Comparing to an inflatable rowboat - for the win!

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Comparing to an inflatable rowboat - for the win!

Post by PJohanson » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:01 am

Helped my friend test paddle her inflatable rowboat this week, the Intex brand and the Seahawk 2 mode. In the process we compared it to my AE inflatable -- an older version of the Lagoon model.
Both boats were about the same length -- 9 feet for the rowboat, 8'6" for the Lagoon.
Both boats fold up small enough to carry on a bus and while walking to a beach.
Both boats inflated quickly with a small hand pump.
Both boats had two inflation chambers for the main tube and an inflated floor.

No seat in the rowboat. Minimal seat in the old Lagoon.

The rowboat had a printed mark on each chamber of the main tube, to be compared with a small soft plastic gauge, to ensure that neither chamber was over-inflated and stretching. This was a neat idea that would have worked with the older version of the Lagoon, but is not needed with the newer version's covered tube.

The rowboat valves weren't Boston valves, but the two-part valves used on StraitEdge kayaks. This makes it harder to use a pump to suck all the air out of the rowboat when folding it up, so it doesn't fold up as small as when it's brand-new.
The Lagoon has valves that let all the air be sucked out with a pump, and on a warm day it folds up to fit easily inside the bag in which it was sold.

The rowboat was sold with cheap little take-apart oars and simple oarlocks. It would row fairly well with good oars at about 4 kilometres an hour, but it would not be suitable for Class 1 river rapids or rough water.
The old Lagoon turns on a dime and gives you nine cents change. With short strokes, it can be paddled at 4 kilometres an hour. In the hands of an experienced user, it is suitable for rough water or Class 1 rivers.

My friend was impressed that my seven-year-old Lagoon is much like her new rowboat, but with a separate layer of tough outer hull and deck completely protecting the inflation chambers from the outside! The new Lagoons have tubes that are covered for extra protection inside and out.

Some inflatable rowboats are simply nothing more than cheap, flimsy pool toys for little kids to play with in shallow water while being watched by attentive lifeguards. Others are darned near as tough as a Zodiac and cost nearly as much. My friend likes to row rather than to paddle a kayak. She wanted to replace her old inflatable rowboat, and to find something better than a pool toy and more affordable than a Zodiac. It looks like her newest boat has the qualities she needs for careful use close to shore in sheltered waters, but boy, is she envying the tough outer hull that the Advanced Elements kayaks have over their inflation chambers! I hope she saves up to buy an AE kayak through West Marine.

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