Inflatable Kayaks

A Complete Guide to Buying an Inflatable Kayak

Kayaks are excellent watercraft for people of all ages and experience levels. They can be used on the ocean, rivers, lakes, and swamps. Kayaking is easy to learn, and purchasing quality equipment is affordable. That makes kayaking a great sport for beginners. They can be enjoyed alone or with a partner, and many cities have outdoor groups that share kayaking tips and ideal boating locations.

 Anyone can use a kayak even if they have no previous boating experience. These slim crafts are long and narrow with tapered ends. A double-sided paddle is used to propel the kayak forward. It is a workout but easy enough that any fitness level can enjoy some time out on the water. There are multiple sizes, including those designed to be used solo and in tandem. There are even extra-long kayaks that can hold three passengers and store gear. They come in quite a wide variety of designs and materials. There is a kayak to fit any lifestyle and skull level.

 This article is going to briefly describe what sets apart inflatable kayaks from traditional rigid models. It will also provide pros and cons you can expect and a buyer's Guide to show you some of the best inflatable kayaks currently on the market.

What Is An Inflatable Kayak?

Inflatable kayaks are meant to make transport and storage easier. They are often lighter than rigid materials and can be compressed or rolled to fit into small carry bags and cases. Electric or manual air pumps are used to fill them with air when they are ready to be used. It can take anywhere from eight minutes to fifteen minutes to fully inflate them, depending on the type of pump available and the craft's size.

 The primary feature of an inflatable kayak is the reinforced, airtight body of the craft. There may be built-in or attachable seating. Most inflatable kayaks can handle the same type of waterways as their rigid shell counterparts. Most people are unaware that inflatable kayaks are a more affordable, more convenient option that gives many of the same benefits. The thick material is meant to withstand bumping against rocks and other debris. Pretty much anywhere you can travel with a hard body kayak can also be traversed by the inflatable versions.

How Are They Different From Rigid Kayaks?

There are a number of key differences that set inflatable kayaks apart from ones with rigid shells. The leading feature is obviously the materials used to create the hull. Kayaks with hard shells can be made from the following materials.

  • Wood
  • Fiberglass
  • Rotomolded polyethylene
  • Carbon kevlar
  • Thermoformed plastic
  • Blow-molded polyethylene


Inflatable kayaks are meant to be easy to transport, inflate and set up by a single person while still remaining sturdy enough to handle high-grade whitewater areas within rivers. They are often made from try following materials.

  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
  • Polyethylene
  • Nitrylon
  • Hypalon
  • Neoprene
  • Various other fabrics

Pros and Cons of An Inflatable Kayak

There are some advantages and disadvantages to consider when you look into buying a kayak. Where you plan to use it, and your level of experience is going to play a part in determining which style of watercraft is going to be best for you. There are a lot of benefits to using an inflatable kayak, including those listed below.


  • One of the biggest draws of inflatable crafts like kayaks and other longboats is that they are much easier to store when not used. They can either be fully deflated and rolled or folded into a storage container. You can also leave them partially inflated so that they do not accumulate permanent folds in the fabric. 
  • Transport is a breeze. Depending on the size of the kayak, they can be carried in with no problem to more remote locations like lakes and rivers. There is no need for a truck or car rack. Most storage bags and cases will fit in the trunk or backseat.
  • Inflatable kayaks can cost less than rigid models of the same size and quality.
  • Inflatable seats can be adjusted for optimal comfort.


  • The kayak needs to be inflated before it can be used.  
  • Wind, currents, and other environmental elements have a stronger effect on inflatable crafts of all types.
  • They must be fully dried before they can be transported and stored to avoid trapping moisture within the fabric folds.
  • Most inflatable kayaks have oars that break down to two or more pieces, and they require assembly to use.

Features To Look For When Buying An Inflatable Kayak

There are a few things to consider when you are looking at potential kayaks to purchase. The following features will have an impact on how the craft handles. You can decide which ones are going to be most important to you, and then you can use that information to narrow your focus when you start shopping through the online kayak catalogs.


