Inflatable Kayaks For Ocean Sea Use

Most inflatable kayaks are made for river or lake use.

Do you want to ride your kayak in ocean waves or explore the coastline and outlying islands? Then you need an inflatable ocean kayak.

Venturing out onto the ocean (or the sea) means your kayak has to be able to handle the larger waves and changing sea conditions you may encounter.

Let’s have a look at what this means specifically, after which I’ll give you my recommendations on inflatable kayaks for ocean use.

Features of ocean-ready inflatable kayaks

If you’re heading out onto the ocean, you should make sure your kayak has the following features.

High-pressure air floor for rigidity in waves

To make it through ocean waves, you need a long, rigid kayak. This can be achieved by using a kayak equipped with a drop stitched high-pressure air floor.

Inflatable Kayak High Pressure Air Floor Drop Stitch

Drop-stitch air floors become as rigid as hard floors made out of aluminum, so they won’t let your kayak fold when going over waves.

Read this article if you want to learn more about the type of floors inflatable watercraft come with.

Self-bailing to drain water

In a self-bailing kayak or boat, the floor has several well-positioned holes to allow any water inside the kayak to drain back out.

Because of this feature, the kayak  is considered to be “self-bailing” as opposed to you having to manually bail out the water.

Why do you need the self bailing feature in an ocean kayak?

Because of the larger waves that can splash a lot of water into your cockpit. With a self bailing ocean kayak, you:

  • Saves you the effort of having to scoop or pump the water out
  • Improves the handling and stability of your kayak, since there is no water weight inside holding your kayak back
  • Provides more comfort, since you don’t have to sit in water.

Skeg (fin) for control

Skegs (aka fins) are used to assist in the tracking of a kayak, meaning it’s easier to go straight. This becomes important in cross winds, currents and waves that you will encounter out on the ocean water.

Removable Skeg Fin

Inflatable kayaks suitable for ocean use will have a larger removable skeg. The better kayaks will even have 2 fins for added control, which is useful especially on longer kayaks.

You attach the fin after you inflate the boat, and detach it when you pack away (or see no need for the skeg).

Here are some tips to using your kayak with a skeg:

  • Make sure it is securely locked in place, you don’t want to lose it in the water.
  • The kayak hulls and floor need to be inflated to optimal PSI to become rigid. This is how the skeg can truly help with tracking.
  • Mind the skeg in shallow water! It is easy to forget that there is something sticking out from the bottom of your boat, bump it into the seabed, and deform or break the skeg.

Go long and wide

It is best to use larger inflatable kayaks when going paddling on the ocean. The reason for this is that the larger the kayak, the more stable it will be in ocean waters.

Longer kayaks do well in ocean waves. You can crash into them head on without folding. The kayak simply rides on the wave.

Wider kayaks are more stable, which is always nice in rough waters.

Best inflatable kayaks for ocean/sea use

Here is a list of quality inflatable kayaks that tick all the boxes for use in the ocean or sea.

 KayakDescriptionSize & capacityDetails
1.Sea Eagle 420x ExplorerBest Sea Kayak
Sea Eagle Explorer 420x
This is my top pick for use on open water. It is durable, has plenty of features, and just a great ocean/sea kayak.
14’ x 3’3″
855 lbs
2.Sea Eagle 420x ExplorerShorter
Sea Eagle Explorer 380x
This is a shorter version of the Explorer, equal to it's big brother in every other way.
12’6″ x 3’3″
750 lbs
3.Saturn 14 Ocean Kayak2nd Choice
Saturn Ocean Kayak
This is another very capable kayak, but it lacks the whitewater capabilities that the Sea Eagle has.
13'10" x 3'2″
900 lbs
4.Itwit X100Budget Pick
This is a good kayak for use on the ocean, but it is not as durable and it's capacity is low.
12′ x 3’4″
330 lbs

Let’s have a look at them in more detail.

Sea Eagle Explorer 380x or 420x

The Sea Eagle Explorer line of inflatable kayaks includes 3 lengths, but I would recommend the 2 longer ones for ocean kayaking. Namely, the 380x at 12’6″ (3.8 m) in length, and the 420x at 14′ (4.3 m) in length.

Sea Eagle 300x Ocean Surfing

It is probably one of the best inflatable kayaks on the market in 2021. Rated for even class IV rapids, it is as tough as they come.

It is spacious and has a high weight limit for longer seaside trips, has 16 drain valves for surfing ocean waves, and has a drop-stitch hard floor for rigidity and comfort.

I wrote a more detailed review of the Sea Eagle Explorer, read it to find out the good and the bad with this kayak.

SE 380x specifications:

Weight40 lbs. (18 kg)
Size12’6″ x 3’3″
Capacity3 people – 750 lbs (340 kg)
Air chambers2 tubes + 1 air floor
Whitewater ratingClass IV rapids
Extra features1 fin
Drop-stitch floor
1000 Denier PVC
16 drain valves

SE 420x specifications:

Weight44 lbs. (20 kg)
Size14′ x 3’3″
Capacity3 people – 855 lbs (388 kg)
Air chambers 2 tubes + 1 air floor
Whitewater ratingClass IV rapids
Extra features1 fin
Drop-stitch floor
1000 Denier PVC
16 drain valves
Sea Eagle 420x Explorer

Sea Eagle 420x

review rating stars

Best ocean/sea kayak

Top Choice!

