Read reviews for the Sunny Inflatable Kayak by Innova Recreational Products as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!
The boat paddles well with the fin installed and is practical for 1 or 2 paddlers. It is lovely to swim off of. It tracks well and has a low profile so that it doesn’t catch much wind. I would also say that it is quick. The build quality is very sturdy. The Tribute Sawtooth 1 is also a very good boat but it is heavier, will not pack nearly as small, and the spaces between the bladders and the outer fabric fill with water so that it takes some time to drain and probably will never dry if you decide to deflate it after use. Sawtooth also sits higher in the water so it is more prone to wind issues. However, the Sawtooth I think is more durable and quicker in the water.
If I could do it all over again I would get two Sunnys.
Of course, Innova makes outstanding boats. I like the overall design of the boat and that it seems pretty "tough", yet is a light boat and can actually be packed down into the size of an airline carry-on (which I hope to take to Grand Cayman Island this fall). It seems plenty stable, whether solo or tandem, which is important for my wife. The backpack w/ carry straps in nice. The flexibility to paddle with either one or two people is good, I like the open cockpit style, and the set-up and take-down is easy.
Improvements on the current Sunny model -- The way their old version of seats mount leaves a lot to be desired, as there is not great back support. (I see that the current model Sunny has D-rings on the top of the side tubes for the seat-back straps to hook into. I believe this would give much better seat-back support than hooking the seat straps down on the bottom of the kayak like this older version.) And the odd, crude plug that the seats have that you have to quick jam the thing back into the blow hole to try to not lose much air after you are done blowing up a seat is not the best – it appears that the newer version improves this too. The older boats also have the aluminum tracking fin which uses bolts and wing nuts, which again I see that they have improved/simplified. (The older version of tracking fin is expensive at $50, if you can even get your hands on one any more.)
Other thoughts – I prefer when paddling tandem to have to back seat a bit farther back; but since they have a fixed position for their own model of seat, I use another brand of inflatable seat that I can locate wherever I want. Also, on their middle set of D-rings, they have them placed and oriented so you have to swap one seat around and move the tracking fin to the other end. Why don't they just place and orient the D-ring for solo paddling so you just move a seat into the new location and leave the tracking fin where it is already at?
This boat does not seem quite as "fast" as I was expecting from all the statements about it. I am an experienced paddler, 6'3" and 200 pounds, and whether solo myself or with a paddling friend who is my size but stronger, it tends to top out around 5.1 or 5.2 mph (which now that I double checked, actually is roughly at its theoretical maximum hull speed for a boat with about 11 feet of actual waterline length). I guess I expected it to cruise just a bit more easily though. It would be nice if this had a bit higher weight capacity than just 396 pounds.
My older boat does sometimes somehow leak some air – I have yet to determine from where, but hope that I can correct that and that it will give me 10 more years yet, as some say the boat life can be 20 years.
I used it daily in tandem and single configuration. It tracked well and we were able to easily maintain 3.5mph (according to Garmin). We had a great time and did daily trips of about 6 miles. Previous vacations we had driven with our sea kayaks, but being able to fly somewhere and have a fine performing single/double was awesome. Slightly less performance than our sea kayaks, but lots of fun and fully capable of doing some distance.
• Can travel as checked luggage.
• Quick setup (<10 minutes with K-Pump, and pump can be carried on board)
• Performs very well as single or double.
When inflated to specs, the boat is fast and tracks very straight. I paddled it in 15-20 MPH winds and the boat had no trouble going up wind. To me, it seems to track and go as fast as other rigid sit on tops that I've paddled. I have no problems averaging 3.5 MPH in this kayak. Just for fun, I tested it on a dead sprint and it made 5.6 MPH top speed on my Garmin GPS. These tests were performed with one paddler. It also continues to "coast" for quite a bit when you stop paddling. Very efficient hull.
The nice thing about this boat is that it is fairly light. I can easily pick it up (fully inflated) with one hand and carry stuff in my other hand on the way to the launch. No need for multiple trips when its time to go.
