Gumotex Solar 410C
The legendary Sunny is now hard to find new in Europe and maybe some other markets too, but here is the Solar 410C with reversible, Sunny-like seats.
The price in the UK with two seats and a skeg is £470 and in Germany is under €600 with no skeg (it costs £12). North America (Innova) continues to sell the old Sunny for nearly $1000.
This for all intents and purposes is the new Sunny, because the old discontinued 405 Solar/Solar 2 was a good and usefully long river touring boat ruined with terrible seat designs: either the original space-wasting thwarts (at least they were replaceable) or worse still, Helios-style fixed seats in the half-coat (Lite Pack) Solar 2 – the pits!
Luckily, now in Europe (and also at TBP in the US) we have the Solar 410 ‘C’ for ‘Convertible’ with two or even three seats which can be removed and one re-installed the other way round to make a big, single seat kayak with lots of room for stuff – nice. You also get adjustable footrest pads (see here for a lighter and simpler idea), a bit of a half-arsed cargo net in the back, and I see a floor PRV in the video below (still, right). Gumotex never seem to mention this useful feature, but of them I am a big fan.
If not incluced, the black plastic skeg might be extra (and is worth getting). On the 410C you don’t need a skeg-mounting patch at both ends because unlike a Sunny, you simply move the seats forward or back on the D-rings to change configurations, not turn them the other way. In the unlikely event your 410C doesn’t have a skeg patch, it’s not so hard to glue one on.
The stats for the Solar 410C are 4.1m long (Sunny 3.85m); 80cm wide (Sunny 77cm), weight 17kg (Sunny 16kg) and payload no less than 270 kilos (Sunny 180kg). That looks to be quite a jump for just a little extra volume. If you can imagine three of me sat in the new Solar, that equals 270 kilos – the slightest wave will surely swamp the boat. The Sunny was the fastest boat in its class, and although a tad wider the 20-25cm longer 410 ought to be the same.
But one thing I do wonder with a 410C (and why I got a Grabner instead, even at nearly twice the price), is that with my weight I suspect the longer hull would flex even more than the Sunny and it does bend a fair bit in the seal entry at the beginning of the vid above. This was why I moved on from the Sunny after many years, although here I discuss ways of getting around that flaw.
Old Gumotex Solar 405/ Solar 2
As you’ve just read, In 2011 Gumotex got back with the program and brought out the Solar 410C with moveable and reversible Sunny-like seats and a full Nitrilon coat. This is the ‘new Sunny’ or Solar 405.The original, pre-2007 Solar 405 (left) was similar to a Sunny of the time. It was usefully longer for payload or tandem paddling, but used space-wasting thwarts (fat air cushions) for seats. For that reason a Sunny was always better solo touring choice.
Here’s some video of a 4-metre long 405 in action. Note how easy it is to get into from the water (@ 2 mins), but also how easily it swamps (around 3m 10s) in a WW2-ish riffle (both are similar characteristics to a Sunny and most probably the 410C, above).
The post 2007 ‘Solar 2s’ (right) became even less versatile: horrible fixed seats like the Twist and Helios (left) may give great support, but along with fixed footrests it all means it can’t be set up optimally for solo paddling without chopping it all out.
As on all post-2007 Solars for a while, only the outer surfaces were coated and then the Solar 2 was dropped in favour of the broadly similar but more popular Sunny, the semi-decked 3.8-metre Helios II (also with fixed seats and decking) or even the shorter Twist II.