Best Inflatable Kayaks

Last article update: October 2nd, 2021 (10:51 pm)

Inflatable kayaks are a great way to get out on the water. They offer many advantages over their hard-shell counterparts and could be the only choice for paddlers that require easy portability from the kayak.

There are loads of inflatable kayaks on the market, all with various features, designs, materials, etc.

With so many choices, picking one is hard!

No worries, I’ve gathered everything you need to know about inflatable kayaks on this page to help you choose the best inflatable kayak for your specific needs.

Let’s start with a list of the cream of the crop of quality inflatable kayaks. I will divide it into 2 sections: single-person and tandem kayaks.

Best Inflatable Kayaks for Single Paddlers

Here are the best one-person inflatable kayaks you can get in 2021.

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame

Great day touring kayak

Advanced Elements Advancedframe Inflatable Kayak

Best features

Reinforced 600 D PVC fabric
Stable & tracks well thanks to hybrid body design
Coaming rim for attaching a sprayskirt
Reasonably large cockpit

Specifications

Brand: Advanced Elements

Weight capacity: 300 lbs (136 kg)

Size: 32″ x 10’5″ (folded size: 30” x 17” x 10”)

Weight: 36 lbs (16 kg)

This is one of my favorite day tourer kayaks, period.

It has a hybrid build, meaning that it has built-in aluminum ribs at the bow and stern to support its inflatable frame. The result is that the kayak tracks well, and the body is very stable, even though this single paddler model has an I-beam floor (you can purchase the tandem version with a drop-stitched floor).

The materials used for this kayak reflect its price point. A PVC vinyl inside is covered by a waterproof fabric, making the yak that much more resistant to punctures.

As for the size of the kayak, it is comfortable for kayakers up to 6′ in height. Any taller, I would get the 2-person version instead. There is plenty of storage space inside and on the deck as well though.

The hybrid build makes this kayak slightly heavier than other inflatables of its size, but the tradeoff of better handling and tracking is worth it.

Advanced Elements Advancedframe Features

If you are into cold-weather paddling, you’ll be able to use a spray skirt with this kayak. This is made possible by an inflatable coaming rim running around the cockpit entrance.

The AdvancedFrame is also rated for Class I-II rapids, so the sprayskirt could come in handy there as well. Its hull is made of PVC tarpaulin, meaning it won’t tear in light rapids.

If you are familiar with Advanced Elements, you’ll know that they make quality kayaks with useful features. It even has bungee cords on the deck for storage.

You will not be disappointed by this kayak if you are looking for a single-person sit-inside day touring inflatable kayak.

Sevylor Quikpak K5

Ultra-portable backpack/kayak system for beginner paddlers

Sevylor Quikpak K5 Inflatable Kayak

Best features

Durable reinforced deck and hull fabric
Backpack storage system makes it portable
Several value-added features built into the kayak
Reasonable price

Specifications

Brand: Sevylor/Coleman

Weight capacity: 250 lbs (113 kg)

Size: 10′ x 2’10”

Weight: 25.5 lbs (11.5 kg)

The Sevylor/Coleman Quikpak K5 is a 1-person sit-inside inflatable kayak. It is unique because it breaks down into a backpack with nicely padded shoulder straps, so you can take it on longer walks/hikes.

At 25 lbs, it is too large to go on long hikes, but you can definitely reach remote locations with the Quikpak K5 on your back.

The kayak is very sturdy, so you don’t need to worry about punctures. The PVC air chambers are covered by 900 D polyester fabric, and the hull is protected with an extra layer of 1000 D tarpaulin.

Sevylor Quikpak K5 Features

This is a recreational kayak meant for beginners. It has features that would raise it to a day-touring category, but the seat is not comfortable enough to spend an entire day in. Its tracking is not great, which is another reason day-long paddling trips would not be ideal in it.

However, it is perfect for paddling and relaxing in your local lake or in slow-moving rivers. Some people even use it on light rapids.

The Sevylor Quikpak K5 is good value, especially since the package includes everything you need to get on the water as quickly as possible: an air pump, an aluminum paddle, and a repair kit. The paddle is not that good though, you will probably want to replace it down the line.

