In the recent past, kayaking is becoming a prominent recreational and water sport activity. The use of kayaks can be traced back to over two thousand years ago by the Inuit and Aleut tribes of Arctic, North America. These kayaks were made from wooden frames and seal sealskin and were mainly used for fishing.
Over the years, the materials used for making kayaks have changed significantly. For instance, fiberglass became prominent material for making kayaks in the fifties. Also, plastic has been popular in making kayaks. Plastic kayaks were lightweight compared to the previous wooden kayaks. Nowadays, there are inflatable kayaks which are extremely lightweight and portable.
Advantages of inflatable kayaks
Store in small spaces
Since residential units are becoming smaller and smaller, there are very limited storage spaces to keep hard shell kayaks. An inflatable kayak can be deflated and packed in its storage bag which can fit virtually anywhere with absolutely no problem.
Easy to transport
Transporting the traditional hard-shell kayaks over long distances is very challenging because you will be required to rope them onto the roof of the car. However, an inflatable kayak can be packed in its storage bag and put in the trunk of a car or even carried with a backpack. This is a great convenience for people who would like to explore abroad water bodies.
Most manufacturers are making high quality and rugged kayaks that can be used even in rough waters. Also, these kayaks are durable and can last for several years without wear or tear. They are real boats that can withstand harsh conditions.
Performance varies with the design and construction of the kayak. However, most inflatable kayaks on the market will offer decent performance with impressive tracking capabilities. Some are even able to reach high speeds with little paddling power. The performance of inflatable kayaks has been improving significantly over the recent past and some can give traditional hard-shell kayaks a run for their money.
One of the biggest advantages of the inflatable kayaks is that they are extremely lightweight compared to hard shell kayaks. A solo inflatable kayak is light enough to be carried by a single person. It is also easier to put it on the water than the hard shell kayak.
Inflatable kayaks exist in a huge variety of sizes and designs and can be used in almost all types of water bodies. These kayaks are stable and safe and can be used by everyone. They provide a unique recreational experience even to people with families.
Best kayaks on the market
1. AdvancedElements Advanced frame Convertible Kayak
This is one of the most popular kayaks on the market today. AdvancedFrame convertible kayak is a tandem kayak meaning that it is designed for two people. This kayak is strong, stable and balanced to be used even by beginners. In addition, the open deck design makes it easy to enter and exit the vessel. Also, there is the optional single or double decks which convert the kayak from open deck to a closed deck.
AdvancedFrame convertible kayak is made from heavy-duty material for enhanced durability. It features three layers of puncture resistant which means you can use it even in advanced conditions. Inflating and deflating this kayak is very simple due to the spring valves that also helps to retain air. This is a great feature in inflatable kayaks.
- Model- AE1007-R
- Length- 15-inches
- Width- 32-inches
- Weight-23.5kg (52lbs)
- Number of paddlers – 2 people
- Folded Dimensions- 32 x 21 x 12 inches
- Material- PVC coated with tarpaulin
- Carrying capacity- 249kgs
One of the most prominent features of this kayak is that it is convertible. Even though it comes fitted with two seats, one of the seats can be removed while the other seat is positioned at the center for solo use. However, due to its length and weight, it is a bit difficult to paddle it solo. When paddled as a tandem, it is capable of picking speeds really fast, especially on calm water.
The optional decking is another incredible feature that differentiates the AdvancedFrame Convertible kayak from other kayaks on the market. The additional decking closes the entire top except for the cockpit. Even though the added decking increases the weight of the kayak, it offers protection from elements and makes the kayak look unique.
Some inflatable kayaks feel like they are just floating on the water. However, the AdvancedFrame Convertible sits low in the water which enables the user to paddle and maneuver easily. This design provides a more kayak feel.
Back support is very important when kayaking. The seats featured in the AdvancedFrame Convertible offer decent back support. When you sit against it, the seat comes about halfway your back.
