What are inflatable kayaks made of?
The following are some of the most frequently used materials for inflatable kayak construction.
- Vinyl chloride (polyvinyl chloride)
No one will judge you if you believe this is merely a lengthy list of chemical terms, but bear with me for a moment as we attempt to shed some light. The majority of inflatable kayaks are constructed similarly: a fabric core provides shape and a layer of synthetic rubber provides sealing, abrasion resistance, chemical and ultraviolet resistance (if applicable). While the fabric backing is critical, it is how manufacturers incorporate the synthetic rubber layer that has the greatest impact on the price, performance, and maintenance of an inflatable kayak.
Let’s begin with PVC, as it is the most frequently used synthetic rubber material in the construction of inflatable kayaks. As you might imagine, PVC is significantly less expensive to manufacture than other materials and is thus frequently used in entry-level inflatable kayaks that cannot afford to use higher-quality materials. It is a problem, but one that the average kayaker can easily solve by keeping their inflatable kayak out of direct sunlight and avoiding chemical contact (which is probably not a problem)
As a result, PVC synthetic rubber inflatable kayaks are an excellent choice for beginners who are new to inflatable kayaks or for experienced kayakers who may be hesitant to pay a premium for a kayak.
On the other hand, materials such as Hypalon and Nitrylon are frequently used in high-end inflatable kayaks for those seeking maximum performance at a reasonable price. These kayaks are typically significantly more expensive than PVC inflatable kayaks, as the materials used in these kayaks can cost up to twice as much. Hypalon inflatable kayaks are more resistant to chemicals and ultraviolet rays than PVC kayaks.
This increases their resistance to prolonged sun exposure. A Hypalon inflatable kayak is an excellent choice for those seeking maximum performance at a reasonable price.
How durable are inflatable kayaks?
Without a doubt, the first question that anyone who has ever purchased, ridden, or even seen an inflatable kayak will ask. Is this thing sufficiently sturdy and can I rely on it? I recall very clearly thinking about this and initially doubting it.
Inflatable kayaks are extremely durable. Inflatable kayaks are constructed with multiple layers for maximum puncture and abrasion resistance. Although durability varies according to price and intended use, inflatable kayaks are robust enough to withstand everything from fishing hooks to floating rocks.
Although the durability of inflatable kayaks varies significantly, when you purchase one from a reputable brand, you can rest assured that you are not purchasing a glorified pool toy.
To begin with, Due to the fact that not all inflatable kayaks are created equal, there are some distinctions in terms of an older inflatable kayak’s durability. It is critical to recognize that there are numerous variables involved in the construction of a kayak, and that external variables such as the kayak’s age or care have a significant impact.
If you’re considering purchasing an inflatable kayak that has been previously used, it’s critical to determine its age. This is because all plastics degrade in some way over time, and the glue that holds the seams together degrades as well. PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a less expensive material that ages more rapidly than Hypalon.
A closer examination of the material used to construct this inflatable kayak reveals its thickness, which contributes to the kayak’s durability.
As is the case with most things, more expensive inflatable kayaks are more durable because they are constructed with higher-quality materials and may incorporate additional layers. While all major manufacturers of inflatable kayaks use a multi-layered construction, higher-end manufacturers may add additional layers to provide additional features. For instance, an inflatable kayak with a Hypalon outer layer may have a higher resistance to chemicals and abrasion than a cheaper kayak. While this may not be necessary for kayakers on quiet lakes, the added abrasion protection is certainly beneficial for water enthusiasts.
However, some of the most affordable kayak brands on the market, such as Intex and Sea Eagle, offer significantly more durability than their price suggests.
Inflatable kayaks break easily
The truth is that the majority of well-known brands manufacture inflatable kayaks that are extremely unlikely to break during normal and expected use. While I would not recommend fishing with a chisel while in an inflatable kayak, these kayaks are designed to withstand all manner of bumps and scratches without bursting. They are unquestionably more resistant to punctures than the inflatable pool toys available at the supermarket.
Two adults can comfortably paddle in an inflatable kayak.
Although inflatable kayaks are constructed from durable materials, contact with sharp rocks or submerged wood should be avoided as they have the potential to puncture one of the kayak’s chambers.
How long does an inflatable kayak last?
Most inflatable kayaks should last between 5 and 10 years with proper care and maintenance. Again, significant variation exists due to a variety of factors. In general, inflatable kayaks constructed of more expensive materials (such as Hypalon) will outlast those constructed of PVC.
After each use, we recommend thoroughly cleaning your kayak and storing it in an area away from extreme temperatures. While properly cleaning your kayak will help prevent some degradation, the reality is that degradation cannot be avoided, as all plastics degrade completely over time. If your inflatable kayak’s seams are only held together with glue, the glue will eventually wear off ten years after manufacture.
Inflatable Kayaks: FAQ: The Most Important Guide
In the manufacture of inflatable kayaks and boats, three basic materials are used.