Sea Eagle Explorer 300x

Probably the most versatile inflatable kayak, ever

Sea Eagle 300x Inflatable Kayak

Best features

Very strong and sturdy, yet light
Rated for Class IV rapids
3 sizes
3-year warranty

Specifications

Brand: Sea Eagle

Weight capacity: 395 lbs (179 kg)

Size: 118″ x 39″ (folded size: 24” x 16” x 6”)

Weight: 31 lbs (14 kg)

If I had to describe Sea Eagle’s Explorer kayaks with one word, it would be: versatility.

Other than winter kayaking, there is not much you couldn’t do with an Explorer. It is rated for Class IV rapids and has 16 closable scupper holes to let excess water flow out, which means it can be used as a whitewater kayak.

The material of this kayak is amazingly tough. You can hammer at it, throw bricks at it, even run a Jeep over it, and the kayak will still be good as new. This is one of the reasons why it is considered one of the best inflatable whitewater kayaks. No rocks or cliffs will puncture it in rougher waters.

It has a triple chamber hull design, with each tube inflating to 3.2 psi. That is a lot, and it is what makes the kayak so rigid. Of course, the kayak has drop-stitched floors as well.

Flat-water tracking is helped with a large removable skeg. You can swap the skeg with a shallow-water skeg as well, which is better in shallow water or rivers where you could hit underwater objects.

If you’re looking for a kayak that can do almost anything, you found it.

The Explorer comes in 3 sizes. This single-person model is good for white-water, but the tandem version is a better all-around choice in my opinion. You can read more about it lower on this page, or on the detailed review of the Explorer line.

Aquaglide Chinook 90

Middle of the pack

Aquaglide Chinook 90 Inflatable Kayak

Best features

Comfortable and well accessorized
Super light
Good tracking

Specifications

Brand: Aquaglide

Weight capacity: 250 lbs (113 kg)

Size: 9′ x 35″ x 12.5 ” (274 x 89 x 32 cm)

Weight: 19 lbs. (8.7 kg)

The Chinook 90 from Aquaglide is a mid-fielder in everything from price to performance. It has a lot of things going for it to raise it above the level of beginner kayaks, but it is not at the level of the more expensive, high-end kayaks.

The Chinook has a lot of features that come in very handy, such as the D-ring attachments, comfortable seat, paddle holder, etc. It also has firm side air bladders that make it very stable. I am not a fan of the polyester shell though, as it increases drying times.

Chinook 90 Features

My biggest complaint about this kayak, though, is that it does not come with a paddle and a pump. You are looking to spend an extra $100-150 on these if you don’t have them already.

I can recommend the Chinook to beginner paddlers who are looking to get a better than average inflatable kayak for flatwater recreational paddling, or even mild rivers. It doesn’t have scupper holes, so it’s not fit for whitewater kayaking, even though the material could handle it in my opinion.

The Chinook comes in 2 larger sizes as well for tandem kayaking (or more space for gear), you might want to check them out as well.

Advanced Elements Expedition

Best inflatable touring kayak

Advanced Elements Expedition Elite Ae1009 Xe

Best features

Paddles almost like a hardshell kayak
Rigid body (drop-stitched air floor, aluminum inserts, inflatable beams)
Spray skirt compatible

Specifications

Brand: Advanced Elements

Weight capacity: 450 lbs (204 kg)

Size: 13′ x 32″ ( folded 31″ x 16″ x 10″)

Weight: 42 lbs (19 kg)

Out of all of the inflatable touring kayaks I have tried, perhaps the Advanced Elements Expedition is the only one that ticks every checkbox I could list.

Touring kayaks are long to help with tracking, speed, and storage, all of which are very important on lengthy trips.

The Expedition is a remarkably well-made kayak, which uses quality materials. I think the reason it is so inexpensive is that Advanced Elements doesn’t use super thick PVC vinyl air chambers. They use PVC tarpaulin, a waterproof fabric to make the kayak as tough as can be.

The Expedition is an AdvancedFrame model, which means it has a hybrid body build. There are aluminum inserts to make the body rigid, which helps it cut the water like a hard-shell kayak.

