The time when inflatable kayaks were introduced to the kayaking world should be taken seriously as they broke the barriers that most hard-shell kayaks were and still are subjected to– namely portability and transportation. You would need special arrangements if yours is a traditional model to enjoy diverse water bodies located in the distant corners of the country. Inflatable kayaks set us free to conquer distance, being superbly portable, lightweight and affordable. Also, significant improvements have been made in their designs in the last decade.
In this buying guide, we will be reviewing some of the best inflatable kayaks available today that are fun and safe to use. As a hobbyist, I use the same model for sailing, fishing and water rafting activities. I will share the secrets of buying blow up kayaks; their low-maintenance and value will save a great deal of money. Before getting the right one, you need to understand your requirements first. Once you have that knowledge, hopefully, this review will do the rest for you.
Top Inflatable Kayaks : Comparison Chart
|Pick Name||Thumbnail||Product Name||Price|
|Editor’s Choice||Intex Challenger K2 Kayak||Check Price|
|Top Inflatable Sport Kayak||Sea Eagle SE370 Pro||Check Price|
|Top Product for the Money||Intex Explorer K2||Check Price|
|Choice for Beginners||Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak||Check Price|
|Choice for White Water||Driftsun Rover 220||Check Price|
|Choice for Ocean||Hobie Mirage iZ11S||Check Price|
|7th||Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak||Check Price|
|8th||Driftsun Voyager 2 Person Inflatable Tandem Kayak||Check Price|
|9th||Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak with Deluxe Package||Check Price|
|10th||Driftsun Rover 120 Inflatable White-Water Kayak||Check Price||11th||Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame||Check Price||12th||AIRHEAD MONTANA Kayak||Check Price|
How Did We Pick These Products?
Our product picking process involved several steps of researching, feature analysis, field-tests, comparisons, and reevaluation of assessments. Initially, we conducted extensive 30-hour online research to track down 35 top-of-the-line inflatable kayak models with the highest number of ratings and positive user reviews. Once we had the initial list of 35, we took them out for field-tests.
A group of community-based volunteers helped our team members carrying out the tests. We tested the kayaks out in different water bodies including salt sea waters and white-waters to find out their true potentials and performance. We closely examined the ergonomics, build material, sitting position, shape, extra space, stability, speed, and portability before we narrowed down our list to the final 12.
Once we had our top 12 boats, we reached out to some of the industry experts and kayak designers in a bid to have their insights into our list. They guided us in ranking the models based on their types and overall performance. It took us about a month to complete the research and testing process before we finally got the list of top 12 inflatable kayak models in hand.
Our Top 12 Best Inflatable Kayak
So, which inflatable kayak is the best? You can decide on the model from the list of our recommendations without a second thought. However, you can follow our inflatable kayak reviews to know what makes a high-quality kayak in this category. Our team of boat engineers has evaluated each of the top-rated choices based on the ease of paddling, stability, build quality, design, ergonomics, storage, advanced features, speed, inflation, value, and portability.
01 Editor’s Choice: Intex Challenger K2 Kayak
This open style inflatable Intex Challenger K2 Kayak has high side walls that will minimize the occurrence of splashes from choppy waters. Usually, blow up tandems are lightweight and can fit handy backpacks. The former K1 model supports one adult and this one supports two. The K2 offers everything you need to enjoy your weekend in a getaway lake. Let’s discuss other features that make this model a must-have.
Spacious and Set to Go: The overall width of 2 feet 6 inches (76cm) gives room for your legs, bag, food, or drinks. When inflated, the Challenger K2 has the dimensions of 30 by 15 by 138 inches. So, it’s a well-balanced model that makes paddling pleasurable when you are set to go.
Super-Tough Vinyl Material: Most blow-up boats that are built with vinyl materials are durable. This boat features a puncture-resistant and super-tough vinyl that binds with the I-beam structure to maintain air-tightness. Also, the vinyl material is UV damage-resistant.
Safety Features: The K2 uses enhanced safety features that prevent collisions. It sports a blend of bright green color and black streamlined design. Apart from the appearance of these sporty graphics, the concept makes this kayak very visible in the water. When there’s poor visibility from fog or snow, it will be easy for other water users to see you paddling this model.
High-Quality Accessories: The package comes with two units of 86-inch aluminum paddles, a carrier bag, and an Intex high-output pump that reduces launch time. The hi-output pump allows for easy inflation and deflation.
- Dimension: 30 by 15 by 138 inches
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 400lbs
- Weight: 33.53lbs
- Brand: Intex Challenger
- Has a maximum weight capacity of 400 lbs
- Extra-thick super-tough vinyl materials and UV damage-resistant
- Open deck design has a medium-size cargo net to hold large goods
- The vinyl material might be tough, but there’s a stronger synthetic material that makes a high-quality blow-up kayak
Intex Challenger K2 is popular among the professionals for its rigid inflatable I-beam floor and two separate air chambers that are covered with a heavy-duty vinyl material that’s puncture-resistant. It’s the best inflatable kayak in the tandem category for those in need of blow-up boats that fit into backpacks compactly. Currently, it’s available on Amazon under 150 bucks and there’s no better product within this price range, not even under 200.
