Best Inflatable Kayak Reviews 2021

Inflatable kayaks offer a great compromise of performance and portability. Gone are the days when they were considered simple pool toys for little children. The modern inflatable kayak is made with high-performance material that can survive the rigors of most waters such as sharp rocks.

The main attraction of the inflatable kayak is of course its promise of portability. Most inflatable kayaks can be broken down and stored into a backpack, the trunk of a small car, and so on. They are a great option for people who don’t have the means to transport a heavy and cumbersome hard-shell kayak.

There are a great number of inflatable kayaks on the market to choose from. However, not all inflatable kayaks are created equal. They vary greatly in terms of quality, ruggedness, and performance. There are hundreds of inflatable kayak reviews online. For this inflatable kayak guide, we’ve taken the step to go through user reviews and expert ratings to find out which inflatable kayaks stand out. Read on and find out more in our best inflatable kayak reviews.

How to Choose the Right Inflatable Kayak

three people sitting in inflatable kayak


Inflatable kayaks are manufactured from a variety of materials. But because this kayak will be carrying you and your family in open waters, you should make sure to select one that is constructed with heavy-duty, puncture-resistant material. Since it will be frequently deflated for storing, the material should also allow flexibility.


This is the most common material used to construct inflatable kayaks. It is a strong material that can be easily inflated to a high PSI. PVC is bonded with nylon for additional protection to prevent ripping. The material is UV resistant but if it is exposed to the sun for long hours, it will suffer sun damage, which is why it should be stored indoors to prevent contact with direct sunlight.


Nitrylon is also widely used to construct inflatable kayaks and is an eco-friendly option which is why more people prefer it. It is a combination of nitrile synthetic rubber bonded to polyester fiber. This material is more puncture and abrasion resistant than PVC. It is stronger than PVC and also easier to patch. However, it is heavy which is why it used in selected parts of the kayak that come into contact with the ground.


This material is more abrasion-resistant than both PVC and Nylon. It is an expensive material which is why only high-end models use it as the main construction material. It is an exceptionally durable material with no flexibility or bending power. Which makes it heavy and difficult to transport.


Regardless of what kayak you’re buying, it is important to keep in mind that the price you’re paying, should promise a suitable standard of quality. Some kayaks might be offering a variety of features at a lower price, but then you should bear in mind that he the quality of materials will not be as great.

Furthermore, this vessel will be carrying you on open waters, so safety concerns should be a top priority. If you want to enjoy a safe kayak ride without worrying about your life, then we would suggest you consider spending a little extra to guarantee it from a more reputable seller.


Weight is an important consideration in inflatable kayaks because being inflatable makes them easy to transport, especially for solo paddlers. Therefore, the lightweight material makes portability further easy and convenient, which increases usability as a result.


The kayak’s length is important for stability. The average length is around 12 feet, which allows two people to fit inside. The length, however, can vary between 10  to 16 feet, which allows different functions. The only thing to bear in mind is that if you’re inflating the kayak on your own, it should not be too long otherwise it will be difficult for you to set up.

Seating Capacity

Even if you enjoy paddling solo, it could be a nice idea to take someone along every other weekend. That’s is why a second seat is never a bad idea so that you don’t limit your options. You could take your children along, or even your pet dog, and for that, we have several options to cater to your needs of kayaks suitable for dogs. It can also be a good option to place your fishing rod or cooler. 

Therefore, seating capacity is a deciding factor while purchasing a kayak so you should consider your options based on the kayaking trips you will be planning.

Important Features in an Inflatable Kayak

people in inflatable kayak


An inflatable kayak is an extremely lightweight option that is transported without any hassle to your desired kayaking location. When you are out in the market and making a decision to buy one, always make sure it is lightweight yet firm for greater control and a reliable adventure. 


An inflatable kayak is so compact that you can easily pack it in a storage bag. It takes barely any space when compared to the hard structured kayak, and offers the same features if not more. This makes it a variant that is light on shoulders, does not take any space in your garage, and does not need an SUV or any other car for its transportation. 


Whether you are an avid kayaker who likes to go all adventurous or an occasional camper who kayaks only at peaceful lakes, an inflatable kayak serves as the go-to choice for all kinds of kayaking. 


