Best Inflatable Kayaks 2021

Inflatable Kayaks

Published: July 15, 2021

If you are new to kayaking, a lot of features and options may be confusing for you, and it can be frustrating to analyze what strengths and weaknesses an inflatable kayak holds. That is why we have come up with a list of the best inflatable kayaks that are available on the market, to help you figure out what features will suit you best, and to help you get a sense of what factors you should consider when searching for an inflatable kayak. Read along, and let us help you narrow your choices down.

Best Inflatable Kayak: Our Quick Answer

 

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Best overall inflatable kayak

1. Sea Eagle 380x

Sea Eagle 380x

Click to view on amazon.com.

Hull Weight: 39.6 lbs

Length: 12.46 ft

Load Capacity: 750 lbs

The Sea Eagle 380x is a very versatile inflatable kayak, which is suitable for recreational floating, fishing, and even expedition trips.

What we like about the Sea Eagle 380x is that it is an expedition level inflatable kayak that is suitable for multi-week fishing, lazy floats, or running whitewater. It is NMMA Certified, which means it complies with industry safety and construction standards, as well as federal regulations. It has 16 high capacity self-bailing drain valves to drain out water when it does enter the boat. Plus, it rides nicely over waves. It is constructed with 1000 denier hull material, which is used for guide-quality rafts and can withstand nasty encounters, punctures, and tears. It also has an excellent capacity of 750 lbs., which makes it perfect for three persons without additional gears, or two persons plus gear, or one person who wants to bring a whole lot of equipment. However, if you plan on using it for big waves or through whitewater, do not overload the boat. The Sea Eagle 380x features front and rear spray skirts with carry handles and bungee cords, as well as 24 D-rings to secure the seats and equipment, plus a large removable skeg for easy maneuverability for flatwater touring and one-way air-valves. Additionally, it tracks very well with the skeg in, it is manageable when used solo, and its drop stitch floor gives it more rigidity. Finally, it provides more than enough room to carry all your equipment for an extended trip, and it can be packed down into a moderate sized carry bag.

What we do not like about the Sea Eagle 380x is that a significant amount of water may enter the boat through its drain valves when they are open, but to reduce its water intake, you have to strap the floor down tightly and make sure the pontoons are properly inflated. Overall, this is a perfect choice for anyone looking for an all-around inflatable kayak. It is versatile, durable, and portable enough to bring on trips.


 

Best one-person inflatable kayak

2. Sevylor Quikpak K5

Sevylor Quikpak K5

Click to view on amazon.com.

Hull Weight: 23.4 lbs

Length: 10 ft

Load Capacity: 250 lbs

The Sevylor Quikpak K5 is our top choice for the best one-person inflatable kayak because of its quality and affordability.

What we like about the Sevylor Quikpak K5 is that it inflates easily and quickly, — in just a matter of 5 minutes — and performs well on water. It packs down into an easy-to-carry backpack system, and when inflated, the backpack becomes a part of the kayak and turns into a seat. The kayak also features skegs on the button to help in tracking. It is relatively stable and has a spray skirt to help keep water out. Plus, it can handle minor rivers with ease, and its exterior layer is reinforced to prevent it from getting punctured. It is decent to paddle and versatile enough to take on different speeds and types of water. The Sevylor Quikpak K5 is comfortable enough for a day out on the lake and has a fully adjustable, noninflatable seat, and plenty of room to stretch your legs. It is also one of the easiest kayaks to carry on trips because of its backpack design and its 23.4-pound weight. Its pump and paddle can also be easily attached to the backpack, giving you an overall weight of fewer than 30 lbs. This kayak also has carry handles located at the bow and stern, so you can easily transport the kayak to the water. Lastly, it has a storage area located in the stern that can be accessed via a zipper in the fabric.

What we do not like about the Sevylor Quikpak K5 is that its external layer isn’t waterproof, which means it can take on water and increase its overall weight. It also rides high and is difficult to drain. All in all, this is an affordable, single person kayak that is easy to carry and comes with everything included.


 

Best inflatable tandem kayak

3. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Click to view on amazon.com.

Hull Weight: 37 lbs

Length: 10 ft

Load Capacity: 400 lbs

The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is an affordable, stable, and safe tandem kayak that you can easily bring on your trips.

