If you are looking to dip your toes in Kayaking or are looking for an ideal beginner’s Kayak that offers enough features to take it to the next level, then inflatable kayaks are the right choice for you. A lot of people are thrown off by the name and compare it with the inflatable paddle boats that are used in swimming pools. You couldn’t be more wrong. With the technology advancing by leaps and bounds over the years, inflatable kayaks today are lightweight, extremely rugged and some models offer features that are on par with hard-shell ones.
With a wide range of varieties to choose from, you can easily find one that best fits into your idea of kayaking. Irrespective of whether you wish to paddle solo or in tandem, in a pool or in an ocean, navigate through choppy whitewater or run a wave, there is an inflatable kayak for you.
They are also known by names like IKs and duckies can easily be transported using carry bags. These kayaks are designed using Hypalon that is a type of neoprene, PVC, polyurethane-coated cloth, or Nytrylon that is a kind of rubberized fabric. You can inflate these kayaks using electric pumps, hand pumps, or by foot pumps. It contains multiple compartments and is least expensive and highly safe. Generally they make use of low-pressure air.
There are many Inflatable Kayaks that are non-rigid and essentially pointed rafts that are best suited for calm water and rivers. The higher-end inflatable has been designed so as to be seaworthy and hardy vessels. These kayaks are more popular because of their durability, portability, and storage. Moreover, these are more stable and have small turning radius. You can easily master them but there are a few models that would require more effort for paddling and are slow as compared to traditional kayaks.
Best Inflatable Kayaks for The Money
Blue Wave Sports Nomad 1 Person Inflatable Kayak is a pure beast when it comes to performance. Even heavy riders can hop on to this kayak without any hesitation. It can easily accommodate a 230 lbs person and that means, big guys like you and me should not have any problem while kayaking on it both Stillwater or choppy water.
Extremely durable in nature, this Blue Wave Sports Nomad 1 Person Inflatable Kayak comes with a removable fabric seat and it offers ample space to keep your foot in a comfortable position. Inflating or deflating this Blue Wave Sports Nomad 1 Person Inflatable Kayak should not be a big issue because the company is also offering a reliable foot pump without charging an extra dime for it. Blue Wave Sports Nomad 1 Person Inflatable Kayak can be easily tucked into a carry and storage bag and the bag is rip-resistant. Blue Wave Sports Nomad 1 Person Inflatable Kayak comes loaded with big rings and extra-large grab handles to carry the kayak around without facing any problem.
- Dimensions: 118L x 30.5W x 13.5H
- Adjustable seats and footrest
- Easy to deploy
- Oversized pressure valve to deflate the kayak easily and effortlessly
- 3 air chambers
- Double locking air-tight seal
- PVC reinforced
- 87-in long oar with aluminum tubes
- Repair kit
Type: Solo Inflatable Kayak
Ideal for: Beginners and advanced kayakers looking for an inflatable sit in. It can be taken on lakes and mild rivers.
Review: If you have a small car and therefore looking for an inflatable kayak that can be carried around easily, you need to check out this ADVANCED ELEMENTS Advanced Frame Sport Kayak. This small yet robust built kayak is ideal for those who want to enjoy kayaking caring little for all the technical details involved. It tracks well both on calm and choppy water and you will hardly find any difference between a hard-shell kayak and this ADVANCED ELEMENTS Advanced Frame Sport Kayak as far the performance is concerned. Easy to transport, this ADVANCED ELEMENTS Advanced Frame Sport Kayak is ideal for those who are planning to kayak on faraway places. Made from PVC Tarpaulin with 1000D polyester reinforcements, this kayak is designed to stand the test of time.
This is an extremely durable kayak that will take a beating without getting punctured. It has 3 layers of protection. A 30-gauge PVC main inflatable chamber, high-density polyurethane-coated polyester inner cover and a PVC Tarpaulin with 1000 Denier Polyester outer layer.
