Best inflatable kayaks - header

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You love kayaking and feel right at home on the water. But transporting your kayak to water bodies may pose a challenge. It may be that you simply do not have the space or means to transport or store your kayak. So do you give up kayaking? Not on my watch and certainly not when there are several quality inflatable kayaks on the market. Yes, you read right.

Kayaking beginners are always surprised when they learn that there are inflatable kayaks. And those that are already aware of inflatable kayaks are wary of potential problems like rips, punctures, or tears and imagine themselves on a sinking kayak in the middle of the water. And that’s a thought best left to the imagination. No one wants to be on a sinking kayak!

But you see, there are a lot of quality kayaks on the market, many of which are made with military-grade materials and offer unparalleled durability. So rest easy as you’ll not be sinking in the middle of the water as these kayaks do not puncture or tear. Also, these kayaks are portable, easy to transport, and take up very little space. I must also mention that they generally cost less than standard hard-shell kayaks. I know, it feels like Santa came early.

All inflatable kayaks are not made equal. It is because of these that I scoured the market to bring you the very best inflatable kayaks. These kayaks offer unparalleled ease-of-use, durability, and functionality. So what are the best inflatable kayaks on the market? Let’s take a look at them below.

The 7 Best Inflatable Kayaks for 2021

Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable Kayak

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak, Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak

$369.28  in stock
6 new from $368.19
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of April 12, 2021 6:37 pm

Intex is a brand that easily pops when talking about inflatable kayaks. As you’d expect, this kayak is lightweight, easy to transport, and inflation and deflation are super fast. But what really catches the eye about the Intex Excursion Pro is the 3-ply super-tough construction which is made up of high molecular PVC, unlike plastic that is used in cheaper kayaks. This confers extreme durability on this kayak making it resistant to oil, saltwater, UV damage, abrasion, impact, and gasoline.

This kayak is also very stable on water thanks to the high-pressure inflation. The spring-loaded valves make inflation and deflation easy while also ensuring air cannot escape from the kayak after inflation.

The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak can easily withstand a combined weight capacity of 400 lbs which translates to two adults and their gear. This kayak can be used for leisure paddling and also fishing thanks to incorporated fishing rod holders. There are also adjustable and removable mounting brackets that can hold accessories like fish finders, GPS systems, swivel fishing rods, and so on.

You’ll also love the bucket seats as they are very comfortable and allow you to kayak for extended periods comfortably. A number of useful accessories like a carry bag, repair patch, 86in aluminum oars, and a high output pump. The included instruction manual is user friendly and will help you get started after receiving the package.

 Quick Specifications

  • Inflated size:  151 x 37 x 18 in / 384 x 94 x 46 cm
  • Kayak weight:  39 lbs / 17.7 kg
  • Weight capacity:  400 lbs / 180 kg
  • Person Capacity: 1-2 persons

Pros

  • Portable, lightweight, and easy to transport.
  • Quick and easy inflation and deflation.
  • 400 lbs load capacity.
  • Superb stability in water.
  • High-quality materials confer durability.
  • Comfortable bucket seats.
  • Includes useful accessories.
  • Mounts for accessories like GPS and so on.
  • User-friendly instruction manual.

Cons

  • The included carry bag is great but could be of better quality.

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable KayakOur Top Pick

ADVANCED ELEMENTS AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak, 15', Red

 out of stock
Amazon.com
as of April 12, 2021 6:37 pm

Thanks to the reinforced bow and stern, skeg, and hard edges, you’ll be cruising along the water with the Advanced Elements kayak. The compact design of this kayak is one of the reasons behind it’s popularity as you can easily transport it anywhere. In fact, you can bring it on the plane when going on a vacation.

The body of this kayak is made with 3 layers of double coated rip-stop fabric that is resistant to scrape, cuts, leaks, and punctures. I like that the manufacturer subjects each product to a process of inflating, pressure, and inspecting testing in order to assure customers of the quality of the kayaks. And should anything happen to your kayak, which I doubt will happen, there’s a repair kit included in the package.

Set up is very easy and the Advanced Elements comes preassembled from the factory. The spring valve ensures air does not leak from this kayak after being inflated.  Also, the high support and adjustable padded seats and backrests provide optimum comfort making it easy for you to paddle without any inconvenience.

The storage compartment is spacious enough to accommodate your lunch, first aid kit, and other gear. A load capacity of 300 lbs means this kayak can seat two adults with some light cargo.

