Submitted: 07-06-2007 by Benuetzer
If you've read my other reviews here, you know I'm crazy enough to now own three Innova products - the Safari, SolarII, and now the new Helios 1.
First, a word of thanks to Tim Rosenhahn of Innova. I'm not going to bore you with a long story, but I'm not the easiest person to deal with because I'm pretty selective about what I like and don't like. After having originally ordered a different model, and disliking it thoroughly for PURELY PERSONAL reasons, Tim agreed to "swap" me that model for a Helios 1. Given that two months had passed during which weather and other factors didn't allow me to try the other model, that was quite a demonstration of great customer satisfaction. Try that with Sears and you'll be laughed out the door.
The Helios 1 has very quickly vaulted to the top of my Innova "stable". It tracks much better that either the "un-finned" Safari or the Solar II. I'd go as far as to say that the Helios 1 tracks as well as the Safari WITH fin attached. I took in out on a big lake under glass-smooth and fairly windy conditions, and while there was a bit of drifting sideways in strong winds and any amount of inattention when paddling will send you spinning off course, the fantastic turning and maneuverability made up for those little shortcomings. I spent far less time adjusting course than I would have in a comparably sized hardshell SOT.
It is by far and away the lightest Innova boat of those I own and, once inflated, also by far the easiest to carry over my shoulder because I can stick my hand under the inflated front dodger to stop the wind from grabbing the front end of the boat away from me.
There is very little "splash over" thanks to the bow dodger. A fairly dry ride. The seat design is very comfortable and ingenious, basically an attached "flap" from the rear deck that folds down against the floor and side tubes.
The bungees and rescue line are very nice touches.
The boat is not tippy, and I'm pretty much maxing it out at 220 lbs and 6'2". Having said that, the design doesn't lend itself to great secondary stability, probably far less so than the more down-to-the-water single tube models.
Aesthetically it is gorgeous in the dark teal and light grey, and the shape is very pleasing too. The hull speed was surprisingly good on both my excursions - I am willing to bet I could keep up with an OK Scrambler fairly handily, and outpace it into the wind. I'll do a GPS test and update my review to include a comparison with the OK.
This boat will be very handy in winter or for folks looking for some protected storage space on the boat (notice I didn't say waterproof).
The only gripe I have is that the exposed grey material gets dirty and requires cleaning far more than my other, fully coated, Inovas.
Bottom line: highly recommended