This past week we had the opportunity to take our first look at the Innova Seawave inflatable kayak – a two+ person kayak with a versatile design that allows one to attach optional spray decks, spray skirts and a foot rudder system.
The Innova line is unique for a number of reasons. First, all the kayaks are handmade in the Czech Republic; the factory has manufactured inflatable boats for well over 50 years. In Europe, a similar line is marketed under the name Gumotex.
We previously published our review on the new Solar 410C, Innova’s other 2+ person inflatable introduced into the US market simultaneously. So here is our write-up on the the Innova Seawave inflatable tandem kayak, which weighs 44 lbs in the pack, is 15 feet in length with a payload of 551 lbs for two+ persons and gear. (Please note: some of the information will be duplicated from other Innova reviews).
Getting Started with the Innova Seawave
The box as received weighs in at 48 lbs, measuring 27 x 18.5 x 12.5 inches.
Inside is a very nifty 100L backpack with adjustable shoulder straps, front pouch pocket and roll top closure. This contains the kayak body, tracking fin, foot rests, repair kit, instructions, cinch belt, valve adaptor, seats and sponge. Packed dimensions are 24 x 17 x 12 inches as received in the bag, with a weight of 44 lbs. The kayak with seats and foot rests is 41 lbs. (Please note: This is the actual kayak weight, NOT the 29 lbs as stated from the manufacturer’s literature.)
Innova Seawave Kayak Setup/Inflatation
We read through the included instruction manuals. Just like all the other Innova products, the Innova Seawave manual is surprisingly detailed in some aspects, while lacking in others. As the kayaks are made in Europe, many of the details are based around European specs and regulations and can sound more complicated than it actually is. Additionally, some of the translations are a bit difficult to understand.
First step, unpack and unfold the kayak body. What is immediately noticeable is how FLAT the kayak is when deflated – of course, this makes it quite compact for travel.
Next, flip the kayak over to install the tracking fin before inflation, locating the fin “shoe” towards the stern. 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 side.
The instructions suggest attaching and inflating the foot braces and seats first, though these actually come pre-attached from the factory. (If they are not attached, start with the foot braces. There are five buckles on the floor – when paddling tandem, use the 1st and 3rd floor buckles).
We then turned to the seats, which once again were already attached. But at this point it started getting confusing.
Both sides of the kayak have a complex series of d-rings and webbed loops; these are identified by two separate rows of numbers. The instructions mention some of these, but the definitions are sometimes hard to understand. There are three ways to set up the kayak – with one seat, two seats or an optional third seat. The seating positions are printed onto the side of the kayak with <1>, <2> or <3> so that one knows where to position the seats for each of those conditions. But …. there are two rows of numbers, in different locations – and on top of each other. After quite a bit of reading (and some pre-hand knowledge of the product) we figured it out.
The bottom row of numbers is located under the d-rings – this shows where to put the seat based on the number of seats in the kayak. The upper row of numbers are associated with the webbed loops.
The webbed loops are use in conjunction with the optional spray decks, which use metal bar deck risers to sculpt the body and give some structural rigidity (this is shown above). These “upper” numbers identify where to put each bar – this is not fully explained in the instructions. So, if you do not plan on using the decks, ignore the upper numbers.
With this in mind, we set up the kayak for tandem paddling. We placed each seat by the lower “2’s”, placing the mid-center of the seat base just under the lower 2. This puts the seats in approximately the correct paddling positions (they can be varied somewhat). Following this through, if you planned on paddling solo, position the one seat with the mid-center of the seat base just under the lower “1”.
We now pumped up the braces and seats.
The foot braces and seats utilize a twistlock valve, which performs as it sounds – twist the end to open or close the valve. The Boston valves will not friction fit over the twistlok so you will have to do one of three things – have another paddler 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 about 1 to 2 puffs to get each foot brace filled out.
The seats took about 5-6 puffs or pumps each, to reach 1 to 1.5 PSI (the pressure is not mentioned in the instruction manual). AirKayaks note: Here is a nifty little home-made adaptor that works with these twistlocks.
We then turned to pumping up the main chambers.
The Innova Seawave 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 canister. The Seawave does not come with a pump, but the adaptor friction fits onto the Boston valve conical adaptor found on most pumps. (AirKayaks: 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. We did have a hard time preventing the Boston nozzle on our pump from popping off the adaptor – possibly some slight sandpaper might rough up the surface for a better friction fit. Worst case, one could glue the adaptor to the Boston valve nozzle.