02 Top Inflatable Sport Kayak: Sea Eagle SE370 Pro
In the absence of a second paddler, your pet can sail! The SE370 Pro sports model by Sea Eagle is one of the toughest, and cheapest boats for the lake and Class III whitewater. The pair of tracking skegs that allow paddlers to travel smoothly across the water. Tough like a tank, it’s build quality is close to the toughness of their 420x model which is famous for a sturdy construction. Also, you can use this kayak for improving paddling techniques, yacht tending, and fishing. Here are other exciting features that come with this model.
Adjustable Space for Two People: It has the maximum passenger capacity is for two persons, a pet and a cargo space. It’s lightweight of 32 lbs offers maneuverability and buoyancy on water. So, there’s no reason for worry when this model holds less than 650 lbs weight. The side walls are not as narrow as those of the Razorlite 473rl, but they are ergonomic.
Suitable for Class III Whitewater: Most lakes are not turbulent, but SE370 Pro can handle class III whitewater rapids. It’s an ideal kayak for rivers because this kayak is highly maneuverable while paddling on the water. Apart from that, like their Fast Track 385 FT and Fasttrack 465 FT models, the hull material of this boat can withstand both saltwater and sunlight. In case your boat is splashed and there’s water inside, they’ve added self-bailing drain valves like they used in their 300x model.
Complete Package: Apart from the SE370 Pro Sports Kayak, Sea Eagle provides other accessories with this package for buyers. You’ll get two units of AB30 paddles, and adjustable DKS seats respectively. Also included in the package are the foot pump and carrier bag.
Affordability: This 3 seater model is one of the cheapest kayaks on our list. It offers impressive paddling performance, and value for money. Unlike other models within its price range, the SE370 is superbly stable, and versatile.
- Deflated Dimension: 31 by 19 by 8 inches
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 650lbs
- Tare Weight: 32lbs
- Brand: Sea Eagle
- Material: 38 mil PolyKrylar (K80 PVC)
- Accessories: Two units of AB30 paddles, and adjustable DKS seats respectively. A travel bag, and foot pump
- The floor is sturdily built with an inflatable I-beam construction
- It comes with five deluxe one-way air valves
- This kayak isn’t suitable for use on a windy day
This model of Sea Eagle comes with two skegs beneath the boat that optimizes tracking and speed. Its exterior cover is made of tough PolyKrylar material, and the hull is strong enough to withstand scratches from pets’ paws and claws making it an ideal kayak for dogs. This watercraft can be inflated within five minutes, and plop into the water easily. There are many types of kayaks but this one is a great tandem kayak for intermediate paddlers. There are smaller and low budget options from Sea Eagle we tested including the Yukon, but if you can raise the budget, SE370 Pro should be an ideal choice.
03 Top Product for the Money: Intex Explorer K2
The Intex Explorer K2 68307EP is a versatile boat for paddlers with intermediate skill levels. It’s bright yellow color and black sporty designs makes this inflatable tandem kayak a beauty to behold. Also, it’s great for lakes and mild rivers expeditions. This compact watercraft is made with durable vinyl materials. Let’s discuss its amazing features as a superb model for the money.
Suitable for Smaller Water Bodies: Using this model on lakes and mild rivers is a great way to experience paddling. Generally, the Explorer 2 is designed for smaller water bodies.
Enhanced Safety: Water sports and recreational activities demand great safety measures. Interestingly, the bright yellow color and black sporty graphics help to boost visibility while paddling. It’s easy to spot the user of this kayak in cases of emergency.
Small and Tough: This K2 tandem kayak has dimensions of 20 x 36 x 123 inches. However, this lightweight craft can hold a maximum weight of 400 lbs and travel with increased stability.
Comfortable Seats: This model for two comes with an adjustable seat. Also, it has a comfortable backrest that eases discomfort during long hours of paddling.
- Inflated Dimension: 10’3″ X 3′ X 1’8″
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 400lbs
- Tare Weight: 30.60lbs
- Brand: Intex Explorer
- Material: Heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl
- It uses two separate air chambers for faster inflation
- It’s made from heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl material
- There is the I-beam floor that gives the kayak’s structure its rigidity
- Comes with vinyl materials weaker than those made with Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
This model comes with a pair of 86-inch aluminum oars, a carrier bag, and an Intex high-output pump for easy inflation. No wonder why this is one of the best rated inflatable kayaks on our list. It’s an ideal product for buyers that need a cheap, and comfortable model with spacious cockpits.
04 Choice for Beginners: Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak
The solo inflatable AdvancedFrame kayak by Advanced Elements is a great choice for long hours of paddling. During the pressure test by our engineers, it was fully inflated for at least 48 hours and inspected with satisfactory results. Impressively, its three-layers cover proved high resistance to puncture. Here are some important features that intended buyers will enjoy.
Built-in Aluminum Ribs: Like their renowned StraitEdge, Straightedge 2 and Strait Edge Angler Pro models, Advanced Elements has designed this one with built-in aluminum ribs to improve its maneuverability and stability. Also, its stern also acts as a skeg to boost the kayak’s tracking performance.
The Strength of Material: There are three-layers of puncture-resistant materials around the kayak’s frame. The main chamber of this kayak is covered with a heavy-duty 30-gauge PVC material. However, the inner layer is polyurethane-coated polyester, while the outer layer is PVC Tarpaulin with grade-1000 Denier Polyester. Also, the stern and bow are covered with welded-on landing plates. This three-layered material is strong and makes this kayak durable.
