Inflatable Kayak Buyers Guide (The 10 Best in 2021)

If you’re interested in getting into kayaking, then using an inflatable kayak is a really great way to go. Today’s inflatable kayaks offer serious comfort and functionality, with a whole new world of convenience compared to the hard shell models. They are easy to travel with, fold-up light, and can be stored just about anywhere. No need for roof racks or an extra set of hands just to get the kayak down to the water. 

Inflatable kayaks come in a variety of different shapes and sizes to suit all kinds of users. They make particularly good sea kayaks because of their soft bottoms. Whether you want to just sit back and gently paddle through nature, or are interested in speed and riding waves, there is a blow up kayak out there perfectly suited for the job! Let’s explore some of the best inflatable kayaks available and see what makes these such cool pieces of equipment for any water lover.

inflatable kayaks

What Is An Inflatable Kayak

An inflatable kayak is exactly what the name suggests – a kayak that can be fully inflated and deflated. However, don’t let your mind jump to flimsy pool toys. Inflatable kayaks have become a popular choice for paddlers, as today’s versions are solid, sturdy, and perform on a similar level to hardshell kayaks. 

Inflatable kayaks offer loads of value in terms of their user-friendly designs. They are much easier to travel with and easy to pack up and store. This makes them a smart choice for paddlers that love to travel around or have limited space (at home or in the car). Technological advancements have allowed for a variety of high-performing blow up kayaks to emerge. These are suitable for all kinds of different users. Moreover they also make excellent sea kayaks.

Types Of Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks can vary greatly depending on what you want to use them for. As the popularity of these products increases, more and more features and styles are becoming available. Here are some of the different types of kayaks out there. 

Self Bailing Kayaks

Self-bailing kayaks are similar to hardshell kayaks in the way that they have little holes at the bottom to drain out water. This means that they can be used in rapids and white water rafting, as well as in rough seas with plenty of splashing. These kayaks often lack a fin for tracking though. This makes them less suitable for paddling down a flat river or lake. 

Sit Inside Kayak

This is the typical style of kayak in an inflatable form. Basically, you will sit inside an enclosed cockpit instead of sitting on top of the surface. This offers better protection and is suitable for all kinds of conditions. If you plan on paddling in cold weather and rougher waters, then this would be a good choice. 

sea kayaking

Sit On Top Kayak

Instead of sitting inside an enclosed cockpit, this style allows you to sit directly on top of the kayak. You get more movement and freedom here – making this a good choice for fishing. Sit-on kayaks are similar to the hardshell versions.

Canoe Style

This is really just a canoe that can be inflated or deflated. The design has higher walls and deeper, sunken seats. This is just like a typical canoe and is a great choice for fishing. The canoe style also offers plenty of storage and stability.

Standup Paddle Board

Ok, this is not technically a kayak in the traditional sense. However, standup paddleboards have become incredibly popular, with the inflatable versions being offering some amazing use. The boards can be used for surfing, rafting, exercise, racing, fishing, or simply exploring nature. These boards are durable and very user-friendly. Some can even be kitted out with a removable seat – allowing them to become more of a typical kayak. 

What To Look Out For When Buying An Inflatable Kayak

Inflatable kayaks can have all sorts of different features and forms. Choosing the right one can be a challenge, as there is such a wide variety out there. Make sure you know exactly what kind of use you want from the kayak before making a purchase. Here are some important aspects to consider when buying the best blow up kayak. 

Material

Inflatable kayaks can be made out of three different materials: Hypalon, Nitrylon, and PVC. Hypalon is a more durable synthetic rubber that some of the most premium kayaks are made out of. Nitrylon is an eco-friendly material, and is very resistant to punctures, abrasion, and cold conditions.

PVC tends to be a more common and cost-effective solution. It is not as durable as Hypalon, but it still offers an excellent solution for all kinds of conditions. The material you choose will greatly affect the products durability and resistance to its surroundings. 

paddling on lake

Seating

One of the first considerations to make when buying a kayak is whether it will be a double, single, or even triple seater. The seating configuration depends on the kind of use that you want to get out of it, and whether you plan on paddling with a friend. More performance-focused products (such as white water kayaks) will be single-seaters, while larger versions are great for slow cruising. 

Storage and Inflation

One of the major advantages of owning an inflatable kayak is that they are so much easier to store and travel with. This means that the way they inflate and deflate is an important consideration. Take note of how big the kayak is when it is folded up, and how easy it is to inflate. Weight is another important consideration here. Heavier kayaks are often more durable, but they are harder to carry around. 

Accessories

When buying an inflatable kayak, it’s always a good idea to see if it comes equipped with additional accessories. The obvious ones are a paddle and air pump, but others can include things like repair kits and storage units. Having a quality dual action pump come with your kayak will make a big difference. 

The 10 Best Inflatable Kayaks

Now that we understand all the different varieties of blow up kayaks, it’s time to check out some of the different products available. Here are ten of the best rated inflatable kayaks on the market right now. 

Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak

intex explorer k2
  • 2 seater inflatable kayak
  • Removable skeg for stability
  • Includes inflatable seats
  • Made for smaller bodies of water

The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is a smart choice for paddlers that arent too serious. This kayak is designed for smaller, calmer bodies of water. It is the ideal vessel for cruising around on a lake and leisurely paddling. 

The kayak includes two comfortable inflatable seats, complete withbackrests. The cockpit is designed to be spacious, while still providing plenty of protection against the elements. This bright yellow kayak also has a removable skeg for improved directional stability.

This model would be a great choice for beginner paddlers, or those that arent too concerned about high levels of performance in rough waters. This model can hold a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds and inflates to z length of 10 feet. The Intex Explorer is considered by many to be the best inflatable kayak on the market.

Sevylor Quickpak K1

sevylor inflatable kayak
  • 1 person kayak
  • 21-gauge PVC construction
  • Comfortable backrest
  • Easy to carry backpack system

Any paddler looking for a seriously convenient kayak will love this product by Sevylor. This inflatable kayak allows you to go absolutely anywhere with maximum ease. It folds up into a very portable backpack and can be quickly inflated. This also includes a paddle that can be taken apart to fit into the backpack. The sit “on top” kayak has a comfortable backrest and plenty of legroom.

There are multiple air chambers to make sure that there is no deflating happening. With a tarpaulin bottom and PVC construction, this kayak is ideal for lakes and calm bodies of water. The easy to carry, compact size makes this a winner for anyone that likes to travel. This may not be the best performing kayak for the ocean or rapids, but it is comfortable, convenient and easy to use. 

Intex Challenger Kayak Inflatable Kayak

best inflatable kayak
  • 1 Person kayak
  • Comfortable, spacious cockpit
  • Nimble and durable
  • Rugged vinyl construction

The Intex Challenger is a fun vessel in a seriously convenient format. Using the hand pump, it can pop up in no time at all. The kayak folds up into a small pack that can be easily carried around and stored in small places. This is the perfect kayak for people on the move. 

The Intex Challenger is made from durable welded material, with a spacious and comfortable cockpit. There is also a cargo net for extra storage. This 1 person kayak steers well thanks to its single fin. It is durable, easy to pack up, and convenient for travel.

Sea Eagle 370 Pro

sea eagle blow up kayak
  • 3 person inflatable kayak
  • Suitable for up to class III whitewater
  • 2 skegs for improved tracking
  • Open and close drain valve

If you are after a large and serious kayak, then this option by Sea Eagle is a great choice. The Sea Eagle 370 Pro is a slightly more advanced sea kayak for the serious paddler. The kayak can hold up to three people at a time, with a 650lb weight capacity. 

The Sea Eagle performs well under rough conditions and can handle up to class III whitewater. The two skegs help to enhance the tracking and speed. To make sure that passengers are comfortable, the 370 deluxe kayak package includes two moveable and super comfortable seats. There is also a foot pump, carrier bag, and aluminium paddles included.

This larger kayak has an open and close drain valve and 5 deluxe one-way inflation/deflation tubes. This kayak may be inflatable, but with its durability and high level of performance, it is easily comparable to a hard shell version.

Intex Tacoma K2 Blow Up Kayak

intex tacoma kayak
  • A 2 person blow up kayak
  • Heavy-duty puncture resistant vinyl
  • Boston valves for quick inflation
  • 3 separate air chambers

The Intex Tacoma K2 is a solid kayak built for two. There are comfortable and well-supported seats sunken into the spacious cockpit. These include inflatable backrests, and there is plenty of legroom! 

The kayak has three separate air chambers and is fitted with Boston valves for easy inflation. The floor has also been specially designed to provide maximum rigidity. The combination of heavy-duty construction and an easy to carry around kayak makes this a convenient, yet a high-performing vessel.

Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable Kayak

excursion pro
  • Super tough laminate PV with a polyester core
  • A 2 seater kayak
  • Removable mounting bracket for accessories
  • Storage space in bow and stern

Intex makes a wide variety of inflatable kayaks, with this being a more premium offering. The Excursion Pro is made for rougher waters and paddlers that want a little bit more from their watercraft.

The first thing to note is durability. The kayak is made with 3-ply super-tough construction using a high molecular PVC. There is also a polyester core. This means that the material is resistant to all kinds of weather and conditions, and it will also permit more air pressure for rigidity. This means a more solid and sturdy kayak.

The kayak has two removable skews for deep and shallow water, as well as two floor-mounted footrests. This kayak is particularly appealing to those interested in fishing, as there are integrated recessed fishing rod holders. You can also add on the removable mounting bracket for accessories. This can include a GPS, fishfinder, and swivel fishing rod holders. 

