Best Inflatable Kayaks

Kayaking is an activity that is world renowned and one that is loved by both adults and children alike. Problem is, if you own a regular kayak or simply do not own one at all, it can be limited. In regards to not owning one, you will need to constantly rent one out and if you own a hard kayak, they can be difficult to transport. Welcome in inflatable kayaks as they are truly, the best of both worlds. Of course, there is the notable downside of needing to constantly inflate and deflate the kayak. But, thankfully, most manufacturers design them in such a way that eases and simplifies the process. To be honest, inflatable kayaks may end up being the most feasible option for most people.

Hobie I9S
  • Hobie I9S
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Rolling travel bag
  • MirageDrive pedals
  • Price: See Here
Advanced Frame
  • Advanced Frame
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Puncture-resistance
  • Aluminum ribs
  • Price: See Here
Aire Lynx II
  • Aire Lynx II
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Leafield B7 valves
  • 17 pairs of cargo loops
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Inflatable Kayaks

 

 

Hoibe I9S

In terms of everything you should look for in an inflatable kayak, the Hoibe I9s excels at. Sure, the price tag is sure to cause your jaw to drop to the floor but if you want the very best, you are looking at it right now.
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Durability and Construction
First off, a technique called drop stitching has been integrated into the floor. Literally, thousands of tiny threads have been connected to both the top and bottom layers. In addition, the body is crafted with 1000 denier PVC.

Storage Capabilities
Thanks to the large cargo area, that has bungee tie-downs, there is an ideal location to store all the essentials that you desire.

Ease of Setup
Most reviewers have marked the setup time right around the ballpark of 10 minutes. This includes inflating the kayak itself and properly aligning the seats.

Size and Capacity
Even though this is only rated to hold one person, it has a maximum weight capacity of 325 pounds. This is a bonus as most one-person inflatable kayaks will not precede 300 pounds.

Convenience
Included with this kayak is a rolling traveling bag but past this, the paddles are the most noteworthy feature. They are MirageDrive 180 paddles and they can be adjusted to adapt to all heights.

Overall
Due to the astronomical price tag, you should be serious about kayaking if you are planning on pulling the trigger with this one. But, know that every single penny is worth it because, in terms of pure quality, it just does not get better than this.
Pros
  • Excels in portability and includes a rolling travel bag
  • Constructed of 1000 denier PVC and has a drop stitch floor
  • Features MirageDrive pedals which are adjustable
Cons
  • Extremely expensive and will not be within many people’s budgets

Advanced Elements

For several people, this next product is the true number one inflatable kayak in the world. No gripes from yours truly for those who feel that way and not only is it fantastic because of its three different seating locations but also that it can be transformed into either a double or single deck.
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Durability and Construction
Much like the previous kayak, Advanced Elements also utilizes drop stitching with their high-pressure floors. Past this, it combines a stern rib-frame design with a rigid bow. Overall, there are three layers of material for puncture-resistance.

Storage Capabilities
If you use the double deck, you will have access to D-rings and a mesh pocket for storage. With the single deck, you also get a series of D-rings, along with a rear cargo hatch.

Ease of Setup
Even though this is advertised to be an easy kayak to setup, various users have claimed otherwise. In fact, it’s the lone issue with this kayak and as others point out, be prepared to exert some effort.

Size and Capacity
A maximum of two people can fit in this kayak, with three seating positions available, and as long as your total weight does not exceed 550 pounds, you are golden.

Convenience
Clearly, the option to transform this into a closed deck tandem, with the double deck, and a closed deck solo, with the single deck, provides great versatility for riding.