You can see how well it tracks and how easy it is to paddle in this video.

The drop-stitched floor makes the kayak stable and comfortable for prolonged use. You can easily stand up in the kayak.

Being a touring kayak, it also has footrests inside the cockpit. You can even get the optional Advanced Elements rudder kit, which adds a foot-controlled rudder system to the kayak.

You can attach a sprayskirt to the cockpit coaming, so the Expedition is suitable for extreme winter kayaking as well.

There is loads of storage space for your gear on multi-day trips as well, and it even has velcro paddle holders on the side.

If you are looking for the best inflatable touring kayak, look no further.

Sea Eagle Razorlite 393rl

Full dropstitch kayak – performs like a hardshell

Se Razorlite 393rl Kayak

Best features

Performs like a hardshell kayak
Full dropstitch body
Easy paddling, tracks straight

Specifications

Brand: Sea Eagle

Weight capacity: 500 lbs (227 kg)

Size: 71 x 391 cm

Weight: 35 lbs (16 kg)

The Sea Eagle Razorlite was the world’s first fully drop-stitched kayak. Every air chamber inflates to 10 psi, making the kayak incredibly rigid.

The bow and stern are covered with sharp molded plastic, which cuts through the waves. The hull has a double concave design to let water pass below the kayak.

This all results in an inflatable kayak that tracks like a hard shell, and also goes just as fast.

Se Razorlite 393rl Features

The Razorlite is more expensive than traditional kayaks, but performs much better. It has loads of storage room for your gear or dog as well.

As with all Sea Eagle boats, the quality of this yak is excellent. For peace of mind, it is covered with a 3-year warranty in case of manufacturing defects.

The Razorlite is not for beginner paddlers though, as the narrow-body makes its primary stability feel somewhat tippy. It does not flop over though, as the secondary stability is strong.

Intermediate and advanced paddlers will really enjoy this one!

If you’re searching for a rigid kayak that is portable, plus performs and handles like a hardshell, you will love the Razorlite. It is definitely a contender for the best inflatable kayak of 2021 award.

It also comes in a 2-person tandem version, which you’ll find lower in this article.

Best Tandem (2-Person) Inflatable Kayaks

In this section, you’ll find 2021‘s best inflatable tandem kayaks.

Sea Eagle 330 & 370

High-quality beginner kayak

Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak

Best features

Comes with everything you need to get on the water
Easy to set up and dry
Lots of accessories
Good tracking

Specifications

Brand: Sea Eagle

Weight capacity: 227 kg (SE 330), 295 kg (SE 370)

Size: 11’2″ X 3’ (340 cm x 86 cm) (SE 330), 12’6″ x 3′ (380 cm x 86 cm) (SE 370)

Weight: 26.5 lbs (12 kg) (SE 330), 33 lbs (15 kg) (SE 370)

The Sea Eagle 330 and the longer 370 hold an interesting place in my lineup of the best kayaks you can get in 2021.

It is more than an entry-level kayak, but not quite out of the recreational paddling zone. It is more expensive than a recreational kayak though (at around $300), and it is much better quality.

It actually has a 3-year warranty, just like all other Sea Eagle boats.

In fact, the body is so tough that it is rated for Class III whitewater!

This kayak comes in 2 versions, The SE 330 and 370. They are identical except for the length. The 370 is supposed to be for 3 people, even though it comes with two inflatable seats.

The kayak has an I-beam floor and a rather large body, which is good and bad. The large, lightweight body means that it can be set off course by the wind.

You sit really high in this kayak because of the tall body and the high inflatable seat. On that note, I would recommend you get the deluxe seats, not the ribbed SEC ones. They are way better.

If you are looking for a very high-quality, safe entry-level inflatable tandem kayak, either the SE 330 or 370 is a great choice.

Intex Excursion Pro

A nice balance between cost and features

Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable Kayak

Best features

Comes with everything you need to get on the water
Easy to set up and dry
Lots of accessories
Good tracking

Specifications

Brand: Intex

Weight capacity: 400 lbs (180 kg)

Size: 12’7″ X 3’1″ X 1’6″ (384 cm x 84 cm x 46 cm)

Weight: 39 lbs (17.7 kg)

The Excursion Pro is the best inflatable kayak from Intex, a company that is not really known for high-quality products. Regardless, this is a good product with loads of features, good tracking, and lots of accessories.