We pumped up both side chambers until they filled out – about 30 strokes with a double action hand pump, each side.
While the chambers are still “softer”, push down on the foot braces and seat bases, to lock them under the side tubes; this becomes increasingly difficult to do once the kayak is fully inflated.
At this point, you want to attach the seat side straps to the side d-rings. Loop the strap (located on the rear of the seat back) up through the d-ring and then back, looping it through the seat buckle. Use the 2nd and 5th set of d-rings for tandem paddling, the 1st, 3rd and 6th for three, and the 4th (or even 3rd) for solo paddling.
Finish topping off both main side chambers – this was another 20 pumps each side to reach 3 PSI.
Last step, pump up the floor chamber to 3 PSI. At 40 strokes the gauge started to register, and at about 53 strokes we were hitting the 3 PSI mark, when we heard a slight hiss. The Seawave is constructed with a pressure relief valve in the floor, which will let out air once it reaches 3 PSI. Screw on the valve caps to protect the plungers from sand and salt, or from accidentally being pressed.
Done, in less than 10 minutes. Once you understand the setup, it is simple and quick.
Deflating the Innova Seawave kayak
Deflation is just as easy. Simply turn all the valves to the open position and push out the air. Remove the tracking fin – the seats and braces can be left in place. The air can be quickly pushed out by either rolling up the kayak towards the valves, or pumping out the final air, using the deflate mode on your pump – once done, turn the valves to the inflate position so air doesn’t creep back in, and replace the wing-nut caps.
Then fold the sides of the kayak to the center (the long way) and then back out – basically in fourths and roughly 20″ wide. Then start folding/rolling in from each end, folding over each other towards the center. Use the cinch belt to hold it shut.This should then slip back into the bag, though it is a little bit of a tight fit.
Innova Seawave Features and Specifications
The Innova Seawave is constructed from a 1200 denier rubber-coated laminate material called Nitrylon – this consists of a synthetic rubber coating over polyester on the inside and outside of the tube.
Nitrylon is the same material used in high-end Zodiac-type yacht tenders, and is stronger, more abrasion and puncture resistant than PVC as well as being greener – there is minimal out-gassing.
There are three 3 PSI inflation chambers utilizing military valves (both sides and floor) and 4 Twistloks (both seats and foot braces.) An integrated rear pressure relief valve releases pressure on the floor when inflation reaches 3 PSI.
There are two molded handles, bow and stern.
Small front and rear decks keep water from splashing over the sides. These each measure 23 inches in length.
A sculpted bow helps slice through the water.
Rope side decking for attaching gear runs the length of the kayak, with runner holders (5) evenly spaced at 38 inches apart.
Velcro runs the perimeter of the hull upper. In conjunction with five sets of corded loops on the upper hull, one is able to attach optional single and double decks mounted on riser bars.
There are six d-rings each side, with seating position numbers underneath. The d-rings are located 56, 58, 93, 105, 125 and 135 inches from the snout point.
The previously mentioned corded loops (used for deck riser bars) could also be used to attach gear. These are situated 47, 50, 82, 85, 103, 106, 114, 117, 136 and 140 inches from the bow.
There are two inflatable foot braces. The front brace is curved, measuring 14 x 7 inches, while the rear brace is square, measuring 8 x 19 inches. Each brace inflates to 3-inches deep utilizing a twistlok valve, with a 15 inch strap.
The inflatable seats utilize one twistlok each, measuring 13 x 18 inches for the back and 17 x 18 for the base. There are three strap attachments – two 30-inch side straps (allowing 15 inches max leeway) and one 6-inch base strap. The seats can be inflated up to two inches thick.
There are five floor buckles with cloth loops for attaching seats, braces and anything else you can think of. These are located 29, 67, 92, 104, and 124 inches from the kayak nose.
Two small “periscopes” on the rear deck are used for attaching an optional rudder system.
A rear “blow hole” in the upper rear hull can be opened to allow water to escape.
The hull has 5 sculpted i-beam tubes creating the rounded hull shape. The tracking fin measures 4.5 inches tall and 7 inches wide.
The 100L backpack features a roll top closure and a deep front pocket, two padded shoulder straps, grab handle and two d-rings. Measurements are 41 x x 10 x 17 inches unrolled, with front pocket dimensions of 14 x 8 x 4 inches.
We did measurement tests. The Innova Seawave inflated is 180 inches (15 feet) and approximately 32 inches wide. Interior dimensions of the kayak are about 15 inches wide at the wider points, tapering down to 14 inches near the front seat and 13 inches near the back. Tube sides are approximately 8-9 inches in diameter, creating a seating well roughly 8 inches deep.
