You want to kayak, but you don’t have space to store a kayak and you want to save money, right? In that case, an inflatable kayak may be the answer to your problem. In recent years, the quality of inflatable kayaks has really improved. Additionally, the options available have come a long way. Couple that with affordable kayak prices and you will see the reason that inflatable kayaks have become so popular.
Inflatable Kayaks vs Hardshell Kayaks
You may be wondering – are inflatable kayaks any good? Are inflatable kayaks durable? There used to be a huge gap in quality and features between inflatable kayaks and hardshell kayaks, but this is no longer the case. When you do a kayak comparison, you will realize that an inflatable kayak really is the best kayak for the money!
The traditional hard kayaks take up much more storage space, which may be at a premium, especially for city dwellers. It is also much easier to travel with an inflatable kayak vs hardshell because most will come in a carrying bag or even a backpack that is easy to transport. Instead of needing a rack to hold a hardshell kayak on top of your vehicle, an inflatable kayak can easily fit in the trunk and is the best portable kayak option.
Some people also wonder are inflatable kayaks safe? What would happen if the kayak gets punctured? No one wants to have a vessel that sinks! Luckily, you really don’t need to worry about inflatable kayak safety anymore. Now almost all inflatable kayaks have multiple air chambers so that if there is a puncture the kayak will still be able to make it back to shore.
When comparing maneuverability in an inflatable vs hard kayak, the inflatable kayak does not rate as well. The inflatable kayaks tend to be better in much calmer waters, however inflatable whitewater kayak reviews for some models have improved.
When taking into consideration all the inflatable kayak pros and cons, I think you will find that inflatable kayaks are solid choice especially when storage space and budget are limited. Additionally, some of the best kayaks for beginners are inflatable.
Inflatable Kayak Reviews and Comparison Chart
The are many good inflatable kayaks on the market today and it can be confusing figuring out which inflatable kayak is right for you. I enjoy reading about inflatable kayaks since I am always thinking about buying another kayak! I’ve put together a list to help you find the best inflatable kayak, based on my own experiences and that of my friends, as well as extensive research on the top-rated inflatable kayaks out there.
What is the best inflatable kayak? Unfortunately, you can’t just look at the inflatable kayak ratings, the answer depends on what you are looking for, how you plan to use your kayak, and how much you want to spend. The best-rated inflatable kayak may not be right for you if you are on a budget. The best affordable kayak may not be the most durable inflatable kayak.
Whether you are looking for the best recreational kayak, best touring kayak, best river kayak, the best inflatable tandem kayak, I have you covered. I know the inflatable kayak brands and what they offer. In this kayak buying guide, I will help you compare inflatable kayaks to help you decide the best inflatable kayak for you.
Top 10 Inflatable Kayaks
At a high level here, is an overview of the top inflatable kayaks:
|Inflatable Kayak||Rating||Comments||Check Price|
|Hobie Mirage i12S Kayak 2017||9.9||Best Inflatable Kayak on the market, also has pedals|
|Advanced Elements Firefly Inflatable Kayak||9.0||Great Beginner Kayak, reasonably priced|
|Airhead AHTK Montana Performance Kayak||8.8||Great Beginner Kayak, also available in Tandem Model|
|Advanced Elements AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak||9.5||Converts from a one person to tandem kayak.|
|Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak||8.5||Ideal for lakes, Backpack you store it in turns into a seat|
|Advanced Elements Straitedge Angler Kayak||8.8||Kayak with added stability and storage for use while fishing|
|Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak ||8.7||Tandem kayak with added fishing accessories.|
|Aire Lynx Inflatable Kayak||8.7||Made for rough water, also available in tandem model|
|Sea Eagle 370 Inflatable Tandem Kayak - Pro Package||9.0||Great all-around tandem inflatable kayak|
|Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak||8.5||Rare kayak that can easily hold 3 people!|
Best One Man Inflatable KayakHobie Mirage i12S Kayak 2017
If you are not concerned about the kayak cost, the best kayak to buy is the Hobie Mirage i112S inflatable kayak. The team at Hobie Kayaks has really thought of everything. This Hobie inflatable kayak has all the cruising ability, speed, and size of its hard-shelled counterpart, but you can easily take it along with you anywhere. When you need portability, Hobie inflatables pack nicely into the included rolling travel bag.
The kayak is constructed with “Drop Stitch” technology which means thousands of tiny threads connect the top and bottom layers of the floor allowing for much higher inflation pressure. A high-pressure inflatable kayak has more structural rigidity and better performance. It is the fastest inflatable kayak because you can pedal with the MirageDrive 180 and have your hands free. This makes kayaking easier and more efficient.
The Hobie Mirage is a versatile kayak. The inflatable pedal kayak can handle most water conditions and is comfortable for all day excursions. When inflated, the inflatable Hobie kayak measures 12 ft by 36 inches and has a capacity to hold up to 500 pounds.
