Best Inflatable Kayak Reviews

Among the many options of recreational and whitewater boats out on the market these days, inflatable kayaks are one of the best for those new to boating and kayaking. There are many benefits of opting for an inflatable kayak over a hard shell, the most obvious one being price. Though prices can vary depending on brand and quality, in general, inflatable kayaks are more affordable than hard shell kayaks. If you want to give kayaking a go, but are not yet ready for the financial commitment of a hard shell kayak, an inflatable kayak is a good boat to consider.

Another plus inflatable kayaks offer is the convenience regarding storage and transportation due to their lightweight and collapsibility. If you do not have the room to store a hard shell kayak, or lack a car large enough to carry or support one, an inflatable kayak may be just what you need; most inflatable kayaks can be deflated and folded into a compact, light package.

Though inflatable kayaks can be harder to control - when battling against strong currents, choppy waters, and gusty winds - than their hard shell counterparts, they are very stable and sturdy on the water. Being nearly impossible to flip unintentionally while on the water, an inflatable kayak is a great choice for beginners looking to practice and improve their kayaking skills without having to worry about balance. It is like training wheels for the water.

If you still think an inflatable kayak is right for you, then it is time to start searching for the inflatable kayak that best fits your needs. There are many inflatable kayaks on the market, so to narrow down your options, consider the type of inflatable kayak you think will suit you, as well as the features that are important to you. If you are feeling overwhelmed, fear not; just keep reading and we will break down the basics of what to consider when buying an inflatable kayak.

Different Types Serve Different Purposes

Depending on the body of water you plan to kayak on, and the type of activity you plan to do in your kayak, there are different types of inflatable kayaks that fit varying needs.

Recreational

If you are looking for some casual fun or lighthearted relaxation on lakes, ponds, and slow rivers, then a recreational inflatable kayak with comfortable seats and handy features would suit you well. The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak or the Sevylor Inflatable Kayak are the perfect example of a quality, affordable recreational kayaks that will provide you with the comfort, safety and probability you need to enjoy a calm day on the water. Read their in depth reviews here.

Whitewater

If you are a thrill seeker looking for an adventure, jam packed with adrenaline and speed, then you may want to hit the whitewater with a durable and agile inflatable kayak made for the heavy rapids of class three, four, and even five rivers. The AIRE Tributary Tomcat Solo Inflatable Kayak is a prime choice for an inflatable whitewater kayak. It combines quality, durability, and maneuverability to give you a solid kayak that performs well on the rapids.

Fishing

If you have a passion for fishing and are looking for a convenient boat to take with you on your next fishing or camping trip, then you may want to consider an inflatable kayak with features designed for fishing. The design of inflatable fishing boats may coincide with that of recreational inflatable kayaks. The two features you want to keep in mind though are space for gear and stability that allows you to move around the boat.

The Sea Eagle SE370K Inflatable Kayak is an inflatable recreational kayak that could double as an inflatable fishing kayak, for its stable base and roomy interior make it practical for a day of catching fish.

Factors to Consider

There is a vast range of inflatable kayaks when it comes to quality, price and design. With so many different features, styles, and brands, it can be hard to find a kayak that fits your desires and need. Here are a few factors to consider to help you narrow down your search and find the inflatable kayak that is right for you.

Type of Inflatable Kayak

As mentioned earlier, there are a variety of types of inflatable kayaks: from recreational, to fishing, to whitewater kayaks. The type of inflatable kayak you should consider depends on the type of activity and connection with the water you are looking for.If you want some relaxed, lighthearted fun, look in the direction of recreational inflatable kayaks.

If you want a thrilling, intense experience, try your hand at conquering the rapids with an inflatable whitewater kayak. Or maybe you would prefer to spend your time on the water fishing with an inflatable fishing kayak.

Body of Water

The body of water you plan to kayak on plays an incredibly important role in dictating the features you should look for as you shop for an inflatable kayak. If you intend to take your kayak out on calm lakes, ponds, and slow rivers, you have less to worry about. With such calm waters, you are presented with less aspects of the water that could interfere with your tracking, stability, or even the condition of your boat.

Yet if you plan to kayak in rivers with strong currents, rapids, and sharp rocks, you want to make sure the inflatable kayak you choose has features that will help mitigate the difficulty these obstacles present. For example, you may want a kayak with a stronger, more durable material so punctures from rocks are less likely; or to ensure that the kayak has as much maneuverability when fighting against currents, look for an inflatable kayak with either an attached or removable skeg.

