Airis Inflatable Kayak a Start

Walker Bay line shows promise.

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Sailors tend to be independent souls, and more than a few cruising couples have found that having two ways to get ashore while on the hook can go a long way to maintaining marital bliss. Problem is, where to stow two dinghies on a boat that probably was designed without any thought about stowing even one?

With that in mind,

Practical Sailorbegan scouring the planet for high-quality inflatable kayaks. Recently improved by new technology, these boats look like a possible marriage saver that won't take up the whole quarter berth, or cost a fortune. Readers suggestions are welcome.

Inflatable Kayak

 

While we were assembling our list of contenders, a Walker Bay Airis Play 9.5 arrived. This bright-yellow, surf-style kayak is the second smallest, entry-level inflatable kayak of Walker Bays new Airis line. All of the Airis kayaks feature a drop-stitched floor and hull that can be inflated to 6.5 psi, making them incredibly hard. The Play weighs just 17 pounds and easily packs into an optional backpack. It comes with a hand pump, but no paddle. After a couple weekends of toting the boat around, inflating it on and off various boats, we found it handy, but lacking in some features which can be found in the larger Airis kayaks, which are geared more toward exploring than playing in the surf.

Pros included fast inflation, rugged PVC tube construction, comfortable seat, easy stowing, and light weight. On the downside: It has a single inflation tube, tracking was so-so, and theres no place to tie a bowline on this model. We suspect there are better inflatable kayaks out there, but Walker Bay is usually good at holding prices down, making them a tough competitor at the entry level. We found the Airis Play 9.5 at www.defender.com for $850.

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Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on marine products for serious sailors for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising or any form of compensation from manufacturers whose products we test. Testing is carried out by a team of experts from a wide range of fields including marine electronics, marine safety, marine surveying, sailboat rigging, sailmaking, engineering, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, and sailboat construction and design. This diversity of expertise allows us to carry out in-depth, objective evaluation of virtually every product available to serious sailors. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser with more than three decades of experience as a marine writer, photographer, boat captain, and product tester. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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