An inflatable kayak is made up of material that is flexible yet strong to bear all those shocks and give you a comfortable experience. Its maintenance is rather easy as it can be easily deflated once after use and can be packed away into its specialized bag. However, it should be protected from sharp objects which can leave it punctured and difficult to fix.


An inflatable kayak should be easily inflated with an electric motor pump, which does the task in a matter of seconds. An important thing that should be realized is that the inflating ring should be strong and tightly closed – to ensure the air remains well within.

Top 7 Inflatable Kayaks in 2021

  • Advanced Elements AE1012-R AdvancedFrame
  • Advanced Elements FireFly Inflatable Kayak
  • Sea Eagle 330
  • Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak
  • Advanced Elements PackLite Inflatable Kayak
  • Driftsun Voyager 2-person Inflatable Kayak
  • Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak

Advanced Elements AE1012-R AdvancedFrame – Best Quality Inflatable Kayak

Check AE1012-R AdvancedFrame on Amazon

Pros Cons
 Easy to setup & move  Not much space for tall paddlers
 Inflates and deflates in 10 minutes  Not for paddlers above 235 lbs
 Strong Material  Can’t be packed when wet
 Robust structure

A major drawback of the inflatable kayak is its structural rigidity or lack thereof. This leads to a lack of control and maneuvering capabilities which can be troublesome in fast-flowing water. The Advanced Elements AE1012-R aims to solve this by including rigid aluminum ribs in the bow and stern.

The aluminum ribs do not compromise the portability aspect of the AE1012-R, rather they allow it to have a more rigid frame which allows for better maneuvering performance and control. It’s not exactly on the same level of performance as a hard-shell kayak, but it does offer some of the benefits of a rigid chassis without the inherent cumbersome nature of carrying around a hard-shell kayak.

This kayak doesn’t take a long time to set up. Actual owners of the kayak report that it takes 10 minutes to both set it up and break it down.

The hull of the kayak is made of three layers of very durable material including a heavy-duty PVC Tarpaulin. This gives it an extremely puncture-resistant body that is able to withstand sharp rocks.

The AE1012-R AdvancedFrame comes in both solo and “convertible” (AE1007-R) versions. The solo version weighs 36 pounds and measures 10 feet 5 inches long and 32 inches wide. The solo version is rated for up to 300 pounds in carrying capacity.


  • The AE1012-R offers the best of both worlds. Thanks to the inclusion of aluminum ribs in its bow and stern, it is able to track and maneuver with almost the same prowess as a comparably priced hard-shell kayak. 
  • But at the same time, it is extremely portable and when packed isn’t much larger than traditional luggage back.
  • Many users report that it really punches above its weight. It handles and performs very well and far beyond what its price would suggest. In fact, some even go as far as saying that it performs the same as a hard shell. Hard-shell kayaks tend to be quite expensive and certainly those available at the price of the AE1012-R simply do not perform as well. So not only do you get the performance of a more expensive fiberglass kayak, but you also get the inherent portability that comes with an inflatable kayak.
  • The AE1012-R is also built to a very high rugged standard. The high-quality PVC material used for the construction allows this inflatable kayak to be very reliable against ripping or puncturing, a common weakness of kayaks that have a fabric construction. 
  • This can prove to be very useful generally in the long term for those who are looking to use their kayak often and not just as a once in while hobby activity. Owners say that the kayak is solidly constructed and every component is of very high quality.
  • Quite fortunately, the AE1012-R secures high marks in the customer support department as well. Amazon buyers are all very satisfied with the quality of support they received from the Advanced Elements customer care. The customer care was prompt in responding to customer worries, queries, or complaints, with most issues being resolved in time.


