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Inflatable Kayak ​101- Best Inflatable Kayak Reviews, Guide & Info

An inflatable kayak is a slim and small boat made out of a light material enabling them to retain air and inflate. They are mostly used for water sporting as a way or recreation. If you are planning to purchase a kayak, it is important to know how to find the best inflatable kayak and the benefits that come with one. There are many varieties of kayaks on the market, and we're here to help you choose and learn about the best ones available.

What to Consider ​

Experience

Different people have different tastes, and that is true when it comes to kayaking. One of the major considerations to make when purchasing an inflatable kayak is the amount of experience you have in water sports. If you are a beginner, you need to get a kayak with packages like oars and rod holders to make things easier for you and start you off on the ground running.

Portability

All inflatable kayaks have a reputation for portability. They come in a specially designed bag that you fold and use to keep them inside. A pump is needed to inflate your kayak. When choosing the right kayak to purchase, you will need to buy one that is easy to inflate without consuming much of your energy and time. Big kayaks may require you to have an electric inflator that takes a maximum of 2 minutes to get you going.

"However, it is essential to know that on most occasions, the amount you pay for the product goes hand in hand with the quality of craftsmanship it gives back to you."

Design

The design is at the heart of inflatable kayaks as opposed to the traditional hard based kayaks which are more accessible to mold. Some of the features that the best inflatable kayaks possess are an adjustable seat and a protective cover to offer resistance to puncture. If you are a real fan of water sporting, then you might need to spend hours and hours in your boat. The adjustable seat in this situation comes in handy since you insure your back and stays comfortable for a long time without getting tired.

Budget

Budgeting for a kayak is as vital as any other household commodity; an excellent inflatable kayak is not a small purchase. Since kayaks have been on the market for some time now, the price on many models has become more accessible. However, it is essential to know that on most occasions, the amount you pay for the product goes hand in hand with the quality of craftsmanship it gives back to you. The price of different kayaks will differ depending on size, the material used, accessories and others factors.

​Top Rated ​Inflatable Kayaks of 2018

Product

Size

Pros

Cons

Price

#1

Sea Eagle 330

11 Foot

Durable, Great Warranty, Well known name with a great reputation

None

$$

#2

Intex Challenger K1

9 Foot

Cheap, Good for Beginner, comes with paddle

Not very durable

$

#3

Advanced Frame Expedition

10.5 Foot

Great quality design, Capacity

Sit In

$$$

#4

Advanced Elements StraitEdge

10 Foot

Improved speed and tracking, great quality

None

$$$


​Our Top Pick Of This Year

Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable kayaks


These are light, portable, compact and easy to carry around kayaks designed to offer the best water sporting and durability. It can hold two people, unlike other kayaks. When inflated it weighs about 26 pounds and accommodates a load capacity of 500 pounds. Like other inflatable kayaks, it's small so that you can place it in the trunk of your car. It can tackle any body of water. If you are planning to go to a remote lake, river or a tropical paradise this kayak will take you there.

The features that make this an outstanding product include multiple air compartments which make them safer than other products and at the same time allow for more space and more weight load capability.

 This product has an extra I-beam construction floor and thick 33 mm Polykrylar hull to provide additional rigidity. The sea eagle (SE) 330 also features two modeled skegs so that the user can paddle faster and further with less effort.

The SE inflatable kayak has seams that are welded with 1000 volts of power that aid to fuse the material in one single structure. It has a more extended warranty than other inflatable kayaks.

These kayaks have been designed and tested for the most adverse condition. This has contributed to a perfect and durable product with the assurance of excellent performance to the customer. Regarding product cost, they have a price making them affordable. In numerous ways, this kayak is the most versatile and most accessible found on the market.

Budget option

Intex k1

The intex k1 is an excellent built inflatable kayak that has a stunning look with a green, blue design. This is one product that will make you stand out from the crowd. It is designed to be cheap, efficient and to be affordable to many people. The product goes for about $100 at the time of writing this article.

This kayak is made of a durable welded material with a spectacular look to add safety. The designers of this product designed the cockpit to be comfortable and provided maximum space for the user. This kayak is made with stability as a key feature. This stability is made possible by I-beam support. This ensures while you are traveling through rough waters you are safe and increases confidence for beginners.

