Best Inflatable Kayak Reviews For 2017 – Complete Buying Guide
Many people who are into kayaking these days tend to prefer inflatable kayaks. That’s understandable since rigid kayaks aren’t very portable. They also tend to be more expensive in general. You also don’t have to worry too much about punctures. The best inflatable kayaks can be just as tough as the ones made from wood or hard plastic.
Table of Contents
- Top 10 Inflatable Kayak Comparisons
- 10 Best Inflatable Kayaks - Reviews
- 6. Sea Eagle SE370
- How To Buy Inflatable Kayak
Top 10 Inflatable Kayak Comparisons
You won’t have any trouble finding inflatable kayaks for sale, especially if you’re online. The trouble is determining which ones are the best or most suitable for you. So to spare you the trouble, here’s a list of some of the best inflatable kayaks around.
10 Best Inflatable Kayaks - Reviews
1. Intex Challenger K1
The intex Challenger K1 is a proven classic among kayaks, as it’s been among the most popular entry-level inflatable kayaks in the industry.
It provides instant fun for beginners and even seasoned kayakers can appreciate its features.
This is a 1-person kayak that’s extremely lightweight. That makes it easy for transport, and not just for your vehicle. It’s light enough that you can carry this on your own from the car to the water.
Yet despite its light weight, it’s also very strong. It can carry up to 220 pounds. So it’s not just for children but even for hefty adults. It’s safe enough that it’s certified by the NMMA using ABYC standards. It even comes with eye-catching graphics so that you’re easier to find by emergency responders.
This toughness is due to the high quality of the heavy vinyl used for the kayak. Despite its entry-level status, the Challenger K1 can be used for even debris-laden rivers. It can survive scraping on rocky bottoms. It won’t withstand a sharp stick or a pointy log. Then again just about every inflatable will puncture as well.
It takes only 3 minutes or so to inflate the main kayak with the Boston valves. However, this comes with a removable inflatable seat along with the foot cushion. You’ll have to inflate all those too. Aside from all that, you just need to strap the seat into its place. All these preparations will take you only 15 minutes or so.
It’s quite comfy to sit on this, as you have plenty of space for your legs. The seat is adjustable. You can also sit back and relax on the backrest of the seat. In front of you, there’s some space for some cargo which you secure with a net.
This comes with a low-profile design, and it comes with a removable skeg that helps with maneuverability and control. Once you’re done, you have grab lines on both ends so that you can grab the kayak to shore.
- This is an entry-level inflatable kayak, so it’s comparatively very affordable.
- It’s no trouble to inflate and set up.
- This is extremely tough, and it can survive a rocky shore.
- The light weight makes it easy to carry.
- It’s actually very easy to control on the water.
- This is a purely recreational vehicle. It doesn’t offer much help for fishing and it won’t take whitewater uses.
- You’ll have to leave your smartphone behind, because it can get wet.
- You may want to secure the skeg with some waterproof tape, as it’s prone to fall off.
2. Sevylor Quikpak K1
When you have a rigid kayak, you also have a problem when you have to carry it all by your lonesome to the water.
It’s too heavy and too unwieldy. On the other hand, inflatable kayaks are lighter so a single person can carry them.
But then you need to spend some time to inflate and set it up. If you’re lucky, this will take you only 15 minutes or so. Both these problems are solved by the Sevylor Quikpak K1. It’s an inflatable that with practice you can inflate and set up in just 5 minutes.
It’s even designed as a backpack so you can hike to the water. It also comes with straps at the sides for your paddle. The back pack is also perfect if you have a vehicle like a motorcycle or a convertible that can’t fit in a kayak.
For durability, this Sevylor kayak uses 21-gauge PVC, which is good enough for use in gentle lakes. The bottom is made of tarpaulin, which is durable enough for most occasions. It’s easy enough to inflate, and easy enough to use even by senior citizens.
