We recently had the opportunity to test out a prototype sample of the Conquest Vista, the newest model in Solution for Sports’ inflatable kayak line. Similar in concept to the current Conquest Dyad, the Vista is a high-pressure, 14-foot tandem with two clear viewing panels in the floor, allowing paddlers to watch the underwater world.
Inflating the Kayak:
Inflation was very simple. The Vista features 5 military valve inflation chambers – three high-pressure, dropstitch floor pieces, and two side chambers. Inflation time is 5-7 minutes, depending on how quickly you move; this can be sped up with a 12V car pump, but you will still need to top it off with the hand pump.
Once inflated, attach the seats to the d-rings on the kayak, using the quick-connect clips on the seat straps, then adjust the straps for appropriate support. You’re done!
On the Water
As I had forgotten to check the San Francisco Forty Niners schedule that week, I ended up taking the Vista out solo. Despite its length of 14 feet, it is fairly lightweight and easy to carry, so I I hauled the kayak down to the beach to check it out.
I first sat in the rear seating position, and was very impressed with how well the Vista paddled solo! It is zippy, easily gliding through the water. The only issue I noted was that the side handles got in my way when paddling, though a taller person might not have that problem. (AirKayaks note: the manufacturer is making changes to this for the production run).
I then moved to the front seat. Despite being so far forward, it still paddled well, maybe even better.
I then came back in and moved the center floor cushion back about a foot. A bonus on the Vista that is not found on the Dyad – the floor cushions are removable. This allows one to move the front seat – centering the kayak for solo paddling – but still allows you to see through the floor panels.
I had the Vista pumped up fairly firm (though I didn’t have a gauge with me to check the PSI). I was able to easily stand up in the back – it was very stable.
The outer shell material is a durable, high tenacity, military #1200 denier – it feels rugged. The main inner bladders are constructed of 20-gauge PVC material.
The bow & stern have nylon covers acting as splash guards as well as providing an area to protect and store your gear. There are four carry handles for easy transportation, and multiple d-rings for attaching seats and other gear.
The floor panels are quite rugged – nothing to fear standing on them. While the sand and pebbles were incredibly clear on the beach, the lake water was murky, preventing me from enjoying the full benefit of the viewing panels while paddling. I did note there is some rippling if air is trapped.
So what happens if the floor gets scratched? As previously mentioned in our Conquest Dyad write-up, while the panels might appear hazy, once you put it in the water, the scratches become filled-in, making the viewing clear – similar to a plastic drinking glass.
- Dimensions – 14 feet. Interior width approx. 18 inches at widest point.
- Max. Weight – 500 lbs. 2 persons
- Kayak Weight – 42 lbs in mesh carrying bag.
- Viewing Panels – Clear 40 gauge PVC, durable enough to stand on.
- Viewing panel s – two 14 x 19 inches
- Multiple D-rings
- Four rubber handles
- Tracking – 4 integrated PVC fins for improved tracking/paddling performance
- Includes – maintenance kit, kayak, mesh carrying bag, 2 padded seats.
- One year limited warranty
Bottom line on the Conquest Vista:
The Conquest Vista is easy to inflate, paddles well – and it looks great. It’s also rugged, stable and fairly lightweight for its long length. Because of the single smooth skin, it dries readily, making take-down a breeze!
The Vista is roomy enough for two adults and gear – in fact, it looks big enough to bring a small child or two – yet it also is a great option for paddling solo. And with the unique viewing panels, it’s perfect for those wanting to enjoy the outdoors while watching the underwater environment. This would be a great choice for vacations, for snorkelers, for recreational fishing and for family fun.
Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: $899. Includes seats, repair kit, instructions, pump, mesh carrying bag and warranty. Available in March 2014. For more info, keep checking the Conquest product pages at AirKayaks.com – we’ll put up details as the arrival time gets closer.