Here I go again, confidentially sprouting forth about IKs on the basis of stats, pics and online interpolation. There seem to be two versions of Swing 1 and 2 being produced. Innova distributors in the US get black hulled models with a dirt- and water-shedding teflon coating. Europe gets grey hulls which appear shinier; only the deck is Hevealon. More on IK materials here or right.
The decked Swings look based on the more modern Twists. As others have commented, they appear to be taking on IKs from Advanced Elements and even the birds eye view is similar. From the profiles below it appears they’re more ellipsoid or ‘lemon shaped’ than previous incarnations, or maybe it’s just that they’re substantially wider which exaggerates this impression.
Me, I’ve always preferred the lack of a deck on my IKs. It makes packing, getting in and falling out all so much easier, and paddling in the open is much more fun. The problem with my old Sunny (now the near-identical 410C) was that it would swamp fairly easily in unflat water because it was a long boat with low sides that flexed in the middle with the weight of a hefty single paddler like me. This is partly a function of Gumotex’s single side tube design as well as its pliable ‘easy fold’ Nitrilon fabric; it’s less rigid than the twin tubes and stiffer PVC fabric of my notably faster Incept.
Two big improvements on the Swing boats: they modified those horrible, nail-breaking inflation valve caps; you get something more akin to the easy-to cap Incept valves. And you still get the ever-unsung pressure release valve for the I-beam floor – always a good idea on a IK, plus there’s the new-style slot-in skeg.
Classic Nitrilon has natural rubber on the inside and Nitrile (synthetic) rubber on the outside – very tough and good for air-retention plus quick cleaning and drying, but may be considered a tad over the top for an infrequently-used recreational IK. Nitrilon Light fabric is half the weight of classic Nitrilon but you do hear of ruptures which you never do on full Nitrilon. The durability of the US-only black-hulled Hevealon with its low-friction, water-repellant teflon coating on the outside hull surfaces is unknown. It won’t be as hardwearing as an outer layer of Nitrile but is much lighter which again attracts buyers. The decks on both EU and US versions don’t need to be that tough or even waterproof and so are made of a much lighter Hevealon, a PU-coated fabric, but as Paddlesheep (see below) has observed, the partial zips could be a weak point and even then, the decks will reduce easy wipe access and drying time inside, compared to an open IK or zip-off deck IK like the Innova. But then again, the insides ought to get less wet in the first place.
The Swings use 2 or 3 curved alloy crossbars (left) to keep the Hevealon deck taught (similar system on my Incept) and make room for the legs, as well as spread and form the width of the boat. Some blurb states these crossbars make the boat more rigid which as it happens may well be true. Pushing the hull sides apart to make width and form and avoid a slack deck won’t make an IK more longitudinally rigid, but I suspect that constraining the sides (stopping them from flexing out as the boat bends longitudinally) will have some effect, and it seems that the T-bar ends of the Swing’s crossbeams could do this. If you think about it, when an ‘open peapod’ vessel like an IK flexes longitudinally in the swell / under the paddler’s weight, the hull sides will tend to fold and bow out in the middle. So if the T-bar ends of the crossbars do indeed slot in and constrain the sides, that may well restrict out-bowage and so sag on longways flex, probably no worse than any tentpole on an Advanced Elements or a broom handle as I’ve tried myself on my Sunny.
SWING I ▪ Length 3.16m ~ 10′ 4″ ▪ Width 87cm ~ 34.2″ ▪ Weight 8/11.2kg ~ 17.6 lb (weight verified by French distributor, despite Gum HQ comments below) ▪ Maximum load 120kg ~ 265 lbs
SWING II ** ▪ Length – 4.02m – 13 feet ▪ Width 89cm ~ 35″ ▪ Weight 14kg ~ 30.8lbs ▪ Maximum load 204kg ~ 450lbs
** Swing II stats verified by theboatpeople, but could refer to US-only black hulls models. I am still not certain of the weight differnce between EU and US versions. Gumo say they are the same.
As far as the preferred boats for this ‘touring IK’ blog go, what might have been desirable was a decked boat the length of a Swing 2, but set up for a single paddler. A boat rather like my Incept. Sure you can sit in the back of an Sw2 and load the front, but it’s not right, is it? Fact is, such dreamboats hardly sell because when people other than me get serious about kayak touring and multi-day trips they get a proper hardshell or even a folder. IKs are still seen as goofy rec boats for users who want to pump up and play on a bay for a day.
The solo 8-kilo Swinger looks like a fun day boat, but no more than a Twist at just 6kg and over a foot shorter, or a full-Nitrilon coat Helios 1, same length, only 71cm or 28 inches wide but 4.5 kilos heavier. Or of course a Sunny or 410C.
One good point mentioned on a forum is that getting back into a Swing in the water may be quite difficult because IKs sit high in the water when you’re not in them. It’s not just a matter of pulling over and flopping in onto your air bed, you have to get your legs back in the cockpit. It’s something I found myself last year when experimenting with my similar Incept. It can be done, but alone in choppy water (the reason you fell out in the first place) it’s tricky. In the Incept I could unzip the deck and crawl in that way.
And so we ask again, what are the actually benefits of a near-permanent deck on an IK? (the Swings’ decks only unzip partially) Limiting swamping – sure. Keeping the sun off, maybe in sunny lands. Keeping you warm, I suppose so, but that’s what a dry suit ought to do: ‘dress for the swim [falling in], not the paddle [air temps]’ they say.
And so I conclude that the Swings may well sell well for Gumo Inc (they certainly have in the US), but they fall into the less desirable ‘bloat’ category: wider than they need to be which is great for nervous day/rec users lugging them down to the shore from the back of the van and who are of course attracted to the perceived safety as well as genuine storage advantages of IKs. But as a multi-day touring proposition (space, speed, convenience), the longer boat may not so optimal. Price in the UK ebay is around £500 for the solo or £650 for the double with skirt/s.