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Reviews for Safari Kayak by Innova Inflatable Kayaks


Rated: 8.86/10 Based On: 28 Reviews


Length: 10' 0" - Width: 28.00" - Starting at: $899.00
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09-04-2014
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     The Safari is probably the most versatile inflatable kayak I have ever owned. I have taken it on flat water lakes, Class III whitewater, and on the ocean. I have traveled with it to New Zealand, Australia and throughout Alaska. It may be small, but I can carry my gear for camping trips, and travel in a compact, lightweight unit. I love this light (24 lb.) boat for its tracking ability, ease of set-up and comfortable seat. The knee straps are a bonus. This is a winner.
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06-07-2013
Submitted by: JPSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I really like this boat. We picked Safaris because we don't have the space to store hard kayaks in our apartment, and we didn't want to drop an additional $500+ on racks for the car. The Safari has been perfect on this score: it folds down beautifully and stores in a closet or in the trunk of the car. It really does inflate fast - with the pump recommended on the Innova website we inflate our boats in about five minutes (really!). The only thing we don't like about inflating is the seat and foot rest have to be done by mouth - perhaps there's an adapter to make a pump work for these but we don't have one. Still, these are small receptacles and inflate fast too. The deflating is impressive also - open the valves and the boat deflates itself in a minute or so with very minimal fussing from us. The valves seem a little fussy though - sometimes we have to press the lock button several times to get it to actually pop up.
We found purchasing easy and customer service good.

We are not experienced kayakers, but we find the boat easy to paddle and quite responsive. The only down side is the self bailing holes let in some water so I always have a damp behind. This rules out long distance cold weather paddling unless I invest in some protective gear. But I like not having to worry about baling - overall it's not a big problem.

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10-23-2012
Submitted by: WebkayakerSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Safari is the model, which makes Innova Kayaks Gumotex in the U.S. and in the Czech Republic. As you can see, it is a inflatable kayak, with the enormous advantages that come from the point of view of storage and transportation. But make no mistake, there is a beach kayak PVC is made - from the same material as the Zodiac pneumatic type, making it virtually indestructible scuff and puncture.

Obviously has a higher profile than a rigid kayak equal length, so its cruising speed is slightly less, but more can be increased weight loading and installing the centerboard that comes standard to increase its directionality. In fact advise its use for any journey, unless we go to practice whitewater (up to grade 3 is approved) or surfkayak.

It is the only know that is swellable self-emptying, by two rows of drain holes located at the junction of the edges with the fairing. It has a large capacity and elastic enough to anchor networks drums, backpacks, reasons, etc.. that portemos.

Portage handles, thigh, adjustable footrest and back seat. Ultimately, for those of you with space issues and seek not beat speed records, super recommended a kayak.

Specifications:
Length: 3 m Width: 72 cm
Weight: 12 Kg
Load max.: 110 Kg
Air Chambers: 3 +1 +2
Material: 1200 Nitrilon
(see more of this review at webkayaker.blogspot.com)

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10-23-2012
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Realize here that the Safari is my first inflatable, so all I have to compare it to is hard shell kayaks. So, with that in mind, let the games begin!

Dimensions (mine is a 2004 model)
Maximum beam 25"
Waterline beam, considering that I'm a 200 lb. guy about 22"
Length 10'

Last night I inflated the Safari in my bedroom just to check it out. The Bravo 8 foot pump worked really well. The Safari chambers are really taut when fully inflated. I was a little concerned about the inflatable foot rest, it only attaches on the bottom in the middle. It feels like if I push with one foot, I'll have to make sure that my other foot is pushing on the other side.

The boat is very snug, which I like, I like the feeling of being "one with the boat". It feels very comfortable to me especially since it's an inflatable and everything gives somewhat. I didn't like the inflatable back rest so I ordered some D-ring patches so I could use a regular backrest from my SOT's.

Took the Safari out today for the first time. The light weight is really handy 'cuz I had to walk down a hill to the river. It also makes it easier to travel with. It does take a little while to inflate, so a hard shell is quicker to launch. But, a hard shell would have been harder to get to the river. Everything's a trade-off. Did not install the skeg, I wanted to get a feel for the boat without it. I also didn't inflate the seat, I wanted to sit lower to make it more stable.

