The itiwit canoe x500 is a full drop stitch canoe from Decathlon. The x500 is a canoe with two benches and a large seat cushion in the center, i.e. for two adults and two children. So far, there are only a few reviews on the web about such drop-stitch canoes. We had the opportunity to test this drop-stitch canoe extensively and would like to share our experiences with you in this review.
2 + 2
510 cm | 16’7”
100 cm | 3’3″
250 kg | 551.2 lbs
100 x 45 x 38 cm | 3’3” x 1’5” x 1’2″
Drop-Stitch with PVC coating
32 kg | 70.5 lbs
0.7 bar | 10 PSI
Which model has been reviewed?
Itiwit x500 canoe from 2022
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?
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?
Table of Contents
First impressions and assembly
Included with the Itiwit canoe is a trolley, more precisely, this is a transport bag with wheels. This rolling function is also necessary, because the canoe with 32kg weight on the back would hardly be transportable. The bag makes a solid impression and has several well-padded carrying handles, so that the bag can also be loaded by two.
The canoe itself is compressed with a packing strap and folded several times. To assemble, the canoe is unfolded and the three separate air chambers are inflated one after the other to 10 PSI or 0.7 bar. The air chambers are inflated via spring valves that are easy to operate. They are similar to the valves of other high-quality inflatable canoes (e.g. Gumotex Palava, Gumotex Scout, Grabner Adventure).
For the assembly we used the Itiwit high pressure pump. There is also a successor to the pump that we recommend for this canoe, as this pump has a deflate function (more on this in the Dismantling section). Both of these air pumps are double action pumps. The first 5 PSI is pumped up with double stroke, meaning that air is pushed into the air chamber both when the piston is pushed down and when it is pulled up. Above 0.5 PSI, the double-stroke function is deactivated, so that air is only pumped into the chamber when pushing down. This is because the higher the pressure, the more difficult it is to raise the piston of the pump if air is still being pushed into the chamber at the same time. With the double stroke pump, the canoe was pumped up very quickly without much effort. Here, the thin drop-stitch air chambers are advantageous, as they require more pressure but less volume of air.
You can see two dents on one side chamber and another dent on the other side chamber. This is completely normal, because the valves are located there. To install the valves in manufacturing process, the threads of the drop stitch material must be cut at these points.
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.
The lower hull is additionally reinforced with PVC in the middle and rubber-like keel strips in the bow and stern areas to protect them from grounding in low water and when landing on the shore in the most stressed areas. In addition, under the keel strips at the bow and stern, there is an incorporated plastic strip inside the boat, which stiffens the area more and creates a sleeker bow and stern. It serves both as a tracking profile and to minimize water resistance when paddling.
The drop stitch material is made of polyester on the inside, which forms the threads for the drop stitch. The polyester is coated with PVC on the outside. How strong the PVC is, we can not say and could not find any information about it at Decathlon. Overall, the hull and interior is cleanly processed and glued.
The canoe has small spray covers at the bow and stern, but without any luggage net. Instead, there is plenty of room for luggage in the interior with many fastening options on the bottom. In the photo below, you can see again how thin the side walls are and how much the interior of the Itiwit x500 canoe resembles that of a rigid hull canoe.
There are also small mesh pockets for small items incorporated into the spray covers. In the front and in the back there is a plain carrying handle for transporting the assembled canoe.
After inflation, the only thing missing are the two bench seats and, as needed, the seat cushion for the children, which is firmly glued to the interior of the boat. The two bench seats are hooked into the front and back of the boat. Once you understand the principle, the bench seats are easy to hook in.
Compared to other inflatable canoes (e.g. Gumotex Palava, Gumotex Scout or Grabner Adventure) the positions of the bench seats are fixed. The bench seats are marked accordingly with “Rear Seat” and “Front Seat”, because they have a different width. The rear seat board (own weight of 1.55 kg / 3.4 lbs) has an average width of 52 cm / 1’7″ and the front seat board (own weight of 1.05 kg / 2.3 lbs) of 68 cm. Both have a depth of 25 cm / 8″. In addition, the seat boards have a foam insert in the middle as a kind of padding for the seat. The neatly finished bench seats are made of acacia wood and give the canoe an overall high-quality impression.
In addition, there are grooved treads in the interior in the area of the seat boards, as a kind of anti-slip function and additional protection of the drop-stitch material (for example, if you have kicked a sharp stone in the sole of your shoe).
Those paddling with children can inflate the drop-stitch air chamber in the center of the interior. It serves as a low bench seat for small children. The seat cushion is firmly glued to the floor chamber and thus cannot be removed. For children, this seating position seems ideal, as they sit lower and thus safer in the boat. Unfortunately, there is no third suspension in the middle for an additional seat bench (as in the Gumotex Palava, Scout, Grabner Adventure). So this canoe is a family canoe with small children or a canoe for camping trips of several days. However, there are drop-stitch canoes with three bench seats on the market (e.g. Verano CanCan, Extasea), but we haven’t paddled them ourselves yet.