Price

The factor of price is a given; everyone has some sort of budget to work off of. Inflatable kayaks come in a wide range of price, but keep in mind that sometimes to get a better quality kayak, you may need to spend more.

Sit-Inside vs Sit-On-Top

There are benefits and downsides to both sit-on-top inflatable kayaks and sit-inside inflatable kayaks. While sit-on-top kayaks allow you to move freely in and out of the water, which is perfect for those who like to take a quick dip in the middle of the lake, sit-inside kayaks keep you more confined to the boat, making it harder to move in and out of them while on the water. However sit-on-top kayaks keep you much dryer and the higher sides of this type of inflatable kayak can also keep you warmer by blocking the chilly drafts and winds blowing across the water.

Number of Passengers

Keep in mind the number of people each inflatable kayak can carry. While some kayaks have a fixed passenger capacity, such as a one or two person inflatable kayak,. Other inflatable kayaks have removable seats, which allows you to adjust the passenger count. If you are hoping for peace and solitude on the water, then a single person inflatable kayak may be right for you. However, if you and your partner want to have some adventures on the water together, search for an inflatable tandem kayak. For families, I would recommend an inflatable kayak with a larger weight and passenger capacity for maximal family bonding time.

Comfortability

For those of you who want your experience on the water to be relaxing, comfort is key. Look for seats that have backrests and are made of comfortable materials, such as foam padding or waterproof and quick drying fabrics. Keep legroom and footrests in mind as well; there is nothing worse than getting cramps because your legs are “tired” and squished. If you plan to take your inflatable kayak on the fast paced, adventurous whitewater rapids, comfort may not play as big of a role in your decision.

Quality of Material

Pay attention to the type of material the inflatable kayak is made of. Because inflatable kayaks are at risk of being punctured, popped, and teared, a good quality material is important to help prevent such incidents in order to get as much use out of your inflatable kayak as possible.

Material is also important to consider if you plan to use your inflatable kayak in the ocean. Some materials can be deteriorated or ruined when exposed to salt water. Any exposed metal component can, over time, be corroded by salt water. Some dyes used to color materials can bleed when exposed to salt water. One way to combat these issue is to rinse of your kayaks with clean, fresh water after taking them into the ocean.

Stability

While most inflatable kayaks are often quite stable on the water and are hard to flip, some inflatable kayaks have features that provide additional support. If you want an extra sturdy kayak, look for those that have I beams along the bottom or reinforced sterns and bows.

Maneuverability and Tracking

Because of their lightweight design, inflatable kayaks are harder to maneuver and control than hard shell kayaks. Hence, it is important to look for kayaks that have features that aid in maneuverability, agility, and tracking, such as skegs.

Additional Equipment

Many inflatable kayaks come with additional equipment, such as paddles, manual pumps, repair kits, and personal flotation devices. All of these things are necessary to have with you, and it is nice that they are often included, but keep in mind the quality of these additional pieces. Some come with flimsy paddles and difficult-to-use hand pumps. It is nice to for the included equipment to be made with the same quality as the kayak itself, so that you do not have to spend extra money upgrading the paddles and hand pump.

Interior Room and Capacity for Gear

Make sure to find a kayak that has the capacity for the amount of gear you plan to bring. If you intend to take your kayak on shorter, day trips, you may need less room for equipment. If you plan to go on longer, multi-day trips, or fishing trips, where you have more cargo, opt for a larger kayak with more storage area.

Also pay attention to how gear is stored. Some inflatable kayaks have waterproof pouches and compartments which are handy when you want to keep clothes, towels, cell phones, and cameras dry. Other inflatable kayaks have cargo nets or bungee systems.

Self Bailing

If you are planning to take your inflatable kayak out on rough, choppy waters, such as the whitewater rapids, where much water will get into your kayak, this feature is a must. It is no fun having to pause your trip to manually remove water from your kayak. Look for kayaks that are self-bailing and have drains or holes to keep the inside of your kayak as dry as possible.

Aesthetic Design

Decide if the aesthetic look of your inflatable kayak is something that is important to you. There are many inflatable kayaks on the market that have sleek, modern designs and coloring.

Safety

When participating in any outdoor activity, taking time to consider that safety is crucial to having a successful experience. Hence, look for kayaks that have safety features, such as grab lines and stable construction. Also take into account the color of the kayak when considering safety; brightly colored kayaks are easier to be seen in the water, which will help prevent serious and fatal collisions with large motor and sail boats.

