Submitted: 07-27-2000 by Michael Beavin
The Innova Safari is a self-bailing, definite rocker, keeled inflatable kayak. Ok, all you hard-shelled guys can stop snickering now. Similar to a sit-on-top, the Safari comes equipped with thigh-straps and two different back-supports (whitewater and touring). At only 24 lbs. the boat is extremely lightweight and packs into its own drybag/backpack. In fact, the boat is small enough to qualify as a carry-on bag for jetliners. Easy to transport, easy to store. Take it with you to Hawaii. Enough with the sales pitch. How does it paddle? The Safari is rated up to class III WW and delivers well into this class and beyond. The only drawback to taking it into class IV would be the speed at which it bails water. I am planning to open up the bailing holes to make it transfer water faster and believe this will make it easier to paddle in bigger water. It surfs WW waves and ocean surf very well and is quick to turn for an inflatable boat. The thigh straps can be tightened enough to hold in the smallest adult paddlers and it is quite easy to roll. The main advantage here is, if you do fall out, flip the boat over and hop back on. No skirt makes water entry and exit a snap and beginners will find its stability reassuring. While I have found it a capable WW play boat it is rather slow on calm open tracts of water and it doesn't track very well. I would not recommend it for someone considering day touring or an overnight paddle trip. That said, it does perform in the fast water and is quick in the waves. The construction is rugged Nitrylon™ which is a lamination of nitrile synthetic rubber and natural rubber over a 1,200-denier, low stretch polyester fabric. Conclusion, truly a capable, fun boat for the beginner and a great addition to the collection of more experienced paddlers looking for a different kind of play boat. And the big bonus? You don't have to wear a skirt like some people on the river.