Are Inflatable Kayaks Any Good?

are inflatable kayaks any good?

An inflatable kayak is compact and lightweight when deflated and folded, as it lacks a rigid structure. Inflatable Kayaks provide two distinct advantages: portability and simplicity.

Over the last few decades, inflatable boat technology has advanced significantly. While it was primarily used for military and commercial purposes in the past, recreational companies have discovered a way to use the same design process to create durable, professional, and high-quality watercraft for an ever-growing number of people.

Many inflatable water toys are now available, including stand-up paddle boards, canoes, wakeboards, and fishing pontoons. For a variety of sports, inflatable boats are gaining popularity.

Is it safe to use inflatable kayaks?

In most cases, inflatable kayaks provide the same level of stability as conventional kayaks. Consider an inflatable kayak as a sturdy raft and you’ll understand that these things have a certain weight and strength.

They do, however, have a roll point and varying primary and secondary stability, just like conventional kayaks. If you want to stand up in a kayak for fishing or other purposes, you should do your research first, as some inflatable kayaks do not offer this option due to the stiffness of the bottom of the kayak.

If you want a stiffer bottom for your kayak, you can always purchase or make one.

If you wish to construct one yourself, instructions on how to construct one from plywood or other materials can be found on YouTube or elsewhere.

How safe and durable are #inflatable kayaks?

This is critical, even more so for those who paddle rivers or other shallow bodies of water where branches, rocks, or other obstacles can easily be encountered.

This is another instance of paying for what you get. Other places sell reasonably priced inflatable kayaks (under $200), which are ideal for constructing a dock or pond on a lake. However, if you intend to go out to sea or travel a few miles in a kayak, you must be confident in its reliability. Regrettably, some low-cost inflatables lack the durability of their more expensive counterparts.

For example, more expensive kayaks incorporate double and triple fabric layers, separate inflation chambers, and sealed valves. All of these contribute to the kayak’s safety and durability in different ways.

Fastest inflatable kayak

Sea Eagle Razorlite test – quick, easy, and backed by a three-year warranty!

The cheapest inflatable kayak

Intex Challenger K1 Test – extremely affordable, lightweight, and enjoyable!

Inflatable Canoeing

Numerous inflatable canoes are identical to kayaks in terms of size and shape. The same materials are used to construct inflatable kayaks and canoes. Inflatable canoes are smaller than traditional rigid shell canoes due to their size and shape resembling kayaks.

Inflatable canoes are also significantly lighter than fixed-shell canoes. Canoes with a fixed shell weigh between 50 and 80 pounds on average, while inflatable canoes weigh between 20 and 40 pounds. This significantly simplifies their transportation.

Naturally, one of the primary reasons inflatable canoes are so popular is their portability. Once inflated, the canoe folds up small enough to fit in a small space or even a backpack! This simplifies canoe travel significantly. It significantly simplifies traveling with a canoe.

Almost all inflatable canoes also come equipped with their own pump, which aids in both inflation and deflation. With an inflatable canoe, you won’t have to worry about attaching it to your car or finding space in your garage for a 16-foot canoe.

Numerous anglers avoid inflatable canoes due to their inability to accommodate a trolling motor. A trolling motor is a motor that is attached to a canoe and propels it across the water without the assistance of a paddler.

There are, however, numerous inflatable canoes available with a built-in motor. This saves money and also makes the inflatable canoe very affordable in comparison to most traditional canoes.

The best inflatables utilize a technique called “drop seam.”

Certain canoeists worry that inflatable canoes lack the strength and stability of rigid-shell canoes. While they lack the strength and stability of steel, they are capable of absorbing bumps and shocks.

Drop stitch technology is used to create the best inflatables. This means that when the boat is inflated, the material’s fibers interlock to form a stable surface.

Additionally, inflatables’ outer layers are constructed of durable rubber and PVC, the same materials used to construct lifeboats and rafts.

Finally, each inflatable boat is subjected to a battery of tests to ensure its commercial viability. Only a very small percentage of inflatable canoes are sold with a defect.

