Are inflatable kayaks safe?

Are inflatable kayaks safe?

Are inflatable kayaks safe?

When I first heard about inflatable kayaks, I thought they were more like pool toys than real boats. They don’t look like real kayaks, are they safe to paddle?

Many people have similar fears and concerns. Inflatable kayaks don’t look like real kayaks, are they safe? If you are someone who finds yourself in this situation and have similar concerns, don’t despair. In this article we will talk about the safety of inflatable kayaks. In this article we will talk about all the pros and cons of inflatable kayaks and answer this question once and for all.

Inflatable kayaks – a breakdown

Despite what many people think, inflatable kayaks are actually very durable. Today they are designed to withstand the harshest conditions.

You can take them in shallow water, rivers or even in the sea without worrying about them breaking and sinking. Although they are not suitable for all situations, they are generally very well designed and are suitable for beginners and experienced paddlers alike.
You may feel less stability in an inflatable kayak than in a traditional boat, but I think you’ll be surprised at how stable and reliable they are.

Are inflatable kayaks any good?


Inflatable boat technology has come a long way in the last few decades. In the past, they were mainly used for military and commercial purposes, but leisure companies have found a way to use the same design process to produce durable, professional, high-quality watercraft for an increasing number of people.

You can now see a wide range of inflatable water toys, such as paddleboards, kayaks, wakeboards, floating fishing boats and more. Inflatable boats are increasingly becoming the “must-have” boats in many sports.

What activities is it safe to use an inflatable kayak for?

You can use an inflatable boat for all common water activities.

On lakes and calm rivers you can safely use any inflatable kayak.

If you want to go rafting, you need a specially designed kayak.

How durable are they?

Unlike conventional pool toys, inflatable kayaks are not made of just a thin layer of material. Some inflatable kayaks, like this one, use aluminum components to make the structure stronger and more stable.

They are covered with several layers of thicker materials, such as vinyl and polyester, which are strong and durable. These materials can withstand high impacts. Whether you’re paddling in rocky water or standing with the paddle in your shoes, you don’t have to worry about damaging it.

I wouldn’t take it on a gravel road, but these kayaks usually hold up well to normal wear and tear. You want to protect your inflatable kayak, but it won’t be like a raft or an inflatable balloon. They are designed to last.
Thanks to modern technology, the exterior of these boats can be even more durable than the hull of a hard-hulled kayak.

The main factors that make inflatable kayaks so durable are.

2 or 3 layers of fabric provide additional protection against tears or punctures. A stray paddle can get through one layer, but the other layers prevent complete penetration.

Separate inflation chambers mean that if for some reason one part of the kayak were to puncture or break, it would happen in that single chamber. Having 2 or 3 chambers intact means you can stay afloat long enough to make repairs or get help.

A closed valve means that air can’t escape once it’s in. There is no need to worry about the kayak getting stuck due to air loss during inflation. If inflated to the proper pressure and maintained correctly, an inflatable kayak is just as stable and durable as a regular kayak.

Think of the extremely durable military boats used in some military operations, such as Navy SEALs holding and jumping from concealed inflatable boats in covert operations.

Some inflatable kayaks are made from the same materials and using the same technology used to manufacture military vehicles.

If you think about it, you can be sure that you are buying a safe, durable and reliable device that you will be able to use for many years to come.

Quality of construction and materials

This is where it gets a little tricky: it can be difficult to differentiate materials, fasteners, valves, etc.
For example, the word “denier” seems important, but is it?

I’ll summarize some important safety factors to consider when buying an inflatable kayak.

  • RF welded seams

  • Durable PVC, hypalon or polyurethane fabric in the hull.

  • Well documented quality control process.

  • Warranty: the longer the better.

  • Two-way valve to prevent air leakage during inflation.

What about punctures?

Due to their robust construction, inflatable kayaks rarely have problems with punctures. Thanks to modern technology and materials, these boats are very durable.

You can hit rocks and branches without serious consequences. Of course, there are exceptions. If you push too hard, you are sure to puncture it. A gap can form and cause an air leak, or a sharp rock can hit the boat directly and cause a hole.

Holes can occur, though not very often, but keep an eye out for them when inflating a kayak. Keep them away from sharp objects and handle them carefully.

