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Reviews for IK-116 Kayak by Stearns Inflatables


Rated: 9.24/10 Based On: 21 Reviews

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07-18-2013
Submitted by: JacquelineMc.Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I am an outdoors kinda person and my boyfriend recently invested in this Stearns IK-166 inflatable kayak for my birthday present. He purchased it online through Craigslist, used only once in perfect condition. We took it out right away!! We started with a quiet reservoir, one at a time. I tried it out first. I loved this easy to steer and row inflatable boat. I am now officially a kayak enthusiast. After we tried the one at a time thing, we attempted two at a time. We did fairly well for a while until we capsized which made me laugh hysterically!!! The capsizing part was to be expected considering that it is a one man kayak to begin with. Lol!! So easy to travel with and it takes only a couple minutes to inflate!!
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08-20-2007
Submitted by: Vince
Rating: 8 of 10

     I bought this inflatable kayak Stearns IK116 on e-bay a month ago, and I mostly used it on the Mediterranean Sea so far. First impression was very positive, it looks nicely made, well engineered.

I tried it in different conditions, from calm to more agitated (waves and about 70km/h wind), and I am very happy with it. Compared to a hard shell kayak, it's pretty comfortable, but still rigid enough to have fun in the waves. For those who are afraid of windy conditions with an inflatable kayak, I tested it facing a 70km/h wind on the way back (stupid mistake), and I managed to come back to the beach without too many problems.

Thanks to its length, it's very easy to turn, and you can still go reasonably fast. One drawback is that at one point, paddling faster won't make you go quicker, you will only "oscillate" more. But I guess this would be similar with a hard shell kayak having a similar length.
I strongly recommend this kayak.

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06-06-2007
Submitted by: SteveSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I've had the Stearns Spree 1 for a couple of months now and have fallen in love with it completely. Performs above my expectations, tracks straight (a small bit of wagging), very stable and nimble. Can stop and turn on a dime. Picks up speed nicely and I can keep up with the smaller hardshells on the lake.

I'm a big fat guy (6 foot, 250 or so pounds) and I was worried I'd be too big for this. But I fit in snugly... it's a bit tight, and I've had no trouble getting in and out thanks to the zippered skirt. I don't swamp or overload the boat.

The only drawbacks I've found so far are that it could be more roomy (or I could be less roomy, a smaller person will be fine) and storage space is limited.
I had my heart set on a Sevylor Rio, but couldn't find one. I checked out the West Marine version of the AE dragonfly but it looked a bit tight for me (I've seen these out on the water, and they do look pretty good). I found the Stearns on sale and decided to take a chance. I am so glad I did. I get compliments and questions about it almost every time I'm out. I'm glad now I got the yellow over the blue Sevylor as I paddle alone and the extra visibility is comforting. I'd advise anybody getting one of these to also spend a bit more on the basic safety equipment, good PFD, throw line, paddle leash (very important as an inflatable can run away in the wind quickly if you go over). It's worth it because once you see how this kayak handles, you'll want to keep on using it.

Finally, the portability is awesome, and the bag is large enough so that it's not a chore refolding the boat and re-stowing it (I've gotten it in first try every time). Keep a sponge or microfiber towel on hand to help dry it off, especially under the floor.
I also want to note that I've got the newer, B521 version of this kayak, which has a redesigned spray skirt to avoid the leaking problem others have described. It's also significantly lighter at 23 lbs.

I love this kayak. It's allowed me an inexpensive way to get onto the water without the storage and transport requirements of a hardshell. I'm on the water 15 minutes after zipping open the bag. I'm sure it takes longer to launch a hardshell.

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08-25-2006
Submitted by: Patrick AgnewSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     We bought two of these "Spree One" a month ago and have used them on flat rivers and estuaries (Florida). I'm totally impressed with the build quality and attention to detail, ease of handling, and comfort.

SET UP: Under 10 minutes per boat. You'll never hesitate to take it out of the closet and go for a paddle.

HANDLING: Remarkable mix of turning (pivoting) and tracking. It glides better than you will expect, and I don't lose speed using a rest stroke.

SPEED: Easy paddle maintains 2.5 MPH

COMFORT: We go out for hours, and my back never gets sore. I definatley recommend adding a Sevylor seat. It can be used as a backrest or to sit a little higher in the 'yak. We mated our Sprees with Bending Branches "Whisper" paddles, 240 mm, and love 'em.

