Even though an inflatable kayak may not be as good as a traditional kayak made from hard shell especially in terms of performance, it’s still a great choice for those who need something portable. Made from durable construction materials, the best inflatable kayak can also be used for other water sports activities such as fishing and white-water rafting.
Due to its ease of portability, the inflatable kayak has become very popular in recent years. Because of this, you’ll now find many options for high-quality inflatable kayaks on the market. So how do you choose which of these inflatable kayaks is the best?
In this article, we’ll review some of the top-rated inflatable kayaks on the market and give you some tips on how to choose the one most suitable for your needs and preferences.
The main reasons why people opt for an inflatable kayak instead of the hard-shell ones are storage and portability. If you’re familiar with the hard-shell kayak, then you know just how cumbersome it is to carry around, which may not be a good option for traveling.
Usually, people place it on top of their car but it has a tendency to shift around when passing along a curve. Furthermore, these kayaks are extremely heavy and can be a challenge to carry if you’re alone. You can avoid all of this if you get an inflatable kayak.
What’s great about inflatable kayaks is that you can store them pretty much anywhere. So, if you have limited space in your house, then this will be a good option. Above all, the kayak is extremely easy to carry around and transported to wherever you want to!
You can place it in your backpack and when you arrive at your destination, simply pull it out and inflate. In only a few minutes, you’ll be on your way exploring the waters.
The inflatable kayak can also be used for other activities, such as camping, fishing, general recreation, surfing, touring, whitewater, etc. So, if you’re an adventurer, the best inflatable kayak is definitely worth investing in.
Things to Consider When Shopping for the Best Inflatable Kayaks
Pay close attention especially if looking for a kayak for big and tall people. Here are some of the main factors you should take into consideration:
The durability of the inflatable kayak will pretty much depend on the type of materials that it’s made from. If you want the kayak to last a long time, you should choose one that’s tough enough to withstand the presence of sharp objects, especially rocks. Yet, it should also be lightweight so you won’t have difficulty packing and transporting it.
Here are some of the best fabric options:
Hypalon – When it comes to strength and durability, this fabric is the sure winner. It can withstand extreme weather, chemicals, and UV rays. Most of the high-end kayaks are made from this fabric.
PVC – While PVC fabric is cheap, it can withstand abrasion and is also a durable option. However, this fabric may not be that efficient in resisting environmental impacts.
Nitrylon – This is a durable, strong, and eco-friendly fabric compared to PVC. However, it’s somewhat heavier.
Purpose of Use
Since different types of kayaks are used for different purposes, the first thing that you need to think about when looking for the right kayak to buy is how you are going to use it. Do you need something that you can use to cruise along slow-moving waters, such as sheltered bays and lakes?
Are you going to use it for fishing excursions? Or perhaps, you need the best inflatable kayak for whitewater? Your answer to these questions should help you determine the right type of inflatable kayak to buy.
Although inflatable kayaks are known for being portable compared to hard-shell ones, there are certain types of inflatable kayaks that are heavier than the others. But regardless of the weight, it’s a good idea to choose one that comes with a storage bag. This allows you to easily carry the kayak wherever you go.
Most of the inflatable kayaks on the market are fairly stable when used in the water and can work well for beginners. But if you want to be able to move quickly around in the water and you need something that you can easily maneuver, then you need to go for long and narrow kayaks.
However, you need to keep in mind that kayaks have to adhere to a certain width, which is not too long or they will lose their stability.
Another important factor to think about is the size of the kayak. When it comes to this, think about the number of people who will be using the kayak. Will you be using it alone or are you going to share it with other people?
Aside from the number of people that the kayak can accommodate, the size is also an important consideration when it comes to how you’re going to use the kayak. If you use it for fishing or overnight boating, then you need a kayak with a bigger space for storage.
Intex is a popular brand of inflatables and their Excursion Pro Kayak is a great choice for those who need a high-quality inflatable kayak. This kayak is portable, convenient, and features an I-beam floor that’s rigid and stiff. The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak has a well-thought-out design and is perfect for anglers.
It has spacious storage to house different fishing gears and the D-rings at the interior offer several attachments points to help secure the gears. This kayak is also equipped with a moveable-mounting bracket that you can use to secure fish finders, GPS, and rods.
You’ll be comfortable sitting on this kayak all day long, thanks to its bucket seats. Thus, it’s a great kayak for overnight trips and longer boating trips. It can accommodate up to two persons with a maximum weight of 400 lbs.
The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is also equipped with air chambers for safety and its hull is manufactured from durable PVC that’s capable of resisting punctures and tears. This is important for when you fish in shallow waters. Comes at an affordable price tag, this kayak is definitely worth checking out.
Adjustable and removable mounting bracket
Comes with two removable skews ideal for shallow and deep water excursions
Made from durable laminated PVC and has a polyester core
Maximum weight capacity of 400 lbs.