The bow provides superior tracking and the stern also doubles as a skeg in choppy waters. The built-in aluminum ribs significantly improve the maneuverability. Assembling and takedown are ridiculously easy and the compact form factor allows you to pack it into your car and carry it with ease.
Performance: The Advanced Elements AE1012-R is exceptionally stable and tracks as good as a hard-shell on calm waters. It can even navigate through class-ii rapids without any problems. The only caveat is the absence of a spray skirt.
Final verdict: This is the transitional inflatable kayak for hard-shell lovers. Be ready to be amazed by the performance of the AE1012-R.
- Puncture Resistant
- Abrasion Resistant
- Durable and Lightweight Aluminum Ribs
- Foot Pump Included
- Adjustable Seat
- Maximum weight capacity: 250 pounds
- 30 x 17 x 8 inches Folded dimensions
- Weight: 26 pounds
Do you want to live life to the fullest and therefore, you are looking for a tandem inflatable kayak that can match your level of expectation? Well, you don’t have to scour the web anymore because Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak is the One that you have been looking for long. Ideal for thrill-seekers, Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak is also a perfect match for those who want to spend a beautiful morning kayaking with their families. Be it rough water or flat water, the performance of Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak is unmatchable in every sense of the term.
- It just takes 10 minutes or so to inflate the kayak.
- It weighs just around 28 lbs.
- It is puncture proof thanks to the use of Heavy-duty PVC Tarpaulin on the bottom of the kayak.
- Reinforced Layered PVC side tubes
- It offers amazing stability thanks to its large rocker area.
- Suitable for both Class III and Class IV Rapids.
- Adjustable Padded Seats
- 600 Lbs Capacity
You will never realize kayaking could be that fun unless and until you get your hands on Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak. It literarily takes 5 minutes to unpack it and get it inflated to its actual size. Amazing is not it? It has a rugged tarpaulin bottom that offers protection from underwater pointed objects. It has multi-position footrest and it makes kayaking a truly enjoyable experience for all. To make all the gears and accessories easily accessible to the kayaker, Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak has included a bungee storage area. To speed up the process of inflation and deflation, the company has included Mini Double Lock Fast Valves and Double Lock Fast Valves.
- Adjustable seats that gives support to back.
- Airtight System.
- In case, one air chamber gets punctured, another air chamber is available to take up its position.
- PVC construction allows rough use
- Easy 5-minute setup
Ideal for: Beginners and seasoned kayakers. It can be used in lakes and mild rivers.
Review: Designed for easy and effortless kayaking, Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak stands apart from other inflatable kayaks thanks to its robust performance and competitive price. Colored in bright yellow, this kayak is easy to spot on the water and thus making it ideal for first-time kayaker. It is ideal for tracking open water bodies like lakes etc. Its sporty looks also add to its impressive design. Easy to assemble, Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak is extremely lightweight and it is extremely durable too. Grabs handles are attached to make it easy to carry around.
Performance: The Intex Explorer K2 offers excellent stability and buoyancy, even in choppy waters. The only caveat is that you may end up losing the skeg. It is recommended that you remove it if you plan to go to a river.
Final Verdict: It is no mean feat to pack in all the features of higher-end models in an ingenious package. If you are a beginner looking for complete bang for your buck, this is the model you need.
- Intex high-output pump included.
- 2 86” aluminum oars
- Removable skeg to increase stability
- 20 x 36 x 123 inches in size
- 400 pounds weight capacity
- Adjustable seats
Ideal For Beginners as well as seasoned kayakers looking for an inflatable tandem. It can be used in flat water, rivers, and the ocean.
Review: The Sea Eagle 370K is a perfectly designed tandem kayak with a bevy of features that rival high-end commercial models. It has a carrying capacity of 3 people to a maximum weight of 650 lbs. making it more than ideal for recreational tours as well as the occasional competitive event. There is ample room for gear and for your furry companion too.
Weighing just above 30 lbs., it is extremely easy to carry and store in your car.
