As part of our ongoing review series, we recently checked out the Velocity inflatable kayak from Airis Inflatables – the kayak division of Walker Bay.
Please note: Due to similarities throughout the Airis Inflatables line, some of the information here is repeated from our previous article on the Airis Angler.
The zippy new Airis Velocity is true to its name – sleek, sporty and fast. At 12 feet in length and a capacity of 275 lbs, the 33 lb Velocity glides you through the water quickly and easily; a narrower 30 inch beam makes it a great choice for those that want speed or an afternoon workout. Numerous attachment points, deck lacing, and a covered hatch also provide multi-storage options for long day trips.
Airis Inflatable Kayak Backpack
The first thing to note is the rugged AirPack backpack that houses the kayak. Measuring roughly 28 x 19x 11 inches, the pack features a mesh bottom for drainage, drawstring mesh top, front zipper pocket, two back padded shoulder straps; double side straps to attach the hand pump. It is rugged enough to check as baggage, and is fairly easy to haul around, weighing roughly 35 lbs. when packed up. The Velocity comes in a navy blue AirPack.
Inflating the kayak: Set up is simple – unpack, unfold, inflate. We pumped up the kayak using the included double-action hand pump with attached pressure gauge. The military-style plunger valves are simple to use – twist one way to inflate and the other to deflate. While there are only two valves (one in the rear and one in the floor) expect a little bit of a workout during the 5-10 minutes it takes for standard manual inflation.
Airis Air Web High Pressure Construction
This creates a hull that is incredibly rigid and durable without the use of complicated frame parts, and keeps the assembly of Airis Kayaks quick and simple.
As a tip, we used an Advanced Elements 12V pump to circumvent 80% of the inflation time and effort, and then topped it off with the hand pump. You will need to hold the the pump nozzle into the valve, as it doesn’t lock into position, but it works. You’ll still earn your merit badge getting it up to the 6.5PSI level with the hand pump (we quit at 5PSI and didn’t notice any problems). If you’re planning a short jaunt, simply attach the seat and you’re ready to go!
A Close-up Look
Three integrated foot braces are located roughly 33, 37 and 41 inches from the back of the seating area, providing comfort for a variety of paddling sizes. A drain plug in the floor also serves as “cup holder” for your favorite beverage.
The kayak has a bow keel & rear skeg. As a note, the oversized rear tracking fin can become “curved” if you’re not careful with folding, or you sit in it on dry land. To get it back into shape, use a hair dryer to slowly heat up the fin, and straighten it out.
The Velocity features two bungee systems and a rear hatch storage area. (Please note, current Airis renderings show the covered hatch in the bow of the kayak; this has been redesigned and is located in the stern.) The front bungee deck lacing has 4 D-rings in a 14×13 inch configuration, while the rear lacing is increased to 6 D-rings approximately 33 inches long by 18 inches wide. A covered rear hatch opening under the lacing is 17 x 13.5 inches with an interior storage section of 9 x 7.5 x 9 inches. The storage hatch comes with a black stretch cover, not shown in the photos.
More D-rings can be found in the seating area and the two side handles.
On the Water:
We headed out for a short cruise and found the kayak to paddle and track well. Unlike many hard shells, the inflatables are very stable.
While not quite as stable as the 33-inch wide Airis Angler (see our other notes for details on this kayak), we were still able to stand up in the kayak without tipping.
We did a quick “speed” sampling with our GPS – on relatively calm water with light winds, we were able to reach a max. speed of 4.5 mph, averaging roughly 2.5 mph (please note, I am not a power paddler!)
The high-backed seat is adjustable and provides plenty of support. While not originally supplied with the kayak, Airis is now providing a seat with all 2010 models.
The Airis Velocity is a great kayak – I admit, I couldn’t pass one up. While I struggled with the nifty features of the Angler, the speed and lighter weight of the Velocity finally won me over.
Simple to set up, easy to carry around, and it paddles like a champ. While it features decreased storage and on-water stability (as found in the Angler) it more than makes up for it in sleekness and speed. The hull is rugged and puncture resistant – we ran over submerged rocks a number of times with no damage.
The Airis Velocity is beautifully made – a real attention grabber – with numerous nifty little details. As far as we’re concerned, it’s a winner. Oh, and Eddie gives it two paws up.
For more information see http://www.airkayaks.com/airis_velocity.html