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07-26-2004
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     My first inflatable was an Advanced element dragonfly1.(still own it as a guest boat). I bought the Stearn IK116 because I wanted a little more stability and speed. This boat is cool, it drags less than the dragonfly and go faster. You can go class 1-2 and short 3 rapids. Don't try 4 or 5 you'll be kicked out of the boat. The boat is 30 lbs compare to the =16 of the dragonfly. This makes a BIG portability weight difference. The sides of the IK116 are lower than the dragonfly so water will get in more easily than the dragonfly. The 3 air chambers needs around 90 pump hits to fill. (5-10 minutes) The dragonfly has 2, the main chamber needs around 170 hits and the floor 30. So the dragonfly is faster to blow, will get less water in (though if it gets water in, it is impossible to totally get rid of it due to the design) but is a lot easier for transport. You can get all the water out of the IK116 by just reversing it. It tracks better and goes faster. The sides of the IK116 should be redesign higher so the skirt bug water in the boat is less important. The 2 velcro pockets should have a larger surface to attach. Weight should also be taken into consideration (if possible). Nice boat!
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06-22-2004
Submitted by: CB
Rating: 10 of 10

     I bought this kayak one year ago and have fallen in love with it. I've used it on lakes and rivers of various sizes. It is so convenient to throw it into the trunk of the car. It is very comfortable for a day of paddling. However, you will get a little wet. And inflatable kayaks are a little slower than hardshells. I highly recommend this kayak.
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03-17-2004
Submitted by: Steve CrissSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Stearns IK 16 inflatable kayak. Great little boat! Very stable, fun to paddle. Doesn't glide real well, but that's expected in a rec boat this size. Otherwise, definately a 10 in my book.
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02-09-2004
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     It's hard to add anything to the rave reviews. I totally agree with them. This is a wonderful little boat. My only complaint worth mentioning is that it wears you out paddling against the wind. It has too much freeboard. Of course, that is the big drawback of any inflatable boat, so why mention it. It is rugged, light and portable, and it takes you safely high and dry out to sea.
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11-11-2003
Submitted by: Christopher TindallSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I use mine on three various-sized lakes, mainly calm water. Sure, the zipper does drip sometimes but I've never gotten any water over the side from waves or anything. Besides, you can't really expect not to get wet in such a small boat.I've sat all day in my IK-116 and haven't had any problems. It's comfortable little kayak, it can pick up a pretty quick speed, hold a 12-pack of beverages, and it definitely one of the funnest watersports I've ever done.It's very durable, I've paddled over many unseen submerged rocks and the bottom isn't even scratched. This little kayak is amazing! As an aside, I really don't think you can deal with a better company than Stearns. My 4-piece Stearns paddle was stuck together. Within a half-day, I had received instructions on where to send it. Within a week, I had received a new paddle, express-posted and I was back on the lakes! Get this kayak - you won't regret it!
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07-11-2003
Submitted by: MarchessaSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     We have two IK-116's and we LOVE them. We live just north of Boston on the ocean and can use the kayaks for a quick trip around our island on a summer evening. We threw them in the trunk and drove up to Maine for the 4th and paddled on a couple of lakes and a river. Last September, we checked them with our luggage on a trip to northern California and used them on lakes, rivers and in the Pacific. Every paddler we pass within conversation distance wants to know about our inflatables; I'd like to think Stearns has profited from our excursions.

There are two downsides from our perspective. The first is the leaky skirt issue that several other reviewers have commented on. The other is drag, especially in choppy water (such as a lake churned up by wind or lots of power boats). If we're with a group of hard-shell in choppy conditions, we generally lag behind a bit (not the case on completely flat water). Still, these things are very minor compared to the portability, stability and freedom to have them in the trunk of our car and decide on the spur of the moment to enjoy one of our local lakes/ponds/rivers.

