So many people enjoy getting out to kayak during the summer. It can be a relaxing way to enjoy nature and get a little bit of exercise.
If you don’t yet own a kayak, but you would like to, it might be a good idea to look into buying an inflatable kayak. There are many differences between a typical kayak and an inflatable one for you to consider before making your decision, though.
In this article, we’ll cover the best inflatable kayaks on the market in 2018, as well cover everything you need to know about buying and owning one.
Let’s first start with our top picks:
|Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump||5,058 Reviews||$87.96||Read Reviews|
|Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump||4,891 Reviews||$69.99||Read Reviews|
|Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump||3,063 Reviews||$169.99 $98.99||Read Reviews|
|Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak Canoe Boat w/ Paddles||597 Reviews||$324.99||Read Reviews|
|Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak||547 Reviews||$160.09||Read Reviews|
#1 – Intex Explorer K2
The Intex Explorer K2 is an excellent option for those looking for a two-person kayak. This model has proven famous for its low price point and exceptional durability. It’s effortless to set up, and you’ll have no problems getting it out on the water quickly.
This kayak comfortably fits two adults so you won’t have to worry about feeling cramped. The oars that come with this kayak are also very helpful and feel good to use in the water. If you’re looking for an affordable and stable model, then this kayak should work nicely for your purposes.
See It in Action
- Made for comfort
- Measures 20 x 36 x 123 inches
- Perfect for smaller bodies of water
- Bright yellow color ensures that the kayak is highly visible
- Has a removable skeg to increase directional stability
You should feel very happy when you purchase this kayak. It’s a great purchase for someone who wants to enjoy kayaking with a friend or significant other. The overall comfort is very impressive, and it feels nice out on the water.
The ease with which you can set this kayak up is another big positive. It doesn’t take long to fully inflate the kayak, meaning that you can be out enjoying yourself much sooner. It feels as if it is a high-quality build as well so you’ll have a comfortable time on the water all day.
It’s easy to recommend this kayak because of how stable it feels. If you want to buy a two-person kayak that will handle well and you can use for long stretches, then this is a great option. It is an excellent purchase for someone new to kayaking or a veteran kayak enthusiast who wants a portable kayak.
- COMFORTABLE FOR ANYONE: Kayak includes an adjustable inflatable seat with backrest; Cockpit designed for comfort and space
- DIMENSIONS: Inflated size 10 feet 3 X 3 feet X 1 feet 8 Inch; Maximum weight capacity: 400 pounds
- DIRECTIONAL STABILITY: Removable skeg for directional stability
- INCREASED VISIBILITY: In case of emergency, bright yellow color helps visibility
- MADE FOR SMALLER BODIES OF WATER: Explorer K2 is made for smaller bodies of water including lakes and mild rivers
#2 – Intex Challenger K1
Intex has made another new kayak with their Challenger K1 kayak. This model seats only one, but it feels very spacious overall. If you like to have room to maneuver while out on the water, this kayak will work well for you.
When you take this kayak out on the water, it feels quite quick. You’ll be able to move fast and have a good time in this nimble kayak. It even has a cargo net so you can store any gear that you’ll need on your trip.
The design on the kayak is very eye-catching, and it looks nice. The oars that come with this kayak feel pleasant to use, and the hand pump works well.
See It in Action
- Made to be quick and maneuverable
- Comes with quality oars and a hand pump
- The comfortable cockpit is designed to create maximum space
- I-beam floors give the kayak better stability
- Measures 30 x 15 x 108 inches
This kayak is an easy recommendation for a person who is new to kayaking. It feels comfortable to use and is overall simple in its design. It won’t take too long to inflate, even using the included hand pump, so you’ll be ready to go out on the water pretty quickly.
It’s a fun kayak because of how fast it feels. You’ll be able to zip through the water in this kayak. It’s also pretty durable for the size.
As an affordable option for kayaking, this is a great kayak. You will enjoy how durable and stable it feels while out on the water. It has a low price point while still providing you with a quality kayaking experience.
- Nimble, durable kayak is made of durable welded material with eye catching graphics for added safety on the lake or slow moving river
- Cockpit is designed for comfort and maximized space, and inflatable I beam floors add stability
- Cargo net to store extra gear, and grab line on both ends of kayak; inflatable seat with backrest
- Comes with 84 inch aluminum oar, repair patch and Hi output manual hand pump; Rugged vinyl construction
- Measures 30 by 15 by 108 inches (W x H x D), with 27.2 pound weight and 220 pound maximum capacity
#3 – Intex Challenger K2
If you want to find an affordable two-person kayak, then looking at the Intex Challenger K2 is a great idea.
