Best Inflatable Kayaks – Reviews and Top Picks
One of the most interesting developments in the sport of kayaking has been the emergence of inflatable kayaks, allowing people with limited storage space or those who wish to travel with their kayak to enjoy kayaking’s benefits. Choosing the best inflatable kayak for your needs can be overwhelming though with so many choices now on the market.
Our inflatable kayak reviews will help you make an informed choice and get out on the water – whether in the Värmland of Sweden or the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, you can take your inflatable kayak wherever your next adventure happens to be.
Best Inflatable Kayak Summary
Reviews of the Best Inflatable Kayaks
Some taller paddlers found the leg space of this sit-in kayak to be cramped. This option has a weight limit of 220 pounds, with some people noting that it did not perform well toward the top of that limit.
The Intex Challenger K1 is stable and durable, with two air chambers to protect against punctures. It is best designed for calm or flat water.
- Easy to inflate
- Good storage space
- Easy to get in and out of
- Lower weight limit
- Cramped for tall people
Users generally found this model to be easy to inflate with the included pump and easy to get in and out of. The included paddle received mixed reviews.
The seat bottom can be inflated or left flat. This offers nice flexibility as it allows you some choice in how high up you sit.
This inflatable kayak has ample storage space. It also has a net on the front to hold snacks or small gear.
This is a compact option that takes up little space. However, it does weigh more than the other one person kayak we reviewed, and some users did find it difficult to fold up and get back in the bag after use.
One of the most unique features of the Sevylor QuickPak is that it folds up into a lightweight (less than 20 pounds) backpack. This is especially advantageous if you plan to hike to a lake or river with your inflatable kayak.
While this was the second least expensive of the inflatable kayaks we reviewed, it costs far more than the other one person model we considered.
It offers a 400-pound weight capacity and, while difficult tracking was an issue for some lightweight paddlers, heavier paddlers had a positive experience with this model.
- High weight capacity
- Easy to assemble, inflate, and carry
- Poor reviews of paddle
- Difficult tracking
This option is probably best for relatively calm or flat water, such as a lake.
The QuickPak is durable with multiple air chambers to protect against puncture. Some did note that the front of the kayak sometimes lifted up and found it helpful to weigh it down with cargo.
This inflatable kayak is easy and quick to assemble and inflate. However, while paddlers found the pump to be easy to use, some did complain about the low quality of the paddle.
This model is stable and durable. People largely found its tracking to be less than that of a hard shell, but good for an inflatable kayak.
While this kayak is easy to transport and carry to the water, it is likely too heavy and cumbersome to carry for an enjoyable hiking experience. The included carry bag only has one handle and does not easily hold the paddles, making it most suitable to carry only for short distances.
- Convertible to one or two person
- High weight capacity (650 lb.)
- Small storage pockets
- Cumbersome for hiking
One convenient aspect of this model is the flexible seating arrangement. You can remove and rearrange the seats, allowing you to take it out solo or with a friend.
Some users did note that this kayak performed better in windy conditions when two paddlers were on board.
The Pro Package comes with two paddles, two deluxe inflatable seats, a foot pump, a carry case, and a repair kit. Many users reported the deluxe seats (an upgrade from other SE370 packages) to be quite comfortable for an inflatable kayak.
The included foot pump is of high quality, and this kayak is easy to inflate. It also has two carry handles and a self-bailing drain valve.
One downside we found in reviewing the SE370 is its small storage pockets. It only has two mesh pockets, located on the seatbacks, which may be a negative if you wish to bring it out on all-day excursions.
The vessel has multiple mesh storage pockets, as well as D-rings, making it easy for you to bring all of the gear you need. The 470 lb. weight capacity helps ensure you can carry any fish you catch back to shore.
This was one of the most durable models we reviewed, with a strong nylon cover on top of multiple air chambers to protect against punctures. It is also a very stable option, though some noted that it was difficult to stay on the desired course on windy days.
- Storage pockets
- Fishing pole and paddle holders
- Placement of pole holders gets in the way
- Few included accessories
A carry bag and pressure gauge are included, but not a pump or paddles. It has an adjustable seat, carry handles and a one year warranty.
