The inflatable dinghies, canoes and kayaks we grew up with were little more than pool toys. Long-time inflatable kayak manufacturer Sea Eagle will change your assumptions about blow-up boats with the world’s first performance-oriented inflatable travel canoe.
Pack this Sea Eagle canoe with your luggage and take it along anywhere
The Travel Canoe 16—or simply TC16—is a perfect craft for paddlers who don’t have 48 square feet to spare for canoe storage, or for travellers who want to be able to check their canoe on an airplane. When deflated, the TC16 packs to the size of a burly winter sleeping bag, small enough that it might not even be considered oversized baggage. In fact, it’s the only canoe that’s ever been delivered by courier and deposited in the Canoeroots office kitchen.
The TC16 weighs just shy of 60 pounds and is incredibly easy to set up. Literally, just pump and go. Inflation took Canoeroots publisher Scott MacGregor about seven minutes and then we were ready to hit the water. And that was without reading the instructions.
Hitting the waves with the Sea Eagle TC16
Stability and ease of handling
On the water, the TC16 makes for fun and easy cruising. Even without the optional skeg it tracks straight, turns easily thanks to moderate rocker and is quick to get up to top speed.
Its double-walled, drop-stitch hull is rock hard when inflated to the recommended 12 psi, and the PVC-based material had staffers climbing all over it, practicing Capistrano Flips and gunwale-bobbing without worry of bruising limbs on aluminum gunwales and wooden thwarts.
The flat bottom of the TC16 makes it feel stable so long as you remain on the level. With even a little tilt the canoe quickly falls to find its secondary stability on its inflated sides. Once you’re there, the secondary stability is rock solid.
How does this inflatable boat measure up?
Two factors impressed me most about the TC16. First, after righting the canoe following a capsize there’s almost no water inside the hull. When the canoe does overturn, it floats on the water instead of in the water, meaning you can right it, slither back in and keep on paddling without bailing.
Secondly, the TC16 is durable. We crashed it, bashed it and bounced it, and none of it left a mark. Not even a head-on collision at ramming speed with a car-sized chunk of billion-year-old Precambrian rock. Try that with your hard shell. There’s a limit to the TC16’s durability I’m sure, but we didn’t find it.
In moving water, the hull does bend and flex more than other travel canoes we’ve paddled. While grinding down shallow drops on our local river the canoe almost seemed to bend and slither over rocks—a funny sensation that takes some getting used to.
Our only complaint? The inflatable seats are attached to the floor with Velcro, and the feet-out-front, lean-back style isn’t what we’re used to for aggressive river running. We kept wanting to kneel.
Summing up the Sea Eagle TC16
In addition to the niche markets of urbanites and northern river travellers, Sea Eagle’s Travel Canoe 16 is sure to find a home in the boat houses of families, fishermen and river cruisers looking for a versatile recreational canoe.
Watch us unbox the Sea Eagle, inflate it and take it out on the water:
This article originally appeared in Canoeroots Spring 2016 issue.
Subscribe to Paddling Magazine and get 25 years of digital magazine archives including our legacy titles: Rapid, Adventure Kayak and Canoeroots.