When compared to a hard shell kayak even the best inflatable kayaks on the market are still struggling to compete. But what they like for in performance they’re more than make up for in other advantages such as their portability.
Modern advances in design construction and materials have made it possible to use newer in inflatable kayaks for fishing I need white water rafting. However, choosing between the different models can be difficult as there are a wide variety of pros and cons to each.
How to choose the best inflatable kayak for your needs?
We have designed this guide by comparing the highest rated inflatable kayak brands on the market to help assist you in choosing the best one for your needs. We compared each under a series of different headings, including how easy they are to navigate value for money portability ease of inflation and stability.
One of the major concerns people have when purchasing an inflatable kayak are leaks so we’ve insured that every kayak we review comes with a reliable pump and patch kit. Because we only reviewed the best kayaks in the market, they’re made with the best materials and as a result are less likely to leak.
The seven highest rated inflatable kayaks available in 2020 :
- The Excursion Pro K2 Inflatable Kayak from Intex
- The Big Basin 3 Person Inflatable Kayak from Sevylor
- The Challenger 2 Person Inflatable Kayak from Intex
- TheSE370 Inflatable Kayak Pro Package from Sea Eagle
- The Almanor Tandem Inflatable Kayak from Driftsun
- The Airfusion Elite Kayak from Advanced Elements
- The f Quikpak K5 Solo Kayak from Coleman
The 7 Most Popular and Top Inflatable Kayaks in 2020
Here are the best brands of inflatable kayaks you can choose from on the market. Find out their best features to see which among the 7 best picks will suit you and your style and purpose the most.
1. The Excursion Pro K2 Inflatable Kayak from Intex
- Holds one to two passengers
- Has a max weight capacity of 400 lb
- The kayak weighs 39 lb
- Measures 12’7″ X 37″ when inflated
- Come to the curry bag
- Features adjustable footrests and D-Ring attachable points
The Excursion Pro K2 Inflatable Kayak from Intex makes our list for being one of the most convenient portable inflatable kayaks on the market, especially for anyone who’s looking to use it for fishing or recreation.
Specifically designed for added stability and rigidity while angling. The stem and bow a feature additional storage for fishing gear there are additional attachment points in the interior and exterior d-rings
They’ve added a movable mounting bracket for rod holders fish finders are GPS. The addition of multiple skegs and adjustable footrests make paddling faster and easier.
They designed the bucket seats to be used all day and offer a long trip comfort they’re easily adjustable to any desired position.
The kayak will comfortably accommodate two people are under 400 lb. and will fully inflated measures 12 foot 7 inches long and 37 inches wide they haven’t deleted three air chambers for additional Hull stability and safety it’s made using three-ply PVC that is exceptionally resistant to punctures and tears.
Including two 86-in paddles and a inflation pump designed for high output, this inflatable kayak will let you get into the water quickly. Purchase an electric air pump to make inflation easier. if you’re operating a bunch of this kayak offers exceptional value for money combining the advantages of being portable and inflatable with disability of a standard kayak. We recommend this kind of highly recreational use.
2. The Big Basin 3 Person Inflatable Kayak from Sevylor
- Can hold 1 to 3 passengers
- Has a weight capacity of 490 lb
- The kayak itself weighs 35 lb
- It is 12 for 3 in long and 3 ft 1 in wide
- Comes with a carry bag
- As fully addressable sitting
If you’re looking for a good size inflatable kayak, that’s just a little bigger…then this may be the one for your needs. The first thing you will notice when looking at the Big Basin is that it’s very robust and navigates similarly to a hard shell kayak.
Much of the stability comes from the addition of two separate directional strakes that help you keep your kayak paddling straight even on a solo journey. They have focused on providing a heavy duty PVC Powerball tarpaulin finish to their inflatable kayak which protects it from punctures and abrasions and other hazards. If you look at the reviews, you’ll see that is a popular option for people who want to bring their pets along.
It also has three separate air chambers for additional safety in the event of a puncture…they call this their “Airtight system”. Coming at a bargain price, it still has many nice features such as bottle and cup holders by each seat and not put out of storage for either your fishing your cooler
The seats are highly adjustable and offer an excellent level of comfort they also have splash guards to help keep some water out. While it’s unlikely, you use this for whitewater rafting; it looks capable of navigating rough waters. We do recommend you purchase an electric pump to help with inflation. The craft itself doesn’t come with paddles or pumps, so this may be a reason for the lower price, but it gives you the opportunity to purchase a higher quality paddle and pump.
In terms of quality and design, the big basin is arguably the most cost-effective inflatable kayak on the market and it’s robust nature makes it a great option for an inflatable fishing kayak.