The boat comes with a nice dry bag back pack. The bag is a tight fit so if you are planning to put the boat back in the bag you will have to pay close attention to folding the boat just right. I needed a second person to help get the boat back in the bag after folding it up. Personally, I would only use the dry bag backpack to pack the boat into some remote location. Otherwise, the boat will likely go into a tub when done. One other note, if you are paddling in windy conditions, be sure to connect a line between you and the boat if you are going to go into the water. Otherwise you may find yourself stranded when the boat blows downwind faster than even Michael Phelps can swim.
This was a fantastic purchase. We plan to take it with us on trips to estuaries, local lakes as well as Hawaii and wherever else there are paddling opportunities. It will be in my family for a long time to come.
Total set-up time is about 5-6 minutes with a electric pump (15 euros) and foot pump. It's a single envelope, so it drys really really fast, so deflated by itself, I rolled it up and put in its backpack in 5-6 minutes since I'm in land. And I don't have to disassemble and dry it at house.
So highly recommended!
To begin with, I just love the light weight - 29 pounds. Even my kids could carry the boat to and from the water together. The boat is also fast to inflate, maybe 10 minutes. Total set-up time is just about 15 minutes. I leave the fin installed, which is no problem as long as the fin is allowed to stick up when the boat is rolled up. And when we were done, I simply deflated it, rolled it up, and threw it back in the trunk of my car.
I am also very impressed with the space inside this little boat - it is after all 2 feet shorter than my Scupper Pro. On our first outing today, I was sitting in the back seat, my 10-year old daughter in the front seat, and my 7-year old son behind me in a third seat (my Surf-to-Summit GTE Elite fishing seat), which we attached to D-rings right behind my seat. The Sunny has lots D-rings all over the place - awesome.
All three of us were very comfortable. I used my thin XSL seat on top of the Sunny inflatable seat for better hip support, which worked out great. Because the inside of the cockpit is fairly narrow, leg support is quite good too. My feet comfortably and firmly rested against the front seat (providing additional back support to my daughter, as well). This allowed me to use the second, smaller footrest for thigh support. Altogether, I felt quite comfortable and well-connected to the boat that, frankly much better than I had anticipated. I can actually see myself paddling the Sunny for more than just a couple of miles like we did today.
The kids loved the boat too. They were very comfortable, and sat or lay down in different positions when they weren't paddling. Especially my son in the S+S GTE seat was living the good life back there. But the front seat is quite spacious too, and my daughter managed to lay down either facing forward or backward and be comfortable. The kids also tried standing up in the boat, without any problems. The boat is rock-solid. My son even climbed around me over the rails to sit in front of me for a little while. This was significant because he tends to perceive boats (i.e., my SP) as tippy, and later said that the Sunny was "not wobbly."
This illustrates once again how important comfort - perceived and actual - is. If a boat is or feels uncomfortable, whatever its other merits, they really don't amount to much because no one wants to paddle the boat for more than a few minutes.
Speaking about other merits, the performance of the Sunny is no less impressive than its space and comfort. Paddling by myself with two kids in flat conditions (we paddled in a marina) is a bit harder than paddling my SP, but really not all that much. With even the slightest help from my daughter (this was her first day using a double-bladed paddle - a 220cm Werner Sprite with a kid-sized shaft and blade) for more than just a few strokes), I felt that we were moving at least as fast as I would have on my Scupper Pro paddling alone. I haven't paddled the Sunny solo yet, so can't say anything about that yet.
Another performance feature I was even more thrilled with was tracking. At least with the three of us in the boat and the fin installed, the boat displayed hardly any weatherhelm in about 10-12 knots of wind from abeam. I had been worried about this and, frankly, expected that the boat, being an inflatable, was going to be all over the place. But it wasn't. Amazing. I guess that little fin really does work.
For anyone considering the Sunny as a family boat: I give it two thumbs up!