This kayak has been designed to be as rugged as possible, meaning that you won’t have to worry when you’re out having fun on the water. If you’ve been waiting for a durable but affordable kayak that seats two, this is a good option.
Paddling in this kayak feels smooth, making your time on the water more fun and easy to handle. Even people who haven’t done a lot of kayaking before will have an easy time getting used to things in this kayak.
It’s an excellent first experience kayak for people and may be ideal for an experienced kayaking enthusiast to use to help get a friend into the hobby.
With a four-hundred-pound maximum weight limit, it can fit two average-sized adults comfortably. Keep this in mind if you’re larger and might exceed this weight limit when going out with a friend.
See It in Action
- High-capacity air pump and patching kit included
- Made from rugged vinyl material that is difficult to puncture
- Seats two average-sized adults comfortably but has a 400-pound weight limit
- Measures 30 x 15 x 138 inches
- Easy to handle and maneuver
If you want a good beginner’s kayak for two people to use, then this will work well. The 400-pound weight limit may turn some away from purchasing this kayak, but it should be ideal for couples. It’s easy to handle out on the water, which will allow an inexperienced person to have more fun.
The included high-capacity air pump that works well, too. You can quickly get the kayak inflated so that you can get out on the water more swiftly. Combining this with the overall rugged design makes it a good option when you need a maneuverable two-person kayak.
- The Intex Challenger K2 Kayak is sporty and fun with a streamlined design for easy paddling
- The bright green color and sporty graphics make the kayak highly visible in the water
- Two 86 inch aluminum paddles and an Intex high output pump for easy inflation and deflation
- Made of company's rugged, super tough vinyl that's puncture and UV damage resistant for long term durability
- Measures 30 by 15 by 138 inches (W x H x D) inflated, with 400 pound maximum weight limit; includes two 86 inch aluminum oars, high capacity pump, and repair patch kit
#4 – Sea Eagle SE-370
The Sea Eagle SE-370 is an excellent inflatable kayak to consider when you want to take three people out on the water. It might be a bit of a snug fit if you have three fully-grown individuals trying to use this kayak, but it is indeed possible. It has a reasonably high weight capacity of 650 pounds.
This kayak comes with two inflatable seats and two excellent paddles. You’ll feel right guiding yourself down the river when you have quality paddles such as these on which to rely. It still feels very stable when you have the maximum amount of three people on the kayak, which is nice.
Inflating this kayak takes around eight minutes. That is a pretty good time so you won’t have to idly sit around too long before being able to get into the fun stuff. The kayak only weighs 55 pounds, so it isn’t too difficult to carry around either.
See It in Action
- Can fit up to three people
- Has a weight limit of 650 pounds
- Comes with two quality oars and two inflatable seats
- The included pump can inflate kayak in eight minutes
- Measures 34 x 19 x 11 inches
For people who want to take out two of their friends in the same kayak, this is something that will work for you. It doesn’t feel as comfortable when you have the maximum of three people, but it still rides fairly well. It feels pretty stable on the water, and you’ll have a great paddling experience.
The included paddles work nicely. Only having two inflatable seats means that the third person is going to be getting familiar with one of the other people in the kayak. It should be fine for couples.
Being able to inflate the kayak in eight minutes is a nice feature. It’s an excellent portable option when you have multiple people who you want to take kayaking with you.
- 3 person/650 lb capacity, weighs 32 lbs, suitable for up to Class III whitewater
- 370 Deluxe Kayak Package features two movable, super comfortable Deluxe Kayak Seats for improved back support and 2 paddles, foot pump, and carry bag
- 2 AB30 7'10"" 4 Part Paddles with asymmetrical blade and aluminum shaft
- 2 skegs on the bottom for better tracking & speed
- Open and close drain valve, 5 deluxe 1-way inflation/deflation valves
#5 – Sevylor Quikpak K1
If you want to purchase an inflatable kayak that is super portable and easy to set up, then look no further. The Sevylor Quikpak K1 kayak is a perfect purchase for someone who wants a simple but durable kayak to take out on the water. This kayak can be set up in around five minutes, meaning that you will be out on the water extremely quickly.