The kayak also comes with a nicely placed seat so that the user may enjoy hours of kayaking without any fatigue or back pains. The kayak is capable of maintaining a weight of 220 lbs over water which creates dependency and convenience to the user.

As with many inflatable kayaks, portability is at the heart of the design. It is easy to assemble and use since every part that requires inflation is precisely marked. When you have finished using it, you only need to deflate and fold it into its bag. You can,  go to remote locations with your kayak and still enjoy the benefits that couldn’t be attained with a hard shell kayak. As for transportation, it comes in a unique bag that you just put in the kayak and stash in the trunk of your car.

The Kayak is also fitted with a handy cargo net that can be used to lock anything you wish to carry, so the cockpit doesn’t stay cluttered.

​Runner Up

Advanced Elements StraitEdge Inflatable Kayak

Experienced kayakers complain that some of the products in the market have a problem with tracking. Advanced Elements have solved this challenge through the introduction of the StraitEdge Inflatable Kayak.

This is one kayak you should go for the extra cost without any regret because it is better than many competitors. Other inflatable kayaks have tube shapes that form the outer rims, but the straitedge has inbuilt aluminum ribs that define the bow and the stern. This improves tracking in clear waters. When the chambers are filled with air, the rib frames press against the outer cover thereby delivering excellent performance for the bow and stern.

The kayak also has a self-bailing design. It has an adjustable padded seat that offers comfort. There are also two included rod holders that give you versatility for fishing. Resistance to puncture in an inflatable kayak is essential for security and durability. This is attained through a heavy duty PVC material that is used to make the product. It is thereby combined with a fabric mesh in the middle for increased resistance.

The best part is the portability of the product. It is packed in a duffel bag that can be carried in the most remote areas. It is highly portable since you fold and pack in it its bag. The straitedge kayak is easy to set up and use with no unique skills required. With its color, you are quickly noticeable by other sea or lake users, so there is no risk of collision.

Benefits

Inflatable kayaks come with many benefits aside from being portability. Since an inflatable kayak can be folded to occupy a small space, it means you don’t need extra room or to find a roof to carry it when going out. You only need to put it in the trunk of your car and comfortably drive to your destination. Also, most of these kayaks come with a nicely built bag to hold accessories that go with it.

It is incredible how easy it is to deploy and set up an inflatable kayak. No particular skill is required since every detail is walked through in most guides that come with your product.

You can take these types of kayak anywhere you want to go. This is a significant advantage when you are touring areas where renting a boat is expensive. They are light and easy to carry around.

It is easy to learn how to control an inflatable kayak even for beginners. In cases where waves or rough waters are visible, these kayaks are easy to manage compared to traditional ones. In addition to ease of use, they are easy to maintain too. You only need to watch out for sharp objects when in water. In the case of a puncture, you need to apply a patch which usually comes with most inflatables.

Pros and cons Pros

Pros

The entire process of manufacturing an inflatable kayak is the same as making other water sporting products. There are good and bad things that arise from this. To start with the kayak is made of flexible material to allow easy transportation and portability. Portability of the kayaks comes with the advantage of it being lightweight. Even after offloading it from your car, no particular device is required to move it to the river or lake, just carry it in its bag.

You can easily store the inflatable kayak in a small place, unlike the hard shell kayaks. After use, deflate it then put it in its bag. Compared to the hard shell kayaks, they are inexpensive which is a significant advantage to people who need them for recreation only.

They can attain high speeds as well as proper tracking while paddling through the water. There are inflatable kayaks for all water types including rough or calm waters. Moreover, these boats can be used by anyone. Every family member can have fun with these kayaks whether they are fishing or just going out for a leisure paddle.

Cons

Although most of the kayaks have triple protection, there is still the risk of getting a puncture from any sharp objects present in the water you are boating in. This might prove to be dangerous especially when you are in the middle of deep waters, and your kayak starts deflating all of a sudden.

The biggest complaint about inflatable kayaks is low speed compared to hard shell kayaks. Although this might not be a concern to many people, it is noticeable for those who like to race. Reduced speed is caused by the increased width of the inflatable kayak. In most cases, the width is increased to offer increased stability to the boat, so in the broader perspective, this might not be a disadvantage to many people.

As you can see the pros outweigh the cons. Therefore, we can conclude that inflatable kayaks need to be adopted due to their reliability and convenience of use.

