Inflatable Kayaks are extremely versatile. From thrill seekers who want to take their ‘yak down some white water rapids, to quiet fishing, or even just to calmly cruise around a lake.
An inflatable kayaks popularity primarily comes down to the ease in which you can transport and store it.
There are a number of different options on the market and which kayak is right for you will depend on a few different factors – That’s where this handy guide on the best inflatable kayaks comes in.
In it we break down the different kinds of inflatable kayaks you can buy, and which one may be best for you.
Here are what we believe to be the best inflatable kayaks on the market right now!
QUICK ANSWER - THE BEST INFLATABLE KAYAKS 2021
- Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak
- Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak
- Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak
- Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak
- Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak
- Driftsun Voyager 2 Person Tandem Inflatable Kayak
- Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
- ADVANCED ELEMENTS StraitEdge Angler Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- Intex Excursion Pro Kayak, Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- Driftsun Rover 120/220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak
The Best Inflatable Kayaks Reviewed 
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak
USE: Touring | SEATS: 1-2 | LENGTH: 15ft | WEIGHT: 52lbs/23.5kg | MAX WEIGHT: 550lbs/249kg | WIDTH: 32″
The Advanced Elements convertible kayak tops our list as the best inflatable kayak, but also as the best inflatable tandem kayak.
In terms of speed, tracking and manoeuvrability the performance of the Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak is remarkably close to that of a hard shell, and it’s surprisingly quite to both inflate and deflate so you can head out onto the water as soon as you arrive!
The bow and stern are re-inforced to provide extra rigidity and improve tracking, and the triple layered hull makes it very durable and highly puncture resistant.
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak
USE: Touring | SEATS: 2 | LENGTH: 10ft 3″ | WEIGHT: 37lbs | MAX WEIGHT: 400lbs | WIDTH: 36″
The Intex Explorer K2 might be the best inflatable tandem kayak on a budget. Despite it’s low price point the Explorer K2 is very rugged, and has three separate air chambers (as the Advanced Elements does), to further aid it’s durability.
It is best suited to calm bodies of water like lakes and slow moving rivers, and is very light (only 37lbs), making it very easy to transport.
The seats within the K2 are adjustable and very comfortable so you can enjoy hours of fun on the lake without feeling the need to get out and stretch – Two taller paddlers together (6ft+ each) may find this Kayak to be a little short however.
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak
USE: Touring | SEATS: 1 | LENGTH: 9ft | WEIGHT: 28lbs | MAX WEIGHT: 220lbs | WIDTH: 30″
The Challenger K1 is a great option for those looking for a solo kayak on a budget.
Everything you need to be able to hit the water within ten minute is included – a carry bag for easy transportation, a pump, paddle and a puncture repair kit as well.
Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak
USE: Touring/Fishing/Whitewater | SEATS: 3 | LENGTH: 12’6″ | WEIGHT: 32lbs | MAX WEIGHT: 650lbs | WIDTH: 2″10′
The Sea Eagle is a fantastic option for two people who want a lot of extra room and weight capacity, or it can comfortably fit three people making it a great option for families, and the best 3 person inflatable kayak on our list.
The Sea Eagle is a very versatile kayak. The large weight capacity of this kayak makes it great for a long relaxing day at the lake with plenty of room to hold your fishing gear, but it is also suitable for up to class III whitewater!
Since this kayak is rated for up to class III whitewater – It’s very tough and durable . The seats in the Sea Eagle are movable, and also really comfortable to sit in for long periods.
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak
USE: Touring | SEATS: 1 | LENGTH: 10’5″ | WEIGHT: 36lbs | MAX WEIGHT: 300lbs | WIDTH: 32″
Look no further if you’re after the best solo inflatable kayak – because this is it.
Just like it’s convertible tandem counterpart, the advanced frame solo kayak performs like that of a hard shell kayak providing excellent tracking, speed, and durability.
It’s a little on the heavy side in comparison to some of the other yaks on our list – But the construction of the Advanced Elements is top notch, and is built with high quality materials.
Beginners will appreciate the stability of this kayak, and everyone will appreciate how quick and easy it is to setup and deflate again once you’re done with it.
Driftsun Voyager 2 Person Tandem Inflatable Kayak
USE: Touring | SEATS: 1-2 | LENGTH: 10′ | WEIGHT: 27lbs | MAX WEIGHT: 400lbs | WIDTH: 35″
The Driftsun Voyager is surprisngly lightweight for a tandem kayak, perfectly allowing it to transform into a solo kayak when needed, where you will have plenty of room for any gear you want to take out on the lake, or perhaps a beloved pet!