The ultimate guide to inflatable kayaks: how and where to shop

You should be familiar with the following tips and advice, particularly if this is your first inflatable kayak. An inflatable kayak is a lightweight craft that can be inflated for use and deflated for easy storage and transportation. Although there are numerous design variations, most inflatable kayaks have three air chambers: a lower chamber and two side chambers. Inflatable kayaks can be inflated manually, electrically, or with a foot pump.

Inflatable kayaks are not limited to a particular level or type of kayaking; there is a model to suit nearly any type of kayaking or experience level. On the other hand, they are ideal for those who value the advantages of compactness. For instance, those wishing to reach remote starting points will appreciate the ease with which inflatable kayaks can be carried over rough terrain and long distances. Apartment dwellers will also appreciate their ability to squeeze into a small space.

Pro and contra inflatable kayaks

Inflatable kayaks offer a number of advantages and disadvantages over fixed shell kayaks and even other portable options such as folding kayaks. You must balance these benefits and drawbacks and determine which kayak features are most important to you.

Bear in mind that there are numerous high-quality products available, whether you opt for an inflatable, folding, or stationary model. It’s critical to conduct research and purchase from a reputable brand to ensure you’re making a wise investment and, most importantly, your safety on the water.

Light Weight

Inflatable kayaks vary in weight according to their size and material, but they are generally lighter than rigid-hulled kayaks. There are numerous exceptions, but an inflatable kayak for one person typically weighs between 8 and 40 pounds, while an inflatable kayak for two people typically weighs between 35 and 65 pounds. A single-person fixed-shell kayak typically weighs between 40 and 70 pounds, while a tandem kayak weighs between 60 and 90 pounds.

Because inflatable kayaks are lightweight, they can easily be transported from the car to the launch site by one person.

Compact size

Due to the deflatable nature of the inflatable kayak, it is easy to store in a small space if you do not have a garden or garage. Additionally, it is more convenient to transport due to the fact that it does not require a roof rack and can be easily stowed in a car.

You can even purchase bags with straps or handles to transport the backpack from home to the car and from there to the drop-off location. This is also advantageous when attempting to enter overgrown or rough approaches, as it can be challenging to navigate in a rigid-hulled kayak.

Practically unsinkable

Any kayak’s primary selling point is the statement “it floats.” In this instance, however, we mean that it floats regardless of whether the kayak is flooded or sinking. If your inflatable kayak is constructed with multiple air chambers, it is virtually unabsorbent.

If one of the air chambers becomes damaged, the remaining chambers will remain inflated and keep the boat afloat, but you will be unable to paddle until the damaged chamber is repaired.

Less expensive

While you’re certain to find affordable rigid-hulled kayaks in our buyer’s guide, inflatable boats under 1,000 are more common. For instance, the Sea Eagle SE370 sport kayak retails for289, and the Advanced Elements Advanced Framed Ultralight retails for $2,000 or more. However, an inflatable kayak is less expensive than a rigid shell kayak in the long run.


An inflatable kayak’s stability is comparable to that of a hard shell kayak, and in some cases, paddlers find the inflatable kayak to be more stable. This is usually due to the fact that inflatables have a wider and flatter bottom than the majority of stationary boats. However, if the paddler is not vigilant about inflating the air chamber evenly or completely, the kayak’s stability on the water may suffer.

The majority of inflatable kayaks come equipped with a pump (pedal, hand, or electric), and some even come equipped with an integrated pressure gauge. If your pump does not measure air pressure, you should replace it with one that does in order to ensure that the air chambers inflate evenly (and not too much, which can damage the internal diaphragm).


If you enjoy paddling through wild water or even rivers where deadwood protrudes from the banks and sharp fallen branches are common, you may believe that using an inflatable kayak is risky. However, the majority of high-quality inflatables on the market today are nearly impenetrable. However, you get what you pay for in terms of durability: stronger and lighter materials are more expensive.

PVC is a material that is frequently used to construct inflatable kayaks because it is extremely resistant to punctures. Hypalon is more durable and lighter than polycarbonate, but it is also more expensive. The majority of inflatable kayaks are constructed using a combination of these two materials. Nitrile is the third most frequently used material. It is extremely strong, but comes at a cost of increased weight.

