Best Inflatable Kayak - Guide & Reviews
The best inflatable kayak is a great choice for both novice and veteran kayakers who want a durable and versatile kayak at an affordable cost in comparison with hard-shell kayaks. I strongly recommend it because of these advantages:
Ease of set-up. You can easily set up an inflatable kayak within 10 minutes or less with a hand pump, which means taking to the water ASAP. Easy storage and transportation. You can store and transport an inflatable kayak in its carrying bag, a convenient alternative to bulky hard-shell kayaks.
Great performance. You can use an inflatable kayak in the same way as a hard-shell kayak - on seas, lakes and rivers, even on whitewater rapids. You will find that it’s a stable vessel with forgiving qualities, a must for beginners, as well as safe to use on water (i.e., unlikely to sink unless most of the air chambers are punctured).
Recommended Best Inflatable Kayak
I reviewed dozens of inflatable kayaks in the market and we discovered that these are the best of the bunch.
- Elkton Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- Weight: 41.1 pounds
- Dimensions: 118x35x16 inches
- weight limit: 450 pounds
- rip-resistant PVC material
- Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
- Weight: 37.9 pounds
- Dimensions: 123 x 36 x 20 inches
- weight limit: 350 pounds
- Heavy duty puncture-resistant viny
- Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
- Weight: 24.6 pounds
- Dimensions: 137.8 x 29.9 x 15 inches
- weight limit: 220 pounds
- Heavy duty puncture-resistant viny
- Coleman Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
- Weight: 18 pounds
- Dimensions: 103 x 36 x 30 inches
- weight limit: 400 pounds
- PVC material
- Sevylor Fiji 2-Person Kayak
- Weight: 23.8 pounds
- Dimensions: 124.8 x 34.8 x 35.5 inches
- weight limit: 400 pounds
- PVC construction material
- Coleman Quikpak™ K5 1-Person Kayak
- Weight: 25.5 pounds
- Dimensions: 33.5 x 8.5 x 20 inches
- weight limit: 250 pounds
- rip-resistant PVC material
- Coleman Big Basin™ 3-Person Kayak
- Weight: 34.8 pounds
- Dimensions: 18 x 10 x 24 inches
- weight limit:490 pounds
- heavy-duty PVC construction
- Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak
- Weight: 26 pounds
- Dimensions: 34 x 19 x 10 inches
- weight limit: 500 pounds
- inflatable PVC
- Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
- Weight: 41.2 pounds
- Dimensions: 30.1 x 11.6 x 19.2 inches
- weight limit: 470 pounds
- 18-gauge PVC
- StraitEdge Inflatable Kayak
- Weight: 48 pounds
- Dimensions: 15 x 15 x 20 inches
- weight limit: 300 pounds
- combining two sheets of PVC
1. Elkton Outdoors 10' Foot Inflatable Fishing Kayak
If you’re into fishing in lakes and rivers, then this Elkton inflatable fishing kayak is among your best choices.
You will love that it can be inflated with a foot pump within 10 minutes as well as deflated, packed and stored in your car in less than 30 minutes.
Once fully inflated, its 118x35x16 inches dimensions provide enough room for even a tall person while its streamlined design allows for easy gliding over water.
You will be safe when in the kayak, thanks to its 18-gauge, rip-resistant PVC material – even your standard hooks cannot easily rip through it! You have double-sided oars with three aluminum sections with a paddle at each end, which can be clipped to the kayak’s side. You can quickly disassemble the oars for storage because of their twist-and-lock design.
You can easily store most of your fishing gear in the kayak’s storage pockets. The 4 built-in mesh gear pockets can hold smaller gear like fly boxes. The carry handles located at the fore, aft and sides make portage easy. The D rings are great for attaching spray shields, gear and anchor, others.
Other accessories included are two adjustable seats, six rod holders (i.e., two vertical and four trolling), foot pump, and repair kit. The repair kit will come in handy when the kayak becomes punctured by sharp objects while the repair itself should be easy – the three separate air chambers can be removed for simple and quick repairs.
Once deflated, you can pack the kayak into its carry bag.
2. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
When it comes to inflatable products from kayaks to pools, the Intex brand is a household name. This is true for the Intex Explorer K2, an inflatable kayak suitable for use in lakes and mild rivers for recreational uses.
Your paddling will be more enjoyable, thanks to its streamlined design allowing it to effortlessly glide over water.
You can be clearly seen, too, when you’re in it because of its bright yellow color coupled with sporty graphics.
You should bring a friend on your kayaking trip since it’s designed to provide roomy space for two people. This kayak is also such a snap to assemble and disassemble – it can be inflated and deflated within 10 minutes or so.
You will appreciate its rugged vinyl material with an inflatable I-beam floor for added rigidity, durability and comfort once on the water. Unless you encounter sharp objects, such as jagged rocks in rapids, your worries about the vinyl ripping apart is unfounded.
Your hours-long kayaking adventure will be made more comfortable with the two adjustable seats with backrests – just lay back, let your kayak glide, and enjoy the experience. You will love the directional stability that the removable skeg provides, a great feature when chilling out time is over.
When on the water, the kayak handled like a dream. Your ride will be smooth because of the ease with which it can be handled, maneuvered, and tracked.
Accessories included in the package are repair patch kit, two aluminum oars, and high-output pump that can be used for both inflation and deflation.
3. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
You will find its nimble qualities to be a plus when you’re maneuvering between several kayakers while its rigid I-beam floor add to its stability in rougher waters.
Your comfort is assured because of the inflatable seat with its wide backrest, a must when you’re kayaking solo over long distances.
You even have an inflatable footrest, which will aid in maintaining proper body posture during your trip. Inflation and deflation is fast, easy and convenient with a high-output foot pump. Once inflated, it measures 30x15x108 inches and accommodates a single person (i.e., weight limit of 220 pounds).
When deflated, it can easily be packed into its carrying bag and stored in your car’s trunk, thanks to its relatively light weight (i.e., 27.2 pounds). You can store your fishing gear for safe storage and easy access at the cargo net and grab line, which are on both ends of the kayak.
You can also store your things behind your seat and beneath your feet although it can be limited in area. You can either use the 84-inch aluminum oar that comes with the kayak or buy a new one, in case the former is too short for your rowing needs.
A patch repair kit is also included in the package. You should be able to repair small tears and punctures on the kayak on the spot.
4. Coleman Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
This is a traditional sit-on-top inflatable kayak but with a difference – it can be folded into a compact integrated backpack, which can be carried on your shoulders or stored in your car’s trunk.
You can fully inflate in within 5 minutes with a hand pump and deflate it within 10 minutes or less, which means faster getting in and out of the water.
The Coleman Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak backpack itself turns into a comfortable seat with a backrest, which allows for resting after an hour of paddling and for enjoying the view.
While you’re on the water, your paddling experience will be better, too, because your legs, back and arms have sufficient room to move. You can use the multi-position footrest to change your position, such as between hard paddling and idling on the water.
The cargo net at the kayak’s front can be used for stowing your food and gear items while the cup holder allows for easy access to your refreshing drink. You can also store your gear in storage area.
This is a durable inflatable kayak made from 21-gauge PVC material suitable for rugged lake use although it shouldn’t be used for whitewater rafting, among other rough conditions.
You have the benefit of the kayak’s tarpaulin bottom as added protection from punctures. You don’t have to worry about sinking when one of the multiple air chambers is punctured – your kayak will still float for as long as the other chambers are intact.
5. Sevylor Fiji 2-Person Kayak
While the Sevylor Fiji inflatable kayak cannot be used in rough conditions, such as in whitewater rapids and oceans, it’s more than sufficient for rugged lake and mild river use.
You can either go on a solo kayaking trip or take a friend along – the middle seat can be removed or added, respectively, which I find to be such a great feature.
The 22-gauge PVC material is known for its durability against common puncture threats, such as small rocks, while the semi-rigid I-beam floor adds rigidity to the entire frame.
The Airtight System reduces the risks of sinking although you must still avoid things on the water that can puncture the kayak’s surface.