Weight mostly comes into play if you intend to carry your inflatable kayak to the body of water. Some models can weigh up to seventy pounds, while others can be less than twenty. If you know the water source you intend to use it on is located pretty far from the nearest parking space, then it can be useful to go for an ultralight kayak.


There are a number of things to keep in mind when you look at kayak sizes. How many passengers they can carry, overall dimensions, and weight capacity. You want to make sure it can fit yourself, any partner or furry pet you intend to bring, and essential or items.


Everyone has a budget they would like to stick to, and it is usually best to figure that out before looking at anything. That way, you have a firm idea of which kayaks you will be able to cut out of the running immediately. Quality does not always equate to price, and you can get some basic, well-crafted kayaks for less than $300 for certain brands.


I'd you are new to the sport, then getting a larger unwieldy kayak can be frustrating. One of the best ways to find out how a particular model handles in the real world is to look at the reviews from customers who have used it. They can usually provide a consensus on how well it handles and any problem areas.


Some inflatable kayaks are hybrids that can be propeller using either traditional paddles or foot pedals. These tend to be heavier and might take up more slightly more space as they usually involve some kind of aluminum structure built into the frame.

Long-Term Storage:

Long-term storage is also something that you will want to keep in mind. Some inflatable kayaks are easier than others to dry and store. You can usually find this information by checking the manufacturer recommendations, which may be located on the product page under the specifications or details.

Buyer's Guide

You have already gotten a good look at the various aspects of a kayak and how it can impact which brand and model is going to be right for you and your lifestyle. We are going to look further in-depth at features and accessories that will be useful.


Common Features and Accessories

The majority of inflatable kayaks come with the following features and accessories.

  • Paddle(s)
  • Carrying/storage bag
  • Cushions or seats
  • Splash guards for both ends of the kayak
  • High-pressure electric air pump, foot pump, or alternative
  • Repair kit


Add-Ons That You Might Find Useful

Before looking at any kayaks, it can be helpful to make a list of when and where you intend to use them. This will make it easier to figure out which accessories would be most useful. Below are a few popular inflatable kayak accessories and add-ons. Some come with certain kits, but others will need to be purchased separately.

  • Most kits come with aluminum paddles, and you may want some made of stronger materials.
  • For nature lovers who like to record their adventures, there are camera mounts.
  • People who intend to fish can get rod holders.
  • Portable navigation lights can be essential for night kayakers
  • A waterproof bag or another storage container can be used to store things like electronics, foods, and other supplies.
  • Storage containers that attach to the kayak come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate your needs.
  • Bilge pumps can be a good backup even though most kayaks have valves for draining water.
  • A boat sponge can help keep your kayak comfortably dry.
  • Inflatable ergonomic seat cushions can add some comfort for anyone who intends to spend hours out on the water.
  • A repair kit, medical kit, emergency whistle, and rope should be stored in every watercraft in case of unexpected events.
  • It might be necessary to buy a separate carrying case or bag if one is not included in your kit.


Popular Brands

There are a handful of popular kayak brands that dominate the inflatable kayak market. These brands offer quality equipment and crafts.


Sea Eagle

This company has inflatable kayaks capable of traversing any rating of whitewater rapids. They have multiple designs and sizes, including single, two-seater, and three-seater kayaks. Their crafts are attractively designed for superior handling and light.


Hobie Kayak

Hobie has quite a few different watercraft available, including ultralight inflatable kayaks for one or two people. Their kayaks are unique because they are pedal-powered, unlike most of the others on this list. The hand freestyle makes them gear for people who want to fish, take photographs, or do other hands-on activities while kayaking.


Advanced Elements

Advanced Elements created the first hybrid inflatable kayaks. They focus on comfort, safety, and innovation. They have solo inflatable kayaks tailored for the following uses.

  • Long-distance
  • Casual kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Whitewater rapids



The products created by Sevylor are attractive to look at, high quality, and excellent for people who enjoy frequent hiking, backpacking, offroading, and other outdoor activities. Their solo inflatable kayak is light enough to be carried to remote water locations.