If you handle them carefully, your boat won’t have holes or cracks. If you have a small repair kit, most inflatable kayaks can be easily repaired.

Most inflatable kayaks come with their own repair kits, which you can use to fix cracks quickly.

The good models may be expensive

This is one of those cases where you get what you pay for. “There are relatively inexpensive inflatable kayaks on Amazon and other stores (under $200) and they’re perfect for playing on a dock next to a lake or pond. However, if you’re going to be traveling far from shore or if you want to go many miles, you need to know that the kayak is reliable. Unfortunately, some cheap inflatable bags are not as durable as the more expensive ones.

For example, more expensive kayaks have a combination of double and triple layers of fabric, separate inflation chambers and waterproofing valves. All of these factors play an important role in the reliability and durability of a kayak.

Look for stability and rigidity

How stable is your kayak when inflated? Will it collapse when you try to stand up? The good news is that the answer is no.

You’ll be amazed at how stable and rigid these kayaks are when fully inflated. The most important thing: make sure the kayak is fully inflated. An underinflated kayak is unstable and will struggle to stay afloat.

Most inflatable kayaks use a small inflatable part or a metal structure integrated into the boat as a mast.

Both forms act as a stabilizer for the boat. They keep the boat straight and stable while paddling. When the kayak is inflated, it is very rigid. Often the feel is no different than that of a normal hard-hulled kayak.

In most cases, inflated kayaks are as stable as a normal kayak.

However, like conventional kayaks, they have a critical mass and varying primary and secondary stability. If you want to stand upright in a kayak for fishing or other purposes, do your research, as some inflatable kayaks may not be as suitable as others due to the different stiffness of the kayak bottom.

If you want a stiffer kayak bottom, you can always buy or make your own stiff bottom liner to solve this problem. If you buy one, it is usually made of a slightly inflatable, reinforced material that can be inflated to high and strong pressure.

If you want to make one, you can always find instructions on YouTube or other sources on how to make your own from plywood or other materials.

Can inflatable kayaking be used in the ocean and on the sea?

Ocean and seawater turn deadly quickly. Smaller watercraft, such as an inflatable kayak, are susceptible to wind, waves, and currents.

Seaworthy vessels must be properly prepared (with weather forecasts, tides, and currents) and fully outfitted (radio, life jacket, water, sun protection, etc)

Do they sink?

One of the advantages of inflatable kayaks is their incredible buoyancy. If you’ve ever capsized a conventional hard-hulled kayak, you’ll know that getting the water out of the boat and back in can be very difficult. The advantage of an inflatable kayak is that it is filled with air, so it will stay afloat even if it capsizes. Their light weight makes it easy to dump the water that can fill them.

Inflatable kayaks do not sink

An inflatable kayak won’t sink even in rough seas.

Worried about drowning? With a quality inflatable kayak, you don’t have to worry.

Inflatable kayaks, in particular, are very buoyant. Even when they fill up with water they still float.

But that’s not all. No, most hard-hulled kayaks are too light to sink in the water.

Good inflatable kayaks also have a self-bailing system.

This means that any water that enters is immediately released. These self-expansion systems ensure that the boat never fills up with water.

What if I spill something, will this cause your inflatable kayak to sink?

Unless the kayak is badly punctured, it will stay afloat.

A good inflatable kayak has several air chambers.

If one of them gets punctured (which is rare), the other air chambers will keep the boat afloat.

This does not mean that you can put everything in an inflatable kayak and expect it to last. There are weight limits that should not be exceeded.

If you are careful, sinking an inflatable kayak is the last thing you need to worry about.

Inflatable kayaks bounce off rocks.

Rocks are one of the most dangerous elements when kayaking on a river.

Hard, sharp rocks sticking out of the water (or hidden beneath the surface) can cause impact damage.

But with a good inflatable kayak, you won’t have to worry about this.

Unlike fixed kayaks, where the hull can break on impact, inflatable kayaks bounce off rocks. A hard impact will not cause any damage and will only leave a few scratches.

How are inflatable kayaks different from conventional kayaks and canoes?

This is absolutely correct and probably the most important question.

One of the most important performance factors is stiffness. But not only that, the correct keel and bow shape also affect performance. In recent years, inflatable technology has developed in this area.

