Advancements in technology have provided some superb inflatable boat creations. Everything from my beloved Sea Eagle 380x expedition level inflatable kayak, the unique inflatable fishing SUP, the “Creature Comfort” monster whitewater “raft” (see video below) and tiny PackRafts for backcountry fishing.
Yet, the one inflatable boat that’s been conspicuously absent has been a quality inflatable canoe. While Sea Eagle and other inflatable kayaks often “resemble” a canoe in appearance, they don’t function like one. Except for a handful of inflatable kayaks specifically designed for lake paddling (such as the FastTrack & RazorLite), no inflatable kayak can effortlessly glide through flat water like a traditional canoe can. Moreover, no inflatable kayak has the huge weight capacity that a typical canoe has.
However, this all changed with the creation of drop-stitch technology. Drop stitch construction allows an inflatable boat to dispense with the typical “pontoons” used to construct an inflatable boat. Drop stitch construction allows a boat to be “formed” in much the same way a hard shell boat is. Drop stitch construction also allows the boat to be inflated to a very high psi (10psi, or higher), which makes the boat nearly as firm as a hard-sided kayak or traditional canoe.
With the advent of drop-stitch construction, all sorts of new and interesting inflatable boats have hit the market. From Inflatable SUP’s to superb lake paddling kayaks, drop stitch construction is fast over-taking the market.
But in my opinion, the finest and most unique use of drop stitch construction is found in the Sea Eagle Inflatable Travel Canoe.
Unlike inflatable canoes of years past, the Sea Eagle Travel canoe resembles a real canoe in form and function. Basically, it IS a canoe—just one that is inflatable instead of being constructed from wood, aluminum or Kevlar.
The Sea Eagle travel canoe effortlessly glides through the water when paddled—just like a traditional canoe does. This is possible due to the slim, sleek design of the boat, it’s drop-stitch construction that keeps the boat firm, and the molds and design of the lower part of the canoe that resembles a traditional canoe in almost all ways.
The travel canoe has a huge weight capacity—915lbs. This allows two people to venture out into remote waters with piles of gear, just like paddlers have long done with traditional canoes.
Weight wise, the Sea Eagle inflatable canoe weights less than most tandem traditional canoes—topping the scale at 60lbs or so. However, unlike a traditional canoe the inflatable canoe is portable. The travel canoe deflates and packs down into a moderate sized bag that fits in the back of any trunk.
Moreover, the Sea Eagle inflatable travel canoe is rugged. The outside fabric is the same tough material used to construct expedition level inflatable kayaks. And unlike traditional canoes, the Sea Eagle travel canoe is capable of running Class IV rapids—although you better have experienced paddlers before trying it.
Safety and Stability
One other interesting tidbit that people in search of a canoe might find interesting. The drop-stitch construction is neutrally buoyant. What this means is that it is basically impossible to sink the canoe. Even if you flip the inflatable canoe in rapids, the boat won’t sink—even if the boat fills completely with water.
More importantly (and more commonly), if you happen to capsize the boat on flat water (such as in a lake), the canoe will not fill with water. Instead, the boat essentially “floats” on its bow, stern, and seats. This makes righting and then climbing back into a capsized canoe very simple.
Lastly, since the canoe is capable of running Class IV rapids, water will inevitably get into the boat should you run the canoe through these powerful rapids. Unlike a traditional canoe, the Sea Eagle inflatable canoe has drain valves (located at both the front and back of the boat) which allows water to drain out.
Who Might Like an Inflatable Canoe?
The popularity of traditional canoes suggests that many people will find inflatable canoes of interest.
Inflatable canoes offer the same versatility as found with traditional canoes. You can fish from them, easily paddle across lakes, go down rivers and streams and run rapids. And due to their rugged drop-stitch construction, you can take inflatable canoes on excursions into wilderness areas such as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area—normally the home of traditional canoes.
Thus, basically anyone who is interested in a traditional canoe should find these inflatable canoes from Sea Eagle of interest.
So that leads back to the original question. Who might like these canoes? And I think the best answer to that question is this:
Anyone who desires the design and functionality of a traditional canoe, but who also needs an inflatable boat that is far more portable and easily stored than a traditional canoe, will want an inflatable canoe.
Moreover, inflatable canoes are also likely to appeal to couples in search of an inflatable boat for river floats. If you look over the Guide that Compares the Best Boats by Activities, one boat is conspicuously near the top of many activities. And that’s an inflatable canoe.
The reason for this is simple.
Inflatable canoes are extremely versatile boats, perhaps the most versatile of all inflatable boats for two paddlers.
Instructional Video (setup and disassembly)
And Just For Fun….The “Monster” Inflatable Boat
(P.S. – Don’t try this in an inflatable canoe)