Breathable Padded Seat: As a solo model, there is enough leg room onboard and an adjustable seat. It has a high back seat like that of AdvancedFrame Expedition Elite model. The padded seat has a backrest that’s designed with breathable foam mesh to increase comfort. After cleaning the seat, it dries quickly because of its tiny vents.
Quick Launch Time: This model can be inflated and set up in just a few minutes. It looks like a rigid hard-shell kayak, but when deflated it can fit into a duffel bag for easy transportation.
Apart from that this super portable boat has a rubber hand grip for easy carrying like they used in their FireFly model.
- Dimension: 125 x 32 x 10 inches
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 225lbs
- Tare Weight: 36lbs
- Brand: Advanced Elements
- Material: PVC Tarpaulin, Grade-1000 Denier Polyester, and Polyurethane-coated polyester
- It has high-support sidewalls that reduce the occurrence of water splashes while paddling
- The adjustable padded seat is convenient to use for long hours of paddling
- It is preassembled at the factory and requires very easy setup
- Apart from legroom, there’s not enough space on-board for placing personal belongings
The Advanced Elements’ AdvancedFrame is a versatile watercraft that can be used for expeditions, recreational activities, and multi-day paddling excursions. It’s the ideal choice for enthusiasts that need triple-layered, durable, and puncture-resistant covers on their inflatable kayaks. We found it to be a starter kayak for beginners. Under 500 bucks, there’s no better choice on the market.
05 Choice for White Water: Driftsun Rover 220
This Rover 220 from Driftsun is incredible; it cuts through whitewater with precision. It’s built with high-end features for family adventures and recreational trips with a companion. Also, this kayak comes with EVA padded seats to ease discomfort during long paddling hours. Here are the reasons why the Driftsun Rover 220 made our top picks.
Durable and Lightweight: This kayak weighs 28lbs because it’s made from lightweight materials. However, they are made of grade-1000D reinforced layered PVC side tubes and a heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin base making them one of the most durable boats in this category. Both materials are puncture-proof and durable that can be seen in such top-class tandem kayaks.
Sturdy Construction: The side tubes and covers have reinforced layered PVC constructions that are puncture-proof. When the tides of whitewater rock the kayak to hit obstacles, the reinforced double layer makes it bounce off without damages.
Removable Rear Tracking Skeg: There’s increased stability, and speed when paddling because of the kayak’s rear tracking skeg. Also, the skeg is detachable (for whitewater) and offers great tracking performance in flat water.
Ease of Paddling: Apart from the ease of use, the Rover 220 tandem has many adjustable features for smooth paddling. The footrests, aluminum paddles, and EVA padded seats are adjustable.
- Inflated Dimension: 12.5’ft. x 38”
- Deflated Dimension: 24.5”x 21” x 10”
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 600lbs
- Tare Weight: 28lbs
- Brand: Driftsun
- Material: Heavy-duty PVC Tarpaulin, and Grade-1000D Reinforced Layered PVC
- Unlike most models that take less than six minutes to inflate, this Driftsun Rover 220 takes about nine minutes
- Unlike most models that take less than six minutes to inflate, this Driftsun Rover 220 takes about nine minutes
It’s only an inflatable kayak with high-end features that can paddle through rough and flat water bodies. Apart from the skeg’s superior tracking performance, this kayak’s floor structural design that’s held by rigid, and high-pressure drop stitches. This Driftsun Rover 220 is for adventure-ready couples or team that dare whitewater and rough water thrills.
06 Choice for Ocean: Hobie Mirage iZ11S
This product is one of the most expensive ocean kayaks on our list. As a multi-purpose pedaling kayak from the Hobie, it’s the choice for ocean and sea. So, the Mirage i11S must have some interesting features that make it a good product.
Twist and Stow Rudder: This fun craft comes with a twist and stow rudder that allows users to steer in a straight path. Usually, inflatable boats with rudders are stable and easy to maneuver. However, this model has its plastic rudder control fastened to the seat’s bracket.
A Multi-Purpose Pedal: This low-profile performer gives you the option of pedaling or padding on light surf bays, inland lakes or in the ocean. Also, it’s a versatile watercraft that can be used for fishing, and day touring. The reinforced underside of this boat is very much on par with that of Mirage i9S.
Heavyweight Kayak: When fully rigged, the weight of this model is 82.4 lbs. The sit-on-top boat can hold a maximum of 500 lbs weight. More so, you can use the hands-free kayak while pedaling.
Versatility: Multi-purpose pedaling kayaks like this help with muscle building and other aerobic exercises. So, it is a versatile watercraft that offers much value for money unlike their i12S model that has durability issues. What’s more, their i14t model is a tandem version of this model.
- Dimension: 135 x 39 x 18 inches
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 500lbs
- Weight: 82.4lbs
- Brand: Hobie Mirage
- Its pedals and paddles are suitable for short and long distances respectively
- By folding up and down the adjustable seat bottom allows for more leg space
- The adjustable seat back comes with lumbar support technology to ease discomforts
- It’s an expensive sit-on-top kayak, and most beginners might not be able to afford this Hobie Mirage i11S model
The Hobie Mirage i11S might be an expensive product, but it comes with high-end features, unlike regular sit-on-top models. It’s a great multipurpose technical kayak that tracks with high performance because of its built-in bow and rudder. It’s the right choice for buyers that need stable sit-on-top boats for light surf bays and the ocean.
