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9 Best Inflatable Kayaks (2022 Reviews And Guide)

If you are searching for the best inflatable kayak, you are in the right spot.  In this post, we will discuss what to look for to find an inflatable kayak that is best for you.  We will also answer some questions you may have about inflatables.

Inflatable kayaks are extremely popular because they are versatile, easy to store, and very easy to transport.  You don’t need a lot of extra equipment to take your kayak on the road with you.

And the winner is!

Our Top Pick

Sea Eagle 380x Inflatable Kayak

Capacity: 3 people or 750 pounds
Weight: 44 pounds
Durable PVC construction
Removable drop stitch floor
Comes with pump, paddles, repair kit, and carry bag

Inflatable kayak reviews

Inflatable kayaks offer many features and benefits, including ease of use and transportation. We will get into all of that next. So let’s get right to it.

Sea Eagle 380x Inflatable Kayak

SE 380X top viewPin
Number of Paddlers:Up to 3
Weight Capacity:750 Pounds
Kayak Weight:40 Pounds
Length:12’6″
Width:39″
Material:Heavy-duty PVC with removable drop stitch floor
What’s in the box?Seats, carrying bag, repair kit, pump

If you are looking for a versatile and portable kayak, the Sea Eagle 380x is a great option. This inflatable kayak can hold up to three people, perfect for a family outing on the water. In addition, the 380x is made from durable materials that can withstand harsh conditions.

The Sea Eagle 380x is one of the best inflatable kayaks available because it has a robust 750-pound carrying capacity, making it great for kayak camping and fishing trips. You can pack a ton of gear in this inflatable and still have room for another person or your furry friend.

Check the price at Sea Eagle

The kayak is also easy to paddle solo, which is excellent for a large inflatable kayak. The SE 380x is 12’6″ long and 39 inches wide with a flat bottom hull, so it’s very stable and great for beginners or paddling with kids.

The removable drop stitch floor gives the kayak added stability and a more rigid hard kayak feel. In addition, the floor helps stiffen the kayak up, and not all inflatables have a removable floor.

Sea Eagle designed the kayak with a removable skeg. When you are on flat water, the skeg keeps you going straight, or remove the skeg for white water. Did we mention the kayak can handle up to Class IV rapids?

>>Read the complete Sea Eagle 380x review<<

One cool feature is that you can customize the kayak to your liking. For example, you can add a motor mount and turn this bad boy into a great fishing kayak. You can also choose packages with upgraded seats and paddles.

The best thing is that even the base package comes with a pump, paddles, seats, and a repair kit, everything you need to hit the water. I highly recommend adding the electric pump, which takes just a few minutes to inflate the boat fully.

Front and rear bungee storage round out this versatile kayak.

The kayak weighs 40 pounds, so it can be tricky for one person to handle. A kayak cart will serve you well.

The Sea Eagle 380x is a popular choice among kayakers because it’s portable and packs a punch. So if you’re looking for an inflatable kayak that can do it all, the Sea Eagle 380x should be at the top of your list.

PROS

Easy to set up
Excellent carrying capacity
Very stable and rigid
Easy to paddle, and it tracks well

CONS

More expensive than other options

Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Kayak

Sale
Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Kayak - 2 Person Adult White Water Tandem Foldable Kayak Canoe Set with Padded Seats, Aluminium Paddles, Action Cam Mount, Pump, High Pressure Floor & Travel Bag
  • 2 PERSON KAYAK: The Driftsun Rover 220 tandem kayak features a front & rear rocker...
  • WHAT’S IN THE BAG: Rover 220 inflatable kayak, 2 adjustable EVA padded seats, 2...
  • ULTIMATE COMFORT: Constructed with reinforced double layered PVC, this enables the...
  • ADVENTURE READY: Diftsun folding kayak will deliver unmatched stability in rough...
  • SIT IN TANDEM KAYAK SPECS: Exterior 12.6’(L) x 38”(W) x 13”(H) / Weight: 28...
Number of Paddlers:2
Weight Capacity:600 Pounds
Kayak Weight:28 Pounds
Length:12’6″
Width:36″
Material:Reinforced layered PVC
What’s in the box?Two padded seats, two adjustable aluminum paddles, double action hand pump, travel bag, skeg (tracking fin)

If you’re looking for a fun and affordable way to get on the water, check out the Driftsun Rover 220 two-person inflatable kayak. This kayak is perfect for recreational use, and it’s made from durable PVC material. It inflates in about 10 minutes so that you can be on the water quickly.

This kayak is perfect for beginners and experienced kayakers alike, and it can be easily inflated and deflated for easy transport.