There are a few things that are bothersome with this kayak, such as the fake Halkey-Roberts valves that can only be pumped with Intex’s own pump, the design of the splash guard, and the placement of the fishing rod holders. I’m also not a fan of the inflatable seat.

If you are looking for a kayak to paddle on the lake with your family, do a bit of exploration, maybe some fishing, this is a solid choice.

Intex Excursion Pro Features

As long as you can find it for below $280, to be exact.

Inflatable boat kayak prices have risen a lot, and you don’t want to overspend on something that only has a 90-day warranty.

If you can’t find it at a good price, the Sea Eagle 330 is a better choice.

Aquaglide Chinook 120

Solid tandem kayak in the middle of the field

Aquaglide Chinook 120 Inflatable Kayak

If you skimmed over the first section of this article with the solo kayaks, you might have seen the Chinook 90.

The Chinook 120 is the tandem version of the same kayak. While Aquaglide offers a Chinook 100 size as well, I would recommend the 120 for tandem paddling.

Chinook 120 Features

Just like the smaller version, the 120 is a kayak for beginners who want to have a quality kayak.

The Chinook line has several features that raise it above entry model kayaks, which you can read about in the detailed review.

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible

Excellent 2-person day tourer

Advanced Elements Advancedframe Tandem Inflatable Kayak

This kayak might be familiar already, as it has a single paddler version (which I have already described above). It performs well on the water thanks to its rigid bow and stern rib-frame, and is very comfortable to paddle in.

The 2-person variant is called “Convertible”, because it can be converted to a 1-person or a 2-person kayak by moving the seats and swapping the cockpit cover.

A very impressive feature of the 2 person model is that the cockpit cover has inflatable coamings for both paddlers, meaning both paddlers can use a spray skirt. This is very rare for an inflatable tandem kayak, so if this feature is a priority for you, look no further.

Sea Eagle Explorer 380x or 420x

Versatility for 2 people

Sea Eagle 380x Inflatable Kayak

The Sea Eagle Explorer lineup of kayaks is another one that also has a single-person model listed above, the 300x. Every aspect of the boat is the same as the smaller brother, except for the length.

The 380x is the tandem version of the kayak, being 380 cm vs the 300 cm of the 300x.

They also have a 420x model, which is 427 cm long. This is the 3-person version.

Note how the increase in length from the single to the 2-person version is 80cm, but from tandem to 3-person it is just 47 cm. 3 people could theoretically paddle in the 420x, but there would be little room for gear.

The biggest appeal of this 2 person inflatable kayak is in its versatility. It can literally be used for any type of kayaking.

Are you looking for a whitewater kayak? Check. Do you want to go touring? Check. Do you want to go out on open waters? Check. This can do it all.

The Sea Eagle Explorer line of kayaks is top-notch and comes out on top in my list of inflatable kayak reviews.

Sea Eagle Razorlite 473rl

The best tandem dropstitch kayak

Se Razorlite 473rl Kayak

The Razorlite family of Sea Eagle kayaks has a smaller, single-person version which I have talked about earlier in this list of the best inflatable kayak reviews.

The 473rl is the 2-person model. It is everything the shorter version is, just a little bit longer to fit 2 kayakers or more gear. Whichever your priority may be.

This is a fully dropstitched kayak, which means that each air bladder is made of drop stitch material that inflates to 10 PSI. It becomes rock hard, and its paddling characteristics improve as a result. The rigid bow and stern allow the kayak to cut through the water with ease. In fact, with the skeg installed, it paddles almost as traditional hardshell kayaks do.

And the icing on the cake: the longer body makes this one of the fastest inflatable kayaks on the market.

The 473rl is top of the line in technology and quality. It also has a 3-year warranty, which is lot in the industry.