07 Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
Are you searching for a longer inflatable kayak with tarpaulin bottom? The Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Kayak is the exact product that fits your purpose. Like the Madison model it supports two people on-board and it’s the twin brother of the Sevylor Rio. It’s regarded as a fishing kayak, but this watercraft is versatile. Also, you can attach a trolling motor if you choose to use it for fishing expeditions.
Rugged PVC construction: Like Sevylor’s Riviera model the hull of Colorado is made of 18-gauge PVC material which is sturdy enough for lake use as much as it can be used in sea water like their Ottawa boats. The boat feels solid being propelled forward. When inflated, the puncture-proof side wall tubes can bounce off with easy when it hits obstacles along the waterways. This lightweight PVC is also compact, and stain-resistant.
Airtight System: The inner lining of this fishing kayak is guaranteed not to leak because of its efficient air system. At the bottom is a grade-1000D tarpaulin bottom, and a grade-840D nylon cover that provides dual protection from punctures. Also, the air system uses multiple air chambers as an air reserve in case of a punctured chamber.
Adjustable Paddle Holders: You can secure your paddles out of the way by using the adjustable paddle holders. Also, this Sevylor Coleman Colorado comes with the Berkley quick set rod holders that ensure hands-free fishing.
High-end Design: The inner compartment of this boat is aesthetically designed to look appealing, and comfortable. This compartment offers large leg space, and mesh storage pockets to hold fishing gear and mobile phones. Sevylor uses a high sidewall design here like their Adventure Plus model.
Apart from that it can be carried around as a backpack like Sevylor’s Tahiti and Tahiti Plus models.
- Dimension: 30.1 x 11.6 x 19.2 inches
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 490lbs
- Weight: 35lbs
- Brand: Sevylor Coleman Colorado
- It comes with the double-threaded Boston valve for easy inflation and deflation
- The base is covered with grade-1000D tarpaulin to withstand damages from solid obstacles while paddling
- Its exterior cover is made from grade-840D nylon that’s durable, and puncture-proof
- It doesn’t have quick launch time because the multiple chambers take about ten minutes to inflate
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado is stable and has high tracking performance. Its bottom is covered with 18-gauge PVC material that’s always ready go a-fishing. Also, its abrasion-proof base reduces the risk of damage from rocks and sticks. It is compatible for 2 people like the Colorado Pro and unlike Pointer K2 that has hardly any extra space left once two people fit in, you can take a small dog on this boat. They also have a 3-person Hudson and Alameda models, but we recommend Coleman Colorado more for its exceptional build quality and overall performance. We especially encourage Sevylor’s Xk1 and Hui Sports fans to try out this one for an improved experience.
08 Driftsun Voyager 2 Person Inflatable Tandem Kayak
The Driftsun Voyager comes as a complete package with two aluminum paddles, double-action pump, removable tracking skeg, and EVA padded seats for two paddlers. Also, the bottom of this 2 seater watercraft is covered with a tough PVC tarpaulin. Let’s discuss other features that make this lightweight model among our top picks.
Quick Launch Time: Within five minutes this kayak inflates to its full-size of 10ft. x 35” x 16”. The high-flow double-action pump is efficient and makes launch time quicker than normal.
Lightweight Design: It’s amazing to find a 27 lbs that’s compact, and easy to maneuver while paddling. Also, its lightweight enables the user to transport it easily. After it has been deflated, the dimensions (26”(L) x 16”(W) x 8”) allow you to fold and fit into a duffel bag too.
Durability: The Voyager 2-Person Tandem is a great possession that’s has been fabricated with a durable 840D-nylon oxford fabric tube. At the bottom, you’ll find a heavy-duty PVC Tarpaulin that’s tear-resistant. Also, the adjoining parts of both materials have double-threaded Boston valves that are leak-proof.
Complete Accessories: You can get a complete set of accessories with this model. The package comes with the Driftsun Voyager, a rear tracking fin, two adjustable EVA padded seats, a travel bag, a repair kit, Aluminum paddles, and the deluxe high-flow hand pump.
- Inflated Dimension: 10ft. x 35” x 16”
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 450 lbs
- Tare Weight: 27lbs
- Brand: Driftsun Voyager
- Material: Tough PVC Tarpaulin Bottom and 840D nylon oxford fabric tube
- Accessories: Two units of Adjustable EVA Padded Seats with High Back Support, Travel Bag, Tracking Skeg, Aluminum Paddles, and Double-Action Hand Pump
- It supports straight travels on water bodies. It comes with an adjustable tracking fin that offers performance in both choppy and calm water bodies.
- The side tubes are 840D nylon oxford fabric materials that provide great stability and buoyancy
- It’s a lightweight watercraft of 27lbs
- It is not a fast kayak for experts, but beginner paddlers might develop their paddling technique with this product.