Everything you need to get going is included in the package – paddles, a pump, removable skeg, adjustable seats and a carry bag. It is also worth noting that the high backed adjustable seats provide great support, and are very comfortable.
Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
USE: Touring/Whitewater | SEATS: 3 | LENGTH: 12’3″ | WEIGHT: 27lbs | MAX WEIGHT: 490lbs | WIDTH: 3’1″
Add another to the list of best 3 person inflatable kayaks! The Sevylor is super versatile in that it can be used for whitewater as well as touring.
There are multiple air chambers built in to provide extra buoyancy, and should the worst happen and one becomes compromised then not to worry – You’ll still stay afloat with plenty of time to get back to shore.
The Sevylor has built in spray guards designed to help reduce the amount of splash and to keep you dry and it’s constructed from heavy duty PVC with a rugged tarpaulin bottom to make it as puncture resistant as possible
ADVANCED ELEMENTS StraitEdge Angler Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak
USE: Fishing | SEATS: 1 | LENGTH: 9’8″ | WEIGHT: 41lbs | MAX WEIGHT: 300lbs | WIDTH: 35″
If you’re in the market for a fishing kayak – The Advanced Elements Straitedge Angler is one of the best inflatable fishing kayaks out there.
Built with the angler in mind, the Straitedge Angler provides excellent stability and tons of on board storage for your gear. The removable accessory frame lets you customise you kayak with additional gear like like rod holders and fish finders.
Paddle and rod holders are built in as standard providing the convenience an angler needs, and you can enjoy hours of paddling as the adjustable high back seat also includes additional lumbar support to keep you comfortable for a long day of fishing.
Performance wise the Straitedge Angler handles and tracks very well, and the heavy duty and abrasion resistant material from which it is constructed help to ensure its durability.
Intex Excursion Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Best Budget Inflatable Fishing Kayak
USE: Fishing | SEATS: 1-2 | LENGTH: 12’7″ | WEIGHT: 43lbs | MAX WEIGHT: 400lbs | WIDTH: 3’1″
The Intex Excursion comes fully loaded with paddles, carry bag, pump, pressure gauge, 2 interchangeable skegs and a seat booster – Basically everything you need bar a fishing rod and a 6-pack!
The Excursion Pro is packed with features, and is highly customizable. It has adjustable seats and footrests to help you find the most comfortable and optimum position, including even a seat booster if you prefer to sit a little higher.
There is plenty of on board storage for your fishing gear, and it has two integrated fishing rod holders and a removable and adjustable mounting bracketfor additional accessories (like GPS, swivel fishing rod holders, fish finders etc).
In terms of construction and durability, it is built from 3-ply high impact and abrasion resistant material, with three separate air chambers, and the spring loaded valves allow for super quick and easy inflation/deflation.
Driftsun Rover 120/220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak
Best Tandem whitewater inflateable kayak
USE: Whitewater | SEATS: 2 | LENGTH: 12’6″ | WEIGHT: 28lbs | MAX WEIGHT: 600lbs | WIDTH: 36″
For the thrill seekers out there – The Driftsun Rover, due to its extreme durability and toughness, is one of the best inflatable kayaks for whitewater rafting. It is also avaiable in a solo version.
But that’s not to say that you can’t enjoy this kayak on a quiet lake, the Driftsun is super versatile and good for both adventure lovers or families.
Needless to say to handle class III and IV rapids the Driftsun Rover needs to be tough and durable. To accomplish this it’s constructed from 1000D reinforced layered PVC side tubesand has a heavy duty PVC tarpaulin bottom
How to choose the Best Inflatable Kayak
There are a few choices you need to make when choosing an inflatable kayak – Do you want a solo or tandem kayak (or maybe even a three person kayak). Would you prefer a sit inside kayak, or a sit on top kayak?
Another thing to consider is where you will be using your new kayak – Will you be using your kayak in the lake, or perhaps in the ocean? Or maybe you’ll be using it for fishing or white water rafting!
No matter where or how you plan on using your kayak we’ve got one in our list to suit you.
If you’re undecided on how to choose the best inflatable kayak for you, keep reading as we go into further depth on the different types available.
Are Inflatable Kayaks Any good?
It’s the word ‘inflatable’. It tends to conjure up images of a cheap rubber dinghy!