Overall
It is not difficult to see why this kayak is so highly-regarded by those who have used it. While the setup and deflating processes can be a hassle, when it is in the water, you will be glad you went through the effort.
Pros
  • Its three layers of material provide exceptional puncture-resistance
  • Features adjustable, padded seats with high support
  • The built-in aluminum ribs improve the tracking
Cons
  • Some users have complained that inflating and deflating can be a pain

Aire Lynx II

This is yet another highly expensive model but due to its ranking on this list, it is clear that you get what you pay for. With 17 pairs of cargo loops for an impeccable amount of storage and a top-of-the-line construction, it is easy to see why one would rave at the sight of the Lynx II.
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Durability and Construction
For an optimal amount of abrasion-resistance, urethane bladders are zippered into the PVC outer skin. In addition to this, the self-bailing floor has large mesh-covered openings to bail water quicker.

Storage Capabilities
Besides the handy storage pockets that are located on the back of this kayak, there are 17 pairs of cargo loops. This provides you with plenty of storage options for your gear.

Ease of Setup
The Leafield B7 valves that the Lynx II is advertised as delivering hassle-free inflation and deflation when your journey is over.

Size and Capacity
This is designed to hold two people and a plethora of gear. However, if you simply want to go out on your own, it can double as a solo kayak and there will be even more room for you.

Convenience
To get further clarification on the regulations of the warranty, you may need to get in touch with Aire. But, it is comforting to know that you are provided with a 10-year warranty.

Overall
When it comes down to it, you get what you pay for. In terms of its combination of strength, durability, storage options, and seating capacity, it is tough to match what the Lynx II delivers.
Pros
  • Comes in several different colors
  • Inflation and deflation are a breeze thanks to the Leafield B7 valves
  • Includes 17 pairs of cargo loops for stashing your gear
Cons
  • One user complained that debris came through the self-bailing cut-outs on the floor

Stearns Spree

Stearns Spree
As great as this next kayak is, and you will find out just how great it truly is, it is worth initially pointing out that it is better suited for two people. While you can still operate it by yourself, it is a bit awkward unless you have evenly distributed weight.
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Durability and Construction
When it is fully inflated, the Spree Kayak has two main chambers that become fully enclosed and they provide a rigid body. Also, the durable tarpaulin hull delivers a lifetime of use.

Storage Capabilities
Due to the mesh zippered pockets, there are convenient locations to store all your essentials and gear. In addition, you can further secure your gear with the included D-rings.

Ease of Setup
Those who have been generous enough with their time to write a review on this product have not seen to have had an issue with the setup process. It seems to be a consensus that it is simple.

Size and Capacity
This kayak is designed for two people and it should only be used this way. As one user pointed out, no matter which seat you sit in, it is awkward to operate with just one person. Then again, if you find this does not bother you then go for it.

Convenience
To ensure you stay drier while you are on the water, there is a spray deck and when not needed, it can be rolled back. Additionally, there is an included heavy-duty carrying bag for transport.

Overall
When all is said and done, this should simply be known as one of the best inflatable kayaks in the world. For every major area of criteria, this is either great to amazing.
Pros
  • Cuts the water very easily and is comfortable
  • The neoprene knuckle guards provide protection when paddling
  • Comes equipped with a heavy-duty carrying bag
Cons
  • Can potentially be annoying to use as a solo kayak

Advanced Elements Lagoon

Advanced Elements Lagoon
If you are seeking a one-person kayak, then the Lagoon from Advanced Elements is definitely one of your best options. It is constructed only from durable materials to deliver puncture-resistance and features low-profile rubber handles for smooth transport to boot.
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Durability and Construction
Advanced Elements only utilizes durable materials in the construction process of their Lagoon Kayak. This includes the top side being designed of a high-denier polyester and PVC laminate.

Storage Capabilities
Thanks to the lacing that is integrated on the bungee deck, you are provided with a logical location to stow your gear.

Ease of Setup
Both the Spring and Twistlok valves are compatible with a wide range of pumps and as such, the setup process should take little to no time.

Size and Capacity
With a weight capacity of 250 pounds and only a single seat, this kayak is only going to be suitable for a certain amount of people.

Convenience
To allow for a smooth transport, there are low-profile rubber handles integrated into the kayak. Also, it comes with a heavy-duty duffle bag.