It’s one of the few models that has delivered an excellent performance with its pointed nose entry (bow). However, this 2-man model is easy to maintain and has a rear drain plug. This model by Driftsun Voyager is for paddlers with low budgets that need a package that comes with complete accessories.
09 Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak with Deluxe Package
The Sea Eagle 330 has a solid structure. This deluxe package comes with many high-end features. Its high frequency welded seams have been fused by using 10,000 volts of power. Also, Like the 330 pro model the this one has a couple of adjustable skegs that track smoothly across the whitewater. Here’s why this boat made it to our top list.
Built for Class III whitewater: This fun craft is ideal for beginners and kids that dare to practice their paddling skills on small lakes, and Class III whitewater. Its side walls have been designed with a nine-inch tube, while the floor structure has I-beam construction.
The strength of Material: This two-person kayak by Sea Eagle has a tough cover on its inflatable side tubes, front and rear seats. Also, it features an extra-thick K-80 Polykrylar hull material that’s puncture-resistant.
Lightweight and Comfort: The SE330 weighs 26lbs. Also, this lightweight kayak has a total weight capacity of 500 lbs. Two adults and a pet can enjoy comfort during long hours of paddling because of the boat’s exterior dimensions of 34″ X 11′ X 2″ long, and a roomy interior of 13″ X 9′ X 6″
For Extended Trips: There are three inflated air chambers (in the port, starboard, and floor) that give the tubes their tough built. Apart from enhancing paddling skills, you can take a tour of extended trips with this model. Also, this small boat can glide over the surf in the ocean, and still waters.
- Dimension: 34″ X 11′ X 2″
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 500lbs
- Weight: 26lbs
- Brand: Sea Eagle
- It has a high weight capacity of 500 lbs
- The extra-thick K-80 Polykrylar hull materials are sun and saltwater resistant
- It features inflatable spray skirts that allow this kayak to glide over the surf
- It has basic designs, and the appearance is not ergonomically enhanced
The two-adult Sea Eagle 330 might not have high-end features, but it’s sturdy enough to hold about the 500-pound weight of load and paddlers. It is a cheap product, and it’s ideal for beginner paddlers that need kayaks with spray skirts for gliding over the surf.
10 Driftsun Rover 120 Inflatable White-Water Kayak
This Driftsun Rover 120 inflatable whitewater kayak has a high-pressure floor that makes it rigid. Underwater currents, rocks, and silts can’t do any damage to the bottom of this tough boat. The Driftsun Rover 120 is an ultra-light boat, and some of its features are enumerated in this review.
Rocker Profile: This model is built for class III and IV white water rapids. Its river runner outline suggests an adventure-ready boat for solo paddlers and their pets.
Durable & Lightweight: It takes less than 5 minutes to inflate this lightweight boat. With a weight of 22 lbs, the exterior cover of this boat is durable. It features both heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin, and a grade-1000D reinforced layered PVC side tubes.
Drain Plugs: It’s easy to drain this boat when there’s a flood because it uses five units of built-in rapid self-bailing drain plugs. While navigating flat water, keep the plugs locked to stay dry. Also, when paddling on white water, it’s better to keep them open for quick and easy draining.
Removable Rear Tracking Skeg: the skeg at the rear part of the boat’s base is adjustable to increase stability and superior tracking performance. You can detach the skeg if there are obstructions in whitewater or when the kayak needs to be deflated and stored.
- Inflated Dimensions: 8.5’ ft. x 36” x 13”
- Deflated Dimensions: 28”x 21” x 9”
- Product Weight: 22 lbs.
- Capacity: 300 lbs
- Brand: Driftsun
- Inflation Time: 6 minutes
- It comes with a unit of an anodized aluminum paddle with an anti-slip grip
- The adjustable EVA padded seat with high backrest is designed to ease discomfort while paddling
- With a weight of 22lbs, this ultralight model is easy to transport while walking
- It’s designed class III and IV whitewater rapids, and not for withstanding the turbulence of the sea.
This Driftsun Rover 120 solo is always ready for adventures. Also, it has a reinforced layered PVC construction that’s tough and reduces the risk of punctures from whitewater obstacles. In short, we found good reasons to make it one of our top 10 choices. I’ll recommend this kayak for intermediate paddlers that want to upgrade their skills.
11 Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame
Do you need to replace your old kayak boat with a 52lbs convertible inflatable kayak? This AdvancedFrame model by Advanced Elements is sturdily built and offers excellent paddle strokes. Here’s why this tough, two-seater sports boat made our top picks.
Open Deck Design: The AdvancedFrame comes with an option of paddling solo or tandem. This inflatable canoe is partitioned for two adults to seat conveniently and has enough legroom. While it offers less paddling efforts to users, they can enjoy water competitions without being exhausted.
Dry Storage Compartment: There’s a dry storage compartment in the AdvancedFrame convertible kayak that can accommodate all your gears safely. It’s made of a waterproof lining, and three layers of puncture-resistant materials.
Easy Set-Up: This model is a pre-assembled watercraft. The set up is easy; simply unfold, pressurize, and attach the seats. The dimensions (35 X 21 X 12 inches) have allowances for three seats and allows you to paddle solo or in tandem with other paddlers.
