Inflatable Sea Eagle Kayak the Size of a Large Suitcase

Downsizing into an RV touches EVERYTHING you own, including boats and floaties on the water. We love to kayak and we’ve taken our hardshell kayaks from Georgia to Upstate New York, and to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and to lakes hither and yon in our travels. The trouble is, they’d take up the entire garage of a toyhauler RV and if we were just going to vacation in the RV, a week here and there, that would be great. But we were planning to LIVE in the RV for most of the year, traveling for months at a time. And we’d need that garage for things besides kayaks. Plus you have to factor in weight because you have weight limitations in an RV and the more each item weighs, the fewer items you can bring along.

Our Islander America hardshell kayaks
Islander America kayaks

Toting the Islander America kayaks on our truck
Islander America kayaks on truck kayak rack

A toyhauler RV has an extra room called a “garage” which is designed to haul motorcycles, four-wheelers, golf carts, kayaks, and other large fun-gear toys. People also turn them into kids’ playrooms, dog lounges, hobby rooms for sewing, woodworking and the like, extra storage for clothes and a pantry, a washer and dryer, just all sorts of uses. The ramp door folds down to roll your wheeled toys out, and it also creates a fenced-in deck that you can sit out on in lawn chairs. You can even fully screen it in to keep out bugs. Versatile.

We had big plans for the garage that did not include hardshell kayaks, so we followed the well-established trail of other RVers to migrate to inflatable kayaks that fold up to the size of a large suitcase, and two brands stood out as being the most recommended. The sheer number of brands and makes and models and pricing was dizzying, how to pick from so many? Especially when for the most part, you cannot walk into a store and see one inflated to judge its suitability. Some stores carry inflatables in-store and display a couple, but not of the makes and models we were looking at.

Based on the recommendations in the RV groups that I followed, I narrowed it down to two brands: Sea Eagle and a brand I won’t name since this blog is about to morph into a total obliteration of that brand. So I will call it Brand-Ex.

I chose the Sea Eagle 385ft FastTrack Deluxe Solo, which in spite of its name can hold two people if you have an extra seat and paddles. I also ordered the seat upgrade for a sturdier seat with more back support, and I ordered the BP12 Single Stage Electric Pump. The Sea Eagle kayak comes with a nice foot pump, but being older my body gets crabby and I wanted the pump to do all the work. Buying the upgrade seat gave the added bonus of my kayak having TWO seats, since a blow up seat comes with it. The package also includes a paddle, and since we were keeping the paddles from our hardshells, I was fully geared to bring an extra person along providing I carried an extra life jacket.

Spouse ordered Brand-Ex. Which did not come with a paddle, and the pump it came with was pitiful. He thought he could use my Sea Eagle electric pump to inflate his, but the connections do not match, and he had difficulty in the effort.

Now the cool thing about my Sea Eagle is the versatility. I can separately order a motor-mount for an electric motor, or a sail to turn it into a sailboat. I could lay down flat in it and bob around as if on a raft. There’s plenty of room to take a dog (or two), and even another person. The Sea Eagle 385ft FastTrack is also stable enough to handle different water conditions up to Whitewater Level II, and it is supposedly easy to climb back into if you tip out or jump out, though I’ve not yet been in a position to verify that. I can say with absolute certainty that it doesn’t tip easy — I can climb in and out from the dock without feeling like it’s going to tip over.

The Brand-Ex model that spouse ordered had no versatility. One person. Period. No dog. And it didn’t look easy to get in and out of, though I was already floating away and did not witness his embarkation efforts.

First, let’s talk set-up. It took longer to unpackage the Sea Eagle from all the bubble wrap and excellent packaging than it did to set it up for use. Never having used an inflatable kayak before, the instructions were easy to understand, and with the electric pump we had it ready to sail away in no time. The pump is set to inflate to the exact amount of air needed and automatically shut off when it reaches that level.

The only downside of the Sea Eagle was that it was much bigger than our 11-foot hardshells, and heavier and bulkier than expected. Otherwise, it paddled and tracked with ease. And I could get in and out with ease, a feat which I had difficulty with in the hardshells from a dock. On the water, the Sea Eagle was as easy to maneuver as my Islander America hardshell. I could have chosen a smaller model, but this one checked all the boxes for me.

Spouse’s Brand-Ex kayak came a week later and these are the comments he made while setting it up. Verbatim, no mincing of words. Once I saw the direction this was headed, I wrote it down as he muttered the expletives. This commentary started about 30 minutes into the set-up process, long after he should have been done.

“This sucks.”

“This is complicated.”

“I may have overinflated that.”

“This is making me miserable.”