Two high-back seats give you plenty of support for your day on the water. The seats are fully adjustable and offer excellent support. A good kayak seat is often overlooked, so it’s nice to see that these are included.

Storage is no problem with the Driftsun Rover 220.  With a 600-pound capacity, there is plenty of room for your gear.  You can carry two adults and even a child or a dog with you.  There are tie-downs to secure your equipment.

The Rover is one of the best tandem inflatable kayaks at this price point. The kayak is lightweight to transport, comes with a removable skeg, an action camera mount on the bow, and plenty of room for two paddlers.

It also comes with all the gear you need to hit the water right away, including two paddles and a pump. Carry handles on the front, back and sides make this kayak easy to transport to and from the water.

The downside of this tandem inflatable kayak is the lack of proper onboard storage. However, there are small covered areas on the bow and stern, so get your dry bags ready.

One last point, this kayak is rated for up to class III and IV rapids, which can be a lot of fun!

PROS

Durable PVC material
Easy to setup
Plenty of room for gear
Multiple carry handles

CONS

The seats are a little low

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak

ADVANCED ELEMENTS AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak, 15', Red
  • Built-in aluminum ribs define the bow and stern and improves tracking
  • Three layers of material for extreme puncture resistance.Folded size 35 X 21 X 12...
  • Pre-assembled at the factory; simply unfold, inflate, and attach the seats
  • High support, adjustable padded seats provide comfort for hours of paddling
  • Three seat locations allow for paddling solo or tandem
Number of Paddlers:1 or 2
Weight Capacity:550 pounds
Kayak Weight:56 pounds
Length:15′
Width:32″
Material:PVC Tarpaulin
What’s in the box?Carrying duffel bag, two folding seats, owner’s manual, repair kit

Versatility is the name of the game with this convertible inflatable kayak. There are three seat locations for solo or tandem paddling. The seats themselves are adjustable high back seats and give you plenty of support for paddling all day.

The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak is made with high-quality materials and is very durable.

The kayak is 15′ long, 32 inches wide, and weighs 52 pounds. It’s longer and more narrow than other kayaks on this list but is still very stable. The Sea Eagle 380x is a solid alternative if you want a more stable kayak.

The Advanced Elements inflatable touring kayak paddles more like a hardshell kayak due to the built-in aluminum ribs that give the kayak a more rigid hull than other inflatables.

The kayak includes paddle holders, bungees, and tied downs. Depending on if you are using solo or tandem, your storage capacity will vary. 

Check the price at Amazon

Check the price at REI

With a 550-pound capacity, there is plenty of room for your gear even if you paddle tandem.

The kayak is easy to set up. Unfold it, pump it up and attach the seats. One cool thing is that this kayak fits back into the carry bag, unlike other kayaks where the bag seems to shrink when you try to pack up the kayak.

The AdvancedFrame Convertible Kayak is very well constructed and has built-in ribs that add rigidity to the frame, which rivals a hardshell kayak. In addition, the ability to paddle solo or tandem sets this kayak apart from its competitors.

One drawback is the weight. At 50+ pounds, it’s not easy for one person to tote around.

Another downside is that the kayak doesn’t come with a pump or a paddle, which is an added expense.

The AdvancedFrame is durable and versatile to fit your kayaking needs. It’s a solid option if you are looking for an inflatable touring kayak.

PROS

It offers the ability for one or two paddlers
Durable PVC
Storage and weight capacity
Tracks well
Easy setup

CONS

Heavy to carry

ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame Sport Kayak

Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Sport Kayak
  • A kayak designed to perform in universal water conditions. Roomy, comfortable, and...
  • Proven aluminum bow and stern ribs provide increased paddling performance, easy...
  • Quick set up time, fast to inflate and deflate, lightweight 26 lbs., designed for 1...
  • Large cockpit area for easy entry and exit. 4 air chambers
  • Paddles similar to a rigid hard shell kayak. Compact, no roof rack needed, packs in...
Number of Paddlers:1
Weight Capacity:250 pounds
Kayak Weight:26 pounds
Length:10’5″
Width:32″
Material:Ripstop Polyester outer
What’s in the box?Adjustable padded seat, tracking fin, travel bag

The ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame Sport Kayak is an excellent lightweight option for inflatable kayaks. It’s made with a durable PVC material and has four separate air chambers for added safety. Plus, it comes with a durable carry bag that makes it easy to take with you.

What sets this inflatable kayak apart from others is the built-in aluminum ribs, which help to strengthen the bow and stern, giving the kayak excellent stability and tracking in the water.