Maximum Weight of 550 lbs: Like their Lagoon 2 and Lagoon 1 models, here they used PVC tarpaulin in its hull where a Polyester fabric is sandwiched between vinyl layer. As a result, this fifteen-foot kayak weighs 52 lbs, but it can hold a maximum of 550 lbs conveniently. Regardless of the boat’s weight, you can lift and carry the deflated boat in a carrier bag easily.
- Dimension: 35 X 21 X 12 inches
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 550 lbs
- Tare Weight: 52 lbs
- Brand: Advanced Elements
- Material: PVC-coated polyester
- Accessories: Adjustable seat, and Skeg
- It comes with high support sidewalls that minimize water splashes on paddlers
- The adjustable padded seats will provide comfort during long paddling hours
- This model has built-in aluminum ribs on its bow and stern to improves tracking
- You’ll need an oversized shopping bag to store this boat
With a puncture-resistant design, this inflatable boat guarantees durability. It comes with a dry storage compartment for holding non-waterproof possessions like cell phone, compass or GPS for kayaking while paddling. This AdvancedFrame Convertible is ideal for workouts, and skills’ practice.
12 AIRHEAD MONTANA Kayak
Airhead TK-1 Montana kayak offers great performance while traveling on water. There’s a large net in the bow that stretches across its end to hold possessions while paddling. However, this watercraft is designed for lakes and moderate white water. Let’s unveil other characteristics of this inflatable boat that qualifies it to be among our top picks.
Sunlight and radiation-resistant Material: The framework of this model is enclosed with durable tri-laminate reinforcements and tough grade-840-denier nylon. Both materials have water-resistant coatings and can withstand UV exposure for a long time.
Great Tracking Performance: The AIRHEAD has low drag and four units of fins at its base that provide superior tracking performance. Also, these features bring great stability for paddling enthusiasts.
Enhanced Safety: Water sports involve safety measures, and this AIRHEAD comes with a bright orange color cover. Apart from safety, the bright orange color Highly visible orange for safety.
Sturdy Construction: This Airhead TK-1 Montana kayak comes with a semi-rigid heavy gauge PVC material. Also, it’s fortified with the tubular I-beam floor that offers superior comfort. The strength of these materials makes this watercraft versatile.
- Dimensions: 26 x 18 x 8 inches
- Product Weight: 27 lbs.
- Capacity: 300lbs
- Brand: AIRHEAD
- The paddler’s comfort can be increased with the inclusion of Neoprene elbow guards
- It has a stainless steel framework that prevents corrosion
- With adjustable seats with backrest, the user can enjoy comfort during long hours of paddling
- Apart from lakes and moderate white water, this Airhead TK-1 Montana kayak can’t be used in oceans with rough tides
The Airhead TK-1 Montana kayak is a better choice for solo boat paddlers. This is an excellent compact boat for sale. Also, it offers superior tracking with the four fins at the bottom. With non-slip handles, it’s easy to launch and pull-outs this inflatable model.
During our research we came across some good brands and their amazing products. Although they didn’t make it to our list, we still think they should be explored by market researchers. If you want to delve a bit deeper into the market, you can always check out these brands and their products: Itiwit, Bestway (popular models- Hydro Force Wave Line, Bolt X2), STAR Inflatables (popular model- Pike), Aquaglide( popular models- BLACKFOOT ANGLER 125 HB, Columbia, Chelan HB, Chelan HB Tandem XL , Chinook XP, Chinook XP Tandem XL, Yakima), NRS (popoular models- Outlaw 2, Maverik ii, Dunham’s Sports, Saturn, UK brand Lidl, Pacific Extreme, Zray (popular model- Pathfinder), iRocker, Crivit Beach (Popular model- Inshore 335), AIRE (popular models- Tributary Tomcat Solo, Lynx 2), Aqua Marina, Stearns (popular model- Spree One), Crane, Solstice (Popular models- Rogue XP and Durango), Airis Sport, Elkton Outdoors, BIC Sport, Target, Z Pro, Hyside (popular model- PADILLAC II), Gumotex (popular models- Twist 1, Twist 2, SAFARI 330), Andes, SOTAR, INNOVA Kayak (popular model- Sunny, Helios), BRIS (popular for their 4-man and 12-foot kayak models), Rave Sports, Zoik, Blue Wave Sports, and Riber.
Why Use an Inflatable Kayak
Many poorly informed individuals still see inflatable kayaks as pool toys. These are lightweight boats that are built with tubes to hold pressurized air. The inflatable tubes (much like that of a fishing float tube) have been used to make its sides, floor (with an underlying rigid structure), and bow. What makes them unique is their seat arrangements, easy dismantling, storage, and portability.
Generally, kayaks are designed for built to offer less paddling efforts. Many adventure freaks use inflatable models for different purposes like fishing, lake paddling, whitewater rafting, paddling adventures, and expeditions. Let’s share some benefits of these types of vessels.
1. Lightweight Design
Inflatable kayaks might be lightweight but are rigid watercraft. Underneath the tubes are welded seams and I-beam constructions that increases the quality. Also, being lightweight, it’s easy to be set up, and transported to the launch point by one person. Advanced models offer self-inflating options for quick and hasslefree setup.
