INNOVA Helios II EX Touring Inflatable Kayak review by TBP

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    Lee Arbach TBP

    The Innova Helios II EX Tandem Inflatable Kayak (12’6″) is available in green/gray or red/grey; specify on the order notes which color you want. Back a few years ago, Innova had a “litepack” version of this kayak with half of the boat’s exterior being uncoated with rubber; specifically the top side of the floor and the inward facing half of each side chamber. Those are gone, and the EX models are back to being fully coated throughout the boat. A drybag/backpack, inflatable footrests, and basic patch kit are included with the Helios series.

    Innova Helios II EX Inflatable Kayak

    A Helios 2 EX does not have any kick on the ends, so there is plenty of room for two adults. Quite speedy on flat water, these can also be used for easier rivers. Helios kayaks are a good choice for people who paddle cold waters such as Alaska or the Great Lakes. The seating position is deep in them, and the bow dodger minimizes the amount of splash that hits your lower body. Folks who like the idea a rudder also have that as an option for both the solo and tandem Helios ($107 with the boat or $119 if purchased separately – this item is listed by itself in this section). The Helios’ are about the only boats you can get rudder systems for without spending $2,500 or more. The 1200 denier polyester base fabric is as bombproof as you could want on this type of boat and it inflates very firm.
    Innova Helios 2 EX Tandem Inflatable Kayak Improvements

    When the Helios II was revamped by the factory a couple years back, there was a substantial improvement to the forward backrest. It’s now formed just like the comfortable fold-down rear seat instead of being just a bracing section level with the tube tops. This means the front paddler’s back will be supported far better than in the older Helios’s.

    Can I do an overnight trip with my wife out of a Helios or Sunny? We get asked this question quite often. No doubt some people have stuffed gear into a Helios tandem between their legs and on top of the decks and made it work, but the honest answer is that this is poorly suited for camping if two adults are on board. The Innova Sunny is only marginally better in terms of space. You really need the extra length of an AIRE SuperLynx or Trinity II if you both want to be in the same boat with sleeping bags, tents, food, clothes, cook gear, etc. If you pack light, the Solar 410 also found in this section will work for those who aren’t overly tall.

    Another thing people ask all the time regards using a tandem Helios as a one person kayak. In truth the Helios II is not great as a solo boat. If you are going to use your boat alone much of the time you should really be looking at the Innova Sunny, Solar 410, or AIRE Tributary Sawtooth instead.
    Stacked Tubes on Innova Helios 2 EX Tandem Inflatable Kayak

    One last thing to be aware of on the Helios II or it’s solo brother the Helios I EX, is that the side tube chambers are shaped differently compared to most inflatables. They are a single air chamber on each side, but it is a stacked “double tube” like two humps of an air mattress. These side chambers are taller & narrower, but it also means a Helios is harder to climb back into from the water than other models in this section of our site. If you swim, snorkel, or scuba dive a lot while kayaking, go with one of the other Innova tandems or perhaps a Sawtooth or Trinity.

    Please note that any accessories purchased with your boat are 10% off, and also note that our shopping cart as yet does NOT reflect these discounts – it will show a higher total so we will adjust the bottom line before ringing the transaction through.
    Manufacturer’s Specifications for Innova Helios II EX Inflatable Kayak

    LENGTH: 12 ft. 6in.
    WIDTH: 30 in.
    WEIGHT: 36 lbs.
    AIR CHAMBERS: 3 Main
    CAPACITY: 396 lbs (2 person)
    PACKED DIM: 20x14x8 in.
    MATERIAL: Nitrylon™
    COLORS: Green/gray or Red/gray
    INCLUDES: Drybag/backpack for transport

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