Kayaks are of two types, one is hard-shell kayaks, and the second category comprises inflatable kayaks. Inflatable kayaks have two characteristics that are not found in their hard-shell counterparts. They are cheaper, take up less storage space, and are easily transportable.
While there is a need for a rooftop carrier to carry a hard-shell kayak, inflatable kayaks take no more space than a sleeping bag. Most modern inflatable kayaks have many exciting features that make them an ideal choice for those who love kayaking.
Most inflatable kayaks are made of PVC, which is cheaper than other materials. It cannot tolerate chemicals, Ultraviolet rays and is not heat resistant. Nylon and vinyl are also used for making kayaks. Different techniques are used to increase the Kayak’s life, such as sealed seams that provide double protection and prevent leakage.
How to choose the best inflatable kayak?
There are many kinds of kayaks available. However, their features differ according to the activities they are used for. For instance, some people like whitewater kayaking, while others prefer lake paddling and fishing.
The most crucial factor that should be considered before buying a kayak is the water you will deal with.
If an individual goes kayaking in a serene lake or cool stream, they can buy a less durable and less expensive kayak because the waters won’t be rough, and there will not be much pressure on it.
Those interested in whitewater kayaking should buy a sturdy kayak that can handle waves, rocks, trees and the pressure of fast-flowing rivers. Long, narrow and shorter kayaks are ideal for whitewater kayaking as they offer excellent manoeuvrability and control.
Sea kayaking requires longer and more thin and slender kayaks that can cut through the waves quickly and smoothly with good speed. These kayaks are designed to be stable during high waves and altering water currents.
Anglers should go for fish-specific kayaks that have pole holds and fish coolers. Those camping should look for kayaks with ample storage space, a good max-weight rating, spacious compartments and lash points to help carry stuff.
Features of the best inflatable kayaks
Should be durable
Inflatable kayaks are generally durable as they are made of synthetic material designed to experience rough conditions. The expensive ones have additional features and are of high-quality, thicker, double-layered material to prevent punctures and leakages. This makes them unbreakable amidst the rough waters.
Punctures are rare, but even if there is a leak near the seams, most kayaks have many air compartments, so the entire kayak does not deflate at once. Also, almost all kayaks come with repair kits.
Easy to inflate
Inflatable kayaks can be filled or pumped to their full size in about five to nine minutes, depending on the size of the kayak. A hand or foot pump is required for this. The process can be speeded up by using a 12V electric pump.
One mustn’t over-inflate the kayak as it can lead to leaks and punctures due to increased pressure on the bladders. On the other hand, if the kayak is not fully inflated, it could sag, bend or move slowly. Also, more paddle work would be needed. Hence, inflating it correctly is essential.
It is advisable to use a dual-action pump with an air pressure gauge. Not all kayaks come with a pump, so some people might need to purchase them separately.
The design of kayaks makes them more stable than canoes as a paddler is near the water surface while kayaking. Usually, wider and broader kayaks offer more stability but are not very fast. Slim and sleek kayaks are swift and gain speed faster than their wider counterparts.
It should be lightweight and Portable
The biggest advantage of using inflatable kayaks is that they can be carried anywhere and do not need much space. They weigh around 20 to 40 pounds and come in a carry bag with straps to carry a kayak like a backpack.
They are very convenient to use, and once you are done kayaking, they can be kept in the closet. Inflatable kayaks should also be lightweight, and they should dry quickly.
Kayaks also require maintenance. One should prevent hitting it over rocks or into shores. After kayaking, the craft should be dry before storing it. Also, if one has been in the sea, it should be gently washed with fresh water as the salt can damage the kayak’s material. It should not be in a sunny place but in a dark and cool place. If it is used often, then a protective spray can be used to increase its lifespan.
Now let us have a look at some of the best inflatable kayaks.
1. Driftsun Almanor Inflatable Recreational Touring Kayak with EVA Padded Seats with High Back Support, Includes Paddles, Pump (1 Person, 2 Person, 2 Plus 1 Child)
Driftsun Almanor inflatable kayak has a long waterline for incredible speed and long glides. It is incredibly lightweight and made of corrosion-resistant material. It is ideal for paddling in calm waters and oceans.
The kayak is 11 feet long, 34 feet wide and weighs around 10 kg. Its maximum capacity is 136 kg and can be inflated within 9 minutes. It is spacious and can carry two adults and one child.