Best Beginner Kayak
If you are a beginner kayaker, you do not need the best-rated inflatable kayak. Many times, just a small inflatable kayak can be the best first kayak.Advanced Elements Firefly Inflatable Kayak
This compact inflatable recreational kayak is great for beginners. It is easy to set up and the outer cover makes it durable but lightweight. It’s a stable kayak and the bow and stern have fixed rigid forms built into the cover that help cut through the waves and keep you on course. The kayak also offers molded rubber-grip handles, bungee deck lacing, a storage pocket and tracking skeg. It’s the best lightweight kayak because you get a good quality at a very reasonable price. Perfect for a day on the lake!Airhead AHTK Montana Performance Kayak
The Airhead AHTK is another inflatable kayak that is great for beginners. The tubular i-beam support in the floor provide comfort, stability, and tracking on lakes and moderate white water, plus it is bright orange for extra safety on the water. Front and back spray covers help keep you dry. There are 3 air chambers so that if there are any punctures, the kayak will still float. The Airhead AHTK is easy to inflate and deflate and can fit in a duffel bag or the trunk of your car.
It comes in both a one person and tandem model. Inflated the 1 person kayak is 9 ft, 9 in long and can hold up to 300 pounds. The tandem modem is 12 ft. long when inflated and has a capacity of 500 pounds. The seats are adjustable and can be removed.
Best Recreational Kayak
If you are looking for an inflatable recreational kayak, here are some to consider:Advanced Elements AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak
You can also use it as either open or closed deck kayak. (The deck needs to be purchased separately). The Single Deck has a series of d-rings with bungee deck lacing and a rear cargo hatch for storage. When you add the additional deck, you also get a mesh pocket for your gear.
The kayak comes with a duffel bag for transporting, 2 folding seats, and a repair kit. Fully inflated this AdvancedFrame Kayak measures 15 ft x 32 inches and has a capacity of 550 pounds.Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak
The Sevylor Quikpak Kayak really has some innovative design features. It is very easy to setup and the backpack you store it in turns into the seat. This kayak is best suited for lakes with its 24-gauge PVC construction, rugged tarpaulin bottom, and thick polyester cover. Just in case you do have a puncture, the multiple air chambers will help you get back to shore safely. The spray covers help keep you dry and the D-Rings and bungee storage areas let you carry more gear that’s easy to get to. The Sevylor Quikpak comes with a hand pump and paddle.
Inflated the kayak measures 10 ft. by 34 in and holds up to 250 pounds.
Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak
If your main goal is fishing you may be better off with one of the regular fishing kayaks rather than an inflatable fishing kayak. However, if you really need something inflatable to save space, there are some good options. My suggestions for the best inflatable kayak for fishing are:Advanced Elements Straitedge Angler Kayak
This is a great fishing inflatable kayak that is really durable and stable. It has three layers of high-density fabric, added abrasion pads, and multiple air chambers to provide for maximum durability under rugged conditions. The wide beams keep the kayak stable when you are reeling in that big catch. The patented aluminum rib frame provides superior tracking to keep you going where you need to go and reduce resistance.
The high-back seat has an inflatable lumbar support which is ideal for long days on the water. It comes with two rod holders and a removable mounting rail. You can use the removable mounting rail to bring additional equipment with you, and the boat has a large area behind the seat and tie downs on the deck for additional storage. Inflated it measures 9 ft 8 in by 35 in and has 300 pound weight capacity.Check current price and availability here.
If you like the look of the Advanced Elements Straitedge but you’re not planning on going fishing, there’s a non-fishing version available as well.Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
This is a great option if you are looking for a tandem inflatable fishing kayak for a day on the lake. Two people fit comfortably and the seats are adjustable. The kayak is durable and has protection from punctures. If you do get a hole, no need to worry since there are multiple air chambers and the kayak will stay inflated. There are paddle holders to secure your paddles out of the way while you are fishing. The fishing rod holders are adjustable to make hands free fishing easier. The mesh storage pockets keep your gear and snacks within easy reach.
It comes with a carry bag and pressure gauge but you will need to purchase paddles and a pump separately. It has Sevylor trolling motor fittings, so if you are looking for an inflatable kayak with motor, you can easily add one if you like. The Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak is certified to hold up to 470 pounds and once inflated the dimensions are 10 ft. 9 in. x 3 ft. 3Check current price and availability here.
Keep in mind these fishing kayaks do not come with fish finders. If you are interested in buying one, check out my recommendations for the best fish finders for a kayak.
Best Whitewater Inflatable Kayak
If you plan on using your inflatable kayak in whitewater, you need an inflatable kayak that is designed for these conditions – don’t just assume any rubber kayak will do! A whitewater inflatable kayak needs to be more responsive, durable, stable, and have good drainage. Aire Kayaks make the best kayak for whitewater conditions.Aire Lynx Inflatable Kayak
The Lynx model inflatable river kayak is made specifically for rough water. They make both a one man (Lynx I) and a tandem (Lynx II) inflatable kayak. This Aire inflatable kayak line has the stability, control, and durability you will need for whitewater kayaking. The curved design gives you speed and quick responsiveness. Self-bailing drain holes keep the performance level high in bigger water. This is a heavy duty inflatable kayak with 2-layer construction to prevent leaks, and 3 air chambers to help protect you in the unlikely event of a puncture.
