathlon kayak touring test

The Itiwit Touring kayak from Decathlon has become a classic among inflatable kayaks for beginners (in Australia the product name is Itiwit Cruising). The kayak is available as a 1-, 2- or 3-seater. We have tested the 2-seater. We paddled it both in pairs and alone on a lake and river. In this test report, we would like to introduce you to the boat and report on our experiences on the water.

Decathlon has recently introduced a new inflatable kayak series, the x100+. It’s available as a 2 and 3 persons kayak and comes with a drop-stitch floor, which promises again more stability and better performance on the water. In addition to that, it has thicker boat skin and doesn’t need the polyester cover anymore. We have paddled and reviewed the Itiwit X100+ as well.

Technical Specs

Max. paddlers:
Length:
Width:
Capacity:
Packed size:

2
340 cm | 11’1”
103 cm | 3’3”
159 kg | 200.4 lbs
67 x 40 x 30 cm |
2’2” x 1’3” x 1′

Material:

PVC Tarpaulin (bottom),
PVC (chambers), Polyester (cover)

Weight:
Pressure:
Produced in:

14 kg | 30.9 lbs
0.1 bar | 1,5 PSI
China

Which model has been reviewed?

Itiwit Touring 2-Seater from 2020

How did we organize the review?

We have purchased the Itiwit Touring ourselves.

How intensively has the product been tested?

low

high 1 bar = 1-3 km paddled (first impressions)
2 bars = min. 1 day/ 2 half-day tours
3 bars = min. 4 tours
4 bars = min. 8 tours
5 bars = min. 12 tours (very intense)

Where have we tested the product?

Whitewater

Calm rivers

Lakes

Table of Contents

First impressions and assembly

The kayak comes with a large backpack. Double paddle and life jackets must be purchased separately. The backpack is good for short transport to the water. For longer trips, the shoulder straps are too thin and not padded, so it quickly becomes uncomfortable. Nevertheless, the transport backpack makes a robust impression and can be opened wide with the surrounding zipper. In addition, even a pump for inflatable kayaks can be attached to the outside of the side.

itiwit touring backpack
For storage and short transport to the water, the backpack is quite sufficient.
itiwit touring backpack air pump
The backpack is well made. On the side you can even attach an air pump.

The kayak consists of three separate PVC air chambers, which are located in a polyester cover. The air chambers each have a Boston valve, which is very common in inexpensive inflatable boats (e.g. Sevylor, Intex, Bestway, …). A Boston valve is a 2-way screw valve that keeps the air in the chamber. When you remove the pump tube after inflation, it prevents the air from flowing out of the chamber.

itiwit decathlon kayak setup
The kayak is quite short for a 2-person kayak with its length of 3.4 m. However, it is not the shortest on the market.
itiwit touring kayak inflation
First the floor and then the side chambers are pumped up.
itiwit touring kayak valve
The boat features three boston valves

To inflate the boat, unscrew the upper cap of the valve. First you pump up the floor and then the side chambers to 0.1 bar. We used the Itiwit double stroke air pump 2 x 2.6 liters, which has an integrated air pressure gauge. In our view, this has a good price-performance ratio and its size allows the kayak to be inflated quickly as well as comfortably. If your air pump does not have an air pressure gauge, as a rough guideline you should inflate the air chamber until the wrinkles have disappeared from the polyester.

itiwit touring kayak pumping
The air chamers are inflated to a maximum of 0.1 bar.

Inflation takes less than 5 minutes. You place then the seats on the bottom of the kayak, where they are attached with Velcro. The seat cushions have a mini-Boston valve and are also inflated with the air pump. So you can decide for yourself how soft or hard the seat cushion should be.

The backrest is attached to the side wall of the kayak with a strap on each side. The straps allow you to adjust the position of the backrest. The backrest itself is not inflated. This would unnecessarily give away a lot of legroom in the interior, as the boat is already quite short as a 2-person kayak. Overall, we really like the seats and their attachment from the first impression.

itiwit touring kayak seat
The seat cushions are also inflated with the air pump (max. 0.1 bar).