Se Razorlite 473rl Features

Types of Inflatable Kayaks

Before we get into the categories of kayaks based on design and usage, you should know that there are 2 main types of kayaks: 

Sit-on-top kayaks (SOT)

Sit On Top Kayak Example

SIKs have a closed cockpit, where your position is on the water level or even slightly below it.

Sit-inside kayaks (SIK)

Sit Inside Kayak Example

With SOTs, you sit on the deck, so your position is above the water level. 

In general, SOTs are a better option for beginners, and SIKs are suitable for intermediate and advanced paddlers.

There is a lot to be said about the advantages and disadvantages of each, which is why I recommend you read my article on sit-inside vs. sit-on-top kayaks.

Kayak Categories

Kayaks are manufactured differently and incorporate different features based on how they are used. There are many types of inflatable kayaks, some of them purpose-built for use under extreme circumstances.

While no single kayak can perform well in all conditions, you should get one that will do well for most of what you intend to use it for. Based on this, we can differentiate the following inflatable kayak categories.

Recreational kayaks

The most basic type of kayak is the recreational kayak. They come in sit-on-top and sit-inside versions and are an affordable way to get on the water.

They are suitable for recreational activities, like paddling on lakes and even slow rivers.

Day touring kayaks

Day touring kayaks carry a higher price tag than recreational kayaks but are of higher quality in general. They come in sit-inside and sit-on-top variations as well.

Day tourers are sleeker, are easier to control, and also offer some cargo space for your gear.

Touring kayaks

Touring kayaks are much longer than day tourers, which increases their speed and optimizes their tracking capabilities. 

You can go on extended journeys in these kayaks, as they are more comfortable and offer more storage space.

If you are not 100% intent on going on long kayaking trips, though, you will be better off with a day tourer.

Whitewater kayaks

The body of whitewater kayaks is shaped in a way that helps you navigate through raging rapids, and their material is super durable to resist tears and punctures.

They do not have skegs, as it would be an obstruction.

Fishing kayaks

A fishing kayak offers extra features that anglers need, like fishing rod holders, mounting pads, and mounting brackets. Here is a list of great inflatable fishing kayaks.

How to Choose an Inflatable Kayak

When deciding on which inflatable kayak you should buy, the most important thing to consider is how and where you plan on using the kayak. Everything else falls into place based on this.

Before I got into details about their characteristics and what features you should look for, watch this insightful video on how to choose an inflatable kayak.

Characteristics of Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks have a few inherent characteristics you should know about.

How and where can you use an inflatable kayak?

You can use inflatable kayaks pretty much anywhere you would use any other small boat.

When choosing a kayak, a lot depends on the type of water you will be kayaking in. 

  • Kayaking in flat water (lakes, ideal weather) = Recreational kayak
  • Kayaking in slow-moving rivers = Touring or day-touring kayak
  • Fishing = Fishing kayak
  • Multi-day trips = Touring kayak with room for camping gear
  • Kayaking in the sea = Touring kayak or sea kayak
  • Whitewater rapids = Whitewater kayak
  • Winter kayaking = Rugged kayak with sealable cockpit

As I mentioned, you need to think about how you will use a kayak before you buy one. Many people who fall in love with kayaking have more than one kayak since each type is suitable for a different purpose.

Durability and safety

The durability of the kayak matters a lot when choosing an inflatable vessel. You may think inflatable boats are inferior in this regard to hard shell models, but that is not true.

Consider that:

  • Inflatable boats are in use by Navy SEALs and the Coast Guard
  • Many whitewater enthusiasts prefer inflatables rated for whitewater rafting over hardshell kayaks.

Professional kayaks are suitable in adverse conditions because they are made from multiple layers of materials like rubber or PVC. For example, in case of a heavy impact against a cliff, hardshell kayaks might develop a crack. However, the air chambers of inflatable kayaks deflect the impact, meaning there is no damage to the kayak.

Not only that, they consist of multiple air chambers. This redundancy is an important safety feature, so if any single chamber suffers a puncture, the other chambers still keep you afloat. Most inflatable kayaks have three air chambers: the floor, and the two sides.

All these features ensure that they can handle the most adverse conditions with ease. You can definitely puncture them if you really try, but the better inflatable kayaks can take a real beating before showing any signs of use.