The aluminum ribs give the kayak more of a hard shell feel, but you get the portability of an inflatable kayak. The skeg tracking fin helps the kayak track well and holds a straight line.

The kayak feels soft (squishy) when you inflate it. It’s not as hard as other inflatables, but it doesn’t feel squishy when you get in and paddle.

Durability is critical with an inflatable kayak, and the Sport Kayak delivers three layers of material to resist punctures.

Check the price at Amazon

Check the price at REI

The AdvancedFrame Sport Kayak is 10’5″ long and 32 inches wide, so it’s very stable and has a 250-pound weight capacity. So it’s small for some paddlers.

The weight capacity is pretty light compared to other inflatables. So, if you need a more robust carrying capacity, you might want to check out the Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe.

Stability is essential for beginners to gain confidence and have fun. The Sport Kayak from Advanced Elements is very stable and great for beginner or novice paddlers.

The kayak weighs 26 pounds, so it’s easy to tote around solo.

When it comes to storage, the Sport Kayak has a good amount of room behind the seat, and there is bungee storage on the bow, which is excellent for a dry bag or backpack.

The downside is the kayak doesn’t come with a pump or a paddle. However, you can buy both items separately from Advanced Elements.

The ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame Sport Kayak is an excellent choice for a durable and lightweight inflatable kayak. It is an excellent option for beginners and casual paddlers.

PROS

Easy to setup
Tracks well
Ample storage onboard
It comes with everything you need
Stable
Durable

CONS

It doesn’t track as well when it’s really windy

Sea Eagle 370 Inflatable Kayak

Sale
Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak Canoe Boat w/ Paddles
  • 3 person/650 lb capacity, weighs 32 lbs, suitable for up to Class III whitewater
  • 370 Deluxe Kayak Package features two movable, super comfortable Deluxe Kayak Seats...
  • 2 AB30 7'10"" 4 Part Paddles with asymmetrical blade and aluminum shaft
  • 2 skegs on the bottom for better tracking & speed
  • Open and close drain valve, 5 deluxe 1-way inflation/deflation valves
Number of Paddlers:Up to 3
Weight Capacity:650 pounds
Kayak Weight:32 pounds
Length:12’6”
Width:34″
Material:38 mil PolyKrylar
What’s in the box?Two kayak seats, two paddles, foot pump, carry bag

If you are looking for an affordable way to explore, you need to check out the budget-friendly Sea Eagle 370 inflatable kayak.

This inflatable is perfect for anyone who wants a fun and easy way to get on the water. It is made of durable PVC material that can hold up to 3 people or 650 pounds to accommodate even the biggest adventurers.

Plus, it inflates in just minutes, so you can be ready to go in no time.

> Complete Sea Eagle 370 Review <

The SE370 is 12’6″ long, 34 inches wide, weighs 32 pounds, and has a solid, sturdy floor with i-beam construction. The kayak is very stable and great for beginners or novice paddlers. Three separate air chambers give you added safety on the water.

Since it is lightweight, it’s also easy for one person to maneuver if paddling solo.

>>Check to price at Sea Eagle<<

This kayak excels in seating room for up to three passengers and has a robust carrying capacity, perfect for groups of friends or families.

It’s a great option for grandparents to get on the water with grandkids. Or you can have two paddlers and still take your dog along for the ride.

The Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe has plenty of cargo space for camping gear and other supplies.

The kayak is spacious enough for fishing (although not set up specifically for fishing), and you can take it on class III whitewater. The PolyKrylar hull is designed to withstand rough conditions, even dog claws.

The Sea Eagle 370 packs a punch for such a lightweight kayak. Two skegs help you hold a straight line while you are paddling.

If kayak fishing is your jam, this is not the best option for you. However, the Excursion Pro is a comparably priced kayak set up for fishing.

This inflatable kayak is great for camping, beginners, or experienced paddlers. It’s a versatile kayak that won’t break the bank.

PROS

Lightweight
Tons of storage
Handles up to 3 paddlers
Great for camping
Easy to setup
Portable

CONS

Gigantic kayak for one person

Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Inflatable Kayak

Sale
Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak , Blue
  • Heavy-duty PVC construction is rugged for lake use
  • Tarpaulin bottom provides durable protection from punctures
  • Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated if one is punctured
  • Boston Valve is double threaded for easy inflation/deflation
  • Adjustable seats move to fit you; Carry handles make it easy to carry in and out of...
Number of Paddlers:Up to 3
Weight Capacity:490 pounds
Kayak Weight:35 pounds
Length:12’3”
Width:37″
Material:Heavy-duty PVC
What’s in the box?Repair kit, pressure gauge

If you are looking for a fun, affordable way to get on the water, check out the Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Inflatable Kayak. It’s made of durable PVC material, and it can hold up to three people, making it the perfect option for groups.