On the bottom of the kayak is marked where to place the seats in a 1 or 2-persons configuration. Nevertheless, depending on the size of the paddlers, you can vary the seats forward or backward on the long Velcro strips. The only limitation are the buckles for the backrest straps on the side walls.

decathlon itiwit touring kayak
The seats can be variably positioned in the interior.

On the other hand, if you want to paddle the kayak alone, place a seat in the middle of the kayak and use the middle buckles on the side panels (near the side carry handles) to secure the backrest. The long Velcro strip inside allows for very flexible positioning and also prevents the seat cushion from slipping away while paddling.

decathlon kayak inflatable kayak
The Itiwit Touring 2-seater in its original configuration.
itiwit touring kayak 1 person
Itiwit Touring 2-seater is very quickly reconfigured into a 1-seater.

The inflatable kayak has four carrying handles. The rear and front carrying handle is for carrying the kayak with two persons. However, if you want to carry the boat to water alone, for example because you go kayaking alone, you use the two side carrying handles. This works really well because of the light weight. We miss such side carry handles on pretty much all other inflatable kayaks.

itiwit touring kayak carry handle
Rear carrying handle
itiwit touring solo kayak
Using the side carrying handles

The spray covers at the bow and stern are mainly there for the carrying handles. The spraydeck at the rear is large enough, so that it comes with a luggage net. So you can not only stow the air pump or a small dry bag behind the rear seat, but also have the possibility to attach luggage.

itiwit touring luggage storage
Luggage can be stored under the spray cover at the rear
itiwit touring deck storage
Thanks to the luggage net, a dry bag can also be paced on the spray cover

Before you take the inflatable kayak out on the water, you should attach the fins. There are three directional skegs included in the scope of delivery, which provide a better tracking stability. These are very small, so they can be used in shallow water (e.g. near the shore) and do not cause unnecessary grounding. Due to the small size, all three fins should be attached, so that an improvement in tracking stability and thus a better straight line is achieved.

decathlon itiwit kayak skeg
Three more fins can be added to the bottom of the kayak for improved straight-line stability.

Review of the Itiwit Touring kayak on the water

The Itiwit kayak is very stable on the water due to its wide hull and voluminous side chambers. You can get into the kayak without any worries. Even jerky movements in the boat can not make it capsize so easily.

We don’t like just the stability of the kayak but also the seats right away. The seating comfort is often a big weak point in cheap inflatable kayaks. The high seat cushion of the Itiwit Touring allows a good paddling position and prevents wet buttocks if some water does get into the boat. In addition, the backrest provides good support so that you can paddle upright. Even after prolonged paddling or by leaning hard into the backrest, it did not buckle backwards. The backrest can also be easily adjusted on the water.

decathlon kayak touring test
As a solo kayak, the dirving characteristics on the lake are not so good.

In 1-person use, the actual water length is much shorter, as the boat is only slightly in and more on the water. In this configuration, the kayak offers a lot of attack surface for winds, so it is only intended for paddling in nice weather. Still, with the three fins, reasonable paddling is possible, even if only with moderate straight-line speed.

The driving characteristics are better with two persons. Nevertheless, we would not speak of good performance on the water here either, as Decathlon describes it. When we stop paddling, the kayak immediately loses significant speed and glides only slightly through the water. After a short time, it also drifts. With two of us, we reached a speed of 4 to 4.5 km/h. However, it is well suited for small and leisurely tours of two to three hours.