It even uses multiple air chambers so having a puncture in one chamber doesn’t mean you’re going to sink right away. It’s very stable, so you won’t even feel like it’s going to tip over. It’s also very responsive to changes in direction due to the small skegs on the front and rear of the hull.
Still, this isn’t for fishing or for choppy rivers. If you’re visiting (or even live by) a lake, then this works well for solo sightseeing trips and relaxing rides.
- The backpack design is a work of genius, as hikers without cars can go kayaking more easily.
- The speedy preparation means more time for you on the water, and your enthusiasm hasn’t been worn off by the tedious inflation process.
- It has multiple air chambers, so a puncture isn’t a major emergency.
- It’s very stable.
- It changes directions with no trouble.
- On choppy waters, it can get too bouncy.
- It’s so lightweight that you may want to avoid strong winds.
- The water from the paddle will get you wet.
3. Intex Challenger K2
The Challenger kayak is certainly a classic, so Intex made a 2-person version of this excellent kayak.
If you’re a beginner, or if you’re planning to kayak on gentle waters, then this kayak is great. You can bring along a kid or a date on this with no trouble.
Since it’s a 2-person kayak, the Intex Challenger K2 obviously longer than the K1. It also comes with a greater weight capacity of 350 pounds, although this may even be stretched to 400 pounds. It is also surprisingly tough. It’s made with extremely tough heavy duty vinyl that’s very resistant to punctures.
I’ve used it for some fishing trips and it wasn’t bothered when my hooks graze on it. It can even bottom out and go over rocks occasionally and it still doesn’t get punctured. Even if you do get a puncture, it’s not all that hard to patch anyway.
There’s some storage space at the front is secured by mesh netting. On solo trips, you can remove the 2nd seat for more storage space for your stuff. It uses Boston valves so inflating the kayak doesn’t really take too long. About 20 minutes and you’re all set.
It does look great though, but the design is eye-catching also for safety reasons. If you ever need emergency services, then the design makes you easier to find. Also, you’re more visible in the water so other craft can see you and avoid hitting you.
The vinyl is also UV-resistant so the design doesn’t fade much and it doesn’t suffer too much wear and tear due to overexposure to sunlight. It’s very easy to control, and the removable skeg does its job well. Once you’re done, you can just haul it to shore with the grab lines on each end.
- It’s great for beginners who want to use a kayak for traveling on gentle lake waters. There’s really not much to it since it’s simple to use.
- It’s actually very maneuverable so you can control where you want to go.
- Since this is a 2-person kayak, the added weight can keep it down even against strong winds.
- Its weight capacity can handle 2 average-sized adults.
- This is extremely portable, since a single person can carry this to the water. You can bring it along in the trunk of your car, and at home you can just put it in a closet somewhere.
- The material is much tougher than you’d think, although you don’t want to make a regular habit of bottoming out.
- The 2nd seat is removable so you can get more space.
- While the 20 minutes needed to prepare the kayak for the water isn’t really all that long, for some folks that’s still too much time.
- It’s not really designed for whitewater conditions. It’s just for gentle lakes.
- You don’t really have much space and special features for fishing trips.
4. Advanced Elements frame Convertible
Some kayaks are great—if you get them in poor condition. The problem is that some sellers just send their products for delivery without checking them first.
So it can get really annoying when you find defects in the kayak you get.
However, this isn’t something you’ll likely to experience with Advanced Elements kayaks. Each one goes on a last check. They’re inflated and pressure-tested, and then looked over for up to 48 hours before they’re packaged for delivery.
What do you get is an awesome 1-person kayak overall. It’s a great kayak for beginners, and many owners of rigid kayaks buy this as a backup when they want an inflatable alternative. All you need to do is to get the appropriate paddle. It shouldn’t be too short, and a paddle that’s about 220 cm long should be about right.
This comes with 7 air chambers, so getting a puncture isn’t a Titanic moment. But inflating them all doesn’t really take too long. The 2 main chambers will probably take 10 minutes when you get the hang of it. Then the rest of the air chambers will need only an additional 5 minutes.