Of course, the quality of inflatable kayaks will vary in line with their price points.

But with that said, you should know that inflatable kayaks are more affordable than hardshell ones. Even the higher-end models won’t reach high-end hardshell kayaks’ price points. 

Material

An inflatable kayak’s durability depends a lot on what it is made out of, how it is made, and how thick the fabric is. 

The kayak can come in contact with sharp edges, underwater rocks, sticks, etc. on the water, and even during transport. Many people even take their dog paddling, which is fine, as long as the material can stand up to dog claws.

In addition to being durable, the material needs to be lightweight so that you can easily transport the kayak in a deflated state.

There are 3 main categories of kayak materials:

  • Single-layer vinyl – inexpensive recreational kayaks.
  • Fabric-covered vinyl – a step up, but the fabric covering the vinyl layer dries slowly.
  • Thick, heavy-duty rubber or PVC – expensive, but durable.

In addition, advances in manufacturing technology are changing the way inflatable kayaks are designed.

The use of drop-stitch tech not just in kayak floors, but also for the body of the kayak is revolutionizing inflatable kayaks. Drop-stitched kayaks come very close to the rigidity, control, and handling of hard-shell kayaks, while retaining the convenient features that we love in inflatable watercraft.

Traditional air bladders and I-beam floor

Inflatable Kayak I Beam

Drop-stitch kayak

Inflatable Kayak Drop Stitched

Portability

One of the main reasons people opt for inflatable kayaks is that they are lightweight, and once you deflate them, they occupy very little space. This makes them easy to transport and store.

Once you fold them up and put them into their carry bag, they are no larger than a sleeping bag. Some kayaks fold up so small that you can even keep them in your backpack. 

If you don’t have much storage space at home or plan on storing it in an RV, inflatable kayaks are a great option since they do not occupy much space. 

Stability on the water

If you compare the design of inflatable vs hard shell kayaks, you will notice that the inflatable ones are a bit wider. The wider body structure means they are buoyant on the edges as well as in the middle. This buoyancy makes them very stable; you really have to work at it to tip one over.

Their added stability also means it’s easier to reenter an inflatable yak from the water.

Handling

Handling, speed, and tracking (going straight) are where even the best inflatable kayaks fall behind their hardshell counterparts.

This is due to their inherent design:

  • higher sides
  • more rocker
  • hull design
  • low weight

The handling of the more expensive inflatable models is almost as good as that of hardshell kayaks. Cheaper inflatables are definitely more difficult to control and keep going straight.

The solution to this problem is to go with a kayak that has a fixed or removable skeg. It will increase the control which you have over your kayak.

Features to look for when choosing an inflatable kayak

If you’re on the hunt for the best inflatable kayak suitable for your needs, it’s a good idea to get one that has as many features as possible.

Here are the most useful features of quality inflatable yaks.

Cockpit size

The size of the cockpit matters a lot when choosing an inflatable kayak. For a short person, it might not matter that much. However, if you’re tall and the cockpit size is small, you will be cramped and uncomfortable. 

While adjustable seats can help, not even they will help if the cockpit is too small.

In that case, the solution is to go with a tandem kayak (2-person) if you’re paddling solo or a 3-person model if you’re paddling with someone else. They are bigger and will have enough space for you and your gear.

It is well worth it to opt for a large kayak to get that extra space. It can save you a lot of discomfort in the longer run. Moreover, such kayaks are perfect for overnight camping trips as well. 

Storage space

The amount of storage space it offers is essential if you plan on carrying gear along. 

You can store gear in many ways on a kayak if it has the following features:

  • Cargo nets on the deck,
  • Storage compartments in the cockpit,
  • Hatches,
  • Hooks and loops you can tie things to.

You have to decide which storage methods you prefer and choose a suitable kayak to fit all your gear on a kayaking trip. 

Weight capacity

The best inflatable kayaks have a larger maximum weight capacity than hardshells, since they are so buoyant thanks to the air bladders.

Nevertheless, you will want to check this specification as well, just to make sure.