Plus, it comes with everything you need to get started, including a carrying case, pump, and two paddles.

The kayak is 12’3″ long by 37 inches wide and supports up to 490 pounds. It weighs about 35 pounds, so it’s pretty easy for one person to carry.

The flat bottom hull and width make this kayak very stable and easy to get in and out of.

The Sevylor Big Basin is a great inflatable kayak for families with seating for up to three people. The adjustable seats are excellent for different sizes of paddlers and allow you to get just the right fit. These seats will keep you comfortable no matter how far you decide to explore.

Carry handles are great for transporting the kayak to the water. 

This kayak lacks front and rear bungee storage, but if you paddle solo or tandem, the kayak has plenty of room for storing your gear. 

You can pack camping or fishing gear, plus lots of other stuff. There is a lot of room for a small cooler for day trips.

If you are looking for the best inflatable kayak, this makes the cut with enough room for people, equipment, and maybe even your dog.

The Big Basin is an excellent family kayak to get your kids on the water with an easy setup, convenient carry handles, and plenty of room.

You will be hard-pressed to find a better inflatable kayak that will accommodate three people at this price point.

PROS

Great for families
Adjustable and movable seats
Tarpaulin bottom for added durability
Spray covers to keep you dry

CONS

No paddles
No pump

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak

Sale
Intex Excursion Pro Kayak, Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak, K2: 2-Person, Red
  • Super tough laminate PVC with polyester core: Light weight and highly resistant to...
  • High pressure inflation provides extra rigidity and stability, with high pressure...
  • Includes 2 removable skegs for deep and shallow water, 2 floor mounted footrests, 2...
  • Removable and adjustable mounting bracket for additional accessories, such as GPS...
  • Storage space in bow and Stern with stainless steel d rings for tying down Dry bags...
Number of Paddlers:2
Weight Capacity:400 pounds
Kayak Weight:44 pounds
Length:12’7”
Width:37″
Material:PVC
What’s in the box?Seat, storage bag, pump, paddle, repair kit

The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is perfect for anyone looking for a fun and easy way to explore the great outdoors. It is made of durable PVC material, so you can rest assured that it will hold up against wear and tear. Plus, it inflates in just minutes to get on the water quickly.

The kayak comes with two adjustable seats (inflatable), two 84-inch aluminum paddles, and an air pump, so you’re ready to go right out of the box.

The Excursion Pro is great for fishing. It comes with two built-in fishing rod holders. Honestly, the rod holders are shallow, but you can buy an adapter for them.

The kayak comes with two removable skegs to help you hold a straight line when paddling—one skeg for shallow water and one for deep water.

You can paddle the kayak solo or with a buddy.

One cool feature that not many inflatable kayaks have is the removable accessory rail for mounting items like a fish finder or additional rod holders.

The kayak is 12’7″ feet long and 37 inches wide. It has a weight capacity of 400 pounds to accommodate two adults and gear.

The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is perfect for those who want an inflatable kayak that is durable and easy to use. This kayak is an excellent choice for fishing or casual paddling on calm waters. It comes with everything you need to get started, and the removable accessory rail is a nice touch.

Footrests are another feature that you don’t always find in inflatable kayaks, but the Excursion Pro has them. They are adjustable so you can get comfortable, and they add to the kayak’s overall stability.

There is room to store gear in the front and rear covered storage areas. These storage areas aren’t huge, but they are suitable for stuffing a dry bag or other gear. The kayak doesn’t have any bungee tie-downs, but D rings are on the front and back to strap down extra gear.

Although the Excursion Pro doesn’t have a removable floor, it is rigid thanks to i-beam construction. As a result, it won’t feel as solid as the Sea Eagle 380x, but it’s excellent for budget-conscious paddlers.

This kayak is perfect for anyone looking for a fun, easy-to-use option. So whether you’re hitting the river or spending a day on the lake, the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak will make your next outing a success.

PROS

Stable
Comfortable
Tracks well
Lightweight for easy transport
Lots of accessories available

CONS

It doesn’t have a removable floor
The rod holders aren’t great

AQUAGLIDE Chinook 100 Inflatable Kayak

Number of Paddlers:2
Weight Capacity:400 pounds
Kayak Weight:24 pounds
Length:10’
Width:36″
Material:600D ripstop polyester outer
What’s in the box?Carrying duffel bag, two seats

The AQUAGLIDE Chinook 100 Inflatable Kayak is perfect for anyone looking for a fun and easy way to get out on the water.