It has three compartments- two side chambers and one-floor chamber plus EVA Padded Seats that provide comfort and just the right support for your spine. These seats are adjustable for any position. It has a hull design and is made of 600d polyester. It is durable and has a UV protection coating. With 24 gauge air bladders, the Almanor series were built to last in tough situations.
The kayak comes with a dual kayak paddle, a dual action pump, a quick-release fin, a footrest, sure-lock valves and a travel bag. It has a removable skeg that provides stability and helps to paddle more comfortably. It also has integrated splash guards with enough storage capacity.
- Easily inflated
- It comes with a dual pump
- Wide side tubes
- Rubber skeg offers extra protection
- Good quality material
- Dries quickly
- It comes with repair patches
- Spacious and comfortable
- UV protection coating
2. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak has a stylish, streamlined structure that is ideal for paddling. It has a yellow colour that makes it easily visible in the water. It has enough room for two adults and is perfect for kayaking in lakes and rivers.
It weighs 35 pounds and is 10 feet long. It can carry about 400 pounds and inflate within 10 to 15 minutes. It is made of vinyl and is quite sturdy. It has three chambers and an inflatable I-beam floor, providing comfort and stability. The removable skeg offers directional stability, plus two adjustable seats with backrests that provide extreme comfort. It is puncture-resistant.
The Boston valve on each side makes inflating and deflating the kayak easier. It has a grab line and handle and comes with a repair patch kit and a carry bag. It comes with two 86” aluminium oars and an Intex high-output pump.
- Ideal for paddling
- Streamlined design
- Inflatable i-beam floor
- Removable skeg
- Two adjustable, inflatable seats with backrest
- Boston valves
- Repair-patch kit
- It comes with two aluminium oars
- Intex high-output pump
- Inflatable seat positioned too low
- Suitable only for lakes and mild rivers
- Not the best for professional kayakers
- ✔ EASY TRANSPORT – Lightweight and compact, this kayak is easy to assemble and, with the Boston valve, it inflates and deflates in minutes; paddles come apart and the pieces can be conveniently stored with the boat in the included carrying bag allowing you to take the fun of kayaking wherever you go.Grab line on both ends. Streamlined design for easy paddling.
- ✔ READY FOR ADVENTURE – Explorer K2 Kayak is great for experiencing lakes and mild rivers with a friend, this kayak is sporty and fun with a streamlined design for easy paddling, with the bright yellow color and sporty graphics this makes the kayak highly visible in the water
- ✔ STABILITY – Made with rugged vinyl construction and built for performance, this sturdy kayak has an inflatable I-beam floor, a low-profile deck, and high-buoyancy side chambers for stability, comfort, and function; the removable skeg provides exceptional directional movement
- ✔ 2-PERSON CAPACITY – The Explorer K2 is a two person capacity kayak with a 400 pound maximum weight capacity. When fully inflated the kayak measures at 10.3 feet X 3 feet X 1.8 feet
- ✔ ADVENTURE ACCESSORIES – Includes two 86 inch aluminum oars, two inflatable seats with backrests, heavy-duty grab handles with grab lines, two quick-fill Bonston valves, high-output pump and one repair patch
3. AQUAGLIDE Deschutes 110 Inflatable Kayak, 1 Person
The Aquaglide Deschutes 110 kayak is perfect for paddling. It weighs only 18 pounds and comes with a duffle-style storage bag. The bow and stern have plastic handles that help lift the kayak comfortably.
It is 11 feet long and can carry around 136 kg. It can be inflated in 10 minutes and has a two-year limited warranty. It also dries quickly.
It has many additional features, such as comfortable quick-release seats, adjustable footrests, velcro adjustments for the seats, paddle keepers and a quick-release fin. It comes with a Halkey-Roberts Valve adaptor and a cockpit drain.
The efficient hull design with an increased surface area on the water makes it more stable. It can take water pressure as it comes with slim, narrow tubes for increased speed and smooth glide.
- Easy setup
- Easy to paddle
- Made of good quality rubber
- It comes with a duffle-type storage bag
- It does not come with a pump.
4. Sea Eagle 2-Person Inflatable Sport Kayak Boat with Pump and Oars
The Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak is perfect for fishing and paddling in rivers and lakes. It can accommodate two adults, and its maximum weight capacity is 500 pounds. It is lightweight, only 26 pounds and suitable for up to Class III whitewater. It takes only 6 minutes to inflate the kayak.
The kayak has two adjustable and comfortable seats that support your back. It has two paddles, a foot pump for inflating it and a carry bag. The paddles come with asymmetrical blades and an aluminium shaft and offer a decent hand grip.