It comes with a little backpack that makes it easy to carry it with you. It’s a lightweight kayak that won’t be a burden with which to walk around. The pack even turns into the seat for the kayak, interestingly enough.
The bottom of this kayak is made to be very durable. You shouldn’t have to feel concerned about punctures or leaks because of the intelligent design.
See It in Action
- Can be set up in five minutes
- Backpack included that doubles as a kayak seat
- Made to be rugged and can be used on the lake
- The bottom is made durable to protect from punctures
- Unique design is made to keep the kayak from leaking no matter what
The Quikpak K1 is a cool kayak that one person can enjoy. It’s not the biggest kayak, but it feels very convenient to use. Portability is one of the major selling points with this kayak, and the included backpack helps to drive that point home.
The overall durability of this kayak is impressive. Having the bottom be so durable is helpful, and you won’t have to feel anxiety about puncturing it. The airtight system used in designing this kayak keeps it from springing leaks as well so you’ll feel safe using this model.
For those who want an excellent portable kayak, this comes highly recommended. It will be able to handle rigorous kayaking activity and will give you a lot of fun.
- 5-minute setup lets you spend more time on the water
- Easy-to-carry backpack system turns into the seat
- 21-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use
- Tarpaulin bottom provides durable protection from punctures
- Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated if one is punctured
What Are Inflatable Kayaks?
Inflatable kayaks are a type of kayak made from a collapsible material that gets filled with air. They are lightweight and portable, which is one of the features that has made them a favorite with paddlers. You can pack them in subtle spaces like the trunk of your car or even in a backpack.
Manufacturers make inflatable kayaks from highly-durable materials, including high-gauge PVC and Hypalon, which reinforces the kayak to prevent ripping, snagging, and puncturing. Some inflatable kayaks have many air chambers, as well. So if one deflates, your kayak will remain afloat long enough to get offshore.
These types of kayaks are suitable for a variety of water conditions. All of the ones we recommend above will perform well in both calm and choppy water.
That said, inflatable kayaks are also very stable. It’s not easy to flip one of these bad boys. Thus, they’re suitable for recreation, fishing, touring, and general kayaking adventures.
Types and Uses
Like other types of kayaks, the two main types are sit-on-top and sit-in. Also like other types of kayaks, you can go solo or tandem (or more) in both.
With a sit-in inflatable kayak, you’ll sit inside a cockpit with room to extend your feet. The seating is usually comfortable. In fact, most manufacturers install deluxe seats to keep you comfortable all day.
Some sit-in inflatables are big enough for a family or larger group. This is perfect for people who want to hit the water together. Some fishing enthusiasts have even found these kayaks valuable. The stability is excellent for fishing, and most have enough room for fishing gear.
With a sit-on-top inflatable kayak, you’ll paddle while standing or sitting on an open surface. Unlike in the sit-ins, these allow you to jump out with ease in case the waters get rough.
They’re also used by enthusiasts for various kayaking expeditions due to their stability. Also, like the sit-ins, the sit-on-tops make stable fishing kayaks. Actually, some kayak anglers prefer these due to the extra room for rigging and fishing gear.
What to Consider When Buying an Inflatable Kayak
Most inflatable kayaks are versatile enough to use in different environments. This includes flat waters, ponds, streams, and even in rapidly moving rivers. But different inflatable kayaks are suitable for different purposes, so consider the following factors before deciding to buy one:
The most common uses of inflatable kayaks include fishing, touring, and recreation. All these kayaks have a specific feature that makes them the best for their role. For example, they need to be stable enough for use in different fishing environments. But touring kayaks need to have enough storage space to keep your personal stuff (and keep it dry).
For tandem kayaks, you’ll need enough room to accommodate other paddlers. With extra people, you’ll also need to ensure it’s stable. Tandem kayaks also need ample storage space since you have more people (and more stuff).
Costs range from a few hundred dollars up to even a thousand dollars. The more expensive kayaks are made from high-quality, durable materials. They’ll have features that enhance safety and comfort, too. Because of this, they’ll tend to last much longer.
If you’re a beginner, you should go for a cheaper inflatable kayak. Don’t invest too much money on one until you decide if it’s for you or not. They’re much different than a regular kayak. This will give you a chance to test out different waters before upgrading to a more premium one.
