Hobie Mirage i14t Tandem Inflatable Kayak Review

Version:
2008

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On January 22, 2012
Last modified:September 6, 2014

Summary:

Hobie's tandem inflatable kayak is a fantastic little boat that we've used on rivers and lakes all over the US and in Mexico's Sea of Cortez and Pacific coast. Stable, fast, easy to assemble and disassemble, the only drawback is a few leaks that have developed.

This is a review of the Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak after 3 years of use on rivers, lakes, Mexico's Pacific coast and the Sea of Cortez.

Enjoying our kayak at St. George State Park, Florida.

Mark demonstrates using the Mirage drive pedals for Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak

Mirage-drive pedal/fipper

system.

Our Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak in Puerto Balandra, Mexico

Puerto Balandra, Sea of Cortez, Mexico.

Our Hobie i14t kayak on a beach in the Sea of Cortez

Puerto Balandra, Sea of Cortez, Mexico.

Lake Havasu, Arizona - perfect for kayaking with a Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak

Lake Havasu, Arizona.

Our Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak at Redfish Lake, Idaho

Redfish Lake outside Stanley, Idaho.

The Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak in its folded and stored postion stands taller than expected.

The kayak in its rolling case.

Extra equipment needed for the Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak: seats, paddles, pedals, pump, lifejackets

The other pieces that don't fit in the case: seats,

paddles, pedal/flippers, lifejackets.

Deflated Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak Pumping up a Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak Inflating a Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak Pedaling around San Diego Bay on a Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak

Playa Cove, San Diego, California

Sea of Cortez (Bahia Falsa) with our Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak

Bahía Falsa, Sea of Cortez, Mexico.

The storgage back for the Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak

It's all gotta fit in this bag...

Inflation/deflation valve for Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak

Valve for inflating/deflating.

Putting away the Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak - First fold the bow in on itself Putting away the Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak - fold it in thirds Putting away the Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak - fold the stern over everything Putting away the Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak - tighten the webbing straps. Putting away the Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak - finished package. Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak can be rolled around (if you're careful) Hauling the Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak Carrying the Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak with a shoulder strap. Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak  - seats Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak - lifejackets pedals/fins Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak - paddles The Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak fits into a fifth wheel basement

Tight squeeze going into the fiver basement.

Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak takes up most of the space in a fifth wheel basement

Once there it takes up a lot of space.

The kayak makes a good platform for waxing the hull. Hauling the Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak up into the Garhauer racks

Getting ready to hoist the kayak.

Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak at rest in the Garhauer racks

In the Garhauer racks with the

bridle/halyard attached.

A butt saver for the Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak - self-inflating seat.

A thermorest butt-saver cushion.

Our commuter vehicles.

Kayak moulds at the Hobie Cat factory in Oceanside, California

Hobie kayak mold rocks back and forth to distribute

the molten plastic inside the mold.

Kayak factory at Hobie Cat in Oceanside, Caliornia.

Hobie Cat factory, Oceanside, California.

New kayaks lined up ready to sell

New kayaks ready to go.

Pedaling the Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak in Redfish Lake, Idaho.

Pedaling into the mountains at Redfish Lake, Idaho.

Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak at Lake Havasu, Arizona

Lake Havasu, Arizona.

Hobie i14t Tandem Inflatable Kayak Review

One of the best additions to our RV and boat has been our Hobie

i14t inflatable kayak (manufacturer: http://www.hobiecat.com/

kayaks/mirage/i14t).  It is easy to launch and is a very stable

platform with three inflatable chambers: two pontoons and a floor.

We've tried Hobie's identical hard-shell tandem kayak and found it

to be a lot more tippy.  We can stand up in the inflatable kayak and

not lose our balance.

The kayak can be driven either by

traditional paddles or by Hobie's

Mirage Drive pedal system.  These

are removable pedals/flippers where

with each pedal stroke the flippers flip

back and forth.  Apparently the idea

for this system came to its inventor

one day while watching marine mammals on Discovery channel, and they are wonderfully

effective.  The best part is that it makes kayaking a hands-free affair.  The kayak is steered by the

person in the rear who has a small dial control connected to a rudder.

We now take only one paddle with us and

we use it only for quick steering situations

(the kayak has a very wide turning radius

otherwise).  Being hands-free we can take

photos and use the binoculars with ease.

There are two kinds of pedals, the

standard ones which are slightly shorter,

and longer ones that

are harder to push

but make the boat

go faster.  We have

the standard pedals.

There is also a sail

kit which we don't

have.

This kayak does not fold

up to a small size.  Once

packed away in its case it

stands almost chest high.