 Quick Specifications

  • Inflated size: 180 x 32 x 12 in / 457 x 81 x 30 cm
  • Kayak weight: 52 lbs / 23.5 kg
  • Weight capacity: 550 lbs / 249 kg
  • Person Capacity: 1-2 persons

Pros

  • Very compact and portable.
  • Very stable and will not capsize.
  • Easy maneuverability.
  • High load capacity.
  • Durable construction.
  • Very comfortable.
  • Reinforced bow and stern.

Cons

  • No footrest but this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. You’ll need something to push your leg against when you are paddling on moving water though.
  • Carry bag could be better designed.

Sevylor Quikpak K5 Inflatable Kayak

Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak

$433.33  in stock
3 new from $433.33
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of April 12, 2021 6:37 pm

I think the Sevylor Quikpak is one of the hidden gems as far as inflatable kayaks are concerned. This kayak comes with a number of features that take your kayaking adventures to the next level and let you take on waves with its high-riding position. The Sevylor Quikpak completely redefines the definition of efficiency in its packaging as the entire backpack is in fact part of the kayak. This makes transport super easy as you only need to carry your pump along.

Made with heavy-duty polyester which is then reinforced with a 24 gauge laminate PVC bottom, the Sevylor Quikpak does not have any durability issues. There is also a repair kit that you can use to fix any potential damage and directions on how to go about it.

With a load capacity of 250 lb, this kayak is designed to be used by one person. The performance of this kayak on the water is impressive and the skegs on the bottom confer durability making sure the kayak doesn’t swing back and forth as you paddle. Also, the kayak is easier to maneuver.

The Sevylor Quikpak is satisfactory as long as comfort is concerned. You can spend the whole day cruising on a lake with minimal discomfort. And there’s more than enough space for you to stretch your legs for a tan or to just relax.

 Quick Specifications

  • Inflated size: 120 x 36 x 10 in / 304 x 91 x 25 cm
  • Kayak weight: 56 lbs / 25.5 kg
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs / 113 kg
  • Person Capacity: 1 person

Pros

  • Very portable and easily one the easiest kayak to transport.
  • Easy to set up, inflate, and deflate.
  • Good stability on the water.
  • High-quality materials confer durability.
  • Comfortable to use for long periods.
  • Includes accessories like a repair kit, pump, and so on.
  • Great value for money.

Cons

  • Not ideal for rapid water.
  • Some users have reported problems with the included paddle. You may need to get new paddles depending on how your included paddles perform.

Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak Series

Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air-Pump, Grey/Blue (68306NP)

$269.99  in stock
7 new from $199.00
1 used from $179.99
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of April 12, 2021 6:37 pm

There are two types of kayaks in the Intex Challenger series namely the K1 and K2 kayaks. The Intex Challenger K1 is a one-person kayak while the K2 is designed for two people as evident by the included two seats. It’s more common to see people going for the K2 model as it allows them to kayak with friends or families. I found out that many people are giving the Challenger K2 kayak positive reviews and I decided to check out what the kayak is all about.

The K2 models come in a light carry bag which is sufficient for storage and short transport. However, you’ll need a better carry bag if you intend to take this kayak on long trips. It’s very easy to set up and inflate this kayak though the inflation process takes a bit longer due to the included small pump. Now, you could always get a bigger pump but that means more space and cargo to carry. The assembly and pumping will be a lot easier after the first time.

Thanks to the inflatable seat, you can kayak for long hours comfortably. I’ll advise inflating the back portion of the seat for optimum comfort. Most beginners will be satisfied with the speed of this kayak. Tracking is also excellent and the kayak goes in any direction you want and turns are made effortlessly.

Finally, the materials and construction are of good quality making this kayak one you’ll be using for a long time. And a load capacity of 400 lb means two people along with their cargo can use this kayak.

 Quick Specifications

  • Inflated size: 138 x 30 x 15 in / 350 x 76 x 38 cm
  • Kayak weight: 33 lbs / 15 kg
  • Weight capacity:  400 lbs / 180 kg
  • Person Capacity: 1-2 persons

Pros

  • Easy to transport.
  • Easy setup.
  • Excellent tracking.
  • Good load capacity.
  • Great build quality.
  • Comfortable to use.

Cons

  • The carry bag isn’t of the best quality but is still big and decent enough.

Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe Inflatable Kayak

Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak Canoe w/ Paddles

$349.99
$319.95
 in stock
5 new from $319.95
Amazon.com
as of April 12, 2021 6:37 pm

Whether you are in rapid waters or a lake, the Sea Eagle 370 got you covered. The hull is made up of rugged PolyKrylar making this kayak incredibly durable and resistant to tears, scrapes, and punctures. Weighing only 26 pounds, the Sea Eagle is very portable and easy to carry around.

I’m really impressed with the load capacity of this kayak which is at a whopping 650 lbs. This means this kayak can accommodate 1-3 people with their cargo. You can take sufficient gear for weekend fishing trips or camping adventures thanks to the high load capacity.

Thanks to the I-Beam construction, this kayak is very rigid and has two skegs for stability in water. A repair kit is included in the package allowing you to fix any minor holes or tears. This kayak also comes in a variety of kits with each particular kit targeted at a specific niche. There are kits for beginners, professionals, weekend enthusiast, running voyage, and so on. This versatility is one of the reasons behind the popularity of this kayak.

This kayak has good tracking long as you inflate it properly and position the seats in the right position. And this also makes maneuverability easy. The Sea Eagle 370 is very comfortable and offers support for long paddling trips. Overall, you’ll get value for your money with this kayak.

 Quick Specifications

  • Inflated size: 138 x 30 x 15 in / 350 x 76 x 38 cm
  • Kayak weight: 26 lbs / 11 kg
  • Weight capacity: 650 lbs / 294 kg
  • Person Capacity: 1-3 persons

Pros

  • Superb stability.
  • Compact.
  • Very rugged and durable.
  • Comfortable to use.
  • Good tracking.
  • High load capacity.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump

$274.50  in stock
30 new from $220.21
Amazon.com
as of April 12, 2021 6:37 pm

The Intex Explorer K2 is a two-person kayak that’s ideal for an easy day on the water. The exterior is made of vinyl which is very durable and capable of withstanding pushing off or rocks and debris. As a result, this kayak is resistant to tears, holes, and punctures making a kayak you’ll be using for some time.

This kayak is also well designed and has two separate air compartments which ensure that the entire kayak will not suddenly burst should there ever be a hole in the vinyl. And the I-beam at the center of the kayak keeps it rigid and stable on the water even when there are two adults in it.

As you’d expect, this kayak is compact and easy to transport. The setup is easy and you are just minutes away from being on the water. The Intex Explorer K2 performs well on the water especially on calm rivers and small lakes. You’ll find it easy to paddle and maneuver this kayak. For increased directional stability, there are two removable skegs under this kayak.

 Quick Specifications

  • Inflated size: 123 x 36 x 20 in / 312 x 89 x 50 cm
  • Kayak weight: 30.6 lbs / 14 kg
  • Weight capacity:  400 lbs / 180 kg
  • Person Capacity: 1-2 persons

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact.
  • Affordable.
  • Stable.
  • Easy to inflate and deflate.
  • Very comfortable.
  • Easy maneuverability.
  • High load capacity.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • Performance on aggressive water is not very strong.

Driftsun Almanor Inflatable Kayak

Driftsun Almanor 146 Two Adult Plus one Child Inflatable Recreational Touring Kayak with EVA Padded Seats with High Back Support, Includes Paddles, Pump, Child Seat

$929.99  in stock
Amazon.com
as of April 12, 2021 6:37 pm

The Driftsun Almanor is a recreational and touring kayak that lets you own the water. This kayak is specifically designed for distance paddling and long glides and thus performs well on both calm and choppy waters. You’ll be able to cover long distances with this kayak efficiently.

The lightweight design makes it easy to carry this kayak about and I like that the carry bag also has room for your life jacket and frisbee allowing you to carry everything you need to the water in one trip.

The inflation time is short at less than 10 minutes and unlike most kayaks, it’s super easy to pack this Driftsun Almanor kayak after you are done touring the water. I like the hull design as it is made up of a very tough and rugged material, 600D polyester.

There are also the EVA Padded high back seats which provide you with a high level of cushion and support. The adjustable footrest on the floor also provides additional comfort and can be adjusted for any foot length. Also, the removable skegs help improve directional stability and make it easy to paddle in a straight line.

The manufacturer includes all the necessary accessories like a travel bag, a deluxe dual action pump, a quick-release pin, and two footrests.

