The Sea Eagle 330 inflatable kayak, other known as SE330, is a sport kayak designed for two paddlers. Sea Eagle, and specifically this model, are popular inflatable kayak choices, offering a plethora of paddling experiences. As a recent buyer of one, here is a review of the SE330.
My Experience With a SE330
After spending my 2017 Summer on the Colorado River whitewater rafting, I had an itch for more paddling. An inflatable kayak seemed the best personal choice for what I was seeking in recreational paddling. Fast forward to the following Spring, I started looking into the right inflatable kayak for me. In June of 2018, I settled on and purchased the Sea Eagle 330 inflatable kayak or SE330.
Since then, I have taken it out on different lakes in Wisconsin and on a reservoir in Utah, for anywhere from one to four hours. While the SE330 can fit two people, I have only solo paddled it thus far and with good success. I am a mere months removed from the initial purchase, but have a good feel for its worth. So, here is my take on the SE330 and how it holds up in important areas of having an inflatable kayak.
How the SE330 and SE370 Compare
The Sea Eagle 330 and Sea Eagle 370 foster the same Sport Kayak label and design, for a wide range of waters. They are highly similar inflatable kayaks, with about half of their specifications (as laid out on Sea Eagle’s website) being exactly the same. While about half different can seem quite dissimilar, much of this results from extra length added to the SE370.
SE330 and SE370 Specification Differences
- Person and Load Capacity (330 = 2 people & 500 lbs; 370 = 3 people & 650 lbs)
- Weight (330 = 26 lbs; 370 = 32 lbs)
- Outer and Interior Length (330 = 11′ 2″ & 9′ 6″; 370 = 12′ 6″ & 10′ 8″)
- Inflation time (330 = 6 min; 370 = 8 min)
- Material (330 = 33 mil Polykrylar; 370 = 38 mil Polykrylar)
Why I Chose the SE330 Over the SE370
Prior to my purchase of the SE330 I was flip flopping back and forth with it and the SE370 for my choice. I wanted an inflatable kayak that could be solo and tandem paddled. And really they both can, but the SE330 is the better solo version (tight fit for tandem), while the SE370 is the better tandem (lots of inflatable kayak for one person to control). So I just put higher priority on the solo paddling experience (yet to test its tandem paddling abilities), plus the lighter weight and lower price.
Purchase and Initial Set-Up
There is the excitement of the purchase and arrival (if shipped), followed up with some sort of set-up, which can be frustratingly tedious. But with an inflatable kayak, most of the assembling is already done, so you are in good shape.
Where Can I Go to Purchase a SE330?
There are both in person stores and online websites for options. In person stores that have sporting and outdoor sections (Walmart) or are specific to sports and outdoors (Dick’s Sporting Goods) are good options, but don’t always have what you specifically want. Online, there are many options (including those in person stores). You can go straight to the source, Sea Eagle’s website, to place an order, or you can search elsewhere for deals (Amazon, eBay, etc.).
What Can I Expect Initially Setting Up My SE330?
Everything is pretty self explanatory, enough so, that I don’t think I looked at the directions provided initially. There isn’t much of anything that needs to be assembled for permanent use. So it’s just a matter of understanding where everything will go to form the inflatable kayak when it’s inflated. This includes valve caps, the foot pump to inflate compartments, positioning inflated seats, and piecing the paddles together.
Transport Bag and Portability
Portability is a key perk to having an inflatable kayak. For the inflatable kayak, lighter is better, along with its compacted size and shape. And the other half of the equation is in the transport bag and how efficiently it can be carried by a person.
How Well Does Everything Fit into the SE330 Transport Bag?
The SE330 transport bag passes, what I imagine to be, the number one rule of an inflatable kayak transport bag: everything fits inside. When folded, the deflated inflatable kayak is best positioned vertically in the transport bag. From here, there is still plenty of depth inside the bag for other parts (deflated seats, valve caps, foot pump, paddle pieces, etc.). I even tend to pack my life vest in there as well, so space isn’t an issue.
How Easy is it to Carry the Packed SE330 Transport Bag?
This transport bag definitely isn’t designed to be carried long distances. You can tell by the sole loose strap that it possesses. It’s no backpack, that’s for sure. This being said, I still took it upon myself to test out its portability, walking about a mile with it to and from a lake entry point on one occasion. It was a struggle at best, switching arms and carrying positions frequently, while feeling the (lightly padded) strap rub against my shoulders. Sea Eagle does sell separate backpack versions, so that could be worth the purchase in the long run (I know for me at least).
Inflating and Deflating
Since with inflatable kayaks, you are repeatedly inflating and deflating, assembling and dissembling, and unpacking and packing, this process is designed for ease.
How Quick and Efficient is the SE330 Inflation Process?
Inflating all the compartments to the SE330 inflatable kayak with the foot pump is a quick process. From opening up the carry bag to getting out on the water, you are looking at somewhere in the range of 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the person. There are five compartments to the inflatable kayak, and two for each seat, with valve caps for all. The foot pump is very easy to use and energy efficient, while paddles piece together smoothly.
How Well Does the SE330 Deflate and Repack Up?
Being able to completely remove the valve caps accompanied with the golf ball sized valve openings, makes deflation of the SE330 super quick. Although, I would advise partially unscrewing valve caps before completely removing them, to slowly let out air at first.
How well the deflated SE330 repacks into the carry bag depends on the efforts of the person. How it gets folded, the amount of air (strive for none!) still trapped inside, and how you position everything back in the carry bag are the difference makers. Tight folds, with next to no air left and proper packing are very possible with the SE330.