3. The Challenger 2 Person Inflatable Kayak from Intex
- Holds one to two passengers
- Has a maximum weight capacity of 400 lb
- The kayak itself weighs 33 lb
- It is 11 ft 6 in long and 30 in wide
- Doesn’t come with a carry bag or pump
- additional cargo nets allow for more secure storage and it has 2×83-in aluminum padals
Intex has a stellar reputation for creating a wide variety of inflatable products so it was hardly surprising when they stepped into the inflatable kayak market made from a super tough vinyl this kind is very resistant to tears and leaks and is extremely durable.
Perfectly designed for exploring slow-moving waters in either rivers or lakes coming with an inflatable backrest and seat it will provide comfort for almost anyone. To catch you meets every safety standard you could want and has undergone rigorous testing before launch.
4. The SE370 Inflatable Kayak Pro Package from Sea Eagle
- Holds 1 to 3 passengers
- Has maximum weight capacity of 650 lb
- The kayak is light at 26 lb
- It is 12 ft 6 in long and 30 in wide
- It comes with a carry bag
- And has a lot of rear storage and covered front and two for each aluminum paddles
Whether you intend to go for a leisurely paddle or down some grade iii rapids, this 2 person inflatable kayak should meet all your needs. Featuring a ruggedly designed poly primer hull, it is incredibly durable. So much so it’ll comfortably accommodate any four-legged friend you want to take a New journey. It has 38mm oh that one would stand even the sharpest encounters to resist puncturing or tearing.
It’s incredible design will carry up to 650 lb. of cargo and passengers despite only weighing 26 lb. itself It has a rigidity and of a standard kayak can only rival that and they have installed two skegs to allow for maximum efficiency and speed.
If you’re looking for some additional comfort, it has two inflatable seats. They’ve also identified at the rear in the front and rope handles to make it easily portable. I’m deflated it comes down to a 31-in high smaller package. This is possibly the best time to inflatable kayak available on the market. We have tested it from the trunk of your car to the water in it as little as 8 minutes, needing only 100 pumps of its high capacity foot pump to full inflation.
5. The Airfusion Elite Kayak from Advanced Elements
- Holds one to two passengers.
- Has a max capacity of 500lbs
- It will weighs only 47 lb
- Measuring 13 ft long and 35 in wide
- It comes with a carry bag and front and rear storage capacity and aluminum rims for additional rigidity
If you’re looking for an inflatable kayak that comes as close to a hard shell kayak as then this is the choice for you. I have added aluminum ribs to provide exceptional rigidity when tracking and traveling at speed. The bottom of your kayak features drop stitch construction, meaning that when fully inflated it adds an extra rigidity.
A 13 ft long, it keeps a low center-of-gravity offering extra stability when traveling. The 6th chamber design making is one of the safest kayaks on the water.
This kind of suitable for anything from long camping expeditions to short day trips. My favorite inflatable kayak because of its maneuverability and tracking capability and the many storage options.
Designs using three separate layers of protection to prevent against leaks and damages its capable of resisting plenty Sharp objects. It also has secure rear and front storage and is plenty of lash down cargo room for anyone heading for a longer camping or fishing trip.
They also include a carry double bag designed to comfortably hold your defeated kayak despite its large capacity it only weighs 47 lb. when depleted and is comfortably small enough to be transported in most vehicles.
The straight edge kayak from advanced elements is one of the most rigid and safe feeling kayaks around anyone who’s gravitating from hard shell tanks to inflatable ones may feel more comfortable using this device.
6. The Quikpak K5 Solo Kayak from Sevylor
- Holds one to two passengers
- Weights nly 26 lbs
- Kentucky curry after 250 lb.
- Is 10 ft long and 2 and 1/2 ft wide
- Comes with a carry bag rear and front storage and 184-in paddle
This quick pack inflatable kayak is a favorite among solar kayakers and is well designed and thought out. This is considered by many to be an inflatable sit on top kayak that’s easy to bring wherever you want to use it. That it’s full of small enough to fit into a backpack makes it exceptionally popular for solo solar kayakers, especially as the backpack comes with comfortable shoulder straps to make it even easier to carry.
You can have it out of the backpack and into the water in under 10 minutes with a bit of practice you could even get it down to 5 minutes. Which double lock files inflating and deflating this kayak couldn’t be easier, so the quick pack k5 is perfect for recreational fishing or camping trips. I particularly like the zippered storage compartment where you can keep your miscellaneous gear or packed food safely stores on your journey there’s also petty room and additional bungee cords to help lock down any other materials you’re carrying.