 Quick Specifications

  • Inflated size: 174 x 40 x 14 in / 442 x 101 x 36 cm
  • Kayak weight: 33 lbs / 15 kg
  • Weight capacity: 600 lbs / 272 kg
  • Person Capacity: 1-2 persons

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Suited for long distance paddling.
  • Quick inflation and deflation times.
  • Very comfortable.
  • Excellent tracking and stability.
  • Easy to maneuver.
  • Very tough and durable.

Cons

  • No major shortcoming.

Best Inflatable Kayaks – The Guide 

Now that you know the best inflatable kayaks on the market, let’s take a look at the factors you should consider before buying an inflatable kayak as this will help you make an informed decision and ultimately select the kayak that best meets your needs. But before I proceed, I’d first like to make a comparison between inflatable kayaks and hard shell kayaks.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Inflatable Kayaks vs. Hard Shell Kayaks

The most apparent advantage that inflatable kayaks have over hard shell kayaks is increased compactness and portability. You can easily fold inflatable kayaks into carry bags and carry them about. In fact, you can even take them on a plane. This is in contrast to hard shell kayaks that are cumbersome to transport and usually require you to install expensive roof racks on your car or even attaching a trailer to it. And trailers aren’t exactly cheap.

Let’s even leave the talk of portability aside. Hard shell kayaks are also more difficult to store if you don’t have a garage or sufficient space in your house. An inflatable kayak on the other hand is packed in its carry bag which takes up very little space. You can just toss your inflatable kayak in the back of your closet. Storage accomplished!

Now you’ve somehow managed to get your hard shell kayak to a kayaking location. Bravo. Now there’s the problem of lifting the kayak into the water. Without a good cart, you’ll struggle. You won’t experience this with inflatable kayaks as you inflate them near the water and pull them on the water when you are done. The ease of transportation and storage that inflatable kayaks offer is unparalleled.

There’s also the matter of money. Inflatable kayaks generally cost less than hard shell kayaks so you get to save some precious dollars. Price is even one of the main reasons why more and more people are adopting inflatable kayaks. It may be difficult to believe but inflatable kayaks offer some forms of durability you won’t get from a hard shell kayak.

The major disadvantage of an inflatable kayak is that it is more easily affected by current flow, strong winds, and other natural elements than hard shell kayaks. Also, hard shell kayaks do not need time to inflate so that’s another point in their favor. But most inflatable kayaks inflate in a matter of minutes so this isn’t really an issue.

Inflatable kayaks will also require more maintenance than hard shell kayaks. You’ll need to wash/rinse and air your inflatable kayaks after use to prevent algae growth and foul smell.

Types of Inflatable Kayaks

Different types of inflatable kayaks are emerging on the market as more kayaking enthusiasts continue to use them. The different types of inflatable kayaks are:

Self-Bailing Kayaks: An inflatable kayak is considered to be self-bailing if there are holes or ports on the bottom that allows any water inside the kayak to drain out. This type of inflatable kayak is usually used for white water rafting and is better equipped to handle river rapids.

Sit on Top Kayaks: As the name implies, you sit on a molded-in depression on top instead of inside the kayak. This type of inflatable kayak is ideal for fishing as it gives you better access to gear and casting,

Sit Inside Kayak: This is the conventional type of kayak and what comes to the mind of most people when they are thinking of a kayak. There’s an enclosed cockpit in this type of kayak and you get to sit inside the kayak. This design protects you from splashing water and keeps you mostly dry.

Canoe Type: From the name, you can already tell that this type of kayak looks like a canoe. It’s commonly used for fishing as the canoe design offers more space to move around.

Standup Paddle Board: While this isn’t a ‘true’ kayak, you can attach a seat to a paddleboard and enjoy the best of both worlds of a kayak and a paddleboard.

Inflatable Kayak Sea

How to Choose Your Inflatable Kayak

Durability

Let me start with the elephant in the room. The immediate concern most people have about inflatable kayaks is their durability. There’s even the myth that inflatable kayaks are overgrown pool toys. Well, this is not so.

The real reason why most people buy inflatable kayaks is because of their portability, ease of storage, transport, and not because of their durability. But this doesn’t mean inflatable kayaks aren’t tough and durable.