It is made of thick 33 mil PolyKrylar material that will bounce right off any sharp-edged rocks without puncturing it and dampening your trip. The floor is rigid I-Beam. It features lashed down inflatable spray skirts to keep the chill out in case the weather turns truant and self-bailing drain valves that make it possible to use the kayak in all kinds of water.
Performance: The Sea Eagle 370 features two kegs on the underside which improves tracking and speed in calmer waters. However, on a windy day, it may be prone to sidetracking. The response is fast and maneuvers are smooth.
Final Verdict: Versatile and complete value for money.
Type: Tandem Kayak
Ideal For: Beginners, seasoned kayakers and hobby fishermen. Designed primarily to be used in lakes.
Review: If you are looking for an inflatable tandem to take to the lakes for fishing trips, then look no further. The Coleman Colorado is a beast and it has enough features to keep you safe and comfortable on even the longest fishing trips.
Made of 18-gauge rugged PVC, it is incredibly durable. The bottom is made of 1000D tarpaulin which may not last in whitewater but is perfect for lakes. It comes with an 840D nylon cover that protects the inflatable portion from pointed edges and a possible puncture. It features dual air chambers. So in the rare event of one chamber getting punctured, the other chamber will stay inflated.
The double-threaded Boston valves make inflation and
deflation a breeze.
To allow an easy fishing experience, it comes with adjustable Berkley® rod holders and trolling motor fittings from Sevylor®. If you plan to kayak solo, the adjustable seats can be moved to accommodate gear for longer trips. It has a weight capacity of 470 lbs. which is more than sufficient for two people and some basic gear.
Performance: It offers excellent control and maneuverability even in choppy waters. Customers claim to have used it in 4 feet swells off the coast. May sidetrack on extremely windy days.
Final Verdict: For the price, this is a feature-rich inflatable fishing boat for two people. It is compact, portable, roomy and comfortable. I cannot ask for more.
Type: Tandem Kayak
Ideal for: Recreational Kayakers. Can be used in lakes and mild whitewater
Review: If you are looking for a large roomy tandem inflatable kayak, then the AIRHEAD AHTK-2 Montana should top the list of probable. This 12-foot kayak is larger than most other models at this price point. It has a semi-rigid heavy gauge PVC construction with a triple layer skid-plate like reinforcement layer on the underside.
It has a maximum weight capacity of 500 lbs. So if you are heading out for a weekender with lots of gear and luggage, this will get the job done. Even after you store the gear, there will still be plenty of room.
Despite the largish size, it is surprisingly lightweight at
36.3 pounds. Assembly, dismantling, and portability are as easy as they get.
The only possible downside is that you do not get a kit with paddles and an air pump and those have to be ordered separately.
Performance: The AIRHEAD AHTK-2 Montana is designed for lake use. But it can easily tide through mild to moderate whitewater. The speed, response, and maneuvers are excellent and the boat remains steady as a rock.
Final Verdict: The AIRHEAD AHTK-2 Montana is perfect for people looking for some extra room in their kayaks without sacrificing on quality and cutting corners. The 12-foot size and the 500 lbs. carrying capacity makes it perfect for longer excursions and tours.
Type: Sit-on-top Single Kayak
Ideal For: Seasoned Kayakers or medium-skilled kayakers. Perfect for lakes and calm water. May perform reasonably well in choppy waters.
Review: The Sevylor QuickPak Coverless is an apt choice for people who prefer a kayak that can be inflated and ready to go in the water in less than 5 minutes. It is also known as the ‘Five Minute Kayak’ by seasoned kayakers.
Despite the quick setup and the seemingly innocuous appearance, the Sevylor QuickPak Coverless is an extremely durable kayak that is made from PVC. It will take a few bumps and nicks in its stride without getting punctured.
It has two permanent skegs on the underside that may affect
tracking, especially if you are a beginner. The front of the kayak tends to
wiggle from side to side. But you can adjust your strokes to control the
Being a sit-on-top, you can expect a wet ride, especially if the water is choppy. It won’t be the smoothest ride on a windy day. But it has its perks. You can go out to the lake and lie on your back using it as a mattress.