  • As good as the AE1012-R is at tracking and maneuvering in water, it doesn’t really shine until it is equipped with Advanced Elements’ ‘backbone’ package for this inflatable kayak. The backbone is really just a metal bar that is placed along the floor of the kayak to make it more rigid which leads to better speed and tracking. Although this really shouldn’t be considered as a negative, the fact that you have to go the extra mile (and make an extra purchase) to achieve what this kayak is really capable of doing is a bit of a letdown.
  • Another thing that users noted was that this kayak cannot be packed if it’s wet. You must make sure that the fabric is completely dry before you decide to store this kayak, otherwise, it will catch mold. This is cause for concern because drying a kayak isn’t really the easiest task in the world. So, for example on a camping holiday, this means you will need to plan in advance on whether you’ll have the time to dry the kayak completely and that means additional hassle.


Despite its concerning shortcomings, the AE1012-R is an excellent choice for those looking for a portable kayak that has an excellent performance in the water. The tracking and speed are comparable to a hard-shell model and its durable nature means that it will serve its owners for the time to come. The fact that it is highly affordable means that this is an excellent option for those looking for portability and performance in a single package.

Advanced Elements FireFly Inflatable Kayak – Best Performing Inflatable Kayak

Advanced Elements FireFly Inflatable Kayak

Check Advanced Elements FireFly on Amazon

Pros Cons
 Good tracking & speed  Not for paddlers above 250 lbs
 Easy to setup & move  Less space for items
 Great performance in water  Calm water kayak

The Advanced Elements FireFly inflatable kayak is an extremely affordable option for beginners and veterans alike. Its price simply cannot be compared to what you’d normally pay for a traditional hard-shell kayak made from hardwood, fiberglass, or of course carbon fiber components. Do not be fooled by its affordability however as this portable kayak packs quite a punch.

Its affordable nature means that it is an ideal starter kayak for people who just want a taste of kayaking without investing too much into it. But its positive qualities also lend it credibility for veteran kayakers as well. The FireFly features rigid panels that are built into the bow and stern. This improves tracking and speed in water greatly and fixes one of the main gripes people have with inflatable kayaks, and that is inconsistent tracking and padding. The kayak itself is made from very durable material that makes it resistant to scrapes with rocks, gravel floors, and such. The material used in the construction is also very lightweight which makes it a highly portable kayak that is easy to carry around.

On the maneuvering front, the FireFly has a few other tricks up its sleeve. The kayak comes with a built-in fin and landing plate. The fin improves tracking performance and handling stability in water.


  • The FireFly is an incredibly beginner-friendly kayak. There are no technicalities on how to operate it or even on how to assemble it. It is very easy to set up, so you can focus more on learning the art of kayaking rather than worrying about how to get the proper equipment to get started with it. 
  •  Besides that, it is also a very lightweight kayak which makes it highly portable. With a weight of just 16lbs, anyone can carry it around easily. But that does not mean it is a child’s plaything. 
  • It can handle a payload (or person) of up to 250 lbs so an average-sized adult can use it easily.
  • The FireFly is not only very portable but has great performance in water as well. The inclusion of rigid panels in the stern and bow, the tracking fin, and the landing plane mean that this a very competent performer in water. Given its economical nature, it is hard to believe that it comes with all of these performance-oriented features.
  •  The FireFly is also built to a high standard and while similar inflatable kayaks can only handle Class I rapids, the FireFly can endure collisions on Class II rapids.


  • The FireFly is a very compact kayak. While that means that it has superb tracking and maneuvering in water, it also reveals a shortcoming. Many kayaks have additional space for you to store some fishing gear, additional clothes, and so on. The FireFly has no additional space so if you’re looking to carry extra equipment this kayak might not be for you.
  • The FireFly is also strictly a calm water kayak. While it can withstand the rigors of Class II rapids with the occasional encounter with rocks and sharp edges, it will not and cannot withstand anything above Class II rapids. If you’re looking for some serious adventure, the FireFly will not prove to be a good choice.


The Advanced Elements FireFly is an excellent choice for people looking to kayak in calmer waters. This is a highly portable kayak that is easy to carry around and store. Its affordable nature makes it easy for beginners to get into the sport of kayaking and its performance is enough for veterans who just want to enjoy an easy day in the water.

Sea Eagle 330 – Best Two Person Inflatable Kayak

sea eagle 330 inflatable kayak

Check Sea Eagle 330 on Amazon

Pros Cons
 Accommodates 500 lbs.  Average seat support
 High build quality  Less legroom
 Good storage

Sea Eagle 330 is an affordable and durable kayak built to accommodate two persons. It is a high-quality product, earning praise from people who have bought it and use it on a routine basis.