The river I was paddling in is a small river with non-existent current. Got in and pushed off, expecting some tippiness from other reports. It's a little tippy, but I like it. Also, consider that my favorite hard shell is one of the more stable surf skis. Your mileage may vary. It is very maneuverable. Like a whitewater boat, if you stop paddling, it almost instantly turns 180 degrees.

The wind had more of an affect on it than I thought it would. Controllable, but maybe with the skeg it would do better. The inflatable footrest works well, still don't like the inflatable backrest. I like it with the seat deflated.

Pulled over to the shore to install the skeg. Now, the directions said to install it with the boat deflated, but what do they know, they’re just the manufacturer. After trying for a while, I gotta tell you, deflate the center chamber. No other way. So, deflated the center chamber, installed the skeg, and reinflated the center chamber. The one thing I really don't like about the boat is how difficult it is to install and remove the skeg.

With the skeg installed it tracks better. Now, this thing definitely doesn't track like a freight train, but it is definitely better. Now I can really see that the glide is pretty impressive for a 10' inflatable. If you look at the dimensions, with a 22" waterline beam it should be easier to paddle. Also, it should help that the chambers are very taut almost like a hard shell. Also, the wind didn't have as much affect on the boat now. Now, realize that I'm mainly planning on using this boat on rivers where the winds are generally less than on open water lakes.

I didn't bring my GPS, so no hard speed figures, but it seemed pretty impressive for a 10' boat. I don't think that I'd paddle with any sea kayaks though. Especially if my wife's paddling one of them, I hate it when she beats me.

Had to portage around a downed tree, the light weight helped immensely. Little suggestion, if you’ve installed the skeg and are dragging the boat like I was, pick up the stern so the skeg doesn't catch on anything.

Getting in and out was fairly simple, just swivel and throw your legs over one of the side chambers and stand up. It was pretty easy to just sit that way with my legs over the side.

Got back, it dried out pretty quickly in the sun, packed everything up and went home. Also, the shoulder straps on the bag are not very comfortable, but I happened to have an NRS Paragon Pack and that worked really well! (www.nrsweb.com)

Overall, I really like the boat. I always like it when I buy something and it turns out to be as good as I hoped it would be. It all depends on what you're looking for.

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03-08-2012
Submitted by: Anthony NorrisSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I am not a "kayaker" per se, so forgive the naivety of this review...THE SAFARI ROCKS!!! I purchased it to use as a tender to a moored sailboat and it has functioned well in that capacity. I weigh close to 200 lbs and have loaded up the Safari with 50+ pounds of gear with no problem. Your butt may get a little wet if you are as heavy as I am, but that is, IMHO, a trivial thing compared to the advantage of having a self-bailing boat. It is a feature I didn't know if I would like, but now am in love with. The Safari's initial stability is not the greatest, but its secondary stability is very good and the boat is actually pretty hard to capsize. You almost have to do it intentionally. Wet re-entry is a snap if it does happen. The boat's performance on the water is remarkable. I have paddled quite a few hardshells, folders and inflatables over the years and this little boat has the best performance of any portable kayak I have ever been in. With the skeg installed, it paddles like a hardshell, tracking remarkably well, even in stiff crosswinds and chop. It is not the fastest boat in the world, but it is pretty quick for a 10 footer, especially a 10 foot inflatable. Without the skeg, it handles like a completely different vessel...it can spin on a dime. The thigh straps give you a real feeling of control on the water. The seat is comfortable and the foot rests work surprisingly well. Everything about this boat is surprising, actually. The construction is outstanding. It has plenty of room for gear..even overnight trips. I bought it to use as a dinghy, but now use it as a sea kayak, a touring kayak and even occasionally in the surf. And I still use it as a dinghy. I have owned it for 5 years and still have yet to patch it. I simply dry it off, keep the air valves lubricated and occasionally treat the skin with aerospace protectant. Have I mentioned that I sometimes bicycle to my destination with the Safari on my rear rack? It is true. The boat is remarkably light and portable. It packs down to about the same size and weight as a Sevylor Tahiti, but is lightyears away from the Tahiti in performance...nothing against the Tahiti...for an inexpensive little "play boat" they are not bad. But the Safari is a REAL boat with amazing versatility and stunning performance. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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08-31-2011
Submitted by: paragliaSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Here's an update to my last Safari review. This little kayak still serves me very well and it's really fun to paddle. I also own a Feathercraft Java SOT for longer paddles where assembly time isn't so important. The Safari goes together really quickly, its relatively low initial stability makes it a joy to paddle and since it's self-bailing, taking on waves is more fun than worrisome. Water comes in and goes out through a series of drain hole on both sides under the waterline.

