Ah, the kayak. The ultimate form of human-powered water travel. But off the water? A royal pain.
There’s storage—often a deal-breaker for condo-dwellers. There’s transport—usually requiring a roof rack for your vehicle. And then there’s cost—don’t get me started. For expeditioners and enthusiasts alike, there aren’t many ways around these points. You either want one or you don’t.
But what if your goal is just a bit of splishy-splashy fun on the water? Exploring the local seashore, a gentle float down a meandering river or plying a calm lake? Maybe with the kidlets in tow or even your four-legged friend? Enter the Body Glove Glide 11 Kayak.
I recently tested Body Glove’s new inflatable SUP, and was impressed with its performance and packability. It was well-suited for even experienced paddlers. The Glide Kayak is a different side to the coin. For one, it’s more like a sit-on paddleboard rather than a stand-up paddleboard or a true kayak. This isn't the boat you’ll want for exploring the north shore of Lake Superior or the Broken Islands of British Columbia.
It’s one step beyond a water-toy and two steps behind an expedition kayak. But in this middle ground there's a lot of fun to be had.
As you might glean from the moniker, The Glide 11 Kayak is 11 feet (3.35 metres) long, 32 inches (81 centimetres) wide and six inches (15 centimetres) thick. It’s constructed from reinforced PVC with Body Glove’s triple-layer stringer, which creates a solid and stable platform when pumped to the maximum of 15 PSI. It also boasts some rubber bumpers for beaching on rocky shores—which I did with impunity—as well as twin rubber fins that can be bent and twisted during transport yet always ooze back into shape when the boat's in the water.
The biggest departure from a SUP is the kayak's padded adjustable seat that’s clipped in place where your feet might normally get planted—as well as the two sets of affixed foot-braces, which accommodate bent or straight legs when your butt is in place.
The whole package includes the boat, seat, a three-piece aluminum kayak paddle (with an additional attachment that turns it to a single-blade for SUP’ing), a single/dual-action pump, leash, repair kit, lanyard dry-pouch and a storage backpack.
I previously praised Body Glove’s iSUP for its packability and lightweight—but you give a little of that up with the Glide Kayak. The boat and bag weigh 14.55 kilograms (32 pounds); add 1.45 kilograms (3.4 pounds) for the paddle and leash. That's about two kilograms heavier than the total iSUP package, and about 4.5 kilos heavier for just the boat and paddle. Plus, while their iSUP package easily carried all parts in its backpack, it’s tough if not impossible to squeeze the kayak, pump and paddle into its pack—making for a bit more of a clown-show as I lugged the various parts, plus my dry bag, from vehicle to beach.
However, where I lamented the weak zipper on the Performer iSUP's backpack, the Glide Kayak's pack has an improved zip—it's burlier and didn't separate even under great duress. Nice fix, Body Glove!
Perhaps most notably, the Body Glove Glide 11 Kayak is priced to compete at about $600 (through costo.ca). Let's take a closer look:
You will get sweaty pumping up your Glide Kayak. But it’s over quickly—less than five minutes of thrusting gets it from limp to 15 PSI. The seat has a trio of attachment points fore and aft, plus adjustments to fine-tune the nylon-webbing straps so legs meet footrests comfortably. The paddle is adjustable as well, and the boat is rated to float up to 350 pounds (160 kilograms). Suffice to say, this kayak will fit just about any size paddler.
Modern inflatables seem tough enough to stop a shotgun blast. This one’s no exception—I dragged it over barnacles and to the sea without worry. (Try doing that in a fibreglass Necky.) The biggest surprise of the test was the comfort—I set the seat for a relaxed position and snugged in cozy enough to spend the better part of the day. (Again, something I can rarely say in a classic ‘yak.)
Even though it’s narrower than your average SUP, sitting on this board resulted in a ride stable enough to easily crash through some waves sent my way by a flotilla of jet-skis. This is, however, a flatwater boat; extremely rough seas would be extremely dodgy. And even though the included single-blade paddle conversion hints at the occasional SUP foray—when standing, it’s considerably less stable than most SUP’ers would be used to. Best to stay seated.
The relaxed seating position suited a relaxed paddling style—as did the boat's geometry. Hard strokes resulted in considerable yaw. Steady, slow strokes resulted in relatively stable tracking. If you’re used to a skeg-boat, you may find it wobbly—but with the right cadence I was able to leave a swift wake as I raced along the shoreline of Indian Arm. Like most inflatables, the Glide is susceptible to breezes—though your lower seated profile means you’ll likely leave a SUP in the dust when paddling upwind.
The more strokes I cut through the saltchuck, the more I appreciated the simplicity of this kayak-meets-iSUP. Sure—if you’re looking for a boat to tackle big waters and long days, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for an accessible, easily-storable and affordable way to enjoy some waterborne serenity, ply around the far shore of that lake, or just leave the screaming beachgoers behind for a while—this is your craft.
- Highs: Priced right, portable and easy to store, family-friendly fun
- Lows: Yaws easily, designed for small/calm-waters
- Verdict: A fun boat for gentle exploration
- Learn More: costco.ca