There are a few bells and whistles thrown in, like a cargo net, a cup holder and an oarlock.
Performance: As long as it’s a lake with calm waters, the Sevylor Quickpack offers perfect control, stability, and response. Take it to the ocean and you may or may not be able to control it as you’d expect to.
Final Verdict: For those who hate to squeeze into a cockpit to kayak, this Sevylor QuickPak Coverless sit-on-top offers a great choice to experience Kayaking. It is versatile, durable and comfortable.
Type: Tandem Kayak for 2 people
Ideal for: Beginners as well as experts. It can be used on lakes, whitewater (Class III) and the ocean for fishing, yacht tending, and skin diving.
Review: Labelled America’s most popular inflatable kayak, the Sea Eagle 330 is a powerhouse. This is the predecessor of the Sea Eagle 370, the only difference being the carrying capacity. The 370 can carry 150 lbs. more than this one.
The Sea Eagle 330 has a 500 lbs. capacity and features built-in Inflatable spray skirts and a self-bailing drain valve to keep the water out during whitewater excursions. The 33 mm polykrylar hull is almost impenetrable and it can easily withstand most sharp edges and rocks.
The package includes two adjustable kayak seats, a foot pump, and a storage bag that neatly accommodates all the paraphernalia. (Two 8-foot AB30 paddles included in the pro version). It is large and roomy and there should be enough space for two adults and the gear.
Final Verdict: Along with the 370, this is one of the most versatile inflatable kayaks that you can buy in 2016. It is stylish, comfortable and can be taken from lakes to the oceans.
Type: Tandem kayak for 3 people
Ideal for: Beginners, advanced users, and families looking for a spacious inflatable. Perfect for lake use and mild rivers.
Review: If you like to take your friends or your family kayaking, then this 3 person Kayak from Coleman will be a great buy. Featuring a rugged PVC construction with a tarpaulin bottom that keeps it puncture-proof, it will ensure that jagged edges or stones won’t leave you in the doldrums.
Multiple air chambers ensure that if one chamber is punctured, the other one still functions flawlessly. Featuring an airtight system that is guaranteed to prevent leaks, the Coleman Big Basin™ 3-Person Kayak is reliable for family excursions.
On the other hand, you can always adjust the three comfortable seats (with bottle holders) and use the extra space for storage. In case, you end up in the middle of the lake on a windy day, the spray cover ensures that you stay dry.
Performance: The built-in tracking fin ensures that the kayak tracks well even in choppy waters. On calm water, it is as steady as a rock and offers perfect maneuvers. It does not wobble or wiggle to the sides making it easier to control.
Final Verdict: This is the perfect kayak for a small family. It does not come with a pump or the paddles. But that’s not really a downside. For the price, it is absolutely worth it.
Type: Solo sit-in Kayak
Ideal for: Beginners and casual use for advanced users. It can be used in lakes and slow-moving waters only.
Review: Intex pulls a rabbit out of their hat with the immensely popular Challenger K1. Featuring an extremely stylish design with bright colored graphics, it is constructed of durable welded material and vinyl fabric. The I-beam floor enhances stability.
Even though the cockpit is made for one person only, there is enough room behind the seat to store some of your sundry details. For additional storage, there is a cargo net and grab lines at the end of the kayak.
The package also includes an 84-inch aluminum oar, repair patch and Hi-output manual hand pump, eliminating the need to buy a separate one. Weighing just under 28 pounds and with a carrying capacity of 220-pounds, this is near perfect for beginners.
Performance: It features two skegs on the underside. But tracking may not be as good as some of the higher-priced models (which is to be expected at this price point). Stick to calmer waters and this should last for a long time without any problems.
Final Verdict: The Challenger may not be as versatile as the Explorer. But it has its good points. For beginners looking to learn the ropes as well as for casual users who like to head to the lake to paddle, this is a great option at an inexpensive price.