There is still room for of improvements though. I found the Safari's pillow style backrest somewhat uncomfortable for anything longer than a half hour of paddling. Innova was very responsive and supplied an "old style" Sunny seat with an upright inflatable backrest. Problem solved! This seat matches the Safari perfectly and I can paddle quite a distance without any sciatic discomfort. I wish this seat was an option for an otherwise great kayak. BTW, since I live in an apartment without much storage space, both my kayaks reside under my bed when they aren't out paddling.

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03-18-2011
Submitted by: jeremySend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     In an earlier review, I indicated that I would use the Innova Safari up to Class III and the Aire Force XL higher than Class III. This is still my thought on the matter, but I'd also like to add that I'll use an Innova Traveller (just reviewed by me) for higher than Class III as well, especially on cold days.

I'll likely sell my Aire Force XL as it is now redundant. The Innova Safari is more comfortable on nice, warm, lazy days and I'll retain it for Class III runs when the weather is nice. I would certainly prefer the Safari over the Traveller or Aire Force XL for long distances, but for quick 1/2 day jaunts down raging whitewater or on cold days when I'd prefer a closed boat, I'll use my Modified Innova Traveller. That's what is so great about Innovas... they're reasonably priced enough so that you can own more than one! Happy paddling. Innovas rule!

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10-29-2010
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     This is my first inflatable. Quality of construction is very good, materials are tough. It's very easy and quick to put together - about 10 minutes. I found paddling this little kayak, at just 10', a real pleasure.

Stability is comparable to a hardshell. Novices should take into consideration this if they looking for a "stable" kayak. Just like any hardshell all the safety equipment and the skills are required. A pump, the Safari is self-bailing, and a paddlefloat are not necessary. I noticed some weathercocking with each paddle stroke but now I have learned to compensate with a steeper paddle angle.

Like with all hardshells the paddler must practice re-entries. Although it's easier to re-enter the Safari I recommend practicing this skill. The lack of a closed cockpit makes re-boarding a relatively simple procedure. Speed is good... for a 10' kayak that is. It keeps going along without complaining and without much need of corrective strokes.

The only issue I have is that I wish Innova updated the inflation valves to the new type, as they have with their double kayak, the Sunny. Overall, I'm very happy with the Safari. I highly recommend it as a fun little kayak for day paddles in oceans, lakes and rivers.

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08-11-2010
Submitted by: msSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I love this kayak! I bought it a month ago ($400 used, craigslist) and have taken it out on flat water as well as a great class III whitewater run. I'm not terribly experienced, but it felt much more responsive and stable in the whitewater than I had predicted. I'm very happy with its versatility and it's such a breeze to inflate/deflate. Two thumbs up!
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04-30-2010
Submitted by: jeremySend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     After owning the Innova Safari a couple more years (see my 2008 reviews below), I still say this is the best IK you can buy for flatwater AND whitewater up to Class III!

I just bought an Aire Force XL for handling big water (Class IV and large volume), but compared to the Safari it is slower, and doesn't play as well as the Safari. For up to Class III rapids, I'll use my Safari. For Class IV or higher, large volume, or unfamiliar rivers, I'll use the safer, but not as playful Aire Force XL.

The only problem with the Safari on large volume and Class IV or greater is the fact that the narrow boat gets swallowed up by big water because the bailing is slower and the side tubes are not as high as other boats. This fact means that the Safari can easily be wrapped around rocks on big, powerful rapids. The Safari has bulletproof construction though, so that is not a problem!

