In 2017 Canoe Shops Group became the official distributors for the Gumotex range of inflatable canoes and kayaks. They have proved to be very popular and with good reason. Constructed from Nitrilon fabric they are tough, light and durable. However, whilst I have had a few quick paddles in them on photo sessions and pumped plenty up on the shop floor, I had yet to try one for an extended period of time. It’s always a good idea to practice what you preach and this summer an opportunity cropped up....
Looking at my car fully loaded up for the annual two weeks in France and groaning on its springs with four bikes, a paddleboard and a roofbox, it soon became apparent that taking a double Sit on Top for us all to play with was not going to be an option this year.
This was a shame as the gite we were staying in was right on a river and just a few km from some great beaches. In addition our friends we were going with had an open canoe. It was then that I thought of the Gumotex Twist 2. The beauty of this inflatable kayak is it packs up incredibly small, can carry two people and more to the point – we had a couple of shop display models I could borrow for the family and our friends to use. With a couple of FeelFree Day Tourer 2 piece paddles, the Twist 2 easily fitted in a corner of the boot – this kayak packs up to an amazing 50cm x 25cm x 30cm and the paddles are only just over 100cms when split so can be put in the boot or a roofbox. A couple of universal sized PFD’s and we were ready to have some fun on the water!
Contrary to our usual experience, the first day of our holiday dawned with no wind and a predicted 30 degrees – a weather pattern that was amazingly set to continue, meaning I was doubly glad we had the Twist in the boot. We decided to hit the river with our friends who have a large open canoe permanently at the holiday home and with a couple of paddleboards between us we were pretty well equipped.
Easy to Inflate
Along with the Twist, I also brought along a 12v pump which plugs in the car for absolutely effortless pumping. To be honest the Twist doesn’t really need such luxury and it only takes me a few minutes to pump one up using a dual-action hand pump. Simply attach your chosen pump to the easy-to-use 'Push-Push' valves and start inflating.
Three valves and three seperate inflation chambers feature on this kayak, the floor and the two sides. Inflation takes just a few minutes.
The Twist 2 is so easy to pump up with the seats already attached that it really is ready in minutes. Just remember to slot in the tracking fin to the holder patch on the underside of the kayak prior to inflating. Pump up to the recommended pressure and away you go! This is where the bladderless design of the Gumotex kayak starts to show its merit. Even though the Twist 2 is the cheapest boat in the Gumotex tandem range it is still made out of high quality Nitrilon fabric and can withstand much higher pressure than inflatable kayaks with internal bladders within a fabric cover, more than double in fact. This results in a stiffer hull which in turn should translate to more efficient paddling. The floor of the Twist 2 features an overpressure valve and will expel air once the correct pressure is reached. The side chamber pressure can be checked with a Gumotex Pressure Gauge. Once inflated, the seats can be adjusted into position and inflated. Each seat has a screw valve for inflation by mouth, or for a firmer seat, by using a pump.
Time for some fun!
With the kayak pumped up the children were keen to give it a test paddle and again the Twist showed an unexpected advantage. Normally I have to help them carry a double Sit on Kayak down to the water and launch it for them as they can weigh in at 30kg. But with the Twist the two young ones just picked it up, dropped the paddles in the boat and marched off to the launch pontoon where they easily slid it into the water and jumped in. Despite me fervently hoping they might tumble out the other side and provide me with comedy gold for the family movie the Twist showed remarkable stability and they were off up the river.
An afternoon of mucking around in boats followed and everybody wanted to try the Twist. It easily held its own against a 17ft open canoe in a race and happily accommodated two 6ft adults as well as being easy to paddle and manoeuvre for children – not to mention easy to climb back in after a cool swim.
We came across a waterfall with a small overflow slip.... and that just had to be done on the Twist 2! Apart from a lap full of water, the Twist 2 handled it fine.
At the end of the day the Twist was hauled out and left to dry in the sun whilst we had some après kayaking refreshment and here the Nitrilon showed another advantage as within just a few minutes the kayak had completely dried out and was quickly deflated using the proprietary ‘push push’ valves and rolled up into its storage bag. Other inflatable kayaks I have used in the past have taken much longer to dry as the outer cover gets soaked through and needs to be draped over garden furniture or a fence when you get home to completely dry out. The more expensive Gumotex models have a waterproof rucksack which can be purchased as an extra with the Twist, however we just used the standard bag it came with which isn’t waterproof but fits perfectly without having to force it.
Over the holiday the Twist was used several times, more in fact than I expected. It was just perfect for exploring the local area and reaching parts of the beautiful countryside we had not seen before.
The kayak was easy to keep in the boot and so quick to set up that we kept it in the car all the time just in case. With the normal Sit on Top kayaks, you usually only put one on the roof if you are definitely going to use it. One particular time, my daughter and I arrived at the beach for the sunset and decided that actually, it was a nice evening for a paddle. There was nowhere to park near the beach but because the Twist is so light we just carried it from the car park. Once out on the sea it soon became clear the water was choppier than we realised and though we were in no danger as we are both competent swimmers and wearing good quality PFD’s I initially thought the conditions might prove too much for an inflatable and we would need to turn back. However teenagers are made of sterner stuff and we kept powering into the oncoming waves. I needn’t have worried. The extra pressure in the Twist kept us paddling forward very efficiently and the kayak felt as stable as any Sit on Top I’ve been in. It doesn’t self drain though so you do need a sponge or small bailer if you are out in choppy conditions. The plastic fin/skeg that slots into the bottom really helps the kayak hold its line. Back on the beach several holiday makers were very interested as we packed the kayak away and couldn’t believe it when it all went into a tiny bag and off we went into the beach cafe with it under my arm for some frites!
The Gumotex Twist 2 turned out to be an essential holiday accessory and everybody who used it thought it was a really great piece of kit. Back home it was rinsed out with fresh water and once pumped up and laid on the shop floor it barely had a mark on it to show the adventures it had been on. I am confident it would last a family much longer than a cheaper inflatable kayak and justify its slightly higher price tag. I’ve paddled many boats this summer but some of the best memories have been of paddling the Twist 2 down French rivers and around the coastline.