The Sea Eagle Explorer kayak is more than capable of tackling waves and seashore trips. This is my favorite ocean kayak.

Check today’s prices for both versions:

Saturn 14′ Ocean Inflatable Kayak (OK420)

As its name implies, the 14′ Saturn Ocean Kayak is ideal when going surfing in the ocean. I tried it in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean in Florida, and it was a lot of fun.

Saturn Ocean Kayak Ok420

The kayak is nice and long at 14′, so it performs well in waves and has room to carry things. It has 4 drain valves to allow the water to escape, in case the waves splash onto the deck. All Saturn inflatables are made of 1100 Dtex PVC, so punctures are highly unlikely. Its air floor inflates to 8 PSI, so it will be as hard as they come.

This is a tandem kayak, so it can fit 2 seats. One thing to note is that the base package only includes a carry bag, repair kit and hand pump. It oddly doesn’t include any seats, you need to buy them as extras for about $40 each.

For being such a long boat, it tracked well. It has removable 2 tracking fins, one in the back and one in the front. It goes nice and straight, not wiggly at all. Just don’t forget about it when you head for the shore, you don’t want to bang the front fin into anything.

Weight34 lbs (15 kg)
Length13.8′ x 38″
Capacity3 people – 900 lbs (400 kg)
Air chambers2 tubes + 1 air floor
Whitewater ratingnot for whitewater
Extra features2 fins
Drop-stitch floor
1100 Dtex PVC
4 drain valves

ITIWIT X100+ Inflatable Kayak

The Itwit X100+ is a product of the sporting goods store Decathlon. You may not expect much when you hear that, but this is still a solid kayak you can use on the ocean and sea.

I used it in Croatia for a coastal trip, and it was very comfortable for the 3 hours of paddling I did in it. The seat provided good back support, so I didn’t feel tired at all. The kayak was very stable, as most inflatable kayaks of this width are. I tried hard, but could not capsize it from inside the kayak by moving left and right with all my strength.

Itiwit X100 Kayak

The air floor inflates to 5 PSI, making the kayak rigid over waves. The tubes inflate to a rock hard 3 PSI, which is rather high for main side tubes.

It is also worth mentioning that the x100+ kayak has 3 removable skegs to help with tracking. There are 2 skegs in the back, and 1 in the front.

The package includes the kayak, a repair kit, 2 seats, and a carry bag as well. A nice feature is that its carrying case is actually a backpack, so you can hike with it on shorter distances. The pump and paddles are NOT included, so make sure you get them separately if you choose this kayak.

The only negative about this kayak is that it has very low capacity. At 150 kg, it would be difficult to have 2 adult males paddling in tandem. It also makes me think the material might not hold up so well under excessive stress.

Weight35 lbs. (16 kg)
Size12′ x 3’4″
Capacity2 people – 330 lbs (150 kg)
Air chambers2 tubes + 1 air floor
Whitewater ratingnot for whitewater
Extra features3 fins (1 front, 2 rear)
Drop-stitch floor
3 drain valves

There is a 3-person version of the X100+ kayak, which has a capacity of 245 kg.

Tips for safe ocean kayaking

Ocean kayaking isn’t an extreme sport, but it does have a few intricacies. Especially when you encounter larger ocean waves. Venturing out onto the ocean means that you are an experienced kayaker. Beginners will find ocean paddling very challenging, and it might even become unsafe.

Know this: you will dump 1x or 2x every session. It is best to be prepared for this and already know how to reenter your kayak. This requires practice in calm water.

You should definitely:

  • Have a paddle leash, so you don’t lose your paddle
  • Be tied to your boat somehow, possibly with an extra paddle leash.
  • If you are going into larger waves, wear a whitewater PFD
  • Get a set of thigh straps to lock yourself into the boat preventing unnecessary dumps.
  • Stay close to shore.
  • Mind the tides, as they can change the shoreline.
  • Currents in the ocean and sea can become problematic. Mind the tidal areas, where rip currents can develop. A rip current is when water is pushed out by the waves, then pulled back in by the force of gravity.

Safety gear for ocean kayaking

Depending on where you will kayak, what the weather conditions are like, and how long you plan on paddling, you should consider taking some safety gear with you.

  • A reliable life jacket that fits you snugly is a must.
  • Map and GPS.
  • A whistle, you never know when you want to blow one. Especially when another boat is about to hit you…
  • Extra paddle in case you lose yours or it breaks.
  • Paddle leash, so you only need to worry about yourself if you capsize.
  • Self-rescue devices
  • If you will paddle in remote locations, you should have a radio as well.
  • Foghorn (to make sure you can be heard if you are not seen)

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.

4 thoughts on “3 Best Inflatable Kayaks for Ocean & Sea Use (Safe & Stable)”

  1. Hi Tom,
    Thanks for the great article. All the kayaks you recommend are for two people. Do you have a recommendation for a 1 person ocean inflatable kayak?

  2. I’m actually thinking of getting the ITIWIT X100+ Inflatable Kayak but there is a 3 man version rated about 245kg max capacity.

    I should be doing mostly solo but occasionally i think a friend might join me thats why I’m aiming for the 3 man version…

    Is it going to be difficult to paddle solo on a 3 man kayak weighing about 18kg and 410cm long?

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