It has an outer shell of 600D ripstop polyester, which is durable, so you can be sure it will hold up against wear and tear. Plus, it inflates and sets up in minutes so that you can paddle around in no time.

The Chinook 100 is 10′ long, 36 inches wide, and has a maximum carrying capacity of 400 pounds. For better tracking, the kayak has a quick-release fin. The kayak is stable and forgiving, great for beginners or novice paddlers.

The inflatable kayak only weighs 24 pounds, so it’s easy to carry by yourself.

The Chinook 100 is designed to seat one or two paddlers, although it’s pretty tight for two adult paddlers in a 10-foot kayak. It’s comfortable for one person, two smaller people, kids, or paddling solo with your dog.

>>Check the price at Amazon<<

>>Check the price at REI<<

On the other hand, the compact size makes this an excellent kayak for traveling or packing in an RV.

The seats are adjustable and have comfortable high seatbacks. The cool thing about the seats is the fishing rod holders built into the back. Each seat has two fishing rod holders, which is excellent for fishing.

If you are paddling solo, there is storage space in the front and behind the seat. And if you need to store extra gear, there are deck cargo bungees on both the bow and stern.

The Chinook 100 is best used on calm waters like lakes and slow-moving rivers.

The downside to the kayak is it does not include a pump or paddle, which will be an extra expense. However, if you are looking for an all-in-one inflatable, the Excursion Pro is a solid option with a smaller price tag.

Although it doesn’t come with a pump or paddles, the AQUAGLIDE Chinook 100 Inflatable Kayak is excellent for anyone looking for an affordable and easy-to-use inflatable kayak.

PROS

Durable
Portable, no roof rack required
Easy to setup
Rubber handles

CONS

No pump included
No paddle included

Sevylor Quikpak K1

Sale
Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak Blue, 8'7" x 3'
  • 5-minute setup lets you spend more time on the water
  • Easy-to-carry backpack system turns into the seat
  • 21-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use
  • Tarpaulin bottom provides durable protection from punctures
  • Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated if one is punctured
Number of Paddlers:1
Weight Capacity:400 pounds
Kayak Weight:18 pounds
Length:8’ 7″
Width:36″
Material:21 gauge PVC
What’s in the box?Backpack, air pump, paddle

A compact solo kayak that you can take anywhere is not easy to find. However, the Sevylor Quikpak K1 inflatable kayak is designed for one person, and it’s incredibly easy to set up and take down, making it perfect for travel.

Plus, it’s made with durable PVC construction, so you can be sure that it will hold up to wear and tear. If you’re looking for an affordable and convenient option, the Sevylor Quikpak K1 is hard to beat.

This unique design has a backpack system that turns into the seat. The adjustable backrest lets you lean back when you want to relax. Complete with an adjustable footrest, it’s easy to adjust your paddling style and stretch out your legs.

One thing this kayak lacks is ample storage. There is bungee storage on the front of the boat, and that’s about all you get.

The thing that makes this kayak unique though is its compact size. It has everything you need to get started. You can toss it on your back and take it anywhere you want to go.

The kayak comes with a pump, paddle, and a handy backpack carrier. It’s compact, lightweight, and comes with everything you need to get started. Even better, the kayak only weighs 18 pounds.

You can take this kayak paddling in places most people won’t be able to carry a heavy kayak.

The Sevylor Quikpak K1 is a great solo, entry-level kayak. I love that it fits into a backpack, so it’s easy to transport. However, there is not much storage, so keep that in mind. This boat is excellent for paddling a few hours on the lake, but you are not going camping with it.

PROS

Compact
The backpack makes it very portable.
It comes with everything you need to get started
Multiple air chambers

CONS

Lack of storage
If it’s windy, you may get pushed around

Tandem or solo inflatable kayak?

Choosing a tandem or solo inflatable kayak will depend on several factors.  When my wife and I were in the market for kayaks, we considered both options. So let’s take a look at the benefits of both.

Women paddling inflatable kayaksPin

Benefits of a tandem inflatable kayak

  • You only need to buy one kayak. Tandem kayaks fit two people, so you only need to buy one
  • You only have to store one kayak
  • You have twice the paddling power
  • You can fit more gear like a small cooler on a tandem inflatable kayak in some cases
  • You might be able to take your dog and your friend
  • A great way to spend time with the person you are kayaking with, like a friend or significant other
  • You can pick up for each other if someone gets tired of paddling

The one major negative of a tandem kayak is that no matter how fast you paddle, you can’t get away from the other person in your kayak (LOL).

