The Innova models are considerably different than the Stearns in both performance and material. We have three single models roughly the same size as the Stearns IK-116. Our Safari, Helios I, and Solar would be the models I would match against the Stearns.
The Innova models are longer at the waterline and have a deeper hull shape. The Innovas are also stiffer, with an inflation pressure of 3 psi, versus the 2 psi of the Stearns. This makes the Innovas easier to paddle and faster in the water than the Stearns. The other factor is that the paddling ergonomics are generally better in the Innovas, because the paddler sits higher than they do in the IK-116. This allows a more efficient paddling stroke, so you don't tire as easily in the Innovas. Innova boats also are quicker to inflate and more compact when folded. They also come in a convenient drybag/backpack that is small enough to be legal carryon luggage.
The Stearns IK-116 uses an unreinforced PVC bladder wrapped by a zip-on nylon cover. The Innova boats use a heavy-duty polyester cloth covered in rubber, with vulcanized air-holding seams. Our construction is more typical of high end whitewater rafts and commercial duty Zodiacs. The bladder construction is cheaper to build, but it limits the air pressure in the tubes which makes the boat stiff. A lower pressure tube has to be bigger in diameter, and this widens the Stearns' designs which contributes to the ergonomic issues. Furthermore, the Innova construction allows the boat to dry much faster than the bladder types which retain water under their covers.
Lastly, the Innova models are greener because they are PVC-free. PolyVinyl Chlorides (PVC's) give off dioxins in their manufacture, lifespan, and disposal. Dioxins are associated with a number of environmental and health issues.
Labels: Boat Material, No PVC = Green, Performance