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02-13-2008
Submitted by: jeremySend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     This is an update of my 1/11/2008 review for the Innova Safari with a little more surfing capability detail:

This boat is extremely fun to front surf (that is, stuff your bow down into a hole) because the bow will sink and the water will flow all around you. The fun is amplified because you can actually maintain control under these conditions very easily by using your paddle as a rudder. very fun! The challenge is on though when you turn the boat sideways in the hole (after submerging the bow) as the whole boat will tend to fill and submerge like a submarine into the hole. The first few times that this happens to you, you will undoubtedly flip, even if you are used to surfing hardshells because the water interactions with the boat will be foreign to you. However, if you keep with it, you will find that this boat side surfs well and with a little j-lean downstream it will not fill up, but you have to get the angle right or the upstream wash will grab the downstream tube and you will fill and flip (or submarine surf, if you're experienced enough for it). The real enjoyment comes when you can control the boat completely submerged sideways in a hole (submarine surf). To do this, the proper angle and boat fill technique has to be learned by experience and it is easiest to do in a wide, consistent shelf-drop type hole. The drawback is that in a really sticky hole, you will probably not have the strength after surfing submerged (the boat will be heavy and will want to remain submerged due to slower bailing) to rotate the boat out of the hole. So, when you are pooped from sub-surfing, simply roll out of the boat, swim out of the hole, and reclaim your boat which will be upside down recirculating in the hole (and dumped for you, ready to flip over and re-enter). This boat offers an amazing array of surfing ability as it can surf the smallest ripple or a sticky, deep hole (with LOTS of experience surfing the smaller ripples and holes as a prerequisite!). And, if the hole is powerful enough, you can choose to side-surf either above the water line or submerged. One reviewer commented that a 360 surf was possible, maybe so, but I would think it would be VERY difficult to do without submerging the boat involuntarily. Know the hole your with though, because I would think that a really sticky hole may keep your boat stuck on the river bottom (I haven't experienced this, but I can see the potential)! If you like to surf holes and park/play spots, want a real challenge and a boat you will not outgrow, and the bonus of loading it up in your subcompact's trunk, you will not be disappointed. I think beginners with a go-getter attitude can learn very quickly with this boat by starting small (Class I and II) and moving up as experience dictates, so it's not just for experienced paddlers. The boat maneuvers EXACTLY where you want it with ease and many paddlers have been amazed at how well I am able to place the boat EXACTLY where I want it in a rapid or a hole. This is an inflatable that YOU CONTROL instead of the current controlling you. This is an inflatable that you can instantly spin to get into an eddy after a drop, just like a playboat. Unlike a playboat, the fast hull speed actually allows you to ferry and/or paddle upstream with efficiency to get BACK into your favorite hole easily. Many hardshellers will be amazed just watching this boat perform. Just get one and surf away!

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01-11-2008
Submitted by: jeremySend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     The Innova Safari is a marvelous well-designed and good-looking inflatable kayak. Here is how I would rate individual performance factors on this fabulous jack-of-all-trades:

Looks, quality, packability aesthetic appeal: 10
Weight (24lbs boat only, 33lbs fully outfitted with backpack, pump, and paddle): 9 (could always be lighter!)
Backpack quality and design: 9 (very good, but I had to modify mine to make a place for the paddle shaft storage)
Packability and portage: 9 - weighing in at less than 1/2 the weight of my Aire Lynx, this boat can go places!
Quality of materials: 10 (nice!)
Quality of primary valves: 8 (a bit cumbersome)
Quality of seat/thwart valves: 5 (simple, but slow to inflate/deflate, and seem to wear quickly)
Price: 10+++++!!!!! Great boat for the money. You could not do better.

Flatwater/whitewater characteristics: Initial stability: 5 (this boat is not designed for fishermen)
Secondary stability: 8 (exceptionally good for narrow boat width)
Hull Speed: 10 (easily just as fast as a hardshell)
Tracking: It all depends on the skeg - no skeg, spins on a dime - skeg attached - tracks ok (disclaimer here - I paddle mostly class II-IV whitewater, not sea or flatwater, so I am reporting based on river flatwater sections)

Whitewater performance: Simply amazing for an inflatable!
Carving - 10
Surfing - 10
Control with dry interior - 10
Control with flooded interior - 9
Bailing speed - 6 (it could use improvement here, but the good control in flooded conditions really makes speed less important)

Comparison to hardshell performance - closer than you would think - hull speed allows for river running equal to hardshell playboat. River playing (control and ease of hole surfing, enders) is much better than any other inflatable I have tried (Aire Lynx, Aire Force, Sevylor and Stearns products). This is primarily due to lower initial stability which allows for more carving and j-leaning than competing models which are designed with stability-first mentality.