What we like about the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is that it is surprisingly spacious and will provide your legs with plenty of space. The inflation is simple and quick, — in just under 10 minutes — and it has a printed measuring scale on the chambers so that you’ll know the right pressure on each chamber. This is helpful because an air pressure that is too high can damage the chambers, while low air pressure will decrease the kayak’s performance. Besides, the Intex Explorer K2 Tandem Kayak comes in a thin transport bag that is sufficient for carrying the kayak and storing it. The bag includes everything you will need: a paddle, an air pump, a measuring strip, adjustable inflatable seats, and of course, the kayak itself. This kayak is made of a heavy duty puncture-resistant vinyl that can withstand abrasions from rocks and other debris in the water. You also do not have to worry about weight imbalances because the centered I-Beam will keep the kayak stable and rigid, which means it can support and stabilize the construction even if one person is heavier than the other. Intex kayaks are also 100% tested to be air tight before leaving the factory. Finally, this kakak comes with repair patches, just in case an incident happen.

What we do not like about the Intex Explorer K2 kayak, on the other hand, is that it doesn’t perform well on more aggressive waters, meaning that it doesn’t do well on harsh waves. All in all, this still is an affordable inflatable and comfortable tandem kayak that is perfect for calm waters.


 

Best convertible tandem kayak

4. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible

Click to view on amazon.com.

Hull Weight: 52 lbs

Length: 15 ft

Load Capacity: 550 lbs

The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Tandem Kayak offers good performance and portability for one or two persons.

What we like about the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame is that it has a multi-layer construction to make it extremely puncture resistant. It also has internal aluminum ribs to make it more durable, as well as a drop-stitch floor. The three layers of ripstop material will keep you afloat, and the seams are strong and reinforced so you would not have to worry about how durable the kayak is. And just in case, the kayak includes a repair kit and instructions on how it can be used. This convertible tandem kayak is 15-foot long and has 2-4 inch tracking fins with one small keg, which will help in directional stability. Its 32-inch width will also help with stability over turbid water, without interfering with your paddling. The narrow cut of the AdvancedFrame bow hides an internal aluminum frame that slices through the wind and waves with ease. This kayak is easily maneuverable and has a PVC tarpaulin bottom that glides through the water with not much drag. This is a tandem kayak that gives plenty of space for maneuvering together and also performs well on the water as an inflatable one-man kayak. The AdvancedFrame Convertible Tandem has high seatbacks, which is great for enjoying a day on the lake. It rides lower, thus keeping your gravity close to the water and making the kayak more stable and easier to paddle. The kayak also has helpful features that make your ride more pleasant, including mesh pockets on the seatbacks, tie downs and bungges, and paddle loops for both passengers.

What we do not like about the AdvancedFrame Convertible Tandem kayak is that there is a slight learning curve with the seats. It is also a bit heavy for solo paddlers and has no drainage hole, so it would take time to dry it out before putting it away. But overall, this is one of the best convertible tandem kayaks with 550 lbs. capacity and three seat locations to allow for solo or tandem paddling.


 

Best inflatable kayak for fishing

5. Intex Excursion Pro

Intex Excursion Pro

Click to view on amazon.com.

Hull Weight: 37.5 lbs

Length: 12.6 ft

Load Capacity: 397 lbs

The Intex Excursion Pro is a solid choice for an inflatable fishing kayak. It is affordable and lightweight, which makes it is perfect for anglers.

What we like about the Intex Excursion Pro is that it comes in a very large carrying case, which is appreciated since we never really get to fold the boat as compactly as when it was delivered. The kayak comes with a high-output air pump with a locking mechanism, and it will only take you about 10 minutes to inflate all three chambers and two seats. It also has a pressure gauge to ensure that you reach the recommended PSI and two plug-in double paddles. The kayak is constructed with a polyester fabric with PVC, and features a customizable seating configuration to allow for one or two paddlers. These seats are attached via a strong Velcro and can be adjusted in three different positions to fit you comfortably and offer you enough space in the bow and stern. The Excursion Pro also has footrests to give you more leverage when paddling. Plus, it has two removable fishing rod holders, and the kayak feels comfortable and sturdy when casting. Along with the fishing pole holders are metal D-rings for dry bags and gear and a booster pad for elevated seating. It has two removable skegs, grab handles on both ends, a storage space, and a removable and adjustable mounting bracket for accessories.

What we do not like about the Intex Excursion Pro is that the valve spring is a bit tricky to open and close. Additionally, it is not suitable for harsh waves, thus making it perfect for fishing trips. All in all, this is a perfect inflatable fishing kayak for one or two persons and will provide adequate space for equipment.


 

Best inflatable kayak for whitewater

6. Driftsun Rover 220

Driftsun Rover 220

Click to view on amazon.com.

