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Submitted: 09-11-2009 by PlymouthDamo
The Gumotex (Innova in the US) Twist is the lightest and smallest packing inflatable kayak I could find - as far as I know, there aren't any (serious) boats that come smaller. Although it's basic, it's very well built, and oozes quality. The first time I inflated it, I had loads of people stopping to look and ask what it was. The Twist is made from Gumotex's 'Lite Pack' material. As the name implies, it's main quality is it's light weight, but it also seems really tough to me - although I haven't yet had a chance to test it, it has the feel of strong tarpaulin. I've read reviews where people have had misgivings about the toughness of this new lighter material, but I've not heard of anyone who's actually had a problem with it.
I chose this model as I wanted a boat that I could put in a small rucksack and walk the short distance to the seafront from my house. The Twist fits in a tiny rucksack and only weighs 6 kg! I'll be using the boat to paddle out to my favourite freediving spots to go and collect scallops, and the loud yellow colour will help warn boaters of my presence.
I've just got back from my first test-paddle, and I'm absolutely stunned. It can be inflated/deflated incredibly quickly and easily. The most amazing thing is how well it paddled. I'm used to a hard-shell creek boat, so I was expecting a major compromise with this inflatable toy. In fact, it's performance was superb - I paddled a couple of miles around the harbour and it tracked beautifully. I was using the removable skeg,and I found I could paddle quite hard without the boat waggling too much. This is incredible when you consider the short length, low draught and light weight of the boat. It also put in a respectable turn of speed - slower than my creek boat, but fast enough to fight currents and get out of the way of boat traffic. It is very stable - I tried a few high braces, and I found it really difficult to get the boat to go over. You do get wet as you're sitting on the floor of an open boat in the water that's dripped off your paddle.
The inflatable seat isn't anything special, but I didn't find it uncomfortable. The footrest wasn't far enough away for me (I'm 6'2"), however, this can easily be altered by lengthening the webbing strap which holds it in place. There are no thigh braces - I'm sure you could find a way of fitting these, but I don't think I'll bother. For someone like me, who wants a boat to transport me across calmish water, this is perfect. I'm not sure I'd want to drag it over rocks (although it may be capable of this - until someone tries it, we don't know) but as it's so light I can easily carry it down to the water's edge so there's no need to treat it rough. I plan to leave it in the boot of my car, with a drysuit and a collapsible paddle, so if I ever come across some inviting water I'm ready for it.
So far, I haven't seen any other detailed reviews of this boat online, so I thought I'd add my first impressions now. I agonized over the decision to buy this one, as I had nagging doubts over how this would perform. Now I've tried it, I'm certain I've picked the perfect boat for my needs.
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