Advanced Elements Advanced frame Convertible Kayak
- Good maneuverability
- Easy to paddle
- Decent back support
- Sufficient legroom
- Convertible to single use
- Impressive tracking
- Slightly heavy
- Paddles and pump not included
2. Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
Since most people prefer to kayak alone, most kayaks are designed for solo use. However, nowadays larger kayaks are gaining popularity because more and more people want to go kayaking as a pair or more. The Sevylor Big Basin 3-person kayak is a large vessel that can comfortably accommodate three people. It is great for recreational and water sport activities on slow moving rivers, lakes, ponds and dams.
- Brand- Sevylor Big Basin 3-person kayak
- Length- 147-inches
- Width- 37-inches
- Weight- 15kgs (34.76 lbs)
- Number of paddlers- 3
- Material- PVC and tarpaulin
- Carrying capacity- 190kgs (420lbs)
- Color- Blue and grey
The multiple air chamber system is a very incredible feature in this kayak that prevents it from sinking. Even if it punctures, the air chambers help the kayak to still float on water. This is an awesome feature for increased safety.
Another integral part of this kayak is the sturdy construction. It features heavy-duty PVC material reinforced with tarpaulin bottom which enables it to perform exceptionally even in rough conditions. It is suitable for slow-moving water. However, you have to be very careful when using it near-ocean and seas.
Inflatable kayaks should be comfortable and spacious enough for convenience and easier usage. The Sevylor Big Basin 3-person kayak is 12 feet long which provide sufficient room. This length also allows easy propulsion and convenient maneuverability which helps to glide smoothly through the water. It is 3 feet wide which helps to ensure stability.
Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
- Quality and durable material
- Decent storage
- Air chambers to prevent sinking
- Comfortable and adjustable seats
- Accommodate three paddlers
- Easy to inflate and deflate
- Not suitable for open water
- Pump and paddles not included
3. Intex Challenger K2 Kayak
When inflatable kayaks were first launched, they did not receive a lot of attention as expected. However, they have undergone considerable changes in the recent past which have enabled them to become serious paddle crafts for recreational and sporting activities. The Intex Challenger K2 kayak is an inflatable tandem vessel which measures 11.5feet in long and 30 inches in width.
It features a rugged PVC vinyl construction with a low profile and a streamlined design for speed and agility. In addition, it features I-beam floor construction for rigidity and increased stability. The cockpit is open and large enough with a pair of inflatable seats. Apart from sufficient storage space behind the seats, this kayak also has cargo nets for additional items.
- Colour- Green & black
- Carrying capacity- 180 kg (400lb)
- Length- 11.6-inches
- Width- 2.6-inches
- Passengers- 2
- Weight- 15kgs (33.57) pounds
This kayak rides low in the water which helps to improve stability and makes easy to paddle. The low height makes it easier to get in and out of the kayak, especially if you are hauling back from the water. Also, it has a long skeg than most inflatable kayaks which helps it to track better. Moreover, it is large enough to accommodate two people who will be comfortable paddling in unison comfortably.
Even though the paddles are included in the package, they are flimsy and do not help to push off objects. In addition, this kayak does not have scupper holes to drain water that gets into the vessel. To drain the water, you will have to you finish your activity and flip the kayak over. When all said and done, this kayak handles decently well than most inflatable kayaks on the market.
Although the Intex Challenger K2 may not be a good choice for longer trips, it is very comfortable for short excursions. It is wide enough and the sides are not so thick to encroach into the sitting space. The seats are not only inflatable, but also use velcro and buckle to the boat. This allows you to find a more comfortable position.
The setup process of this kayak is pretty simple compared to some inflatable kayaks on the market. You will only need to inflate three components that include the seats, the hull and the floor. It comes with a measuring gauge to help you know when the air is full enough.
