Confluence Watersports is well known in the kayak world for their hardshells and paddling gear. Recently the company gravitated into the inflatables market under the Harmony product line, with the launch of three inflatable kayaks – the Orbit 245 solo (in red, $449), the Odyssey 295 tandem (in blue, $599) and the Odyssey 345 for 2+ adults (not shown, $749).
Our first write-up in the series is for the Odyssey 295 – a 9’ 8” two-person inflatable weighing in at approximately 32 lbs – which we took out for a test ride.
The box arrived, weighing in at 47 lbs and measuring 27 x 24 x 13 inches. We opened it up and pulled out the kayak backpack, which houses everything – kayak, pressure gauge, double action hand pump, tracking fin, foot brace, seats, instructions, maintenance kit. The kayak folded size is 26 x 22.5 x 11 inches. Everything in the pack weighs 40 lbs – not bad – it all fits in the bag, and it looks good.
We read through the Quick Start guide and began to set the kayak up. First off, the Quick Start Guide requires a magnifying glass, and even that doesn’t help much. It also jumbles together the three models, which can be confusing. We moved on to the instruction manual – while much meatier, it still leaves out quite a bit of information. (AirKayaks note: the manufacturer has changed the instructions, which will be in subsequent shipments. The new instructions – which are a huge improvement – can be found on the AirKayaks website at http://www.airkayaks.info/)
We unfolded the kayak and located the removable tracking fin. You must attach this first, as it is just about impossible to get the fin on when inflated. By pinching the two “knobs” together, installation is easy, then pull the knobs apart to lock the fin into position. Make sure it is pointing in the right direction, towards the rear.
Next, pump the kayak up. There are three inflation chambers (right side, left side and floor) utilizing Boston valves. Make sure the valve openings are centered in the fabric opening. If the valves are not attached to the kayak, place the little retaining ring around the lip at the base of the valve on the kayak – this ensures that you don’t lose the valve down the road. Screw the bottom half of the valve onto the kayak – the top half opens and this is where you will fill with air. (Air Kayaks note: Please make sure that none of the fabric is interfering with the valve placement – our initial attempt, the base valve did not screw on correctly and we lost air. Also ensure that the valves have been properly tightened)
Our first problem was trying to couple the valve adaptor to the valve. While the instruction manual directs you to use the screw-on adaptor, there was not enough “lip” for it to grab. We then tried using the Boston valve attachment (conical nozzle about ½ inch in diameter). The material on the adaptors is so glossy it would not friction fit and kept blowing off the valve. We managed to solve this with a small rock – simply by rubbing it over the surface of the adaptor on the pump, we roughed up the surface enough for it to grab.
Partially inflate the floor chamber, then partially inflate each side chamber, making sure the valves remain centered in the valve openings. Then go back and top off the three chambers until they feel firm (1.5 PSI) and wrinkles on the main chamber are smoothed out. The floor has a fabric covering, which has a bit more give.
Next, pump up the seat bases. Our second problem appeared at this point, as none of the included adaptors would work with this twistlok valve. The instructions suggest holding the adaptor onto the valve, but unless there are two of you – one to hold and one to pump – it’s a true contortion problem. We ended up inflating via mouth – not a big deal as they are small chambers and several puffs do the trick. Then position the seat over the velcro strips on the floor, and attach each side seat strap to the d-rings.
Finally, attach the foot brace to the Velcro (the one included foot brace is meant for the front paddler, but it could be used in the rear, too) – you don’t need to worry about being exact, as this is easily repositioned when out paddling. Voila! We’re ready to hit the water.
Features and Specifications
One of the first things we noted – the Odyssey 295 actually says FRONT and BACK on the inside; while this may seem odd, it is not unusual for beginners to install (and paddle) the kayaks backwards. Nice touch. The kayak features 6 padded grab handles, front, rear and two on each side interior and exterior. Another nice touch. Four velcro “paddle parks” allow one to attach a paddle on either side when not in use. Neoprene padded knuckle guards cover both sides, preventing knuckle abrasion.
Two sculpted rigid spray visors (bow and stern) help deflect water that may come up over the kayak sides. The kayak comes with a nifty padded foot brace which can be easily adjusted by repositioning over the Velcro.
The two seats are very padded, comfortable and look good. The seat back measures 27 inches wide and 13 inches tall while the seat base is 16 x 16 inches, inflating up to 5 inches. Each seat has two side straps with quick connect clips that attach to side d-rings. The back of each seat has two d-rings, allowing for some type of optional pack to be attached. Since the bases are inflatable, one has the option to pump it up to their own comfort level, whether that be hard or cushiony. (AirKayaks note: Make sure to tuck the twistlok tube on the seat base into the side of the kayak, so that you don’t accidentally twist it open while paddling.) There are three seating positions, allowing one to paddle the Odyssey as a tandem or solo – for solo paddling, remove one of the seats and reposition the remaining seat in the middle of the kayak.