Most inflatable kayaks have adjustable seats that can accommodate people of different sizes. So it’s important to look for models with seats that offer the most exceptional comfort. This way you know you’ll be able to make it out on the water for a full day (or more) if needed. Plus, no paddler wants to spend extra money replacing uncomfortable seats.
Inflatable kayaks are made from different materials that include PVC, Hypalon, and nitrylon. These materials all have their strengths and weaknesses. But they’re used to make these kayaks because they’re all rugged and durable.
Some paddlers prefer kayaks made from Hypalon because they’re the most durable, for example. Hypalon and nitrylon are more environmentally friendly, too. So more and more manufacturers are using them in manufacturing.
Storage and Transportation
One thing paddlers love about inflatables is the ease of storage and transport. It’s important to remember that inflatable kayaks are made from heavy-duty material. This actually makes them less compact. So you’ll often need to choose between the ease of storage and the quality of the material used.
Some accessories are essential for kayaking. Things like paddles, repair kits, air pumps, and PFDs should always be with you. Depending on the model you choose, these accessories may or may not be included. If they’re not, check to ensure there is enough storage or expansion options to keep them handy.
Are Inflatable Kayaks Durable Enough?
It is true that an inflatable kayak won’t be quite as durable as a traditional one. It still has many advantages over a conventional kayak, but for pure durability, it isn’t going to be able to match up. Even still, these inflatable kayaks can last you a very long time if you take care of them correctly.
They’re designed to withstand the waters almost as well as a standard kayak. You shouldn’t have any issues when you bump into a rock or scrape up against some wood. Just remember that not all inflatable kayaks are created equal.
There are going to be some models you can purchase that are incredibly durable for something that is inflatable. Keep in mind that even the military uses inflatable vehicles for operations. Inflatable technology has advanced quite a bit in the last several decades.
Your inflatable kayak will be able to withstand plenty of regular use and will feel very sturdy during your time on the water. Some kayaks will perform better than others, and this will depend on the type of inflatable kayak that you decide to purchase.
You also need to watch out for kayaks that are too inexpensive. If the inflatable kayak you’re looking into purchasing seems too cheap to be a good buy, chances are that it probably is. Buying a low-quality kayak will give you a worse experience overall, so you definitely need to buy a top-tier inflatable kayak for the best results.
How Should I Store My Inflatable Kayak?
It’s important to store these kayaks correctly when you aren’t using them. Merely shoving it into your storage shed would be better than leaving it out in the elements. Make sure that your kayak has a proper place where it will be protected until the next time you want to use it.
The good thing about these kayaks is that they’re very portable. This makes it easy to store them just about anywhere that you have a small amount of space. Many people choose to store these kayaks in their garages or even in a closet.
It should come with a little storage bag when you purchase it. Your kayak should be placed back in this bag before you put it away. The bag will protect it from potential harm, and you’ll be able to feel confident that it will be fine the next time you want to use it.
Remember to keep your kayak away from anything sharp. It’s made from pretty durable stuff, but you don’t want it getting cut or torn in any way. Just try not to store it next to the cutlery shelf, and you should be just fine.
Also, remember to let your kayak dry out before you store it away. This may sound obvious, but it’s important to let it dry completely. If you pack it away wet, then you could wind up with a mold problem, and that isn’t something you want to deal with.
Are Inflatable Kayaks More Affordable?
Yes, inflatable kayaks are much more affordable for the average person. If you’re looking to get into the kayaking lifestyle but don’t have a whole lot of money to throw around, these inflatable versions are going to be your best bet. You can get a quality inflatable kayak for less than two hundred dollars on average, which is a fraction of the price of a traditional kayak.
This gives you the opportunity to see if you will enjoy kayaking enough to continue spending money on the hobby. It isn’t too big of a burden to spend a couple hundred dollars on an inflatable kayak, and you’ll be able to have your fun with it for a long time. Even if you don’t use it incredibly often, the low price will keep it from feeling as if it is a bad purchase.
The inflatable is definitely the way to go when you’re starting out with kayaking as a hobby. Just keep in mind that there are more expensive inflatable options that have increased durability and stability. Some people like to use kayaks to go out on the water to fish so buying a slightly more costly kayak that has more significant stability would be great for this purpose.