The adjustable Cheetah seat can also double as a comfortable camp chair for when you decide you need a rest out out the water! There is plenty of room for your gear either in the pocket behind the backrest or you can use the tie-down loops in the roomy interior. It’s a great inflatable whitewater kayak for long journeys.
The Aire Lynx I measures 10’2″ x 37″ when inflated and can hold up to 350 pounds. Check current prices and availability here.
The Aire Lynx II measures 12’6″ x 39″ when inflated and can hold up to 475 pounds. Check current prices and availability here.
Also you might be interested in reading my Kayak PFD recommendations.
Best Tandem Inflatable Kayak
If you don’t like to paddle alone, there are some great inflatable tandem kayaks for sale including the inflatable fishing kayaks above. Several kayak models come in both a one person and two person model. There isn’t a significant difference between the weight of the kayaks because the kayaks are inflatable.
In my opinion the best 2 person inflatable kayak is:Sea Eagle 370 Inflatable Tandem Kayak – Pro Package
This Sea Eagle Kayak is one of the most popular 2 person inflatable kayak for sale today. It is durable, versatile, lightweight and affordable. The SE370 features an extra thick hull, inflatable spray skirts, removable inflatable front and rear seat, and a self-bailing drain valve. A self-bailing inflatable kayak can come in handy on whitewater rivers or in rough ocean surf. Two molded skegs allow the kayak to track smoothly across the water, give you more speed, and minimize your paddling effort.
The Pro package includes 2 Paddles, 2 Deluxe Inflatable Seats, Foot Pump, Carry Bag and Repair Kit. The deluxe package is a little bit cheaper, but in my mind, the upgraded seats in the Pro package are worth the extra money. If needed you could even squeeze 3 people in this Sea Eagle Kayak as it can hold up to 650 pounds. Inflated the Sea Eagle 370 Kayak measures 12 ft 6 in x 34 in.
Sometimes you can squeeze a third person in a tandem kayak, but if you are regularly going to be three people you might want something bigger. If you are looking for the best 3 person inflatable kayak, I would recommend the Sevylor Big Basin.Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
Not many kayaks have seats for 3 people! This Sevylor Inflatable Kayak is solidly constructed for lake use. The airtight system is guaranteed not to leak and the tarpaulin bottom provides extra protection from punctures. Multiple air chambers will keep the kayak afloat if one chamber is punctured. The spray covers help block splashes and keep you dry.
This inflatable kayak has 3 adjustable seats and can hold up to 490 pounds. When inflated it measures 12 ft. 3 in. x 3 ft. 1 in.
In general, inflatable kayak prices are more affordable than traditional hardshell kayaks. Some inflatable kayaks though are cheaper than others. Intex makes the best inflatable kayak for the money. They offer both single and two man kayaks. I highly recommend an Intex inflatable kayak for beginners looking for their first purchase, or those that just want to try kayaking.Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
If you are looking for an inflatable kayak cheap, you are not going to find a better deal than the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak. It’s well built and brightly colored so you’ll be visible on the water. The cockpit is designed so that it is comfortable, stable, and relatively roomy. The inflatable seat comes with a backrest. The kayak has a low profile so it easily glides through the water.
There is a cargo net to store extra gear and grab lines on both ends of the kayak. The kayak comes with an 84-inch aluminum oar, removable rudder, high-output hand pump, and repair patch. Since it is inflatable it is very lightweight (only 25 pounds) but it can only hold up to 220 pounds. Check out my Intex Challenger Kayak review for more information.
If you are looking for a cheap tandem inflatable kayak, you have two options: Intex Challenger K2 and Intex Explorer K2. For longer journeys or regular usage you should consider investing in one of the above models that might be better suited for the task, but these work well for occasional use, or in smaller bodies of water including lakes and mild rivers. Both are great value for the money!
The Intex Challenger K2 Kayak is the two man version of the Intex Challenger K1. The Intex Challenger K2 Kayak is sporty, fun, and stands out in the water with its bright colors. It has a streamlined design for easy paddling and a removable skeg for directional stability. It is made of rugged, super tough vinyl that’s puncture- and UV damage-resistant for durability. There are two separate air chambers.
When inflated, the kayak is 11 ft 6 inches by 30 inches and can hold up to 400 pounds. Two 86-inch aluminum oars, high-capacity pump, and repair patch kit come with the kayak.
Check availability and current prices here.
Like the Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak has a sporty and fun feel, with a streamlined design to make paddling easy. It is bright yellow so it will also stand out in the water. Similar to the Challenger, it is made of heavy-duty puncture resistant vinyl and has two separate air chambers. The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak has a removable skeg for directional stability.
The Explorer is a little wider than the Challenger (by 6 inches) and also a little more comfortable because it includes two adjustable inflatable seats with backrest. The weight capacity is only 350 pounds, 50 pounds less than the Challenger K2. The Explorer K2 is easier to transport because it weighs less than the Challenger and has a grab line and grab handle at each end. The Explorer K2 Kayak includes the same accessories as the Challenger: two 86”aluminum oars, a high capacity pump, and a repair patch kit. Inflated the Intex Explorer K2 kayak measures 10 ft 3 inches by 36 inches.
Check availability and current prices here.
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