INNOVA Swing EX Inflatable Kayak Review

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    Lee Arbach TBP

    INNOVA Swing EX Inflatable Kayak

    The brand new 2015 Innova Swing EX Kayak, solo inflatable kayak, is now available. This sleek 13’5” model is made with the same Litepack material as the other two Swings, but there may be some confusion since “EX” is normally used by Innova to designate kayaks made with the heavier 1200 denier nitrylon (used on the Sunny, Safari, Helios, ad others). The Litepack fabric does not have rubber coating on the exterior, so the Swing series takes a bit more care in handling where possible abrasion is concerned. The upside is that the weight is a mere 29 pounds – extremely low for any kayak this long.

    The width is a fairly narrow 29”, and the reason it is substantially skinnier than the regular Swings has to do with a difference in side tube construction. The Swing I and Swing II have a single round tube on each side, whereas the Swing Ex uses a stacked “double tube” like the Innova Helios series. It’s one air chamber per side, but two smaller tubes, one on top of the other. This allows an interior width that is still fairly generous but a narrow beam for higher hull speed. This model can make around 4 m.p.h. with a competent paddler on board. The narrower beam also means that this boat has less primary stability than many other Innova models, and because of that the Swing EX should probably not be looked upon as a beginner’s boat. As with most somewhat tippy kayaks, once you start moving much of the initial squirrellyness will be resolved, but you should have some previous experience if you are looking at this one.

    The Swing EX comes in lime green & black rather than the orange-red & black used for the other two Swings. Beyond color, another difference from the other two Swings is that the EX has an inflatable seat for firmer & higher back support, as well as an inflatable footrest instead of the rather useless foam ones that come with the other two Swings. A third difference is in the cockpit rim design. The other two Swings use raised velcro rims to attach optional spray skirts to – or to help keep water out if you don’t use a skirt. The EX has a semi-rigid insert in it’s rim though, and the idea is that you can use a standard hardshell kayak sprayskirt, which come in a bigger variety of sizes and materials.

    The top deck, like other Swings, is buffeted upward by aluminum brackets. These brackets perform several important functions. One is to lift the deck up rather than allowing it to sag and pool water. This lifting also provides more room for both your raised knees and gear. Additionally the brackets add to the stiffness and integrity of the hull. Like the tandem Swing II, the EX has three of these brackets. One is just behind the cockpit opening, one a bit in front, and the third one is under the front zipper. Both the fore and aft sections of the deck have long zippers to access camp gear, and the weight capacity of this model is very high. Almost any solo paddler should be able to run a month-long expedition out of this kayak, and that is why it is known as the “EX”.

    A removable tracking fin is included, as is a basic patch kit and twist-in valve adapter designed to fit on Bravo brand pump hose tips. It may not fit other pump hoses. The price includes UPS to the lower 48 States, but since we have to enter ship weights for all products, our shopping cart will still show a UPS fee. Our cart does not charge your credit card, it only authorizes it, so we will remove the shipping fees (unless you select air shipping) before capturing the funds.

    What about the Gumotex Seawave? We’ve been getting phone calls about once a month concerning the Seawave kayak, another long narrow model from Innova’s manufacturer that is not currently available in the U.S. Much of the interest is keyed around the Seawave’s versatility, but there is also the perception that it is a fast boat due to its appearance. The Seawave has been tested with a GPS stateside, and it is in fact not only not faster than the Swing EX or Swing II tandem, it is actually slower. And if one buys it with both the solo and tandem sprayskirts it also becomes a very pricey boat, easily double the cost of an Innova Sunny or Swing EX. So for now there are better options and better values among the Innovas that are stocked in the U.S.

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