Type: Solo Sit-in Kayak
Ideal for: Beginners and Casual users
Review: Advanced Elements are known for their range of quality inflatables and the Firefly rates among the best on offer from the company. It is a compact little powerhouse that will impress you with its tracking and the roomy cockpit.
Featuring built-in rigid panels that define the bow and
stern, the tracking is excellent and so are the maneuvers. As long as it’s not
very windy (more than 15 mph), you should be able to cruise through without any
The bright yellow graphics are eye-catching and visible easily while you are on the water.
It also features a rugged outer cover that keeps it secure from punctures. With twist lock valves and a high flow Spring valve, this is a grab and go kayak that will be ready in minutes. A landing plate ensures that the kayak remains protected during beaching.
Performance: The Firefly is a very comfortable and steady kayak making it an ideal choice for beginners. It is a tad wider than most other kayaks at this price point though. So, the paddle included in the pack may not be sufficient, especially if the waters are a bit choppy.
Final Verdict: Weighing under 16 pounds, this is one of the lightest solo kayaks in the market currently and it is easy to set up too. If you like to go solo to the lakes, look no further. This is a great choice.
If you find yourself on the fence and unable to decide which type of kayak to choose, then here are some of the important things to consider, that may help you further the decision making process.
Advantages of Inflatable Kayaks:
1. Take Little Space
They can be stored easily and require only little space. These kayaks are not hard-shell kayaks that cannot be deflated. They can be inflated and deflated as well as packed into their storage bag and easily get stored in closet. Those individuals who stay in small spaced homes or condos, these kayaks will get stored easily without making any space issue for them.
2. Easy to Transport
You can easily transport them by keeping them on your car roof. They can also be folded and carried into backpack because they are sufficiently light. You can carry these inflatable kayaks on airplane thereby enjoy them during your vacations. It would be a great convenience and a thrilling experience for those who love exploring foreign waterways. There are many people who love carrying their own kayaks in RV for this reason.
3. Robust Structure
They are available in an extremely rugged construction. There are several Inflatable Kayak manufacturers who are making rugged and high quality kayaks that can bear real beating as well as last for longer duration. Nowadays, kayaks are not considered as pool toys instead they are regarded as actual boats that should be made in a way so as to withstand excessive amount of abuse include the dog paws.
Inflatable Kayaks are inexpensive. When compared to the price of hard-shell kayak, these kayaks are less expensive and more durable as well as portable.
5. Great Performance
Several users who have used these kayaks say that they are high in performance. The performance of a kayak is based on its quality. However, maximum kayaks offer decent performance, reach to some very high speed, and track well. Over the years, the performance of Inflatable Kayaks has drastically improved and they have started giving tough competition to hard-shell counterparts both in terms of money as well as performance.
These kayaks are light in weight. This is one of the best features of Inflatable Kayaks. They come in fair weight and one single kayak can easily be carried by a single person as well as it’s much easier to enter into water as compared to its hard-shell counterpart.
7. Great Experience
Using Inflatable Kayaks is truly a fun and enjoying experience. They are well suited for every type of water. They offer excessive fun irrespective of the kayaker’s age. These kayaks can easily be paddled by one and all and are both safe and stable to use, so excellent for fishing, dogs, and families.
8. Durable & High Quality Materials
These kayaks are made from hypalon and this material is resistant to extreme temperatures, ultraviolet light, salt water, and chemicals. Moreover, this material is highly durable and has longer life expectancy when compared to PVC. They are also much more resistant towards abrasion during dry weather conditions and show better air retention during cold conditions. Their rubber like quality helps in their easy handling.
There are several manufacturers of Inflatable Kayaks and they are making some of the best kayaks in the world. With the advancement in technology, now kayaks have become much more strong, reliable, safe, and portable. If you purchase an inflatable kayak from some branded manufacturer, you’ll definitely get a few years warranty.
