Kayaking is becoming increasingly popular, but traditonal hard shell kayaks can be expensive and bulky to keep. The good news is that modern technology has made inflatable kayaks a reality. These alternatives are both cheaper and more portable than their more traditional siblings. The following are some of the best inflatable kayak options on the market.
Best Inflatable Kayaks: Our Top Picks
|Advanced Elements||1||7||10' 6"||300 lbs.||Whitewater|
|Sea Eagle SE370||2-3||3||12'||650 lbs.||Whitewater|
|Sevylor Coleman Colorado||2||5||10' 9"||470 lbs.||Fishing|
|Driftsun Voyager||2||3||10'||400 lbs.||General Use|
|Airhead Montana||2||3||12'||500 lbs.||Whitewater|
|Intex Explorer K2||2||3||10' 3"||400 lbs.||General Use|
|Intex Challenger K1||1||2||9'||220 lbs.||General Use|
Best Inflatable Kayak Reviews
Best Inflatable Kayak Overall: Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame AE1012-R
This pre-assembled, folding kayak is designed to look and feel like a rigid frame model makes it our top rated inflatable kayak.
The built-in aluminum ribs create a proper bow structure to ensure superior tracking over other inflatables. Even individuals over 6 feet tall have no issue fitting comfortably with it’s 10.5 foot length.
A high support, adjustable padded seat of this sit-in kayak means your voyages will be a comfortable one. The durable triple-layered PVC tarpaulin hull is low risk of puncture.
It might seem like a lot, but there are seven air chambers within the hull. This is actually one of the kayak’s strongest points. A puncture is less likely to capsize or flood the boat. Inflation with a bi-directional hand pump only takes about 15 minutes.
Pair this with a deck bag, and you’ll see why this model is so popular. You can even install an Advanced Elements sail kit to take advantage of the wind.
While rated at 300 pounds, the max weight for an individual is only 235 pounds. The additional 65 pounds is intended for gear allowing the weight to be spread out more.
Adding in a backbone can improve weight support, but going without will cause the portion under the seat to sag. Additionally, it can be easy to inflate the kayak wrong.View on Amazon
Best Inflatable Kayak for 2 People: Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Kayak Pro Package
Arguably the best 2 person inflatable kayak, this holds up to 650 pounds of people and gear. There is even enough space to accommodate a third person.
With size comes features, such as two bottom skegs, lashed down inflatable spray skirts, and a bow and stern grab line.
The hull is made of sun and saltwater-resistant material that is durable enough to earn a Class III whitewater certification. At 12 feet in length, it’s one of the longest 2-person inflatables you’ll find.
The Sea Eagle is a great option for excursions with your dog, as the PolyKrylar hull is able to hold up to their claws. As with any other kayak, make sure your pup is wearing their dog life vest. Also be sure that you are wearing a good life jacket for kayaking.
Owners love the amount of space this model provides. When used for ocean or lake excursions, the ability to flex makes it handle better against waves. A self bailing valve is invaluable for rapids. In general users have felt very little risk of capsizing even in three feet swells.
Being an inflatable craft, the SE370 isn’t immune to puncture, and a few consumers have noted seam rips after several seasons of use.
While the warranty generally only covers kayaks bought direct, Sea Eagle has honored the warranty when provided with a copy of the original receipt by the distributor.
Keep in mind that this raft sits lower in the water and is thus not suitable for stormy weather. But it’s a great choice for floating down the river if inner tubes aren’t your thing.View on Amazon
Best Inflatable Kayak for Fishing: Sevylor Coleman Colorado Fishing Kayak
Arguably the best inflatable fishing kayak on the market, this two-person craft is designed to handle the best and worst lake fishing has to offer. At 10 feet, 9 inches long, the Coleman Colorado has a 470 pound weight capacity.
While not as stable as an inflatable pontoon for fishing, a kayak can’t be beat for maneuverability and tracking. You’ll have to consider what’s more important to you.
The hull is made of rugged 18-gauge PVC, a 1000D tarpaulin bottom, and 840D nylon cover with an airtight system designed to prevent leaks. In the event of a puncture, the kayak features multiple air chambers to prevent sinking.
Consumers fishing on larger lakes appreciate rod holders, outboard motor compatibility, and ability to stow the paddles when not moving. This the perfect fishing craft for beginners and veterans alike because of all of the available storage.
See also: Best Fishing Float Tubes
There are two frustrating factors that a few owners have run into with this product. The chambers on more than a couple occasions have been known to deform over time, making the boat less efficient and increasing the chance of deflation while on the water.
Also, customer service seems to be problematic for several who’ve run into issues with this craft, although others report a very positive experience.View on Amazon
Best Inflatable Kayak with Gear: Driftsun Voyager Inflatable Kayak
This complete set includes two paddles, two high-backed EVA padded seats, rear tracking fin, repair kit and travel bag. A bonus included double action pump can inflate the kayak in under 10 minutes.