Two skegs at the bottom of the kayak offer better stability and speed with less paddling. These are made of high-quality moulded plastic that can take water pressure and do not burst even if hit by rocks.
It has an open and closed drain valve plus five one-way inflation and deflation valves. Its rigid 5-tube i-beam floor helps the kayak gain speed and smooth glide.
- Can accommodate two adults
- Inflates in 6 minutes
- Comfortable seats
- Easy to set up
- It comes with many repair patches
- It comes with a foot pump
- Paddles are drippy
- A little heavy
- Seats are not attached to the kayak
- High seats
- The carry bag is bulky
5. Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Inflatable Fishing Kayak – Angler Blow Up Kayak, Includes Paddle, Seat, Hard Mounting Points, Bungee Storage, Rigid Drop stitch Floor and Spray Guard.
Elkton kayak is ideal for shallow waters and up to class III whitewater. It holds up well against salty and brackish waters as well. It is a perfect kayak for fishing trips and touring the seas. The hull weighs 44 lbs, and the kayak’s capacity is 600 lbs.
It has many exciting features, such as a rigid Drop Stitch Floor and a Front Bow Spray Shield. It comes with seven hard Mounting Points for fishing Rod Holders, Fish Finder and baits tray. It has Halkey Roberts Locking Valves, and there are handles on the bow and stern. It is spacious and has an ample amount of storage space.
Its Rigid Drop stitch Floor is ideal for fishing and protects individuals from underwater barriers such as rocks. The floor is sturdy and supports fishing equipment. It also offers stability, and one can move around quickly. This kayak is designed for those who love fishing and adventure. It is puncture-resistant and can take water pressure.
It comes with two lightweight breakdown paddles, two removable skegs and a carry bag with straps. The two padded adjustable EVA seats are extremely comfortable and can be moved according to the person’s height, weight and storage requirements. It also has two adjustable footrests. It comes with a dual high-pressure hand pump that inflates the kayak in 10 minutes. Sea Eagle offers a 1-year guarantee and a 30-day easy return policy on all its kayaks.
- Ideal for fishing
- Rigid drop-stitch floor
- Rigid mounting points for placing fishing accessories
- Halkey Roberts locking valves
- Good storage space
- Lightweight and efficient paddles
- Comfortable and movable seats
- It comes with a dual high-pressure hand pump
- 1-year warranty
- The Manual does not come with detailed instructions
- Scotty mounts placed close to seats
6. Airhead Montana Kayak Two Person Inflatable Kayak, 12 ft
The Airhead Montana kayak is best for camping trips and is made for lakes and moderate whitewater. It can easily accommodate two adults and is lightweight. It weighs 36.3 pounds, and its carrying capacity is 500 pounds.
It is spacious, and its bright orange makes it stand out in the water, which is good from a safety perspective.
It has comfortable and inflatable seats with a backrest and a mesh pocket. The four bottom fins make it a smooth ride with less drag. The three chambers of the kayak are covered with 840-denier nylon with UV and water-resistant coating.
The kayak’s bottom is enclosed with tri-laminate reinforcements, which makes it durable. The elbow guards are made of Neoprene, which makes paddling easy. It has 3 Boston valves for inflation and deflation. It has non-corrosive stainless steel and nylon hardware.
This Kayak has heavy gauge PVC construction and a tubular I-beam floor that offers stability and buoyancy. It also has a drain hole with a plug and 6 D-rings at the bow and stern for securing gear. Lastly, taking it into the water and pulling it out is easy as the kayak has grab handles on its sides.
- Comfortable, inflatable seats
- Less drag
- UV and water-resistant coating
- Tri-laminate reinforcements for increased durability
- Neoprene elbow guards
- Easy to paddle
- Three Boston valves for easy inflation and deflation
- non-corrosive hardware
- Tubular I-beam floor for stability
- Drain hole with plug
- Grab handles for easy portability
- Bright orange colour fades with the use
- Only for lakes and moderate waters
- It does not come with a storage bag
7. ADVANCED ELEMENTS Lagoon 1 Kayak
The Advanced Elements Lagoon 1 Kayak has a stylish design and excellent features that make it a multi-purpose boat perfect for lakes, rivers, bays and estuaries. It is orange and grey, 8 feet long and weighs 10 kg. Its carrying capacity is 113 kg, and it is made for solo kayaking.
