By Robert Carroll
Video: Aidan Egan Tranter
The Alameda was launched in 2016, based on the successful Hudson model. Now we’ve never paddled the Hudson but we did review the Sevylor Madison last year (https://joom.ag/JeqQ/p156) and whilst there are still many similarities, there are also some very pleasing improvements.
The most obvious is the new seat design. On the two-seater Madison, the seats were inflatables that were anchored to the floor of the kayak via Velcro strips. No problems with that, as the seats were very stable and stayed in position. With the Alameda, the seats are still inflatables but have a new improved way of attaching to the kayak’s side chambers.
The Alameda three seats are suspended from the side chambers rather than touching the floor, an improvement that gives many benefits:
- Your backside isn’t now making an impression into the floor of the kayak, meaning the Alameda has less drag than its predecessors.
- If water enters the kayak, the suspended seats allows for a drier paddle, keeping your derrière dry.
- As the seats are now more elevated, it’s a far more comfortable experience being able to reach over the side chambers.
Whilst we are on the subject of seats, they can only be described as being very good, with the padded lumbar on seats one and three, giving excellent support. They’re also easily adjustable with the inflatable base allowing a very comfortable padded paddling position. The back of each seat also has a mesh pocket for water bottles, etc.
The Alameda uses hooks that fits into the webbing alongside the side chamber. Think of how most house window curtains are hung and you’ll get the idea. Because there are so many notches in the webbing to hook into, the seats can be spaces to suit the occupants with an inch-by-inch adjustment. We also found that the tighter you adjusted the seat back rests – the more comfortable and supportive they were.
In our case we had two larger adults with a smaller adult in the middle, all in all coming to just under 190 kilos and well below the Alameda’s stated maximum of 210 kilos. After the first hour’s paddle, we all disembarked and altered the seating to give my aunty a little more leg room in the middle. This was achieved by moving the front seat two notches forward and the rear seat one notch backward and proves that versatility is one of the Alameda’s strengths. Then we set off again for another 90 minutes.
If the Alameda is a very good three-seater, then it is an excellent two-seater, where leg room now comes into its own, with plenty of space after the removal of the middle seat. It goes without saying that the Alameda can be used as a very spacious single seater.
Most paddlers will buy inflatable kayaks because of issues with space and it’s fair to say that inflatables like the Alameda will save you space, even more so when you consider the Alameda is a three-seater. When deflated it fits back into the very useful carry bag that can be used like a back pack but also sports paddle holders, a roll top and drainage plug.
Inflating the Alameda isn’t too much trouble either. We tested the non-premium model and therefore you have to inflate three separate chambers as opposed to the single chamber in the premium model. Sevylor uses two-piece Boston Valves that allow inflation without leakage. All in all it takes five minutes to inflate with the manual pump (electric pump as an option) to the recommended 1.5psi that’s easily readable on the supplied pressure meter. One important point that will save a lot of hassle is to remember to fit the supplied attachable skeg before inflation – it’s way easier!
So how does the Alameda perform on the water?
The Alameda is aimed squarely at the leisure market, so obviously it wouldn’t be ideal on whitewater conditions above Class II rapids. On straightforward calm river water, the Alameda is extremely stable and I would say near impossible to flip over, making all occupants feeling safe and secure. The raised bow with the built-in spray deck makes for an excellent defence against small waves and choppier water, leaving the inside of the boat relatively dry. This makes the Alameda ideal for navigable rivers and coastal kayaking.
Tracking and gliding with the attachable skeg and built-in directional strake is excellent for an inflatable. The underneath with its strong dual skin made by Decitex®, provides a smooth, waterproof surface to travel over the water, offering very good protection against sharp objects. In fact, overall from the construction to the materials used in the Alameda, this is one tough cookie!
Paddle clearance has been improved due to the more elevated seating position that means the paddles clear the side chambers more easily than before. On the top of the chambers are paddle holders on both sides that also double up ad carry handles to complement the other handles both fore and aft, which make the Alameda so easy to pick up and carry. A spraydeck is attached to the bow, with webbing for loose items, ties the whole package up very neatly.
After paddling, the Alameda deflates in seconds but if water has managed to enter the hull, be careful to make sure you empty as much as possible as water can tend to get trapped beneath the side chambers. The kayak is equipped with a drainage plug to aid this. The one thing you do not want is to stow the kayak away for months on end to open the bag up to a smelly mouldy mess. After arriving home I always tend to take the deflated kayak out and lay it out in the sun if possible to completely dry it out. If that’s not possible, then take a towel with you and dry the kayak as much as possible before bagging it up.
All in all, Sevylor have hit the nail squarely on the head with this inflatable, where the main selling points are convenience and fun days out on the water at a reasonable cost.
The quality is excellent, roomy and lightweight, whilst being easily transportable and opens up so many possibilities to the recreational paddling marketplace. To top it off, it is also a perfectly strong, well balanced and paddleable boat. How can you go wrong?
- Wide shape offering excellent stability.
- Boston, Mini Boston and Mini Double lock valves for easy inflation and deflation.
- Easy inflation manometer: check pressure easily during inflation.
- Highly effective drainage system.
- Integrated large spray decks at bow and stern; spray deck at bow with bungee cord storage.
- Two fabric covered seats with foam backrest, taller base, storage and the innovative webbing suspension.
- Removable seats – easily turn the kayak into a three or two-person boat.
- Removable fin and welded-on directional strake for excellent manoeuvrability.
- New moulded handles on side including double function as paddle holders.
- Dry-N-Store carry bag.
- Removable fin.
- Repair kit.
- Owners manual.
Cost: Approx £350; €450