In a nutshell, the XKs performed extremely well on the San Juan. Granted, the San Juan isn't a Class VI white water death-ride, but if you've ever been on it during late summer you also know it offers ample surprises and "gotchas." We really worked these kayaks hard and the Sevytex material held up superbly. The material is not as robust as Hypalon, but damn near it. Abrasive wear was minimal at the end of the trip, and we never sprung a single leak (although the cheapo, vinyl duckie did leak, as expected). Handling with the XK is reasonably responsive for a two-person inflatable; certainly for white water it's fine if both paddlers know how to work together. The seats and foot rests are very well designed and comfortable, although you can expect a wet butt on any kind of white water, with or without the scuppers closed. On the other hand, the lower ride and center of gravity are what give this kayak its stability. Before trying to install the foot rests, be certain to wet them; otherwise, they are hard to work with. The cargo rings are robust and worked well as tie-downs -- none pulled out or weakened.
Under the category of "minuses" I would place first the scuppers, which did keep our paddlers dry while closed on flat water stretches, but which are awkwardly designed and difficult to configure. (A simple, screw-on/screw-off cap would be better.) The other thing which peeved me was the crappy pump hose that comes with the otherwise-excellent pump; the hose crimps easily. These seem like minor problems alongside an excellent design, but little things DO matter, especially when you're miles from nowhere. The kit comes with a manometer, which seems like an unnecessary luxury and expense. (I simply squeeze the pontoons and listen to valves to check my air pressure--it's quick and sufficiently accurate.) I would much rather see Sevylor ditch the fancy manometer and put in a decent pump hose.
To summarize, the XK represents a major advancement over the cheaper "pool toy" tier of vinyl Sevylor inflatables--stay away from those on rivers. The Sevytex construction material is all that Sevylor says it is: extremely tough, rugged stuff. The seams, being welded rather than glued, are extremely strong and did not leak once on our trip, despite the snags and numerous rocky encounters. I am looking forward to using these again on future river trips and would recommend them to anyone needing to accommodate extra paddlers on a multi-day river outing. I would also trust one of these for a lightweight "floating backpack"-type trip without all the heavy group kitchen gear, etc. They are reliable and--compared to many inflatable kayaks of this class--an unbeatable value for the money.
[My experience level (to qualify this review): 30-plus years of outdoor treks; five years as a professional guide; 8 kayaks/rafts owned.]
The valves will leak if they loosen up, but can be completely taken apart. I loosened mine by mistake. 10 minutes, just wash the sand out and put them back together. I've skidded over plenty of large rocks. No issues with damage or punctures.
I'd suggest this boat for floating rivers, not so great for long flatwater trips, it is an inflatable. I would also suggest neoprene shorts under your trunks. You need the bails open but sitting in a couple of inches of 49 degree water gets cold after a while. If you put someone in the front of your boat a extra pfd is great to sit on for a boost so u can see over them. A good paddle makes all the difference in the world as well. Also the d rings are great for strapping down a cooler.
The seat was really comfortable with an extra PFD tucked under it. Inflates easy and is really rigid. You have to mess with the placement of the floor if, like me, you are picky about the boat inflating to a symmetrical shape. The valves are high pressure Halkey-Roberts. I used an electric inflator (12v) and then pumped to pressure in about 5 minutes.
The sail kit works pretty well. With two people and the sail kit you are going to get wet in anything near 1 foot chop. Sails faster than it paddles - we had it up to 7 mph on the GPS. The sail kit does twist the boat some - but seems no worse for the wear. Sailed up wind pretty well, too.
Had a lot of fun with it and then deflated and got it back in the bag for the drive home.
