The 'Metzeler Indiana' canoe

In 1990 we bought our Metzeler Indiana canoe. Metzeler used to be a well known maufacturer of tires among motorbikers. Their rubber was of superior quality. Based on this reputation, it didn't seem a wild guess to buy it. And history has proven us right.
We have used the Indy a lot until 1993. The summer of 1993 was, to put it mildly, 'a little bit meager'. That's why we didn't 'sail' much that summer.
In 1994, our daughter was born and we found it irresponsible to sail with such a small kid. And there were the very hot summers as well. Summers in which you already needed to be careful with children on land. Let alone on water in a confined space and with water which is not suitable for human consumption.

But all of that is now over. In 2002 we made a test-drive on the Wilhelmina canal and that wasn't half bad. But... the summer of 2003 was again way too hot, so it didn't classify to sail.
The start of this summer (2004) was bad, but from the middle of july, the situation changed for the better. And on August 1, we made our first tour with the Indy. With more to come!

I scanned the manual and put it online: .

The Metzeler brand

Metzeler used to be a maker of car- and motorcycle tires. And they operated in the better inflatable boats. Not the models of thin PVC for the pool or the beach.
No, Metzeler battled with Zodiac for the top segment of the market. Metzeler produced two product lines:

In the early 90's, Metzeler decided to throw the towel in the ring. They sold the patents to Zodiac in France and the factory got a new owner in Grabner in Austria. You can still see this looking at the models of both makers. Let's say that both were 'strongly inspired' by the Metzeler designs. ;o)

At the moment, Grabner mainly make their Adventure series and Zodiac make the Indio series under the Jumbo brand. Stearns also make an inflatable canoe but that is from a totally different construction than the Jumbo/Zodiac and Grabner.

What Stearns do in fact, is making a soft inner tyre that is surrounded by a strong and heavy jacket. The inner tyre takes care for the pressure build-up while the jacket produces the shape and durability. This way, two cheap materials are used to deliver a high-grade end product.

Metzeler, Zodiac en Grabner use another process: they use a strong laminate as pressure cointainer. This laminate consists of several layers of rubber and micro-fibers which is vulcanised into a thin but strong matt. A boat like this, can withstand a higher hull pressure than an 'inner tyre boat'. This way, it sails as well as a rigid boat.
Although we take care of our Indy, if the need is there, we don't hesitate to sail it over immersed trees and such. The bottom does have some scars. But all within safe limits.

Comparable designs

Below is a list with inflatable canoes. This list was not meant to be complete. I'm also not sponsored by either of the producers, so if I didn't list a model: it wasn't on purpose.
This list is meant to be a starting point. Find your own design on the basis of budget, properties and availability. And then get on the water!

Some pictures

Metzeler Indiana, model 1990

Above, you see a side-view of the Metzeler Indiana. The boat lies on the lawn in front of the house. The boat measures 4.5 meters long and 1 meter wide. So it is a considerable boat. Not suited for too narrow streams.

Metzeler Indiana valves and seams

Here is a picture of the three high pressure valves. The Indy will tolerate much higher chamber pressures than the Airiks.
Also take a look at the seams. These are ultra-sound welded. The ropes are standard, like the D-rings.

Metzeler Indiana: front seat. Metzeler Indiana: rear seat.

A view of how the seats are mounted in the boat. The planks are strapped with ropes to big flaps which are welded with ultrasound to the air chambers.

Opberg ruimte voor de Indy

If the Indy isn't used for longer times, it lies flat on its belly, without folds, on a bench near the ceiling of the garage. This way, it is stored dark, dry and frost-free, so the rubber does not deteriorate fast.

Action shots

De Indy in Moergestel, 2004 Pa, achter in de Indy, op de Reusel, 2004 Marivin, 2004 De Indy in slappe toestand, Reusel 2004


A rubber boat does not need much maintenance. You never need to paint it and it doesn't need much storage space if you don;t use it. But some care should still be given. Small maintenance that depends mostly on discipline.

Page created July 2004,

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