Benefits of solo inflatable kayak

  • You each have your own space to do your own thing
  • You have the freedom to go where you want to
  • Argument-free paddling (well, in theory)
  • A solo kayak is more nimble than a tandem kayak
  • If one person wants to fish and the other wants to explore, you have the freedom to do so

Pros and cons of inflatable kayaks

When deciding which type of kayak is right for you, it’s beneficial to look at the pros and cons of inflatable kayaks.

Sea Eagle 380x inflatable kayak storage spacePin

Pros of an inflatable kayak

  • Inflatables are easy to transport. You can put the kayak in your trunk and take it wherever you go.
  • You don’t need an expensive roof rack or truck to transport your kayak
  • You can be up and running in a matter of minutes
  • Inflatable kayaks are lightweight
  • Storing an inflatable kayak is much easier than a hard-side kayak. You can store the kayak in a closet or on a shelf in your garage. You don’t need a unique setup to store an inflatable.
  • Inflatable kayaks are very versatile, meaning you can use them on different bodies of water. Depending on the model you choose, you can take a kayak on the lake, ocean, or even some rivers (depending on rocks and other sharp objects).
  • An inflatable kayak can also be easier to carry than its hardshell counterpart.
  • Portability is a crucial consideration when choosing an inflatable kayak. Inflatables are easy to pack up, take down, put in your car, and are easy to store.

Cons of inflatable kayaks

  • The major drawback of an inflatable kayak is that they can rip and leave you stranded if you don’t’ have a repair kit.
  • Inflatables are typically not as fast as hardshell kayaks
  • You have to inflate and deflate the kayak
  • Inflatables can be challenging to drain water out of the inside

Inflatable kayaks – what to look for

Yes, there are a lot of factors to consider when looking for the best inflatable kayak. So let’s take a look at what to watch for.

paddling an inflatable kayakPin

Durability

Look for a well-constructed kayak with durable materials, especially if you slide over rocks and sticks that you may not be able to see underwater. 

Imagine dragging your inflatable kayak across things like a rocky beach or a parking lot when full of gear, not to mention the elements your kayak will be exposed to, like the sun and wind.

You can see why durability is vital. Over time these elements can break down plastic and rubber materials.  You will want quality materials so your kayak will last.

What’s it made of?

Materials vary, and the performance can vary as well.  Some materials are heavier, increasing drag on the water.  Some materials will get completely soaked through, which will weigh you down.

Check out my post here for more information on what inflatable kayaks are made of.

Amount of storage on the kayak

One of the weaknesses of kayaks is the lack of available storage.  Different activities will require different levels of storage.  Extra storage can be hard to come by to keep items close by, but out of the way.

You may need to bring lunch, fishing gear, or a jacket. Of course, you will also have things like your cellphone, maybe your wallet, and car keys.

You want to look for dry storage for the items you don’t want to get wet. For example, some inflatable kayaks will have a dry storage cover on the front and/or rear of the kayak. 

Some will have bungees where you can tie your stuff down.  Bungees are very handy for strapping down dry bags or extra clothing.

You may find a storage pouch behind the seat as well.  Any extra storage on a kayak is great to have. These are all things to look for and consider when you are shopping for a kayak.

Comfort

Look for an inflatable kayak with adjustable seats or a removable seat that you can replace with a better model.  You may not have many options at the entry level, but many inflatable kayaks will have a removable seat.  Then you can replace the seat with a better aftermarket option.

Being uncomfortable when you are kayaking sucks. I am speaking from experience. You will be exploring different places, some far off, and you want to be comfortable.  Comfort is of utmost importance if you plan to spend hours on end in your kayak.

Your comfort level will depend on how comfortable the seats are and how long you will paddle. Comfort can be measured by your ability to stretch out your legs if you need to.  For me, adjusting my posture while I am kayaking is critical.

Think about whether a tandem kayak will comfortably fit two people.  Is there enough room for you and your gear to fit comfortably?  These are some things to keep in mind when looking for the best inflatable kayak.

Seating

Inflatable kayak on a lake with a rainbowPin

Part of the comfort metric includes the kayak seats.  You want to have a comfortable seat when you are kayaking. You may not have many options with inflatables, especially at the entry level. 

You will sit on the inflatable seat that is part of the vessel, and you will like it for better or worse :).

On a tandem kayak, are the seats spaced out appropriately.  Will you be able to paddle without hitting your partner?

Does the seat spacing lend itself to efficient paddling?  Some tandem kayaks will allow you to rearrange the seat configuration so you can paddle solo.