I purchased one of the older models (yellow interior, no skeg supplied) from an outlet in Germany online – postage was only 20 Euros to the UK and arrived inside a week. I believe the newer model (grey interior) should come with the skeg. I tried the Sunny on two tidal rivers and in Poole Harbour without a skeg, but it was hard work trying to hold a straight line and keep up with a mate in his Sevylor Rio which had a short skeg attached. Not the end of the world, but if you’re planning on touring as I was then a skeg is a must, considering the miles you will put in on a daily basis. So I bought one from gwdoling.co.uk including the nuts/bolts/l-plates/skeg patches/glue (and a repair kit) and it made the world of difference on a recent 90 mile trip down the Dordogne river in France (Vayrac to Siorac : class I rapids).
The Sunny has plenty of storage space if you are paddling solo; I had an 80 litre Nookie drybag behind the seat on this trip and there was room for a 25 litre coolbag (which also acted as footrest) and other gear (pump, etc.) in front of me. The inflatable seat in the older model is not great so I bought a waterproof Highlander seat (£8) and put a chunky, square section of foam underneath to raise the seat and absorb any river water than got into the canoe in minor rapids. The back of the seat was supported by the base end of the drybag behind me.
Storage space is obviously limited if there are two of you (seats reversed, great design!) – more of a day trip canoe – but it is strong enough to support two adults on placid outings. Paddling solo I reckon it would probably cope with class II rapids, but due to the low side wall chambers I expect it would probably swamp in anything more severe.
Flew to France with the Sunny, paddle, pump, etc. in a Scrub all-terrain board bag which I had to carry for 3 km to the river from the nearest station. Recommend taking a lightweight aluminum luggage trolley or golf trolley that will strip down into bits to support this bag if you have to lug all your gear some distance!
One concern I had with a kayak was getting into it from the stern of the sailboat without tipping it over, particularly in choppy water. With the Sunny it's no problem at all. I just launch my butt off the swim ladder and onto the seat of the Sunny, grab the paddle and away I go. With two people it's just as easy. The boat is extremely stable.
I can see I'm going to get a lot of use out of this little boat since I can take it out to small mountain lakes and rivers where the sailboat won't go. It's not designed for whitewater but that's not what I bought it for.
One thing I can say about Innova is quality. This boat will take a beating and keep on going. I use a 12 volt electric pump to blow it up and it's ready to go in about ten minutes. The advantage to the electric pump is that I can set the pump to the exact air pressure recommended by the manufacturer.
I chose the Sunny over the Helios 2 since I can change the seat around to paddle solo. I met a guy with a Helios 2 and after one look at my Sunny he said he was going to trade his in.
All in all, this Sunny is a great little boat. Hard core kayakers might disagree, but for my needs this boat is perfect.
And finally the performance. It is slightly tippy, feels more like a hardshell than other inflatables. Paddling is easy. I don't have a GPS but I calculated my speed from measuring the map. I can finish a trip of 4.5 mile in 1 hr 4 min, that is 4.2miles/hr. I have a Seaeagle's Paddleski 395 that can finish the same trip in 1hr 20min, with the same paddle, that is a speed of 3.4 mph. PS295 is Seaeagle's fastest paddling boat. Some said Sunny is the fastest IK. I think this might be true. The sitting position is very comfortable. The skeg, though, is not as effective as I expected. I can see obviously the swing of the bow with every of my stroke. It is possible that my paddle, 244cm, is too long for this narrow boat. I also wonder if a bigger or longer skeg could improve the tracking.
I give it a 9 since there is still more to expect in the world of IK. My dream is to have an IK hidden in a convertible's trunk yet with a performance not inferior in front of hardshells. Sunny is close, but not exactly yet. Is this the best the IK industry can make?
I was impressed with the quality of the boat construction, and I'm more impressed with her performance. Rigged as a double, you need to pay attention as the paddlers are quite close and paddle co-ordination is a must if you don't want to be the joke of the beach. There was still enough room for a large dry bag in the bow and a large backpack in the stern. Rigged as a single, there is tons of room for extended camping gear, and the boat moves very well through the water. In windy and choppy conditions, expect to get wet, although due to being low in the water, she handles much better in the wind than a canoe. She's not self bailing so a bailer/sponge is an asset.
The boat has an incredibly stable feel without being a pig in the water- as a single she's quite fast and easy to paddle- very comfortable to paddle for the day- you can change position with ease and even move around in her. The skeg gives her nice direction control, though you'll have to get out in water under about 8" deep.