The disadvantages of susceptibility to wind, low straight-line stability and low speed are natural disadvantages of an inflatable kayak. Any inflatable kayak performs worse in these categories than a rigid hull or folding kayak. Nevertheless, there are higher quality inflatable kayaks that can do much better than the Itiwit Touring. But these kayaks also cost more than twice as much.

decathlon itiwit touring 2 seater review
The big advantage of the kayak is the stability

For two tall persons (over 1.80 m), the interior of the kayak is clearly too small. In the back, we could adjust the seat as we wanted, but the space for the long legs was not enough. It was much more comfortable to paddle cross-legged. The front paddler, on the other hand, has more legroom. But here, too, the wide side tubes mean that the foot space is too tight for the front paddler in the long run.

We used 230 cm double paddles and found the length to be comfortable. This length is also necessary because of the width of the boat to be able to easily poke into the water with the paddle blades. For smaller people, we would even recommend 240 cm long double paddles to avoid scraping or grazing your hand on the side tube with each paddle stroke. Alternatively, you could also paddle the Itiwit Touring with a single blade paddle, as the seats offer a sufficiently high seating position.

itiwit touring space
For tall people the kayak doesn’t offer a lot of leg room

On a river tour, the moderate driving characteristics of the kayak are less noticeable. Here, the current of the river supports, so you can definitely take a half or a day trip on the river. Compared to the even cheaper Intex inflatable kayaks (e.g. Intex Challenger K2), the Itiwit Touring offers much better protection against grounding. The maneuverability is quite sufficient for rivers that are easy to paddle. It feels with its “sensational” width of 103 cm more like a “steamer” on the water.

We paddled the Itiwit Touring without fins and have to say that paddling without fins is also possible. The big difference is the drifting when you stop paddling. The kayak without fins drifts or turns away much faster than with fins.

Itiwit river paddling
The kayak is more fun on calm rivers

The space is very good for one person. Behind the seat you can stow the transport backpack with all your gear. The lack of footrests once again clearly shows that the Itiwit Touring is not a real touring kayak. As a 2-person kayak, the interior space is so tight that footrests are not necessary and the interior space is too small for tours lasting several hours. Here it is actually recommended to buy the Itiwit Touring 3-seater. In the 1-person configuration of the 2-seater, a footrest would have been handy to provide sufficient support in the boat. However, a footrest is not necessary for leisurely and occasional tours on the water.

Itiwit Touring Kayak space
For one person the interior space is completely sufficient

Dismantling the Itiwit Touring 2-seater

The inflatable kayak has a drain valve at the bottom of the stern. If you get a lot of water into the boat during your paddling trip (e.g. a wave from a passing motorboat) and the water is standing in the interior, this opening makes it easier for you to empty the boat.

itiwit touring drain valve
The kayak has a drain valve.

On a hot summer day, the boat dries quite quickly in the sun. However, you should let a large part of the air out of the side chambers before so that you don’t to risk overpressure from the sun. Since the cover is made of polyester, it is also relatively resistant to UV radiation. The black underside of the kayak is easy to wipe dry. If you’ve gotten a lot of water in the boat, you can even remove the inner floor chamber along with the cover so that it dries even better.

itiwit touring floor
The floor chamber including the polyester cover is attached with Velcro for easy removal.

However, on long and splashy trips, the water pulls through the polyester. Here we actually recommend to let the kayak dry at home over night or longer. Also on cloudy days or who has no time after the tour for drying, must unfold the kayak again at home. Otherwise you risk that the boat soon rubs and molds. If you don’t have space at home to let the boat dry slightly inflated, we don’t recommend it. Unless you use the kayak exclusively on sunny summer days and let it dry afterwards.

Packing the kayak back into the transport backpack worked very well. The kayak is easy to fold and easy to stow again thanks to the large opening of the backpack. When folding, make sure you start folding on the opposite side of the valves. In this way, the remaining air can escape from the open valves. In addition, the skeg holders should not be bent when folding.

decathlon Itiwit touring packing
It’s easy to fold the boat and pack it again in the backpack.

Strenghts and weaknesses of the Itiwit Touring

In our opinion, the biggest strength is the price-performance ratio. You get a well-made and stable kayak with very good seats in this price range.