The kayak has an 840 denier nylon shell, trilaminated 500D PVC tarpaulin with HF welded bladders. The floor bladder has a fabric cover, providing added protection to abrasion, fish hooks or “sharp doggie nails.” The kayak chambers have zippers, providing for bladder replacement if necessary.
A rear mesh “gear guard” allows one to stuff small items – such as a lunch or other paraphernalia – under the rear spray visor but in easy reach. The floor is “sculpted” allowing any water entering the kayak to fall down into the well, keeping the paddlers drier – a rear drain plug can be opened to pour out accumulated water. Multiple D-rings (10 in all) stretch along the interior, providing numerous options for attaching gear.
The backpack is great – someone obviously paid attention to detail. A zipper runs across three sides, making it simple to get both kayak and gear in and out. Padded shoulder straps, side cinches, top and bottom grab handles make transporting the kayak simple. Gusseted side mesh pockets with drawstring closures allow you to carry some extra gear. Backpack measurements are 27 x 21 x 13 inches with 15 inch deep side mesh pockets and everything fits inside!
We did measurement tests. The kayak inflated is 9’ 8 feet long and 32 to 33 inches wide, just as advertised. The side bladders are roughly 10 inches in diameter, making a well about 8 inches deep. Interior dimensions are 104 long x 16 inches wide. When the seats are positioned at the back of each Velcro strip, the front paddler has 47 inches from the seat back to the inner tip, while the rear paddler has 38 inches from the seat back to the front paddler seat back, while still leaving about 19 inches at the rear. All this can be repositioned.
When used as a solo, there is approximately 63 inches from the back of the seat to inner tip, and an additional 42 inches behind the seat. For those interested, the Velcro strips run from 16 inches to 46 inches, then 55 to 82 inches measured from the inner tip.
On the Water
I took the kayak out solo for a short paddle in fairly calm water. Right off the bat, the kayak feels good and handles well. Seats were comfortable, it tracked well, and it was roomy. You will need to play around with the seating position to find your “sweet spot” based upon your height and weight. While only out for 15 minutes on a large lake, I didn’t notice water getting in – some of this is prevented by the molded spray shield on the bow. The kayak is open – making it easy to get into – and very stable. The side grab handles are positioned low enough that they didn’t interfere with my paddling.
Second time out, Eddie, my canine companion, twisted my arm for a ride. There’s plenty of room to bring a dog, and the fabric is rugged enough for sharp claws. This would also be a great choice for an adult paddling with child.
Third time, my 6’2” husband took the kayak out solo in some swells. He felt the kayak paddled well, was quite roomy, and the seats very comfortable.
Last test was with both of us, paddling tandem. Our first time out, I had the seats in the velcroed position and he was quite cramped. We came back to shore and moved his seat all the way to the back. By removing the front foot brace, it was actually quite comfortable for both of us and paddled well. He even had his legs fairly stretched out, and mine were able to use the inner tip of the kayak as a foot brace.
The Odyssey 295 is is a highly versatile kayak that is comfortable, paddles well, looks good and is quite stable. It’s a great choice for lakes, slow-moving rivers, inlets and bays.
The kayak profile is clean and streamlined, and it is obvious the designers have paid attention to detail. The included backpack is a great asset and makes travel a breeze – whether flying, cruising the country in an RV, bicycling or using mass transit – while the small profile is perfect for storing in a closet, on a shelf or in the trunk of your car. And the package includes everything you need short of paddles and PFDs.
Paddling options are two adults, adult with child or dog, or just one adult – with or without lots of gear. In fact, my feeling is that an adult could easily bring out two small children at the same time.
As a two person kayak, it is great for medium sized adults up to 374 lbs max payload persons and gear. It is also performs well with one person paddling, whether it be solo or with a child or a dog companion. This is a great choice for a larger solo paddler, or someone who wants to bring gear for a camping expedition. The open cockpit design is easy to get in and out of, making it a great choice as a tender. Anglers will also find it rugged and roomy enough to carry mucho fishing gear.
My only gripe would be with the pump attachments, but as previously mentioned, there are work-arounds.
Bottom line, the Odyssey 295 is a great choice, and Infinity inflatables is a kayak line to watch.
For further details, watch our YouTube Infinity Odyssey 295 Video!
Coming soon – our next review on the Odyssey 375, designed for 2+ persons.
For more info on the Odyssey 295 see http://www.airkayaks.com/products/Infinity-Odyssey-295-Inflatable-Tandem-Kayak-%252d-%233360.html