In May we received our first shipment of the newly-updated Innova Twist and Swing inflatable kayaks for 2016. Made in the Czech Republic, the Twist and Swing models are now constructed from Light Nitrilon (LN), a lighterweight version of the rugged material used in the traditional Innova Sunny, Helios and Safari models. Light Nitrilon is known for making the kayaks more rigid as well as water and abrasion resistant, without substantially increasing weight. It’s also PVC-free, thus environmentally friendly.
New features also include improved seating and beefed up foot brace. The new seating arrangement is removable and inflatable, making it easier to reposition the paddling locations, optimizing paddling performance and comfort.
This week we had the first opportunity to take out the revamped Innova Twist II LN, an 11 foot 10-inch two-person inflatable weighing a mere 26 lbs (including seats and foot brace) with a selling price of $549.
Please note: Some of this information will be repeated from prior write-ups.
Innova Twist II: Getting Started
The box as received measures 21.5 x 16 x 10 inches, weighing in at 28.5 lbs.
Inside is the Twist II LN body, cinch strap, multiple instruction sheets, tracking fin, foot rest, repair kit, two seats, bilge sponge and valve adaptor. The Twist II LN body with seats and brace weighs 26 lbs with a folded size of 20 x 15 x 8. AirKayaks note: While the instructions say the Twist II LN comes with a drawstring carrying sack, these were not included in the first shipments. The bags are currently being shipped over and will be added to the boxes.
Innova Twist 2 Setup/Inflatation
We read through the included instruction manuals. As with all the Innova manuals to date, the instructions are quite detailed – there is one instruction sheet for fin installation, one for utilizing the valves, and another on the kayak in general. Most include IKEA-style graphics which are occasionally just short of a brain twister, and while some steps are dauntingly detailed, some are not mentioned. As the kayaks are made in Europe, many of the details are based around European specs and regulations.
First step, unpack and unfold the kayak body. What is immediately noticeable is how FLAT the kayak is when deflated.
Install the tracking fin before inflating the kayak. The Twist II LN utilizes a single fin with double slots. Slip the end with the larger slot in first, making sure that the fin is pointing towards the “back” of the kayak. This enables it to slide in enough to fit in the second slot. While the first time can be a struggle to get the back side into position, after a couple of rounds it becomes quite easy. Pull up on the fin to ensure you have a good fit.
Attach the foot brace (this comes pre-attached from the factory) by weaving the webbing through the floor connectors and back. There is only one brace, for the front paddler. Pump up the foot brace – this uses a twistlock valve.
As it sounds, twist the end of the lock to open the valve. The Boston valve adaptor will not friction fit over the twistlok so you will have to do one of three things – have a buddy hold the valve over the twistlock; carefully negotiate holding the adaptor and twistlock together with one hand while pumping with the other; or give up and blow it up with your mouth. It took us about 4-5 puffs to inflate it. Make sure the twistlock is facing down, so that your foot doesn’t accidentally kick it open. AirKayaks note: Here is a nifty little home-made adaptor that works with these twistlocks.
The Innova Twist II LN features three main inflation chambers utilizing military valves – one for the floor and one for each side. The military-style plunger valve is simple to use – with your finger, twist the plunger slightly to the “up” position to inflate (air goes in but doesn’t come back out) and “down” to deflate (air comes out).
Locate the military valve adaptor in the repair kit. The Innova Twist II LN does not come with a pump, but the adaptor allows one to use the Boston valve conical adaptor found on most pumps. (AirKayaks note: Before doing ANYTHING, attach the adaptor to your pump with the string.) Lock the Innova adaptor onto the military valve with a slight twist, and push the conical adaptor in to friction fit the two. Since the Innova main chambers are inflated to 3 PSI, it is helpful to use a pump with pressure gauge to ensure the kayak is inflated appropriately.
Pump up the side chambers first. If using a pressure gauge, please note that the pressure will only read while you are pumping, since most gauges work on back pressure. It took us roughly 25 strokes with a double action hand pump to reach 3 PSI.
We switched over to the other side chamber, again taking 25 strokes to 3 PSI. Screw on the valve caps to protect the plungers from sand and salt, or from accidentally being pressed. Please note – the military valve push pins can sometimes deceptively look as if they are UP while in the deflate mode. When this happens, as soon as you remove the pump adaptor all the air will swoosh out. So, make sure they are truly popped up. On the positive side, this is so easy to pump up, it’s not a big issue.
Now pump up the floor chamber. While the Twist II LN up to this point looks incredibly narrow, as you start filling the floor chamber the side walls will spread out. It took us roughly 38 strokes to reach 3 PSI.