Beyond occasional use, we don’t see the kayak as suitable. Due to the very wide and short hull, the kayak is quite slow for longer tours. The interior is also too small for two tall people due to the short length and bulky side chambers. In addition, the long drying time would be annoying in the long run if used frequently.

Advantages

very good price-performance ratio + stable + a total of four handles to carry the boat + for the price, the seats are comfortable and provide sufficient support when paddling + solid workmanship + good air pressure in this price range + practical luggage net at the rear + transport backpack included + spare parts are available

Disadvantages

low recommened load capacity – wide as well as flat hull and therefore slower – moderate straight running chracteristics – long drying of the polyester cover – too little space for two large people – wide side chambers can be annoying (small person with too short double blade paddle) – releasing air pressure via valve only possible with difficulty (often you then have the whole valve in your hand)

Conclusion on the Itiwit Touring kayak

For an entry-level kayak, the Itiwit Touring makes a well-thought-out and high-quality impression. Compared to similar inflatable kayaks from other brands, the Itiwit is the better one. In our opinion, the kayak offers the best price-performance ratio, has an air pressure of 0.1 bar on all air chambers and is equipped with good seats.

The outer cover seems sturdy and reliably protects the inner PVC air tubes, yet it comes with the major drawback of long drying times. The polyester cover can not simply be wiped dry, but must dry at home or after the tour in the sun.

However, we find the term touring in the product name somewhat misleading. Because a touring kayak it is definitely not. With a width of 103 cm, it is the widest kayak we know. As we know, the wider a kayak is, the slower it is. On the other hand, the Itiwit kayak is very stable against capsizing. Here you can also see the target group. The inflatable kayak is aimed primarily at beginners who want to take small and leisurely tours in the summer. For larger tours (from half-day tours), the driving characteristics are not good enough and the interior space is too small. Therefore, we agree with Decathlon’s statement that the kayak is designed for a two- to three-hour tour. So, if you are looking for a cheap inflatable kayak and occasionally want to paddle small tours on the water, you can go for this boat.

In some reviews in Decathlon’s store, customers report cracked welds, which can be caused by overpressure or production defects. Even if Decathlon replaces the chamber during the warranty period, the boat is not ready for use for a certain time or the tour cannot be started.

Alternatives to the Itiwit Touring 2

There are also other kayaks from Itiwit, which could be the better choice for you if you find want more space or if you don’t like the long drying time. In case you want to go paddling with another tall person and you want more space,  then we recommend the Itiwit Touring 3 Seater, which can also be paddled by two persons. You just have to remove the third seat. In case you want a kayak that is easy to dry, you should have a look at the x100+ series, which is available as a 2 and 3 persons kayak.

Another brand that offers similar kayaks is Sevylor. The Sevylor Adventure Plus for example has also a nylon cover that protects the air chambers from damage and space for up to three persons. 

Intex Excursion Pro Review

review intex excursion pro kayak

The Intex Excursion Pro is the manufacturer’s latest inflatable kayak on the market. At first glance it looks very similar to the Intex Explorer K2. The differences are not only in the design, but especially in the material and equipment as well as in the accessories. With the Excursion Pro, Intex has a much higher quality inflatable kayak in its range than the Intex Explorer or Challenger. In this review we would like to show you whether the extra cost is worth it and the strengths and weaknesses of the kayak.

intex excursion pro

Technical Specs

Max. paddlers:
Length:
Width:
Capacity:
Packed size:

2
384 cm | 12’6”
94 cm | 3’1”
180 kg | 397 lbs
62 x 58 x 32 cm |
2′ x 1’9” x 1′

Material:
Weight:
Pressure:
Produced in:

PVC
17 kg | 37.5 lbs
0.08 bar | 1.16 PSI
China

Which model has been reviewed?

Intex Excursion Pro model from 2020 and model from 2023

How did we organize the review?