2. Easy Storage
Inflatable models are foldable, and vinyl tubes are better kayak materials because they hold up better after inflating with air. Simply deflate them and fold them before storing them in backpacks or duffel bags. There are ultra-light models that weigh less than 7kg. You’ll be amazed by the size after deflating a 3-meter kayak.
Inflatable kayaks are puncture-resistant and strong; that’s why they are versatile. Most models come with double bladed paddles. Their versatility allows you to paddle with light-weight possessions like cooling boxes with drinks and bags. Apart from navigation, you can also use them for sea kayaking, white water rafting, fishing, or touring.
4. Launch Time
At launch points, a hand or an electric pump can inflate the vessel easily. However, it’s not advisable to inflate the kayak, attach to or trailer or tie it up on the roof rack and drive to your launch point. Air resistance might damage this watercraft by using this method. Instead, get an efficient electric pump that can be connected to the car’s D.C (direct current) port and inflate to save launch time.
Amazingly, owners of these vessels can take and use them anywhere. For the rigid models, paddling in remote locations or taking them along on a trip is easy. However, only a puncture-proof boat can guarantee durability while being used on any water terrain. Most of these boats are foldable and comes with easy carrying options. For some models, you might get a separate bag from a local store. However, make sure you get yourself a cart for taking our boat from your car to the water in case the water body is far from the location of your parked car.
6. Low Maintenance Cost
Most models in this category are sturdily designed and held with double-stitch finishing threads. High-quality kayaks are scratch-proof, and not prone to punctures. However, users must avoid sharp objects and rigid structures along water edges. Also, they should avoid collisions; rinse-off, clean and fold after use.
These inflatable water machines have more advantages than hard-body traditional boats. Usually, all these features can help buyers choose from our top 12 choices.
Types of Inflatable Kayak
Innovation has simplified the ease of using blow up kayaks. Most modern models come with different material strengths, sizes, shapes, and colors. However, in choosing any type, the model that allows you to paddle without hassles, and suit your needs should be a preference. Here are the most common types on the market.
1. Sit-on-top Kayaks
The sit-on-top model offers enough space for onboard movement, casting, and access to water activity gears. This type is convenient for paddling on calm water. Simply, sit on top of the boat, and worry less about cramping your legs, or resting your backrest for a better posture.
2. Sit-inside Kayaks
This is more of a traditional hard shell boat design, and it allows your lower body to stay inside the boat. It’s more comfy, and tighter than sit-on-top models, and has an enclosed cockpit. Sit-inside types are designed for white-water paddling, they protect the users from the splashes of water.
3. Canoe Type
Unlike one man models, this type has higher walls, sides, deeper seats, and flat bottoms. It looks like a canoe with plenty of space for a maximum of 3 persons and is ideal for fishing.
4. Self Bailing Kayaks
Usually, this type of single kayak is made with low-quality materials and designed with ports (drains) at the bottom. These holes prevent flooding even when you paddle in shallow waters.
5. Ducky Kayak
Duckies are mainly designed for whitewater with a unique combination of traditional kayaks and rafts. It can be used by one or two people. It can bring a lot of fun if you go outdoors with this boat type.
6. Sup Kayaks
Usually, you’ll find inflatable sup kayaks around beaches. While paddling this type of boats allows their paddles to stand straight.
Inflatable Kayak: A Comprehensive Buying Guide
Are you thinking of the next getaway family vacation on an island with ponds and shallow waters? Water sports and sea kayaking are fun-filled activities. Also, you can bring a pet along even if you choose to sail without another paddler. There are the 1-person to 4-person tandem models with adjustable seats. Our inflatable kayak reviews encapsulated all the vital factors an ideal inflatable kayak should possess. In addition, here are the factors to consider when you are looking for one:
1. Intended Use
- Fishing or recreation
Every activity requires a specific type of model, and the sit-on type is recommended for fishing expeditions. The sit-on kayak allows users to adjust sitting positions and stretch their backs. Also, the design gives space for accessing and casting your fishing gear. Alternatively, the canoe style kayak is spacious; it allows you to hold fishing gears and boxes for your catch.
- Where Are You Paddling
You need a canoe type of kayak with higher walls if you plan to paddle on turbulent waters. You’ll need a different type of inflatable model for white water rafting or paddling near a bay. Also, paddling on flat lakes or choppy waters will require the sit-in vessel. When paddling in a straight line, vessels with high-end features need less correction.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) might not be eco-friendly, but it has great tear resistance. The PVC is widely used for blow up kayak making because the material can withstand long periods of exposure to sunlight. They are well known for the fastest inflatable models.
The exterior covers of blow up kayaks are coated with Hypalon because this material is more UV-resistant. Usually, most inflatable boat manufacturers combine Hypalon and PVC materials to save production costs. They are more durable, abrasion-resistant, and eco-friendly than PVC materials.
A Nitrylon material is a mixture of nitrile and synthetic rubber. The weight of this material is heavier and more eco-friendly than Hypalon. Nitrylons are soft, puncture-proof, tough, and durable.
Blow up kayaks are more durable than hard-shell boats if they are properly maintained. You can use a well-maintained model for years without changing it. However, bad storage, the frequency of use, poor maintenance, and the strength of material determine the durability of the product.
