Alan Kesselheim is an adventurer with more than 10,000 paddling miles in his wake, including two year-long wilderness imersions in the wilds of northern Canada. He is a full-time freelance writer with eight books to his credit, including Water and Sky, Threading the Currents, and The Wilderness Paddler’s Handbook. He is a Contributing Editor for Canoe & Kayak Magazine, a regular contributor to both Backpacker and Outside, a columnist for Big Sky Journal and has published hundreds of stories in national publications like Sports Afield, Men’s Journal, Audubon, Summit, Adventure Journal and many others. He lives with his family in Montana.
In my work as a full-time freelance writer with a specialty in paddle sports and outdoor adventure, I’ve spent a lot of time in inflatable and folding craft. My experience runs the gamut from ocean surf to Class IV whitewater, and from overnight trips to extended wilderness journeys. I have come to an appreciation for boats that really work in the blank spaces on maps, as opposed to the products that only look the part.
The Innova Safari is an inflatable kayak that works. I was first drawn to the boat because of its design, portability, and workmanship. Over a period of several years, I’ve had it in ocean surf in the Caribbean, in Class III and IV rapids on the Salmon River, in fast-moving current and big waves on the Yellowstone River, and on quiet water in touring situations. The Safari is unique because it handles this broad range of adventure with style and grace.
The boat tracks well on the flat, plays rough in the surf and rapids, is stable enough to be reassuring, while not giving away too much performance, and even takes a small load of gear for an overnight or long day trip. I trust the Safari enough to put my nine-year-old inside and let him go for the waves, and I don’t say that about many boats. Having paddled a number of craft that excel within a narrow niche, but fall apart under other conditions, I’ve grown to appreciate the adaptability and nimble nature of the Safari as it performs under the varied conditions presented by real-life paddling.