Ergonomic carrying handles

All kayaks need carrying handles to move them around, but not all handles are created equal. You have to not only look at the handle design but also the padding of the handle. 

The positioning of the handles also matters a lot. The kayak should have ergonomic handles on both ends and should be easy to carry.

Seat design

Ideally, it is best to choose an inflatable kayak with adjustable seats, which allow you to position the backrest in a comfortable position. You can also set the elevation of the seats in some cases, but that is rare.

Additionally, the seat should provide proper back support. In that case, you will not suffer from back pain after a long kayaking trip. 

Seat padding is not an issue on the best inflatable kayaks, but you should still ensure the seat is properly formed and padded for many hours of pain-free paddling.

However, if you get a kayak with a dropstitched high-pressure floor, make sure it comes with a padded seat. Dropstitched floors are very hard, and sitting on one for hours without ample seat padding is painful.

The seat design, its adjustments, and padding will determine the comfort which it provides.

Effective splash guards

If you’re looking at sit-on-top kayaks, it is good to choose one with front and rear splash guards. These can ensure that the gear in the storage compartment and the storage space remains dry. 

It will also reduce the amount of water that gets into the kayak.

Sturdy carry bag

Whether you like it or not, your kayak will probably be deflated and stored most of the time. That is why you should choose a kayak, which comes with a proper duffel bag, as it is the most secure way to store the kayak. It will also ensure that the kayak gets stored in a small amount of space.

The carry bag should be of excellent quality, so it does not tear. It will have handles, of course, but having backpack-style straps is a big plus when you need to carry it on longer distances.

Accessories

Some kayak packages come with loads of accessories, but some have very few.

The 2 most important accessories you should know about are:

If you do not have paddles and a pump and the kayak package does not include them, you are looking at spending another $100-150 for a decent paddle and a hand pump (or foot pump).

You generally don’t need an electric pump for inflatable kayaks, since they are easier to inflate than bigger inflatable boats and SUPs.

Comfortable footrests

Footrests keep your feet and legs supported, which is vital for proper paddling form. They also help keep your legs in a comfortable position. 

Most inflatable kayaks don’t have footrests, meaning you need to place your feet in between the hull and side tubes. It works but is not ideal.

The best inflatable yaks have adjustable footrests so that you are comfortable throughout the trip.

Skeg

A skeg is nothing but a plastic fin that is attached to the bottom of the kayak. While it might seem like a small feature, it can help you immensely out on the water.

I have an entire article about inflatable boat skegs here.

In short, skegs help in controlling the kayak and increase paddling efficiency. You can tackle crosscurrents as well as crosswinds more effectively with a skeg. 

You absolutely need to have at least one skeg on an inflatable kayak.

Drain plugs

The best sit-on-top inflatable kayaks have drain plugs (scupper holes) that you can open and close as you need. They allow you to drain the excess water which enters your kayak. 

Scupper holes are significant for whitewater kayaking, where water splashes onto the deck. They also make it easier to correct a flipped kayak.

Setting up and packing away

Inflation usually is not an issue with inflatable kayaks. They have multiple air chambers, and you have to inflate them in order. It takes no longer than 10 minutes.

Here is a detailed article on how to inflate kayaks.

Deflation is a bit trickier, but interestingly, nobody asks about it. You should pay attention to 2 things:

  • The air valve should allow a lot of air out quickly. Look for boats with “check valves” like the Boston valve or the Halkey-Roberts valve. They make inflation easy as they do not let the air out, but at the same time, a simple twist will open them up to quickly deflate the boat.
  • Kayaks that have fabric covering the vinyl are harder to dry. You never want to put a damp kayak into storage, as it will mold. If you don’t have time to dry your boat right after use, you need to open it up and let it dry completely at home.

Inflatable Kayaking FAQs

Here are answers to many common questions you might have about the world of inflatable yaks. If you have any other questions, please leave a comment below.

Which one is your favorite inflatable kayak?

Let me know in a comment below! (As long as it’s not the Intex Challenger 🙂 )

Are you new to the world of inflatable boats? Then my Getting Started Guide is for you. You’ll find tips, tricks, and how-to articles to start off right.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top