Although the Sea Eagle 330 is a highly portable kayak, weighing in at just 26 pounds, it has an impressive carrying capacity. Rated at 500 pounds, it can easily accommodate two adults yet is light enough to be carried around by just one.

The Sea Eagle 330 is a rugged kayak, a trait not commonly associated with an inflatable kayak. In fact, it is made from a very durable and puncture-resistant material called K-80 polykrylar. Thanks to its sturdy construction, its hull can withstand the tests of Class III whitewater rapids. The kayak is a very spacious model with storage space for your camping gear. This really is a model built with enthusiasts in mind.


  • The enthusiast-minded features of this kayak might make it seem expensive. But it is not expensive, in fact, it is quite affordable, making it a great choice for first-timers or for couples looking to spend some pleasant and relaxing time in the water.
  • The Sea Eagle 330 might be economical to purchase but that does not mean you have to put up with poor build quality. This kayak uses high-quality material that will save you from the worry of those unavoidable encounters with sharp rocks and the like.
  •  The durable nature of this kayak also means that it will be able to stand the test of time and will serve you for the time to come. The kayak features a tough hull which enables it to deal with up to Class III rapids with ease.
  • Its Class III rating points to it being a serious adventurer’s tool, but that might be slightly misleading as that is not the main purpose of this kayak. The main draw of this kayak is its affordable nature and high build quality. 
  • It is more suited to calmer waters and that is where it truly shines. It can deal with Class III rapids but you need a lot more than durability in those conditions like exceptional tracking and maneuvering performance.


  • The most commonly noted issue by the owners of this kayak is the lack of support from its inflatable seats. Most find them to be lacking in height and as such cannot fully support the weight of the back, which puts more stress on the neck muscles. Hence users with back problems might find it physically exhausting to use this kayak for extended periods of time. A common remedy suggested for this problem is the Deluxe Inflatable seat product which is also sold by Sea Eagle separately.
  • The Sea Eagle 330 is also quite unsuitable for taller adults, with users feeling cramped with the available legroom. This can also lead to exhaustion and possibly muscle tension. The problem can be avoided by going for the bigger version of this kayak called the 370.


The Sea Eagle 330 might not be the fastest or most maneuverable kayak around, but it is extremely affordable and portable. And those are its main selling points. Coupled with its durable construction this is a fool-proof way of getting into the sport of kayaking without breaking the bank.

Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak – Best Inflatable Kayak for the Money

Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak

Check Sevylor Quikpak K1 on Amazon

Pros Cons
 Portable  Easily punctured
 Little set-up time  Structure not robust
 Good for lightweight paddlers  Little storage space with 2 paddlers
 Packed with features
 Multi-position feature

This one-person inflatable kayak is very easy to set up, which is a good thing if you’re looking for convenience. The kayak has a PVC construction that has a tarpaulin bottom, which ensures a rugged structure that is difficult to puncture. It has an easy-to-carry backpack system, which can also be converted as a seat. 

The Sevylor Quikpak K1 features 5 air chambers that are layered, which ensures that the kayak can remain afloat in case of accidental piercing. There is no risk of leakage either due to the Airtight system and Double Lock valves. It also has ample storage space, including a hand pump, paddle, and a cup holder.

The seat has a backrest for added comfort, as well as a multi-position footrest.

For your convenience, the device has a multi-position footrest, which yields optimal comfort, especially when partnered with the seat’s backrest. It is not the most stable or rugged kayak, but it is a good pick for occasional use on calm waters. 


  • The kayak is light and easy to carry, so portability is a key feature
  • Despite being an inflatable boat, it has very little set-up time so you don’t need to be worried about any hassle or delays
  • If you’re small or a lightweight paddler, this is the perfect pick for you
  • Affordability is a key feature which is why if you’re tight on budget, you don’t need to worry about this being too heavy on your wallet
  • It’s packed with features so you’ll have everything you need in water.