We have purchased the Intex Excursion Pro ourselves.

How intensively has the product been tested?

low

high 1 bar = 1-3 km paddled (first impressions)
2 bars = min. 1 day/ 2 half-day tours
3 bars = min. 4 tours
4 bars = min. 8 tours
5 bars = min. 12 tours (very intense)

Where have we tested the product?

Whitewater

Calm rivers

Lakes

The kayak has some of the features of a fishing kayak. However, we will not go into these features in this review, as we are not anglers ourselves.

Table of Contents

Set-up and first impressions

The Intex Excursion Pro comes with a very large carrying case. Compared to the bags of other Intex boats it is coated and much more stable. With this bag we do not have the feeling that it will tear or get a hole after a few uses. The dimensions of the bag are very large. But that makes sense. Because usually you never get the boat folded up as compactly as it was when delivered. This also gives you the possibility to get the boat into the bag a bit untidily folded (in case you are in a hurry).

intex excursion pro kayak transport backpack
The backpack is easy to carry over the shoulder.
intex excursion pro backpack
The Intex Excursion Pro is the manufacturer’s most expensive and highest quality kayak.
intex excursion pro package size
Unfolding the kayak

As usual with Intex, the boat is offered in a complete set. In addition to the larger and more robust carrying bag, there is a larger double action air pump for fast inflation of the kayak and two plug-in double paddles. In addition to the other Intex inflatable kayaks, the following accessories are included in the delivery:

  • Valve key to tighten the valves
  • good repair kit
  • foot brace for the front and rear paddler
  • manometer to check the correct air pressure
  • inflatable seat pad for a higher seating position in the boat
  • several fishing rod holders
  • one skeg each for shallow and deep water (instead of a general skeg)

We can already say that the additional accessories are a useful addition.

intex excursion pro complete package
The Intex Exucrsion Pro comes with a lot of accessories

Meanwhile, Intex has replaced the bag with a lightweight transport backpack with padded shoulder straps. This makes the kayak much more comfortable to transport, for example, if you go by train or bus to the lake or river.

Although the manual says that the boat should be built on a surface without stones and other sharp objects, we did not quite stick to it. If the boat skin would not withstand these small stones, we would like to know that. Of course we don’t want to force any damage, but the boat skin inspires confidence, because it is not just a PVC skin. The boat skin consists of a polyester fabric coated on both sides with PVC. In case of damage, the boat skin can be mended with the enclosed repair kit.

First the bottom and then the side chambers are inflated. The bottom and the side chambers are separate from each other, i.e. each air chamber also has its own valve. This multi-chamber system is common on inflatable boats in order not to sink in case of a hole on the water.

Inflating works well with the supplied pump. Admittedly, the air pump is nevertheless quite small and not very robust. Also the stand is very small. But that is not surprising. You should not expect miracles from the included accessories, especially not if they are in the scope of a cheap complete set.

intex excursion pro inflating
The inflation bag is used to inflate the packraft
intex excursion pro valve air pump
The inflation bag is screwed on the valve
intex excursion pro valve
You create the final pressure with your mouth

As soon as the air chamber reaches its final shape, check the air pressure with the supplied manometer. The chambers can be inflated up to 0.08 bar (1.16 PSI). This is not much for an inflatable kayak, but a little more than for the Intex Challenger K2 and Explorer K2. If you have been on the water with the boat for a longer time, you should check the air pressure during a break on the shore. If the air and water temperature are significantly different, the air pressure in the chambers will drop and they will become slightly softer. But this is quite normal for an inflatable boat and here it helps to pump up. In the case of inflatable boats with a higher pressure (e.g. Gumotex or Grabner), this effect is not that significant.

intex excursion pro gauge
Pressure gauge to measure the air pressure inside the air chambers

We found the handling of the valves less good. It is a little tricky to open and close the valve spring. The valve spring is covered with a screw cap, so that the valve is not accidentally opened on the water. The cap is only attached with a very thin string.