The Voyager is 10 feet in length and has a 400 pound weight capacity making it suitable for a large person or two smaller individuals plus gear.
The rocker profile and pointed nose entry help ensure superior performance even in choppy waters, making this an excellent choice for a day on the water.
Related: How to Dress for Kayaking in Any Weather
Owners report being able to withstand 10 MPH headwinds and high chops with ease in this craft. The durability means owners rarely give a second thought to pulling the kayak up on a rocky beach, and inflation time is one of the fastest for this type of craft.
The few complaints about this kayak all seem to stem from manufacturing defects. These seem to mostly of bad seams in the bladders. Its important to remember that new products should always be tested upon arrival.View on Amazon
Best Durable Inflatable Kayak: Airhead Montana Inflatable Kayak
This 12 foot long two-person kayak has plenty of extra space and is designed for both lakes and moderate whitewater conditions. The semi-rigid, heavy gauge PVC construction can support up to 500 pounds, yet is highly portable when deflated.
Not only does this craft track well, it has plenty of storage options, such as D-rings, to help keep your gear secure. Known more for their popular line of towable tubes, Airhead understands durability and ergonomics.
You don’t have to worry about ripping this kayak in Class III rapids, as it can hold up to rock impacts quite well. It tracks better than many similar models, making it a good choice for smooth waters when you don’t feel like tackling whitewater.
Considering this thing even includes neoprene arm rests, it’s perfect for a quiet day on the water.
While not necessarily a bad thing, customers have found the bladders to be a bit irritating. Sand and debris often gets stuck between the bladder and hull. Additionally, there have been a few problems with stitching that slipped past quality control.View on Amazon
Best Inflatable Kayak for Relaxing: Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak
Designed for a quiet day, this roomy two-person craft has adjustable inflatable seats with a curved backrest for improved comfort. A removable skeg improves directional stability, while the bright yellow adds high visibility in case of an accident.
The 30 gauge heavy duty vinyl hull has good puncture resistance and includes three bladders to further reduce the risk of sinking.
Rated for up to 400 pounds, the Explorer K2 is a little over 10 feet in length. It’s perfect for one larger individual or a parent taking their child out on the water.
See Also: Best Inflatable Boats and Dinghies
This kayak was obviously designed with a quiet Sunday afternoon in mind. Without the seats, you can sit facing your loved one as you relax on calm waters. The boat is shaped well enough to keep it stable in the event you plan to do some snorkeling.
Individuals with lower back issues will have some problems staying comfortable in the seats, due to the low height. Also, be warned that the included patch kit doesn’t provide silicon glue, so you will need to purchase a tube separately.View on Amazon
Best Affordable Inflatable Kayak: Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak
Lightweight and sleek, the K1 is the little sister to the K2 and has all of the benefits, plus some additional features. It includes an 84-inch aluminum oar and hand pump, making it perfect for beginners to get introduced to kayaking.
The heavy duty vinyl hull includes a spacious cargo net for maximum storage. The wider design also makes it more resistant to capsizing than other inflatables of similar 9 foot length.
While it may have a relatively low 220 pound weight limit, owners have reported this is a great kayak for dogs who like to tag along. The added durability makes this a great choice for most excursions on smaller bodies of water.
Best of all, it packs into a small space, allowing you to take it on long cross-country hikes.
A small number of consumers have reported several issues with the skeg coming off and difficult to replace. A few users have also reported punctures appearing while in storage, despite not being around sharp objects.View on Amazon
While extremely popular, the concept of an inflatable kayak might be quite foreign to many sport enthusiasts. The following are a few common questions that come up when thinking about getting an inflatable for the first time.
Are inflatable kayaks safe?
Back in the early days, inflatable kayaks were fragile things prone to puncture and tears. It wasn’t long before multi-layer hulls were released, as well as a number of other safety features.
Nowadays, inflatable kayaks are just as safe and durable as their hardshell counterparts. Many are even safe for dogs due to the puncture-resistant materials used.
Related: 9 Myths About Inflatable Kayaks
Inflatable kayak vs hardshell – Which is better?
They’re cheaper, highly portable, and weigh a lot less. Hardshells still have their own advantages in certain waters or tasks, but have a hard time competing with an inflatable for cost, convenience, and storage.
What’s the best way to get in and out of an inflatable kayak?
Due to their design, it’s a little more difficult to get in or out of a kayak in general. Inflatables have the advantage of grab lines, but boarding one of these little guys on your own can still be a hassle.
The easiest method is at the low end of a dock, sitting down and sliding from the dock into the seat quickly, turning to face front before the craft has a chance to escape.
Rocky shores are more difficult, and using the paddle as a hold bar can prove highly beneficial. Place the shaft horizontally so one end is behind the seat and the other is on the shore. Applying a little pressure to the bar, squat down and gently slide into the craft.
Note that getting in or out of a kayak is much easier if the water’s calm.