Next, install and pump up the two seats – when first setting up the Twist II LN, you will see they arrive in-position, with two side straps and one floor strap.
Just like the foot brace, the two seats utilize twist lock valves. These took 5-6 puffs each. Tuck the sides of the seat base under the kayak side walls and smooth out.
You’re done! The Twist II LN is remarkably easy and fast to set up – just over 5 minutes.
Packing Up the Twist II LN Inflatable Kayak
Deflation is just as easy. Simply turn the valves (military and twist lock) to the open position and push out the air. Remove the tracking fin, but you can leave the brace and seats in place.
Fold the kayak in half, and then in half again the long way.
Then start to fold up from the front, pushing the air out through the valves in the back. Fasten the kayak body with the cinch belt. As a side note, while you can press out most of the air and get the kayak back into the pack, to really minimize the size/footprint, it is best to pump out the final air, using the deflate mode on your pump. Turn the valves to the inflate position so air doesn’t creep back in, and replace the wing-nut caps.
Innova Twist II LN Kayak Features and Specifications
The Innova Twist II LN is constructed from Light Nitrilon (also spelled Nitrylon).
Light Nitrilon (LN) is a lighter-weight version of the rugged Nitrilon material used in the traditional Innova Sunny, Helios and Safari models. The base polyester ripstop material is coated with an outer layer of synthetic rubber, improving longevity as well as making the kayaks more rigid, water and abrasion resistant, without substantially increasing the kayak weight. LN is PVC-free, making it more environmentally friendly than standard inflatables using PVC bladders – there is no out-gassing. And unlike many other inflatables, both the upper hull and underside utilize the same material.
There are three 3-PSI inflation chambers utilizing military valves (both sides and floor) and 3 Twistloks (2 backrests and 1 foot brace.)
New for the 2016 Twists is a pressure-relief valve in the floor stern, which ensures that the floor is not over-inflated. If the floor is accidentally overpumped, or becomes heated in the sun, the valve releases when the pressure reaches 3 PSI.
The hull has a removable tracking fin measuring 4.5 inches tall and 7 inches wide, with seven sculpted i-beam tubes creating the hull shape.
Also new for 2016 are the removable, inflatable backrests. The new seating arrangement allows some flexibility in repositioning the paddling position to optimize paddling performance and comfort. The seats measure 15 inches wide and 12 inches tall for the back rest, and 15 x 15 inches for the seat base, both inflating up to 2 inches. The seats are attached via two side straps connecting to two d-rings on the kayak side chambers, for a total of 4 side d-rings. These are located 53 and 97 inches from the nose, and could also be used to attach gear.
The seat base is fastened via strap to a connector behind the seat on the floor. The front floor connection also has a d-ring which could be utilized to attach gear, located 67 inches from the bow.
Behind the rear seat is an “open” storage compartment with bungee deck lacing, which helps prevent belongings from falling overboard. The compartment is 17 inches long by 15 inches wide, tapering to 8 inches towards the stern. The storage well is 7 inches deep by 11 inches wide behind the seat, tapering to 3 inches deep and 11 inches wide at the rear.
There are two low profile rope handles located each at the bow and stern. While there are no side handles, the kayak is light enough to easily hook over your shoulder.
The inflatable foot brace is attached via a web clipping system. The front brace measures 20 inches long by 15 inches wide and has three “humped” foot positions about 7 inches apart – by moving the brace and extending/shortening the webbing, these “rests” can be located from roughly 28 to 45 inches from the front seat back, giving lots of versatility. There are 17 inches from the “open bow” to the beginning of the foot brace.
A spray railing/coaming lip sits up approximately 1 inch around the cockpit perimeter in the bow and stern areas, only. This extends back 12 inches from the bow and 36 inches from the stern.
We did measurement tests. The Innova Twist II LN inflated is 142 inches long (11 feet, 10 inches) and approximately 30 inches at the widest point. Inner dimensions are roughly 15 inches wide with the seating well approximately 8 inches deep. The side tubes are roughly 8 inches in diameter.
With the two seats in the “as-received” position, there is roughly 62 inches from the front seat back to the bow, 42 inches from the rear seat back to the the front seat back, and 33 inches behind the rear seat back to the stern tip. Each of the seats has about 3 inches leeway, each way.
Total payload weight is 396 lbs. persons and gear.
Innova Double Twist On the Water
We tested out the Innova Twist II LN over a couple of days.
