Best Inflatable kayaks are a great option for people that want to enjoy the water but need options that are more flexible than hard shell kayaks. This style makes it possible to enjoy kayaking even if you don’t have a big truck or SUV to haul a bulky kayak.
City dwellers who walk or take mass transit can still get out on the water with these kayaks which are easy to transport and are relatively light. The lighter weight of these air filled vessels also makes it much easier for people who are small or don’t have a lot of upper body strength to carry their kayaks to the shore. Instead of having to drag a hefty hard shell from the parking area to the shore you can carry the boat in a carrying pouch and inflate it at the shore.
Reviews of the Best Inflatable Kayak
Inflatable kayaks are very popular among both casual and regular “yakkers.” There are common misconceptions that these aren’t as durable as traditional fishing kayaks, but that’s simply not the case. Today’s inflatable fishing kayaks are extremely strong – capable of going in the ocean, through rapids and practically anywhere else a hard shelled unit can go.
These are even used by militaries around the world, although you might not need something quite that tough. There are a variety of options when it comes to the best inflatable kayaks. You can choose from a beginner unit which are fairly inexpensive or you can spend a little more for a multi person raft. This way, you can enjoy the great waterways with a few friends on board. Here are some of the more popular ones, and a brief discussion of their benefits:
The biggest concern people have about air filled kayaks is durability. Even though these kayaks are inflatable they are heavy duty enough to handle white water or rough conditions without any damage. You will be amazed at the kind of punishment these crafts can take without deflating, sinking, or tipping. They are every bit as durable as a hard shell kayak. Many people find that these crafts are much easier to navigate and allow them to reach places that traditional kayaks have a hard time getting to. You can choose from sit-in or sit-on-top styles just as you can with hard kayaks. If you love the water but owning a hard shell kayak isn’t practical for you, do yourself a favor and check these out:
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
This is a popular model from the dependable Sports Series line. Made of 30 gauge rugged vinyl with an I-beam floor, this kayak can be taken on lakes, rivers (even whitewater) and the ocean. Dimensions are 123 by 36 by 20 and the kayak weighs about 36 pounds. It holds up to 400 pounds officially, although many users report carrying upwards of 450 pounds.
Inflating the kayak takes about 15 minutes for the first time, with subsequent inflations taking about 10 minutes. Deflation takes about five to 10 minutes. Once deflated, the it will fit in a 40 gallon contractor’s bag. There are five air chambers – one on the bottom, one on each side, one in the wave guard on the front and another on the back.
Inflation can be done using the included dual-action pump, and this unit will also work with most standard electronic inflators/deflators. Aside from the dual-action pump, it includes two paddles made of hard, durable plastic, a patch kit and a pump.
Intex Challenger X2 Kayak
Another popular choice from Intex, the Challenger X2 is a two-person kayak known for its ruggedness. It’s made from Super-Tough vinyl and is resistant to punctures and UV damage. The material is also impervious to gasoline, oil and saltwater – which means you can take it into the ocean. The X2 is 30 by 15 by 138, with a weight limit of about 350 pounds.
Everything you need to operate is included: two 84 inch aluminum oars, a high capacity pump and a repair patch kit. Inflating the kayak takes about 10 to 15 minutes, with deflation about 10 (less if you roll and compress the kayak as it deflates). When deflated, it fits into a bag 12 by 24 by 20.
Intex Excursion 4 Boat Set
Kayaking is more fun with friends, and the Intex Excursion is a great choice for four people. The unit comes with deluxe aluminum oars, a high-output manual pump and a repair patch. Perfect for fishing, the Excursion comes with two fishing rod holders, oar locks and a gear pouch. Maximum weight is about 800 pounds.
With rugged construction and an inflatable I-Beam, the Excursion is both rugged and comfortable. The vinyl construction is puncture-resistant and can even handle saltwater. The inflatable seats (complete with backrests) and the inflatable floor creates comfort in any situation.
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
The Challenger K1 is perfect for a day of fun on a lake, slow moving river or any other calm body of water. This one-person kayak is sleek, easy to maneuver and durable. Made from welded material, the Challenger K1 is comfortable in the water. You’ll be comfortable in the cockpit, too, with the included inflatable seat and backrest. The K1 is 30 inches wide by 15 inches high by 108 inches long. When deflated, it weighs a portable 27.2 pounds.