When set up for two people, per our instructions above, there are 64 inches from the front seat back to the interior snout, and 48 inches from seat back to brace when fully extended; the brace can be moved back up to 11 inches. There are 53 inches between the front and rear seat backs, with up to 44 inches from rear seat back to the brace; the brace can move back up to 13 inches. There are 39 inches behind the rear seat back, with 11 inches wide tapering down; 18″ are open with the rest under the rear deck. Each of the seats could move back and forth several inches.
When set up for one person (utilizing the 4th side d-rings and 3rd floor clip), the sky’s the limit! A whopping 61 inches is behind the seat and 97 inches from the seat back to interior bow.
While a three person (three seat) set up is touted, actually cramming the front and rear seats into position is a bit tough, and there are no associated seat base clips for those two positions. That said … if you do manage (using the 1st, 3rd and 6th side rings to attach the seats), the spacing comes out as follows: 40 inches of interior space behind the rear seat, 39 inches from rear seat back to center seat back, 41 inches from center seat back to front seat back, and 51 inches from front seat back to interior bow. The braces can fit from 23 to 32/33 inches from the two rear seat backs, but probably are best not even using them, gaining 7 inches.
Total payload weight is 551 lbs. person and gear.
Innova Seawave Inflatable Kayak On the Water.
We tested out the Innova Seawave both in calm waters and mild winds, both solo and as a tandem.
I first took the Seawave out solo in some swells. With the seat in the “#1″ position, I was slightly rear of center. Despite the long length and my height of 5’4”, I was immediately impressed with how well it handled solo. The Seawave paddles well, it’s speedy and is fairly maneuverable, riding over swells with ease. I found the seats to be fairly comfortable.
As the handles are located on the bow and stern sides, it is a little awkward to carry solo – one need to balance it over one’s shoulder.
My husband then took the Seawave out in calm water. The open design makes it quite easy to get in – and out – without any issues. He also felt the kayak handled extremely well, but was less impressed with the seats – he would have preferred something with a higher back and more support.
We then moved the seats to take the Seawave out as a tandem. Once again, the open design makes launching a breeze. With two adults (5’4″ and 6’2″) the kayak was quite roomy. In fact, I could have moved up another foot without an issue, but there was no lack of room for my husband’s legs in the back seat. While the Seawave is billed as a one to three person unit, it is a very roomy two person design, with enough space for some gear, a small child or dog to fit in. As a three person design, the paddlers would need to be small.
The material is rugged enough that I would not hesitate to bring along a canine buddy – and there’s certainly room. The photo above shows me paddling with my buddy Eddie in the Innova Sunny, constructed from the same material.
Another thing to note: If you plan on changing the seating positions often, investing in a few carabiners/clips would be worth it. It becomes tedious to keep unlooping and relooping the seat straps through the d-rings. A simple carabiner at the end would allow you to quickly clip and unclip the seats.
Packing up took just a few minutes. The “smooth skin” of the Nitrylon material allows one to just wipe down the kayak to dry it off, and then fold up into the pack. I did notice slight scuffing – Innova says the McNett UVTech is very helpful as a coating to keep the kayak lustrous and prevent scuffs.
Bottom Line on the Innova Seawave Inflatable Kayak:
The Innova Seawave is a wonderful inflatable kayak for those wanting portability, simplicity, versatility, easy entry and lots of storage options. The kayak paddles smoothly and tracks well.
Those paddlers wanting more control can purchase the optional Seawave rudder.
Optional spray decks for solo or tandem paddling provide a fair amount of protection from the elements, lots of interior storage space for day or camping gear, as well as numerous options to bungee items to the upper hull.
Set up is very simple and takes less than 10 minutes. Take down is equally simple – wipe down and fold/roll up. The Nitrilon material is rugged and easy to clean, yet still packs up extremely flat and compact.
Environmentally-conscious paddlers will find the minimal-PVC and China-free construction appealing.
The included backpack is compact and rugged, perfect for a trek into remote areas or riding mass-transit.
It can also be stashed in the trunk of a small car, and is small enough to qualify for carry-on during your next plane flight – it’s a great choice for travel.
The Seawave is perfect for slow-moving rivers, lakes and coastal paddling.
MSRP on the Seawave inflatable kayak is $999. For more information, or to purchase, visit the Innova Seawave product page at AirKayaks.com. Stay tuned – we will have an upcoming article on the Seawave spray decks, as well as a video.