Those who plan for some overnight campaigning or trips should make use of inflatable kayaks because they are highly portable, have lesser weight, and can be easily carried by individuals on their back. Among the many wonderful features that Inflatable Kayaks have, one is that they carry some hundreds of pounds weight but themselves weigh only few pounds. If you purchase a kayak that can carry 2 individuals, it also permits them for carrying their equipment and gears. They don’t require too much of maintenance and hence save your considerable amount of money.
Kayakers living in apartment should purchase inflatable kayaks mainly because they don’t require too much space for storage and can fit in lock-up stores or even in garages. Moreover, for inflating these kayaks, one would not need fitting of roof bars in their vehicle. Those who are old-aged, for them inflatable kayak would be much suitable as they weigh somewhere between 20 and 30 pounds so it becomes easy for them to carry these kayaks.
They require simple maintenance that is simple wiping, leaving them to dry, folding them and storing them in their carrying bags. On the other hand, if you purchase rigid kayak, you’ll not be provided with such simple maintenance. The range of Inflatable Kayaks is between $200 and $400. Within this range, you will find a huge collection of kayaks in both offline and online stores.
Inflatable Kayak Buying Guide
It is common and quite natural to be confused while selecting an inflatable kayak. You only want one of the best inflatable kayaks for yourself but almost all of them seem tailored for your purpose. For example, you may be just heading out to the lake close by to kayak for now. But what if you wish to explore new terrain a few months later and include some class I whitewater rapids? Can you use the same kayak for both?
Let us help you sort through the bull and help you make a choice.
1. Solo or Tandem
The first and most important factor that can define your choice is whether you are a lone wolf or socially inclined. In other terms, does your idea of kayaking involve one more person with you? Like, say, a fishing trip on a kayak? Or do you prefer to kayak alone? You need to take into account that going tandem may mean paddling with the other person. There are kayaks with fixed seating areas, as well as ones adjustable and detachable seats which can be modified as per the requirements of the trip. So, if you are kayaking solo, then you can remove the extra seat and move one seat to the center. The other option is to sit in the rear and put some kind of weight in the front to adjust the balance. Planning to go kayaking with your kids or your furry friend? Go for the tandem variety.
2. Water conditions
Where do you intend to kayak? Is it a pond, an ocean or a river with whitewater? Kayaks made for calmer waters have a tracking fin on the underside, to allow the kayaker to exercise better control by preventing side drift. These do not work well in whitewater situations. Self-bailers, which are made for whitewater, are not the ideal choice for calm waters.
Do you like the typical sit-in kayak with an enclosure? Or do you like a more open design like the sit-on-top kayak? What about the weather conditions? Will there be heat or cold or rain? How tall are you? Does the sit-in kayak allow you to stretch your legs comfortably? Comfort is an often-underweighted factor that may prove to be vital down the line.
4. Carrying Capacity
What kind of gear will you be carrying in the kayak? How much weight will be needed for the gear and the two paddlers, in case of a tandem kayak? Check the carrying capacity of the kayak to further narrow down your choice.
Some models of the inflatable kayaks allow you to attach storage bags to the hull using clips. If you intend to carry a lot of gear and need additional storage space, then this might be a feature to look for. If you plan to go for long excursions or camping trips, then you may need more storage space. The other option is to opt for a tandem kayak and use the extra space for storage.
What are the size and the weight of the kayak that you are comfortable carrying around? Consider the possibility that you may have additional gear with you and maybe kayaking solo. You do not want to buy something that you cannot carry comfortably.
Last but not least, how comfortable are you in setting up the kayak? If you are one of the impatient ones who like to spend minimum time in the assembly and just want to get on the water, then look for ones that can be inflated in as less as 5-10 minutes. On the other hand, if you like to prepare well (attachable parts) in exchange for some added features and benefits, then look for performance-oriented models.
That’s about it. Consider these above points and you should be able to skim through the unwanted ones and zero down on the best inflatable kayak for your choice.