SPIRIT OF LONO: WHY CHOOSE AN INFLATABLE KAYAK
WRITTEN BY: ROB MCABEE, BOTE CREATIVE DIRECTOR
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: SEAN MURPHY
The pilgrimage from Virginia to Boca Grande, Florida was always my most anticipated trip of the year. It was always in early to mid-spring when the tarpon are migrating south and the snook are spawning right off the beaches. Boca Grande, famous for its inlet and giant tarpon, has so much more to offer to an angler willing to do some DIY research and put in hours paddling a kayak. This was where my affinity for fishing from a personal watercraft began.
The process started by loading up my fishing gear and lowering my roto-molded fishing kayak from the roof of the garage, wrestling it out to the driveway, and loading it onto the roof racks of my car. I didn’t realize at the time what a bulky and cumbersome drill this was. It was heavy and just plain awkward to store, move around, and transport. As if the loading experience wasn’t bad enough, once on the water, it was guaranteed you would be sitting in a pool of water the entire day. We primarily fly-fished, but trying to stand in a kayak is a feat for a circus tightrope walker. Needless to say, there had to be a better way.
Segway almost 20 years, and although some kayak features have improved, the bulk and difficulty storing and transporting them hasn’t. Thankfully I now work for the most innovative water sports brand on the planet. Not only do we make the best stand-up paddle boards but have recently released the LONO, the world’s best drop-stitch inflatable kayak! We were inspired by LONO, the Hawaiian god of tenacity and vigor and that’s a testament to the very existence of this kayak. Utilizing our Aero Technology, the LONO is meticulously designed to address all of the negative aspects I endured with a roto-molded kayak without losing the great advantages of a personal watercraft.
Let’s start with the primary advantage - it’s INFLATABLE!! So, what does that mean for you?
No matter what type of home or storage restrictions you may have, the LONO Aero is bound to find its place. With an inflatable kayak there is virtually no worry about pressure points forming or deformation of the hull from sitting on the garage floor too long. Unlike most roto-mold kayaks where you’ll need to mount racks to your walls or hoist it up above your car with a pulley system, the LONO Aero only takes up the space of a standard travel bag. So whether you live in an apartment in the city or in a van down by the river, you can still enjoy all that the LONO Aero has to offer, without taking up precious space.
Easy To Transport
Although there are plenty of kayak enthusiasts who love kayaking, most don't like transporting and lifting their kayaks. Why? Because they are heavy, bulky, and hard to transport. The advantages of an inflatable kayak are how lightweight they are and their extreme portability. Rotomolded kayaks often require roof racks or trailers when transporting them to the water, but not with LONO Aero. LONO comes with a wheeled, water-resistant bag that can easily fit in the trunk of a car, taken on public transportation, or even checked at the airport. Then once you get your desired paddling location, LONO goes from roller bag to 12.5-foot fishing kayak in minutes.
Once inflated, transporting inflatable kayaks to the water from your vehicle is also a lot easier than dragging heavier hard-shell kayaks or requiring assistance. LONO makes the last leg of transportation easy with weighing less than 65 pounds and the abundance of built-in carry handles.
Although inflatable kayaks do need to be pumped up before being put on the water and then deflated when done, this process doesn't take long at all. LONO Aero comes with a hand pump that will get the job done, but if you want a faster and easier way, the Aero Pump (Electric) and AeroGo Rechargeable Pump are great options.
Drag it, kick it, push it over a cliff–LONO Aero is there when the going gets rough. When inflated to the recommended PSI, the LONO Aero is so rigid that most people will think it’s solid construction. Let’s talk about the characteristics that make the LONO Aero unlike anything else available.
The inflatable LONO is incredibly durable and tough. Constructed of military-grade PVC and manufactured with the highest quality materials. The inner core of the LONO Aero has tens of thousands of composite fibers that cause the air pressure to distribute evenly across the top and bottom surfaces forming a hard, stable platform.
Number of inflation chambers
LONO is constructed with four independent chambers making it extremely stable and durable. With multiple inflation chambers, you're more likely to stay afloat in the case that your kayak does experience a puncture or leak, allowing you to get to shore to make a repair or find help. With just a single inflation chamber, on the other hand, you and your gear may be sunk.
Ample capacity for you and your gear
Another plus for anglers, the LONO Aero has a 400lb capacity and with ample deck space it allows you to carry your cargo, such as tackle boxes, coolers, fishing poles and gear, and more.
Being comfortable in your kayak will make your kayaking or kayak fishing experience much more enjoyable. Unless it's a super hot day, no one likes sitting in water or having water pooling up on their feet. LONO solves this with its self-bailing cockpit, and this feature works by utilizing gravity and momentum to shed unwanted water through the stern. The adjustable, removable seat back and the sit-on-top design keeps you comfortable, dry, and elevated off the hull, reducing fatigue on the lower back. Staying dry is especially convenient when you're enjoying a paddle during cooler weather.
Unlike most inflatable kayaks, the LONO is built with high-pressure drop-stitch material in all four chambers, the hull, deck, and side rails. This construction gives LONO a significantly higher level of stability when standing. Those looking to sight cast, fly fish, or snap some great pictures, can have the confidence to stand up due to the stability of LONO.
Are you looking to paddle or fish in shallow waters? LONO's bottom base has molded side bite fins and a keel guard that runs from the nose to the center that will help with tracking (especially when not using the center fin) and protect the underside in shallow waters.
No matter what your goal is, the LONO Aero can be configured to fit your needs or type of paddling you prefer that day.
SIT-DOWN PADDLE (KAYAKING)
The LONO was designed to be a sit-on-top kayak. Center yourself on the seat, adjust the chair back as needed, and paddle it as you would any other kayak. You’ll also find that LONO paddles just like a Canoe or OC1 thanks to its excellent tracking.
With the removable top chamber, the LONO transforms from kayak to stand-up paddle platform in seconds. Simply unhook the removable top and seatback straps from the g-hooks, and you’re ready for some SUP adventures.
Use the removable convertible top chamber separately to float your KULA cooler, let your kids have somewhere to sit, or simply use it as a spot to rest your drink while you’re relaxing in the water.
The LONO Aero shares many of customizable feature options found in BOTE’s paddle boards, which allows it to be accessorized to fit your style. BOTE’s selection of accessories are the perfect addon to get you started customizing and making it your own.
Our key featured accessory–the Rocket Rac, turns the LONO Aero into a kayak fishing game-changer. Simply insert it into the Rac Receivers behind the LONO’s adjustable chair and you’ll have storage for up to four rods (fits conventional, spinning, and fly). Use the upright holders for getting around and the angled holders for trolling. When you’re not fishing, all four rod holders can simply be used for storage.
Those who fish in shallow waters should consider the BOTE Sandspear, a shallow water stakeout and push pole, that can fit in the included Sandspear sheath. It can be used to anchor you on a fishing spot or to help you creep silently across a flat. If you want the ease of pushing a button for shallow water anchoring, LONO comes with a Power-Pole® Micro mounting plate making adding one on a matter of tightening four screws.
The KULA cooler is a tool for your life. Use it as a cooler, bait well, cast net holder, equipment storage, or just about anything that you can do with a five-gallon bucket. The KULA Port biot into the LONO is designed to hold a KULA 5. While at the sandbar or in shallow waters, float the removable top chamber with a KULA to create mobile bar to hang out and have fun.
With all the advantages that the LONO Aero has to offer, it’s hard to deny that it would be the perfect watercraft for your next adventure or weekend getaway. I wish I had it on those trips 20 years ago!