Submitted: 01-11-2008 by jeremy
The Innova Safari is a marvelous well-designed and good-looking inflatable kayak. Here is how I would rate individual performance factors on this fabulous jack-of-all-trades:
Looks, quality, packability aesthetic appeal: 10
Weight (24lbs boat only, 33lbs fully outfitted with backpack, pump, and paddle): 9 (could always be lighter!)
Backpack quality and design: 9 (very good, but I had to modify mine to make a place for the paddle shaft storage)
Packability and portage: 9 - weighing in at less than 1/2 the weight of my Aire Lynx, this boat can go places!
Quality of materials: 10 (nice!)
Quality of primary valves: 8 (a bit cumbersome)
Quality of seat/thwart valves: 5 (simple, but slow to inflate/deflate, and seem to wear quickly)
Price: 10+++++!!!!! Great boat for the money. You could not do better.
Initial stability: 5 (this boat is not designed for fishermen)
Secondary stability: 8 (exceptionally good for narrow boat width)
Hull Speed: 10 (easily just as fast as a hardshell)
Tracking: It all depends on the skeg - no skeg, spins on a dime - skeg attached - tracks ok (disclaimer here - I paddle mostly class II-IV whitewater, not sea or flatwater, so I am reporting based on river flatwater sections)
Whitewater performance: Simply amazing for an inflatable!
Carving - 10
Surfing - 10
Control with dry interior - 10
Control with flooded interior - 9
Bailing speed - 6 (it could use improvement here, but the good control in flooded conditions really makes speed less important)
Comparison to hardshell performance - closer than you would think - hull speed allows for river running equal to hardshell playboat. River playing (control and ease of hole surfing, enders) is much better than any other inflatable I have tried (Aire Lynx, Aire Force, Sevylor and Stearns products). This is primarily due to lower initial stability which allows for more carving and j-leaning than competing models which are designed with stability-first mentality.
This is a boat designed for intermediate to advanced paddlers which know how to eskimo roll and can brace well in whitewater. Beginners, fishermen, or scaredy cats should look for a boat with higher initial stability. Hardshell Kayakers wanting a packable boat should only consider this boat, the Aire forces, and the Incept Sally kayaks. For quality, performance on all types of water, weight, packability, and price, this boat cannot be beat. For those willing to sacrifice performance for extreme packability, there are always the Alpacka Rafts, but the Innova Junior may be a better compromise.
Way to go Innova, a great product!