An inflatable kayak is a convenient way to own and use a kayak without having to worry about the hassle of finding storage space in the offseason.
You can take them virtually anywhere you’d like to go, and they come made out of durable materials to withstand even challenging conditions.
Since there are so many reputable brands and styles available, finding one can be a long process.
Luckily, we’re going to outline what you want to consider before you buy a kayak, compare your options, answer your frequently asked questions, and review several high-quality options below.
This way, you’ll have all of the information you need to make an informed decision.
Best Single Person Inflatable Kayaks
This choice is a nimble and durable kayak that features a eye-catching graphics laid into a durable material. The bright colors make the kayak easy to spot in different light conditions. The I-beam floors add needed stability, and the cockpit is very roomy and comfortable.
There is a cargo net that stretches along the front of the kayak for gear storage, and you can blow up the inflatable seat with a backrest for comfort. There is an 84-inch aluminum oar included in each purchase, a repair patch, and a high-output hand pump to make inflating it easy.
This kayak comes with a quick five-minute setup that allows you to spend much more time on the water. You get a slightly raised seat with an inflatable backrest and padded leg areas to help you stay comfortable.
The tarpaulin bottom protects the kayak from accidental damage or punctures. It stores neatly in a bag, and this bag makes transporting it from place to place quick and easy. There is minimal room to store any items, but there is a small cargo net on the front end.
This kayak features 24-gauge PVC reinforced construction with anti-leak welding. The I-beam construction on the floor gives you ample room while adding support to the kayak itself. There is a double locking airtight seal to keep the kayak inflated after you blow it up.
When you purchase this kayak, you’ll get an 87-inch oar with an aluminum body that makes it lightweight but very durable. There is one heavy-duty adjustable seat included, a foot pump, and a bag that makes it easy to store and transport the kayak between uses.
This simple kayak works well for small and calm lakes, rivers, and streams. The bow and stern have rigid panels built into the sides to improve the kayak’s tracking ability. There are molded rubber grip handles that provide excellent comfort and support.
It holds up to 250 pounds without a problem, and the bungee necklacing provides a small storage area. The high-flow spring valves, coupled with the Twistloc, make it quick and easy to set up this kayak when you want to use it. It has bright coloring for high visibility.
The outer fabric on this kayak is PVC Tarpaulin with 1,000 Denier polyester for maximum durability. It’s resistant to punctures and tears, and UV rays won’t weaken it. The inner cover features a polyurethane-coating.
The ribs of the kayak are hard-edged aluminum for added durability, and the aluminum won’t add a lot of excess weight. The folding seat has a foam and mesh backrest with rubber molded handles to keep you comfortable. The seams come reinforced to withstand wear and tear, and you’ll get deck rigging, and D-ring tie-downs included.
This kayak features a triple layer of material to make it resistant to wear, tear, and punctures. To set it up, all you have to do is unfold it, inflate it, and attach the included seat.
The seating area provides high support all around you to keep you comfortable, and you can adjust the seat as you need. There are aluminum ribs built into the kayak that help define the stern and bow while improving the kayak’s tracking ability. It has a bright orange coloring that is easy to see.
Best 2-Person Seat Inflatable Kayaks
This kayak is 10 feet long when it’s fully inflated, and it can support up to 400 pounds without a problem. There are adjustable seats and backrests, and the cockpit has a design with space and comfort in mind.
The bright yellow and sleek grey coloring makes this kayak highly visible when you take it out. This kayak works best in smaller bodies of water like lakes and streams, and it can’t handle more turbulent water. You get a repair kit with every purchase, and the I-beams add stability to the floor of the kayak.
This kayak can hold two adults and their gear up to 500 pounds. You get two kayak seats, a storage bag, and a foot pump in every purchase. The inflatable spray skirt can keep you dry and comfortable when you’re out and about.
There are harnesses attached to each seat, and the seat’s backrests give you all of the support you need for a day of kayaking. You can deflate this kayak in under 10 minutes before easily rolling it up to store it. It weighs 26 pounds, and it’s suited for Class III whitewater.
The laminate PVC coating on this kayak makes it a very durable choice. It’s lightweight while being resistant to damage, scrapes, tearing, or generalized wear. The high-pressure inflation provides you with extra rigidity for excellent tracking capabilities, and it’s a very stable option.
There are two removable skews that allow you to use this kayak in deep and shallow water, and it also has two fishing rod holders, two footrests, and two adjustable bucket seats with high backs. The kayak can hold up to 400 pounds, but it’s just over 20 pounds when you deflate it.
