Backpacker Magazine 2013 Gear Guide: Review of the Innova Swing II

Garage Space tight? Inflatable kayaks are great for easy storage and transport. But they usually have an open cockpit design – a bit compromise if you really want a closed-deck boat to proetect you and your gear in cold and/or rough water.

Solution: The Swing II affords all the benefits of an inflatable, but comes with a deck to repel spray. The 13’2″ tandem can carry up to 400 pounds of people and equipment.

More importantly, its “tubeless” material (rubber-coated ripstop polyester) means its floor and side chambers can inflate to a higher pressure than bladder kayaks for a more rigid ride.

The poly content also helps it dry quicker for roll-up storage. Three metal crossbars snap in beneath the deck for added structural support. Medium -to large – size drybags fit in the fore and aft areas, accessible via a zippered deck; secure additional items to the deck rigging above.

For better tracking, attach the snap-in fin (included).

“We pulled the deflated boat from our Subaru’s cargo hatch for a jaunt around Colorado’s Trappers Lake, and had it set up in 10 minutes. It was a hit among grown-ups and kids alike,” says one tester. “And when the afternoon breeze picked up, it punched through windchop, easily deflecting water off the deck.”

Reality check: While inflatables win on portability, hard shells are faster and more responsive. $799; 26 lbs.; packed size is 26″ x 16″ x 10″;


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