There is a 220 pound capacity, which includes both pilot and gear. For some, this is more than enough. But if you have a lot of gear, or are a bigger person, this one might be too small for your needs. Still, if you’re looking for something light and easy to transport, the Challenger K1 is a great option. Plus, its small size and weight make it easy to guide through the water. Intex has been making outdoor recreation products for over 40 years, so you can count on the Challenger K1 to be a high quality product backed by professionals.
Sea Eagle 330 with Deluxe Package
The Sea Eagle 330 is an extremely lightweight (just 26 pounds!) two-person kayak made from puncture-resistant, K-80 PolyKrylar. With nine inch tubes, an I-beam and high-frequency welded seams, it’s so strong and has been rated for up to Class III whitewater. The Sea Eagle 330 is 34 inches wide and 11.2 feet long with a large interior. It can comfortably hold an impressive 500 pound load.
It’s big and tough on the water, but surprisingly light and small to handle on the land. When deflated, it fits into the included carry bag and can be easily carried by one adult. Deflated, the unit can be stored in a garage, car truck or any other out-of-the-way spot. The included foot pump makes inflation a snap. The device will also work with many other electronic and manual pumps.
The deluxe package includes everything you need to be comfortable: additional inflatable seats, an inflatable spray skirt and a great paddle set, as well as the above mentioned foot pump and carry bag.
Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Kayak with Pro Package
Similar to the 330, the SE370 is another durable, well-constructed Sea Eagle kayak designed for lakes and calmer rivers. The SE370 holds two people comfortably, although it can also be used solo. There’s room for plenty of gear on this beast. There’s even room for man’s best friend. This is one of the few units which advertises itself as being suitable for dogs. The PolyKrylar hull won’t be punctured by dog nails, and the SE370 is big enough that most dogs should be steady while sitting inside.
The SE370 is approximately 12 feet long by two feet inches wide. Total weight limit for this one is about 650 pounds. It’s a big raft, and many users are pleasantly surprised to learn it’s rated for up to Class III Whitewater. Altogether, this is a strong, sturdy kayak built for adventures with friends – and even pets!
Advanced Elements FireFly Inflatable Kayak
This is a great choice for a family. It’s durable, easy to set-up, and simple to navigate. The Firefly is 7’10” long and weighs about 16 pounds. It can hold up to 250 pounds.
The Firefly has molded rubber grip handles, so even the younger ones can easily hold on. The bow and stern forms are molded directly into the cover, and not attached as add-ons, so the canoe has an overall smooth performance. It performs best on lakes and calm rivers; oceans may be a little too rough for it.
It is easily transported by one adult. While the seat portions are inflatable by mouth, many customers recommend the purchase of an electronic pump. The air bladder of the boat is very hard to fill manually, and if the bladder isn’t filled properly, the performance of the kayak and the comfort of the people sitting in it will both be negatively affected. With an electronic pump, however, you should have no issues.
Advanced Elements AE1007-R
Sometimes you want to hit the water alone and other times you want to bring a friend. The AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible is perfect for both situations. It had three potential seats – one set if you want to use it solo, and two others if you want to use it as a tandem. Switching between the two modes takes seconds.
The AE1007-R itself is 15 feet long, 32 inches wide and weighs 56 pounds. It has a rigid bow and stern frame. Carrying capacity is 550 pounds. The weight capacity is great to instal your kayak fish finder, bait bags and other accessories. Included with this are two folding seats, a repair kit, an owner’s manual and a carry duffel bag. One person can easily carry the deflated kayak in the bag. If you do a lot of solo rides, but also like to bring along a friend from time to time, the AdvancedFrame Convertible is a great solution.
AIRHEAD AHTK-2 Montana
This two person Airhead is very easy to transport, and works best on lakes, calm rivers and mild white water. As such, it’s perfect for more casual uses. Many customers use it as a fun addition to a camping trip, or as an easy way to cruise off a large boat.
The AHTK-2 Montana is 12 feet long with a weight capacity of 500 pounds. When deflated, the unit is a compact and light 36.3 pounds. It’s very durable, constructed from semi-rigid, heavy gauge PVC construction.
Note that this one doesn’t come with many accessories. You’ll need to supply your own paddles and inflator. However, if you’re looking for an economic, portable kayak to use primarily in calm waters, the Montana is a good solution.
Sevylor Inflatable Sit-On-Top
A comfortable ride at an affordable price, the Sevylor Inflatable Sit-On-Top Kayak holds two people and a fair amount of gear. The kayak is a spacious 13 feet long by 3 feet wide, and is constructed from heavy-duty 25 gauge PVC. Underneath, dual-tracking fins allow for precision steering. The kayak is guaranteed by the manufacturer to not leak, thanks to the exclusive Airtight System with double-lock valves.