Overall
Advanced Elements has produced yet another top-of-the-line inflatable kayak. While not as world-renowned or beloved as their previous entry, this is a fantastic option for those seeking a solo kayak that has plenty of storage space.
Pros
  • The inner cover protects the inflation tube
  • Overall, it sets up quickly with little to no hassle
  • For improved handling, the tracking fin is molded into the hull
Cons
  • It comes with a carrying bag but is not small enough to carry in a backpack

Sevylor Big Basin

Sevylor Big Basin
It may be an assumption in your mind that kayaks have always been designed for one person. Well, they can be large enough for more than one and this next model can actually hold three.
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Durability and Construction
The Airtight System of this kayak is practically guaranteed never to leak. Even more so, the PVC construction makes it suitable for the roughest of lakes and waters.

Storage Capabilities
The interior of this kayak makes up the majority of it. As such, there should be plenty of room inside for your accessories and kayaking gear.

Ease of Setup
A pressure gauge is included so you know precisely when enough air has been added to the kayak. Thanks to the Boston Valve being double-threaded, it is also user-friendly to both inflate and deflate the kayak.

Size and Capacity
Despite the fact that this can properly seat up to three people, it actually only has a weight capacity of 490 pounds. As you can no doubt tell, it is optimal for no more than two adults.

Convenience
The spray covers are a nice touch as you are somewhat protected against splashes. Better yet, though, are the adjustable seats as they can significantly aid in comfort.

Overall
This is an ideal kayak for say, two parents and their child or a parent and his two children. Basically, any combination that does not include three grown adults will suffice.
Pros
  • Includes both a presser gauge and carrying bag
  • If you did puncture the kayak, the multiple air chambers will allow you to get back to shore
  • Built with heavy-duty PVC and tarpaulin
Cons
  • Does not include a pump or paddles
  • The seats do not offer much back support

Sea Eagle 370K

Sea Eagle 370K
Across the globe, one of the more popular inflatable kayaks is the 370K produced by Sea Eagle. For good reason, that is for sure, and perhaps the only speedbumps are potential issues of comfort and navigation that have been addressed by a few users.
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Durability and Construction
This is designed with a sun and saltwater-resistant hull, making it ideal for ocean waters. Thanks to its eloquent combination of durability and lightweight nature, it is practically perfect for all adventures.

Storage Capabilities
Within the kayak, there should be enough room for you to store some of your essentials. However, there are no D-rings and per the manufacturer’s warning, you should not glue on your own, either.

Ease of Setup
Sea Eagle advertises their kayak to inflate in roughly eight minutes. In addition, they include a pressure gauge to indicate when there is enough air inside.

Size and Capacity
While there are only two seats that come with the 370K Kayak, it is capable of seating three people. All in all, its massive weight capacity of 650 pounds can account for a wide range of people.

Convenience
Included for your convenience with the kayak itself is a foot pump, nylon carrying bag repair kit and also a pressure gauge.

Overall
Simply put, this is one of the best family kayaks in the world today, inflatable or not. Its weight capacity and seating arrangements will account for several different people. On top of this, the 370K is built-to-last.
Pros
  • It is NMMA certified
  • Has an impressive maximum weight capacity of 650 pounds
  • Included with the kayak is a nylon carrying bag, repair kit and two paddles
Cons
  • A few users have griped about the comfort
  • Some have also claimed that it can be difficult to navigate at times

Intex Challenger K2

Intex Challenger K2
Intex makes their first appearance on this list and they are known for releasing highly-affordable inflatable kayaks. Their Challenger K2 is a solid choice thanks to its puncture-resistant construction and bright green design for high visibility.
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Durability and Construction
Utilizing ultra-tough vinyl, Intex was able to construct their Challenger K2 to both puncture-resistant and UV damage-resistant. Past this, the cockpit is both spacious and comfortable.

Storage Capabilities
There is not an abundance of room in the interior for your accessories or gear, but there should still be enough room to utilize. Also, there is an integrated cargo net at the front that can hold your gear.