  • It could get punctured on rocks due to its construction
  • Its structure is such that it is not very robust and not well-suited to rough waters
  • It offers lower stability as compared to rigid sit-on rocks


If you want to buy a good inflatable kayak without costing a fortune, this should be on the top of your list. It may not be the most stable or rugged option available, but it has just the right combination of features for a convenient and enjoyable ride.

Advanced Elements PackLite Inflatable Kayak

inflatable kayak

Check Advanced Elements PackLite on Amazon

Pros Cons
 Compact and highly portable  The material can be damaged if not properly cared
 Extremely maneuverable  Pump and paddle not included in weight
 Quick assembly
 Repair kit included
 Portable bag included

The absurd portability of this little 5 lb 4 oz kayak makes the Advanced Elements PackLite an easy choice to carry for miles through the woods or days through airports and on buses to get to amazing destinations. We love that it can be added to a backpack or suitcase and gives us access to lakes and streams we would never have dreamed of being able to paddle on before. With a quick setup process and easy to clean off, the PackLite is the ideal travel companion. We also appreciate the excellent quality repair kit and directions, as you never know what may happen when you’re really “out there.”

What PackLite brings to the table in portability comes from what it lacks in areas of its performance and comfort. Not the most luxurious kayak to paddle, tracking is lessened by the short, wide shape of this boat, designed more to get you out there and less to help you win races. The material is quite thin, to keep it lightweight, and it tore readily on a rough dock — but the patch held up impressively well. And don’t forget that for all that small, lightweight boating, you’ll still need a paddle and pump to take along for the haul. That said, if what you want is to paddle where no one else even is, PackLite can give you that.


  • This lightweight and portable kayak is easily our choice for Backcountry Paddling. The Advanced Elements PackLite weighs just over 5lbs in its bag and can quickly be stuffed into a backpack.
  • Easy to set up, use, and surprisingly stable for its size, we loved being able to paddle where no other boats could even come close. 
  • When trying to get out to those remote locations, you just can’t beat the portability this model offers. 
  • We had some concerns about PackLite’s durability but were saved by the quality repair kit.


  • Taking proper care of this kayak is of the essence, otherwise, the material can be damaged.
  • The kayak weighs more if the weight of the paddle and pump are included.


If you’re looking for a lightweight and portable kayak, this is definitely the best one for you. For an inflatable kayak, it is very easy to set up and the best part is that it even comes with a repair kit. This makes it a highly recommended inflatable kayak.

Driftsun Voyager 2-Person Inflatable Kayak

Driftsun 2-Person Inflatable Kayak 10

Check Driftsun Inflatable Kayak on Amazon


Pros Cons
 Heavy-duty construction makes it extremely durable  A little expensive than other inflatable kayaks
Aluminum paddles, rear tracking fin, carry bag, and a hand pump are all included in the packaging  Cumbersome to dry
 Corrosion-resistant hardware
Fast and easy setup
Multiple air chambers improve safety
EVA foam seats which are super comfortable

When you are out on the water, it is important to be safe. Driftsun has designed an inflatable kayak that can make your time spent paddling both solo or with a partner more enjoyable and safer. You won’t ever need to worry about wind or choppy waters with the Driftsun Inflatable Kayak. It has a pointed nose, removable tracking fin, and a rocker profile that keeps you afloat no matter what happens in the water.

The Driftsun Voyager has a lot of thoughtful details that make it stand out over other inflatable kayaks. It tracks well in the water, and is comfortable and rugged for anyone who needs an easy-to-carry option to take on their adventures around town or across oceans!

The included paddles are made of a cushioned material, which makes them easier to grip. The D-rings and paddle straps make it easy for you to store your gear when not in use or transport quickly during an emergency situation. The kayak comes with EVA foam seats that keep you super comfortable while ensuring durability. Moreover, its corrosion-resistant hardware ensures longevity.


