Are inflatable kayaks any good? Are they as good as normal kayaks? Being inflatable, do they bend like pool toys?
These are questions we have been asked from beginners and expert kayakers alike, as they inquisitively ask about this advancement in kayaking. And for good reason.
How for so many years did most of us deal with lugging around heavy, polyethylene kayaks, straining our backs and having to worry about:
Where am I going to store my kayak?
How light a kayak can I get?
What is the easiest way to transport my kayak?
Welcome to the brand new 2019 Air Glide 473 by Bay Sports, a 100% drop stitch kayak designed here in Manly, Australia. The Air Glide 473 is a brilliant lightweight kayak with excellent tracking and build quality. But what makes this inflatable kayak so much more better than the rest? Read on...
Drop-Stitch vs. Regular inflatable kayaks?
You're not alone if you hear inflatable kayak and think the inside is just filled with air. Whilst your average camping air mattress is just that, Drop-Stitch inflatables like our Air Glide range (and also our inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards), contain millions of tough polyester threads that connect the top-to-bottom, and side walls of the kayak. This allows them to be inflated to high-pressures whilst giving them rock-hard rigidity and form.
The result? Hard shell kayak feel and performance, with easy transportation and storage of an inflatable.
Watch HD Video Walkthrough of Air Glide 473
What makes this inflatable kayak superior?
Advancements in inflatable water sport technologies, in particular drop-stitch manufacturing techniques, have developed in recent times, we are experiencing a fast transition into more practical, lightweight, yet sturdy watercraft.
This inflatable Drop Stitch kayak is faster, stiffer and stronger than any conventional air kayak. It can be easily transported in a compact bag. At just 19.9kgs, the material is much lighter than any polyethylene double kayak on the market, whilst the boat shape is narrower and nevertheless provides more space. And with up to 10psi air pressure, so it is as stable and solid as a hard shell kayak.
The side chambers and bottom floor are made of high-denier (drop stitch) fabric for superior strength, high-pressure inflation, durability, and abrasion resistance in this patent-pending kayak construction.
Moulded V-shaped shape underneath bow and stern made of rigid, durable material for better tracking, easier paddling, and greater speed.
Key benefits of Inflatable Kayaks
Up to 50% lighter than their traditional counterparts plastic kayak, making for easy transportation to and from the water.
Folds up into a compact bag, making great for those living in apartments, or those with little room to store a plastic kayak - you can leave it in the boot of your car or store it away in your cupboard.
Remarkably tough and durable, being made from an abrasion resistant material, inflatable kayaks won't ding or scratch like a traditional plastic kayak.
Great performance and tracking capability, with huge advancements in the rigid V-hull, including a clever slide-in skeg, makes for a fast kayak that holds a straight line.
The Air Glide is the ultimate inflatable kayak for use on rivers, light whitewater, on lakes and for kayaking for those demanding more than just a traditional inflatable.
Up to 4x higher operating pressure (10PSI) than regular inflatable kayaks.
2 side carrying handles, allows kayak to be used and transported by one person.
Adjustable 4-point High-back seats provide excellent back support and comfort.
Smart drainage system allows water to be channeled to an inner storage pod for easy water release, via dual drain plugs.
Detachable large skeg keeps kayak on a straight track while paddling
Tough, durable, compact, and lightweight, with great maneuverability and excellent stability.
Surpass the speed of a hard-shell kayak yet enjoy easy portability.
Multiple D-rings allow seat adjustments for one or two persons.
Deluxe, replaceable H3 high-pressure valves are reliable and airtight.
Large screw-type drain valves allow for fast, easy draining of the kayak and are easy to open and close.
Unique ultralight, universal design for all ages
Air Glide 473 vs. KXone Slider 485
Whilst both are the same high build and construction quality, the Air Glide is a better value 100% Drop-Stitch inflatable kayak.
Bay Sports have further developed on the KXone design, adding 5cm extra width,4cm higher side walls, and 12cm shorter length to provide greater stability and better prevent water splashing into the boat.
We have also added 2 x side carry handles, for effortless carrying by one person. This is a huge benefit other inflatable kayaks lack.
In-built wind deflector and water shield - diverts water to channel off the kayak and back into the water, not in your kayak.
3 Year Warranty on Bay Sports Air Glide series, opposed to a 2 Year Warranty on the KXone Slider series. We stand by the excellent build quality.