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07-10-2003
Submitted by: GHSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I mostly kayak a hardshell (dagger outlaw) but I have a couple of these IKs - they are great. I run class IV in it all the time. I can even eskimo roll it on a good day. Because of the thigh straps it actually plays pretty good. I have surfed some large holes and gotten the IK vertical a few times. What I really like about it is that I can put begginers in at and they can run class III with no problems. We have used out oldest Ik for two long seasons (used a couple times a week) and it is still in perfect shape and performs like it did on day one! This is probably the best IK for the money.
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07-09-2003
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     After doing poorly in my 12' hardshell on Cache Creek (California) a couple years ago, and seeing that the commercial outfitters were using inflatable rafts and kayaks, I began scouting for my first inflatable purchase. On a later summer camping trip at a lake, I came upon a Stearns IK 116, and after trying it out I was sold. The price is very economical, especially for someone just starting out with an inflatable, and for someone used to paddling just flatwater to Class II rapids. I have not been disappointed at all. It is a versatile, well rounded kayak, that has many things going for it: highly portable; great on lakes, yet able to run Class II and possibly Class III rapids; highly stable for first time kayakers (I had a 70 year old 1st time kayaker with me last year, running a II- river, & he loved it); great for kids, too; & very economical. I have read comments on a few commercial boat-selling websites that disparaged the Stearns IK 116, yet I have had more friends go out & purchase this boat after trying mine, 9 purchases so far, than after trying any of my other boats (I own 6 different kayaks). Two of our local retailers can hardly keep them in stock. Maybe the common person knows & recognizes something about this kayak that the "experts" have yet to discover or acknowledge. One last note, my IK 116's are the standard Stearns orange/yellow color, but our local West Marine store is carrying this exact kayak (acknowledging that the boat is made by Stearns)in a beautiful blue version with their name on it. It is a looker, and I am jealous!
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07-02-2003
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have three IK-116. One for my wife one for myself, and a guest boat. I live on Lake Union, Seattle, very convenient to carry to local dock and launch. Tracks and turns as well as the many hard shells seen all over the lake. Have taken them down the Wenatchee and Yakima Rivers in Eastern Washington several times. Wenatchee has some class 3 water. the 116 runs well, even with inexperienced kayakers. The floatation outboard of your center of mass makes it real tough to tip. The splashguard does leak, however when you are in warm sunny flat water it is real nice to unzip and sun your legs. Folds and stores ultra easy and all three live in a closet during ski season.
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06-30-2003
Submitted by: MarkSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I just got the IK-116 and love it. I tested it on the resevoir a few times and then gave it a real test on the Arkansas through Browns Canyon yesterday. It manuvers very easily and will not tip(unless you make a mistake!). I ran it through 3+ rapids and the only problem I had was that it filled with water because it is not self-bailing. I plan on fixing that by purchasing a skirt and making a few minor modifications. Should slip right underneath the built in skirt on the boat. It's a tough little kayak and manuvers very well (except when full of water!) but we're working on that. For the dollars and portability, you can't beat it!
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09-09-2002
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Tried my IK 116 for the first time yesterday, on a small lake. I bought it to pop in the back of my camper, which I can't do with any of my 3 rigids. Positive: Light, easy to carry, Easily foldable/storable, Easily inflatable, VERY responsive, tracking & turning, Tracks well, Well-built, Highly visible
Negative: Skeg makes shallow water launching a pain. (But I know it's needed), Zippered skirt rather confining-could be built w/ more slack.

If my wife like it when she gets a chance to use it, I'll buy another. They would really enhance our camping life.

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07-16-2002
Submitted by: CWSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I just bought a Stearns IK 116. I was laughed at by several kayak vendors, who told me I would be disappointed in inflatables in general. I think the IK 116 performs as well as a short hardshell kayak. It feels more stable( or seems to because it's like a large innertube), tracks and manuvers well and is very comfortable. It literally unpacks and inflates in under 5 minutes with a foot pump. Don't use a battery operated one, it doesn't top off the kayak pressure very well.

The only two downsides are 1.) the sagging of the built in spray skirt as mentioned in a previous review( easily remedied by putting a pool noodle, you know those neon color styrofoam tubes that kids play with, underneath the spray skirt to prop it up.) and 2.) the fact in has to dry before storage ( to avoid mildew/mold issues). I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a cheap portable boat.