  • The heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin hull provides protection from punctures and abrasions, which will allow your equipment to last longer in the field.
  • Double-threaded Boston valves make inflating and deflating your kayak quick and easy!
  • The coated 840D Nylon Oxford material for the top cover makes the gear durable and keeps it protected against tears.
  • The kayak has high-quality hardware which resists corrosion


  • It is comparatively more expensive than other inflatable kayaks, but it also comes with higher quality materials
  • You need to dry the kayak completely by laying it in the sun to prevent mold and mildew. This process can be cumbersome for some kayakers
  • The kayak doesn’t come with advanced features that might be needed by professional kayakers


If you’re looking to head out on the water, but don’t want something too bulky or too fancy then this kayak is perfect. With a padded back seat and removable skegs, you’ll have all the essentials for your next kayaking adventure. The bungee storage is spacious enough to store everything from food to extra paddles so that no matter what happens on land or in water, you’re ready!

You don’t need to be a professional kayaker or an expert paddler. All you really need is some beginner skills and this high-quality kayak which will get the job done right!

Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak

Intex explorer k2

Check Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak on Amazon

Pros Cons
 Compact and Portable  Not much legroom, hence not suitable for large bodies
High-quality hardware that makes it extremely durable  Takes longer to inflate
 Rugged Hull Paddles are small in size
Fast and easy setup
Comes with a repair kit
The seats are adjustable and removable

This kayak comes with everything you need for a fun, safe time on the water. It features two inflatable seats and a removable skeg to guide your way in choppy waters while also protecting against scratches from submerged rocks. The kayak comes with a couple of eighty-six-inch aluminum oars, grab lines and handles for easier transport, high output pump that can inflate the boat in seconds.

The 2 inflatable seats can be easily aligned with your body shape for ultimate comfort. Whenever you feel like things are getting a little too bumpy, just grab onto the handle at either end of the kayak and life is good again!


  • Despite being an inflatable kayak, it is both durable and comfortable
  • The inflatable seats are adjustable, so you can customize the seats according to your comfort
  • The kayak has a light-weight design which improves buoyancy and makes it easier to transport and store
  •  It has a bright yellow color, which makes it highly visible on the water
  • The kayak is easy to set up which is always a huge plus
  • The repairing kit that comes in the package comes really handy in case of an unexpected damage


  • The paddles are not made of the best quality and are not adjustable either
  • The lower max weight capacity might be an issue for some anglers


The K2 Intex Explorer is a top-of-the-line kayak. It’s hard to find something of this quality in this price range, and even more difficult when it comes to an inflatable model that will last for years without leaking or breaking down while you are out on the water.

The K2 kayak is a perfect way to try out the sport without breaking your bank account or spending extra money on gear. It folds up into its carry bag and can be stored in any vehicle’s trunk!

Types of Inflatable Kayaks – Which One Suits Your Needs 

two people sitting in an inflatable kayak

Self Bailing Kayak

This type of inflatable kayak contains ports on the ventral side to make sure the water is drained and your kayak goes on smoothly – just like a regular hardshell kayak. It is a popular choice for river rafting and is strong enough to handle those rough waters.  

It lacks a fin on its dorsal side which makes it a difficult choice for the flat waters. 

Sit on Top Kayak

This type of inflatable kayak is just like the regular open cockpit kayak which offers the maximum range of movement. It is best suited for your fishing adventures where you need a convenient 180 degrees moving space to get that catch of the day.

Sit Inside Kayak

This type of inflatable kayak is the one that comes with a closed cockpit space to offer you a safer and drier experience. This is exactly what you need when you go for open-water kayaking where the tidal waves can be high and rough. It protects you from that splashing water and those cold winds.  

Canoe Type Kayak

This type of kayak, as obvious from its name, offers you the exact features of a canoe. It is wide in design, has a deeper seat, and protected sides for water adventures. It also offers sufficient movement area and is the right fit for your fishing day outs.

Inflatable Kayak Specifications

two people in inflatable kayak

Tandem vs Solo Kayak

Are you planning on kayaking by yourself or with other people? If you are not sure and want the option of having another paddler with you or maybe even your dog, you may be best served by getting one that is designed for at least two people.

When you want to go out solo, the seat can be moved to the center position by means of clips so you can attach the seat. There are kayaks that can fit up to 3 people comfortably. This may be your most important consideration.