The reports of the seat ropes being too short are true- they weren't meant for actually tying in but only knoting. The bow and stern lines are also a problem as they are only single knoted as well. I've replace these with 5/8th nylon braided, attached with a figure eight follow through with a barrel backup knot on both sides of the bow and stern, leaving a figure eight on a bight directly over the bow and stern. The seat ropes were replaced with the same 5/8th nylon, about twice as long as supplied, leaving enough rope for a simple square knot. The only other concern I had was the integrity of the air valves, though the company assures me there were few if any problems- I haven't read of any problems with these in any of the reviews. The valve covers would be difficult to operate with cold fingers though- they could be bigger.
The Sunny is easy and quick to set up, and I've even slept in the boat while anchored in a sheltered bay- fortunately I'm not very big as its a snug fit- but it is possible- slept like a log as well. I wanted the inflatable to take with me on a return extended trip (my seventh) to India where I intend to spend some months on a few rivers. I needed a boat that was reliable, repairable in the field, with lots of gear space, one I could sleep in if necessary, stable and with at least a reasonable turn of speed. The Sunny fits the requirements. Oh- a caution with this and any inflatable. I have a 10 ft. tether that snaps onto my PFD, attached to my bow line. If you think there's any possibility of falling out- you need to be tethered- in even a light breeze the boat will take off on you much faster than you can swim- a caution as well when you pull up on shore and get out, especially if she's unloaded- if its windy you need to tie the boat up or you'll turn around to see her drifting off. Rather embarrassing. Been there, done that.
All in all, I'm very pleased with the Innova Sunny, both in quality of construction and performance. The Innova people have a quality product with performance to match. Just a little nit-pick besides the rigging- the brochure/instructions the company supplies needs a bit of work to bring it up to the world class that the boat itself is.
Second mod is I made a longer but shallower skeg, about 2.5" x 8". Works just as well with less draft. Also, you don't have to screw it on each time you use it. Replace the wingnuts with Stainless Steel Nylock nuts. Then attach the skeg to the brackets on just one side. Tighten the screws using wrenches. You never need to loosen these. When you assemble the boat, just slip the skeg and two brackets in from one side. Then slip in the opposite brackets while folding the floor over to make room. Once the boat is inflated, there is no place for any of the pieces to fall out.
Never having got on with hard shells or wanting to deal with owning/transporting one, after an eye-opening day in Idaho in an NRS MaverIK I realised inflatable kayaks were not necessarily beach toys. After much web trawling I finally settled on a Sunny about a year and a half ago and, for the money and fun I've had with it, I have no regrets.
In that time I've paddled it on flat British lakes, rivers and inlets, spent up to 10 days camping along some lovely French rivers like the Dordogne, Vezere and Upper Allier, gone inshore day-tripping off the Croatian coast 2-up and have plans for some longer sheltered sea tours.
Above all I like the 'air-portablility' (I train or fly to France), the simplicity and speed of the set up and the stability without a seeming payoff with speed. I always feel safe and relaxed which I'd never do (or have done) in a hardshell kayak. Being out in the open and not half-sealed in a hull is agreeable in nice weather and the tough material is confidence inspiring: it loses no air for days at a time. If you fall out or swamp, no drama. Easy to drain in mid-water by just flipping, re-righting and crawling back in.
Like many other owners I originally found Gumboats (I own a Safari too) steered like lilos without a skeg. Nevertheless I found the OE one too deep for shallow rivers and got a batch of low profile skegs made which still worked OK. Then last week much of the Allier in France was often too shallow and rocky even for that skeg so I took it off and hey presto!, managed the next 3 days/60kms in a fairly straight line without it! So, with only a year's practice you can indeed get the knack of skegless Gumboating, although for powering on without resorting to finesse/technique (or on the sea) OE skeg is best as you can put all your energy into simply paddling without concentrating on the continual small corrections. As Christy says, it's a good idea to 'balance' the wing nuts on the skeg and make sure it's lined up straight along the hull. Then if it still pulls to the side you know it's you or the wind or any other number of reasons.