The vast majority of these are made of PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, a strong plastic that has been softened and made more flexible with the addition of plasticizers.
There are numerous benefits to using PVC, including the following:
It has the potential to be extremely long-lasting.
It is extremely durable.
It is a low-cost material that is widely used.
It is possible to weld or glue it together.
It’s a cinch to fix.
It is also useful for coating other materials, such as nylon, to increase their strength and tear resistance.
The kayak’s strength is determined by the thickness of the PVC coating.
The disadvantage of PVC is that it is not chemically, thermally, or UV resistant.
As a result, we always recommend protecting inflatable kayaks with a UV protection spray, such as 303 Protectant.
2. Pennel Orca material
Pennel Orca is a high-strength and extremely durable synthetic rubber.
Inflatable kayaks, for example, made of Orca material have several significant advantages.
They are extremely resistant to corrosion.
They are UV resistant.
Chemicals and extreme temperatures are not a problem for them.
Manufacturers of inflatable boats that select this material use it to cover the exterior of their kayaks.
The kayak’s interior is typically constructed of nylon or polyester, while the exterior is constructed entirely of Orca material.
NRS.com’s MaverIK line of inflatable kayaks is an example of how this type of fabric is used in some kayaks. These kayaks are extremely durable and typically come with a longer warranty, typically between five and ten years.
They are ideal for whitewater and harsh environments.
The disadvantage is that they are more expensive, as the manufacturing process requires this type of material. Additionally, it must be adhered to the surface rather than welded. Generally, a welded kayak is more smooth and pleasing to the eye (less glue defects).
Nitrile is a coating of synthetic nitrile rubber and natural rubber applied to a low-stretch polyester fabric with a density of 1200 denier.
This material is slightly greener than PVC or Pennel Orca.
It is extremely durable and resistant to punctures and abrasion.
It outperforms PVC in terms of durability.
It is less brittle than PVC and is therefore easier to repair.
It is more resistant to severe cold.
However, nitrile is a very heavy material. As a result, it is typically used only on the exterior of boats.
The majority of them are extremely robust and difficult to penetrate.
However, the answer to this question is material-dependent and depends on the thickness or number of layers of material used to construct the kayak.
Punctures are extremely uncommon. As is the case with any inflatable product, punctures are possible, but are unlikely with proper care.
Paddles that are less expensive (under $500) are more prone to puncture than more expensive and durable models.
However, inflatable kayaks have the advantage of featuring three distinct air chambers. Therefore, if one of them leaks, the remaining two will keep you afloat and safely bring you to shore, as was the case with me.
Apart from being a little challenging to paddle, she was completely safe, and we made our way to shore slowly and without incident.
Here are the five most important safety tips you should follow:
Take a non-inflatable kayak into whitewater only if it is specifically designed for that purpose.
Maintain an awareness of the weather and tides. If you’re using a lighter, less expensive model, stay close to shore.
Bear in mind that the direction of the wind can change rapidly and dramatically. Being trapped in high winds is unpleasant and frightening.
To keep the materials and seams of your kayak strong and durable, thoroughly dry it and store it in a weatherproof location.
Always wear a life jacket equipped with a whistle and notify someone of your planned paddle location.
The majority of them are quite robust, and tipping them takes considerable effort.
As you may have noticed from your research, inflatable kayaks are typically quite wide, which makes them quite stable. They can be found in widths ranging between 28 and 40 inches.
The wider the kayak is, the less stable it is, but it can move through the water more quickly.
Choose a wider or larger model if you want more stability. On paddles, it’ll be extremely stable and comfortable.
They are easy to put on and take off regardless of your age or skill level, due to their stability.
The majority are extremely stable and easy to handle, particularly when boarding from the shore.
Access is a little tricky from the pier, but straightforward. If you can secure your kayak with the assistance of a friend, even better.
Recovering your kayak from the water (if you’ve fallen into it or floated in it) takes practice.
It is recommended that you practice on calm water to ensure that you are prepared to respond appropriately in an emergency.
It takes between 5 and 8 minutes to inflate using a hand pump, depending on the size and speed of the hand pump.
A foot or hand pump is included with the majority of inflatable kayaks. Both are simple to use and assist in inflating the kayak completely.
The larger the kayak, the more air it consumes and the longer it takes to complete.
Because the majority of kayaks have a maximum pressure of 3 or 4 PSI, they are much easier to use than inflatable kayaks, which can reach up to 15 PSI.
The Sea Eagle Razorlite – my favorite kayak – is the sole exception, as it boasts a 10 PSI air pressure that makes it stiffer than any other inflatable boat.
However, because the Razorlite’s sides are thinner, it inflates more quickly despite the increased air pressure….. Takes me no more than five minutes.
In either case, caution should be exercised to avoid excessive inflation.