Ease of Setup
As one user reported, a foot pump instead of a hand pump may have been more optimal. But, as it stands, inflating this kayak can take some effort on your part with the included accessories.

Size and Capacity
Either one or two people can use this kayak. However, with two people, you will be a bit limited by the 400-pound weight capacity.

Convenience
Included with your purchase is a repair patch kit, two aluminum oars and a hand pump. Additionally, the bright green color ensures that the kayak is highly visible in the water.

Overall
Cheap? Yes, but not in the way you may think. About the only design aspect that users took issue with is the skeg that happened to fall off on them. Other than that, though, this is a high-quality kayak no matter the price.
Pros
  • Includes two aluminum oars and a repair patch kit
  • The cockpit is both spacious and comfortable
  • Designed from puncture-resistant vinyl
Cons
  • A few users claimed the skeg fell off on the first day
  • Due to the pump, it can take a reasonable amount of effort to inflate

Sevylor Quikpak K5

Sevylor Quikpak K5
To put it lightly, this next kayak is not designed for larger folks. Its 250-weight capacity is one thing and its limited space is an entirely different beast. However, for the right people, the Quickpak K5 Kayak can be perfect thanks to its simple setup and ruggedness.
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Durability and Construction
The PVC exterior and the tarpaulin surface, with a polyester cover to boot, provides a terrific combination of durability and puncture-resistance. Also, because of the multiple air chambers, it will stay inflated if one layer is punctured.

Storage Capabilities
Both D-rings and bungee storage areas are conveniently located on top of the kayak to provide you with a place to store your gear and essentials.

Ease of Setup
Because the Double Lock valves have two locking points, inflation and deflation can both be done in as little as five minutes.

Size and Capacity
Let’s just say this, this is not a feasible kayak for larger people. It only fits one and the 250-pound weight capacity is not really the issue, but the lack of space is. If you are tall, pretty much forget about having leg room.

Convenience
An innovative design is at work here thanks to the backpack system. When deflated, the kayak will fold out into the seat. In addition to this, when it is fully inflated, there are carrying handles.

Overall
Despite the issue of space, which is prevalent for larger and taller folks, this is another logical choice in a long list of them.
Pros
  • Features both D-rings and bungee storage areas
  • Has a polyester cover and tarpaulin bottom for excellent durability
  • The double lock valves use two locking points for easier inflation and deflation
Cons
  • Poorly designed paddle with uncomfortable plastic connectors
  • For bigger people, there may not be enough breathing room

Intex Explorer K2

Intex Explorer K2
Intex delivers their Explorer K2 Kayak and it is one of the most affordable, high-quality options out there. While this may not be suitable in rugged waters and high winds, it is still tough enough to handle ideal riding conditions.
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Durability and Construction
Being designed with vinyl and an I-beam floor, durability should not be a concern here. However, the included seats do not provide much back or buttocks support.

Storage Capabilities
With two people sitting inside, it may be tough to get much of anything else inside. However, riding solo should provide you with enough room for small gear.

Ease of Setup
No doubt about it, the setup for the Explorer K2 is a breeze. With a Boston valve on each side of the kayak, both inflating and deflating are user-friendly.

Size and Capacity
As was just mentioned, this is a two-person kayak. Much like with their Challenger K2 Kayak, though, the Explorer K2 has a weight limit of 400 pounds; which is a bit limited.

Convenience
Besides coming equipped with two aluminum oars and an air pump, the bright yellow design guarantees you will be visible in the water.

Overall
A couple slight limitations aside, the Explorer K2 Kayak is a fantastic choice. It may not be suitable for enthusiasts of the kayaking art but for those who want to get out every once in a while, it is almost perfect.
Pros
  • There are Boston valves on each side
  • Both a grab line and grab handle have been integrated into both sides
  • The cockpit is designed for both space and comfort
Cons
  • Probably will not hold up to well in rugged waters
  • The seat structure does not provide too much support for your body

Criteria Used For The Evaluation

The Durability and Construction

Depending on where you intend to kayak, the durability and construction (while important to begin with) as it could prove to be even more of a priority for you. For example, if you intend to kayak on roaring rivers with obstacles and potential accidents around every corner. Possessing a kayak that can withstand some impact and abuse is ideal. So, to do this you need to analyze its construction. Let’s start with the flooring and as you noticed, the premier inflatable kayaks have drop stitching. This technique combines thousands of tiny threads together to ensure maximum puncture-resistance.