In fact, a good inflatable kayak will never be superior to a traditional kayak. They cannot be as precise. However, the average kayaker will hardly notice the difference between a good inflatable kayak and a conventional one.

While inflatable kayaks have a rubber outer surface and flexible, durable materials, rigid kayaks are more prone to dents, dings and scratches if not properly maintained.

The safety of rigid and inflatable kayaks is very different.

State of Iowa statistics for the past three years are a good indicator. Hard-hulled kayaks only account for 10% of all boating accidents, but hard-hulled kayaks account for 37% of all fatalities (capsizes). Researchers found that kayakers were not following safety rules, such as not wearing life jackets, not knowing their boat, and paddling in dangerous waters without proper training.

Quality brands and inflatable kayaks designed for high performance in rapids and rough seas can cost as much as hard-hulled kayaks, while simple inflatable kayaks designed for beginners and calm waters can cost less.

What if the kayak fills up completely with water?

Inflatable kayaks may seem simple to fill because they don’t have an enclosed cockpit. Better, more convenient than hardshell kayaks with enclosed cockpits.

A well-designed whitewater inflatable kayak will self-protect.

Boat seams are perforated to allow excess water to drain quickly.

You can steer inflatable kayaks, but they are slow.

Whitewater inflatable kayaks handle well and allow for quick river mobility.

Safety tips when using inflatable kayaks

Preparation and behavior in the water both heavily influence kayaking safety.

Here are a few safety tips for your inflatable kayak:

  • Inflate your inflatable kayak at all times. Without enough air, it will be too soft and thus sluggish.

  • Inflation requires checking for leaks.

  • Inside your inflatable kayak, always carry your pump and repair kit.

  • Always load your kayak properly to prevent it from tipping over. Back weight gain is better than stomach weight gain.

  • Wear a life vest, even if you are a strong swimmer. These are affordable and safe options.

  • Always keep close to the shore

  • Turn your kayak around immediately if you see an approaching wave. If the wave were to hit your kayak sideways, it could capsize.

  • Keep away from rocks and gravel, and steer clear of sharp objects.

  • Plan a safe trip before going alone or to an unfamiliar location.

  • Don’t drowse while paddling. However, as the water gently rocks, you never know where you will awake.

  • Always pack clean drinking water, a hat, sunscreen, a whistle, and your cell phone when you kayak.

Everything you do involves some risk, and kayaking is no exception, regardless of the type of kayak you choose.

Modern inflatable kayaks may be durable, but they are not impenetrable. As with any kayak, care must be taken with water safety.

Inflatable kayaks are not designed for rough conditions or rough water. If you find yourself on a river with rapids and obstacles, you need to be extra careful. You want to avoid any situation that could cause damage to you or your vehicle.

Remember that inflatable kayaks are very lightweight. This means they can be swept away by ocean currents and strong winds. Be careful when paddling in adverse conditions. In general, never kayak alone or without notifying anyone of your location and always wear life jackets.

You would want to be aware of maintenance procedures and read the user manual by the manufacturer. After all, the manufacturer will have drafted these procedures after a lot of consideration and anything they say should not be ignored.

Having at least one partner with you while kayaking would also be a very good thing. River kayaking can be dangerous. More so when you are talking about white water rapids.

You would always want to have a patch kit on hand.

Inflatable kayaks are very light

Inflatable kayaks are very light. They are incredibly comfortable.

But from a safety standpoint, they are not ideal.

In fact, any current or strong wind will rip the kayak off the side.

You have to work doubly hard when handling these things.

Take a kayaking class from a qualified instructor

Common sense dictates the need to take adequate precautions so that you stay out of trouble. You would want to take a class and learn all you can about kayak safety. This would be a good choice and you will equip yourself with vital information that can serve you very if you happen to face an issue while on the water.

Learning about safety precautions will benefit everyone and should not be seen as a hassle. By taking a class from a qualified instructor, you can get all of your questions answered and your misconceptions will be cleared.

Having such information can be the key to survival and give you the strength to face just about anything while on the water. And the repercussions of not having such information can potentially cause serious harm.

You should know the weight capacity of your kayak and not overload it with too much gear. You would also want to learn how to store your kayak at home so that it does not get damaged.

Using kayak outriggers or stablizers would be good idea if you are a beginner.