The multiple air chambers also reduces the risks of sinking because the kayak will stay afloat even when one air chamber is punctured. You should have enough time to get to shore and repair the damage. Your chances for being too wet while on the water can be reduced, too, because of the spray covers.
Full inflation can be achieved within 5-10 minutes with either a hand pump or a foot pump. Once on the water, the kayak can carry up to 400 pounds of weight for both the rider and his gear. You will find its inflated dimensions to be spacious even when there are two people on board.
6. Coleman Quikpak™ K5 1-Person Kayak
With its 5-minute inflation time, you can almost immediately use it on water! You don’t have to bring heavy pumps as its portable hand pump will do the job.
Your inflatable kayak can also quickly deflated after use, stored in its backpack system, and stowed into your car’s trunk.
Durability being the name of the game in Coleman Quikpak™ K5 1-Person Kayak, you will be satisfied with its 24-gauge PVC material and quality construction suitable for rugged use in lakes and rivers.
But use in rapids, rough rivers, and oceans isn’t recommended for this kayak. The polyester cover and tarpaulin bottom add to its overall durable nature in relatively calm waters.
You can easily pack your provisions in the kayak. You can bring along a tent, a pump, an extra paddle, three liters of water, and a day bag with your food and clothes in the kayak, as well as float a filled dry sack and extra Class I PFD behind it.
You will love the kayak’s highly responsive quality in terms of maneuvering it. You can easily paddle backwards, turn on a dime, navigate waves, and slide into shore with skillful paddling. You don’t have to worry about carrying a fully inflated kayak to shore because of its carry handles.
7. Coleman Big Basin™ 3-Person Kayak
Even expert kayakers use the Coleman Big Basin for their trips because of its heavy-duty PVC construction, tarpaulin bottom, and Airtight System.
All of these features mean that the kayak has higher than average resistance against punctures from sharp objects like rocks, branches, and roots.
You also have the peace of mind that the multiple air chambers will make the kayak float even when one of it has a puncture.
The inflation and deflation times are minimal – just 5 to 10 minutes – because of the double threaded Boston valve on each air chamber. You can easily push it into the water and pull it out of the water, a task that can be done by a single person although your two fellow kayakers may also want to assist.
In case you’re kayaking alone, you should put weights (e.g., your gear) at the front and back while you sit in the middle for better balance. The kayak handles well on the water, too.
You can track well in a straight line, thanks to its directional strakes and tracking fin, while enjoying its overall stability even in windy and wave-y conditions. Your back can get a rest after an hour of active paddling because of the kayak seat’s backrest.
8. Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak
When not in use, you can pack it in its carry bag. When you want to use it, just inflate using a foot pump, wait for 5-10 minutes for full inflation, and drag it to the water.
You can store several days’ worth of camping supplies in its three storage areas at the port, starboard and floor, as well as float a bag behind it. You can take a buddy for the ride although it can also be used for solo trips on lakes, rivers, and even whitewater rapids.
But a word of caution: You should limit its use to Class II whitewater for safety purposes. Your trip should be relatively safe from punctures – the material has been tested resistant against dog claws – because of the I-beam construction, 33-millimeter Polykrylar hull, and high-frequency welded seams.
The kayak comes with two 8-foot paddles, a foot pump, two kayak seats, and a storage bag.
9. Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
Recreational fishermen love the Colorado 2-person fishing kayak because of its useful features and durable construction.
The 18-gauge PVC material, tarpaulin bottom, and nylon cover provide a strong and sturdy frame that can withstand rugged lake and river use.
You can use it for hours on end while waiting for your bug catch and it will perform well.
Punctures are inevitable in inflatable kayaks but the multiple air chambers in the Colorado ensures that the kayak will stay afloat even if an air chamber has a puncture. The Airtight System keeps the air in while the double threaded valve allows for quick inflation and deflation.
Since this is a fishing kayak, you can expect plenty of fisherman-friendly features. These include the Berkley Quick Set Rod Holders for hands-free fishing, such as when you’re trawling the line, and the Sevylor trolling motor fittings, which come in handy when you want to expand your fishing adventures.