intex excursion pro skeg
The deep-water fin ensures the best directional stability, which you can use from a water depth of 0.5m
intex excursion pro skeg shallow water
The shallow water fin reduces the risk from unnecessary grounding in shallow water

Inflatable kayaks generally have the disadvantage compared to fixed hull kayaks that they have a worse directional stability. Therefore a fin can be attached to most inflatable kayaks to improve the directional stability. With our model we unfortunately had to find out that the fin holder is not attached straight. The sloppy mounting of the fin holder is annoying, because it will make the kayak even worse in terms of directional stability.

intex excursion pro skeg
The fin holder of our kayak is not attached straight.

Both the foot braces and the seats can be placed in different positions in the boat. For the foot brace there are 3 positions each for the front and rear paddler. You can also fix the seat variably to the ground with a long velcro strip. Especially the foot braces surprised us, because something like that is not common in this price class.

Since we are quite tall, we use the whole interior space to place the seats and foot braces. The backrests of the seats are attached by two belts, each of which can be fastened to the side chamber with a plastic carabiner.

intex excursion pro kayak footrest
The foot brace can be placed according to your size
intex excursion kayak place
The straps of the backrest are very widely adjustable
intex excursion pro stern
On the side chambers there are devices for fixing fishing rods

At the bow and stern there is a small spray deck each. A wave from the front (e.g. from a passing boat) would still get into the boat because the spraydeck is sagging downwards.

The spraydeck is primarily used to attach the carrying handles. The boat is equipped with a robust carrying handle at both the front and the back, so that two people can carry the boat. The carrying handles make a robust impression. Unfortunately the opening of the carrying handles is a bit too narrow for big and strong hands.

intex excursion pro kayak carry handle
The carrying handles are practical, but unfortunately the openings of these are a bit narrow

There are also small safety lines at the front and back of the outer edge of the boat. These are quite practical to pull the boat ashore. In addition to the D-rings, which are used to secure the backrests, there are two more D-rings in the front and in the back for securing equipment (e.g. the belt of a dry bag).

On closer inspection, we could not find any processing errors or unclean spots in the gluing, apart from the skeg holder.

intex excursion pro quality
The kayak has additional D-rings on the side chambers
intex excursion pro material
Apart from the fin holder, the kayak was well processed
intex excursion pro setup
The bottom of the kayak also makes a robust impression

In the scope of supply an additional seat cushion is included, which can be placed under one of the seats. The seat cushion increases the sitting position and is intended for children or very small persons, so that it’s easier to put the paddle blade into the water.

intex excursion pro experience

Review of the Intex Excursion Pro on the water

The Intex Excursion Pro has robust carrying handles, so that the kayak can be carried well to water together with another person. However, the low air pressure is noticeable when carrying it. Although the kayak is not very long for a 2-person inflatable kayak, it hangs noticeably when being carried. If you paddle the kayak slo and have to carry it around on river tours, you definitely need a canoe trolley in our opinion.

intex excursion pro carrying
Due to the low air pressure and the length of almost 4 m, the kayak hangs a little when carrying it.

The open construction of the kayak allows easy access to the kayak. Nevertheless, the bottom chamber gives way noticeably when entering the kayak. If you use the deep-water fin, you should only enter the kayak when the water depth is sufficient.

Due to the variable placement of the seats, you can paddle it solo as well. In the following photo you can see that the effective length of the boat on the water, i.e. the waterline, is much shorter than the total length of the boat. The reason is that the weight is mainly concentrated in the middle of the boat. Nevertheless, the Excursion Pro can be paddled without problems with a deep water fin. The speed and the directional stability as a 1-person kayak are alright for short trips.