Overall, the Itiwit Canoe x500 makes a very quality impression. It is very spacious, quick and easy to assemble and cleanly finished. We are curious to see how the canoe performs on and off the water.
Transportation of the canoe
On the way to the station and to the shore, the transport bag proved to be practical but not comfortable. The weight of the boat is too high for a transport bag with rolling function. After not even 5 minutes you have enough to push or pull the canoe and you get “long arms”. It works much better if a proper transport cart (e.g. Eckla Beach Rolley) is used in addition. With such a transport trolley, the transport also succeeds very well over a longer period of time.
The included transport bag with roll function is in our view especially suitable for users who want to roll the canoe only a few meters between home and car or from the parking to the lake or river nearby. Practical as with any Itiwit boat backpack is the holder for the air pump and the side pocket for the paddles on the outside of the bag.
The instructions state that the assembled canoe should only be transported without luggage. We immediately felt when we wanted to carry the loaded canoe just a few meters to put it in the water. It immediately bends and the sidewalls lean outward. You only lift the bow and stern, so to speak, and the actual hull of the boat stays on the ground. So, to avoid damaging the boat, it was a case of unloading again, positioning it in shallow water and reloading. This is where the limitations of drop-stitch become apparent. A hard shell canoe could be lifted easily with enough muscle power. So you have to load the boat on the dock or in shallow water on the shore. Because in the loaded state you get the Itiwit canoe x500 as good as hardly moved.
The following has proven to be useful when transferring canoes on river trips at weirs and larger bottom ramps. Unload the canoe and put it on a canoe trolley. In the middle of the canoe, under which is directly the canoe cart, we then put the luggage back into the boat. So we didn’t have to transport the canoe from A to B first and then laboriously catch up with the luggage. Here we can already say, a canoe trolley makes double sense for the canoe, for the transport in the dismantled condition and for tranferring on river tours. Even unloaded a canoe cart is a real benefit because the Itiwit x500 canoe is pretty heavy and unwieldy.
Review of the Itiwit x500 canoe on the water
The experiences described are based on paddling with two people, including on a 3-day tour with camping gear in light whitewater, on a alpin lake and calm river sections. Paddling with one or two children, for which the canoe is advertised among other things, is not covered by this test.
Paddling performance and stability
We paddled with the Extrasea and the Itiwit canoe paddle. Both can be adjusted in length, and are thus optimally adaptable to one’s own needs (body size and boat).
From the running characteristics it resembles that of a hard shell canoe. The Itiwit canoe has a good straight running. However, depending on how both paddlers are used to paddle together, it may be necessary for the rear paddler to correct the course somewhat (for example, by using the paddle at the end of the stroke as a rudder).
In terms of speed, the Itiwit canoe cannot compete with a folding or hard shell canoe. If you paddle leisurely, you come to about 4.5 kmh / 2.8 mph. The maximum speed is 7.5 – 8 kmh / 4.7 – 5 mph, and both paddlers have to paddle vigorously and with a high frequency. You can feel the resistance of the water clearly at the bow. Paddling alone is possible, e.g. with J-stroke. On calm waters, however, progress is slow.
The rear bench seat is positioned sufficiently far back so that the rear paddler can easily correct the course or maneuver past obstacles early on rivers. If you have a good command of the bow stroke and the steering stroke, you will be able to maneuver the canoe safely even on fast-flowing rivers. When turning, however, you immediately notice the length and inertia of the canoe. It takes some more strokes of the paddle to turn it 180 degrees. However, this is common with large canoes.
At the beginning, the Itiwit x500 canoe feels slightly tippy, but lies securely on the water. The tipping stability is lower than the Itiwit x100+ but significantly higher than the Itiwit x500 kayak. On a 3-day canoe trip including light whitewater portion we had no situation where we almost capsized.
Although the seat boards have a fixed position (like a hard shell canoe), the positions of the seat boards are well chosen. Each paddler has enough space and legroom. The seat height is also well chosen from our point of view.
Unfortunately, the seat boards are only hooked in and not secured against loss. So in the event of a capsize, a board can get lost, which would be annoying. When paddling, however, we did not have the problem that a seat board had come loose from the suspension. We sat on the seat boards (76 kg / 167.5 lbs and 85 kg / 187.4 lbs) safely and stably, even though they are only hooked onto straps. Paddling in a kneeling position is also well possible. Also, the attachment of the suspension loops on the boat wall are attached high quality.
The upholstery of the seat boards, on the other hand, has only a very small effect on comfort. For example, the padding of the seat boards of the Gumotex Palava or Scout is much better. On longer trips of several hours, we recommend using a small seat cushion with the Itiwit canoe. We have used a flat inflatable seat cushion for this purpose, which significantly increases the seating comfort and thus allows comfortable sitting throughout the day.
Luggage load and attachment
The disadvantage of previous inflatable canoes was the limited load space due to the voluminous side air chambers, which significantly reduce the interior space. This disadvantage is eliminated by the use of Drop-Stitch, because thin side walls are possible with this material.