Nature can sometimes be harsh and submerged tree branches can rip an inflatable kayak’s bottom. Knowing what to do in such situations is of critical importance. Safety is something every kayaker should keep in mind regardless of how experienced they might be.

Inflatable kayaks are slow

Speed is rarely needed.

Perhaps a boat will pass or a large log will be thrown into the current.

Whatever the situation, you should avoid it immediately.

Powerful inflatables have great buoyancy but also great drag. An inflatable kayak paddles much slower than a hard-hulled kayak.

This slowness can be even greater if you are already in a strong current or if there is a strong wind.

If you compare the faster hard hull kayak to the faster inflatable kayak, the hard hull kayak will be faster.

However, this is rare, so it’s not a big deal.

Can I capsize an inflatable kayak?

You can always capsize; the sooner you realize it, the better.

But inflatable kayaks are one thing.

Inflatable kayaks are usually wider than fixed hull kayaks and have thick inflatable tubes, which makes them very stable and very buoyant, making them very difficult to capsize.

Each kayak has a different heeling point and a different degree of primary and secondary stability. However, it takes a lot of effort or extreme conditions to capsize an inflatable kayak.

Always carry a water pump with you

Many people think that pumping with an electric pump is faster and easier than with a hand pump, but this is usually not the case.

Electric pumps have to be installed close to the vehicle and are very noisy, slow and cumbersome.

Good quality electric pumps are available, but they are usually very expensive.

A foot pump reduces inflation time, which is comparable to the time needed to tie a traditional kayak to a roof rack. However, before inflating your kayak, you must clean and dry it, which is essential for the kayak’s longevity.

Always wear life jackets when kayaking.

Most kayaks are lost because life jackets are not worn. The number of tragic deaths of kayakers and paddlers who were not wearing life jackets is staggering. There are so many such cases that the police patrol some lakes and impose heavy fines on those not wearing life jackets.

No one thinks about falling off a boat, capsizing a kayak or having an accident on the water, but it happens, and most of the deaths could have been avoided if they had been wearing life jackets.

The terror of speedboats

Another very common accident this year is when a kayaker is literally run over by a speedboat. For me, being used to kayaking around speedboats, this is absolutely insane.

As kayakers, we have no control over the other boats we share the water with. Unfortunately, some speedboat owners don’t seem to realize that they are sharing the water with other people. In the last two weeks alone, two innocent paddlers have been hit by careless speedboats on Okanagan Lake. One remains in critical condition and the other was seriously injured.

The two boat owners said they did not see the kayaks . Witnesses stated that the boat owners were watching a boat towing a person (probably a water skier or something).

Watch out for protruding objects

The level of a river or stream may seem calm, but the force of flowing water is much greater than many people think. A good way to commit suicide is to get caught between a tree or other immovable object, and the force of the flowing water may be so strong that the person cannot escape.

Leave enough room for the object to come out of the water, because you never know what it is. The object may have a wider path under the surface of the water, so drilling a hole in the bottom of the boat is not the best solution.

Air temperature and risk of hypothermia

A general rule of thumb for kayaking safety is that if the water and air temperature drops below 120 degrees, there is a high risk of hypothermia unless a wetsuit or protective garment is worn.

With a water temperature of 58 degrees, you need an air temperature of at least 62 degrees to kayak safely. Therefore, stay on shore, make sure the wind is not so strong that it will blow or blow you over, carry a bag of dry clothes, matches and a lighter.

Stay away from crocodiles and hippos

Inflatable kayaks are good for kayaking and mild river floats.

However, if you want to go whitewater kayaking, you will need a whitewater kayak.

The same holds for going out to sea in a kayak. Inflatable kayaks are available for ocean use.

Never go into water where crocodiles, alligators, or hippos are present with your inflatable kayak. Crocodiles and hippos are a serious concern and you would not want to throw caution to the winds by ignoring safety concerns.

Still, some kayakers – for reasons best known to them – head straight into crocodile infested waters seemingly oblivious to their personal safety.

For newbies, this is absolutely true. Baboons are well-known for puncturing inflatable kayaks. You could also risk death if your inflatable kayak is damaged while in crocodile-infested waters.

In conclusion, Kayaking is a great way to enjoy the various natural landscapes, and there are various strategies for avoiding predators. If this is your first trip, take the necessary safety precautions – and avoid crocodiles and hippos at all costs!