First, my husband and I took it out together for a short jaunt in fairly calm water. The lower side walls make it easy to get in and out, and the new inflatable seats are surprisingly comfortable. Once on the water, the Twist II LN paddles very well, tracks well and is pretty speedy. It also is incredibly nimble for its near 12-foot length, turning on a dime. Initial thoughts: this is a nice kayak!
At 5’4″, I was quite comfortable in the front. While my 6’2″ husband did not feel cramped, we both felt I could have moved up a bit more, to balance out the space, and the new adjustable, removable seats allow you to do just that.
Eyeing the kayak, I decided to fiddle around with a solo seating position. I removed the rear seat, and stuffed it under the bungees. I tried to relocate the front seat to just “rear-of-center” but the strap attachment locations were not ideal. For lack of anything better, I extended the side straps fully and then tied the end of each strap to the side d-rings, positioning the seat nearly rear of center. In this setup, there was now 63 inches behind the seat and 74 inches from seat back to bow – lots of room. While the floor brace was now 42/49 and 55 inches from the seat back, by flipping the brace backwards (and turning the twistlock down), the brace was now 24/30 and 36 inches from the seat back and an additional 33 inches in front of the brace to the bow. So, there are lots of options.
I then took the Twist II LN out solo in some wind and mild chop. The Twist II LN handled extremely well in solo paddling mode, though I could tell I needed some weight in the front – perfect spot for a pack (or my paddling canine buddy, Woody.). As the bow is somewhat open, in wave situations the water can crash over, hence the included bilge sponge. But the inflatable base on the new seats puts one up a couple inches, out of the water, unlike the prior Twists. Heading into the wind, the Twist II LN rode over the waves pretty easily with some bounce – once again, weight in the front would help.
Speaking of Woody, I did not take him out this time, but did bring him along in the prior Twist II LitePack LP with fixed seats, shown above. At that time, the added weight of 40 lbs in the front evened out the kayak, and it paddled very smoothly. The materials in the current Twist II LN are much more rugged, so I would not hesitate bringing a dog. And despite the curved hull, the Twist II LN feels quite stable, not tippy at all. Suitable for restless or inquisitive travelers.
My husband then tried the Twist II LN as a solo, and loved it – in the prior version, he was forced to sit in the back and stick his legs through the front seat opening. The kayak was perfect for his height and weight, he felt the lower sides made it easier to paddle. It tracked well, was roomy and very maneuverable. The only drawback is the seat; with the straps extended fully and parallel to the kayak, one doesn’t get quite the back support as when the straps are angled down. But, I’m sure someone will figure out a work-around.
The new Light Nitrilon has a very smooth skin, making it much easier to clean and dry off.
Innova Twist II Bottom Line:
The Innova Twist II LN inflatable kayak is a winner – a perfect travel and backpacking companion for those that need a tandem option, or a solo kayak that can hold lots of gear. It’s pretty zippy, quite nimble, tracks well and is a major upgrade from the prior Twist II LP (LitePack) version – without a price increase.
As a tandem, it is roomy enough for two average-sized adults to paddle comfortably, yet still offers storage space in the rear well. The new removable seats allow a certain amount of flexibility in the seating positions, while the ability to inflate the seat back and base provides varying levels of comfort and support.
Parents wanting a lightweight and simple paddling option will find this is a great choice for enjoying the water with a child.
As a solo option, there is plenty of room for a wide range of paddler heights as well as room for extended camping gear. The addition of a few extra d-rings would make seating more comfortable.
The newer Light Nitrilon material feels rugged, yet as a 26 lb tandem, is still light enough to be trekked into remote areas. The smaller folded footprint makes it a great choice for RVs, plane travel and those limited by space. It can easily be stored in the trunk of a car for spur-of-the-minute activity. Set up is extremely easy, and takes about 5 minutes. The smoother, water-resistant coating provides for easy cleaning and drying, making take-down less of a chore.
Those paddlers that just want to get out on the water, and have fun without a lot of fuss, will find the simplicity of the Twist II LN quite appealing. The open cockpit design makes entry and exit a boon to seniors or those with physical limitations. Environmentally-conscious paddlers will find the PVC and China-free construction equally as attractive.
The Innova Twist II LN is good for paddling calm waters, mild swells, slow moving rivers – and small enough to make exploration of distant waterscapes a reality. And if you want a smaller option, take a look at the Innova Twist I LN – an 8.5 foot single version weighing in at 16 lbs.
Also see our Product Video on the Twist 2 LN, below.
MSRP is $519. For more information or to purchase, see the Innova Twist II LN product page on AirKayaks.com, or view the other Innova inflatable kayaks. Stay tuned for more product write-ups on the new Innova Light Nitrilon kayaks, in particular the Swing I LN.