Intex Challenger K2 Kayak
- Well priced
- High-quality build material
- Puncture and UV-resistant
- Two paddles, pump and repair kit included
- Weak paddles
- Unreliable customer care
4. Sea Eagle 370
If you are looking for an inflatable kayak suitable for amateur and professional use, the Sea Eagle is a great choice. It is lightweight, compact and adaptable to any water condition for you to take it almost anywhere. With an inflatable time of less than ten minutes, it is very easy to set up. This kayak has been designed in such a way that it can be used by three paddlers or even soloing adventures.
- Brand- Sea Eagle SE370
- Weight- 14kgs (32lbs)
- Carrying capacity- 295kgs (650lbs)
- Paddlers- 3
- Length- 12.5-inches
- Material- Polykrylar
The Sea Eagle 370 kayak is made from PolyKrylar material that is most used in military equipment. It ensures the kayak is resistant to saltwater and UV light. Even though it is a tough material, the kayak is extremely flexible making it easy to transport and store.
This kayak is designed to get through almost any water condition and therefore ideal for both beginners and professionals. It offers a high-level comfort which makes it to paddle even for long distances.
The cockpit area is large enough to comfortably accommodate all paddlers with sufficient leg room. Also, it features two blow up spray skirts that are placed at the front and the back. This helps you and your cargo to remain dry.
In terms of performance, the Sea Eagle 370 is excellent on flat water. It does not require too much paddling power to move forward. However, it might require more paddling power when cruising through rough currents. The flat bottom design provides the kayak with a maximum level of stability. Furthermore, it features two skegs that offer easy maneuverability and better tracking.
It has three chambers that are inflated separately. Therefore, even if one of the chambers get punctured, the rest of the chambers will prevent the kayak from sinking. The chambers have a pressure gauge which will enable you to pump the right amount of air.
Sea Eagle 370
- Easy transportation and storage
- Quick setup
- Two skegs for better tracking and maneuverability
- UV and saltwater resistant
- Excellent price point
- Weak paddles
- Unstable on choppy water
5. Sevylor Quikpak K5
When looking for an inflatable kayak, it is very important to consider quality. The build quality of the Sevylor Quickpack K5 is very impressive as it is made from 24-gauge PVC material. Also,the bottom is reinforced with tarpaulin to make it stronger and safer. This makes it one of the most reliable inflatable vessels on the
- Brand- Sevylor QuickPak K5
- Length- 10 feet
- Width- 36 inches
- Carrying capacity- 113.4kg (250lbs)
- Passengers- 1
The cockpit is one of the most prominent features in the Quickpack K5. It is nicely suited to fit a solo individual with utmost comfort. This makes it easy to navigate even rough conditions. Also, the spray skirt is placed at a convenient location on the cockpit which makes it easier to attach and remove when necessary. The spray skirt will prevent you and your cargo from getting wet while kayaking.
Another incredible feature of the QuickPak K5 is seat. It provides the necessary back support required even for longer distances. Actually, the seat is the backpack that comes with the boat. This way, you will not worry about it once you are in the water.
The color combination on the QuickPak K5 is something worth noting. It blends well with the water environment it is meant to explore. In addition, the labeling is minimal which makes it look premium. There is nothing more annoying like distractive labeling on an inflatable vessel.
Most importantly, the QuickPak K5 comes with an all-inclusive package that contains a high-pressure pump and solid aluminum paddles. This is a very unique feature in inflatable kayaks where the user is required to buy everything required to make the kayak functional.
Sevylor Quikpak K5
- Easy to inflate and deflate
- All-inclusive package
- High quality material
- Stable on water
- Flimsy paddles
- Pump nozzle does not fit securely
How To Choose Best Inflatable Kayak, factors to consider.
An inflatable kayak is only as good as the materials it is made from. The three commonly used materials for inflatable kayaks include PVC, Nitrylon and Hypalon. Each of these materials has its pros and cons.