The Sea Eagle 370 Pro is getting lots of praise from the kayak reviews we have seen online. This is not really surprising because this kayak is packed with great features. For one, it has an incredibly durable hull. This 38-mil hull can withstand sharp rocks and resist puncturing or tearing.
Furthermore, this inflatable kayak is only 32 lbs. in weight, yet it’s powerful enough to accommodate up to 650 lbs. of cargo including passengers! This kayak features an I-Beam construction, which is why it’s one of the most rigid inflatable kayaks out there.
It’s equipped with 2 skegs, offering maximum efficiency and speed. You can sit comfortably on any of its two inflatable seats that are also removable. For easy portability, this kayak comes with rope handles plus it has drain valves to easily free your boat from the accumulation of water splashes.
It can deflate to a small package, allowing you to easily carry it on its carry case. You can simply store it at the trunk of your car and when you reach your destination, take it out and inflate using a pump. In only 8 minutes, you can start paddling in the water.
3-person capacity with a maximum weight capacity of 650 pounds
Aluminum shaft and asymmetrical blade
Improved back support and equipped with two paddles
Open and close drain valve
Another great product from Intex is the Explorer K2 Kayak, which we believe is one of the top inflatable kayaks on the market. This kayak is built for expert users and can work best on lazy lakes and rivers where water stays still.
Just like a traditional kayak, this inflatable kayak is bright yellow, offering increased visibility that enhances the safety of the user. This Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is equipped with removable seats that are molded to conform to the shape of the user’s body, making it more comfortable to use even for a long period of time.
Whether you need to go solo or tag along with your partner, this kayak is easy to operate and maneuver in the water. With its lightweight design, the kayak can be carried and transported easily from one place to another. Featuring a low-profile design, this kayak is stable enough to use in the water even for beginners.
The kayak is equipped with mesh pockets that you can use to store gears and other accessories. There are three air chambers to make sure that if one pops, you’ll have enough flotation so you can reach the shore safely.
Bright yellow color improves visibility in the water
Can be inflated quickly
Comes with adjustable seats with backrest
Heavy-duty design and puncture-resistant
High weight capacity
Bad customer service
4 – Driftsun Voyager 2 Person Tandem Inflatable Kayak Review – (Best Inflatable Kayak Under 500 Bucks)
We believe that the best inflatable 2 person kayak on the market is the Driftsun Voyager 2-Person Tandem Inflatable Kayak. This one comes with great features that can make using this kayak more comfortable for two users.
It has comfortable seating with back support for two people. If you need a smaller kayak for two users, this is definitely the right model for you. You’ll find this product in most inflatable tandem kayak reviews.
Made from nylon fabric and a PVC bottom, this kayak is durable enough to withstand regular use in the water. Although it’s not as durable as the hard-shell kayaks, it’s robust enough to be used in a calm river or lake. However, we don’t recommend it for whitewater rafting.
This kayak can be inflated easily and you can get started with your water adventure pretty quickly. To improve the kayak’s portability, this product is equipped with a skeg although some users have complained that it has the tendency to waggle. Nevertheless, the stability of this boat is impressive.
Featuring spray skirts in the aft and fore, there’s enough room in this kayak to store gears and other accessories. But if you need additional space, simply adjust this boat to a single paddler so you’ll have enough room to accommodate other items that you want to carry along.
Easy to setup
Has enough space for gears
Not as tough as some other kayaks
5 – Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak Review – (Good Inflatable Kayak for Whitewater)
A lot of customers are satisfied with the AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak, which is why it’s one of the top-rated kayaks online. According to the inflatable kayak reviews we’ve come across, this kayak is somewhat similar to the hard-shell models so users who are transitioning to the inflatable model won’t have a hard time adjusting with this one.
It has built-in aluminum ribs in the bow and stern, which helps improve the trackability of the boat and make it at par with the hard-shell models.
This inflatable kayak glides smoothly in the water and creates a paddle feeling similar to what you will experience when riding on a hard-shell kayak. Yet, it’s lighter and definitely more portable.
Another great thing about this inflatable kayak is that it features a triple layer material, which makes it even more durable and capable of withstanding rough water conditions.
However, in terms of speed, this kayak may be somewhat slower compared to the hard-shell ones. Nevertheless, this inflatable kayak comes at a reasonable price.
The Advanced Elements Kayak comes with a double-action pump, which means you can inflate this kayak in a breeze! Plus, it comes with a life vest and some other safety accessories. When deflated, you can fit it easily in the trunk of your car.
Decent trackability similar to the hard-shell kayaks
Features a 3-layer material for durability and enhanced puncture resistance
Foldable and compact
Lightweight and durable
Not suitable for big and tall users
6 – Intex Challenger K1 Kayak Review – (Best One Person Inflatable Kayak)
When it comes to the best inflatable kayak under 500, the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is highly recommended. In fact, this product costs less than $100, which is definitely a great steal given the features that it comes with.