The major draw backs are its length, weight, and skegs. At thirteen and a half feet, it lacks a certain amount of maneuverability. It weighs 40 lbs dry but considerably more when you actually have to carry it any distance. The tracking fins (skegs) on the bottom are bound and determined to find every rock they can. Its blue and white coloring are a bit better than the typical yellow of the newer model. The carrying bag is a joke but it is just about too heavy to want to haul around anyway. I inflate it and throw it on a kayak cart which fits in the boat for the ride down river. I've had a minor piece of rubber require re-gluing and the foot pegs could use a bit longer plastic shaft so they don't fall out of the straps that hold them.
All in all I give it a 8 and only detract for weight and for not having thigh straps. The cheap price cancels out the cheap carrying bag.
Except for the boston valves and the bailing ports, this kayak is very well made. It's extremely stable and rigid. The seats are comfortable, well made and come with very heavy duty brass hardware to attach them to the many D rings. Velcro secures them to the inflated floor. For the price, I think this is an outstanding value. We hope to get many years of paddling pleasure from it.
The boat is very nicely made. We checked the weight and, indeed, 32#. It's easy to carry on the shoulder. Set up is a bit more work with the high pressure floor but it's quite rigid for an inflatable. The seats are nice but the back rest is a bit lower than I'd like.
As a solo boat it works well (for an inflatable) but you must use short strokes (especially starting out) or the boat will spin right around. This is no sea kayak. The rudder would probably help a lot. It's not that easy to steer but managable and it's reasonably fast. It's very stable.
With two people, I recommend using canoe paddles. You can paddle closer to the side (inparting less spin on the boat) and you can use it as a rudder without hitting your mate in the head. Yes, you could use kayak paddles with a more vertical stroke but, since there's no deck, you'll get very wet.
The boat can be used with two full sized adults but it does ride lower in the water and you will have some waves splash into the boat. It feels very safe but it's wet in rough water. Even moving the seats as far apart as you dare, the rear paddler's feet are touching the back of the forward seat so it's a bit tight.
Folding up the boat is more work because there is usually quite a bit of water trapped under the floor so it all needs be removed to drain it and wipe dry for storage.
Overall, I think it's a pretty good solo boat and OK as a double if you don't mind being a little cramped and maybe getting wet when the water is rough. It's a good camping boat. It's very compact and could be used for fishing etc. Other reviewers Have mentioned putting some foam under the seat to raise it up out of any puddle that may form. Good idea.
We took it out on our maiden voyage and learned to use it very quickly. We took it out on the lower American river in Northern California. As others have indicated, it is very stable and even made a couple of nervous beginners feel safe right away. We went over some small rapids and hardly even noticed them. We have already run over some rocks and grounded ourselves on sand with absolutely no damage to the boat. This thing is very tough. We got it at a close out price for $540 at a retail store. For that price I don't think you can buy a better boat.
I am thrilled with this boat. We have already used it twice and the fact that you can roll it up and throw it in a closet when your done is much more appealing to me than wrestling a hard shell into overhead storage in my garage, or wrestling a hard shell to a roof rack. The other concern I had is if we went on vacation and stayed at a hotel I wouldn't want to leave a hard shell on a roof rack for someone to steal. With this boat you can store it in your trunk out of sight or even in your hotel room.
To me the only real disadvantage is that it is heavy to carry even from a parking lot to the water. What we are going to try next is carrying the boat to the water without the seats, lifejackets, water bottles etc. and then make a second trip for the rest of the stuff. I thought it handled well although probably slower than a hard shell.
BAD BITS - it is pretty heavy, but that is a consequence of the tough construction; water collects in the seam down the middle of the floor (and has no way to drain); valves seem a bit flimsy but have never actually been a problem.
GOOD BITS - fits easily in the back of a small car, so you can take it anywhere; easy to launch even off quite a high riverbank; paddles pretty straight; immensely stable (confidence-inspiring in newcomers and children); seats good and much better than inflatable ones that come with Tahiti, especially if you set the straps up so the backrest tilts slightly forward (and I'm going to try the foam float underneath trick suggested by previous reveiwer); looks good on the water.