This kayak features 18-gauge PVC construction for durability and ruggedness. There are a 1,000D tarpaulin bottom and 840D nylon cover that protects the kayak from scrape or punctures in all environments. There are multiple air chambers that will keep the kayak afloat if it punctures.
The airtight system has a leak-proof guarantee, and you’ll get a set of Berkley rod holders that allow you to fish hands-free. The kayak does have a slightly more narrow design that allows it to cut through the water, but it reduces the stability as well.
This kayak has a pointed bow with a rocker to improve the kayak’s performance. There is a removable deep tracking fin for when you go into more shallow water, and there are three seating positions for either single or tandem use.
The seats have high, supportive backrests with pockets and bottle holders installed. The rear drain plug makes it easy to drain and clean the kayak between uses. It has a bright yellow coating with a sleek grey interior to improve visibility, and the kayak can hold up to 181 kilograms.
Advanced Elements has a reputation for creating high-quality kayaks, and this one is no exception. It features aluminum ribs built-in for added support and tracking ability, and there are three layers of material to make the kayak resistant to punctures.
It comes pre-assembled, and all you have to do is unfold it, inflate it, and attach the seats. There are three seat locations on this kayak that allow you to use it by yourself or with someone else. It has a bright orange color for maximum visibility with a grey interior.
Things to Know Before Buying an Inflatable Kayak
What are important things you want to consider when you start comparing the various kayaks and narrowing down your options?
The length of your kayak will depend on where you want to use it. The narrower and longer your kayak is, the straighter and faster it’ll travel. A kayak that is 8 to 13 feet long performs well in small rivers, lakes, creeks, and calm water. Kayaks that span between 14 to 18 feet long is more suited to bigger rivers and lakes or wilder waves.
Decide where you’re going to use your kayak, and this will help you decide on how long it should be. Generally speaking, novice kayakers do better in wider and shorter setups because they’re more stable.
The kayak’s width is another important factor. It’ll determine the speed and stability of the kayak, along with your comfort levels. Many people who are new to kayaking take wider kayaks because they’re much more stable in the water. They don’t mind sacrificing a little speed to do so.
If you’re a larger person, you’ll want a slightly longer and wider kayak to accommodate you. This will help ensure you have enough room to maneuver around inside the kayak. However, wider kayaks are also more difficult to steer, and this is especially true in tight quarters.
What accessories would you like on your new kayak? Some will come equipped with a few accessories and have room for them, and other setups will come with just the kayak. Do you need space to tie a bag or gear down? Maybe you’d like to add a paddle holder and leash or a rod holder for your fishing gear.
Fishing nets, clothing, food, beverages, and dry bags are other potential items you could bring with you. If you do, you’ll need room for them. Check the space available on the different kayaks before you buy to ensure you can haul your items with you.
The material your kayak is made out of will have a huge role in how durable it is. If you choose wrong, you could quickly end up with holes or a leak that can really put a damper on your entire kayaking trip. For the most part, kayaks will feature Hypalon, PVC, and Nitrylon.
Each material has its benefits and drawbacks. For example, UV rays can damage and weaken PVC, but PVC is very lightweight to make transport easy. Hypalon is extremely popular for its durability, but it’s the most expensive choice. Nitrylon performs well in cold weather while being environmentally-friendly, but it’s very heavy.
Unfortunately, your budget will play a role in the final kayak you choose. You can find kayaks in almost every budget range starting at just over $100 and going up to over $500. You want to set a budget before you shop to ensure you don’t go broke buying it.
However, it may be a good idea to pay more upfront for a durable kayak you love than settle for something because it’s cheaper. Cheaper kayaks aren’t as durable, and you may spend more money patching it or replacing it than you would if you bought a more expensive option.
Every kayak will have a weight rating associated with it. This weight refers to how much weight the kayak can safely hold when you inflate it and use it. Some kayaks won’t be able to hold as much weight as others, and this increases your chances of it breaking or sinking.
No matter if you’re going to buy a single or double seat, look and see what the weight rating is. When you factor in your weight, don’t forget to add in any gear you plan to take with you. This should fall well below the kayak’s recommended levels.
Weight of the Kayak
Even though this is an inflatable model, it’s still going to be slightly heavy. You have to think about where you plan to go with your kayak. Are there any areas where you will have to walk and haul your kayak with you? How long do you think you could carry it for?
Keep in mind that you’ll have gear with you too. Some kayaks weigh in at just over 20 pounds, and other kayaks can weigh around 50 pounds. Their material will influence the weight as well.