The seat cushion is high enough so that you don’t have to sit in the wet if water (e.g. splashes when paddling or waves from a passing boat) gets into the boat. The backrest gives only limited support and makes a rather unstable impression. When paddling it supports only a small area of the lower back. If we lean into it properly, it bends away to the back.

solo paddling intex excursion pro
The Intex Excursion Pro can also be paddled as a 1 person kayak

Cheap inflatable kayaks rarely have a foot brace. A foot brace not only gives you a much better hold when paddling. A foot brace also makes paddling easier overall. Since the feet and therefore your torso have a better hold in the boat, you can get the necessary power for the paddle stroke mainly from your upper body instead of your arms. This makes you less tired when paddling. However, since cheap inflatable kayaks are not designed for long paddling anyway, many of them come without a foot brace.

Although the Intex Excursion Pro is only designed for short and comfortable trips due to its low air pressure, wide and yet quite short hull for a 2-person kayak, the foot braces are a nice feature as long as the paddlers are not too tall. For each seating position in the boat (front and back as a 2-person kayak and in the middle as a 1-person kayak) there are 3 positions each for the foot brace.

For tall paddlers the foot braces are rather unsuitable on longer trips. Because even when the foot braces is attached in the outermost loops, we have to bend our legs too much when using the foot braces (see photo below). For short tours this is not a big issue. On half or day tours, however, it becomes uncomfortable. For small persons the foot braces can be a nice support to find enough hold in the boat.

intex excursion pro solo paddling
As a 1 person kayak the Excursion Pro offers a lot of space
intex excursion pro solo paddling
The placement of the foot brace is not really made for tall people.

If you are paddling the boat solo and are tall, we recommend that you use the front bottom loops (which are actually intended for the 2-person configuration). Apart from the footrest, the interior offers plenty of room for a solo paddler.

In contrast to the 1-person use, the kayak with a 2-person configuration lies much better in the water. Also in comparison to the other Intex kayaks there have been some improvements. The directional stability are noticeably better due to the length of the boat, the air chambers have become somewhat more dimensionally stable and the maximal load capacity has increased by 20 kg. A speed of 3.1 – 3.4 km/h is quite realistic. The interior is spacious enough to provide enough room for two large paddlers.

intex excursion pro review lake
The Excursion Pro also offers enough space for 2 persons and has reasonable driving characteristics for short paddling trips

The double-bladed paddles (with a length of 218 cm / 2’2”) are well designed for the kayak and for the average paddling beginner, but too wobbly for longer tours. Unlike other portable double-bladed paddles, it’s made not only of 2 or 4 pieces, but even 5 pieces. This increases the compactness of the paddle, but at the same time reduces the stability. For intensive use the plug system of the paddle shafts seems to wear out quickly, which would make the paddles even wobblier in the long run.

For occasional and small paddling trips on the water, the paddles are still useful. Nevertheless, the paddles show that the complete set is only designed for occasional and short paddling trips.

paddling on water intex excursion pro
The kayak paddles are designed for occasional and short paddling trips

After a two-hour paddle tour with numerous landings on the shore, the kayak remained unharmed. The stress on the boat skin and on the boat itself were comparatively low in our review. There were good conditions (no wind) and the lake had only gravel banks. This is exactly what we consider the boat suitable for. In our opinion, the kayak is not the best choice for river tours with possible ground contact as well as half or day tours on lakes.

intex excursion pro inflatable kayak
The boat skin makes a robust impression

Dismantling the kayak

If there is water in the boat, the drain opening in the stern can be used before dismantling the kayak. This way you make sure that most of the water can drain out of the boat. To do this, tilt the boat at the front and the water in the boat will run out of the drain opening. You only have to wipe the interior dry without taking out the water with a sponge. The boat skin can also be wiped dry easily. The seats on the other hand have a slightly fabric-like coating that cannot be wiped dry. These should let air dry.

The air went out of the air chambers without much effort and the boat let was easy to fold up so that it fit back into the bag. However, the folded boat did not reach the original pack size.

intex excursion pro drain valve