When you hear it you can’t help but wonder, how durable could an inflatable kayak be?
Consider this – inflatable kayaks can be used in all sorts of conditions, from paddling through calm lakes to white water rafting.
The military themselves often user inflatable watercraft, so you neededn’t be concerned about the durability of your inflatable kayak- Inflatable kayaks are designed to be very rugged and durable, and to withstand the toughest conditions.
What are the advantages of Inflatable Kayaks?
One of the main benefits of inflatable kayaks is that they are lightweight – Almost anyone will find an inflatable kayak easy enough to carry to their destination.
The heaviest kayak in our list of best inflatable kayaks is only xxxx.
If you’re kayaking solo then the benefit of the kayak being lightweight can’t be ignored as lifting a hard shell kayak on and off the roof of your car isn’t all that easy!
Generally speaking the light weight of an inflatable kayak is going to benefit you as you’re able to and probably more willing to be able to carry it to places you wouldn’t if it was a hard shell.
Needless to say a hard shell kayak requires having enough room to be able to store it when you’re not using it.
A lot of people just don’t have the space in their home to be able to store a hard shell kayak.
That’s why an inflatable kayak is so desirable to a lot of people – An inflatable kayak when deflated takes up very little room at all – you can basically store it wherever you like, which, if you live in an apartment for example, is ideal!
If you own a small car, like I do (or perhaps you don’t own a car at all), then an inflatable kayak will be the only type of kayak that you’re able to transport.
You also have the added benefit of being able to take an inflatable kayak to areas that might normally be awkward to reach with a hard shell – You can basically take an inflatable kayak wherever you want to. On an airplane or to any remote location that you want.
Being able to take your kayak anywhere you want to means you’ll be able to get as much use out of it as you want.
An inflatable kayak can be safely stored in the trunk of your car giving you precious peace of mind whenever you are take it out.
The unfortunate reality about having a hard shell kayak is that whilst it’s on your car roof, it’s open to being taken by thieves.
Types of inflatable Kayak
There are a few different types of inflatable kayak, and the right one for you will depend on what kind of activities you plan on doing in it.
Read the descriptions below and have a think of the type of activity and the temperature conditions for which you will be using it – You will soon be able to conclude which type of kayak is best for your needs
Self Bailing Kayak
If you plan on white water rafting then a self bailing kayak is the type for you as they have holes or ‘ports’ in the bottom of them.
If you’re kayaking down river rapids then water will be splashing into your kayak. The ports in the bottom of the kayak allow this water to drain back out again.
Sit Inside Kayak
A sit inside kayak is probably what you picture in your mind when you think of a kayak – You climb IN to the hull of the kayak, and your legs will rest underneath the hull itself.
When looking to change direction you can use your knees to push against the side of the kayak and this will help give you more bodily control and power in your paddle stroke.
A sit inside kayak also provides the ability to use a skirt – The skirt which attaches from your waist to the edge of the kayak will prevent water from splashing into the kayak – This is especially helpful when paddling in cold waters, to help keep you warm and to prevent the cold water splashing on you.
Don’t worry about flipping over in a sit inside kayak – Some people worry about getting ‘trapped’ in this type of kayak, but this won’t happen, and the skirt will also not prevent you from immediately popping out again.
Sit on Top Kayak
As the name suggests! A sit on top kayak is where the user sits atop of the kayak.
This type of kayak is very popular in warm weather conditions and tropical climates as it allows you to quickly and easily hop off the kayak and into the ocean for a quick swim!
This type of kayak is also popular with people who want to fish from their kayak as they’re well suited to be able to access and use your fishing gear.
Things to Consider before buying an Inflatable Kayak
As we briefly touched on above, the type of kayak that’s right for you will be dependent on the type of activity you want to use it for, and where you intend on using it:
Calm bodies of water
If paddling in a still lake, or calm ocean waters then you could go for either a sit on top or a sit in kayak.
As I previously mentioned a sit on top kayak is great for fishing, or if you want to have the option of entering the water from your kayak and being able to get back into it with ease then this is probably the one for you!
A sit inside kayak has better maneuverability than a sit on top kayak, and you’ll also be able to paddle around faster with a sit inside kayak
White Water Rafting
If you’re going to be in rough water, and potentially taking on a lot of water into the kayak – Then you need something that is going to protect you from the rocks, and that is going to expel the water it takes on back out of it (so you don’t sink!).