Once the inflating process is done, you end up with a rigid kayak that doesn’t seem like an inflatable at all. It’s quite firm and sturdy, and it uses 3 layers of materials so it isn’t easily punctured. When you’re on the water, the somewhat wide design of the kayak helps with its stability.
There are also aluminum ribs built in for the bow and stern, and these ribs boost the tracking of the kayak. It slices through the water cleanly, although of course you can’t really expect it to go as fast as a narrower hard-shell kayak. But at least it’s not overly slow.
Inside, you have various air chambers so you don’t really get much space for storage. There’s some space in front which ah some mesh netting to secure some bit of stiff, but that’s it. Once you’re done with your kayak trip, deflating and packing the kayak doesn’t take long either.
That should take maybe 10 minutes or so. You can then carry it in a bag yourself as it is very light weight. It’s easy to take with you in your vehicle and you can store this anywhere at home.
- It’s easy to set up and to pack up.
- It’s very portable and storage isn’t a problem.
- The durability is awesome.
- It’s easy to control and it isn’t too slow at all.
- It’s comfortable enough to sit on.
- It’s also very stable, so beginners shouldn’t worry about tipping over.
- Paddling isn’t a problem provided you get the right length for your paddle. If it’s too short, you may find your knuckles constantly rubbing against the kayak.
- There’s really not much storage space.
- You don’t get nice features for fishing either. This is purely for recreational and relaxed purposes.
- If you’re too big (you’re 6 feet tall), then you may want to go with the bigger Expedition version of this model.
5. Sevylor QuikPak K5
The look of the Sevylor QuikPak K5 reminds me of running shoes, and that’s not actually a bad comparison.
The K5 is very convenient and ever ready to go, it’s tough, and it’s agile. The main convenience of the K5 is that it’s not just lightweight and portable.
It also comes with a backpack design for storage and for travel. It also has the side cords on the sides so you can bring along your paddle. When you unpack it, it inflates quite easily. It offers enough space even for 6-footers, and its weight capacity is 250 pounds. That’s good enough even for how large adults are these days.
This qualifies as a “beginner” kayak, since it’s really not that complicated. But even experienced kayakers will want to get this for its advanced features. This starts with its excellent durability due to the use of 1000D x 1000D polyester on the bottom, and that’s laminated with 24-gauge PVC.
At the top, you also have 900D polyester. All these materials are extremely resistant to punctures. It’s even guaranteed not to leak air at all. It uses special valves that do not allow for accidental air loss, and it incorporates its special “AirTight” system.
Unlike other kayaks for beginners or purely recreational kayaks, the K5 also excels when it comes to storage space. This comes with a huge storage area, along with bungee lacing and lots of D-Rings. It’s easy enough to get on since you have built in handles.
It’s very comfy to ride in and you even have a built-in footrest. It also comes with tracking fins so controlling it isn’t a problem. With its sleek design, you can go quickly all over your favorite lake. If you have enough experience with kayaks, you may even try this out on Class 2 whitewater.
- With its light weight and backpack design, it’s very portable. You can bring it to the water with no problem, even if you’re going on a motorcycle.
- Storage at home isn’t a problem either.
- It’s actually easy to set up, though you should use a good electric pump.
- It’s also very comfy to ride in, even for those who are 6 feet tall.
- It goes very well in the water, as the control is great and the tracking fins work as they’re supposed to. It really slices through the water instead of pushing against it.
- You have plenty of storage space for your equipment.
- It’s also very tough.
- Sevylor is a Coleman brand, and not everyone is pleased with the Coleman customer support.
- It often comes with accessories. That’s supposed to be a good thing, but the main problem is that often the accessories are responsible for the bad reviews. In fact, usually when you get a free paddle with this it’s often considered junk. So you will need a good paddle as well as a good air pump.
6. Sea Eagle SE370
The Sea Eagle SE370 is in many ways the best of the Sea Eagle lineup of kayaks.
It doesn’t really look like much (many girls think it’s actually “cute”, if you must know) but it’s pretty much a monster in the water when it comes to performance and amenities.