These bungee cords are mainly in the back and front storage compartments of your kayak, it also has carry handles to make transporting it from your vehicle easier. Has been designed with hard shell connect specialist in mind as it offers an additional rigidity because of its ridged flat bottom and three chambered line. Measuring just over 10 ft long and 3 ft wide, it comfortably holds up to 250 lb. of weight.
We will warn you that there have been some completes of the design of its two-piece aluminum pedal as some people reported that it is fragile and breaks easily, so purchase a better one to ensure you’re not stuck somewhere without a paddle. For the best inflatable kayak under $500, this is at the top for a list.
7. The Almanor 2 Person Inflatable Kayak from Driftsun
- Can carry one to three passengers
- With a maximum weight capacity of 600 lb.
- The kayak itself weighs 33 lb
- It is 14 and 1/2 ft long and 40 in wide
- Two paddles, two adjustable adult seats and a child seat
Tailored for recreational use and angling this is one of the perfect substitutes for a standard rigid kayak. It’s adjustable seating, it’s both comfortable and practical, all your paddling expectations.
This is possibly the most durable inflatable kayak on the market so don’t be fooled into thinking it’ll count your easily they’ve made it from 600D polyester fabric making the impossible extremely difficult. It’s designed to comfortably carry three people they have got back on storage, so this is something you should keep in mind, but the front of the kayak has a storage area with the addition of some bungee storage capabilities on top.
There is ample room on the stern for additional bungee storage it’s popular for its side mounting paddle holders so you can comfortably keep them out of your boat while taking a break or fishing. If you intend to take your kayak into more Shadow rocky areas such as oyster beds they design its extra thick and bottom to be durable and tough to protect from even the most dangerous tears or abrasions.
It comes with a removable skeg, a carry bag, two aluminum paddles and a high quality high volume inflation pump.
Steps to Choosing the Most Suitable Inflatable for Your Needs
- Why choose inflatable kayak to begin with?
- What are the key advantages of inflatable kayaks?
- Are there different inflatable kayaks?
- Materials used in Facebook kayaks explained
- Key considerations before purchasing your first inflatable kayak
- Why choose inflatable kayak to begin with?
The two key reasons for choosing an inflatable kayak over a rigid one are storage and portability. There are other considerations but when you’re gravitating away from a typical hard shell you’re looking at something that is more easily transportable without having to install a roof rack or form blocks on the top of your vehicle.
The ability to fold your clinic put it in a bag and pop it into the trunk of your vehicle it’s always going to Trump having to lug a rigid kayak around the country. Add into the equation that it takes a certain level of strength to lift your client on top of your vehicle to start with they’re not life and people have injured themselves during the process meaning that kayaking trips have to be scrapped at the last seconds.
Cars and vehicles are easily being scratched and damaged while trying to pop a kayak on top. Because of this, it has forced many people to buy additional traders to transport their kayaks, this might seem like a great idea at the time but then they’re not cheap and you have the additional issue of where to store it when not in use. Unless you’ve got a secure garage, your trailer may just end up sitting out in the open and rusting, adding to its price tag as it won’t last as long as it should. You may also have an additional insurance consideration if you intend to tow a trailer.
When choosing an inflatable kayak you can store it anywhere you want you don’t have to worry about a small apartment or house you can take it with you wherever you want. These days you can literally fold your client and pop it into a backpack we can inflate it and in the water in under 10 minutes.
Inflatable kayaks can now easily be used for:
- General Recreation
The Key Advantages of Inflatable Kayaks
As we mentioned previously, there are versatile device and can be used for white water rafting touring fishing are almost any kayaking activity.
At home you’re in Facebook hi can we store it on our shelf right in the closet some now even deflate to a small as duffel bags making them extremely easy to store them.
Since your inflatable kayak will be kept in your trunk or the back of your vehicle. Security concerns are minimal with parking your car, meaning you can keep it with you wherever you go.
Upkeep and Maintenance
When you purchase an inflatable kayak, you no longer have to worry about scratches or dings as you would with a rigid kayak however you need to be more wary of sharp objects as they can puncture. Once you’re finished with a rigid kayak, it’s as simple as rinsing it off the cleaners whereas in inflatable kayaks must be deflated, folded and packed away.
The new lightweight they have designed inflatable kayaks to be portable and allow virtually anyone making they easily accessible to a variety of different launch points to carry themselves.
The primary setback of working with an inflatable kayak is that you need to pump it up, but most people buy electric pumps, meaning it inflates them no matter of minutes. You no longer have to worry about finding a suitable parking spot and lifting your kayak on the roof of your vehicle.