High-Quality Inflatable Kayaks

We have selected a model that we believe shows off the best they have to offer for each of the brands listed. These high-quality inflatable kayaks represent a good cross-section of products available on the market today. We also wanted to give a wide variety of options so that there is something for everyone. All of the provided below information was taken directly from the product pages to ensure accuracy.


Sea Eagle - 370 Inflatable Kayak

Cost: Starts at $349

Features and Specs:

  • Inflatable I-beam floor
  • Material that resists damage from freshwater, saltwater, and sunlight
  • Grab lines on the bow and stern
  • Two skegs
  • Inflatable spray skirts that can be lashed into place
  • Five one-way valves and both open and close valves
  • Acceptable inflation pressure of 1.1 PSI and an inflation Time of 8 minutes
  • Capable of handling grade three whitewater rapids
  • Carry weight capacity 650 pounds with seating space for three passengers
  • Dimensions are 12' 6" by 2' 10" with an interior of 10' 8" x 15"
  • Port, starboard, and floor chambers


  • Two paddles
  • Two removable seats
  • Foot pump
  • Repair kit
  • Carry bag with shoulder strap


Sevylor - Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak

Cost: Starts at $299.99


  • Inflation time of 5 minutes
  • Multiple chambers
  • Front and back spray covers
  • Storage space
  • D-rings for conveniently attaching items
  • Double locked valves
  • Dimensions are 33.5 x 8.5 x 20 inches


  • A carry backpack that turns into an inflatable seat
  • Manual air pump
  • Paddle


Advanced Elements - STRAITEDGE2™PRO KAYAK: AE3027-Y

Cost: Starts at $999.99


  • Holds up to two passengers with a 500-pound weight capacity
  • Dimensions are 13' by 35" with a total weight of 42 pounds
  • Two-way military valves
  • Custom StraitEdge™ System bow design
  • Inflatable seats with lumbar support
  • Bungee lacing for storage and mesh pockets
  • Self-bailing port


  • Rod holders
  • Duffel carrying bag with shoulder straps
  • Two footpegs
  • Repair kit


Hobie Kayak - MIRAGE ITREK 11

Cost: Starts at 2,499


  • Custom Kick-Up Fin Technology allowing the kayak to move through debris and past obstacles with greater ease
  • Detachable rudder system
  • Aluminum framed seats
  • This is a one-seater with a weight capacity of 400 pounds
  • Dimensions are 10' 8" by 40" with a product weight of 44 pounds


  • Cup holders
  • Paddle
  • Rolling storage bag with carrying handle
  • High-pressure hand air pump and also a high-pressure electric air pump


Our Top Pick

Out of the options we have gone over, we admired the inflatable kayaks most are Sea Eagle 370 Inflatable Kayak. We appreciate the way they prioritize safety and stability, which makes the kayak perfect for brand new or experienced users.


With a starting price of less than $400, it is one of the most affordable tandem inflatable kayaks. It also has a high carry capacity weight and plenty of space, which means you can bring along your dog or pack extra supplies. This kayak is a truly excellent example of craftsmanship and utility.


We appreciate that Sea Eagle has always been an innovative brand - always pushing the envelope to give their customers the safest and best watercraft.



You now have a good idea of what to look for when shopping around for an inflatable kayak. These are versatile crafts that can be enjoyed by anyone. Our personal recommendations can be used as a guidepost for finding affordable, top-quality kayaks for you and your family.


Before going shopping pine or in person for a watercraft, it is essential that you set out a list of features and accessories you believe will be essential for your needs. Also, plan a budget so that you will know right out of the gate which brands to look past. By preparing yourself and having a firm idea of what you want, it can be easier to winnow down the available options. Many websites have search filter functions that can make the process even faster.


There are thousands of sellers and third party sites online, which can get confusing quickly. Your best bet is to stick to known brands that have been providing the watercraft world with quality products for years. Also, keep an eye on customer reviews. These will be able to give you a good idea if there are any shortcomings or areas in which that model excels.


New kayakers and veterans can find joy while gliding over the water under the power of a sharp, stable kayak. Use the information you have learned in this article to find yourself an ideal craft. There are plenty of excellent kayaks to choose from online and in person.


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