Storage isn’t a problem, too. You can stow your gear including your fishing items, food and water, and other pieces of equipment in the mesh storage pockets and D-rings, aside from the standard towing behind your kayak. You can adjust the seat to fit your body frame or your fishing style, too.
10. Advanced Elements StraitEdge Inflatable Kayak
This is a versatile kayak in the sense that it can be set up in two ways, namely, close ports in cold or calm waters as well as self-bailing in rougher conditions (i.e., bigger waves).
The StraitEdge is touted as the first inflatable kayak that combined the benefits of a stern frame and an aluminum bow.
You will experience improved tracking ability especially in open water conditions while its self-bailing design makes it great for white water, too.
Your rides will be more comfortable because of the padded seat and breathable foam mesh back support. Your peace of mind will increase, too, because of the heavy-duty material combining the sturdiness of PVC and tarpaulin, which are tested for high puncture resistance. You can ride it as you will a hard-shell kayak but perhaps with more care since even a puncture-resistant inflatable kayak is no match for jagged rocks.
This is just as easy to inflate and deflate using a hand or foot pump. Despite its size, you can easily drag it in and out of the water, fold it into its smallest size, and store it in its carry bag. You can store several days’ worth of supplies, too, in and out of the kayak without feeling like it’s a drag.
How to Choose The Best Inflatable Kayak
Inflatable kayaks are a dime a dozen so choosing the best one can be overwhelming. You have to consider all of these factors to make the right choice in the best inflatable kayak and, in the process, enjoy your kayaking adventures more.
Choose kayaks with thick PVC, vinyl and tarpaulin materials, which may or may not be combined with a semi-rigid frame for added stability. You want to ensure that the kayak will not be easily punctured by sand, gravel and debris when inflating, deflating, and dragging it across the shore and when paddling it on water. The thicker the material, the more puncture-resistant it will likely be.
But since punctures can happen event to the best inflatable kayaks, you should check that the material can also be easily repaired. A patch kit, which is usually included in your purchase, will come in handy although you may want to bring a spare kit just in case.
Select kayaks that users have reviewed as being stable, nimble and maneuverable. For stability, you should look at both the overall design and the hull design to determine whether the kayak will stay upright most of the time. In general, the wider its dimensions, the more stable the kayak will be, especially when the pontoon sides are larger and the floor is very rigid.
For maneuverability, you should consider your kayaking goals – where do you want to go, what do you want to do, and what the environmental conditions are. Keep in mind that a fishing kayak will be designed differently than a touring kayak, which will affect their respective maneuverability.
A rule of thumb: The shorter it is, the quicker its response. The slimmer and longer it is, the faster it will paddle. You can take this rule of thumb into account when choosing between, say, a fishing and a touring kayak.
Our friends Outside Television presented a show on inflatable kayak. This video can clear you how to choose a inflatable kayak and what type of think you have to check before choose.
Weight of the kayak and weight capacity
You want a lightweight inflatable kayak that can actually be carried in a carry bag by a single person. But you also want a kayak with a high weight limit, such as 500 pounds for a two-person kayak, especially since you have to take along your basic supplies.
The weight capacity of the kayak will also determine the number of gear that you can take along on your trip. Be sure not to overload your kayak as tipping over is a risk here.
You will likely be kayaking for at least an hour, perhaps even half a day when you’re fishing and touring at the same time. You should then look for comfort-related features, such as adjustable seats with backrest, adjustable footrest, and easy-to-access cargo gear for your food and drinks.
Other considerations include:
- Sturdy paddles
- Easy inflation and deflation
- Easy folding into its carry bag
- Sufficient storage space for your gear, paddles, and supplies
I recommended all of these inflatable kayaks because of their proven stability, durability and versatility, as well as their ease in inflation and deflation, sufficient storage space, and useful accessories. No matter which one you choose, you will find that it will meet your needs and wants in an inflatable kayak for recreational uses. You can use it on lakes, rivers and even shallow seas preferably in calm conditions although it can also withstand a little wind and wave.
Your final choice in the best inflatable kayak will likely be influenced by your budget. While most of these inflatable kayaks have affordable prices, a few are in the high-end side because of their larger size, higher number of features, or greater maneuverability, among other factors.
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