Kayaking has become one of my favorite things to do within the past few years. I’ve gone from a recreational kayak angler to a seasoned kayak tournament competitor. Over the years I’ve paddled many different kayak types from well known brands. I’ve owned and currently still own several kayaks. Every time I go on outdoor adventures I almost always regret not bringing my kayaks along. Most of the time I’m dealing with space issues and I have to decide what items are most essential for my trip. Unfortunately my kayaks generally take up more space than other essentials so I end up leaving them behind.
Recently I was introduced to Innova Kayak which instantly solved my kayak space issues. I had the opportunity to test out the Innova Helios II EX tandem inflatable kayak and it quickly became my ‘go to’ kayak for traveling and camping. I honestly never gave thought to an inflatable kayak before but since testing it I can certainly see the many advantages of owning one.
The Helios II EX is a 12.5 foot tandem inflatable kayak rated for up to 396lbs (2 person). The total weight is 36lbs and completely folds to fit into the included drybag/backpack. It is constructed of a fully rubber-coated Nitrylon fabric making it rugged, fast drying and easy to clean. It’s also very puncture and abrasion resistant. The kayak includes deck netting and gear bungees along with adjustable footrest and carry handles. It also has a river rating of Class 1.
The Helios II EX along with other Innova Kayaks are easily packed into their respective dry bag/backpacks. The Helios packed dimensions come in at 20x14x8″ and with a weight of only 36lbs, it is can easily be carried using the included backpack.
Carrying a full sized kayak in a backpack? I bet you never thought that was possible! I surely didn’t, but am excited that Innova Kayak makes this possible. From this point forward I will always have a kayak with me on camping trips and traveling.
Setting up the Innova Helios is also quick and easy. Each kayak comes with the necessary pump and attachments to get you quickly into the water. The Helios has three main compartments to fill, port side, starboard and the base of the hull. There are three additional small areas to fill on the top as well. The kayak uses push button air valves for inflation that allow you to pump without losing any air. This feature is excellent if you’re inflating solo. Once you’re familiar with the setup, inflating can take roughly 10 minutes.
After the easy setup, it was time for the maiden voyage. I had the perfect opportunity to put the kayak to the test. I was on a camping adventure with a group of 22, and mostly everyone got a turn. Before paddling tandem I test drove it solo and was immediately impressed at how fast and straight the kayak tracked. The Helios does include a fin that assist in tracking as well.
I gradually increased the weight load as I continued to test. The next paddle consisted of one adult and one child. The kayak was still very sturdy and fast on the water. Next I paddled the Helios with 2 adults on the kayak and obtained the same results. Still tracking very well with good speed. To further this testimony on the speed of the kayak, I only had 1 paddle while testing. I can only imagine how fast the Helios tracks with 2 adults and 2 paddles.
Not once throughout the testing did I even question stability. There are some kayak hulls that compromise stability to gain speed, the Helios doesn’t compromise. Instead the hull is well balanced to allow for good speed and traction while maintaining a solid balance. While on a subsequent paddle with my son, he was eager to try standing while I paddled and that also had favorable results.
If you’re looking for a quality kayak that is light, portable and pack-able the Innova line of kayaks will certainly have what you need. This particular model is excellent for exploring rivers, paddling along ocean shorelines, lakes, fishing in the back country and much more.
The video below is a compilation of the different environments which the Innova Helios II EX kayak was tested.
Have any questions or thoughts on the Helios or the Innova line? Leave a comment below.
Disclosure: The product was provided to TheOutdoorBoys to facilitate the review. All opinions and comments stated are our own. All photos posted are taken by and property of TheOutdoorBoys.