This past summer I headed up into the wilds of Upstate NY for a weeklong fishing trip / bachelor party. While cycling wasn’t on the menu, I was there to send off a long time cycling buddy who has ridden across the country with me twice. I picked up a $98.00 cheap inflatable kayak to make sure that everyone had a spot in a boat. I was very impressed with the kayak and have been looking for a way to incorporate one into my adventure gear.
The kayak I purchased was a Sevylor QuickPak Kayak. I was surfing Amazon and I saw it listed for $98 and as an impulse buy I grabbed it. The picture above is the kayak. The lake we were to be fishing in was shallow, full of small islands, and had a lot of lily covered inlets. A kayak seemed like a good choice and since I am always am ‘surprise unveiling’ equipment that people can’t seem to get behind it seemed like it would be fun.
Upon unpacking I realized that the pump that came with the kayak did not fit the air nozzles of the kayak. Explosive laughter all around at my failure. Finally with some prodding I enlisted the aid of a friend who would secure the pump nozzle to the kayak while I filled all three air chambers. Once inflated the kayak looked like it would be fine. The material felt thick enough to handle the briars I would encounter and as long as I was mindful of what I was boating over I was not afraid of a puncture.
The seat and paddle went together fairly quickly. The cargo mesh and seat were dual purposed as the back pack that held the kayak in one piece while on the go on dry land. It went from backpack to kayak in about 20 minutes and I feeling a water superiority to the Mariner from Waterworld. I did not need to re-inflate the kayak once in it’s whole week of use
I can’t really compare the sea worthiness of this kayak to anything but I can confirm that it paddled well enough and I could explore regions of the lake that boats could not. It did carry in the wind but I used this in my advantage by employing an umbrella to act as a makeshift sail. I did not feel uncomfortable or unsafe while on the water at any time to include getting towed by a boat at about 15 mph. This was not outfitted for fishing but I only brought a small tackle box and net on board and was able to fish, land fish, and run a small stringer off the oar lock.
The kayak, paddle and pump weighed in at svelte 17 lbs. altogether and would fit inside a large pannier bag. It got me thinking, “What if I could bring one of these on a bicycle tour.” Immediately I started thinking of upgrades. The inflation issue with the pump not fitting the boat’s nozzle was a deal killer, but I figured there would be better boats I could find. After a few searches I see that people are already combining Bicycle Touring and Kayaking. How exciting!!!
Note that in both of these examples the adventurers are NOT on a calm body of water. In the first video they are trusting their watercraft to tote their bicycle, gear, and themselves in a glacial lake.
Okay so I’m 100% in…but what Kayak will I purchase? On a bicycle tour pack size and weight dictate quite a bit, your size and weight determines a great deal also, and how you plan on using the boat. I’m 5’6″ tall and I weigh 150lbs. I would rarely have the bicycle strapped to the boat to travel like the above videos. Instead I see myself cycling into a remote location near a body of water and then using the boat to fish from. I looked at well over 30 kayaks and rafts and put together the following list that serve my potential needs:
Innova Twist $399.00
The Innova Twist is the one kayak to make my list. A little heavier than the other boats here but the lightest, smallest, most packable inflatable kayak I could find. I like the construction a bit more than the ‘Sit-On-Top’ kayaks and it comes in camo. You need to buy a separate paddle for this kayak. Buy the Innova Twist Inflatable Kayak on Amazon.com
- River Rating: class 1
- Length: 8ft. 6in.
- Width: 31 in.
- Weight: 16 lbs.
- Air Chambers: 3 main
- Capacity: 220 lbs (1 person)
- Packed Dim: 17x11x7 in.
- Material: litepack™ – no pvc!
- Includes: drybag/backpack for transport, tracking fin, repair kit
Alpacka Raft $850.00
A little pricey at $850 but this thing looks like it can handle the bike and touring gear at the same time without incident. It won’t track as well as a kayak but the sub 5 pound pack weight is pretty agreeable.
Our smallest all-purpose boat, the Alpaca is perfect for small whitewater paddlers, adventure racers, and long-distance trekkers.
- Weight: 4 lb. 13 oz. (2.2 kg)
- Max Outer Length: 87 in (221 cm)
- Max Inner Length: 44 in (112 cm)
- Max Outside Width: 36.5 in (98 cm)
- Max Inside Width: 14.5 in (37 cm)
- Bow Upturn: 4 in (10 cm)
- Tube Diameter: 12 in (30.5 cm)
- Includes: Boat, basic repair kit, stuff sack, inflation bag. Removable seat & seat back, 2 stern grab loops, 4 bow grab loops.
- Roll Down Size: This raft rolls down to the size of a small two person tent. The raft packed in its stuff is 9″ x 24″ (23 x 61 cm).
- Options: Optional attached spray deck.
Alpacka Scout +/- $500.00
The lightest and simplest of all Alpacka rafts – 3 lbs. 3 oz., the Scout is a river-floating & lake boat. Read calm and C-II water. Also note the dual purpose emergency coloring options for rescuer signaling.
- Weight: 3 lbs. 3 oz. (1.45 kg)
- Max Outer Length: 72 inches (183 cm)
- Max Inner Length: 41 in (104 cm)
- Max Outside Width: 34.5 in (87.5 cm)
- Max Inside Width: 13 in (33 cm)
- Bow Upturn: None
- Tube Diameter: 10 in (25.5 cm)
- Includes: Inflation bag, sil-nylon stuff sack, repair kit. 1 attached grab loop.
- Roll Down Size: Approximately 20″ by 6″ diameter, tightly rolled.
FlyWeight designs FlytePacker $299.00
Lightweight – The FlytePacker is the lightest packraft currently in production. All seams are radio frequency welded for strength and durability. It carries a weight capacity of 310lbs and folds down to a packed size of 9 x 12 inches. The FlytePacker also comes with an ultralight mesh stuff sack that doubles as an anchor bag, and an emergency trailside repair kit. The FlytePacker is made in the USA.
- Weight: 35 oz.
- Seam Construction: Radio Frequency Welded
- Length & Width: 67″ x 46″
- Capacity: 310lbs
- Packed Size: 12″ x 9″
- Valve Type: Boston Style Valve
- Material Type: 200D Urethane Coated Nylon
- Includes: Ultralight mesh stuff sack & Patch-N-Go emergency repair kit.
If I were getting an inflatable kayak/raft for the purpose of fishing without using my bicycle in conjunction I would get the choice below. At 50 lbs. it is too big to consider for a bicycle tour, but I want one just the same:
NRS Pike $1000.00
Buy an NRS Pike Fishing Inflatable Kayak on Amazon.com
- Self-bailing: yes
- Length: 12’8″
- Width: 39″
- Interior Width: 17″
- Weight: 51 lbs. with all included items
- Tube Diameter: 11″
- Number of Air Chambers: 3
- Valve Type: Leafield C7 Fill & A7 Pressure Relief
- Tube Fabric: 1.2-mm thick, 2000-denier PVC
- Floor Fabric: PVC-coated drop-stitch
- Number of D-Rings: 32
- Number of Handles: 2
- Repair Kit: Includes: 3 patches, PVC glue and valve wrench
- Bungee lacing in bow
- Daisy chain attachment loop strips
- Includes: Three Scotty Mount attachment points, Easy Access Tackle Bag, 2 removable skews, Nylon bag with shoulder straps
- Warranty: 3 year retail, 3 year commercial