Our team has put together the carefully curated list below of some of the best water sporting gear for you to have a look at.
Reviewing The Best Inflatable Kayaks Right Now
Last updated: 17 Jan 2023
Inflatable kayaks (also called air kayaks or blow-up kayaks) are gaining popularity among watersports enthusiasts. As manufacturers continue to improve on their methods and materials, these kayaks have gained prominence and are no longer seen as fun boats alone – Inflatables can be actually an alternative to hardshell kayaks. In the following, you are going to learn all about the very best inflatable kayaks in 2023.
Kayaks have been around since the age of the Eskimos in Greenlandic for hunting. They were efficient, fast, and very maneuverable. Now they are widely used in sports and touring for these same qualities.
Inflatable kayaks are portable kayaks that need to be inflated to function. In their early years, these kinds of kayaks were not well regarded because of their many design flaws. They were quite vulnerable to damage and their driving characteristics were not comparable to a hard-shell kayak. The story has changed since then, they are quite popular now for white water and touring. There are several different styles and options available to you if you decide you want an inflatable kayak. We've listed the best available inflatable kayaks for you below.
This is a fifteen-foot kayak that can be paddled solo or tandem.
This kayak weighs 36 pounds and has a 300-pound weight capacity.
This kayak is made of triple-layer polyester with a double PVC coating to increase durability.
The cockpit measures 3’ 7” x 1’ 4.5” and gives you enough room for storage on longer trips.
It comes with a repair kit and the kayak packs down to 2’ 6” x 1’ 5” x 10” and can be transported in the included carrying bag.
It is convertible from an open deck to a closed deck kayak in a matter of seconds.
Portability and performance are perfectly balanced and featured in this Inflatable Kayak. This kayak’s rigid bow and aluminum frame reinforcement allow it to glide through water similarly to a hard-shell kayak. If what you are looking for is an efficient kayak with a cutting-edge design, then this is one for you.
It measures 30 by 15 by 108 inches (W x H x D), with a 27.2-pound weight.
This kayak has a 220-pound weight limit.
Its seats are inflatable and removable, and the cargo net gives you space to store extra gear.
There are a removable skeg and a grab line on both ends for additional control to assist you to get it in and out of the water.
Also, there’s a paddle, a pump, and a carrying bag included.
The Intex Challenger Kayak is one of the best inflatable kayaks on the market. It combines durability and agility to give you some added safety on calmer waters. The cockpit of the Intex challenger kayak is designed for comfort, maximized space, and easy navigation.
It is a two-person inflatable kayak and it measures 12.5’(L) x 38” (W) x 13” (H).
It is constructed from reinforced layered PVC, with a tarpaulin bottom to provide durable protection from punctures.
This inflatable kayak has a load capacity of 600lbs and weighs up to 28 lbs
Its featured high-pressure drop stitch floor and removable flat-water tracking fin give this kayak unmatched stability and control in rough and flat water
Other things included are adjustable padded seats with high back support, adjustable aluminum paddles, a hand pump, a rear tracking fin, and a travel bag.
The Driftsun Rover 220 Tandem Inflatable Kayak is very versatile and durable. This inflatable kayak works incredibly well in both flat and rough water. The Driftsun rover 220 is a two-person kayak that combines the highest quality materials, workmanship and is appropriate for families and thrill-seekers alike.
Kayaking is the perfect fun outdoor activity for beautiful summer days. However, the fun can get ruined at times by the extra effort it takes to store and transport the kayak itself. Inflatable kayaks are a great alternative to the regular kayak because they a lot more portable. They are much easier to move around with and even though inflatable kayaks do not compare to the same level of performance as hard-shell kayaks, you can make use of them for many of the same fun activities.
A good inflatable kayak will be both portable and easy to store. Regardless of your destination, you can easily stash a blow-up kayak in your little bag carrier and take it along with you. Inflatables are an excellent choice If what you need is a kayak that you can move easily and store just about anywhere.
There are some key things you will need to consider before getting yours. To help you make the best choice, we have created the guide below.
There are certain questions you need to answer before you can select the right inflatable kayak that you need. Let’s examine some of them.
Where do you plan to use the kayak?
Before you invest in your new inflatable kayak, you need to know the kind of places you’ll be visiting first. Is the river you plan to kayak in a flat lake or a slow-moving river? If you live close to the ocean will you use it here? Knowing this beforehand will inform your decision.
What are your body dimensions?
Your size matters a lot. If you are taller or larger than average, you’ll need a larger kayak with a lot more legroom and weight capacity. Ensure you are familiar with the exact specifications for the inflatable kayak you eventually go for to see if it will work for you.
What are you going to use it for?
What you use your kayak for and how frequently you use it will also help you narrow down your choice. Do you plan to use it for short paddles of an hour or two or do you plan to go on longer excursions? Will you use it for fishing, snorkeling, or diving?
Will you be using your kayak for fishing?