Inflatable Accessories

 If you are looking to get the best inflatable kayak in water sporting then you will need the best quality accessories. The first thing that is required is a set of oars and paddles. These are the most common accessories that come with many inflatable kayaks. 

The best paddle currently on the market on Amazon is the shoreline marine kayak paddle with a rounded blade. These paddles are uniquely designed with drip guards to prevent water from dripping back. The paddles have three different positions to cater to people of different sizes who use them. The foam grips are comfortable when handling and rounded to ensure smooth cutting of water and generate enhanced movement through the strokes.

The foot pumps are the other accessories that are designed for the specific type of kayak you purchase. As mentioned earlier, every inflatable kayak is shipped in a unique bag that fits every accessory for the particular kayak. If you need to buy a new bag it is necessary to confirm the size or otherwise you may end up purchasing the wrong bag.

Materials

There are different materials used to make the various inflatable kayaks on the market today. The two well-known materials used are PVC and Hypalon. Each of these two has their strengths and weaknesses, and many people have different opinions about the best material to use. However, both have a common characteristic of being extremely rugged and durable.

PVC Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) has several features that make it an excellent choice for material including; it maximizes portability and durability of many products. PVC-coated fabrics come in different colors. It is also cheap making it a better option since the cost savings carry to the final product. Many inflatable kayaks are made using PVC since it can be welded allowing for more robust construction. It is also easy to patch in case of puncture while sailing. PVC is used as a coating on nylon to improve the strength of the product and also enhance tear resistance.

PVC has the limitation of being damaged by UV rays. If you own an inflatable kayak, you should apply a UV light protectant spray. It is also not resistant to gasoline, chemicals and high temperatures.

Hypalon

Hypalon is a synthetic rubber patented by DuPont. Just like PVC, it has some great features that make it a desirable choice of material for making inflatable kayaks. It lasts the longest compared to any other material. Unlike PVC it is UV resistant. It is also resistant to environmental factors like fungus and mildew. Many boat manufacturers prefer it for exterior coating. Kayaks that are made using this material have a more extended warranty than their PVC made counterparts.

There are limitations in the use of Hypalon as well. The material is more expensive than other materials making the finished product unaffordable to many customers.

Sit On Top vs Sit In Inflatable Kayak

A sit-on-top kayak is one where there is a small seat located on the top where the paddler sits. These are portable, light-weight easy to handle and more affordable than their hard based kayak counterparts. The inflatable sit-on-tops address the issue of kayak fishing that has for a long time been ignored for infatable kayaks.

For fishing inflatable kayaks the Sevylor Inflatable Sit on Top Kayak is the best recommended. This product has everything you required for fishing. It has ample storage with a specially built front compartment for keeping your bait. Buoyancy and stability are also highly prioritized in the manufacture of this kayak. However, it has a setback in dealing with certain currents in regards to stability. This limits areas where you can practice fishing.

Whereas sit-on-top kayaks are designed to be good for fishing, sit-in kayaks are explicitly intended for recreation purposes. Although some fishermen prefer the sit-in kayaks, it all comes down to personal preference and taste. In a sit-in kayak, the paddler sits in an enclosed cockpit with their legs inside the kayak. A significant advantage of sit-in kayaks is that the user stays dry even in rough waters as opposed to sit-on-top kayaks where users are exposed. A sit-in kayak is also more stable than its counterpart because the paddler remains in the water line.

Inflatable Kayak Myths

There are numerous misconceptions and myths about inflatable kayaks. These myths have a negative effect on customers making them doubt the qualification of inflatable kayaks.

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    ​The first myth is that inflatable kayaks are not durable. The various materials like PVC and Hypalon used to make kayaks are extremely strong and give the promise of durability.
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    ​Another myth is that inflatable kayaks can sink if they are torn. This myth is far from the truth. Each inflatable kayak has more than one chamber, so if one deflates, you remain afloat. Every inflatable kit comes with a repair kit in the event of a tear you can always administer a patch.
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    ​​Inflatable kayaks are not stable is yet another myth. Far from it, as a general rule, inflatable kayaks should be more stable than the traditional hard shell kayaks. They are more durable because they have flat bottoms that offer extreme stability.
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    ​Inflatable kayaks are challenging to care for. This myth is not true since these are the most straightforward boats to take care of. Before you put the kayak in its storage bag, ensure it is dry to avoid mold. Also, for storage avoid extremely hot or cold conditions, and your kayak will be fine.