We all love kayaking, but we hate lugging around large and cumbersome hard-shell kayaks. That’s why most of us buy inflatable kayaks. A quality inflatable kayak is surprisingly durable, can be inflated in just a few minutes, and can easily be transported in the trunk of a car. So which is the best one for you? Check out now our top picks for the best inflatable kayaks in 2021.
This large inflatable kayak can hold up to 400 pounds, so it’s ready for you and your fishing gear or another person. It’s made from a durable PVC material and comes with two integrated fishing rod holders.
Mounting bracket for accessories like a GPS or fish finder
Weighs just under 40 pounds
Comes with two paddles and a pump
Not the best long-term durability if used on rough waters
With a weight capacity of 650 pounds, this kayak can hold up to three people and plenty of extra gear. But when it’s time to take it to and from the water, you’ll love that it only weighs a little over 30 pounds, so it’s easy to carry even if you’re by yourself.
This inflatable kayak has 1000D reinforced PVC sides that are ready to take a beating. It comes with a pump, paddles, and everything you need to get started. When you’re finished, fit it all in the carry bag for easy transportation back to your vehicle.
If you’re looking for an inflatable boat you can take along on your backpacking trip, you’ll love this KLYMIT inflatable raft. It only weighs 44 ounces and packs down to the size of a thermos. When inflated, you can easily paddle around a lake or calm river.
Arrow shape makes it stable while still letting you use a standard paddle
Inflatable kayaks have taken the kayaking space by storm. As replacements for the more traditional hardshell kayaks, they have proven to be viable alternatives. Our review of the best inflatable kayaks has given you a glimpse of the array of quality inflatable kayaks available in the market.
This buying guide will help you to simplify your buying decision. The guide explains the differences between inflatable kayaks and rigid kayaks; it also explains various important factors that should be considered before buying an inflatable kayak. The final section of the buying guide is dedicated to answering frequently asked questions about inflatable kayaks.
What are the Differences Between Inflatable Kayaks and Rigid Kayaks?
One of the first questions that many people ask is, “why should I choose an inflatable kayak over a rigid kayak?” This section answers this question by highlighting the major differences between inflatable kayaks and hardshell kayaks.
Inflatable kayaks are the lighter of the two. Hardshell kayaks are almost two times as heavy as inflatable kayaks. Due to their low weight, inflatable kayaks are easier to transport than hard shells.
Transport and Storage
As stated above, inflatable kayaks are easier to transport because of their feather-like weight. Also, they are easier to store away because they shrink to a smaller size once deflated. Hardshell kayaks remain in their rigid form, making them harder to store.
For every use, you will have to pump air into an inflatable kayak. The inflation could take between 5 to 10 minutes. You also have to deflate an inflatable kayak after every use. Hardshell kayaks are always ready to use.
What are the Things to Consider Before Buying Inflatable Kayaks?
Considering the abundance of inflatable kayaks available in the market, some factors need to be considered to ensure you make a sound buying decision. These factors are explained below.
Type of Material
Inflatable kayaks are made of synthetic fabrics like PVC, Hypalon, and nitrilon. PVC is the most widely used material for making inflatable kayaks. Kayaks made of PVC are durable but are also susceptible to the harsh effects of UV rays. Hypalon is also durable when used to make inflatable kayaks.
Inflatable kayaks made of Hypalon are also resistant to the harsh effects of UV rays. However, they are more expensive than PVC inflatables. Nitrilion is a relatively new material used to make inflatable kayaks. It is used to construct heavy-duty inflatable kayaks. Kayaks made of nitrilion are the most expensive of all.
Overall, the type of material used to construct the inflatable kayak will affect the kayak’s durability. Thus, this factor should be prioritized when buying an inflatable kayak.
Ease of Setting up
You should also consider how easily you can set up the inflatable kayak before buying one. Ease of setting up essentially refers to how easily you can inflate and deflate the kayak before and after each use. You should be on the lookout for a kayak that is easily inflatable.
The inflatable kayak’s weight capacity should be considered before splashing the cash on a new kayak. You should check the kayak’s weight capacity in relation to your weight and the weight of others (people, pets, and gears) that will share the kayak with you. If you exceed the kayak’s weight capacity, the kayak will get damaged easily.
The length of the inflatable kayak determines speed and maneuverability. Longer inflatable kayaks are faster than shorter ones. Shorter inflatable kayaks have the advantage of being more easily maneuverable. Thus, you should consider what you need most from your kayak – speed or maneuverability?
Sit in Inflatable Kayak vs. Sit on top Inflatable Kayak
The kayak’s seat position is another important factor to consider before buying one. There are two seat options for inflatables – sit in and sit on top. Do you want a kayak seat that protects your lower body from harsh weather conditions with a cockpit-like enclosure, or do you prefer a vantage sitting position where you have an ample view of the surrounding?
Your answer to this question will help you to choose between the two. The noticeable disadvantage of sit-in kayaks is the limited view that comes with them. On the other hand, sit-on-top kayaks have the disadvantage of exposing the lower body to harsh weather conditions.
Paddle vs. Pedal Inflatable Kayak
Paddle inflatable kayaks require the use of a double-bladed paddle to propel the kayak forward. It is an energy-intensive option. Pedal inflatable kayaks are propelled by pedals mounted inside the kayak. They are more leisurely and require less energy. However, they are more expensive and require more maintenance than paddle-propelled inflatable kayaks.
How Much do Inflatable Kayaks Cost?
The price of an inflatable kayak depends on several factors. The choice of a pedal or paddle system is one of the main factors that determine the price. Also, the type of material used to make the kayak is another factor that determines the price.
You can get low-end inflatable kayaks for as low as $350, while high-end inflatables cost between $1,500 and $3000. Inflatable kayaks within the range of $650 and $1800 offer a balance between cost and efficiency.
Inflatable Kayak FAQ
Do inflatable kayaks puncture easily?
No, they don’t. A high-quality inflatable kayak is hard to puncture even when you deliberately try to poke through. They are made to be almost impenetrable.
Can I leave my inflatable kayak inflated?
Yes, you can. However, it is not a good idea, especially if you will not be using it for a long time. When not in use, it is better to deflate the kayak because it will keep losing air pressure day after day. Also, deflating the kayak makes transportation and storage easier.
How stable are inflatable kayaks?
Inflatable kayaks are very stable. They compare favorably to hard shell kayaks in terms of stability.
Are inflatable kayaks good for fishing?
Yes, they are. The sheer versatility of inflatable kayaks makes them suitable for fishing on different water bodies like lakes, ponds, and rivers.
Lucy spent the better part of her young life traveling and competing in swim meets and gymnastics. Being a dedicated individual sport athlete, Lucy knows that being at your best at the competition is everything. As a freelance writer, Lucy joins our Product Reviews Team to provide all of her insight on the best products to keep you at the top of your game.