Back of car to water in less than ten minutes which I think is good. I also use it as a tender to my yacht when there are only two of us - much quicker to inflate than normal dinghy. For the price I don't think anything else touches it.
1) Outer hull holding up against massive abuse against rocks, tree branches. One episode had the boat pushed against a tree with broken branches with heavy water pushing the boat into it for about 20 minutes before we could get it free. You could barely see any scratches on the hull and no leaks developed.
2) The seats are really great and I have improved on them further by putting a custom cut foam swim kick board (about 1" thick) underneath - with this, you can have all bail holes open and not have to sit in water. Also, because of the long straps holding the chair in place, there is a lot of flexibility as to where you position them for the weight of the paddlers, equipment etc.
3) The tie down eyelets are all in the right spot, and heavy duty.
4) The ability to carry gear is really phenomenal for an inflatable.
5) Looked cool when I bought it, and I still love the way it looks
6) Great tracking and maneuverability
Now for the bad part: On this last trip, both large side air bladders on one of the SVX200s developed leaks, and upon inspection, they were not in a place where that could have been caused by tears - they were at the very tip, right next to a weld - both of them in the exact same spot - sounds like mfg defect to me. Anyway, we carried extras so were OK, but it's disconcerting nevertheless - I suspect I will get these replaced on warranty, but I hope this doesn't become a recurring problem. Stay tuned.
So far, the SVX200 has lived up to that promise beautifully. After having gone on one trip with someone with inflatable seats, I will never consider a boat without the types of seats that the Sevylor comes with - they are very comfortable, and it's easy to turn the 2-seater into a solo by reversing the boat stern to bow.
Inflating it is incredibly fast and easy by letting the car (12V) pump the volume, then top off with the hand pump. I have it down to less than 10 minutes and this is really important since I store it deflated (no room in the garage). I have never owned another inflatable so I cannot compare it with other boats, but if it holds up in the long run, I will be super happy. It turns quickly, yet on flat water, after about 5 minutes of "figuring it out" it is possible to keep it on a very straight track, and I was doing it with my 11 year old daughter who was a beginner. We have had 2 adults, and 3 kids in the kayak on a lake once and it didn't even feel crowded. Last weekend we did a 2 night camping trip, so had gear and food for 2, and we ended up taking extra cargo from my friend who ran out of room.
Anyway, you can tell I am happy with it - hopefully it will stay that way.
Since moving to Arizona, the opportunities for using my two sea kayaks and recreational kayak have shrunk. What seemed to open up was some river running, particularly the Verde and Gila. That is what drove the purchase of the Sevylor. As a shakedown, took the SVX200 on a seven-day solo float down the Green River in Utah. Launched from Mineral Bottom and took out at Spanish Bottom on the Colorado.
The boat performed admirably, although it wasn’t stressed very much. A half-dozen sandbar groundings, a couple run-ins with rocks at the riffles, and one sickening incident with an unseen, underwater snag. I could not even find a scrape. In seven days, only topped off the bladders once so even the cheap Boston valves worked fine. Made sure I carried two spare valves. Rigged as a solo, there was no loading issue with its 250-pound passenger, 9 gallons of water, and other gear. Didn’t weigh it, but it would not be far off the 425 pound mark. The 650 pound spec seems high, but 550 does not. That is assuming easy water. I had the self-bailers plugged so was reasonably dry. Rigged as a tandem in white water, both people would be sitting in water at that load level.
Have not taken it into any real moving water yet. I don’t have any experience in other inflatables so cannot objectively judge the handling. A good sweep stroke will spin it 360 degrees within it’s own length, or close to it. Have had it on a lake twice, once as a tandem and once as a solo. It worked, but you really have to enjoy pain to want to do it much. Synchronized paddling is not in my wife’s vocabulary, so it was a struggle in that situation, but probably not for others. Tracking took a lot of effort on my part and the speed left me bored. Didn’t bring the GPS to get a number unfortunately.
