Inflatable Kayaks, SUPS & Canoes

Product Review: New Kalyma Inflatable Tandem Kayak from Bic Sports

As mentioned in a previous posting, BIC Sports has added one more inflatable to their 2012 lineup – the Kalyma Y1006 Model KAL335. Featuring a slight departure in design from the current Yakkair series, the new BIC Sports Kalyma inflatable kayak is an open-style tandem with three seating positions, allowing it to be paddled by one or two persons.

Getting Started:
We unpacked the boxes and laid out the pieces – inflatable kayak, carrying case, instructions, repair kit, manometer (pressure gauge), tracking fin and two seats. Initial measurements showed the kayak in the carrying bag weighs 33 lbs, with a case size of roughly 30 x 16 x 16 inches. Boxed up, the dimensions are 31 x 17 x 17 inches with a shipping weight of 43 lbs.

(AirKayaks Side note #1: When initially removing the kayak from the carrying case, take a good look at how the kayak is folded This is probably the most overlooked step and it is VERY helpful when trying to get the kayak back into the bag.)

Inflatation and Setup:
The included instructions are adequate and include diagrams detailing the kayak’s construction – quite a step up from the traditional BIC “universal pictures.” Set up is straight-forward and simple  – unpack, unfold, inflate.

If you plan on doing some deep water paddling, the first step is to insert the removable tracking fin – this is nearly impossible to put on after the kayak is inflated. Make sure that it is pointing towards the rear of the kayak, and that it snaps into position. The skeg is used to enhance paddling/improve tracking in deeper water; don’t use it in shallow water or white water as you 1) might lose it or 2) cause it to pull against the underside of the hull.

There are three inflation chambers utilizing a Boston valve – two side chambers and the floor chamber. Boston valves are screw-on two-way valves. The bottom portion is threaded onto the kayak, the top valve is screwed open for inflation and then tightened shut after inflation. Air is easily released by unscrewing the base connector. How does it work? A flap inside the valve opens when air is pumped into the kayak, and falls shut when not pumped so that air will not rush back out.

(AirKayaks Side note #2: Typically Boston valves have a tether that allows you to attach the valve to the kayak, ensuring that the valves don’t get lost after deflating. The Kalyma Boston valves do not have retaining rings, so we suggest that you tie some string around the valve and thread it through the small loop on the valve base.)

We pumped up the first side chamber until firm with a standard double action hand pump. The Kalyma is very easy to inflate. We then inserted the included Sevylor pressure gauge to see if we had reached the recommended 1.45 PSI. At this point we came to a first problem – the pressure gauge would not register. We pulled out another pressure gauge, and that one worked fine.

(AirKayaks side note #3: Pressure gauges are notoriously touchy. We suggest that the first time you pump up the kayak to the correct pressure, take time to understand how the chambers feel and the kayak looks. That way you will not be dependent on a pressure gauge for correct inflation).

We continued with the next side chamber, and then the floor. Make sure to fasten the velcro flap over the valve so that the front paddler does not accidentally kick it open. Floor and side zippers allow one to access the bladders, if needed. Occasionally the main chambers will arrive a little askew, so first time you may want to pump up slowly. If the bladders start “crinkling” then realign/reposition the bladders until they feel right.

After that, it’s just attach the seats and you’re ready to go! The Kalyma seats zip open flat for easy storage. Simply zip the seat and back together; each seat has four adjustable straps. If paddling tandem, place the front paddler’s seat over the first velcro strip on the floor. Attach the two upper straps to the first set of d-rings, and the two lower straps to the second set. Follow with the second seat over the third velcro strip, attaching to the 3rd and 4th sets of d-rings respectively. If paddling solo, place one seat over the center velcro strip and attach to the 2nd and 3rd set of d-rings. Adjust the straps as necessary.

That’s it! You’re ready to paddle.

Features and Specifications
The Kalyma Y1006 (also called the KAL335) is constructed with four molded carrying handles (bow, stern and both sides), but it is fairly simple to carry by hooking the side of the kayak over your shoulder.

Bungee deck lacing is located on the bow spray deck – measurements are 15 inches wide tapering to 9 inches wide, and 12 inches deep – allowing one to add on various dry packs and gear.

