INNOVA Helios I EX Touring Inflatable Kayak review by TBP

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    Lee Arbach TBP

    The Innova Helios I EX inflatable kayak was introduced in 2007 as a “litepack” model, which meant that back then it only had exterior nitryl rubber coating on the outward facing half of the side tubes and the inflatable floor underside. Now the whole boat is fully coated with the “Helios EX” designation.

    Innova Helios I EX Inflatable Kayak

    The solo Helios looks quite sleek, especially compared to the more blunt-nosed tandem Helios kayaks that were made a few years back. For one thing this boat is quite narrow, 2″ less than even the current tandem, and for another the front end begins tapering almost where the bow dodger’s rear edge starts. And the bow dodger extends rearward further. Along with the Twist and the newer Swing model, this is one of three Innova non-selfbailing solo kayaks, but it is the only one of the three that is coated with rubber on the outside. A fourth Innova solo kayak is the Safari – also fully coated – but it is a self-bailer and some folks prefer to avoid bailers for touring use. We used to have the Safari only shown with the solo whitewater models, but now we list it under both whitewater and touring.
    Innova Helios Inflatable Kayak Performance

    Like the tandem Helios, this one does not come with a removable fin though there is a fin mounting patch on the bottom of the EX model. Reports from about 3/4 of the buyers are that it tracks quite well once they got used to it. and about a quarter of them did not care for it’s tracking characteristics even after several weekends. We’ve yet to paddle this one though we have spent a ton of time in the old discontinued 340 Helios, which is only 13″ longer. We always felt the 340 tracked well sans fin. We do carry an Innova rudder kit for the tandem Helios that can work on this solo model, but the runner cords need to be lengthened by a few inches because the back deck is longer on the solo than on the tandem. Another option is to buy the fin ($39, or $35 if you get it with the boat) but you may want to try the Helios first and see if you really need it.
    Helios Inflatable Kayak Cargo Space

    One thing we like about the one person Helios is that it easily allows multi-day trips with ample room under the rear deck and in front, with bungie cord for flatter, lightweight items on top of the decks. This is in contrast to the tandem Helios, which does not really hold enough gear for overnight trips if two adults are on board. The same situation holds for many other brands and models where two solo kayaks add up to far more space than one tandem. The side tubes of Innova Helios kayaks are a stacked double-tube (one air chamber, but like two humps of an air mattress) arrangement, creating a taller and skinnier profile but also a wider interior for gear.

    For 2013 the solo Helios comes in a two tone, with red on the outside of the tubes & bottom, and gray color on the whole inside as shown. Realistically with the small amount of freeboard most touring inflatables have, no matter how brightly colored they are a speeding boat won’t see you down in the swells or through tall chop. The best policy is always to wear bright colored lifevests if you are concerned about visibility.

    All Innova kayaks except the Twist and Swing series come with a boat sized Innova Drybag / carry bag and a patch kit. 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. If for any reason we manage to forget, we will enclose a refund check for the difference inside the box with your receipt.

    The maximum UPS you will pay for lower-48 State deliveries will be less than $50 for this kayak and/or a foot pump, so your total will not exceed the full retail ($899) price. if you are in AK or Hawaii, we will charge $50 if it’s sent through the Post Office, so again your total would just be the full retail cost of $899
    Manufacturer’s Specifications for Innova Helios I EX Inflatable Kayak

    LENGTH: 10 ft. 2 in.
    WIDTH: 28 in.
    WEIGHT: 29 lbs. Nitrylon™ EX version
    AIR CHAMBERS: 3 Main
    CAPACITY: 220 lbs (1 person)
    PACKED DIM: 20x14x8 in.
    MATERIAL: 1200-denier Nitrylon™ – No PVC!
    INCLUDES: Drybag/backpack for transport

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