Hull Weight: 28 lbs

Length: 12.5 ft

Load Capacity: 600 lbs

The Driftsun Rover 220 is a perfect tandem kayak for your whitewater adventures.

What we like about the Driftsun Rover 220 is that it is stable and maneuverable. It is a versatile two-person inflatable kayak that does a good job in both flat and harsh water. It is made of high-quality materials, including a rigid high-pressure drop stitch floor and a PVC tarpaulin floor that can withstand punctures. It has a removable tracking fin and an adequate rocker profile to provide control and stability in flat or rough water. It can handle up to class III or IV rapids with speed and control. Plus, at only 28 lbs., it is durable and lightweight, and its load capacity is up to 600 lbs. It is also designed for optimum comfort. Indeed, it provides plenty of room for your feet and the seats are padded. It also has five self-bailing ports, tie-down points for gear, and a front action camera mount. The Driftsun Rover 220 inflatable kayak comes with an adjustable two-piece aluminum paddle, a hand pump, a rear tracking fin, and a travel bag. It fully inflates in just about 10 minutes, it is very portable, and easy to store and use everywhere. It is also great for some serious paddling.

What we do not like about the Driftsun Rover 220 is that the material used for the seat is not of very high quality, and it is also wind-sensitive. But overall, this is a rugged inflatable kayak with high-quality materials that can handle levels III to IV whitewater, thus making it a good investment.


 

Best inflatable kayak for beginners

7. Intex Challenger K2

Intex Challenger K2

Click to view on amazon.com.

Hull Weight: 27 lbs

Length: 11.5 ft

Load Capacity: 400 lbs

The Intex Challenger K2 is an inexpensive inflatable kayak that includes everything and is good for beginners.

What we like about the Intex Challenger K2 kayak is that it tracks decently well and is stable enough for two persons. It is made of 30-gauge PVC vinyl that is puncture resistant, along with UV damage resistance for durability. It includes two 86-inch paddles, a pump, and a repair kit. It also rides low in the water, making it stable to paddle and easier to get in and out of. It is 11.5-foot long, and will fit two people while still allowing an adequate amount of space so you can paddle comfortably. It is good as a beginner’s first kayak, and is pretty comfortable for short tours. The seats are inflatable and have Velcro and buckles to allow you to adjust to a more comfortable position. There is also a handy mesh covering the bow for storing extra necessities you plan to bring. The Intex Challenger K2 kayak is easy to set up. All you have to do is inflate the floor, the hull, and the seats. It also comes with a measuring gauge to help you assess the specific PSI required for the kayak. After a day of kayaking, the Challenger K2 is pretty easy to dry with just a towel and it easily fits back into its carrying bag, including the paddles and the pump.

What we do not like about the Intex Challenger K2 is that it has no scupper hole for draining water that infiltrate it, so you have to wait until you can get out and flip the whole kayak upside down. Also, remember to bring a life jacket with you. All in all, the kayak handles short excursions well, it is comfortable and provides a good combination or performance and affordability, making it one of the best inflatable kayaks for beginners.


 

Best inflatable kayak for dogs

8. Sevylor Coleman Colorado

Sevylor Coleman Colorado

Click to view on amazon.com.

Hull Weight: 41 lbs

Length: 10.9 ft

Load Capacity: 470 lbs

The Sevylor Coleman Colorado is the best inflatable kayak to offer enough space for you and your dog.

What we like about the Sevylor Colorado from Coleman is that it can either fit two people, or you and your dog, whether you have a small or large dog. It is constructed with a 1000D tarpaulin bottom and 840D nylon cover, making it robust even against the your dog’s claws. This is designed as a fishing kayak, which means it is ultra-stable and perfect for dogs who move around a lot. Plus, the seats are adjustable for optimum comfort, and there is plenty of storage space on the side walls and in the back of the seats. It also has rod and paddle holders, multiple air chambers, mesh storage pockets, and D-rings for attaching other equipment. It is strong enough to easily add trolling motors and batteries, and it is also very easy to transport thanks to its multiple grab handles. Finally, this kayak has excellent maneuverability, and is incredibly strong and durable due to its three-layer construction and airtight, leak-free system.

What we do not like about the Sevylor Coleman Colorado is that it does not come with paddles nor a pump, and the seat backrests are a bit low. But overall, this is one of our top choices for the best dog-friendly inflatable kayak, as it is easy to store and transport, and is stable and maneuverable.