Thanks to robust materials, quality construction, multiple air chambers, and air-tight valves, inflatable kayaks, inflatable kayaks are rugged and stronger than ever. They can withstand scrapes, abrasions from rocks, pokes from branches, and so on. In fact, inflatable kayaks sometimes shrug off impacts that may otherwise damage a hard shell kayak.

How durable an inflatable kayak is will depend on the type and quality of material used.

Material

Most inflatable kayaks in the market are made from PVC because the material is very durable, water-resistant, affordable, and lightweight. It’s common to see manufacturers combining PVC with nylon for increased durability.

Nitrylon™ is another material used to manufacture inflatable kayaks and is a combination of nitrile synthetic rubber. It has the advantage of increased resistance to puncture and abrasion over PVC. It is also more eco-friendly. However, it’s mostly used only for the underneath of kayaks because it is heavy.

Inflatable kayaks made from hypalon tend to be more expensive as it’s not easy to work with the material. Hypalon resists UV better than PVC. Also, it withstands abrasion better than either Nitrylon™ or PVC.

Where and What Will You Use it For

The water conditions of your kayaking destination must be put into consideration. Most kayaks are designed to perform well in a certain type of water condition. If you intend to kayak on white eater, then you’ll need self-bailing kayaks. If you want to be an ocean paddler, then you’ll need a longer/larger kayak that will provide extra support and stability as you navigate large movements of ocean water.

There are also kayaks designed for flat water conditions like lakes. Kayaks for this type of water condition are usually recreational as stability and safety isn’t a concern due to the nature of the water. There will be tons of storage for the kayaker to store gear.

An inflatable kayak can be any of the following: recreational kayaks, white water kayaks, sea kayaks, and fishing kayaks. You use a sea kayak on ocean water, white water kayak on river rapids, recreational kayak on a lake, while a fishing kayak can be used in a river or lake. The most important thing about a fishing kayak is to have extra features like rod holders and lots of storage space.

Inflatable kayak Forest

Weight and Portability

Most of the talk about inflatable kayaks is based on the fact they are very portable. Depending on size and material, some inflatable kayaks will be heavier than others. But all inflatable kayaks can be folded and put into carry bags which will be included in the package. Transportation will be easier if the carry bags have shoulder straps.

It is when you are traveling over long distances (via train, bus, car, or even a plane) that you’ll appreciate the foldable design of inflatable kayaks. You don’t have to worry much about portability when choosing an inflatable kayak as it’ll always be compact enough to be carried about with ease.

Kayak Length

This buying guide won’t be complete if I don’t mention kayak lengths. Consider the following as a rule of thumb. Kayaks between 72 to 164 inches are short kayaks and while being more agile are also slower and more difficult to paddle straight. Short kayaks are more suited for whitewater application.

On the other hand, kayaks that are between 144 to 180 inches in length are faster, more efficient, and easier to paddle in a straight line. These kayaks have better stability and are suited for long distance paddling. They also have more storage space, something anglers will appreciate.

Stability and Safety

Inflatable kayaks generally have multiple air-filled chambers that make them more buoyant and consequently more stable. This means that your kayak will not burst or sink if a layer is punctured or compromised. And this is a life saving feature as it allows you to return to shore without your kayak sinking.

Most inflatable kayaks are good for most beginners but experienced kayakers that want more speed, efficiency, and maneuverability will have to take a look at longer kayaks.

You’ll be totally fine as long as you kayak in sheltered bays and calm waters. And you shouldn’t venture into high waters unless you have a very stable kayak and are confident in your kayaking abilities. We don’t want you being blown away from shore now, do we?

Ease of Setup

You’ll probably be very eager to get on the water as soon as you arrive at your kayaking destination. And this is where the ease of setup comes in. The faster you are able to inflate your vessel, the sooner you can start kayaking.

It is in light of this I included kayaks that don’t require a lot of time to inflate and set up on this list. You might take a bit longer than the usual time when setting up your kayak for the first time but you’ll quickly get the hang of this and set up faster in subsequent kayaking adventures.

Final Thoughts

Inflatable kayaks have revolutionized the kayaking industry with the phenomenal portability, durability, and performance they offer. This has led to the popularity of inflatable kayaks but with popularity comes several options making it difficult for one to narrow the options down to the very best inflatable kayaks.

The purpose of the reviews and buying guide is to reveal the best of the best inflatable kayaks available on the market today and give you all the information you need to select the right one. Get a kayak today and start ruling the waters!

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