As mentioned in prior posts, 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 location, optimizing paddling performance and comfort.
This week we had the first opportunity to take out the revamped Innova Twist LN, an 8 foot 6-inch inflatable weighing a mere 18 lbs (including seat and foot brace) with a selling price of $449.
Please note: Some of this information will be repeated from prior write-ups.
Innova Twist: Getting Started
The box as received measures 22 x 16 x 10 inches, weighing in at 20 lbs.
Inside is the Twist LN body, cinch strap, multiple instruction sheets, tracking fin, foot rest, repair kit, seat, bilge sponge and valve adaptor. The Twist LN body with seat and brace weighs 18 lbs with a folded size of 20 x 15 x 78. AirKayaks note: While the instructions say the Twist 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 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 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. 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.
While the Innova instructions suggest pumping up the side chambers first, then the floor, here is where we will veer away (though please note, the photos were taken following the instructions). The Twist LN has a fairly narrow beam, and by following the recommended steps, we had trouble installing the seat. This also has a bonus effect of widening the kayak slightly.
Next, install and pump up the seat – when first setting up the Twist LN, you will see it arrives in-position, with two side straps and one floor strap. Just like the foot brace, the seat utilizes a twist lock valve. This took 5-6 puffs.
Now pump up the floor.
The Innova Twist 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 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.
Now pump up the floor chamber. It took us roughly 30 strokes to reach 3 PSI. If using a pressure gauge, please note that the pressure will only read while you are pumping, since most gauges work on back pressure.
At this point, make sure the seat is evenly situated on the floor, tucking the seat base edges under the side chambers. Do the same for the foot brace.
Next pump up the side chambers. It took us roughly 23 strokes each side with a double action hand pump to reach 3 PSI. It may be helpful to alternate the sides once or twice, making sure both the brace and seat are in position; this helps spread the side walls a bit wider.
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.
That’s it, you’re done. The Twist LN is remarkably easy and fast to set up – just over 5 minutes.
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 LN Kayak Features and Specifications
The Innova Twist 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 2 Twistloks (1 backrest 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 is the removable, inflatable backrest. The new seating arrangement allows some flexibility in repositioning the paddling position to optimize paddling performance and comfort. The seat measures 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 seat is attached via two side straps connecting to two d-rings on the kayak side chambers; these are located 54 inches from the nose.
The seat base is fastened via strap to a connector behind the seat on the floor, located 34 inches from the stern – this could also be used to attach gear.
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 13 inches wide, tapering to 7 inches towards the stern. The storage well is 9 inches deep by 12 inches wide behind the seat, tapering to 3 inches deep and 5.5 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 brace measures 17 inches long by 15 inches wide and has three “humped” foot positions about 6 inches apart; these are located “as received” at 32, 39 and 46 inches from the seat back. If the brace is not fully inflated, it can be moved roughly 3 inches – by moving the brace and extending/shortening the webbing, giving lots of versatility. There are 12 inches from the “open bow” to the beginning of the foot brace.
A spray railing/coaming lip sits up approximately 1.25 inches 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 LN inflated is 8 feet, 7 inches long and approximately 29 inches at the widest point. Inner dimensions are roughly 12 inches wide with the seating well approximately 8 to 9 inches deep. The side tubes are roughly 8 inches in diameter.
With the seat in the “as-received” position, there is roughly 62 inches from the front seat back to the bow and 34 inches behind the rear seat back to the stern tip. If you do not fasten the seat back clip, the seat can be adjusted roughly 6 inches forward and 4-5 inches back.
Total payload weight is 220 lbs. person and gear.
Innova Twist LN On the Water
I tested out the Innova Twist Single over a couple of days.
First, I took it out for a short jaunt in mild chop. The kayak is pretty rigid and is easy to paddle. As with all lighter-weight and shorter kayaks, there will always be a certain amount of “wag” in the snout, particularly if you attempt to power paddle. This will be less noticeable with heavier people, by adding weight to the front, or using shallower/gentler strokes.
It is to be noted that the interior dimensions are somewhat slim, so larger people would be much better suited to the Twist 2 paddled solo.
I came back to shore and added a pack with 10-12 lbs of gear. By removing the brace, there was enough depth to stuff the pack into the nose, and for those not overly tall, the pack acted as a foot brace. The added weight in the front made a huge difference in paddling. The Twist rides over swells quite easily, and with my weight/gear in the front, handled the side wind pretty well. On the downwind, it would drift a little but it wasn’t bad.
One thing to note – as the bow is somewhat open, the “coaming lip” will prevent some water from splashing inside, but not all. 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. They are also more comfortable, and the adjustable straps allow you to find the sweet spot for your weight.
The rear storage well can fit a good amount of gear – both under and on top of the bungees. I attempted to put weight in the back, under the cargo lacing, but that put the Twist off balance, raising the nose out of the water. So put lighter goods in back, and a heavier pack in front.
In calm water with added weight, the Twist handles pretty well – and it turns on a pinhead!
The Lite Nitrylon material sheds water pretty easily, making it a snap to dry off or wipe clean.
Innova Twist LN Inflatable Kayak Bottom Line:
The Innova Twist is a good travel and backpacking companion. The newer Light Nitrilon material is rugged, yet at 18 lbs, still light-as-a-feather, and easily trekked into remote areas. The small 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 roughly 5 minutes.
The open cockpit design makes entry and exit a boon to seniors or those with physical limitations. The new removable seat allows 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. The smoother, water-resistant coating provides for easy cleaning and drying, making take-down less of a chore.
The Twist LN is incredibly nimble and – with weight in the front – paddles pretty well, though the narrower footprint make this a better choice for smaller people. Larger paddlers, or those wanting more carrying capacity, should take a look at the Twist 2 – see our Detailed Review on the Twist 2 LN.
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 quite appealing. Environmentally-conscious paddlers will find the PVC and China-free construction equally as attractive.
The Innova Twist LN is good for paddling calm waters, mild swells, slow moving rivers and light surf – and small enough to make exploration of distant waterscapes a reality.