 

Best inflatable kayaks under $150

9. Sevylor Fiji 2

Sevylor Fiji 2

Click to view on amazon.com.

Hull Weight: 22 lbs

Length: 10.4 ft

Load Capacity: 400 lbs

The Sevylor Fiji 2 is an affordable and durable NMMA-Certified kayak that can fit two people.

What we like about the Sevylor Fiji 2 is that it is constructed with a dense 22-gauge PVC hull and durable with RF welded seams. It is built with an airtight system and has multiple chambers for added safety, and creates a semi-rigid I-Beam floor construction. The kayak is rated for Class I and II whitewater and has spray covers on the bow and stern. It also has a fixed seat at the rear and a removable seat in the middle. At just 22 lbs., it is very light and has built-in carry handles and a grab line. It also has a double lock valve with two locking points for a fast and easy inflation and deflation. Additionally, it can hold up to 400 lbs., and comes with a carrying bag and 5-piece touring paddle. As previously mentoned, it is NMMA certified, which means it complies with the industry safety and construction standards, as well as federal regulations. Finally, the Sevylor Fiji 2 has a flat bottom hull, which makes it more agile and beginner-friendly.

What we do not like
about the Sevylor Fiji 2, however, is that it has no skeg or a tracking fin, and it only comes with one paddle. All in all, this is a very well-made, cheap inflatable kayak that is NMMA certified and is great for entry-level kayakers.


 

10. Solstice Rogue by Swimline

Solstice Rogue by Swimline

Click to view on amazon.com.

Hull Weight: 24 lbs

Length: 10 ft

Load Capacity: 360 lbs

The Solstice Rogue Inflatable kayak is another affordable option that is designed for one or two paddlers.

What we like about the Solstice Rogue is that it is made from heavy duty 26g K80 material with radio frequency welded seams to withstand wear and tear. The kayak has a 3-chamber construction with I-Beam floor, which helps with buoyancy and rigidity. Plus, it features front and back spray covers to keep you dry, and is self-bailing to drain excess water. It also comes with a repair kit, in case of punctures. The kayak only weighs 24 lbs., which means it can be easily transported. Its 10ft length also allows it to cut through water more efficiently, and its inflatable seats can be easily removed and replaced. This is a classic-style convertible, inflatable kayak that was made for one or two people.

What we do not like about the Solstice Rogue is that it does not come with paddles and a pump. But overall, this is an inexpensive choice that is made from durable materials, is lightweight, portable, and good for calm waters.


Best Inflatable Kayaks Comparison Table

FotoInflatable Kayaks Hull Weight Length Load Capacity
Sea Eagle 380x

1. Sea Eagle 380x

39.6 lbs12.46 ft750 lbs
Sevylor Quikpak K5

2. Sevylor Quikpak K5

23.4 lbs10 ft250 lbs
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

3. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

37 lbs10 ft400 lbs
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible

4. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible

52 lbs15 ft550 lbs
Intex Excursion Pro

5. Intex Excursion Pro

37.5 lbs12.6 ft397 lbs
Driftsun Rover 220

6. Driftsun Rover 220

28 lbs12.5 ft600 lbs
Intex Challenger K2

7. Intex Challenger K2

27 lbs11.5 ft400 lbs
Sevylor Coleman Colorado

8. Sevylor Coleman Colorado

41 lbs10.9 ft470 lbs
Sevylor Fiji 2

9. Sevylor Fiji 2

22 lbs10.4 ft400 lbs
Solstice Rogue by Swimline

10. Solstice Rogue by Swimline

24 lbs10 ft360 lbs

FAQs

Are inflatable kayaks hard to paddle?

Well-made inflatable kayaks are easier to paddle because they are lighter than hard-shell kayaks. Quality inflatable whitewater kayaks track well across the water and will allow you to maneuver it quickly. They are also more stable thanks to their wider base.

 

How long do inflatable kayaks last?

Inflatable kayaks last between five to ten years with proper care and maintenance. Choose a durable inflatable kayak that has a multi-layer construction, so it can withstand optimal puncture and abrasion, and therefore last longer. When picking an inflatable kayak, you have to consider how old it is, as all plastics can degrade overtime and cheaper materials are most likely to deteriorate.

 

Buying guide

Styles

Self-bailing kayak

This type of kayak is used in whitewater situations and features numerous ports or holes that are located at the bottom of the kayak. This allows water to infiltrate the kayak and pass back out, ensuring the boat doesn’t fill up when in whitewater. Most self-bailing kayaks don’t have tracking fins, which means that they may not perform as well in flat water.