Go for a self bailing kayak if you’re going to be hitting the rapids. These are exactly the kind of conditions that a self bailing kayak is designed for.
Weight capacity & Seating Capacity
Check the specifications of the inflatable kayak first before purchasing as the weight capacity will vary from one to the other (although it’s usually between 350 and 700 pounds).
If you’re planning on using it for fishing – how much do you and your fishing gear weigh? Will you be kayaking solo or with others?
Carefully considering these factors will allow you to choose the best inflatable kayak for your needs.
Solo or Tandem Kayak
Do you think you’ll want to bring someone along with you in your kayak at any point?
A tandem kayak allows you to at least have the option of going kayaking with someone else at some point if you want to, or if not – You will have a good deal of extra room in the kayak to bring more gear with you, or even your dog perhaps.
You can use a tandem kayak solo – All you have to do is to adjust the seating position so that you are sat in the centre of the kayak, and then when you’re going to be joined by someone else – you adjust the seats back to their tandem position.
Pros of Tandem Kayaks
cons of Tandem Kayaks
Pros of Solo Kayaks
cons of solo Kayaks
Inflatable kayaks range from about 8 – 16 feet in length but your average length of inflatable kayak is around 9-12 feet.
Shorter kayaks tend to be more agile in the water but they can be harder to paddle in a straight line.
Longer kayaks tend to offer more stability but if you’re paddling a particularly long kayak on your own then they can be more cumbersome.
Are Inflatable Kayaks Safe
Absolutely! The best Inflatable kayaks are rugged and durable.
Built with multiple layers of strong material, having your inflatable kayak puncture and sink shouldn’t be of any concern.
Typically an inflatable kayak will have multiple air chambers therefore if one is compromised it will not result in an impromptu swim back to shore for you.
Are Inflatable Kayaks Durable
Yes, very! Inflatable kayaks are a very popular option on the market due to their lightweight and ease of transportation.
As more people opt for inflatable kayaks their construction and design is becoming better than ever.
If you invest in a good quality inflatable kayak then you needn’t question it’s integrity and durability – they’re made of strong materials that are able to take more of a beating than you think.
The materials used for inflatable kayaks must be durable enough to withstand a beating, but lightweight and flexible to pack down and be able to transport easily.
For this, there are three materials commonly used in the construction of inflatable kayaks; PVC, Nitrylon and Hypalon.
PVC is the most commonly used material for kayaks.
Not only is it very water resistant, lightweight, and durable (exactly what you would expect for a kayak material), but it moulds and folds easily making it ideal.
Hypalon is extremely tough and durable, and has better resistance to UV rays than PVC.
It is also heavier and more expensive than PVC though. It is commonly used as a coating for PVC made kayaks to provide extra resistance and durability.
Nitrylon is another durable material which you may mind in an inflatable kayak, and it’s becoming more popular for being more eco-friendly than PVC.
It also happens to be quite expense however, so is commonly used only in certain parts of a kayaks construction – such as the bottom of the kayak where it is more susceptible to wear and tear.
Inflatable Kayak Care & Maintenance
An inflatable kayak isn’t super high maintenance (thus adding to their appeal!0, but there are some key things you need to do in order to care for your kayak and give it the most extended life you can.
- Do not leave it exposed to sunlight. This can degrade or warp the material over time
- Do not pack it away still wet, this can cause mould/mildew to accumulate
That kind of sums it up – Just make sure you leave enough time at the end of the day for you to be able to dry the kayak out before you fold it back down again and store it away.
You can use towels to help dry the outside of the kayak (whilst it’s still inflated is easiest), and turn it upside down to let any water drain out of it.
It sounds time consuming but it really isn’t – Being that inflatable kayaks are made of water resistant materials anyway, it won’t take for it to dry out.
To clean your kayak, simply use fresh clean water to hose your kayak down (whilst inflated), salt water or the small microbes found in lakes can damage your kayak over time which is why it’s important to give it a good hose down.
Again, remember to leave your kayak to dry thoroughly (not in direct sunlight), before you fold and pack it away.
There are accessories that are essential for operating and maintaining your inflatable kayak, and accessories that can further enhance your kayak adventure (but aren’t essential) which we’ll touch on below.
Accessories that are essential include;
- Repair Kit
- Life Vest
Accessories you may wish to look into:
- Rod holders for fishing
- A cooler (for keeping your beer/snacks cool!)
- Padded kayak seats
- Water Shoes
- Waterproof/Dry Bag