Often you won’t have a choice, but if you do, consider these things.

Back support

Back support on an inflatable kayak kind of falls in line with seats, you don’t always have a lot of options. especially with an entry-level kayak. You get what you get when you buy the kayak.

When you are looking for a kayak, consider whether or not the seat has an adjustable backrest.  An adjustable backrest is essential for a comfortable day on the water.  Ideally, you will be able to change your seated position throughout the day. 

Many kayaks will come with an adjustable seat. If you are actively paddling, you want to be in a more upright position. If you are just chillin’ on calm, flat water, you might want to lean back and relax.

Depending on the kayak, you might be able to remove the existing seat and replace it with one better suited for you.

Even if you don’t have back problems, your back can get tired from being in the same seated position all day. So solid back support will pay dividends over time.

Weight capacity

Be sure to check the kayak’s weight capacity before you buy one. You will need to factor in your body weight and any gear you will take with you.

Equipment can add up in a hurry. You want to make sure you don’t have any problems when you are on the water.

Taking your dog, a cooler, and other supplies can get heavy.  Make sure the kayak is rated for what you need or think you will need. The inflatable kayak is designed for the weight to be distributed evenly in the kayak also.  You don’t want to pile everything in the middle.

Accessories

Inflatable kayaks come with pretty much everything you need to get rolling. Included accessories are beneficial since you don’t have to spend much money on extras.

That is one of the benefits of buying an inflatable kayak. They usually come with almost everything you need.

Some accessories to keep your eyes out for are:

  • A repair kit. You don’t want to forget to have a repair kit when you need it the most.  The last thing you want is to be stuck on the water with a deflating boat and no way to stop it.
  • A pump. It is crucial to have a high-quality pump. Whether you prefer a hand pump, foot pump, or an electric pump, you need to make sure you have one.
  • A paddle or paddles. Yes, this seems so obvious but can be overlooked. If you buy a tandem kayak, make sure it comes with two paddles. These might not be the best quality or fit you just right, so you may want to upgrade them.
  • Fishing accessories. If you plan to use your kayak for fishing, you can look for things like rod holders and a holder for a fish finder or GPS. Rod holders are great, so you can maneuver the kayak while your line is in the water.
  • Carry bag. You need a way to tote the kayak around, keep it contained and store it. Make sure the boat comes with a bag that will serve this purpose.

Weight of the kayak

Inflatable kayaks are lightweight, which is one of the benefits people love.  Just make sure you can lift and maneuver the kayak.  A lightweight kayak is portable, and hopefully, you will take it with you and use it a lot.

You will need to put the kayak into your car, get it out of your vehicle, etc.  You also need to be able to store it somewhere. If you keep the kayak on a shelf in the garage, you need to be able to lift it. Although inflatable kayaks are usually lightweight, you will need to be able to lift them.

The bigger the inflatable kayak, the more it will weigh (in most cases).

Stability

When you are out for a day on the water, you want a stable kayak.  Most people want to stay upright when they are kayaking.

Inflatables are great for beginners because they are pretty stable.  Many people new to kayaking will buy an inflatable since they are lightweight and come with most of the accessories you need, so this is a good fit.

Inflatable kayaks have rigid supports, which helps increase stability.  Like hardshell kayaks, a wider, shorter kayak will be more stable than a long, narrow kayak. If your boat is properly inflated, you should be good to go.

Portable/Transport

As we have discussed, one of the big draws of an inflatable kayak is how portable they are. Although inflatable kayaks are lightweight and don’t take up much room, they are very compact. 

Compared to a hardshell kayak, inflatables are portable and can go with you wherever you go.

You don’t need special equipment, like a roof rack, to transport an inflatable. Instead, you can pack up your boat and put it in your car’s back seat or trunk.

They are super easy to take with you and carry to the water. You won’t need a kayak cart (more information) or another way to get your boat from the parking lot to the water.

With a hardshell kayak, it’s not as easy.  You need a pickup, a trailer, or a rack for your car.  When you buy an inflatable, you don’t have to spend extra money transporting your new vessel.

Handling

Traditionally, an inflatable kayak does not handle as well as a hardshell kayak. But, of course, there are exceptions.  If you buy a high-end inflatable and compare it to an entry-level hardshell, that’s another story.

The lightweight nature of an inflatable is a double edge sword. Lightweight makes the kayak easy to transport and makes it susceptible to wind and waves. 

Wind and waves make it harder to paddle and hamper your ability to keep the kayak going straight.

Many inflatable kayaks do offer a skeg to help improve handling.  A skeg is a rudder that fits your boat’s bottom to help you track a straight path. In addition, you can buy inflatable pontoons if you want even more stability, like training wheels.

