Tributary Sawtooth II Touring Inflatable Kayak review by TBP

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    Lee Arbach TBP

    For many years up through 2008 we wanted a reasonably priced tandem touring inflatable in our line-up that also had room for camping gear, or a child or large dog. None of the existing models that were under 14′ really had the space, and AIRE’s Super Lynx is somewhat pricey and a bit tight if the two paddlers are tall or they have a lot of camp gear & food. Since we brought out this model, which was built in AIRE’s China factory, AIRE decided to bring out their own “Sawtooth II”, which is just a couple inches shorter than the Trinity II and comes in yellow instead of blue. We now have an American made version called the Trinity II-USA.

    With the Trinity II we were definitely not trying for a design worthy of any real whitewater, though this kayak can blast through straight-ahead waves and will work fine on deep rivers with moderate currents. If you need a more whitewater-apt craft the Super Lynx is a better bet. We wanted something stable enough to climb back into from the water without undue strain, but not a hull so wide that it would be a pig. Customers like removable tracking fins, and the T-II has one, along with forty cargo tie down loops. People like self bailing floors too, but they don’t want to get soaked, so the bail holes are designed to be pinched off a bit by the inflatable floor to avoid those annoying little geysers. Note this also means the T-II takes a while to empty if you go through a huge wave and manage to completely swamp it.
    Sawtooth Inflatable Kayak Hull Speed

    Hull speed is one of the most major considerations, especially when you find yourself paddling into a headwind or negotiating distances of several miles. With the Trinity II, we have a model that isn’t just good in this regard, it is in fact superb. About six m.p.h. in calm water. The only inflatable kayak noticeably quicker is the tandem Innova Seaker, but that model is way over $3,000, weighs far more, and is a full 2-1/2 times the rolled size. The tandem Seaker is not an airline worthy boat nor is it easy for most people to lift into a trunk – assuming it even fits. And while we could wish for a lower weight on the import Trinity II as well (note that we have a new, lighter weight American made version of the Trinity II this year), with the seats & fin in a separate suitcase, the boat in a heavy duty canvas or Cordura duffel is still a pound or two under the 50 lb airline limit. If you will do air travel, we would not advise buying the AIRE brand Kayak Bag found in our IK Accessory section. It is too heavy and will put the Trinity II import slightly over 50 pounds even without the seats.

    The Trinity II import comes standard with two seats, and if you want a third one those are available for $49 ($55 less your 10% accessory discount) in our kayak accessory section. If you happen to own a camp chair, that can also be used and secured in the boat with one 3′ camlock strap. The seats are removable and infinitely adjustable. The removable aluminum fin needs to be installed before you inflate the floor, but does not require any hardware or tools.

    On the subject of the fin, this kayak has just about the perfect degree of tracking with it on. It will turn when you need to, but it does not spin out when you stop paddling, something many other touring inflatables tend to do. It glides quite a distance, and does so in a near-straight line. We have also paddled it without the fin, and had little trouble with lower speeds but found some minor arcing at full speed, more so when we were paddling than when were just gliding.
    Tributary Sawtooth Specification

    The basic specs are as follows: the side tubes are 9″, and with two average size adults you will have about 7″ of freeboard above the water surface. The inflatable floor is a full 7″ thick and is keel shaped at each end. There are two comfortable lift handles, and each seat has a large cargo pocket on the back. The exterior measurements are 15’3″ X 32″ wide. The interior is a fairly tight 14″, so those with really large hips may need to stay with either the Super Lynx, which is slightly more roomy, or our Trinity II-USA model, which came in an inch wider than spec’d. This model is exactly the length and width we wanted it and designed it to be, and widening it very much beyond 32″ will only hinder the performance.

    The boat with it’s two seats and heavy duty fin weighs in at 51.5 pounds, and the bare boat minus seats folds to 11″ X 18″ X 22″ if you take your time folding it. Each closed cell foam seat is 2.5″ thick folded and the rough size of an XL pizza.

    The exact upper weight capacity for the T-II has not quite been nailed since we haven’t tried piling camp gear in just yet. It handles 400 to 425 pounds without much trouble. When you get up around 450 to 475, there is a noticeable amount of water around the left and right side of the floor, but your butt is still fairly dry. The floor sort of rolls off at the edges and so is lower there. Extra closed cell foam can also be added to the buttrest portion of the seats to elevate you and your partner up a bit. And if you want to temporarily seal off the bail holes with duct tape (how well this works depends largely on the quality of the tape and how smoothly you apply it) the Trinity can hold above 500 pounds. The price includes the seats, fin, and a basic patch kit with valve wrench.

    Price: $999.00
    Color: Yellow only
    Boat weight: 51lbs.
    Load capacity: 460lbs.
    Length: 15 feet 1 inch
    Width: 32 inches
    Bow-Stern rise: 9.75 inches
    Waterline: 110.5 inches
    Tube diameter: 9 inches
    Air chambers: 3
    Rolled up dimensions: 15 X 19 X 25″
    PSI inflatation: Floor = 2 psi ; Tubes = 2.5 to 3 psi
    Tube shell material: PVC 900 denier
    Tube bladder material: Vinyl unreinforced
    Floor shell material: Bottom = 900 denier : Top = 600 denier
    Floor bladder material: 400 denier urethane coated nylon
    Sawtooth warranty: 1 Year
    Shipping info: Box 1 = 58 lbs, 16 X 21 X 25″

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