Is the Innova Kayak Thaya Really the Best Inflatable Kayak on the Market?
Fresh from taking home the top prize at the 2019 European Paddlesport Product of the Year Awards based on stability, paddling performance and its environmentally-friendly footprint, the Thaya kayak from Innova has landed In North America.
We had a chance to try out the highly anticipated 2+ person, a high-pressure, inflatable kayak for recreational paddling. The Innova line is unique for a number of reasons. First, the kayaks are handmade in the Czech Republic – the factory has manufactured inflatable boats for well over 50 years. Second, they produce kayaks that can become quite compact, making them a great choice for travel. And third, the kayaks are environmentally-friendly as they are mostly PVC-free.
The Thaya weighs 39 lbs, is 13 feet 5 inches in length and has a payload of 595 lbs for two persons and gear. The box as received contains a very nifty and compact 80-litre backpack with adjustable shoulder straps, front pouch pocket and roll top closure. This contains the kayak body, tracking fin, 2 footrests, repair kit, instructions, valve adaptor, cinch belt, 2 seats and sponge. Packed dimensions are 25 x 16 x 10 inches as received in the bag, with a weight of 40.75 lbs for the pack and contents.
Unpacking the kayak, what is immediately noticeable is how flat the kayak is when deflated – of course, this makes it quite compact for travel. The Thaya can be set up solo, tandem or tandem with small being or gear. The instructions suggest attaching and inflating the foot braces and seats first, but these come already attached from the factory. There are four sets of upper d-rings, and five sets of floor tabs – you will use both of these to attach the seats and braces. We opted for a tandem set up for our first round. The seats and braces are easier to inflate before attaching to the kayak. There are two valves on each seat, and one on each brace. All utilize a twist-lock valve, which performs as it sounds – twist the end to open or close the valve.
We were impressed at how roomy the boat was, perfect for carrying lots of gear, and the weight is not overwhelming. My husband and I are both taller than average and we loved how comfortable and roomy the kayak felt, and he did not feel any knuckle rub; there was enough clearance. He also felt one could easily bring along a child or dog without being cramped – in fact, the inflatable foot brace could be a great child’s seat. The Thaya handles very well and glides easily over the water. The kayak is pretty zippy and – for a kayak this long – it turns very easily.
My husband then took it out solo. He felt it handled extremely well, tracked well and was speedy. He also particularly liked how easy it was to get in and out, due to the rigid floor, as well as how light and easily carried the Thaya was. The drop-stitch floor feels quite solid; in fact, I was even able to stand up. In high waves, with the lower side walls, some water will splash in. Packing up took just a few minutes. The “smooth skin” of the Nitrylon material allows one to just wipe down the kayak to dry it off, and then fold up into the pack. I did notice slight scuffing – Innova says the McNett UVTech is very helpful as a coating to keep the kayak lustrous and prevent scuffs.
The Innova Thaya is a wonderful, recreational kayak suitable for those wanting portability, simplicity, easy entry and lots of storage options. On calm waters – such as lakes, inlets and slower-moving rivers – the kayak paddles smoothly and tracks well as both a single and tandem. On rougher waters, be prepared to dress appropriately, as waves can splash over the side walls. Both my husband and I found it easy to paddle as a solo yet the Thaya is roomy and comfortable enough for two adults with room for plenty of gear. This would also be a great choice for an adult and child or dog, or those needing enough storage space to haul camping equipment. The material is rugged enough that I would not hesitate to bring along a canine buddy – and there’s certainly room. Set up is very simple and takes less than 10 minutes. Take down is equally simple, just wipe down and fold/roll up – the Nitrilon material is rugged and easy to clean, yet still packs up extremely flat and compact.
Environmentally-conscious paddlers will find the minimal-PVC and China-free construction appealing. The included backpack is compact and rugged, perfect for a trek into remote areas or riding mass-transit. It can also be stashed in the trunk of a small car, and is small enough to easily take on your next plane flight – it’s a great choice for travel.