This is a boat designed for intermediate to advanced paddlers which know how to eskimo roll and can brace well in whitewater. Beginners, fishermen, or scaredy cats should look for a boat with higher initial stability. Hardshell Kayakers wanting a packable boat should only consider this boat, the Aire forces, and the Incept Sally kayaks. For quality, performance on all types of water, weight, packability, and price, this boat cannot be beat. For those willing to sacrifice performance for extreme packability, there are always the Alpacka Rafts, but the Innova Junior may be a better compromise.
Way to go Innova, a great product!

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08-15-2007
Submitted by: PaulSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     This is a great boat! I love its versatility along with its durability. For me, I'm on the water every weekend from June-September (and try to sneak in a day or two during the week). I use it for exercise and viewing wildlife. Generally my trips are 4-6 hours each time out (with no more than a 15-30 minute break).

My goal is to paddle the 100 trips listed in the Appalachian Mountain Club's book, "Quiet Water – Massachusetts, Connecticut, & Rhode Island." Don't let the title of the book mislead you. In other words, many of my trips include high winds, waves, and hitting rocks and stumps underneath. The Safari has held up nicely. I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one and am always looking at the Innova website for newly designed models. Also, every time I venture out, some interested party makes their way to me and asks about the Safari. This is no exaggeration, people are very interested in this boat.

By the way I've done 35 of the above 100 and still going, going ...

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06-29-2007
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I have had my Safari for about 4 years. I bought it used from an on-line classified.
This boat has seen a lot of use in the past four years. It has been on lakes and Class 3- rapids many times. I also have an Aire Lynx, Strike, and tandem Caracal. Though I like those boats better in Class 3+ whitewater, the Safari is amazing in its ability to punch through waves. It is almost uncanny how stable this little boat is once you get it in white water. Also, you can really surf this boat in holes, whereas my other boats really make you work hard to surf.

Pros: light-weight, cost, maneuverability, surfing, fun-factor, lake paddling. The tracking fin is great for lake use.
Cons: my model was only rated to 180lbs - a 250 lb friend used the boat and had great difficulty with tipping over. I would be reluctant to try this boat in Class 3+ water, but, maybe I should try it - it always amazes me. Small boat for overnighters. Though the boat is tough and handles srcaping over river rocks, it is susceptible to pin holes from things like blackberry bushes.

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06-06-2007
Submitted by: MichaelSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I bought the Safari online without any previous experience kayaking, so I don't have much of a basis for comparison. However, I'm 100% happy with the Safari, and have yet to discover any major flaws.

Set-up/tear down: Takes me about 15 minutes to go from in the car to in the water. Carrying the kayak in the bag is easy, and I've comfortably carried it down mile long trails to reach inaccessible parts of the lake. The bag has an outer pocket for storing accessories (tracking fin, etc.) but the seam holding it on has begun to tear. The integrity of the main compartment seems ok. One downside to the inflatable-- if you pack it up before letting it dry out, it might stink next time...
Durability: I've taken the kayak through some shallow creeks where I dragged over a LOT of rocks, which only resulted in minor scuffs to the plastic.
Handling: With the tracking fin, keeping the boat going forward is easy. Without the fin, you can turn on a dime. How does it compare to a hardshell? Your guess is as good as mine...
In the boat: The backrest doesn't do a lot other than keep you positioned in the middle of the boat... don't expect to lounge. The inflatable butt pad keeps you up out of the puddle that will develop on the floor, but also raises your center of gravity a few inches and makes the boat feel a little wobbly. Gear space is alright -- you could fit a small backpack up front and maybe a sleeping pad and a few odds & ends in back. Unless you're more flexible than me, don't plan on rummaging through your gear on the water. I might try an overnight trip this summer, but packing would be a real challenge.
Stability/ease of use: I've shared this boat with friends, & the only one who had issues with the tippiness of the kayak was the one who has some sea kayaking experience. In other words, it feels like what I (and everybody else) always expected a kayak to feel like, but is apparently much less stable than a sea kayak. That being said, people have fished out of it without incident, so it definitely can handle some movement without getting wobbly.

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04-23-2007
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I researched long and diligently before buying this boat. Thanks to those who posted their opinions here--it's tough to demo inflatables in my part of the world (I got to lift a Safari at Canoecopia last year, but that's the closest I could get) so reviews like these were very helpful.

I wanted an inflatable for the space and transport advantages, but I could see that much of what was on the market might pack well but paddle poorly. I hoped to avoid that with the Safari, and it looks like I've been successful. I also wanted something versatile--I'll never paddle class IV with it, but the idea of using the same boat for mild whitewater and flatwater appealed to me.