You’ll have many options when looking to buy one of these kayaks, but before you decide which one you should purchase, it’s important to understand what you want to get out of the experience. If you plan on keeping the kayaking very casual, then you will be able to buy an affordable kayak that will work perfectly. For those who may want to fish or be able to do more rigorous kayaking, it might be best to buy a top-tier model.
How Safe Are Inflatable Kayaks?
Inflatable kayaks are actually very safe. You should feel just as comfortable out on the water using one of these inflatable models as you would in a traditional kayak. They’re very rigid, and they feel good when you’re out floating on the water.
If you feel as though you need to have a very stable kayaking experience, you can buy a higher-end model with increased stability. This will make you feel very in control and help to avoid any fears of tipping over. Even the average inflatable models should handle perfectly fine for most people.
They’re made to be as sturdy as possible. Inflatable kayaks might not be quite as durable as traditional ones, but they’re still built to withstand impacts. You don’t have to feel worried if you bump into some debris or scrape the bottom of the kayak against the ground on a shallow part of a river.
Your kayak will be able to handle your kayaking experience just fine. This is a safe way to get out onto the water and enjoy yourself during the warm months. You should feel confident that you’re going to get a quality product that will perform well for you.
What Are Some Benefits of Owning an Inflatable Kayak?
There are many significant benefits to owning an inflatable kayak. One of the most obvious ones is that it’s so portable. You can very quickly throw your inflatable kayak into your trunk and take it where you need it to be.
Transporting a traditional kayak can be a bit more of a hassle. You need to tie it on top of your vehicle and make sure that it is secured well before setting off. When you own an inflatable kayak, you just need to put in your trunk, and you’re ready to be on your way.
Storing an inflatable kayak is much more straightforward as well. You don’t need a lot of room to store it as it can fit into a smaller space. It won’t be any problem at all to keep it in your storage shed or in your basement.
As long as you remember to take care of your kayak when you aren’t using it, it’ll last for a long time. You’ll be able to have many summers of enjoyment with your kayak. Considering that these kayaks are also very affordable, it’s the perfect way to get into this hobby.
It’s also important to note that these kayaks are very lightweight. You won’t have any trouble lugging these around because they aren’t heavy at all. It makes them convenient to carry with you if you can’t park your car too close to the body of water you’re going out on.
Some people even put these inflatable kayaks into backpacks and walk with them down to the river. Nature enthusiasts might enjoy a good hike before readying their kayaks for some fun. Inflatable kayaks are indeed the most convenient type of kayak for recreation.
The Cons of Owning an Inflatable Kayak
Overall, there really aren’t that many reasons not to own an inflatable kayak. The value that you’re getting for the low price point is enormous. There are still some negatives that you should consider before making your ultimate decision on what you should buy.
These kayaks may not last for several decades as a traditional kayak could with proper care. You can definitely get many seasons of use out of your inflatable kayak. After some amount of time, it might be best just to go ahead and buy a new one.
Many people have used these inflatable kayaks for five or even ten years before needing to replace them. That is a very long time for a kayak that is so affordable. There is no guarantee that your kayak will last this long as it is highly dependent on how well you take care of it.
The only other significant con when it comes to these kayaks is that you need to be a bit more careful with them. They won’t be in danger of sinking out on the water, but you still don’t want to get a cut or tear into the material. Your kayak will be able to withstand contact with rocks and such, but you should avoid sharp stones if possible.
Sometimes it might be best to pick your kayak up and walk it through sections where you see jagged rocks. Usually, this isn’t an issue, but it is something that you want to keep in mind. Luckily, these kayaks are very lightweight so you shouldn’t have any real problems carrying it.
Buying an inflatable kayak is a great idea. You can enjoy getting out on your kayak and have a lot of fun at an affordable price. It won’t take a lot of money to get into this great hobby, and you’ll find plenty of chances to enjoy the outdoors during the warm months.
Purchasing an inflatable kayak over a traditional one is preferable in many ways. They are more portable, making getting your kayak to the water much simpler. You can also store your inflatable kayak a lot more easily than you would a standard kayak.
You should be able to feel confident that these kayaks will stand up to whatever you want to put them through, within reason. It’s just important to watch out for sharp objects and jagged rocks. Avoid any cuts or tears, and you should be able to enjoy your kayak for many years.
Stability and durability are pretty good overall. There are some ways where a traditional kayak may perform better, but the lower price point of these inflatable models swings things in their favor. You will love owning one of these kayaks as long as you purchase a quality model.