 

Sit-on-top kayak

This is an open design kayak that is great for people who find it difficult to get in and out of an enclosed shell. It is best for those who tend to feel claustrophobic and for those traveling in warmer weather conditions.

 

Sit-inside kayak

This is a more traditional kayak design that has an enclosed cockpit. It is great for keeping water out of the kayak in colder weather conditions, and you can attach a spray skirt to further expel wind and water.

 

Canoe-style kayak

This style features an open design that has higher walls and higher seats. Canoe-style paddlers usually make use of canoe paddles with single-sided blades instead of the double-sided kayak paddles.

 

Open-style kayak

This kayak features higher side walls than a sit-on-top kayak, and lower seats than a canoe-style one. Usually used with a traditional double-sided kayak paddle, this hybrid style is good for people who want a more open design and an easy entry.

 

Types of inflatable kayaks

Recreational

These kayaks are often just under 12-foot long and are wider to provide more stability. These are easy to paddle in friendly environments and make for great entry-level boats.

 

Fishing

Some benefits of fishing kayaks are their ease of transport, storage, and added features that are beneficial for anglers. These inflatable fishing kayaks are usually made of ultra-durable materials and can withstand sharp hooks. Some also have slip-resistant floors, high-back seats, fishing rod holders, safety ropes, and more.

 

Whitewater

These inflatable kayaks tend to be shorter and have more limited weight capacity. One feature you have to look out for when seeking a whitewater kayak is the self-bailing feature. Inflatable kayaks also have floor drains and rear and front sprayskirts.

 

Sizes

Solo (one-person kayak)

These inflatable kayaks are built to hold one person at a time. They are shorter than tandem kayaks, but may vary depending on the type of paddling it is intended for. There are solo inflatable kayaks for different purposes, from recreation to whitewater or fishing.

 

Tandem (two-person kayak)

These kayaks are built to accommodate two persons at a time. These have customizable seating arrangements for one or two-person configurations.

 

Convertible tandem kayaks

These are built for larger paddlers that require more space and carrying capacity.

 

Other Features

Tracking fin

This fin is located on the underside of the kayak and helps the kayak track better or paddle straighter, which will prevent side-drift. These can be placed as part of the hull or it can be removable.

 

Fish-tailing

The shorter and lighter the kayak, the more it will tend to “wag”, which means that the nose will turn back and forth in the direction of the last paddle. The solution to this is to make shallower, easier strokes, and to occasionally put weight on the front hull.

 

High pressure

Most expensive inflatable kayaks can be inflated from 3 to 6 PSI (or Pounds per Square Inch), especially those inflatable floors using drop-stitch technology. This drop stitch construction utilizes thousands of tiny threads connecting both the top and bottom layers, which creates a stronger link and can withstand much higher pressures. It also creates a more-rigid paddling platform and enhances paddling performance. This is a more expensive technology found on some of the more expensive inflatable kayaks.

 

Low pressure

Most standard inflatable kayaks can be inflated from 1 to 2 PSI. These types of kayaks typically have PVC floor bladders with I-Beams, or those long welded seams running the length of the floor that keep an even shape. This is a less expensive technology, therefore, the kayaks will be lower priced.

 

Factors to consider

Durability

Inflatable kayaks can be durable, tough, and puncture-resistant. Look for inflatables that are made of robust materials and feature multiple air chambers and air-tight valves. Some inflatable kayaks also have layers of rubber or PVC as covering and can take more of a beating but are not puncture-proof, although some can survive abrasions and pokes from branches and rocks.

 

Weight, storage and transportability

Inflatable kayaks are more easily transportable than hard-shell kayaks. They can be packed down to a reasonable size, so you can bring them along on a camping trip. Look for inflatable kayaks that are lightweight and more compact to make them easy to store in your car’s trunk or at home.

 

Stability and safety

Inflatable kayaks tend to be wider than hard-shell ones, and are more buoyant at the edges. Thus, they are very stable. Look for kayaks that are designed to be more resistant to tipping and are easy to ride and re-enter from the water. The combination of these designs makes them some of the safest boats around.

 

Maintenance

Dry before you pack

When you finish paddling, you have to rinse your kayak with clean water and let it air dry before packing it away because folding it wet will cause mold and mildew, which can lead to a foul smell and may shorten your kayak’s lifespan.

 

Bring a patch kit

A patch kit is very beneficial, and even though your inflatable is designed to be tough, this kit is still an essential, just in case you puncture the kayak.

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