We have used our Kayak in England, Wales and Scotland on rivers, lakes, lochs and on the Irish sea.
Firstly, the biggest benefit of an inflatable kayak is its packability, it easily fits into a car boot or sqeezed into a tight corner of the campervan. Get some nice snap down paddles that store easily too and it’s something you can take away for the weekend and it doesn’t matter too much if you don’t get round to using it. There’s no roof rack needed, no security concerns when leaving the vehicle unattended and the price is appealing too. Any down sides? Lets see.
One concern you may have is how difficult it is to set up. Well, its quite easy and it takes about 10 minutes with the Sevylor 3 litre hand pump (although a 12v electric pump is available). There are 3 chambers that need to be inflated via the easy to use boston valves, you have to use a pressure gauge to prevent over-inflating and the seams bursting. We recommend a practice run at home before taking it out. We paddled ours across our living room!
The box includes 3 inflatable seats that are easily installed, easily removed and provide good lumber support when paddling. Fully inflating the seats can result in ‘numb bum’ after a while in them so a little under inflation is recommended!
Two velcro paddle straps on the side reduce the risk of you being up the creek without a paddle and front and rear splash decks reduce spray on you and your gear. There is a drainage hole in the bottom with a plug, the kayak can be used with it in or out depending on the water conditions. A front gear rack lets you tie down small loads, and a rear dry bag keeps your car keys and phone safe.
A very obvious and legitimate concern, and one of our most frequently asked questions is “is it tough enough? And what if you get a puncture?
The Hudson has a double skin hull, very thick polyurethane and tough rip stop nylon before you get to the removable inflatable tubes. It would take quite a lot to pierce it in our opinion. High impact with a sharp stick, large piece of broken glass or a fishing hook would do it, but if care is taken you should be fine. We have had a puncture, whilst camping on one of the islands of loch Lomond. It was not due to sharp object but to leaving the kayak out of the water and in the sun. The air expanded as it warmed up, the pressure built up a split a seam. We had a 1cm hole that we had to repair with the repair kit provided. It is simply a high quality version of a normal bicycle puncture repair kit with glue and patches relying upon simple vulcanisation to seal the hole. Within 30minuites we were back on the water and the repair has held to this day.
On the water the Hudson handles quite well, even when paddled by just one person. The removable skeg helps it to hold its line well even in currents. Wind picking up is the biggest problem, because inflatable kayaks sit on the water rather than cutting through the water like a traditional kayak, they can be blown around easily. A strong headwind can almost stop you in your tracks, paddling hard but going nowhere! Even in large waves it performs well, although you can expect to get wet as large waves hit the bow.
Sevylor say maximum two adults and one child, but the maximum payload is 230kg. We manage to get the two of us and two 80 litre rucksacks in ours, all the gear and beer we need for a 7 day camping trip. Its not comfortable paddling like this, The rear paddler has to sort of straddle a rucksack, raising the centre of gravity and reducing stability somewhat as well as slowing turning, but we get to where we want to. See our Loch Lomond trip report for details on this trip.
Removing the boat from the water is easy, there are handles on both sides and on each end. It feels really quite light when inflated and can be moved by one person despite its obviously awkward size and shape. Deflating is easy, as is rolling it up and putting it in its storage bag. The problem arises when you get home, drying this thing is a real pain in the arse. You need a nice sunny day with it layed out in the garden partially inflated, or failing that a place in the garage to lay it out. In the past we had it on our dining room table drying! Packs of silica gel are inexpensive and shoved into all the inaccessible places make sure its properly dry. You DO NOT want your kayak going mouldy.
No paddles are provided, giving you a chance to choose your own. We have snap down Tribord paddles, they can be used single bladed in a traditional manor or double bladed which means both paddlers can paddle on both sides making for a faster journey.
Life Jackets, YES you need them. We are not fans of the health and safety nanny state but we would not go out on the water without life jackets. Ever. Get ones that fit well and are suitable for the wearers weight category. This is especially important on cold days when lots of layers are being worn. We always untie our boot laces whilst in the boat so they could be kicked off if we fell in.
Common Sense is essential, it doesn’t take long to drown and it would almost certainly ruin your trip if it were to happen. Take care but have fun.
Value for money 9/10
Overall rating 9/10 Get one, there so much fun!
To buy a Sevylor Hudson on Amazon click here