The built-in rigid bow and stern panels help in efficient tracking. The inner tube cover provides strength and protects from abrasion. Padded seats and high-quality rubber handles make it easier to control.
It comes with Twist Lok and spring valves, making inflation and deflation relatively easy. The adjustable D-ring attachments and zippered storage pocket provide enough space to keep your phone, camera, wallet and other stuff. The kayak’s hull has a landing plate and tracking fin for increased performance. It comes with a duffel bag, a repair kit, and an instructions guide.
The kayak is handy and can be easily carried in the water using its carry handles on both sides. It also comes with an extra folding seat with an inflatable cushion.
- Rigid bow and stern panels for tracking
- The inner tube cover protects from abrasion
- Padded seats
- Twist lock and spring valves for easy inflation/deflation
- D-ring attachments and zippered storage pocket
- Tracking fin for high performance
- comes with a duffel storage bag, repair kit
- It has grab handles on the sides
- It comes with an extra folding seat
- It does not come with a pump
- One person can use it only
8. Hot Max 2-Person Inflatable Kayak, Yellow Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Touring Kayak with Aluminum Oars, Pump
The Hot Max inflatable kayak is ideal for fishing and paddling. It is 10 feet long and weighs 20.4 pounds, with a maximum carrying capacity of 400 pounds. It can accommodate two adults.
This yellow and grey kayak is made of eco-friendly lightweight PVC material. It is also water-resistant, comfortable, durable and convenient to paddle.
It has a strong hull, is unaffected by salt water and is corrosion free. It is also heat-resistant. It is easily inflated and deflated and comes with ten separate inflation holes and five air chambers with valves.
It comes with a rope, a waterproof carry bag, a hand pump and two aluminium oars.
- Made of eco-friendly material
- It has ten separate inflation holes
- It comes with a waterproof carry bag
- It comes with a hand pump
- Two aluminium oars
- Immovable seats
- Suitable for lakes and slow rivers
9. Yocalo Inflatable Kayak, Fishing Boat Kayak, with Aluminum Oars, Cushion, Rope, Repair Patch and High Output Hand Pump
The Yocalo Inflatable kayak is ideal for fishing and paddling. It weighs around 8 kg and can accommodate two adults and a child. It is made with environmentally-friendly 0.6mm PVC material, which is quite durable.
It has five separate air chambers with Boston valves. It has two cushioned seats and a rope, aluminium oars, repair patches and a hand pump for convenient inflation. It can be inflated in 10 minutes.
It is stable and easy to paddle in a straight line. It does not shake, can handle low temperatures and comes with UV protection coating. The best thing about this kayak is that it is affordable, high-quality and easy to assemble.
- Easy setup
- Cushioned seats
- Aluminium oars
- It comes with a hand pump
- Can handle low temperature
- It comes with a UV protection coating
- Easy to paddle
- It does not come with a carry bag.
10. Solstice by Swimline Durango Kayak, Multicolor, One Size (29635)
The Solstice Kayak is sturdy and durable, an excellent fit for kayaking, fishing and other water sports. Its internal bladders are made of 22 Gauge K-80 PVC material. A nylon cover covers these bladders for extra protection and durability.
One or two people can use it, which is perfect for paddlers. It weighs only 40 lbs and can easily fit in small spaces. Its maximum capacity is 440 pounds.
It has three independent chambers that offer balance and stability. It has two grab handles, screw-type drain valves, front and back spray kits, and storage space. It also has velcro paddle holders and 22 D-rings. It also has two adjustable nylon padded seats. It comes with a high-pressure pump, a repair kit and a waterproof carry bag. Lastly, it has a detachable skeg for efficient tracking.
- Three separate chambers
- Screw-type drain valves
- Storage space
- Velcro-paddle holders
- Two adjustable nylon seats
- It comes with a high-pressure pump
- Detachable skeg
- Uncomfortable seats
- No back support
These are some of the best inflatable kayaks that you could choose from.
You might also like to read-
- What is a Kayak?
- Main Types of Catamarans Used in the Shipping World
- 10 Best Sunglasses For Boating
- 10 Best Sailing Watches
Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendations on any course of action to be followed by the reader.
The article or images cannot be reproduced, copied, shared, or used in any form without the permission of the author and Marine Insight.
Zahra is an alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is an avid writer, possessing immaculate research and editing skills. Author of several academic papers, she has also worked as a freelance writer, producing many technical, creative and marketing pieces. A true aesthete at heart, she loves books a little more than anything else.
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