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Getting All Our Ducks In a Row

This season we experienced an unusually long snow-melt run-off period, with flows staying above 1000 CFS until mid-late July. We have also been blessed with steady monsoon rains every afternoon, which has kept the flows above 800 CFS so far this season. This is the perfect water level for you to utilize our fleet of inflatable kayaks to enjoy the river!

Inflatable kayaks were invented by the airship company, Zodiac, in 1934, and have been used to give people an introduction in the kayaking world ever since! Inflatable kayaks are also often referred to as a “ducky” or “duckies,” and in order to complete this blog post we set out to uncover why they are referred to as such. First we asked some of the purchasing managers around the Four Corners Riversports shop. Their response was something along the lines of “they track on the water like ducks do.” This response makes some sense, but it was insufficient for our research. Inquiring minds want to know! Additionally, duckies of the aviary sort propel themselves using their webbed feet below the water, whereas these duckies propel themselves using a paddle from above the water.

Unsatisfied with this interpretation we turned to a scholars trusted steed: Google. Google can be your best friend, or your worst enemy and in this case it proved to be the latter. We were able to find out when inflatable kayaks were first invented, what materials they are often composed of, which brands are the best, etc. We discovered that inflatable kayaks are preferable to many beginners because users do not need to demonstrate a kayak roll in order to safely operate the craft. So even the most inexperienced kayaker could have a blast out on the water without needing an excessive amount of additional instruction. We also found that many whitewater enthusiasts find them preferable to hardshell kayaks because they are made of the same durable (and repairable) materials that rafts are constructed from. But, alas, we found no concrete answers to the question plaguing our anticipated blog post.


According to the many articles we combed from Google, Tributary and Aire are the best brands to purchase inflatable kayaks from, especially if intended for downriver use. We were pleased to unearth this information, because our inflatable kayaks are made from these very distributors! It seemed within our best interest to contact one of them to get the scoop from the experts in the industry. We called the Aire customer service number and the representative chuckled as we posed our inquiry.

“Most inflatable kayaks are on the water with a raft, right?”

We held our breath for a second, anticipating our long awaited resolution, but then we realized she was waiting for our response.

“Well yeah, we send all of our guided inflatable kayak trips out with another boat on the water to set safety and show our clients how to safely navigate the river…”

She chuckled again, and at this point we assumed she was setting up for a horribly dry, raft guide joke. Which is typical for our industry.

“Then you must all be familiar with lining your inflatable kayaks up behind the raft and having the inflatable kayaks follow you around in a line, taking the safest routes down the river. Just like a momma duck lines up all her duckies to follow her downstream.”

Our whole office team face palmed in unison, and then thanked the Aire representative for her time. We had finally received the information we had hunted for so long, and the truth had been staring us in the face the whole time.

Despite wasting numerous payroll hours on our quest, we felt we had gained a lot of knowledge about inflatable kayaks and managed to really educate our reservation staff about why duckies are such a great alternative to rafting if a client is looking for a safe, easy and independent adventure on the river with our team! After the whole scenario, we felt like we had finally gotten our ducks in a row (pun intended) about inflatable kayaks. BRING ON THE DUCKIES!