A recessed compartment with a secure cargo net holds fishing gear, a cooler or other similarly sized items. Included with the kayak is an 86 inch aluminum paddle. Customers have to use their own inflator, however, since one isn’t included. Also, this might not be the kayak for you if you plan to mainly use it solo. Since the kayak is so large, solo control can be slow and clumsy. On the flip side, however, the large size makes the kayak spacious and comfortable for either one or two passengers.
Sea Eagle SE370 All Purpose Kayak
The SeaEagle SE370 is the perfect all-purpose kayak. It can handle smooth lakes, rivers, surf or even white water without any problem at all. It is virtually impossible to tip. Kayakers who have gone out on the SeaEagle SE370 were amazed at the stability of this model. It can be tough to steer in a straight line but once you get the hang of steering it you will be fine. The outer shell is tough and can handle a lot of punishment without ripping or tearing. If you love to take your dog kayaking with you this one is strong enough to handle dog claws without requiring an emergency patch job. A repair kit is included, but you probably won’t need it.
This water craft can handle a lot more weight than a traditional kayak. The manufacturer’s rating for this kayak is 650 pounds. People have reported going on the water in this kayak with multiple people, dogs, kids and coolers and gears without a problem. If you want a craft that is safe, family friendly, and easy to transport anywhere this is a great choice.
A foot pump is included and the kayak inflates quickly. It weighs around 30 pounds when it’s not inflated. It also has a carrying case but you won’t be able to fit paddles inside the carrying case. It has a self-bailing drain valve that will take care of any water that does get in. It also has a nice padded seat and spray skirts to keep all that extra spray out of the craft if you’re in rough or white water.
Intek Explorer K2 beginners Kayak
The Intek Explorer K2 is a great choice for beginners who just want a comfortable and stable boat to take out on lakes or quiet rivers. It’s also great for campers and other people who want a small craft that they can use without a lot of hassle. It weighs under 30 pounds when it’s in the carrying case so it’s easy to carry if you’re hiking or have a long way to go to reach the water.
It comes with paddles so you don’t need any additional equipment to get on the water. It is small and can’t comfortably fit more than two people. It has a weight limit of 250 pounds. Some people have complained that the removable skeg gets lost easily but it does snap into place securely on the craft. The Explorer K2 is very affordable and has great durability.
If you are looking for a summer craft to use at a lake house or for the kids to use for summer fun this is the one for you. It is not quite as stable as some other vessels but it still holds up well to hours of use. As long as you are using it in calm water you shouldn’t have any problems at all. It comes with two paddles, a pump and a patch kit in addition to the carrying case. If you are new to kayaking and want to try it out without investing a lot of money in equipment this model is the perfect inflatable kayak for you to try.
Advanced Elements AE1007-R hybrid Kayak
The Advanced Elements AE1007-R is a hybrid kayak. It has aluminum ribs in the stern and in the bow which gives it fantastic steering and stability. It’s still easy to inflate and carry, but the aluminum supports give it a little more carry weight.
Most air filled models weigh around 35 pounds to carry but this one weighs closer to 60. It’s still easier to carry, load and unload than a traditional hard shell kayak though. The extra stability is nice to have in rougher waters. This kayak can go anywhere and handle any type of conditions. It is a traditional sit-in style kayak. It comes with moveable padded seats that are very comfortable even if you’re going to be on the water for hours.
Because the seats can be positioned in any of three different places it’s easy to adjust the kayak to accommodate two people. The weight limit for the kayak is a generous 550 pounds so it can easily handle two adults plus coolers or gear. Kayak fishermen love using this for fishing.
The price is a little higher than other kayaks of its style but the extra durability of this kayak makes it a good investment if you spend a lot of time on the water. The AE1007-R has three layers of super durable material so that even if one were to become damaged the craft would still be fine until the damage could be patched. It is not a self-bailing craft, but very few people ever notice any water getting inside.
Ultimately, the best inflatable kayak you purchase will depend on your budget, your needs and the types of water you plan to kayak on. By learning what other yakkers find useful, you’ll hopefully find a good starting point for your own search. It’s also important to note that you have all the correct fishing kayak gear and accessories when out on the water. Everything from fishing gear to life jackets. Happy kayaking!