Working with an inflatable kayak means you can virtually access any place, meaning you can walk to more remote locations and that wouldn’t be possible with rigid kayaks. You can check it in while flying or just comfortably pop it into your trunk.
Different Inflatable Kayaks
As the popularity of inflatable kayaks continues to increase, there are more and more exciting designs becoming available on the market that offer and every increasing number of features and possibly uses.
A Self-bailing Kayak
These types of inflatable kayaks have ports are holes installed in the kayak’s bottom to easily allow water to drain similar to their hard shell brothers. If you’re in interested in whitewater rafting this style is advisable as river rapids are notorious for fitting kayaks with water. The ports allow your kayak to self-drain as water splashes into it, making sure you don’t have to worry about it filling up. The one negative of these kayaks is that they sometimes like a tracking fin, meaning do not race for paddling on open waters such as rivers or lakes.
A Sit on Top Kayak
Similar to hard shell kayaks, these types feature no enclosed cockpits so you sit on top of it instead. These are popular for people who want to go fishing is accessing casting and gear is much easier and involves a minimum amount of movement.
A Sit Inside Kayak
When you picture a kayak, this is probably what pops into your mind. This class involves you sitting inside and enclosed cockpit and help you safely navigate waters while remaining dryer as they offer you an additional protection from the elements and splashing water. If you intend to find yourself in rougher conditions, this is the style you should work with.
A Canoe Type Kayak
These types of kayaks are exactly what you might expect they look like canoes. Offering a wider design with a slightly higher wall on a deeper seating position than a standard kayak, you have more room to move around and because of this they’re popular for fishing.
A Stand-up Paddle Board Style Kayak
Why not a true kayak they’ve still become very popular because of their flexibility if you’re looking for a serious workout or you’re enjoy racing fishing rafting or surfing you may be interested in this style. You can even get one with a seat or that opposite the best of both worlds.
Materials Used in Inflatable Kayaks
This is the primary material used in inflatable kayaks. It’s usually used with nylon to offer additional tear resistance. While it’s usually fairly resistance to UC light, you shouldn’t leave it in the sun for prolonged periods of time.
This is more eco-friendly synthesized rubber and is used by manufacturers who don’t like PVC. Remaining tough and durable, it is more eco-friendly and is as puncture resistance as PVC offer even higher abrasion resistance
Is becoming increasingly popular because of its more advanced UV resistance, but it is expensive and not as easy to work with. Many of the high-end kayaks combine it with PVC to offer a higher level of protection
Key Considerations Before Purchasing Your First Inflatable Kayak
Do you intend to go fishing?
You can potentially use any style of kayak for fishing trips. but some designs lend themselves to the act of fishing better than others for example they will allow you to easily cast and access your fishing gear. The canoe style kayak we mentioned earlier is a perfect example of this as it’s wider allowing you to move around and turn more easily
Where will you use it?
Do you intend to take us on slow-moving rivers or flat lakes or primarily calm water or do you live near the ocean or a bay wherever you use your device, picking the most suitable one for the conditions is advisable. If you’re taking it into open water, you should probably buy a sit-in kayak. Devices that have primarily been meant to work on calm flat surfaces should not be taken out into open water.
Your weight and height?
If you’re heavier or taller, you will need a larger kayak that will offer additional legroom and weight capacity. Before you ever purchase a kayak, care if you read its specifications and make sure it’s designed for you. You should also remember that any additional equipment you intend to carry with you will need to be factored into account when you’re calculating any weight restrictions
What do you intend to use your kayak for?
If you only intend to take your kayak out for the occasional recreational trip for an hour or two at the weekend are you planning to take it on extended fishing and camping trips for a week or two. If snorkeling is on your agenda are weekly fishing trips, these need to be taken into consideration when you’re calculating the size and weight capacity and capabilities of the device you want to buy
Do you need to take accessibility into account?
Anyone who thinks they may have issues and getting in and out of their inflatable kayak may be better off purchasing a ride on or sitting on top of the kayak. These designs are much more accessible and anyone with mobility issues should have less problems getting in and out of them. However, because of their higher center of gravity they are more prone to tipping so make sure you get plenty of practice with your kayak to be sure you won’t be caught in any awkward situations.
The right kayak seats
The first generation of inflatable kayaks were notorious for poor seating. Thankfully this no longer has to be the case as there are an abundance of devices available then offer a variety of great seating options right out of the box. Once you follow the rule that you will usually get what you pay for you shouldn’t end up with a bad seat. Thankfully most inflatable kayaks are designed to allow aftermarket seating options to be easily fitted.