“I don’t know how you’re supposed to know how much air to put in it.”

“Oh man, this is killing me!”

I think he spent two hours trying to figure it out, and all that bending over was giving his body fits. The initial set-up of Brand-Ex made for an utterly miserable, depressing afternoon. In contrast, the initial set-up of my Sea Eagle was quick, easy, smooth. I remember thinking, “This is WAY easier than I was expecting! Nice!”

Once in our respective kayaks out on the water, it did not get better for him. His posture was not comfortable, the seat did not give him adequate back support, there wasn’t enough room to stretch his legs out, and the tracking was awful, meaning that he was getting blown all around instead of gliding in his chosen direction. He was completely and utterly miserable.

And then, as if to punctuate an already miserable day, doom and gloom storm clouds rolled in and it started raining while we were out on the water.

In contrast, my first day out in the Sea Eagle after an easy breezy set-up, looked like this:

Maiden voyage in the Sea Eagle kayak using our old paddles
Sea Eagle 385ft FastTrack kayak

Note that I was not using the paddles that come with the Sea Eagle, and I can attest that the Sea Eagle paddles are longer and better suited for the inflatable kayak.

Later on after dinner, he said, “That’s what I get for trying to be a smart-ass.” When we were choosing our kayaks, he just knew I’d picked the wrong kayak and that his would be so much better. More like our hardshells. And the truth of it is, I almost went with Brand-Ex but in the end chose Sea Eagle, all the while wondering if I’d have buyer’s remorse once his kayak came.

But it was the exact opposite. He had the buyer’s remorse and said, “Here. I’ll give you my credit card and you can order me one just like yours.” And then he had to go through the process of returning his kayak, or reselling it. We haven’t got to that point so I cannot comment on it, his set-up and maiden voyage being just yesterday. All my doubts vanished upon seeing the alternative that looked so great on the internet, but totally bombed out in person.

Besides the many glowing reviews outnumbering the bad reviews, and the fact that folks with all levels of kayaking experience were loving their Sea Eagles, what follows are some of the reasons I chose the Sea Eagle brand, and the Deluxe Solo model in particular:

  • Generous return policy. 180-day trial with a money-back guarantee. Big deal when ordering something sight unseen.
  • Three year warranty. Which they honor generously according to the many happy reviews.
  • Versatility. Can convert it into a motorboat, sailboat, or raft, and back again. Easy-peasy.
  • Expandability. I can carry a guest or a dog. I can pack a lunch, carry snorkel gear, the foot pump or electric pump for emergencies, and anything else I want to bring along without being crowded out or top-heavy to tip over. The load capacity is 635 lbs. on the model I chose.
  • Legroom. I don’t paddle with my legs scrunched up. I stretch all the way out, legs flat. The Deluxe Solo model is perfect for that. You can also add foot pegs if you want to bend your knees for added push-power.
  • Stability. I’m older. The body doesn’t cooperate. I’m not agile and steady as when I was younger. The Sea Eagle 385ft FastTrack Deluxe Solo accommodates my need for a platform that doesn’t wobble and tip.

Sea Eagle carries many other models including smaller kayaks, inflatable fishing boats, paddle boards, canoes, runabouts, and kayaks in a variety of shapes and sizes, each geared toward a specific type of paddler. Some are for whitewater kayaking, some are geared for paddling long distances, and there’s even a catamaran. Some are super light, some are super long, and it was hard to pick just the right one for me sight unseen, but their generous return policy gave me the confidence to choose one knowing that I could swap it out if need be. That said, I did my due diligence in choosing a model so that I’d get it right on the first try.

I measured our hardshells, the size of the cockpit, the length of the hull, the inner depth and width, the height of the seat back, everything. And then compared it to various Sea Eagle models. I noted that Brand-Ex did not offer measurements to judge by, which is one of the reasons I bypassed them. Also, Brand-Ex did not appear to have such a generous return policy, and their warranty was only 1-year compared to 3-years as offered by Sea Eagle. For that reason, I questioned the quality.

I am delighted with my choice. I think my Sea Eagle 385ft FastTrack will serve me well for the type of kayaking we do. I can’t wait to get out on the water for real, the two of us in our Sea Eagle kayaks exploring the waterways of the USA.

* * * * *

Enter into the journey with us as we share the full lead-in for the Big Change to living in an RV full-time, and to what lies beyond…

In the meantime, follow me on a very different journey of high strangeness. Alien Nightmares: Screen Memories of UFO Alien Abductions shares memories and dreams relating to my personal experiences with extraterrestrials, along with the little-known UFO flaps from the time periods which swept me up into an extraterrestrial neverland of high strangeness.

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