Inflatable vs. Hard Shell Kayak - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 09-24-2015   #1
 
Grand County, Colorado
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Inflatable vs. Hard Shell Kayak

On whitewater, what are the pros/cons of IK vs. Hard Shell kayaks?

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Old 09-24-2015   #2
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IKs are known as the craft of the pros. Hard boats are for beginners and are extremely dangerous. In an inflatable kayak you can do it all!
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Old 09-24-2015   #3
 
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Hummm? where to begin?

Inflatables:

easier access in and out of the boat and to any gear stashed on boat. Way easier to load for over night trips.

much easier to learn in and no roll needed. you can get back in the boat in the middle of the river.

you can roll them up and put them in the trunk of a car.

more for class 3 water.

easier to fish out of.

they make good sleeping pads.
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Old 09-24-2015   #4
 
Jackson, Wyoming
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Let's see, IK pro: generally stable; can be transported/stored small; less scary for folks who are nervous about being trapped in a hardshell kayak if flipped -- in fact, can give those folks a chance to experience paddling their own whitewater craft and have as ball; can potentially haul a lot of gear.

IK con: wetter ride which can be a big deal in cold water and/or air; generally less maneuverable; not as cool!, a flip means a swim (generally can't roll them back up); generally can't do "tricks" -- mostly just a river runner.

Hardshell: I guess you can more or less reverse the above.
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Old 09-24-2015   #5
 
Jackson, Wyoming
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnovice View Post
IK con: wetter ride which can be a big deal in cold water and/or air;
Which means a shorter season -- though a dry$uit will help with that.
(Depending on model of IK, may not be so comfortable for sleeping.)
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Old 09-24-2015   #6
Shapp
 
the grove, Oregon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnovice View Post
Which means a shorter season -- though a dry$uit will help with that.
(Depending on model of IK, may not be so comfortable for sleeping.)
Iks really excel at low and extreme low flow boating as you can ping pong off rocks, and hop out when needed easily. While most normal folks may avoid serious high water in the IK, the low flow season opens up a lot more to IKers. I have found for a whole lot of rivers in Oregon and WA, that the minimum flow for mostly in-boat IK runs is way way way lower than any published rule of thumb for hard boats.

They are also great for folks with back problems because you can move around and your legs around a lot more to get comfortable then regain the proper position during rapids. I find they work great for up to solid Class IV creeking, and even harder for very skilled folks.

A badass reel from the man slick horn! Contrary to popular believe IKs are not only pool toys.


They also roll up and fit on a mule/pack horse for getting into some really interesting stuff, farther than I personally would want to pack a hardshell, and you can bring more camping gear than a packrat.


not only do they make great sleeping beds, they also make a great couch:






Obviously hard shells excel for big water, water falls etc. where being out of the boat is not advised, and a combat roll is critical.
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Old 09-24-2015   #7
 
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Ship, those are some great pics! IKing in style..
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Old 09-24-2015   #8
Shapp
 
the grove, Oregon
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+ for hardshells, you can find good used hardshells all the time for significantly less money than a good used IK.

If you go hardshell, you'll have to get good fast otherwise you'll be ridiculed constantly by the pimps in the scene, and a scene it is!

If you go IK right off the bat, you will be ridiculed regardless and will never be part of the kayaker "scene". Best to stay outside the scene all together
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Old 09-24-2015   #9
 
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I have only ever used a IK, just got my first hardshell (play boat) yesterday. So I am mostly going off of what I have heard and seen from other kayakers.

Pros: Are as stated above, though I am not sure about the ELF (extreamly low flow). IK's are good for low flows. Though I think if it gets real low a hard shell would be better because they will slide over river rock easier, while a IK floar will grab at rocks and really slow you down if not stop you completely. It is easier to get out of your boat and get unstuck though. Also IKs are great for bringing kids and dogs on lazy floats.

Cons: One thing I haven't heard mentioned yet is that IK catch the wind and want to turn frequently. So you will have to keep an eye on this to make sure that you don't go through the rapid backwards. They are harder to carry when they are inflated. They don't slice through the water like a hard shell, so if you come up on a big wave it is more likely that you will flip or get pushed out of the boat.

What ever you choose, I am sure you will enjoy it. Good luck with your search!
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Old 09-24-2015   #10
 
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Albuquerque, New Mexico
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IKs are much easier to transport to remote areas and for long portage.
Here is an analogy:
Raft = jeep, IK = ATV, Kayak = motocross bike.
Each has its purpose.
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