Ballistic-weave nylon carry backpack with wheels and padded shoulder straps.
Slide-in 9” Skeg
2 x Superior Comfort Kayak Seats (with detachable 10 cm padded booster seat) + Large velcro storage pouch.
2 x Velcro Footrest Straps
2 x Lightweight Aluminium Paddles (4-piece)
Quick Repair Kit (with PVC patches and valve repair tool)
L: 4.73mtrs W: 0.89mtrs H: 0.36mtrs
Kayak Weight: 20kgs
Boxed Weight: 25kgs
Maximum weight capacity: 250kg
Capacity: 2 Adults + 1 Child
Shipping Carton Size: 97 x 55 x 47 cm
Free Express Delivery Australia Wide
Click here to download the 2019 Air Glide Inflatable Kayak User Guide
See what the industry experts have to say about the Air Glide 473
The folks at Bay Sports are truly knowledgeable and very very responsive. They patiently replied to all enquiries I had before and after the purchase.
The Air Glide is a jewel. Amazing quality, they didn't cut any corners, all is properly built.
We've been enjoying it thoroughly.
If there is any downside is that you must be Houdini to put it back in the carry bag. I am sure with some practice I'll manage one day.
All else is AAA
As an experienced sea kayaker who got rid of his kayaks because of space and weight restrictions, this unit was purchased as something to muck around on when camping near lakes (specifically, a trip to Myall Lakes) and transport / store more easily than a "proper" kayak.
I was more than pleasantly surprised at the capabilities she exhibited. (She was given the name "Floaty McFloatface" by my better half, so I'll refer to her as FMF from here on in.) My wife and I spent hours not only "mucking around" but multi-hour paddles on various lakes in the system, both in the sheltered areas and paddling across open water.
It was in open water that FMF displayed the one vice she appears to have - the skeg does a fantastic job of keeping the stern straight, but cross winds move the bow easily. As we were set up with the heavier and stronger paddler in the rear, we tended to be blown off course quite easily - my suggestion in anything other than zephyr conditions is that the stronger paddler goes to the forward position - when we tried that, we were better able to keep a straight track.
I purchased some upgrades on the package, both highly worthwhile - the electric pump and the upgraded carbon shafted paddles. The paddles that come with the standard package are adequate at best, and the hand pump made me feel like the old man that I am. (The electric pump has the added advantage - and this is an attribute I had not thought of until I used it - of being able to **** the air from FMF when the time came to pack up. It is both faster than waiting for the air to come out, and enables the airless carcass to be more easily packed into the storage bag. I can't seem to get all the air out of inflatables by lying or jumping on them, and it is much less dignified than letting the pump do the work!)
The one thing I will consider changing is the foot strap. Because it is a strap and not a rigid bar, I found my feet slipping towards each other, meeting at the mid point, and becoming uncomfortable very quickly as the shins rubbed together. Besides, only 1 strap was supplied, so only 1 paddler braced. I would think it a relatively easy fix to have 2 loops, 1 on each side of the hull, so your feet can be braced individually. Having said all that, I had no issues not using the bracing strap, and my wife didn't even notice she didn't have one.
I have not tried single handed use, but in calm conditions, I don't suppose there would be any problems - other than re-adjusting the seat, as the anchor points are differently placed when the seat is in the middle. (One of the things that makes it a quick set up is the seats are set up once, then clipped in and out without changing the rake or placement. Maybe if you are going to go single handed, you muck around with your partner's seat, and let them fix it when you go back to doubles - and complain they are taking too much time to set up?)
I won't be paddling to King Island in FMF. On the other hand, I will be chucking her in the car every time we travel, because we can - how many times have you camped beside a bay, a lake, or a languid river without the means to explore because it was too complicated to bring a rigid kayak?
As another Richard B said - a great purchase.
Light enough for the kids and wife to carry. Take 2 adults and 2 kids (5 & 8 yrs). Stable and fun to paddle. Quick to inflate and deflate, the electric pump makes it much easier to get the last part of air out which in turn makes it much easier to pack away into the bag provided. Great purchase.
Hi folks there at Bay Sports,
We're enjoying the 473 very much.
I've been a canoe freak from an early age; building a canvas skinned canoe with dad's help when I was twelve.
The reason the Air Glide 473 inflatable appealed to me was it's light weight and portability. Tasmania is on our agenda in the near future and the many lakes and rivers there will suit the boat perfectly.