However, the design as a whole is vital and it is not a coincidence that so many manufacturers opt to go with PVC. Thanks to its toughness, mechanical strength, and abrasion-resistance, it is an ideal material for kayaks. But, to minimize the chance of a potential abrasion, you may also see kayaks with multiple layers of material. In your mind, the durability of inflatable kayaks could be a reason you are hesitant to invest in one. But, rest assured, if they have everything that was just mentioned, they will hold up to rugged abuse.

Their Storage Capabilities

Now, it is worth noting that when you set out to go on a kayaking trip, aim to pack lightly. The fewer items you bring on a kayak, the better (especially if they are not waterproof). Still, you may want to tag along some refreshments and possibly your electronic devices (ensuring you have a waterproof case). When addressing the storage capabilities of kayaks, there are a few areas you can analyze. One is if you will have access to D-rings or bungee tie-downs. If you had a cooler that would not fit in the interior of the kayak and there was a cargo area on the outside, you could strap it down with peace of mind.

But, what if you desire to utilize the interior for your essentials? The simple answer here is you should aim to invest in a kayak that accounts for it. Some, for instance, will come with handy storage pockets and even mesh pockets. Even if they do not, though, a spacious interior could be a useful location for your gear and items.

The Setup Process

If this were a guide that was intended to debate between inflatable kayaks and traditional ones, the latter would have the clear edge here. Even though inflatable kayaks are nice for travel, as you can deflate them into a fraction of their actual size, they can be a nuisance for some because of the setup. After all, some people cringe at the idea of needing to actually set up a kayak before using it. Thankfully, however, inflatable kayaks typically do not require a day’s worth of endurance on your part. Instead, it is usually a quick process. But, in the rare instance it is not, you can make it so, relatively speaking.

Two factors may enhance the difficulty of the setup process. One is, of course, being the included pump that comes with your purchase. If it is a poor pump and you find it incompetent of getting the job done, you can merely buy your own. But, ensure that you buy one that is compatible with the valves on the kayak. However, the other factor, and it is quite obvious, is if a pump does not come included with the kayak. In this case, once again, search for one that is compatible.

The Weight and Size Specifications

This, much like the storage capabilities, is all about personal preference. A few questions you need to answer beforehand are how many people you want to fit in one kayak and how much weight it needs to be capable of holding. Kayaks are often thought of as an individual canoe and while that is somewhat true, some inflatable kayaks can hold more than one person. However, if you would rather buy two individual kayaks for two people, then there is no reason for you to invest in a two-person or three-person kayak.

But, the weight capacity is also vitally important. If you are a larger individual, and we are not trying to call anyone out here, a two-person kayak with a 400-pound weight limit may not be enough for you and a friend. You may want to aim for 500 or 600 pounds if you think the need is there. However, you also have to account for your gear and how much it weighs. It is better to have weight to spare, rather than the constant concern if it will hold.

Additional Convenient Features

With any product in the world, you can always look for convenient features and inflatable kayaks are no different. While the setup process was already addressed, how about actually transporting the kayak? Does it come with handles on the side when inflated? Also, is there a carrying bag that comes included with your purchase? Speaking of included accessories, this can also be an area of priority. Ensuring that your potential kayak comes with all the essentials you need, such as oars and an air pump, and perhaps some extra items, such as a pressure gauge, could prove to be important to you.

 

FAQs

Q:   Will An Inflatable Kayak Sink If It Gets a Leak?