The easiest way to avoid this is to either purchase a kayak which has high quality seating to start with and are sure anyone you buy is at least designed to have its seats easily removable. This is not something that should hold up your purchase as there are an abundance of aftermarket seats available from the luxurious to the functional. A tip for beginners is to look for a seat with a high back meaning you should combine it with a high quantity PDF life jacket allowing you to comfortably navigate any waters.
What weather conditions are you likely to encounter?
If even the slightest hint of rain is going to cause you to call off your kayaking trip then weather conditions are not something you need to worry about however if you’re going to head out hail rain or snow is probably advisable that you purchase a kayak design to accommodate a high quality.
Different Kinds of Kayaks
While we primarily focus this article on inflatable kayaks, we feel it’s important to consider as many kayaks as possible to ensure you’re making the best decision such as:
A Recreational Kayak
These are usually your standard starter kayak, either ride on or sit in; they’re inexpensive and can range in performance from horrific to okay. But remain vigilant as they’re only designed for occasional paddlers who don’t really consider performance an issue.
A Whitewater Kayak
These are custom-built and designed to tackle rougher water conditions due to their high performance they’re more costly,
These are another purpose designed kayak meant for paddling in open water conditions these are probably the most expensive as their design to tackle severe elements
A Fishing Kayak
custom-made fishing kayaks usually come with lots of storage space additional routers and rod holders typically they’re a sit on top design such as the index excursion Pro
Tandem or Solo Kayaks?
Whether you intend to go on solo or tandem kayaking trips, this is important as choosing the right kayak for the job could mean the difference between a pleasurable and horrific journey. If you want two people. One that can be easily adjusted to solo use by moving the seat into a central position.
Pros of a Tandem Kayak?
- It’s usually a cheaper option than purchasing two single kayaks
- Definitely more energy efficient than paddling to single kayaks
- Either partner can take a break while the other pedals
- You can work more quickly and efficiently by paddling together
Cons of a Tandem Kayak?
- Whether you like it, you’re stuck with your partner for a while.
- You will need to learn to cooperate and work together
- You’ll be restricted by what you can explore on your own
- These devices are far longer than single kayaks
It’s important to keep all these things in mind before you choose a tandem kayak over two singles. The choice is yours to be honest and there are as many cons as pros to tandem kayaking if you feel you want a break from your partner choosing two single kayaks is the way forward or if you’re looking for a more intimate excursion run with a tandem style kayak.
Choosing the Length of the kayak
Choosing the right length kayak is important as they vary from 6 to 14 feet and sometimes even longer. Short Kayaks are usually can 6 to 10 ft. long they are slower and harder to paddle straight but more agile.
Long kayaks are 10 to 15 ft. long they are easier to keep in straight lines faster and more efficient to use however this is a little oversimplification.
If you intend to take your kayak into open water and you’re looking for more space to store your gear, then a longer kayak is the way to go. Shorter kayaks offer a greater level of agility and flexibility while paddling in more narrow are white water conditions.
Your average in Facebook kayak will come somewhere between 10 to 12 ft long if you’re looking for a different size you may need to do some additional research.
The Kayak Rocker
Well construction materials and length of kayak is important you should also consider the kayak rocker anyone who’s familiar with this style of recreational transport well I’ve heard of the term rocker. Most inflatable kayaks still have some rocker installed and they design this to help you with steering as it helps keep the balanced turn less submerged. Meaning when you try to turn your kayak, you’re going to encounter less resistance.
Depending on whether you’re going to be in open rough water or calm water, choosing the level of rocker is important. Obviously in rough water a high rocker is more desirable as it means less water should end up in your cockpit. But if you intend to use your kayak for touring, having a lower rocker is advisable as keeping a higher portion of your boat underwater helps keep it in a straight line and makes tracking and maneuverability much easier.
Some Additional Tips
Cheaper is never better for inflatable kayaks. Because of the design and manufacturing process, the only way to create a cheap inflatable kayak is to put corners and use unreliable materials. From a safety perspective, do your research in advance and make sure you don’t find yourself in avoidable trouble.
There is not such thing as a one size fits all inflatable Kayak. Just walking in of the street and buying a kayak of the shelf with no consideration for design purpose, weight etc, could be a recipe for disaster.
Most paddles that come with standard inflatable kayaks are notoriously unreliable, so we would advise to upgrade to a better paddle straight away. If you’re going to use your kayak for fishing, why not get an additional little of help and buy a fish finder.
We hope this guide to the best inflatable kayaks in America will help you choose one that suits your needs.