Submitted: 09-07-2006 by danielfix
The Stearns inflatable canoe is some what better then I expected from a $300 inflatable boat. We took it on a trip to Alaska because it can fit into a (large) duffel bag on a plane and still have room for a couple of paddles and life jackets. This is the main reason for trying one of these boats. It seems to handle well enough in grade one to two rivers. It is not particularly fast on flat water and as all light boats, is affected by the wind. In Alaska, most of the rivers move at a 5 to 8 mph. clip so you don't have to paddle much if you don't want to. Its short waterline and blunt shears do not help it. But it can carry two people and two packs and not much else. We used it mostly for fishing. If you wanted to, you could save weight by leaving the tent at home and throwing a tarp over the top and sleep on the bottom (bugs permiting). It is like an air mat. We did not try to paddle over any rocks or trees but the bottom and sides do not seem to be overly prone to puncture or abrasion under normal precautions. The air tanks are seperate and removable for repair and maintainence and are covered by the fabric/rubber envelope which protects them. This is unlike most inflatables where the air tank surface is the outer hull surface and if breached, you leak.
We only had two glitches (read as leaks). One was a defect on a seam on an inflatable seat which was patched with a drop of cement from the repair kit (enclosed). The other was were the side tanks have a relief valve (to prevent over inflation. They were not sealing properly. Fortunately, they are only about a fingers length from the inflation valves so I stuck my finger in and manipulated the valve from the inside and outside with some soapy water and got them to release and seal tightly. They must have picked up some dirt in the factory.
All in all, for the price, it is a fairly good compromise for a boat to take on a vacation where space and weight are at a premium, as was the case with our vacation to Alaska. We flew in and out and got a small, (small) rental car (GM I hate you).