Innova Safari Inflatable Kayak review by TBP

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    Lee Arbach TBP

    The self bailing Safari inflatable kayak from Innova also appears under our Dual Purpose section since it is a crossover boat.

    Are you a hardshell kayaker looking for something packable? Perhaps a person with a good whitewater brace and no fear of swimming rapids? Looking for a fast ocean boat? If so the Safari from Innova may be your ticket. It is a solo inflatable kayak with some similarities to the one person Helios found in this section. Both are ten feet long and both utilize a sort of stacked “double side tube”. There are also several differences between the solo Helios and Safari. For one thing the floor thickness has been increased from 3.5″ to 6″ on the Safari, allowing this boat to have bail holes. Second, the Safari is a completely open boat with no bow or stern dodger. The third difference is that the seat in the Safari is not integral, but rather a removable separate piece (the Helios backrests are a fold-down part of the dodgers). The last difference is the stern, which on the Helios is squared off to allow for rudder mounting, whereas the Safari lifts up and is symmetrical at both ends.
    Innova Safari Inflatable Kayak

    Innova Safari Inflatable Kayak
    Innova Safari Inflatable Kayak Whitewater Performance

    The Safari is quite tippy in whitewater (it’s fine for ocean and touring use), so it wouldn’t be a great beginner’s boat if you insist on starting with class III or IV rivers. Skip down a paragraph for more detail on this subject.

    Along with the older AIRE Force’s, the Kiwi Incept Sally, and Innova’s Traveler model, this is one of several inflatable kayaks that can be rolled if you possess this skill, though strapping in float bags is almost mandatory if you want to try. If you are willing to work your way up the difficulty scale slowly the Safari will yield hardshell performance without hardshell entrapment hazards. It comes standard with factory thighstraps and an adjustable inflatable footbrace. Although the AIRE Force’s also have high hull speeds, the Safari is superior on flat water since it is far less zig-zaggy with the tracking fin attached.

    Innova Safari IK Stability

    On the subject of stability, or lack thereof, as mentioned above the Safari’s can be pretty challenging to keep upright in the rapids. But since you are looking at the Solo Touring IK part of our site, we’ll assume you are interested in ocean or lake use. We get asked quite often exactly how tippy the Safari is. The Safari’s degree of tippiness mainly becomes an issue if you swim, snorkel, or dive from the boat, because it is rather hard to get back into without flipping it upside down. It is less stable than some hardshell river kayaks. For standard touring use though, you shouldn’t have to worry. Safari’s also surf well on ocean waves, and most surfers should be comfortable with the idea of dumping from time to time, so again the tippiness should not be a problem for that.

    The seat is a blend of the old style (discontinued) Innova Solar and Sunny seats with a pillow backrest and a thin inflatable buttrest section. The total weight is a very hike-able 24.5 lbs and the rolled size is the smallest of any solo whitewater inflatable kayak. The only lighter solo model in this section is the NRS Bandit, but it won’t fold/roll as small. The Safari comes with an Innova shoulder strap drybag, repair kit, unpadded thighstraps, and the tracking fin. The nitrylon fabric is extremely strong and stiff, and though the exterior nitryl coating may not have quite the UV resistance of hypalon it’s still very durable and will last 20 to 25 years with a little care. This exact same weight of material is also used for large river rafts at the Czech Republic factory where Innovas are made. At $849 the Safari is definitely one of the least expensive quality i.k.’s made. Recommended for paddlers under 220 pounds, expect a small amount of water around your butt (you can tape over the bail holes for flatwater use) if you are above 190 pounds. Two-year warranty on air-holding seams and material (does not cover I-beams blown due to over-inflation).

    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.

    Manufacturer’s Specifications for Innova Safari Inflatable Kayak

    RIVER RATING: Class III (Note:We do NOT agree with Manufacturer. Class II)
    LENGTH: 10 ft.
    WIDTH: 28 in.
    WEIGHT: 24 lbs.
    AIR CHAMBERS: 3 Main
    CAPACITY: 220 lbs (1 person)
    PACKED DIM: 10x17x20 in.
    MATERIAL: 1200-denier Nitrylon™ – No PVC!
    COLOR: Red
    INCLUDES: Drybag/backpack for transport

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