Im hitting the road with a travel trailer and would like to take an inflatable kayak so I can get out on flat water along the way. What kayak would serve my purpose? Doreen Vero Beach, Florida
There are plenty of good choices out there. The constraint will be, alas, price. A really great inflatable, for instance, is the Innova Seaker (innovakayak.com). It sets up in about 15 minutes, has high-pressure side tubes for rigidity, comes with a SealLine SmartTrack rudder system, and can handle you and 200 pounds of gear. But, it also costs $2,800. Ouch! Its a nice boat though, maybe you can find a used one.
Fortunately, there are more affordable choices. Innova also makes a boat called the Helios 1, which is a little less capable than the Seaker but still an excellent one-person collapsible boat. Not much storage to speak of, and a rudder is optional. But the Helios 1 is light (29 pounds), sets up quickly (ten minutes), and sells for a reasonable $750.
At an in-between price youll find the Grabner Solo ($1,270; grabner-sports.at). This is an interesting boat. Its almost a sit-on-top with an open cockpit, but it can handle Class IV whitewater. Its a great little surfing boat along the seashore, and it can even tour reasonably well if youre just looking for an easy paddling boat to hop into when you see an appealing bay or inlet.
Lastly, if youre really on a pretty tight budget, Stearns B521 Spree One (stearnsinc.com) is a pretty good three-chamber inflatable at a great price of $385. It might be just the boat for a trip where you dont intend to spend days on the water, but want to get out and do some paddling.