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06-10-2002
Submitted by: BarracudaSend Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     I have a MAD DOG by Stearns in wetlands Camouflage. I also have a hard sit on top FRENZY for surfing and a Sevylor SVX 100 for white water. The Mad Dog is not good for surfing or whitewater because it is not self bailing and gets full of water in Class III and above rapids. But it tracks well for an inflatable and the seat back is VERY comfortable. It is the easiest boat I have to get into the water. I use it for an extra to a friend, and I still use it myself if I just want to take a short nap on the local duck pond.
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05-30-2002
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I bought not one but two kayaks IK-116's from a local marine outlet (kayaking in tandem with a signicant other is not a good idea if you wish for them to remain so). At first I was skeiptical about the inflatable for the obvious reasons. I researched the product, went to the store and scoped it out and figured that I would try it.

The first time, I inflated it at home because the idea of doing so in public for the first time was not a great idea. I learned all of the quirks in this manner and moved on.

The second time, I re-inflated and dropped her in the water. I had a ball. She turns easily, goes nice and straight, and when necessary, stops on a dime.

The one thing I discovered is that the "sprak skit" can sag and will drip into your lap through the zipper. To remedy this little problem, I made up a "T" structure with some 1X2 and eased the edges with a router. I placed rags on any potential puncture areas and then placed the "T" under my knees when paddling. This provides a bit of a tent so the water rolls off the skirt.

Other than the one skirt issue, a wonderful product, well put together, and a blast to paddle. I am off today, so the plan is to go use it right now.

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08-08-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     I've had my IK-116 for around six months. Have tried it on lakes, and salt water and hvve not been dissapointed. I also have a Sevylor Tahiti (Orange Torpedo) and believe me, the Stearns IK-116 is by far a much better boat. This boat truly lives up to the claims by the Manufacturer. The only problem I had was that it was advertised as having a recessed Boston Valve. I bought this boat for 300.00 off an internet sporting goods store so I had not seen it before purchase. When I called the manufacturer they stated that there had been a design change as the recessed valve had several complaints of being inaccessible to people with larger hands, and the thin material around the valve would buckle. I commend them for fixing the problem, but they really should update their advertisement literature as the recessed valve was one of the reasons I bought this boat. Regardless, once I took it out on the water I was so pleased with the kayak's performance the valve issue no longer seemed important. I have looked at much higher priced inflatables that did not seem any better than the IK-116. My compliments to Stearns.
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08-04-2001
Submitted by: Jack FowlerSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I recently picked up a Stearns IK-116 in a teal color. I didn't realize it came in any color other than yellow until I saw it in a sporting goods store. Much less wind sensitive than other inflatables I've tinkered with. Tracks well due to the skeg. Taking on waves or wakes bow-on or stern-on you stay dry as a bone - from the side, the smallest wave will slop over and you get your butt wet. If you let water puddle on the spray deck, it will drip through the zipper. With all that said, it's still a vast improvement over the inflatables of say 10 or 15 years ago.
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07-04-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     My son and I bought two IK-116s for $149.00 each on a closeout a discount store. We had previously tried a Sea Eagle 330, but sent it back - it was not rigid enough to handle well at all and went in circles on a windy lake. My son called the Sea Eagle 330 a "pool toy". The Stearns' PVC air chamber is completely enclosed by nylon cloth and PVC tarpulin. This allows a much higher air presure than other PVC inflatables and gives it the rigidity to handle well. It performs very similar to a hard shell kayak. We tried the IK-116s on lakes, and the tracking fins and the skeg allowed very good tracking, even in crosswinds. The kayak is relatively fast for an inflatable. We just returned from a trip on the Huzzah River in Missouri, and the Stearns Kayak handled the rocky river very well. It turned quickly enough and it did not puncture. The only change I would make to the IK-116 is to make the skeg removable - it caused the kayak to drag in shallow water and I had to get out and pull the boat in places where even aluminum canoes could pass (with heavy scraping sounds). Otherwise, it is one of the few products that I have purchased that performed exactly as advertised and as I had hoped it would. The other change that we made to our IK-116s was we installed Sea Eagle Deluxe Kayak Seats to get our butts off the wet floor that you get in most low-cost inflatables (no seats come with them) and to gain the back support of this excellent seat. Outfitted with the Sea Eagle seat, the IK-116, with its zippered spray skirt, is capable of being used in colder weather (the paddler does not get wet). The IK-116 is a real bargin among inflatables, even at the usual street price of $299. I complement Stearns for making a quality product.
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