Backpack Yak

FISHING WORLD – August 2012


SOME of my favourite fishing memories have come from trips into difficult to access locations, far from crowds, other fishos and boats. There’s something satisfying about exerting a good amount of physical effort to reach a spot you’ve pored over on a map or seen from atop a distant lookout – and finding once you get there that you’ve got it all to yourself.

The problem with such locations, once there, can be getting enough access to fish the available water. There’s nothing worse than hiking through bush for a couple of hours, then finding out the bankside is too overgrown with brush to allow you to cast from more than one spot. This is where some form of watercraft comes in – not that you’ll easily cart a modern fishing kayak, canoe or dinghy into such locations anytime soon. This is the forte of the inflatable boat or backpack kayak.

Portable inflatable craft have come a long way since the early days of puncture prone offerings that could hardly be taken seriously for some paddling fun, let alone as a fishing craft. One manufacturer really has its act together when it comes to air pressure reliant craft. After doing some back breaking canoe expeditions into some bass pools reasonably close to home, I knew there had to be an easier way to fish these locations. After some internet research I discovered the Sevylor brand, a name synonomous with quality inflatable craft at reasonable prices. The model that looked ideal for my purposes was the QuikPak K5 single person inflatable kayak. I readily sourced a review model from my local BCF store. Interestingly, it came in a lairy fluoro orange colour that, going by the manufacturer’s website, seems to be the only colour option available.

Sevylor’s Quikpak K5 features an innovative design that sees the kayak fold up to form a backpack that’s extremely portable and versatile. At 10.5kg total weight the pack isn’t too taxing on the back and shoulders, even when carried for lengthy periods. But don’t expect the sort of comfort you might find from a top shelf hiking pack. The QuikPak does though feature comfy padded straps and a waist support strap to help spread the load. The pack comes complete with collapsible double paddle which neatly slots into side pockets on the pack. One really intelligent design feature is that the pack’s outer  doubles as a seat and spray curtain when the kayak is assembled. The kit also comes with a dual-action hand pump that can be stored via bungee cord on the pack. The only problem I found with the assembled pack is that it leaves little room for storing any other items you need on a trip, such as fishing tackle, food, drink and cameras. To get around this a waistpack comes in handy, as does strapping a fishing friendly PFD to the pack. My Stohlquist Fisherman PFD was ideal for this.

This kayak has three separate 20 gauge PVC inflation chambers, and is extremely quick and easy to assemble – once you’ve done it a few times. Inflation with the hand pump only takes around five minutes or so, although the fittings supplied with the pump only allow “hands-free” inflation in one valve. The other two require you to press the pump hose tightly against the valve as you inflate the chambers as the valve diameter is too large to accommodate the supplied fittings. This is slightly annoying but doesn’t slow assembly down too much.


On the water
When fully inflated, the kayak is light enough to be easily carried or slid to the water. It features a grab handle at both ends, which helps this process. To climb aboard, the spray cover needs to be zipped down most of the way to accommodate your feet. The seating position is reasonably comfortable thanks to the pack’s padding doubling as a seat, and the cushioning of the air chambers. Stability is pretty good for such a lightweight craft. I’ve found a fishing rod can be easily stored behind the seat, secured by the supplied elastic bungee cord, or atop the spray cover within easy reach. There’s also a handy storage compartment at the rear, accessed via a flap secured by velcro.

The ’yak’s “hull” features a moulded fin that tends to get a little bent one way or the other when packed away, but can be straightened out enough to aid on-water tracking. Being such a lightweight craft, it’s easy to paddle, and make quick directional changes in. It also tends to get blown around quite a bit in a strong breeze. Fishos with long legs will probably find this little boat pretty cramped, but being a shorty I’ve had no problems. The outer shell features hard wearing canvas-like polyester to aid durability. I’ve already managed to test this aspect out by hooking a blade lure into the side, courtesy of a little flathead that threw the lure. Thankfully the hooks only found the polyester outer and came out without puncturing any of those vital air chambers. The ’yak’s bottom is also reinforced with laminated PVC for added durability.

All in all I really like this little backpack kayak. It does what I hoped it would, that is, provide an alternative way to access out of the way spots without breaking my back. Best of all, at under $500 it won’t break the bank either.

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