The seats are typical SOT types. I found myself gradually “sinking in” which required constant effort to keep an upright paddling position. For the Green trip, the dry bags/icebox placed directly behind the seat gave me a very nice seating arrangement. The six D-rings give adequate tie-down points. Wish the floor had been re-enforced PVC as you could just feel the sand and grit wearing away at it. Especially on the Green trip. It was difficult to get the footrests inserted and I typically leave them out. They should work better than they do. Another issue with them is due to my leg length, the adjustment for them just didn’t work for my foot placement.
Have not weighed it, but it is a ton. Especially if you forget to completely close the maintenance zippers and get any water into the bladder area. The carry bag is a joke and barely works. Haven’t solved the issue of drying/cleaning it. There always seems to be a large amount of moisture in with the bladders and I can never get all the sand/dirt out of the narrow area where the self-bailers are.
Overall, it’s been a decent boat so far for the money spent on it. I like the cosmetic look of it a lot better than the Tomcat.
Construction: The outer hull is made of 1000 denier fabric re-enforced PVC with machine welded seams. Top quality boats are usually made of fabric in the 800 to 1500-denier range (hypalon or PVC), so this material falls well within an acceptable range. The inner bladders and floor top are made of un-reinforced PVC. I would prefer a floor top of reinforced fabric for added durability. Time will tell how serious a weakness this really is. Valves are the Boston style, which are definitely low end. That said, I paddled the boat a total of 10 hours and did not experience any air leakage whatsoever. When the SVX arrived, I left it inflated in my living room overnight with no noticeable change in firmness. Still, long-term durability may be an issue. Valves are easily replaced, however, and I will carry spares on all extended trips. The factory welded seams are overlapped about 3/4 of an inch and rather sloppily done. Workmanship is vastly inferior to my other inflatable, an Innova Helios. But then Innova is known for high quality hand-welded seams. Still, the seams on the SVX appear strong.
Design: The SVX 200 is designed for whitewater use: moderately rockered hull, fairly narrow 32" beam( for an inflatable), low above-water profile and self-bailing floor. The rockered hull is similar in shape and dimensions to the Aire Caracal. There are a total of 20 bailing ports in the dropped floor. These can be closed with stoppers for flat-water paddling. Two nylon-covered foam seats clip in to D-rings. The boat can be rigged as a single or a double. Footrests are foam covered plastic tubes and slide into nylon sleeves stitched to the floor. There are four additional D-rings (two fore and two aft) mounted on the side tubes for tying down cargo. It's no lightweight and not easily backpackable. The actual weight of the boat is close to 50 lbs., more than the advertised weight of 40 lbs something. With practice, it can be folded rather small. I managed to pack it into a 42x18x15 duffle with seats, pump, lifejacket, repair kit and a pair of river shoes.
Performance: The SVX inflates very firmly with a foot pump and can be fully assembled in about 15 minutes. In a 20-mile test paddle on the Colorado River it proved to be very stable and maneuverable in Class I-II+ water. A moderately vigorous forward or reverse sweep will spin the boat within it's own length, yet surprisingly it also tracks very well. Tracking is improved by 18" flexible rubber strakes mounted midway on the hull. Correcting strokes are seldom needed to keep the boat going straight and veer is minimal. When properly inflated, the hull is very rigid and cuts well through waves and wash. The boat is so stable you can actually sit on a side tube with your feet dangling in the water and not flip over. I did manage to flip the SVX once while trying to surf a hole, but the boat's stability allowed me to re-enter rather easily while swimming in a 3 mph current. Bailing is adequate: After shipping a boatful of water in steep waves, the SVX drained in about 20 seconds. Not great, but acceptable for the Class III water I will be paddling. The shape of the inflatable floor has one serious drawback: the groove down the center holds water that has no way to drain out the bail holes. This presented no real problem as the seat keeps your butt above water; still the design is poor. I go 6'2", 220 lbs. With 30 lbs. of gear the bail hole did not allow an excessive amount of water into the boat. Other reviewers have pointed out that with two large adults, the inflatable floor of the SVX is not thick enough to keep the paddlers butts out of the water. I suspect this is true. I seriously doubt Sevylor's claim that the SVX 200 will haul 650 lbs. efficiently. This is a guess, but I would say an optimal load is in the range of 300-450 lbs. Like any inflatable, the SVX 200 is slow. My Innova is a lot faster (but less maneuverable). Still, it's no barge, like some other IKs: Sea Eagle, Hyside, SOAR. I had no trouble keeping up a 3.5 mph pace (measured by GPS). In a boat that can be used for fly-in trips on Class III-IV rivers, this is very acceptable. The low, above-water profile of the SVX 200 catches less wind than most other IKs. The hull is much harder and more slippery than my Innova. After skidding over several rocks, the hull sustained just a few, barely visible, superficial scratches.