The first few times, I took it out without the skeg in the upper Mississippi (current but no rapids) and it was very responsive. It made the mild eddy turns I tried almost by itself, and it ferried easily too, although I think back ferries are going to take a little more practice. Both upstream and down, it tracked better than I expected, leading me to think that maybe with enough practice the skeg would never be necessary. I've since changed my mind about that. I took it out on one of our larger lakes on a challenging day, with winds 20-30 mph and a deep, hectic chop. On a whim, I bolted the skeg on first. Wow. It's a whole different boat. Even while sliding over the whitecaps like a soap bubble, it holds a course in a beam wind better than my (unskegged) 14' hardshell. Running downwind, it never offers to broach. Upwind or quartering upwind can get a little wet, but I had expected that. The self-bailing feature quickly eliminated any water that came on board. You're fairly exposed in this boat so wear some neoprene and drybag your groceries if the water is big and cold.

On the subject of groceries, I have high hopes of being able to use the Safari for overnighters. The difference between my 175# and the 220# rated capacity is a little more than I carry when backpacking, so it should be possible. A 10 or 15 liter drybag fits in front, and at least a 50 liter in back.

The main worry I had was that I wouldn't fit the boat but at 6'2" with fairly long legs, I have plenty of room.

Setup, packing and daily maintenance seem easier with this boat that they would be with some others, notably the Aire, Stearns and other bladder-in-skin designs. It's easy to wipe dry and it makes a very compact package. I got the K-100 pump from K-Pump, and it fits easily in the pack with the boat and PFD.

Kudos to Tim at Innova for excellent and timely customer service. It's getting less common these days, and we should do what we can to reinforce it.

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07-24-2006
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Wanted to add a follow-up to my initial review 2 years ago below (July 2004 ).

I have now taken the Safari kayaking in Europe and in Newfoundland, as well as extensive use in New England, and am still very happy with it. Environments have included placid rivers, ocean surf, mountain lakes, and some open water as well. Conditions have been from dead calm to pretty hairy, the latter when I decided to go out surfing on the ocean after a storm had just passed and the waves were about 5 to 6 feet high. I swallowed a LOT of water that day....

There have been no problems. One minor niggle has surfaced, likely of my own doing. When rinsing, washing or drying the boat, I have usually placed it vertically on the ground, with the stern on whatever the surface is and the bow pointing skyward, usually at a slight angle because I lean it against the car or any available structure. Apparently, this has caused the red cover material to scrape off a bit in a very small area measuring about 5 or 6 square millimeters, and a slight crack about 1 inch long has formed in the red cover materia, both were I've rested the boat on the ground. Both of these are negligible and do not affect the integrity of the boat. I just painted a bit of Aquaseal over both and will see if that does the trick. If not, I'll simply glue on a patch to keep the boat looking pretty. But - and this is important - that was my own fault.I'd suggest you learn from my mistake and either put something soft under the boat or find another way to position it for washing and drying.

The boat is otherwise bomb proof as far as I can tell. I've scraped the fin across rocks and sand, have run waves onto rocky shores, have carried it in rooftop carriers where it was unavoidably exposed to pretty intense heat from the sun, and have paddled it in the winter where the air bladders give you welcome insulation and prevent frozen rear ends like one can get in hardshells.

The only caveat, related to the hairy experience of surfing waves considerably higher than I was - the Safari does not bail fast enough to get rid of consecutive dumping waves, and becomes dead in the water. Do not get it if that's what you plan to do 24/7. There's another model, the Traveller, that apparently duplicates the Safari's hull shape but isn't self bailing and has an inflatable deck.

One of my favorite things to do: I will take the boat way out, then jump overboard and swim with it in tow, using a surfboard leash to pull it behind me. Then, when I'm refreshed, I just get back in the boat and paddle on. Try THAT in your average hardshell!

Bottom line: I like this boat so much I'm in the process of buying a Solar II for my wife and kid.

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04-17-2006
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Amazing boat.. Enough performance to keep you thrilled. packs light. Easy to use for sneak paddling.Very ggod for RVERS Ideal boat. Will up rating after 1st season and add another review.
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09-08-2004
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 8 of 10

     I have paddled this numerous times on lakes and WW. It does better than I expected on both. The quality of manufacture and the nitrylon is better than it looks in the pictures on the website.