It is recommended that you use a 12-volt BTP Mano two-stage air pump. You can configure the PSI level and leave it turned on. When the proper level is reached, it will automatically shut off.
If you use another pump, exercise caution not to over- or under-inflate the kayak.
The majority of kayaks are stable, though some are more so.
This is a legitimate concern due to the fact that they lack a steering rudder. In comparison, the majority of inflatable kayaks come equipped with a steerable fin.
Certain kayak models are undoubtedly more maneuverable than others.
Over the years, inflatable kayaks have evolved in terms of design and construction, and some manufacturers now incorporate a fixed high pressure bottom and/or keel into their kayaks, significantly improving overall performance.
Warranties vary by manufacturer and typically last between one and ten years.
The vast majority of manufacturers offer a limited one-year warranty on their inflatable kayaks.
There are exceptions.
Sea Eagle warrants its products for three years.
NRS warranties its products for a period of three to ten years, depending on the model.
On its premium models, AIRE provides a ten-year warranty.
Fishing is ideal with inflatable kayaks.
Of course! Indeed, fishing from inflatable kayaks is a growing trend that offers numerous benefits.
They are portable, which allows you to take them to remote locations that are inaccessible to larger vessels.
They’re lightweight and compact, making them ideal for transport and storage.
After use, they are simple to clean and dry.
While any inflatable kayak can technically be used for fishing, there are kayaks designed specifically for fishermen, with additional reinforcements added where necessary to increase durability and functionality.
If fishing is a hobby of yours, I suggest you read our article on the Best Inflatable Kayaks for Fishing. Is your inflatable kayak a viable alternative to a rigid kayak of comparable size?
That is an excellent question, because you may find yourself kayaking with a friend who does not own an inflatable boat, and the last thing you want is for him to drag you along.
If you truly desire increased speed, the Sea Eagle Razorlite is the way to go. When I’m kayaking with my crew, I use this model.
It maintains a straight course and glides through the water effortlessly.
This is one of the benefits of inflatable kayaks. It can be transported by van or large boat.
It is portable and can be taken on a bus or a plane with you. When traveling, I’ve never encountered an issue with my kayak.
Simply properly pack it. When I check in for my flight, I occasionally wrap the kayak or paddle in bubble wrap or a towel and secure the bag completely.
The weight varies according to the size and material, but most people are surprised at how light it is to carry.
Naturally, weight varies according to the kayak’s dimensions and construction.
The smallest weigh approximately 15-18 pounds, while the majority weigh between 30-40 pounds.
Although ultralight kayaks can be used for camping, they are easily blown away by the wind if they are too light. This is merely a suggestion based on your specific requirements.
Certain inflatable kayaks are built to handle Class IV rapids.
There are some excellent inflatable kayaks and transverse kayaks available that are suitable for both flatwater and whitewater.
Three manufacturers make extremely durable and enjoyable inflatable kayaks: NRS, Sea Eagle, and AIRE.
Dogs and their owners are frequently seen playing together in inflatable kayaks, and it’s a great activity to do together. Bring along your four-legged friend!
Bear in mind one thing. If your dog jumps into an inflatable kayak, retrieving him from the water and reintroducing him to the kayak will be challenging. Ascertain that he is wearing a handle-equipped life jacket so that you can assist him in pulling himself up.
Secure the equipment to a D-ring or strap or keep it in the cockpit.
D-rings or bungee cords are standard on many inflatable kayaks. To keep your equipment secure, you can attach it to the D-ring.
If your kayak lacks D-rings, they can be purchased separately and attached as needed.
Your gear can be stored inside the kayak or on the front and rear wave breakers, depending on the model.
All that is necessary is that you dress appropriately for the weather and water conditions. Below, you’ll find a variety of options.
Bear in mind that when using an inflatable kayak, you are more exposed to weather conditions, and thus should dress more carefully.
What to wear is determined by the weather and your swimming ability.
Clothing that is adequately warm If the air and water are sufficiently warm, you can dress as if you were going to the beach. Utilize sunscreen and a hat, however.
On a hot day, you are completely vulnerable to the sun’s rays reflecting off the water on your skin.
Wear a life jacket at all times!
Clothing that is adequately warm It is critical to layer your clothing in cool weather and avoid cotton. Cotton absorbs moisture and contributes to the sensation of being cold.
A warm base layer should be constructed from moisture-wicking synthetic fibers such as wool or fleece.
Because the top layer will protect you, it should be wind- and water-resistant.
If you’re sea or water kayaking, you’ll need a waterproof jacket and pants that seal around your neck and wrists.
Bring an extra pair of wool socks and change them after your trip to ensure your feet remain comfortable on the return journey.
Final thoughts on different inflatable kayak materials.
Surprisingly, there appears to be considerable debate regarding the various materials used to construct inflatable kayaks and boats.
It’ll be fascinating to see how inflatable kayak materials evolve over the next few years.