It is also about the same weight

as the comparable hard-shell

kayak.  However it can be

packed away in a truck bed or in

the basement of a fifth wheel

trailer, unlike a hard-shell which

must be carried in some kind of

roof rack.

There are quite a few extra

pieces besides the hull:  the two

Mirage pedal systems, two

seats, two break-apart paddles,

the pump and two life jackets

(purchased separately).

Assembly takes about 15 minutes and is very straight-

forward.  First the kayak hull is laid out on the ground.  Then

the three chambers are each inflated independently via

three valves at the back end of the kayak.  They can be

inflated in any order, and its just a minute or so of easy hand

pumping for each chamber.

Then the seats are set in place

using clips and webbing straps.

The paddles are assembled

and stored in place on the sides

of the kayak.  The life jackets

are slipped under the bungee

cord storage area in the back.

And off we go.

Putting the kayak

away is a little trickier, as it needs to fit back into its case.  We lay the

case out on the ground and put the kayak on top of it with the stern

end at the cover-flap end of the case, and then we deflate the three

chambers.

The kayak is folded up by first curling the bow in on itself and then

folding the boat in thirds.  The bow section folds towards the pedal

opening in the stern of the kayak.  Then the stern of the kayak is

folded up and over the top.

At this point we pull the sides of the case up

and around the kayak and pull the webbing

straps tight.

Then we fish out the top flap of the case from

underneath and fold it over the whole thing and

pull its webbing straps tight.

Now the case is ready to be rolled around.  There is also a shoulder strap that can be attached so you can lug the kayak with

you as you walk.

Neither rolling nor carrying the case is easy.  The kayak is quite heavy and it's a big awkward package.  I have read of people

finding the case so flimsy that it ripped and had other problems when traveling as checked baggage.  If I were to travel with it

that way a lot I would have a strong canvas carrier made for it.  The wheel system is also rather delicate.  On ours the axel bent

from the weight of the kayak and then the bag dragged on the ground.  It could be bent back into shape, but it is a weak system

and not for long distance use (like through endless airport walkways).  Rolling it a few steps from our disassembly spot in our

campsite to the trailer, or from a boat ramp to the truck is not a problem.

The big heavy kayak hull and its bag are just part of the total package.  There are also those pesky seats, pedals, paddles,

pump and life jackets to contend with.  All this is easy in a truck or trailer, but carrying all this on public transport by airplane or

bus would be a challenge.

The kayak neatly fits into our fifth wheel basement, but once it is in there it is just about all that

will fit.  All the other favorite basement goodies like camp chairs, barbecue, buckets, tools and

generator, not to mention the seats, pedals, paddles and lifejackets etc. all have to fit around

this beast.  However, the days on the lakes and rivers are well worth the hassle.

The kayak has brought us lots of fun times

on the boat.  It has been useful as a

platform for waxing the hull, but far more

important, it has given us a little exercise

and a nice slow pace for exploring the

anchorages we have stayed in.

We always keep it inflated on the

boat and we use Garhauer kayak

racks to store it outside the

lifelines in when its not in use.  We

rigged a simple bridle system

using the two pedal holes to hoist

it into the kayak racks using the spare

halyard.  Once up, we leave the seats

in it and store the pedals, paddles and

life jackets in the cockpit lockers on the

boat.  It takes less than five minutes to

rig up the bridle and either hoist or

lower the kayak.

We also bought two self-inflating thermarest seat

cushions.  We slip these under the seats and it

really helps with overall butt fatigue and the

inevitable numb foot problem that creeps up if we

are out in the kayak for a long ride.  The seats on

the hard-shell kayak are a little more comfortable

and less inclined to put your feet to sleep.

We visited the Hobie Cat factory in Oceanside California where the hard-shell kayaks are

made (the inflatables are made at another plant).  Molten plastic is poured into moulds and

then swished around for a few hours to completely fill the mould.  Then when the plastic

has cooled the mold is opened up and out pops a new kayak hull.

It was a lot of fun to see all the new gleaming kayaks lined up.

The inflatable kayak is definitely more delicate than its hard-shell sister, and most cruisers with Hobie Mirage tandem kayaks

carry a hard-shell instead of an inflatable.  We have had to fix several leaks in the bow chamber and reattach many small pieces

to the hull using JB Weld (i.e., the anchors for the seats and for the bungie cord in the back).  They fell off due to the relentless

heat in Mexico.  I also sewed a Sunbrella kayak cover to protect it from the UV rays.  For tropical cruisers spending more than

one season in the tropics, I would recommend taking a long look at a hard shell tandem Hobie rather then the inflatable.

However, it is such a fun little boat -- stable

and easy to clamber in and out of for snorkeling -- that we are happy with our choice, even if it means babying our baby a little

extra.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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