Neoprene padded knuckle guards cover both sides, preventing knuckle abrasion when paddling. There are two sets of velcro paddle holders, one set for each side.

The padded seat features adjustable side straps which quickly clip into position. Each of the seats comes equipped with 2 open mesh pockets and one velcro covered pocket for gear. The seat bases are 16 inches wide by 15 inches deep, and the backs are 16 inches tall.

The floor is designed with raised seating, creating a well that will collect any water that splashes inside. A rear drain plug (not to be confused with self-bailing) can be opened to let water out. Three velcro strips on the floor are used to position the seats firmly; by moving the seats one can create customized seating space. The strips are located at 38-50 inches, 56-67 inches and 74-85 inches, as measured from the bow interior.

A nifty feature is the integrated clear drybag storage compartment in the rear. The drybag well is 14″ in diameter x 20 inches tall. Just stuff in your gear, roll down the top about 3 times and clip shut. A hatch cover is included with a bungee to cinch it down.

The kayak consists of three layers. Inflatable PVC bladders (0.6mm) are housed in a zippering fabric cover of 840 denier PU-coated nylon, allowing the bladders to be replaced if necessary. Front and rear splash decks help prevent water from splashing inside.  The hull is a rugged, puncture-resistant material with removable tracking fin and landing plate.

We did measurement tests. The kayak inflated is 11 feet 3″ long and 36 inches wide. The side bladders are roughly 10 inches in diameter, making the sides 6 inches above the seating area. Interior dimensions are approximately 9 feet’ 4″ inches long by approximately 17 inches wide. The area under the rear splash deck is roughly 26 inches deep by 16 inches wide, not taking into account the dry bag. Weight limitations are 440 lbs for persons and gear.

On the Water
I first took out the Kalyma, solo paddling on a calm day. The kayak seemed to paddle smoothly, with just some slight wagging in the nose – this could also be helped with a little weight in the front. The neoprene knuckle guards are a great addition, but I also sat up high enough that I did not notice any knuckle-chafing.

The kayak felt very roomy, very stable, and the seats are sturdy if you cinch them tight.

My husband then took it out solo; despite being taller at 6’2″, it was quite comfortable for him. He also experienced a slight wagging, but not a problem.

We took the kayak out as a tandem. You will need to move around the seats to get the right fit, but it paddles well. The first time out, my seat was back too far leaving Chuck cramped, while I couldn’t even reach the front. We relocated the seats and were able to make him pretty comfortable, while I was able to use the front of the boat as a foot brace.

Lastly, I took the Kalyma out solo in white-cap conditions. It was a bit tough to paddle against the waves – you’ll earn every stroke. Despite water coming over the sides, the seating well caught most of it, so I didn’t really get wet. While it’s much easier paddling at an angle, my objective was to get out far enough to test the Kalyma with a Windpaddle sail (which does not come with the kayak). The spray deck was too far forward in solo position, so I clipped my Windpaddle sail on the first set of D-rings and “let it rip.” What an absolute blast, and the Kalyma was easily steered with my paddle. Straightforward downwind paddling is great so I believe this would be a fun kayak for wave surfing – but make sure to remove the tracking fin.

Bottom Line:
The BIC Kalyma is a good choice for families wanting the versatility of a one-or-two paddler option for slow-moving rivers, lakes and flat coastal kayaking, or for some surf or light whitewater – probably through Class II.

The kayak is lightweight, very stable, very easy to inflate and paddles nicely. The slight wag in front is not overly noticeable, otherwise it tracks well.  It’s large enough to handle two adults, but is also a great choice for a parent and child. As the floor chamber has a fabric cover, I did not hesitate to bring my dog along for the ride. When solo paddling, the extra room can easily be filled with fishing or camping gear.

This would also be a good choice for those wanting to slip into the water – whether snorkeling or just to cool off – as the open design, lower sides and good stability would make hopping in and out of the kayak fairly easy.

The Kalyma is a good calm water kayak – it’s not a speed demon paddled solo, but it’s zippier than many. It is great for those wanting to get out on the water and experience some fun.

You can also watch our YouTube video on the Kalyma.

BIC Sports suggested retail price on the Kalyma Y1006 is $539, at, $499. For more details, visit http:/

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