Best Inflatable Kayak Reviews : Top 5 Picks

Best Inflatable Whitewater Kayak

AIRE Tributary Tomcat Solo Inflatable Kayak

This inflatable kayak is a high performance kayak that is perfect for anyone who is ready to take on the whitewater river rapids. Though it is on the higher end when it comes to price, the high quality, strong material and stable design ensures you get your money’s worth.

Its welded seams on the bow and stern provide stability and agility on the water. Better yet, this kayak is self bailing, meaning you never have to pause your journey to manually remove water from the boat. Its design also takes convenience and practicality into account. There are sturdy handles to carry it in and out of the water, as well as twelve cargo loops to attach dry bags, nets, and other equipment, ensuring your gear does not fall out and get lost in the river. For any thrill seeking kayaker looking to invest in an inflatable kayak for the water, this is the inflatable kayak for you.

Best Lightweight Inflatable Kayak

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

This kayak is perfect for anyone looking for an affordable, single person inflatable kayak for recreational use on lakes, ponds, and slow rivers. Made of a durable vinyl material and supported by an inflatable I beam, it is constructed with quality and stability in mind. It also has a removable skeg to help it maneuver nimbly and track well on the water.

Its lightweight and collapsibility makes for easy transport and storage. Though it is a smaller kayak, this kayak has storage behind the seat, as well as a cargo net, allowing you to bring enough gear for a day trip. With the exception of a life vest, this kayak gives you everything you need to get started, including a manual pump and paddle. If you are looking for an reasonably priced investment to get yourself out on the water, then this inflatable kayak is a prime option to consider. Click here for a more in depth review.

Best Inflatable Kayak for Fishing

Sea Eagle SE370K Inflatable Kayak

This inflatable two person kayak is a well manufactured product; with durable material, reinforced seams, and five I beam construction, you can rest assured that you will be riding on a stable and strong kayak. Having a weight capacity of 650 pounds and a spacious interior, it can hold plenty of gear for a day out on the water. There are two skegs attached to the bottom rear of the kayak, which provides you with more speed and better tracking as you paddle. As well constructed as it is, this kayak does not take well to strong currents nor windy days, as it becomes hard to control. Yet if it is a beautiful, calm day on the water, this kayak will perform well. This inflatable kayak is also one of the best inflatable kayaks for fishing, given its sturdy base and room for gear. If you are looking for an inflatable kayak suitable for a family, lake house, or even summer camp, this kayak is a solid choice. Click here for a more in depth review.

Best Inflatable Tandem Kayak

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

If you are new to kayaking and looking for an affordable, yet quality, tandem inflatable kayak to invest in, then this lightweight inflatable kayak may be just what you need. This kayak performs best on low profile, calm waters. Its spacious interior gives you the ability to stretch out your legs while still having room for gear. Along with being made of robust vinyl material, this inflatable kayak also scores high in comfortability. It has adjustable seats with backrests, allowing you to sit back and relax as you float on the water.

It also has a removable skeg to improve your tracking when needed. Its brightly colored material ensures that you a seen, and therefore safe, on the water. This inflatable kayak is perfect for families and couples looking to have some a fun, relaxing, easy kayaking experience. Click here for a more in depth review.


Advanced Elements AE1007-R Advanced Frame Convertible Inflatable Kayak

The Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak’s attentive design and sturdy construction provides you with a quality product that performs well on the water. The durability of the material that makes up this kayak is impressive; it has three strong layers that making it as puncture resistant as an inflatable kayak can be. It is reinforced with aluminum ribs at both the stern and the bow of the boat, providing extra support and improved tracking. It is also equipped with a skeg to ensure good maneuverability on the water.

This kayak is both single person and tandem thanks to the adjustable seat locations. If you decide to take it for a solo ride, you will have plenty of much space for gear and equipment. Another cool aspect of this kayak is its optional deck and spray skirt to keep you secure in the kayak, while keep the water out. Whether you take it on a calm lake, or mid-level river rapids, it will hold up well to any obstacle you face on the water. Click here for a more in depth review.

Conclusion

Buying an inflatable kayak can seem daunting given the vast variety of options on the market these days, but do not fret. Take the process step by step; decide what purpose you wish your inflatable kayak to serve, figure out which features are important to you, and start sifting through your many options. If you are in need of a place to start, try looking over the “Top Five” mentioned above, or check out some of the more in depth inflatable kayak reviews on our website. All in all, the inflatable kayak is a great, affordable choice for those looking to increase their experience kayaking. As with most boats, it is an investment; but find the one right for you, and it is more than worth it.

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