Inflatable Kayaks Versus Regular Kayaks
Inflatable kayaks are built to withstand bumping into things without puncturing. However, hardshell kayaks are more durable overall. Even if they do get a small hole in them, you won’t necessarily have to panic and worry about patching it.
However, hardshell kayaks are heavier and more expensive than inflatable kayaks. They can be more difficult to carry and store in the offseason than inflatable options. They’re also more expensive. You could always buy an inexpensive inflatable one and see if you like kayaking before upgrading to a hard shell one.
Inflatable Kayaks Versus Foldable Kayaks
A foldable kayak is usually made out of an aluminum or wood collapsible frame with a waterproof skin stretched over it. It’s a direct descendant of the original Inuit kayak, and it’s still popular when you compare it to an inflatable option.
Foldable kayaks are lighter than inflatable ones, but you won’t have a lot of room to carry any excess gear. Inflatable kayaks are also more versatile, but they require more effort to set up and dry out. Many people swear by foldable kayaks, but it’s up to you and how much effort you want to exert. The money will also factor in your final choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are inflatable kayaks worth it?
Yes. You can get high-quality inflatable kayaks that are more than worth the money. This is especially true if you mainly use it in smaller or more calm areas. They’re very lightweight, and this makes them a great option for anyone who would have trouble carrying a traditional kayak around on their adventures. They come from reputable brands, and they make sure inflatable models have things in place to ensure they last for years with a lot of use. You do have to do your research, though.
2. Are inflatable kayaks stable?
The stability of your kayak will depend on the length and width. A longer and more narrow kayak will cut through the water and be highly maneuverable, but it’s more prone to tipping. A shorter and wider kayak will sacrifice speed. However, it is much more stable than the narrow version. This is why so many novices choose to go for a slightly shorter and wider kayak when they purchase their first one.
3. How long do inflatable kayaks last?
The longevity of your kayak will depend on several factors. For example, if you use it a lot in sunny environments, the UV rays will start to break down the outer coating much quicker than in other areas. Some kayaks can last over 20 years if you’re careful with how you store it and get it ready to store between uses. Other kayaks may only last 10 years or so. Saltwater will break it down faster too.
4. Are inflatable kayaks slower?
No. Inflatable kayaks are no slower than hardshell designs. It all depends on the width of the kayak and the skill of the person paddling it. Wider kayaks are slower in general than narrow kayaks. If you put a novice person and an experienced person in the same kayak model, the experienced one is most likely going to be able to make it go faster with more confidence.
5. Can you leave inflatable kayaks inflated?
You can, but manufacturers don’t recommend you leave it inflated between uses. Leaving it inflated will increase the chances that something happens to it. Ideally, you should dry it out, deflate it, and pack it away between uses. Most kayaks come with a storage bag that allows you to keep everything in one place until you’re ready to take it back out. Additionally, it can be easier to carry and transport when it’s deflated.
6. What are the best brands for inflatable kayaks?
There are several reputable brands available that create high-quality inflatable kayaks. You can find manufacturers from all over the world that have thousands of satisfied customers and sterling reputations. We’ve picked out a few of the bigger brands and listed them for you below.
- Advanced Elements
- Sea Eagle
- RAVE Sports
7. Can you fish in inflatable kayaks?
Yes. It is possible to fish in inflatable kayaks. However, it’s a good idea to make sure that your kayak has space to store and hold your fishing rod. This will allow for hands-free fishing in any water. You also want to make sure that your kayak is stable enough to haul your fish up once you catch it. If you bring nets, make sure there is enough space to store it.
8. Can you patch inflatable kayaks?
Yes. Most inflatable kayaks will come with a patch kit. A lot of the time, the patch will create a seamless look with a watertight seal that holds the water out. You do want to pay close attention to the kayak and follow all of the directions when it comes to patching it. You may have to wait a few hours after patching it to get it wet to allow time for the adhesive to dry.
9. Can you use electric pumps for inflatable kayaks?
You can, but most manufacturers don’t recommend it unless the kayak comes with an electric pump. It’s too easy to overinflate the kayak using an electric pump. Additionally, the kayak may have specific valves that won’t seal correctly with an electric pump. This could potentially cause damage to your kayak, or it could form a slow leak.
Inflatable kayaks are nice alternatives to traditional hard shelled rigs. You can find one in almost any budget, and many of these kayaks come with a host of nice features that make them an excellent choice for beginners and veteran kayakers alike. Take a look at our reviews, compare the products, and find answers to your most frequently asked questions.