It tracks well with the skeg on. At first I felt it was a bit tippy but have since gotten used to it and now it feels fine. (I have mainly done sea kayaking and canoe & raft on WW.) If you plan on paddling flat water for more than a couple of hours, you may want to get an extra seat (the one that comes on the Sunny), it has a higher back and is much more comfortable.

I talked to two different REI salesman at two different stores. They were both suprised at how closely it performed like a hardshell WW boat.

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07-13-2004
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     Just received my Safari three days ago, and have already developed tendinitis in both elbows. Why is this a good thing, you ask? - Because I have been in the water non-stop ever since inflating the boat for the first time. Hit water twice each of the three days I've had it, and this morning's excursion was "only" about 12 miles. My SOT and "fancy" sea kayak are going to be gathering dust from now on. Far from being a toy, the Safari tracks better than my Scrambler SOT ( not to mention that it is faster and less wet ) and the weight advantage over both the Scrambler and Cape Horn 17 is just huge. I live close enough to the ocean so that I can now easily walk to beach and put in anywhere, whereas before - due to the weight and living on a steep hill - even wheels made the simple trek to the water arduous, and I had to look for a ramp or risk re-injuring my back trying to lug an unwieldy hardshell down steep flights of stairs at the seawall. Other advantages: the thing spins on a dime when you want it to, and it doesn't slam into your shins and other body parts when disembarking in rough surf. Great job, Innova! I may never use my hardshells again!
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06-24-2004
Submitted by: Dave
Rating: 9 of 10

     I have had a safari for two years and I love it!I am a avid camper and wanted something i could take easily with me to very remote locations. I have been out on many rivers lakes and streams in Michigan it tracks well with the fin on flatwater and when paddling with other hardshell kyakers it is just as fast! in shallow water it almost never bottoms out unlike many other ik's or canoes, you can also store alot of gear. it is very manuverable in tight situations and handels wind and waves excellent.You can pack everything in the backpack and actually bike with it!(24lbs.) The only thing keeping me from giving it a ten is the cumbersome plug-style valves on the seat and footbrace, they tend to leak air while you put in the plug-with all the thought innova obviously put into the design of the safari it's a shame they cheaped out on these valves. Maybe someone will read this and change the design.Other than that this is a great boat.
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05-12-2004
Submitted by: billSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     We've just bought 2 Safaris as camping / play boats for trips when we don't take our seakayaks, and for a bit of white water fun. Maybe even some motorcycle kayaking ... These are my first inflatables - previous white water boat was a Prijon Cyclone - and chosen as an altrenative so smal s-o-ts. First impressions are how easy these are to set up - the skeg is a bit fiddly and seems very quickly salt affected, but overall it's a breeze. Packing up is as easy. In fact, it's simpler than loading and unloading my seakayak from roof racks. On the water, I'm surprised by how quick these are, and how well they track for a 10' boat. So far we've done a bit of flatwater paddling - some with wind and tide. I'm quite satisfied with the experience, and since I'd expected a very poor comparison with my seakayaks, this is very pleasing. For a short paddle, I might even prefer these boats ... The amount of water inside is very slight, though a bit of wind and sloppy paddling (drips) can creat a wet bottom - otherwise I got a dry ride. Gear roomis pretty good, and they certainly track better with some weight in the bow. Only had time for one brief grade I - II bounce, and without skegs, the boat is very responsive. For my use .. just bouncing up and down river and getting no more technical than the odd ferry-glide and some eddy-hopping, it's more than competent. One quirk was that I seems to have more draft than my rigid whitewater boat - I think I was too timid on inflation for fear of tearing the hull.
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07-28-2003
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Today was my second trip with my Safari. The first was onto White Bear Lake (larger lake in Twin Cities area) to test it out. Other reviewers note it is tippier than the typical IK. I felt this immediately upon boarding it. However, once settling in and adjusting the foot and thigh braces, I felt the design was advantageous. You can lean and maneuver using more of your body and due to its slim width, the Safari seems to move along faster then my Sea Eagle 380x.

Today I took the Safari on a local easy (max Class I) river and didn't notice the tippiness at all. The bailing feature works well, there is a little water on the bottom near the sides but it doesn't amount to much. I switched to the closed bailing 380x halfway (friend was paddling) and it had about the same amount of water in it. The skeg attachment does help one go straighter (and thus a little faster due to efficiency).