Pros: Price!!! Maneuverability, tracking, stability, fair load capacity, slippery hull material. This is a good whitewater IK up to Class III.
Cons: Sloppy welding, poor floor design, un-reinforced PVC floor, cheap valves. Bailing feature is not adequate for continuous Class IV and up.
Recommended: Yes, for up to Class III.
Cons: Heavy, poor tracking in windy conditions.
The Bottom Line: If you decided you want a heavy duty duckie over a hardshell and you arent wanting to backpack with it the this is your yak! Versatile, sturdy and stable.
After much deliberation and research we bought this duckie on the internet for $440 never having tried or seen it "in the flesh". The research showed that it was a great buy for the money but sevylor did have a history of making cheaper commercial craft so it was a bit sneered at by experienced paddlers. However this seems a bit of a departure for sevylor and is far superior to their other lightweight kayaks. This is a serious piece of kit and most definitely not a toy. I assume that if you are looking for a duckie you will have realized the various pros and cons versus a hardshell so I wont go into that.
My fiance and I are certainly not small people as I am 5'9" and about 140 lbs and he is 6'3" and 240lbs so we needed something big and sturdy and this certainly delivers. It works best when he is in the front as this offers more leg room and I guess it minimizes the rocker a bit on flat water. I could really find any other duckie which was so large and had a 650lb limit. You wont have enough room for a nights camping stuff if you are our size but there is plenty of room for luch, life jackets, camera etc etc. It is very quick and easy to inflate (about 10mins) using a Coleman double action hand pump.
The seats are very comfortable and can be easily adjusted, they also have a useful drink etc holder on the back of each one. Once inflated it is very stable and trustworthy and looks very professional. So far we have just used it on flatwater and slow moving rivers. Of course as a duckie it isn't going to track as well as a hardshell but for pootling about and exploring its ideal. This kayak is designed for whitewater so its always going to be best at that and has great self bailing ports.
It is very sturdy and we have grounded on rocks with no problems and paddled over debris with nothing more than a very superficial scratch. I was rather worried that as it is smaller than a canoe or double kayak we would be clashing paddles all the time but this isn't the case with a minimum of co ordination. It also paddles well with one person paddling and another resting and the seats can be moved for use as a K1.
It realistically folds up to about a meter square and a foot deep so while you can easily get in your car boot and store it in your apartment you aren't going to be backpacking with it. It does take a while to dry it out and is best if you can store it partially inflated for a day or so. Another huge advantage is that you can travel long distances with it my car and not have to worry about the extra fuel consumption if you had a hardshell strapped to the roof. Also if you are staying in a motel you can bring it into your room and make sure no one steals it overnight! Compared to the prices of other makes this is a steal.
Ability Level: Intermediate
Reviewer's Height: 5'7-6'
Reviewer's Weight: 134-166 lbs
Ease Of Use: Good
Recommended Use: All-Purpose