Tandem kayaks have a few advantages and disadvantages over single kayaks like:

Pros Cons
 Cheaper than two single kayaks (usually)  You must have a partner all the time
 More efficient than paddling two singles  You must agree and cooperate
 Can take a break while your partner paddles  You cannot explore the water on your own – you’re stuck
 Opportunities to work together  They’re quite a bit longer than most single kayaks
 Easier to carry with two people
 You can take it out for a day with a friend

These are all things to keep in mind when you’re looking to pick out a tandem kayak. If the advantages of tandem kayaking sound like what you’re looking for then move forward! If you are on the fence about which to buy, consider a tandem kayak that allows you to reconfigure the seating arrangement so that you can paddle solo like the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame. This gives you the best of both worlds, paddle solo, or takes a partner!

Kayak Length

Any good kayak roundup needs to at least discuss kayak lengths. You can get kayaks in lengths from about 6’ to 14’ or even more. Short kayaks (8-12 feet) – are more agile but slower and harder to paddle straight. Long kayaks (12-15 feet) – are more efficient, faster, and easier to keep in a straight line.

That’s about as simple as I can make it, however, it’s a gross oversimplification. Longer kayaks tend to have better stability and more room for gear. They’re often chosen for long days of paddling or kayak anglers who want more room for tackle and stability on open water. Short kayaks are great for agile river paddling such as whitewater or other nimble application.

Your average inflatable kayak will probably range somewhere between about 9-15’ with 10-12’ probably being the most common off-the-shelf option out there.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Inflatable Kayaks

two people in inflatable kayak

Q: How Much Do Inflatable Kayaks Cost?

A: Inflatable kayaks can cost anywhere from $150 to over $1000. There is such a large range of prices due to the quality of the kayak. An inflatable kayak package (which includes a pump, carrying bag, paddles, and a patch kit) will fit right into the middle at around $550.

Q: How Do I Inflate A Kayak?

A: You can inflate your kayak in a number of different ways. It likely came with a hand pump but if that doesn’t suit you, you have other options. You can also use a foot pump if you have back or upper body problems. This type of pump is much easier to operate. If you have an electric pump lying around or are willing to invest the money in one this is definitely the easiest way to go. This type of pump can be plugged into your car and do all the hard work of inflating your kayak. This allows you to get into the water faster. Be sure to check your kayak to see what type of valve it has for inflation.

Q: How Do I Paddle An Inflatable Kayak?

A: It may feel foreign to be in an inflatable kayak the first time you hop in but the truth is they are much the same as plastic ones. Oftentimes, they are even more durable. Paddling in one is exactly the same as if you were in a traditional kayak. A double-sided kayak paddle makes this easy.

Q: How Do I Choose An Inflatable Kayak?

A: The first thing to decide is if you want a traditional-style sit-in kayak or if you would prefer a sit-on-top kayak. Both have benefits and largely depend on your intended use. For example, if you would like to use your kayak for fishing you will be looking for one with special features. Deciding if you need a tandem or single kayak is also important. From there, choose the kayak with the right weight limits for your intended use and your desired amount of storage. The Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set checks off all the boxes as one of our favorite inflatable kayaks on the market. As a bonus, the price is right!

Q: How Long Do Inflatable Kayaks Last?

A: Your inflatable kayak can last just as long as plastic kayaks if cared for properly. They have nearly endless positive features. When caring for your kayak, be sure to wash it after every use. This can be as simple as hosing it off after every use. This should be done when paddling in freshwater as well as saltwater as there are microbes in the water that can cause mildew growth. Once your kayak is rinsed you should allow it to fully air dry in the shade. Following that, you can deflate it and store it out of direct sunlight. This will greatly increase the lifespan of your kayak and allow it to last for many years to come.

man in inflatable kayak

Q: Are Inflatable Kayaks Durable?

A: Yes! With more and more people going towards inflatable kayaks rather than hard ones they are being made better than ever. Using high-quality military-grade PVC these kayaks are built to last. Being easy to store and transport you run less of a risk of your kayak being damaged as it features more protection than before. The materials used for these are so thick that you can even bring your dog with you on your trip.

Q: How Do I Find A Leak In My Inflatable Kayak?

