Sian swapped out her hardshell kayak this summer to test out the Inflatable R1 Ultra Razor Kayak.
I’ve got a classic hardshell kayak and have had my little Duck (yes I gave my kayak a nickname) for a few years now.
I had many sleepless nights deciding whether I should get an inflatable or hardshell and ended up getting a super small hardshell that would fit inside my compact SUV.
The problem is, it swings side to side quite vigorously as I paddle (hence the nickname) because it’s too stubby and takes me a long time and a lot of arm strength to actually get from A to B.
That was a long-winded way to say, I was really excited when the opportunity to review the inflatable R1 Ultra Razor Kayak came my way, and I think it’s safe to say that all those years ago, I made the wrong decision in purchasing Duck over an inflatable.
- Capacity: 1 person
- Set-up: 4 min
- Pack down: 2 min
- Water rating: Calm/choppy
- Hull Weight: 8.2kg
- Max Load: 179kg
- Length: 285cm
- Width: 84cm
- Packed: 80cm x 50cm x 35cm
- Colour: Blue/Black
- Seat: Double-padded foam
- Removable Fin: Included
- Backpack: Included
- Primary materials: Tech-Stitch™ inner floor, 1000 denier PVC & toughened mesh
Size & Weight
I’m only 5.5 feet, and I wouldn’t say upper body strength is my strong suit. Lifting a hardshell kayak onto roof racks on my own is just not going to happen, so the inflatable kayak is already winning there.
The R1 Ultra is a single-person kayak and weighs 8.2kg. It easily packs down into the bulk of a medium size luggage bag. The bag provided is very roomy which is great! It means you can also throw your pump, the seat and anything else you need to pack comfortably inside and not spend have your day messing about around trying to squeeze it back in a tiny bag. The whole kit and caboodle will fit in your boot or back seat no worries.
I did have dreams of throwing the kayak on my back, going for a hike and then jumping on the river. However, the standard bag isn’t really made for performance, it’s just a bit awkward and not super supportive. You can upgrade your bag for $75 if you contact Razor Kayaks to one that is more suited for hiking if this sounds like you, otherwise the bag provided is totally fine for regular transportation.
Once inflated, the kayak is still very portable and easy to lift up. I’m not sure why I thought it wouldn’t be! It is 2.85m in length and 84cm in width. I could lie completely down in it, and for a leisure kayaker such as myself, that is a big selling point.
The Ultra is also available as a 2-person kayak — R2 Ultra
This was my biggest apprehension when it came to inflatable kayaks. I’d never set one up but the thought of inflating one just gave me the ick.
However, I was pleasantly surprised with the ease of setting up and packing down the R1 Ultra.
No joke, It really only takes about 5 minutes. Probably as long as it takes me to haul my hardshell kayak to the shore! Just open the valve, attach the pump, inflate away and stop when you get to 7 PSI (don’t worry, an instruction sheet comes with the kayak).
I used a basic hand pump from Razor Kayaks which both inflates and deflates, as well as shows the PSI which is essential. If you had an electric pump, I imagine things would be even quicker, but honestly, it isn’t necessary in my opinion.
While I haven’t used the kayak long enough to conclusively speak to its durability, Razor Kayaks utilise some pretty hardcore materials that speak for themselves.
The primary materials are a Tech-Stitch™ inner floor, 1000 denier PVC and toughened mesh. Similar materials to surf life-saving rescue boats, so you know they can cop quite a beating.
Since there are a lot of inflatable kayaks out there, and it can be hard to choose one over the other, this durable construction is the big selling point for Razor Kayaks and will give you peace of mind out on the water. The kayak comes with a repair kit too.
If I were to be especially picky, the seat has a little bag attached to the rear of it which I did find to be a little flimsy and it came off on one side.
While I could easily get this replaced for free, it isn’t something I would probably use anyway, instead, I prefer to use waterproof bags and attach them to the side of the boat which is more secure.
My biggest problem with my hardshell kayak is the performance and the fact that it swings from side to side as you paddle. There is a reason the performance kayaks are long and thin, they cut through the water better.
The R1 Ultra is a ‘Recreational’ kayak. Razor has other models which are listed as ‘Adventure’ and ‘Performance’ so I wasn’t expecting it to blow me out of the water.
Well, it darn did pretty well! It glides straight and the balance is fantastic, so much so that I had a camera tripod standing on the floor (not fastened down whatsoever) while I was paddling through some mildly choppy water and it barely moved.
Not sure if comfort fits in the performance category but it deserves a mention. The Tech-Stitch™ floor is very comfortable. Compared to my regular kayak which is basically sitting in a hard plastic tub, the R1 Ultra is like sitting on a cloud.
The detachable seat is also constructed of a a double padded foam which adds some extra cush for the booty which is always welcome.
How’s this for performance – Razor will soon be selling a motor that you can slot in instead of the fin (controlled by a wrist band)! Keep eyes peeled on their site for the release of this feature, I know I will be.
The standard bag and smaller hiking bag
Now for the pointy end. The bow if you will. The R1 will set you back $1,195 AUD.
You can get some pretty expensive inflatable kayaks, so this one is by no means the most expensive. However, you can also pick one up for a couple of hundred dollars too, so it also is by no means the cheapest.
Like anything, you get what you pay for. The materials used in the R1 Ultra are quality and are a far cry from the pool toy material that some of the cheap ones use.
If you are going to use your kayak more than a handful of times, it’s worth the investment.
You will also need to buy a paddle and pump separately. Razor Kayaks offer trial sessions so you can essentially try before you buy, and return the kayak for free within 30 days if you do buy and realise it’s not your groove.
The Little Things
There are a few small details that are not really that important in the scheme of things, but definitely noticeable for someone that has been around the river bend a few times.
- The valve caps are attached with little strings which I love. I have a valveless kayak at home because those things disappear at a similar rate to odd socks.
- The fin on the bottom of the kayak is there for performance, though I like to think it’s also there to keep the kayak clean. This thing comes out of the water squeaky clean, even after dragging it through some mud. It’s probably best to not drag your fin on the floor and pick it up though.
- The dark blue colour of the side tubes scared me a bit, I was picturing leather car seats on a scorching summer’s day. But, I roasted the kayak in the sun on a 30-degree day and they surprisingly stayed quite cool, so I suspect some sort of wizardry was involved in the manufacturing.
- It comes with an attachable footrest, I haven’t used it yet but on a long day of paddling, I know it will come in handy.
I’m pretty sold on inflatable kayaks in general now. While I haven’t tried other brands, the R1 Ultra Razor Kayak outperforms my hardshell of a similar size and wins when it comes to portability.
What sets the R1 Ultra apart is the quality of material used, so while pricey, it’s justified and should be something you really consider if you’re in the market for one.
I will end on this — The set-up and pack down is lightning fast, but at the end of the day, some people just really can’t be bothered with it. I found it to be pretty painless and worthwhile to have a compact and lightweight vessel for many future adventures.
Sian was provided with the R1 Ultra Razor Kayak for testing and was allowed to keep it afterwards. She was allowed to say whatever the heck she wanted about it! We Are Explorers Gear Reviews cannot be bought by any brand and you can read about our selection process in Our Editorial Standards.