A small disadvantage of Drop-Stitch compared to classic air chambers is the lower air buoyancy, so that for this canoe there is a maximum payload of 250 kg / 551 lbs. Classic inflatable canoes manage a payload of up to 450 kg / 992 lbs.
The outer appearance of the Itiwit canoe is almost identical to that of a hard shell canoe. Due to the thin side walls, you have as much space in the Itiwit canoe as in a conventional hard shell or folding canoe. It is no problem to stow a folded boat trolley or a large backpack in the interior. In addition, there are numerous attachment loops in the interior for securing luggage. For larger luggage we use 3m long tension straps with clamp lock and rubber cover, with which bulky luggage can be secured to the floor very well. For small luggage (e.g. for the attachment of Itiwit luggage canisters) the canoe already comes with two tension straps.
There are also stowage options on and under the spraydeck at the bow and stern to store small utensils (e.g. bars, sunscreen, small towel, etc.) that should be quickly at hand on the water. However, valuables should not be stowed there, as the pockets are not completely closable. It is a pity that there is not a single D-ring in the bow and stern to securely fasten a small dry bag.
Dismantling the Itiwit x500 canoe
Even if the boat skin can be wiped dry, the carrying handles and the luggage loops in the interior are soaked after a long tour with a lot of getting in and out (e.g. during transfers or breaks) and must be allowed to air dry. If you have taken your canoe through rapids, you may also have wetness in the interior. This is because at the top of the boat, where the carrying handles are located, it is not completely sealed. On the other hand, if you’re doing quiet river or lake recreational tours and don’t put the canoe in the water from steep bank, you won’t have to expect water ingress around the carry handles.
In addition, the carrying handles and the light interior are quite susceptible to dirt. The drop stitch material is very easy to clean of dirt. Dirty discolorations remain on the carrying handles and the grooved treads in the interior (we have not yet tried a clean scrubbing with soap).
For dismantling, the canoe must be folded exactly as described in the manual and the remaining air must be pressed out of the air chambers or, ideally, pumped out with the correct air pump (e.g. Itiwit high-pressure pump with deflation function), because otherwise the canoe will not fit the transport bag. Markings on the boat skin “Fold here” help to fold the boat in the right place. It is best to fold it in pairs. Alone, it takes even more patience and practice to get it back into the bag.
Strengths and weaknesses of the Itiwit x500 canoe
Classic inflatable canoes have the disadvantage of less space. Folding canoes require a much longer assembly. hard shell canoes require sufficient space at home for storage and cannot be transported by public transport. These disadvantages no longer exist with the Itiwit canoe, which is its greatest strength. It can be transported without much effort, quickly assembled and offers a spacious interior.
The running characteristics are good, but do not come close to those of a hard shell or folding canoe. The canoe is still well transportable with the included transport bag with roll function, but still heavy at 32 kg for a portable boat. For longer transport distances and transfers on river tours, we recommend the use of a canoe trolley. It is also a pity that no third bench seat can be mounted optionally. Thus, using the canoe with three adults is out of the question.
+ very fast and easy assembly + good workmanship + very spacious interior + bench seat for children included + many fastening loops in the interior for securing luggage + good running characteristics for an inflatable canoe + small luggage compartments at the bow and stern + bag with roll function included + high-quality benches + good price-performance ratio + bottom of the hull as well as bow and stern additionally reinforced
– foam padding of the seat boards have only a small effect on the seating comfort – seat boards are only hooked in and are therefore not secured against loss – dirt-prone interior – uncomfortable transport despite rolling bag – packing requires an air pump with deflate function and some practice – not designed as a 3-person canoe although the canoe would be large enough (because no possibility to attach a 3rd bench and limit the load to 250 kg)
Conclusion on the Itiwit x500 canoe
Decathlon has succeeded with the Itiwit canoe x500 a nice canoe for family trips and multi-day canoe trips with camping. It offers a lot of space inside. Just load everything in without having to play Tetris. Large luggage can be fixed well in the interior without disturbing the paddlers. So nothing stands in the way of a family trip or camping trip lasting several days.
It is a real pity that the canoe cannot be equipped with an optional third bench seat in the middle. If necessary, the construction of the canoe does not even allow a bench seat for another person to be hooked into the widest, most unstable part of the canoe. The bench would have to be almost a meter wide. In addition, with three adults and luggage, the load limit of 250 kg would quickly be reached.
However, anyone paddling with children will be all the more pleased with the low bench seat in the form of another air chamber that is permanently integrated into the boat. The children sit much more securely in the boat than on a suspended bench seat. For families who like to travel with a canoe, the Itiwit canoe x500 is thus a good choice. Thanks to the quick assembly, you are on the water very quickly. When not in use, the canoe takes up hardly any space for storage at home.
If you don’t need the middle seat, you can leave it uninflated and stow luggage there unimpeded. For one-day tours for two, however, we would personally use a classic inflatable canoe, which are more compact and sometimes cheaper and, depending on the model, even more robust.