After weeks of research I bought a Hobie i12s inflatable kayak and did my shakedown cruise last weekend. I have paddled tandem canoes (Wenonah and Bell) for several years and wanted a boat for New Mexico lakes and rivers and for RV trips from Alaska to Florida. At 61 getting a boat to the top of a 10' motorhome could have bad outcomes.
I had the good fortune of reviewing kayak choices with the product manager for paddling for REI and the very helpful comments and advice from Hobie dealers in Olympia and Seattle. After trying to reward a major Texas dealer for their excellent website I was unable to purchase there because they "did not have the boat in stock and it would take 5-6 weeks to get it delivered". I turned to the local dealer 4 Corners Riversports (300 miles away in Durango. They checked with Hobie and assured me Hobie would drop ship the boat and accessories within two days of my order. I asked for a week delay because of visiting company and had the accessories two days after the order date and the boat a day later. 4 Corners was wonderful in addressing my questions and getting Hobie to replace a pump that was missing a part when the boat arrived.
I was very pleased with how quickly the boat inflated and at how easy it was to get back into its rolling case. On the shakedown I used the rolling case on campground gravel roads with no problem and used the accessory wheels to move the boat down a few steps and across bumpy terrain to the shore near our camp.
On two days of touring the Mirage Drive was flawless. It was easy to adjust, the rudder cables required no adjustment and I was able to glide past old sandstone and shale cliffs very quietly. A beaver moved from shore and I followed at a distance for a little while. Later two Osprey flew within 15' to check me out. The kayak was much less disturbing to any birds I came near than walking or canoeing would have been
The Hobie was rock solid, had plenty of space and a great front hatch. The problems I had were self induced due to my inexperience with the boat. It is not a speed demon but its speed was surprising. I found the standard fins and rudder to work well. I will see how that goes as my muscles adapt to the drive movement.
I am very pleased. The Kayak has met all my expectations and is well suited to its billing for lakes, ocean and slow rivers.