Most models have weights ranging from 25 to 45 lbs. Usually, bigger kayaks have more weight and leg space. Before buying one, consider the weight of your gear if you use the boat for fishing. Don’t forget that you will have to lift the watercraft and other accessories from the launch point to your vehicle after use. An ultra-light model is what you need for hiking and paddling.
Usually, most manufacturers build their products to a maximum of 4 meters (14 feet). There will be instability when models of kayak boats are longer than four meters. The ideal length of these boats should make them hard to flip over. If you are a tall person, get a suitable length that perfectly matches your feet length.
Self-bailing inflatable boats have drain plugs that allow paddlers to discharge water from the boat’s compartment, and keep it dry. Usually, these boats are not built for sea kayaking, but shallow waters.
7. Weight & Seating Capacity
There are 3 and 2-person models that are often used for recreation and watersport competitions. Before buying this type, check the product label to see the weight capacity and seat arrangement. Generally, they have adjustable seats that allow space for your legs, and small equipment.
The most important inflatable kayak accessory is the pair of high-quality paddles. Other accessories like a handy repair kit, whistle, flashlights, first aid box, and navigation compass are must-haves. Also, an electric pump is used to set up the boat at launch points.
The water performance of these boats varies with prices. However, a budget is important while considering the features of your dream models. Normally, a standard model with high-end features would cost around $500.
Things to Remember
After buying an inflatable model, you might be disappointed if it’s not fully inflated in less than ten minutes. However, the time of inflation is not the only factor that determines a foldable kayak. I’ll share other important things to know about high-quality inflatable boats in this category.
1. How Safe Are Inflatable Kayaks?
Most models are not like hard-shell kayaks that are designed for harsh conditions or rough waters. You must follow the recommendations for use according to their specifications. However, high-quality models come with puncture-proof constructions to prevent sinking and rear skegs that enhance stability.
2. How Long Do Inflatable Kayaks Last?
Usually, inflatable kayaks with military grade PVC covers are built to last. The durability depends on the strength of its build materials and the level of maintenance. It’s not all kayaks that can travel through rocky waters.
So, get one with a heavy-duty PVC Tarpaulin that’s tear-resistant if you must travel through such terrains. After paddling in fresh or saltwater, deflate and wash-off microbes to prevent mildew growth. Then allow the kayak to dry under direct sunlight before folding it for storage. These procedures will enhance the lifespan of your kayak.
3. What Is the Right Size To Get?
The important factors that determine an ideal kayak size are height and weight. Also, it must have enough room for gear, accessories, and legs. It’s easy to get the size that matches your preference from the kayak’s specification datasheet.
Additionally, the maximum weight allowance of a kayak is different from the product’s weight. Don’t get confused with the information, but seek clarifications when in doubt.
4. Are Inflatable Kayaks Hard to Maintain?
It only requires thorough and timely maintenance. Usually, kayak owners have repair kits and accessories which they should use when necessary. Folding patterns are important to prevent cracks on their vinyl covers.
However, they should be exposed to sunlight to clear mildew growth after they have been stored for a long period. Also, owners of inflatable boats must avoid folding the seams because that’s the weakest point on the watercraft. Don’t allow any part of the kayak material to be snagged by the storage bag’s zip.
Inflatable Kayak Using Tips
After choosing the right model that meets your needs, you must understand useful tips on how to use the product. I’ll share some important tips on how to use your kayak.
- Installation, Launch Time, and Inflation
Most inflatable kayaks are pre-assembled from the factory, but the set up is very easy if you follow the product’s manual. At the launch point, you are expected to unfold the boat and inflate it. It will be impossible to pressurize with air when the electric or hand-pump is not available. Before inflating, check to confirm the number of separate chambers in the kayak and the required psi.
- On the Water
Make sure that your inflatable kayak model designed for salt, fresh, flat, or turbulent waters. Paddlers must wear life jackets with reflectors before jumping on the kayak. Also, whitewater rafting will require the use of helmets. If you are cruising in the sun, put on a quality hat to protect your head. Don’t forget to bring your repair kit along because even the smallest roll of waterproof duct tape can be a lifesaver. Keep an anchor when you go fishing as you would need a stable boat for that.
- Storage and Upkeep
Usually, people store their foldable inflated kayaks in duffel bags. Ensure to wash the deflated boat with soapy water before rinsing with clean water. Also, spread the kayak under direct sunlight to dry before storing it in a backpack or duffel bag. After prolonged storage, always unfold and dry in the sun to prevent molds, creases or weak spots on the kayak.
We’ve worked hard to track down the best inflatable kayaks of the market so your time is saved. Also, our confidence in each of our choices described above is unshakable. Apart from the purpose of use, our team of boat engineers studied their durability, versatility, weight, and strength of the build materials. There’s no doubt that new innovations will bring better water performance for these watercraft soon. However, we’ll recommend the SE370 Inflatable Sports Kayak Pro by Sea Eagle for beginners that are interested in developing their paddling skills.
It’s always better to buy a cheap inflatable kayak that saves money for other accessories. The sit-on-top inflatable sea kayaks might be expensive but they have high-end features. So, get the Hobie Mirage i11S model with pedals and paddles for short and long distances respectively if you like water sports competitions. It’s a top-of-the-line product with an attachment for water-friendly cameras. You can record every expedition and competition while having fun. Hopefully, you’ll make the right use of our findings.