I must say I've never knocked out the seat/footrest plugs, but for a while did experiment with jammed-in tubeless car tyre valves which fitted just right (inflated with a pushbike pump). Could get the seat/etc nice and hard this way but I've since gone back to the simple low-tech plugs which I just pump up by mouth as the hull-spreading effect of these thwarts is not so vital on the wide and stable Sunny (compared to a tippy Safari).
I've toured two up with a 15kg load just fine on class 1 rivers but found that in class 3 it was more raft than kayak. I was lucky to steer it around obstacles and anyway, usually got swamped - actually quite pleasurable at over 30°C! Plus it's so stable it did not matter if I went through rapids forwards, backwards or nearly sideways. You can relax and have fun in this boat, but still tour with the rest of them, and best of all, never have to shuttle back or use a car.
It's fast enough - I average 5kph on rivers with much drifting/resting and have kept up on the Thames with a mate in a Klepper and a Feathercraft (but not so well with a plastic kayak).
I like Andy's idea of only jammed in seats (it's never occurred to me to untie them except to change from solo to twin). They are not the greatest - just ordered an Aire seat to fix against a home-made 'spreader board'. Will add a bit of space too. Solo, I've also found recently the footrest thwart too far away to brace on when trying to 'lurch' the beached boat off a rock in mid-rapid. Hopping out would be quicker of course but I may remove the thwart too and organise another board with a useful Otter box in front to foot-brace on. I did wonder about thigh straps on the Sunny to aid manouverability. I notice the Canadian Innova website recommends them but really I think any boat of 3.9m is just too long for class 3 finesse. Anywhere else it steers fine.
I stuck on some extra, home-made D-rings - keeps the luggage in when flipping it to drain it and in case it capsizes (never happened yet).
Self bailing? I thought about it after all that class 3 swamping (aint tried it in the surf yet) but after looking closely I (being 90kg + gear) would definitely be sitting in/towing water. A self bailer (like a Safari) needs a thick floor to keep your butt out of the swill. But give it a go, bailing holes can be reliably duct taped up for dry, flat-water boating (as I've done on my Safari). My crappy looking Bravo pump has lasted just fine so far too - the yellow hose can split, just trim it and jam it back on to the adapter. I also like the idea of trying that Spirit Sail for a sea trip we have lined up.
It is easy to re-enter when flipped and the material seems very tough. To boot, you can pack it on your back (for short distances, at least).
A couple of downsides are picky enough that they don't justify dropping the rating: You will get wet if there is surf or rapids, so, you have to dress for the water temp (but this is the case with any inflatable). And the seat chambers can be easily deflated if you knock the valves out accidentally.
All in all, I really dig this boat and owning it keeps me from buying more specialized crafts (I can't justify them when I can get out and do most everything I want with this one)
During the last year I purchased to great additions to my Sunny: full size Spirit Sail, and K-pump model 200. The sail works only down wind, so I paddle up wind for few miles -- excellent exercise; then set the sail and glide back. With the winds in excess of 15 mi/h, Sunny with Spirit Sail simply flies -- fun!
K-Pump M200, cut my inflation time from 7min, to sub 4 min. Previously I used Bravo 6 Double Action Hand Pump also an excellent pump. However, K-pump is faster, requires less force, keeps operator upright to prevent any back pain.
I was lucky to buy Sunny, because after over two years of use and my exposure to other kayaks, I still would choose it. The only improvement I would suggest is to put valves for seats.
This would improve its performance considerably in the surf.....I just haven't been brave enough to drill the holes in my favourite toy yet. Another time saver is to only use two of the brackets on the removable fin. Both brackets on the one side. This allows you to leave the brackets screwed on and just slip the fin in and out. I have used the kayak for about 6 months in all sorts of conditions (including rather large surf) and the fin has shown no signs of falling out. Make sure you put it in straight though or you'll get one sore arm and a sore back. Leaving the seats untied allows very quick transition from single to double kayaking and also allows for fine tuning of seating position when two paddlers are of significantly different weights.
All around I'd recommend this kayak to anyone who likes/needs transportability in there sporting goods without sacrificing too much performance. The boat is very safe and stable in big ocean swell as it just bobs on top of everything. I'm now saving up for the Innova/gumotex 'Safari'.