On the Water
How an inflatable kayak performs and feels as the paddler on the water is vital. Although, more comfort may lead to a less efficient inflatable kayak and vice versa. The SE330 has a good trade off between performance and comfort. It’s not a top of the line choice for either, but is solid for both.
There are core considerations to how an inflatable kayak, and especially the SE330, performs on the water. Stability, stroke capabilities, vessel movement, and how it handles environmental elements are all factors.
How stable does the SE330 feel?
Some of this depends on conditions of the water, but generally speaking, it feels stable. Not once while paddling thus far have I felt like I might tip and have rarely felt remotely unbalanced. As long as your compartments are fully and evenly inflated, you are well off because of the flatness to the bottom and how low you sit. But having that second paddler in there can make stability less certain.
Are there any limitations with paddling?
As long as you are sitting upright and have adequate range of motion in your upper body, there shouldn’t be any limitations to paddling strokes possible. And the stable nature to the SE330, allows you more opportunity to get your weight more into strokes. One thing to note is the spacing for two paddlers. The SE330 is 16 inches shorter than the SE370, which doesn’t seem like much, but that can make paddling more constricted. With the back paddler timing their strokes right based on the front paddler, there shouldn’t be much issue.
How well does the SE330 move?
Solo paddling my SE330 gives me plenty of space for paddling and comfort, but the question is, how it moves in the water with less distributed weight and paddling force. So far, with mostly flat water and calm winds, my SE330 has moved well in the water. It doesn’t feel like I am paddling for two, for how much ground (erm, water?) it’s covering. But there is some side to side swaying with strokes, due to the lack of weight towards the front of it. With two paddlers, the SE330 would do even better, especially as waters and wind got rougher.
How impacting are waves and wind?
For the SE330 being one of the lighter tandem inflatable kayaks, you would think it be very influenced by waves and wind force. So far, solo paddling in mine, waves and wind haven’t had a significant impact. Rougher waters and weather will definitely change this, but having that extra paddler in the SE330 can make up for this.
Comfort comes down to a few specific considerations, no matter what it is. Here, sitting and paddling in a SE330 inflatable kayak, the sturdiness and feel of the seat, all of that paddling, how your body is positioned, and the spacing available all impact your comfort.
How sturdy does the seat feel?
The seats to the SE330 wedge in between side compartments, sitting on top of the floor compartment. This three sided pressure helps keep the seat in place, feeling more sturdy than it would be on its own. It’s still not the sturdiest set up for long periods of time. This being said, there are alternative seats that Sea Eagle sells for the SE330 that are better for back support.
How will your body hold up over time?
There are all sorts of aches and pains that you can experience paddling on the water and this comes down to two main reasons: how you are sitting and positioned and the fatigue from constant paddling and transitioning sides. A lot of this depends on the person and specifically their back and upper body strength and endurance, their flexibility and range of motion, and tightness in joints. This being said, I have had better success with body comfort over time on the water, when I switch up body positions and stroke types every now and then. If you are tandem paddling the SE330, you may be more limited in these alterations though.
What is the spacing like?
For me, solo paddling in my SE330 leaves me with plenty of open space, but two paddlers is a whole other story. It comes back to the 16 inch length shortage of the SE330 compared to the SE370. You’re working with less space. That and you might not have the right bodies for tandem paddling the SE330 due to leg length and positions they can comfortably sat in (bent knees, crossed legs, etc.).
Durability and Storage
The SE330 inflatable kayak is designed for many uses over long periods of time, staying durable due to its high quality materials, but you also need to take care of it. On the water use and off the water storage are two important factors here.
How Have the Materials Held Up Thus Far?
Sure, it hasn’t been long (months) since I initially purchased my SE330, so of course there won’t be legit wear and tear to it. And no there hasn’t been any. Everything from the inflated materials and paddles to the foot pump and carry bag look in prime condition. Time will tell better how the inflated materials will hold up from sun and water exposure and all of the unfolding, inflating, deflating, and folding.
How Much Space is Needed for Storage?
If you are looking for the specific measurements (with a tight opening in mind), the carry bag has a width of 26 inches, a height of 48 inches, and a depth around two feet. If you are more of a visual person, think of it as a taller and deeper night stand. But then again, you can always adjust how it is positioned when stored to fit best.
Price and Quality
Personally, the purchase of my SE330 is already worth what I paid. I chose to buy a used version and went through eBay, paying just under $200 at the time. When it arrived, it looked brand new (and still does). New or used, it is a great purchase for many uses.
Sea Eagle Offers
Visit the Sea Eagle website and you will see the SE330 under sport inflatable kayaks. There are four SE330 inflatable kayak package deals (includes seats, paddles, foot pump, and carry bag) that can be purchased, with prices included.
SE330 Pro Solo Kayak. Meant for one paddler.
SE330 Delux Kayak. The version I have.
SE330 Pro Kayak. Different seats for better back support.
SE330 QuikSail Kayak. Same seats as the Pro Kayak and includes a fancy sail.
New or Used?
Besides the possible hardly used, but much cheaper deal, that no one should pass up, the new or used question depends on the person. If the SE330 is the inflatable kayak for you for as long as it lasts, then buying new may be worth the extra cost. Otherwise, a used version should be a safe bet (it was for me). It also helps to go through a credible, highly reviewed source, plus some questioning and inspecting before making the purchase.