Bestway Hydro-Force Inflatable Kayak Set

bestway inflatable kayak
  • A 1 person inflatable kayak
  • Adjustable seat with backrest
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Includes a wraparound grab rope

If you are looking for a blow up kayak, then you probably want a product that is simple, lightweight, and easy to travel with. This product by Bestway ticks all of these boxes. This is a fun kayak complete with all of the necessary features for an amazing time on the lake.

The seat is comfortable and sunken into the cockpit, there is a fin for smooth steering, and the inflatable walls are rigid and durable. The kayak set comes complete with everything you will need – a paddle, pump, and heavy-duty repair patch. Sure, this kayak may not be meant for riding rapids or facing harsh water conditions, but it is convenient and accessible. 

Flydem Inflatable Kayak

  • Super tough laminate PVC with a polyester core
  • A 2 seater kayak
  • Inflatable seats with backrests
  • Includes life jackets, a pump and paddles

The Flydem blow up kayak is a clever product that is made to last in the water. Maximum durability is achieved through using thicker materials, and a super tough laminate PVC. This allows the kayak walls to inflate to high pressure – providing plenty of support and rigidity. The kayak can be configured as a one or two-seater thanks to its comfortable removable seats.

This is a “sit-inside” model, offering plenty of comfort and protection to the paddler. There is also some decent storage space on each end of the kayak. The V shape of this model makes it quick to steer and easy to manoeuvre. You also get a set of lifejackets, pump and oars included with the kayak.

BOTE Lono Aero Blow Up Kayak

Bote Lono Aero
  • Convertible kayak and paddleboard
  • Packs down into a small travel bag
  • 10-inch removable fin
  • Military-grade PVC construction

The BOTE Lono Aero takes the idea of sea kayaks to a whole new level with this cool design. This product can switch between being a kayak and stand up paddleboard thanks to clever removable seat design. You can add the 10-inch fin fir better control and steering, and even attach fishing rods. 

Convenience is another major aspect of this craft. It packs down into a compact travel bag in no time at all and is super quick and easy to inflate back into a paddle board. There are plenty of bungee cords for storage, and it is self-draining. There is also space to add all kinds of accessories (anchor, fishing rod holders, bucket, cooler, etc).

Intex Dakota K2 Inflatable Kayak

intex dakota k2
  • Holds 2 people up to 400 pounds
  • Designed for speed and agility
  • Tough vinyl construction
  • Includes inflatable seats with backrests

Another heavy-duty offering from Intex, this kayak is a bit of an upgrade from some of their other models. It is suitable for two people and offers a premium level of comfort and stability. The kayak is constructed with really tough puncture-resistant vinyl covering three separate air chambers. There are two different skegs, each offering unique steering benefits.

The Dakota K2 may be tough and durable, but it is still incredibly easy to handle. This applies to it both in and out of the water. There is a convenient grab line, carry handles, and two dry bags included. The kayak inflates pretty quickly and packs down to a small and easy to manage size. 

The Dakota K2 is one of the models by Intex that is suitable for a variety of water conditions. Thanks to its heavy-duty build and great support, it can handle the ocean, lakes and rivers. The seats are also completely removable, so the kayak can be enjoyed by a single, or double paddlers. 

Where Can You Buy An Inflatable Kayak?

As technology and design advances, inflatable kayaks are becoming more and more popular. These products are being sought after by fishermen, adventure lovers, ocean explorers, and people looking for a fun summer toy for the lake. This means that they are becoming more widely available. 

Inflatable kayaks can be found at most major sporting stores and surf shops. Even places like specialist fishing or boating retailers should stock them. However, it is important to remember that there are all kinds of different models available, each with their own unique uses and drawcards. This means that buying an inflatable kayak online os often the best bet, as it allows you to really narrow down your search to the exact model you require. 

beautiful beach

Conclusion

If you love being outdoors and having fun on the water, then an inflatable kayak is a great thing to consider. Serious paddlers looking for the best in performance will still opt for hardshell kayaks, but this doesn’t mean that the inflatable options aren’t worthwhile. Inflatable models vary greatly and are available in all kinds of different forms.

They all offer unique advantages though. These include easy transport and travel capabilities, simple storage solutions, and being safe, durable products to have fun with on the water.Today’s inflatable kayaks are tough, durable, and offer a high level of performance. If you are considering a new watercraft, then be sure to check these inflatable options out. 

FAQs

Do inflatable kayaks burst easily?

It depends what they are made out of, however, the short answer is no. With some really durable, heavy-duty materials being readily available, inflatable kayaks are made to withstand the elements. As long as you treat them properly, they shouldn’t get any punctures or holes. 

How long does it take to inflate an inflatable kayak?

These kayaks are quick to inflate and will go up in a matter of minutes. Using a double action pump[ will certainly help to speed up the process. Inflation time also depends on the size and volume of the kayak. 

How stable are blow up kayaks?

Stability is a critical factor, and blow up kayaks don’t disappoint here. With the addition of skegs, as well as high-pressure inflatable walls, these kayaks are very stable. Different models are more suitable to different conditions though, each offering unique levels of stability.

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