While most inflatable kayaks are quite strong, they are not invulnerable. Users must exercise caution to avoid dragging the kayak over gravel and rocks and to avoid coming into contact with any sharp objects on the water. It’s also critical not to take an inflatable kayak’s durability for granted and to always carry a maintenance tool (and know how to use it) in case one of the air chambers punctures.


Due to their durability, inflatable kayaks are also more adaptable. Due to their near-indestructible nature and ability to bounce off rocks, you can easily transition from flat water paddling to river paddling without fear of scratching the composite hull.

Unless you’re paddling Class III+ rapids, competing, or engaging in other paddling activities that require a more specialized vessel, an inflatable kayak can be used for a variety of water activities, including fishing, hiking, sea kayaking, and more.


The technology for inflatable boats has advanced significantly. While there are fast and efficient inflatable kayak designs available for activities such as kayaking, paddlers generally cannot match the performance of conventional rigid-shell inflatable kayaks.

For example, a fixed shell kayak is faster than an inflatable kayak when all other variables are equal. This is partly due to the inflatable design’s inherent elasticity, which results in a decrease in speed. This may be insignificant for the average user.


Although inflatable boats are more convenient to transport to access points, they require more preparation to get out on the water than rigid-hulled boats do. Naturally, this is due to the fact that they require inflation. It varies by kayak size, but it typically takes between seven and ten minutes to inflate a tandem kayak using a foot pump.

It will only take a few minutes using an electric pump. Inflating certain small kayaks takes less than a minute. Additionally, take a moment or two to check the air pressure in each chamber to ensure the kayak is properly inflated for optimal performance.

Vulnerability to wind and waves

As with a lightweight canoe or kayak, inflatable kayaks are generally lighter and more susceptible to adverse water conditions than hard-shell kayaks. Additionally, the shape of an inflatable kayak makes it more susceptible to wind and waves than a rigid shell kayak, which has a more streamlined shape and can withstand these conditions more easily.

However, thanks to technological advancements, inflatable kayak models designed for use in shallow water and on the open sea are beginning to resemble fixed-shell kayaks. Additionally, some are equipped with casters or additional rudders, which make maneuvering on the water easier.

drying time

Just as additional time is required to prepare them for launch (they must be inflated), additional time is required to stow them. While a hard shell kayak can be dried on the way home or in the yard against a tree, an inflatable kayak must be completely dry before stacking and storing. This means that you must either wait in the refreshment room (which is inefficient unless it is a sunny or windy day) or dry them at home.

Types of inflatable kayaks

Today’s inflatable kayak models are extremely versatile, adapting to a variety of water conditions and cruising distances. Numerous others can be customized and enhanced to fit their intended use. However, as mentioned previously, there are more specialized models available for specific activities and conditions. The following are some of the most frequently encountered types of inflatable kayaks that you should be familiar with.


Recreational kayaks are typically less than 12 feet in length, with wider kayaks providing increased stability and making paddling easier in favorable conditions. Particularly inflatable recreational kayaks are excellent boats for beginners.

Paddlers with experience who enjoy leisurely day trips and easy cruises will appreciate the comfort, efficiency, and portability of a boat like Aquaglide’s Chelan 155 HB XL.


Inflatable kayaks are typically smaller and lighter than other inflatable boats. When purchasing an inflatable kayak, one of the most critical characteristics is its ability to self-protect.

Explorer 300X kayak from Sea Eagle.|Photo. For instance, the Sea Eagle Explorer 300x kayak features sixteen floor drains that can be opened and closed to drain water while paddling in whitewater and to keep the kayak dry while paddling in shallow water. Additionally, the boat features splash guards on both sides, which is advantageous when paddling in whitewater.


Individual inflatable kayaks are designed for a single paddler. They are typically shorter than tandem kayaks, but this varies depending on the type of paddling. Thus, single-seater inflatable kayaks are available for a variety of uses, including paddling, recreational activities, and fishing.


Tandem kayaks are inflatable kayaks that can be paddled by two people concurrently. Boats such as Advanced Element’s Island Voyage 2 feature a reconfigurable seating arrangement that accommodates one or two people. Tandem kayaks that fold up are also an excellent option for larger paddlers who require additional space and carrying capacity.