This inflatable kayak is lightweight and performs decently in the water. Ideal for beginners and single paddlers, the K1 inflatable kayak comes with a footrest and inflatable seat. But you cannot expect to have plenty of room in this one compared to the more expensive models.
However, a lot of customers are very satisfied with the way this little kayak works. It’s stable enough in the water and doesn’t waggle a lot when you paddle. And although the K1 is not the kayak that we would recommend for expeditions on rough waters, it should be great for kayaking in calm lakes and quiet rivers.
It can be set up pretty easily and you won’t have a hard time deflating it at the end of the day. But then again, this is a budget product and caters to those who are looking for a budget-friendly option.
Some users complained that the skeg of this kayak tends to fall as you paddle. Also, you cannot expect much from it in terms of durability. Therefore, we don’t recommend using it on the water with sharp rocks and hard objects that could puncture the boat.
Easy to setup
Stable in the water
The Sea Eagle 420x Inflatable kayak is perfect for those who are fond of going on overnight boating trips. It’s spacious enough to accommodate plenty of gears and features rugged construction that can withstand even the toughest water conditions.
In fact, this is another product that we would recommend for those who are in need of the best inflatable kayak for whitewater. When inflated, it measures 160? x 15? and has a weight of only 42 pounds.
Therefore, you can easily carry it from one place to another without the assistance of anyone. Built with excellent quality materials, the Sea Eagle 420x Inflatable kayak is very tough and could last for a long time when taken care of well.
It has overlapped seams that enhance the boat’s durability. When it comes to versatility, the 420x will definitely not disappoint. It can work well in flat water and ocean waters, which is why we recommend it for whitewater rafting.
Indeed, there are so many things that you can do with this kayak. Its roomy size means you’ll be able to use it with a partner or bring along your dog. This inflatable kayak tracks well enough in the water due to its removable and large skeg.
If you want to minimize yaw when paddling on flat water, you can simply attach the skeg. After use, simply pop the kayak off and keep it in its carry bag.
3-year manufacturer warranty
9-minute inflation time
Made of durable material – 1000 denier reinforced
Maximum load capacity is 855 pounds and can accommodate 2 to 3 adults
When it comes to the best brands for inflatables, the Sevylor brand will often come up. They worked along with Coleman to produce the Big Basin 3-Person Kayak and that alone says a lot about the reliability of this kayak.
One thing that you’ll notice in this kayak is the spacious seating, which could accommodate up to three users. Although it’s only slightly longer than 12 feet, there’s plenty of space for gear storage.
But before you get too excited to jump into the kayak with your friends, be mindful of its maximum load capacity to avoid accidents. You won’t experience any discomfort when sitting in this kayak even for the whole day because its seats are very comfortable.
And thanks to its 3-chamber construction, tarpaulin bottom, and strong PVC, this kayak is durable enough to withstand the toughest conditions. However, it’s not suitable for whitewater and can perform best when used on calm waters.
The handling is great, thanks to the skeg. Users are pleased with this kayak’s stability. It will not tip, so you don’t have to worry about getting overturned as you ride it. You just have to be careful with the removable skeg because it can strike the bottom when used in shallow waters.
Easy to set up
Enough space for gears
Seating is ideal for 3 adults
Low maximum capacity
9 – Airhead Montana Two Person Inflatable Kayak Review
The Airhead Montana Two Person Inflatable Kayak is a great choice for those who need the best inflatable 2 person kayak. This multi-purpose kayak is highly dependable and can be used in various conditions, from quiet rivers and lakes to white water.
Equipped with three air chambers that are covered with durable nylon and layered with water and UV resistant coating, this kayak will surely take you back to the shore safely. Coming at a bright orange color, this inflatable kayak is definitely safe to use in the water since you can be easily seen even from a distance.
It has a stretch net that offers plenty of space for storage, allowing you to take several gears with you for a more enjoyable kayaking adventure. Finally, it has elbow guards made from neoprene that enhance the comfort of the user when paddling.
Air chambers sheltered with 840-denier nylon
Bright orange color
Water and UV-resistant
With excellent construction and heavy-duty materials, the Saturn Fishing Inflatable Kayak is a high-quality inflatable kayak that is definitely worth splurging on. It’s made from a hard-wearing PVC fabric and coated on both sides to enhance its durability.
The fabric used for this kayak is relatively thick. It’s puncture-proof and can resist abrasions. This durable inflatable kayak is designed to withstand all kinds of conditions even in raging rivers. You won’t have to worry about damaging it when there are rocks around.