Storing your inflatable kayak

One of the many benefits of owning an inflatable kayak is how easy they are to store. You don’t need a fancy rack in your garage or some DIY contraption. Instead, you can store your inflatable kayak in a closet, a shelf, no matter how small your place is.

Be sure that the kayak is completely dry before you store it away. One bummer part is that you may have to leave it out to dry for a few days before you roll it up and put it away. You need to prevent mildew or mold from building up inside a wet kayak.

You might have to unpack it after your trip and repack it once it’s completely dry. Once the kayak is dry, you can fold it up and put it in the carry bag for easy storage.

How to clean and maintain your kayak

To clean your kayak, you can spray it down with water, which helps to get any unwanted materials off the boat before your store it. Then, hose the kayak down while it’s inflated. Finally, you may want to use a boat cleaner.

Wipe off whatever water you can with a towel. Then, let your kayak completely dry in your garage or other shaded areas. Try to keep your kayak out of the sun. The sun can cause fading and even contribute to the materials breaking down over time.

There are a lot of places for water to hide in an inflatable.  To piggyback on the previous topic, before storing your boat, make sure it’s completely dry.  This simple maintenance will help your boat last longer.

To sum it up, wash your kayak and let it dry completely before putting it away for good.

For a complete guide on caring for an inflatable kayak, click here.

FAQ’s

Are inflatable kayaks safe?

Safety is the number one priority when you are kayaking.  You should always wear a lifejacket when you are on the water. If properly inflated and used correctly, inflatable kayaks are as safe to use as their hardshell counterparts.

One of the interesting things about many inflatable kayaks is their multiple air chambers. So if your kayak gets damaged, you can make it back to shore.

You also want to make sure that you and your vessel are ready for the conditions.  Make sure you are not venturing into territory you and your boat can not handle.

Can I take my dog on an inflatable kayak?

You can take your furry friend along with the right kayak, weight rating, and materials. Most inflatables are made with tough exteriors, but you still need to make sure the kayak can stand up to your pet’s claws. Look for a kayak made with PVC.

You need to make sure the kayak can handle the weight load, there is enough room for your dog, and the materials are strong enough to hold up to claws.

Is an inflatable kayak hard to paddle?

Inflatable kayaks are pretty easy to get around in.  Entry-level models are designed with beginners in mind. Inflatables are not as easy to paddle as a hardshell kayak but will get the job done.  Many inflatables come with a skeg, which helps you keep going straight.

How do you clean an inflatable kayak?

We touched on this a bit ago, but the best way to clean your kayak is to hose it down before putting it away, which might mean you go out for a paddle, deflate the boat, and put it back in your car when you are done. Then, when you get home, rinse it off thoroughly and leave it out to dry.

Make sure the kayak is completely dry before you store it away.  You don’t want any water lingering, or you might get mold or mildew, which can damage the kayak.  You can also use an inflatable boat cleaner.

What happens if you fall out of an inflatable kayak?

Well, you should get back in!  Okay, that’s obvious, I know. But, if you are unlucky and go overboard, don’t panic.  Hopefully, your paddle is nearby.  If the kayak flips, you can pretty quickly flip it back from the front or back of the boat.

Once you flip the kayak back, put your paddle inside and grab onto the pontoon.  The tricky part is to kick your legs and use your arms and upper body to flop back onto the kayak. Thankfully inflatable kayaks are very stable, so hopefully, you stay inside.

Can I fish from an inflatable kayak?

Yes, you can fish from an inflatable kayak. However, you may need to add accessories like a rod holder or fishfinder holder. Also, make sure you have a repair kit on board if you accidentally hook your kayak instead of a fish.

Kayaks are great for fishing because you can get into tight spots that other boats may not be able to reach.  Some kayaks are better for fishing because of the seat position and access to fishing gear. Make sure you have plenty of room to cast a line.

How to repair an inflatable kayak?

If you find your kayak has a hole in it, you will want to repair it ASAP.  Inflatables are easy to repair.  Your inflatable should come with a repair kit and instructions.  You may want to purchase a backup just in case.

Wrapping up

That wraps up our inflatable kayak reviews. However, there are many things to consider when you are in the market for an inflatable kayak.

If you are just getting started, you may want to go with a model that includes everything you need.

As you advance, you will figure out what is most important for features.

Thanks for stopping by. Let me know if you have any questions.

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About the author
Steve
Steve is the owner of Paddle About, a blog that's all about helping people get out and enjoy nature. He loves to kayak, camp, hike and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not out exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.