This kayak comes equipped with trolling motor fittings if you wish to add a motor.
While this inflatable kayak is designed for two people, some paddlers found that it could be used as a single as well, with gear placed in the empty seat for balance. Some users also had success bringing their dogs on board for fishing excursions.
The main complaint people had about the Coleman Colorado was the placement of the fishing pole holders, which can get in the way when you’re paddling.
The most expensive of the inflatable kayaks we considered, the AE1107-R is also the longest, measuring 15 feet long and 32 inches wide. The length affords plenty of leg room, making this a good choice if you are a taller paddler.
This is a stable option, with many people successfully using it in waves or strong currents. It has a weight capacity of 550 pounds.
Users noted that the AE1007-R has excellent tracking for an inflatable kayak, due in part to the aluminum frame.
- Good tracking
- Convertible to one or two person
- Difficult to carry
- Does not include paddle or pump
Three layers of material make this a highly durable choice so that you won’t need to worry about punctures if you hit some rocks while out on the water.
The position of the seats may be adjusted, making this kayak convertible for either one person or two-person rides.
Weighing in at 56 pounds, this kayak is significantly heavier than the others we reviewed. This added weight combined with a carry bag somewhat lacking in functionality makes this inflatable kayak difficult to carry to the water.
Additionally, this kayak does not come with a pump or paddles, which may be a consideration given the higher price point.
Choosing the Best Inflatable Kayak for You
Inflatable Kayak versus Hard Shell?
Traditional hard shell kayaks generally offer superior tracking and speed while inflatables offer more stability and flexibility. Some things to keep in mind when considering an inflatable kayak versus a hard shell are:
· Portability – This is the most obvious benefit of an inflatable kayak and is increasingly relevant as more and more people live in apartments or condos or face storage challenges. The portability of inflatable kayaks also allows you to bring your vessel with you on your travels – saving you the cost of a rental and ensuring you enjoy the quality you’re used when away from home.
· Ease of Use – Inflatable kayaks can weigh as little as 16 pounds and also save you the trouble of securing your kayak to a roof rack every time you want to take it out. You should, however, consider the quality of pump you use and the ease of inflation when selecting your inflatable kayak to make sure it’s an enjoyable experience.
· Experience – Inflatable kayaks are generally more stable, which is particularly important if you’re a beginner. They do offer somewhat less speed and maneuverability than their hard shell counterparts though, so if you’re looking to race, an inflatable may not be the right choice for you.
· Safety – You may like the idea of an inflatable kayak, but wonder, “are inflatable kayaks safe?” Inflatable kayaks are considered at least as safe as hard shells due to their stability and buoyancy. Many inflatables have multiple air chambers to protect against punctures.
Even within the inflatable market, there are a multitude of options available. With so many good choices out there, how should you go about choosing?
Primary Use - Whether you want to kayak in whitewater rapids, the open sea, or a calm lake, there is a kayak designed for that purpose. The shape and length of the kayak are important factors in how it will perform in different water conditions.
For example, white water kayaks turn up at the ends and are rounded on the bottom. Touring kayaks are longer and have more storage space.
Kayaks designed for fitness and recreation offer stability and lower prices, but may not be the best for extreme water conditions.
Social: Do you see yourself embarking alone on a quiet morning on a still lake and capturing photos of the wildlife? Or do you picture heading out with your best friends on a Saturday afternoon to people watch and soak up the sunshine?
One person, two person, and even four person inflatable kayaks are available.
Size: Length, width, depth, and weight capacity will all impact your kayak’s performance. Longer kayaks are faster and more efficient, while shorter kayaks can make quicker turns.
Wider kayaks are more stable but require more energy to paddle. Greater depth can offer more comfort for larger paddlers and provide more storage capacity, but may make for a slower ride.
When considering weight capacity, remember to think about any gear you plan to bring or additional passengers for a multi-person kayak.
As you can see, choosing the best inflatable kayak depends largely on how you plan to use it. However, as the best all-around choice, we recommend the Sea Eagle SE370.
We especially liked that it converts to a solo or tandem kayak while remaining at a reasonable price point. The ease of use, comfortable seats, and stability make this a great choice for getting out on the water.
Product images sourced from Amazon.com