The durable construction means you can use it for whitewater rafting and in other tough conditions. The floor of this kayak is extremely durable and made with high-pressure air deck and this means you’ll be able to inflate it fast enough.
When you’re done using, simply deflate it and roll it up to be stored in your carrying bag. All these great features make this kayak a great investment, especially for serious kayakers. Sure, it’s a bit on the expensive side, but it’s definitely worth investing in.
Comes with removable aluminum benches
Easy to paddle
Made from heavy-duty 1100 Dtex PVC material
Assembly is somewhat difficult
How to Choose the Best Inflatable Kayak
Keeping the team of this kayak reviews, the following factors should be taken into consideration while looking over the dozens of kayak brands in the marketplace.
What Are the Types of Inflatable Kayaks?
You will now find different types of inflatable kayaks on the market. Getting to know each of them can help you find the right kayak that’s suitable for your needs.
So, here are the different types of inflatable kayaks:
Self-bailing kayaks have ports or holes at the bottom. These are used for draining water out, similar to hard-shell kayaks. This is the best option for white water rafting and is well capable of withstanding river rapids.
The ports are very useful for draining out the water that gets splashed into the boat as you paddle. This helps prevent your boat from drowning. Most of the self-bailing kayaks don’t have a fin and won’t work well when used in lakes.
Sit Inside Kayak
This is the type of kayak that most people are familiar with. As the name suggests, you’ll be sitting inside as you paddle and it does not come with an enclosed cockpit.
With this type of kayak, you will remain dry because you’ll be protected from the constant splashing of water. This is a great choice for rough conditions although it’s recommended to use a spray skirt with this type of kayak.
Sit on Top Kayaks
As the name suggests, these kayaks require the user to sit on top. Similar to the hard-shell ones, this type of kayak doesn’t come with an enclosed cockpit because you just need to basically sit above it.
This is considered the best inflatable fishing kayak because you can enjoy maximum movement, which is important for when you cast and need to access gears.
The Canoe Type
This kayak is exactly what it sounds like – a type of canoe. It has a wider design and comes with seats and higher walls. Since it’s wider, you’ll have plenty of space to move around, which is why it’s ideal for fishing excursions.
Inflatable Kayaks Features
There are four main features:
Some inflatable kayaks are equipped with storage space for gears, which is a great choice for those who need the best inflatable fishing kayak. Cargo nets are usually used for storage since they are lightweight and effective. There are also those that have hooks and loops allowing you to secure your gears for safety.
To ensure the comfort of the user, kayaks usually come with seats and others have a backrest as well. Some of these seats can be adjusted depending on the user’s height, etc.
Since you’ll be carrying the kayak in and out of the water, it’s essential that you choose a model with handles. These are usually found on either side of the kayak or on both sides.
There are inflatable kayaks that come with a splash guard at the back or front of the hull, which helps to keep the stored items protected from water splashes. These are also removable so you can have easy access to your gears.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How to Inflate an Inflatable Kayak?
When reading inflatable kayak reviews, look for a model that customers have had no trouble inflating. Generally, these kayaks are inflated using a hand pump. But some other models can be inflated using a foot pump, which is easier and more convenient than the hand pump.
If you don’t mind spending more money on an electric pump to inflate your kayak, then go for it. This pump can be attached to your car. It works very fast, and lets you get into the water easily. Before buying, determine the type of valve that the kayak has so you’ll know how it’s inflated.
How to Paddle an Inflatable Kayak?
The inflatable kayak might seem like a new concept to most people but it works in the same way as the hard-shell ones and therefore, they are paddled in the same way as the traditional kayak.
Are Inflatable Kayaks Safe?
Inflatable kayaks of today are far more comfortable to use and made from stronger, safer materials. But having said that, one should exercise caution when paddling in open waters as problems like punctures and leaks, while uncommon, can still happen
How Long Will my Inflatable Kayak Last?
Inflatable kayaks are durable and can last as long as the traditional kayaks if you take good care of it. Make sure you wash the kayak very carefully after each use.
Some of the harmful microbes from the water might get into the kayak and cause the growth of mildew. After rinsing, leave it to dry fully before deflating. Store the deflated kayak away from sunlight.
Are Inflatable Kayaks Good?
With the rapid improvement in inflatable technology, kayaks that are inflatable can be contoured reliable, safe, and durable. One must adhere to operating instructions to make an inflatable kayak as good as a traditional kayak.
All the inflatable kayaks mentioned above are great, but it’s the Sea Eagle 370 Pro inflatable kayak Amazon that stands out. This 3-person kayak has a maximum weight capacity of 650 pounds and can be used in tough conditions, including whitewater.
It has comfortable seats with back support so even if you stay in this boat for the entire day, you won’t have to worry about spraining your back. Aside from these great features, this kayak is made from heavy-duty materials, which is why we believe it’s the best inflatable kayak out there.
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