My only complaint is comfort. Although I feel that the Safari fits my 6' 185lb frame well, the seat was not very comfortable. On a later trip maybe I will try to rig my Sea Eagle deluxe seat into the Safari.

Other big pluses of the Safari is that it packs down quite well and only weighs about 25 pounds, almost half that of the Sea Eagle. I plan to get a 4 part paddle so I can take this boat with me when I have an opportunity to fly to a location with fun waters nearby.

I should also add that the Innova people were very good at answering my questions which led to the purchase of my Innova Safari.

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03-28-2003
Submitted by: Tim RosenhanSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Manufacturer's Note -- The valves for the footrest and seat have been improved since these valves were mentioned in comments on "thwarts" in Richard's review of 1/11/2001.
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01-11-2001
Submitted by: richardSend Email
Rating: 6 of 10

     I was not satisfied with the safari because the thwarts had wimpy valves that blew when I braced against them in ww situations. It does paddle easily and is light, but the thwarts just dont make it.
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11-06-2000
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     Recently I purchased the Safari as an alternative boat to my Pyranha 220 Inazone for river running and ocean surfing. WOW, was I impressed with how it handled. First let me say that the boat gets extremely rigid when inflated and that the material it's made of is very tuff stuff. In the couple of weeks that I've owned it, It's been on both the Lehigh River and the Tohickon Creek(twice). Both of these were class II, III rapids. But the Tohickon had some III+ rapids which were alittle bit more technical, but was alot easier to run than my 220 submarine. For running class III rapids I added some flotation bags to the bow and stearn, just to diplace the amount of water that would have had to drain out anyway. This really helped alot to keep the boat from getting temporarily sluggish. I may enlarge or add some more drainage holes later on. Speaking of Holes, this boat surfs great in standing waves and side surfs just as well. One time I actually got it to do a 360 in a hole. Until I have a chance to try roll it, which Innova claims is possible, I'd give it a 9 out of 10 for now. Excellent boat!!
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11-05-2000
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     ditto to all michael said. having paddled many happy miles in an innova helios, but wanting something a bit sportier(and self-bailing) which would still fit in the overhead compartment of a boeing, i bought the safari. okay, it doesn't surf holes as well as my wavesport. but in big water it is amazingly competent. and it has the advantage over the x that i wandered for two months with everything including the boat in the dry bag it comes in and never had to pay any extra baggage charges. shortcomings: the v-shaped hull, which punches through big pillows and standing waves and makes creeks safe, draws a more water than fatter, flatter boats, and it's not as fast as a 12-ft. boat. but if i could only have one boat, this would be it.
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07-27-2000
Submitted by: Michael BeavinSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     The Innova Safari is a self-bailing, definite rocker, keeled inflatable kayak. Ok, all you hard-shelled guys can stop snickering now. Similar to a sit-on-top, the Safari comes equipped with thigh-straps and two different back-supports (whitewater and touring). At only 24 lbs. the boat is extremely lightweight and packs into its own drybag/backpack. In fact, the boat is small enough to qualify as a carry-on bag for jetliners. Easy to transport, easy to store. Take it with you to Hawaii. Enough with the sales pitch. How does it paddle? The Safari is rated up to class III WW and delivers well into this class and beyond. The only drawback to taking it into class IV would be the speed at which it bails water. I am planning to open up the bailing holes to make it transfer water faster and believe this will make it easier to paddle in bigger water. It surfs WW waves and ocean surf very well and is quick to turn for an inflatable boat. The thigh straps can be tightened enough to hold in the smallest adult paddlers and it is quite easy to roll. The main advantage here is, if you do fall out, flip the boat over and hop back on. No skirt makes water entry and exit a snap and beginners will find its stability reassuring. While I have found it a capable WW play boat it is rather slow on calm open tracts of water and it doesn't track very well. I would not recommend it for someone considering day touring or an overnight paddle trip. That said, it does perform in the fast water and is quick in the waves. The construction is rugged Nitrylon™ which is a lamination of nitrile synthetic rubber and natural rubber over a 1,200-denier, low stretch polyester fabric. Conclusion, truly a capable, fun boat for the beginner and a great addition to the collection of more experienced paddlers looking for a different kind of play boat. And the big bonus? You don't have to wear a skirt like some people on the river.
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