In June we received our first shipment of the newly-updated Innova kayaks for 2019 – in particular the Twist N, Swing N and Solar 2019. Made in the Czech Republic, the Twist and Swing models are now constructed from Nitrilon (N), the same rugged material used in the traditional Innova Sunny, Helios and Safari models. 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.
Our first selection was a review on the Twist II N. The Twist 2 interior has been redesigned slightly to include additional d-rings, providing an easy conversion from a tandem to a solo kayak, thus more versatile for larger paddlers or those needing more space for extra gear. While the kayak silhouette remains virtually unchanged, the added material thickness increased the kayak weight from 24 lbs to 29 lbs as well as a price increase.
This week we had the first opportunity to take out the revamped Innova Twist II N, an 11 foot 10-inch two-person inflatable weighing a mere 29 lbs (including seats and foot brace) with a selling price of $599.
Please note: Some of this information will be repeated from prior write-ups.
Innova Twist IIN: Getting Started
The box as received measures 23 x 16 x 10 inches, weighing in at 32 lbs.
Inside is the Twist II N body, cinch strap, multiple instruction sheets, tracking fin, foot rest, repair kit, two seats, bilge sponge, valve adaptor and a drawstring stuff-sack. The Twist II N body with seats and brace weighs 28 lbs with a folded size of 20 x 16 x 8.
Innova Twist 2 N Inflatable Kayak 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, one on refolding 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 N 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.
Now move to the main chambers. The Innova Twist II N 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 N 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 28 strokes with a double action hand pump to reach 3 PSI.
We switched over to the other side chamber, again taking 28 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 N 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.
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 2 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.
Next, install and pump up the two seats – when first setting up the Twist II N, you will see they arrive in-position, with two side straps and one floor strap. While not mentioned in the instructions, the seats and brace should be inflated no more than 1 PSI.
Just like the foot brace, the two seats utilize twist lock valves. These took 5-6 puffs each. 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 1st and 3rd set of d-rings for tandem paddling and the 2nd for solo paddling. AirKayaks note: It is much simpler to purchase some small carabiners and attach them to the end of the strap loops. Then you can simply clip these into the d-rings without all the “reweaving.”
Tuck the sides of the seat base under the kayak side walls and smooth out.
You’re done! The Twist II N is remarkably easy and fast to set up – just over 5 minutes.
Innova Twist II N Inflatable Kayak Features and Specifications
The Twist line is now constructed from a 1200 denier rubber-coated laminate material called Nitrilon. Nitrilon (also called Nitrylon) is the same rugged material used in the original Sunny and Helios models and currently used on the Solar and Safari models; the 2018 models were produced using Light Nitrylon (LN), a less rugged and lighter material. Nitrilon consists of a synthetic rubber coating over pol yester on the inside and outside of the tube; it 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).
There are three Twistloks (2 backrests and 1 foot brace.)
A pressure-relief valve is located 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.
The new seating arrangement allows flexibility in repositioning the paddling position to optimize paddling performance and comfort. This consists of two seats and three sets of d-rings, allowing tandem and solo paddling. 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 6 side d-rings – front and rear for tandem paddling, center for solo. These are located 50, 71 and 93 inches from the nose, and could also be used to attach gear.
The seat bases are fastened via strap to a connector behind the seat on the floor.
Behind the rear seat is an “open” storage compartment with bungee deck lacing, which helps prevent belongings from falling overboard. The compartment is 30 inches long by 13 inches wide, tapering to 8 inches towards the stern. The storage well is 9 inches deep, tapering to 3 inches deep 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.
There is one inflatable foot brace for the front paddler – this is attached via a web clipping system, with the inflatable portion measuring 12 x 5 x 3 inches deep. By extending or shortening the webbing, the brace can be located roughly 27 to 37 inches from the front seat back, giving lots of versatility. There are 30 inches from the “open bow” to the brace attachment point.
There are 5 attachment buckles on the floor, which allow one to reposition the seats and brace for double or solo paddling. These are located at 32, 48, 63, 88 and 106 inches from the nose.
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 31 inches from the stern.
We did measurement tests. The Innova Twist II N inflated is roughly 142 inches long (11 feet, 10 inches) and approximately 32 inches at the widest point. Inner dimensions are roughly 16 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 61 inches from the front seat back to the bow, 42 inches from the rear seat back to the the front seat back, and 30 inches behind the rear seat back to the stern tip. Each of the seats has about 3 inches leeway, each way.
By removing one seat and placing the other seat in the just-rear-of-center position, one can convert the Twist II N to solo paddling. In this mode, there is roughly 80 inches from the seat back to bow, and 56 inches behind the seat – 33 to the bungee decklacing. The foot brace can be moved to any of the forward floor buckles for optimum position.
Total payload weight is 396 lbs. persons and gear.
Packing Up the Twist II N 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 Double Twist Inflatable Kayak On the Water
We tested out the Innova Twist II N over a couple of days.
First, my husband and I took it out together for a short jaunt in fairly choppy water. The lower side walls make it easy to get in and out, and the inflatable seats are surprisingly comfortable. Despite the small waves, the Twist II N rode over them – it felt good, paddled and tracked well.
At 5’4, I was quite comfortable in the front, though might have liked my seat back a little farther. My 6’2 husband felt comfortable and not cramped.
I then repositioned the seat. The new d-ring placement helps vastly in setting the Twist up for solo paddling, but the floor strap could be longer – I had it stretched out as far as it could go, but still felt I should be up a couple more inches. I then took the Twist 2N out solo, still in wind and chop. The Twist II N 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 seats puts one up a couple inches, out of the water. Heading into the wind, the Twist II N 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 N are much more rugged, so I would not hesitate bringing a dog. And despite the curved hull, the Twist II N feels quite stable, not tippy at all – suitable for restless or inquisitive travelers.
As the wind had died down, we again took the Twist out in calm waters as a solo.
My husband loved it – 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. He also remarked on the upgraded Nitrilon material, which felt solid yet lightweight.
I also took it out again, and felt the kayak paddled and tracked well, was nimble, and speedy. Once again, I did feel the need for some weight in front, but this is a simple fix. In fact, I felt many similarities to the original Innova Sunny, which was a great double kayak, unfortunately no longer available.
The Nitrilon has a very smooth skin, making it much easier to clean and dry off.
The are a couple of items that I wanted to point out – despite the light gray color on the interior, the material can feel hot after a while in the sun, and when paddling, the material can also be “squeaky.” The only criticism is that the included stuff sack is too small. In fact, when I removed the kayak from the bag to weigh it, despite the fact I had not unfolded it, I had a very tough time getting it back inside.
Innova Twist II N Inflatable Kayak Bottom Line:
The Innova Twist II N inflatable kayak is a great choice – 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 good major upgrade from the prior Twist II LN (Lite Nitrilon) version.
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 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 newer Nitrilon material feels very rugged yet added only a couple of pounds to the weight; as a 28 lb tandem, is still light enough to be 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 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 N 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 N is good for paddling calm waters, mild swells, slow moving rivers – and small enough to make exploration of distant waterscapes a reality.
The Innova Twist N also comes in a smaller, 8.5 foot single version weighing in at 19 lbs. For even more space, check out the 2+ paddler Solar 2019 (photo above showing last year’s Solar).
MSRP is $599. For more information or to purchase, see the Innova Twist II N product page on AirKayaks.com, or view the other Innova inflatable kayaks. Stay tuned for more product write-ups on the new Innova Nitrilon kayaks, in particular the Solar and Swings.