You can of course use all kayaks for fishing but certain types work preferably for fishing than others. For anglers, sit-on-type models of inflatable kayaks are the best option. These models make it easy for you to turn and move around easily for casting and accessing your fishing gear.
A canoe-style kayak is an appropriate option as well. They are wider and allow you to move around easily, carry lots of equipment and your catch.
How Comfortable is it?
If you usually more often than not have trouble getting in and out of a kayak, you may be better served with a sit-on-top kayak. They are significantly easier to get in and out of but are more prone to tipping because the center of gravity is higher. Ensure to double-check and practice getting in and out of the kayak several times to be sure you can do it quickly.
Are the Kayak Seats any Good?
These kinds of kayaks are sort of notorious for bad seats but you can find an inflatable kayak with great seats out of the box. The price level of the kayak matters here as you get what you pay for. Fortunately, in most situations you can get around a bad seat – Inflatable kayaks usually come equipped with seats that can be easily replaced.
Ensure the seat is at least removable if it looks questionable so that if it doesn’t hold up to your needs you can swap it out later for some aftermarket seats.
Pro tip: If your choice is a seat with a high back, pair it with a seat-friendly life jacket. A bulky life jacket stuck between you and your seat is very uncomfortable.
Should I Buy a Solo or Tandem Inflatable Kayak?
You need to know if you are going to be kayaking by yourself or with other people? If you are not sure and want the option of having another person with you, you may be best served by getting an inflatable kayak that is designed for at least two people.
What are the Types of Inflatable Kayaks?
As they increase in popularity, there are more types of inflatable kayaks becoming available with ever more features and more uses.
Sit on Top Kayaks
This type of kayak has no enclosed cockpit. Just like the name implies, you basically sit on top of the kayak. These kinds are very appropriate for fishing because you have maximum movement for accessing your fishing gear and casting.
They are commonly used for white water rafting. Self-bailing kayaks have holes in the bottom of the kayak for draining water while you are paddling. With this kind of kayak, there will usually be some water in the bottom of the kayak.
There are ports on the bottom that allow the water to drain out as it splashes into the kayak so they don’t fill up with water. They are mostly used for kayaking in rougher ocean conditions and they come with plugs for when you are in flatter water and don’t need to worry about draining water.
Sit Inside Kayak
This model of kayaks requires you to sit inside the kayak. With this model, you will tend to stay drier because you are mostly protected from splashing water and the elements. This kind of inflatable kayak is very adequate for tougher conditions of cold weather.
As its name implies, this kayak looks like a canoe. They feature a typically wider design with higher walls and seats. Hence, you get more space to move around, little wonder this type is also a popular choice for fishing.
What Materials are used for Inflatable kayaks?
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
PVC is by far the most common material used by inflatable kayak manufacturers. It is sometimes bonded to nylon for extra tear resistance. Even though they are fairly UV resistant, you should avoid leaving them in the sun for extended periods.
This material is more eco-friendly than PVC. It is a combination of nitrile synthetic rubber and natural rubber bonded to polyester fabric. Compared to PVC, It is very tough, puncture-resistant, and has better abrasion resistance.
Hypalon is a more UV-resistant material than PVC but it is more expensive because it is not as easy to work with. The material is also more abrasion resistant than PVC or Nitrylon. Some brands of inflatable kayaks go above and over by combining PVC with a Hypalon coating.
Kayak lengths always eventually come up. You have the option of kayaks of lengths ranging from about 6’ to 14’ or even greater. Basically, Short kayaks (between 8 to 12 feet) are more agile but slower and harder to paddle straight. Long kayaks (between 12 to 15 feet) on the other hand are more efficient, faster, and easier to control. They are generally more stable and have more room for gear.
Longer kayaks tend to have better stability and more room for gear. They’re the ones for you if you prefer long days of paddling or need more room for tackle and stability on open water. Short kayaks work well for agile river paddling and or other nimble application.
People Also Asked
Q: What is an inflatable kayak?
A: Inflatable kayaks are the types of kayak that are portable and can be inflated for use and deflated for storage and ease of transport.
Q: How long do inflatable kayaks take to inflate?
A: Using a hand pump takes an average of 5-8 minutes to inflate depending on the size and your speed. Your inflatable kayak should come with either a foot pump or a hand pump. The larger the kayak, the more air it will need, so the longer it will take to inflate.
Q: How much does an inflatable kayak cost?
A: Usually, a good inflatable kayak costs between $500 and $1000. There are also inflatable kayaks that cost well over $1000. The price of your inflatable kayak depends on your own needs and the intended use. Of course, it is appropriate that the more expensive inflatable kayaks are of better quality, therefore have better performance on the water and better durability.
SAIL Magazine Review Team reports on best-selling products in sailing and boating. The SAIL Magazine editorial staff is not involved in the creation of this content. SAIL Magazine is reader-supported: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.