Just because your kayak is puncture-resistant, does not mean that a leak will not present itself at some point. If it does, however, there is a high probability that you will not sink. Unless, of course, the abrasion is significantly large as this would probably cause it to deflate. To elaborate, most inflatable kayaks will be designed with a multitude of air chambers. If it is merely a small hole that presents itself, then the other air chambers should keep the kayak afloat. Again, a larger hole may become more of an issue but the multiple air chambers will still come into effect.

Truthfully, the only way you will end up sinking is if you pretty much destroy the kayak. As previously mentioned, they are built-to-last and to withstand abuse.

Q:   In What Way is the Easiest to Pack an Inflatable Kayak?

It is obvious by its name alone but one of the biggest selling points of inflatable kayaks is their portability as they can be both deflated and inflated. Yet, you still may want to be informed of the simplest way to pack it when you are ready to travel with it. To ensure it folds as compactly as it can get, ensure that you remove as much air as physically possible. The easiest manner in which to do so is to reverse the air pump to suck the air out. Once it hits a certain level, though, you may have to finish by using your hands.

With the valves open, use your hands and knees to rid the excess air from the kayak. From there, the owner’s manual should inform you of how to fold it.

Q:   Are They Difficult to Care For and How Do You?

Even though it has not been touched on until now, the ease of care is another huge selling point for inflatable kayaks. During your ownership, you will be surprised at how simple it is to properly care for them. Honestly, the only time you really need to wash them off is if there is any noticeable stains or dirt; or if you kayak in the ocean. For the latter, due to the salt water, you should hose the kayak down with fresh water before you deflate it. But, if tough stains are not coming out from just the application of fresh water, you can try utilizing some mild household cleaner to see if that does the trick.

Finally, when you are satisfied that the kayak is clean enough, you will want to dry it off with a towel to prevent the growth of mold (as excess exposure to moisture can cause it).

Q:   How Do You Store Inflatable Kayaks?

The ease of transport is a huge benefit for inflatable kayaks, but just as much is when you store them. With traditional kayaks, they will take up an excessive amount of room in your shed, garage, basement, etc. However, as inflatable models can be deflated, they can take up considerably less room. Still, you can incorrectly store them. Here is what you need to avoid. First off, if you are going to use it for multiple days or weeks in a row, you can opt to leave it inflated. Just make sure you store it in a cool and dry area away from direct sunlight.

If you are storing it for the winter, though, start off by drying the kayak off completely. Again, if you store it with moisture then mold and mildew are sure to grow. Once it is completely dry, fold it up and then, once again, keep it stored in a dry and cool location.

Q:   When Are You Supposed to Use Self-Bailing Drain Valves?

There is no guarantee that when you go kayaking, water will not get inside. After all, you are floating in it and depending on the type of water you are on, waves can be an issue. This is why some manufacturers will integrate self-bailing drain valves into their kayak. When opened, this will remove the water from inside your kayak. However, it begs the question of when this should be done. Well, it depends on the class level of the water you are on.

For Class I and II, this is for smooth water and moderate water, respectively, types it is recommended to leave the drain valves tightly closed as splashing water should not be much of a concern. However, when the rapids and waves get more potent, you can then open the valves up to remove the water, if needed.

Q:   How Do You Repair Leaks and Tears?

Accidents are going to happen to everyone, bottom line. If it just so happens that your kayak experiences a tear of any kind, you may be able to fix it yourself. For smaller abrasions, you might be able to get away with applying some waterproof glue to them. However, if the tear is too large, you may need to utilize the contents of the included repair kit (if the manufacturer provides you with this).

Inside the kit, there should be both waterproof glue and a patch. The logic here is to apply the patch on the hole and then to secure it with the glue. Afterward, allow it to dry for a few hours before using it again. But, if the abrasion is still too large, you may need to seek help from an outside resource.

Final Thoughts

There are so many reasons for you to invest in an inflatable kayak that it is hard to name just a few. If you have been an avid kayaker for years but are sick and tired of lugging around a ginormous chunk of wood and aluminum, an inflatable kayak may be in the cards for you. It could just be your best investment yet.

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