PVC materials have improved greatly with the advent of new technology. They are considered to be the most economical materials for kayak construction. However, they are vulnerable to exposure to intense sunlight. In addition, PVC is not resistant to certain chemicals and excessive abrasion. If you select a kayak made from PVC, you will be required to spray it with UV protectant to extend its life.
Nitrylon is sturdier than PVC. Therefore, kayaks made from this material are more puncture-resistant, easier to patch and can perform well even in harsh conditions. Inflatable kayaks made from Nitrylon are also resistant to wear and tear even though they tend to be heavier than kayaks made from PVC.
Hypalon is the most reliable material for inflatable kayaks. It is been used by the US Coast Guard and military for a long time. In most cases, it is combined with neoprene interior coating for more durability, reliability and puncture resistant to enable the kayak to perform at the highest level. On the downside, kayaks made from Hypalon are slightly expensive. Most inflatable kayak manufacturers are using a combination of these materials to achieve optimum strength, longevity and performance.
The type of kayak
They are different types of kayaks available on the market. Each particular type has its intended usage.
- Touring kayak
Touring inflatable kayaks are usually long and thin. This design enables the kayak to travel easily through flat water. Most touring kayaks offer versatility as they can be used in a variety of water bodies. Also, some kayaks are rudder-compatible to boost steering.
- White water kayaks
Unlike the touring kayaks, white water kayaks have a short and wide design. This type of design makes steering easier because the moving water tends to propel the kayak. Furthermore, the wide design ensures the vessel is more stable while the short length enhances navigation. A key feature you should look out for in white water kayaks is the scupper holes which drains water from the cockpit and d-rings.
- Sea kayaks
These types of inflatable kayaks resemble touring kayaks in terms of design. However, they are specifically designed for sea waters. Scupper holes are an additional feature you should consider when choosing sea kayaks.
- Fishing kayaks
The most distinct characteristic that differentiates fishing kayaks from other types of kayaks is the round shape at the front and back for increased stability. Fishing kayaks should also have special features intended for fishing activities such as rod holders, anchor cleat and bait bucket.
- Sit-on-top and sit-in inflatable kayak
Most inflatable kayaks have a sit-in design. It is the most preferred design because it offers more room to store gear and carry cargo. Some kayaks feature a sit-on-top design which provides a better range of motion and reach for activities like fishing. Whichever you choose will be a matter of personal needs and preference.
Inflatable kayaks come in different sizes. It is advisable to always choose a kayak that conforms to your specific needs. By law, manufacturers are required to tag the maximum weight capacity on each product. The capacity includes the weight of passengers together with everything on board. Therefore, in the interest of safety, the capacity should be observed at all times.
Stability is an important factor to consider when choosing an inflatable kayak. However, stability greatly differs in different models. For instance, if you like fishing, you would like an inflatable kayak that is not only steady on water but can also lean slightly without tipping. A wider kayak is likely to be more stable. The models that feature larger pontoon on the sides and rigid floors will enable you to lean without overturning.
Depending on your kayaking needs, you will want a kayak that handles and maneuvers well. When choosing an inflatable kayak you have to be very careful because certain kayaks maneuver better than others. While some are great at tracking straight, others are great at turning easily. A thumb rule is that shorter kayaks maneuvers better while longer kayaks track better. Beginners are advised to use kayaks that are shorter and wider. However, professional kayakers may prefer longer and narrower kayaks so that they can track better and pick high speeds.
Lighter inflatable kayaks are easier to carry and store. For instance, if you like exploring foreign water bodies, a light inflatable kayak can be easily transported by airplane. In addition, a lightweight inflatable kayak is ideal for hikers who carry the vessel around. Also, if you like kayaking alone, you should choose a lightweight kayak so that you can be able to carry it or assemble without help.
We have highlighted some of the best inflatable kayaks on the market. The best choice will depend on your needs and preferences. For instance, if you like kayaking alone, you can buy a solo kayak. On the other hand, you can choose a tandem kayak if you would like to tag along with another person. There are also inflatable kayaks that can accommodate more than two people.