A: If your kayak seems to be losing air you may have a leak. If you have no idea where it is you can simply look for bubbles. This may mean that you have to get in the water along the shore to get a better look. Start at one side and work your way around the boat. If you still can’t find it, take your gear off and flip the kayak on its back. Do the same – look for bubbles starting at one side and work your way around.

Q: How Do I Patch An Inflatable Kayak?

A: Your inflatable will come with a patch kit in case you do experience any damage. While these inflatable kayaks are incredibly durable and are likely to not experience any issues, it is always good to be prepared. Patch kits will come with marine-grade super glue and all the tools you need to do the job. After locating the hole you can simply patch it up with lots of glue and head back into the water.

Q: How To Dry An Inflatable Kayak?

A: The biggest draw to inflatable kayaks is that they are incredibly easy to store. While this is true, you will want to take special care when deflating and storing your kayak. It is important to not store a wet kayak. Instead, waiting until your boat is completely dry before deflating is important. Otherwise, you may risk some water getting caught in the folds of your kayak which could cause mildew to form.

When maintaining your kayak, we always recommend allowing the time for your boat to air dry naturally. Be sure to put your kayak in a covered area that is away from direct sunlight and allows it to dry. Avoid putting your kayak in direct sunlight to dry. This will cause your kayak to fade and show wear at a much faster rate.

You will want to put your boat upside down in order to drain any sitting water. While you can towel dry to speed the process up, we don’t recommend relying on that solely as you will likely miss quite a few spots.

Q: How Do I Modify An Inflatable Kayak?

A: Inflatable kayaks aren’t meant to be modified like a traditional kayak. You can’t drill a hole in the shell and add a cup holder or fishing rod holder. But there are things you can do to make an inflatable kayak better for your use. Accessories will become your friend. This can range from waterproof bags to anchors and even paddle splash guards. You can even get inflatable pontoons to add more stability to your kayak if you want to do things like fish with it.

Q: How To Get Back In An Overturned Inflatable Kayak?

A: Getting into an inflatable kayak from the water is a crucial skill you should know before getting on the water. Nobody wants to have to do this but understanding how to can save your life in a bad situation. This will be the same as a rigid kayak.

You will want to get behind the seat, pull yourself out of the water while swinging your leg over the entire width of the kayak. When you’re on top you will want to put your hands stretched out in front of your legs and shimmy your way towards the cockpit. Once you are close enough put your legs inside it while you use your hands to balance and stabilize your body.

Q: How To Clean An Inflatable Kayak?

A: It is important to maintain your kayak when not in use. When done properly, cleaning and maintaining your kayak doesn’t take very long and can greatly increase the lifespan of your boat. You will want to clean your boat after every use with special attention to it before you deflate your kayak and store it. This will help to prevent mildew from growing on your kayak.

To clean your kayak, you should be able to simply hose your boat off with fresh water. This is important to help get the salt off your boat when heading to sea. Even if you are paddling in lakes you will find that microbes attach to your boat making it incredibly important to clean. Using your hose thoroughly rinse your kayak while it is still inflated. Make sure to allow your kayak to thoroughly dry in a shaded area.

You will want to keep your kayak out of direct sunlight as much as possible. This will prevent your boat from fading and help to keep it looking sharp. Once your inflatable boat has been cleaned and thoroughly dried you will want to store it in a cool dry place.

Q: How To Fold An Inflatable Kayak?

A: When you’re taking your inflatable kayak out of the box for the first time you will want to take note of how the manufacturer folded it. You will want to mimic this when you pack it up after your day on the water. If you forget how to do it there are a few things you should keep in mind. Try not to fold the seams too much. This is the weakest point on the inflatable boat and any damage to this area will be magnified when it’s fully inflated. Another thing to keep in mind is the bungee system. Ensure it won’t catch or snag when you’re putting it into or taking it out of the bag you store it in.

Final Words

The best inflatable kayak available depends on what qualities you are looking for in a kayak. The kayaks listed above all have their own sets of pros and cons. They’re all great buys, but the one that will be best for you depends on you.

Michael Holding

Michael is an outdoor adventurer and a kayaking enthusiast who loves to share his experiences with others. He is the Chief Editor at XgearHub.

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