Clean up is the fun part. If you don't have access to a beach side hose, then you just put the boat away wet. Don't forget to get a nice plastic tub for you trunk. Then you can put it away wet and not worry about it till you get home. I like to inflate it indoors to get the little ropes dry, later.
If you have ever been in a whitewater raft, then this boat is just as tough.
In terms of paddling, this thing is smooth and easy to move. Even when the person in front stops paddling!!!
I purchased mine used, without the storage bag, but find that the Sunny fits perfectly into the Ricardo Duffle Bag from Costco ($39.95) [boat in bottom, seats and pump up top] and ships beautifully as luggage on an airplane. I see myself using this boat for many years. I have taken my daughter and wife out in it (separately) and the boat handles well even though we nearly max out the weight. Low profile in water is great in windy conditions. Only reason I didn't give it a 10 is due to seats which are comfortable for a couple of hours. I took a 3" piece of stiff, closed cell foam and put it behind the lumbar area of my back and my comfort is greatly improved. Find one, and buy one, you'll love it.
P.S. Tim at Innova helped me with plugs for an old Semperit boat, and went beyond the call... excellent customer service.
I just returned from a week on Sanibel Island in Florida where I had the opportunity to paddle it both solo and tandem, and in the quiet waters of Tarpon Bay and Commodore Creek in the Ding Darling wildlife refuge, as well as both tandem and solo on the Gulf side of the island.
Some personal specs: I am 5' 11" tall and weigh 160, my wife is 5' 4" and weighs about 130. We both paddle Old Town and Wenonah canoes and Dagger Atlantis and Seeker kayaks. We also have an Old Town Loon 111.
The performance of the Sunny inflatable far exceeded my expectations. The boat tracked better than the Loon when it had the skeg attached. My first day, I took the boat out on the Gulf with mild breezes and 2 to 3 foot swells. I took the swells (and near shore the breaking waves) head on, quartering to the left and quartering to the right. I then paddled with the current, perpendicular to the waves, then quartering to the left and then the right (in my experience, the most difficult paddling situations to encounter). This boat took everything in stride easily! I rarely took any water over the stern or bow, and then only a slight splash because the boat simply floated up over the front of the wave and down the backside. The skeg kept the thing tracking straight as an arrow; I couldn't believe it!
The next day, in slightly calmer seas, I took the GPS with me and paddled straight out to sea for just over one mile. I tried a sprint to see what I could get for speed. I attained 4.9 mph during the sprint. When I stopped, the current was carrying the boat at about 1 mph, so my net speed was 3.9 mph. I could easily sustain a speed of just over 3 mph during the total of 4 miles that I paddled off shore during that outing.
Because of the low profile, there is little wind resistance. The open cockpit makes for a nice tanning platform with the seats in the hinged back position.
When paddling without the skeg (which my wife and I did on Commodore Creek due to shallow water) the boat was a bit squirrelly, but it was not difficult to use a bit of a sweep stroke in the stern to keep it going straight. On a longer paddle, the skeg would be a must.
I would have given the boat a 10 if it weren't for the seats. The adjustment straps on the sides of the seats rubbed the sides of my torso and caused a bit of irritation (Tom at Innova was very helpful with information while I was waiting for the boat to arrive at the local dealer; he said he would swap out the seats that come with the boat with other seats if I decided that I didn't want them when I returned from my trip. I haven't decided if I'll do that yet or not.)
As a solo, a paddler can stow a significant amount of gear. As a double there is space in back for a backpack. This is a wet boat because of the low sides and no spray deck. So a wetsuit is recommended for chilly water. I've had it swamped trying to surf it. Because it doesn't have bail holes I used a pump to bail it. It won't sink when full of water, but will be very slow, so I would not recommend it for surfing.
It takes me about 15 minutes to set up. If I didn't always attach the skeg, it would only take me 5 minutes. Adjusting the seating arrangment will add another 5 minutes. I keep this boat in the trunk of my car or in my aparmtment. It folds down into it's own backpack. I put a paddle and PFD in a seperate bag with other accessories.