This is a “true” 2-person kayak, and in fact it can even fit in 3 people. That’s okay because is weight capacity is an astounding 650 pounds. It’s not like other inflatable kayaks that are supposedly for 2 people but they only have a 350-pound weight capacity.
So you can really fit 2 people here, and if they’re average-sized then they can even be hefty. With that weight capacity, you can even bring along camping supplies that can last you for several days. This one is also a very tough kayak.
It uses 38mm Polykrylar(K80 PVC) for the hull, and the floor is very rigid with its I-beam construction. The hull material is also resistant to the sun and saltwater. The seams have been welded to fuse the material into virtually a single solid piece. It’s so resistant to puncture that dog claws and paws won’t present a problem.
It can deal with ocean surf or even with Class 3 whitewater. You have a self-bailing rain valve that’ll help, plus you also get inflatable spray skirts that you can lash down. For better tracking and across the water, there are 2 fins at the bottom.
Or if you want to go camping or fishing, you also have lots of storage space for your supplies. You can take out the 2nd seat and have even more space. This is truly versatile. It also has grab lines at the stern and bow.
It’s also light weight enough that you can carry it on your own and it packs tightly so you can carry it in a single bag. It doesn’t even take too long to inflate and set up either. Sea Eagle says that it will take you about 8 minutes, but unless you’re going for some sort of setup speed record you can relax and do it in 15 minutes.
- It’s very quick to inflate and deflate.
- It’s lightweight and portable. A single person can carry it in a bag and storage isn’t a problem either.
- If you have a dog, it’s great if you want to paddle around lazily on the lake. The dog’s nails won’t puncture the material, and it is stable enough.
- You’ve got lots of space here for your stuff.
- It doesn’t matter if the two of you are hefty adults.
- You can even use this for Class 5 rapids.
- It won’t go as fast as a rigid kayak, but then again this is a problem with inflatable kayaks in general.
- If you’re using this solo and you don’t have much weight with you, strong winds can be an issue.
7. Airhead AHTK-2 Montana Performance
The brand name may make you doubt if this is a wise choice, but the Airhead AHTK-2 does prove to be a smart purchase for many kayakers.
This 2-person kayak can handle 500 pounds in weight, and it can be used for gentle lakes and even moderate white waters.
This uses 2 Boston valves for inflating and deflating. When you’re not using it, the deflated kayak can fit inside a duffel bag and the trunk of your car. It should be light enough for a single person to carry to the water.
When you do inflate it, you have a tough kayak with 3 air chambers. It uses strong 840-denier nylon that’s water and UV-resistant. You have a tubular I-beam floor and at the bottom you have tough tri-laminate reinforcements. The nylon and stainless steel hardware are also rustproof.
Use the grab handles to get in the water, and you’ll find its performance superior to many other inflatables. The drag is low and the tracking is great, and that’s mostly due to the 4 fins at the bottom.
There are spray covers for the fore and aft, and for extra comfort it also has neoprene elbow guards. For your equipment, you have a stretch net at the bow to secure some supplies. There are also 6 D-rings at the bow and stern.
- It looks great and it’s also highly visible on the water.
- The 500-pound should be enough for 2 adults.
- It offers lots more space for bigger users.
- It tracks and moves extremely well on the water, so you can use this even for moderate white waters.
- Inflating and deflating it doesn’t take much time and effort.
- If you’re a newbie to setting up inflatable kayaks, you may have some issue at first. That’s because the instructions that come with the kayak aren’t really helpful.
- For some, it may be just a tad too heavy to carry for long distances.
8. Sevylor Big Basin
Are you planning to bring the kids in for some kayaking adventure in the water?
If you have 2 kids, then one is bound to get jealous when you take the other one first. But that’s no issue with the Sevylor Big Basin, as it has 3 seats.
With its 490-pound limit as certified by the NMMA, having 1 adult and 2 children on the kayak shouldn’t be too heavy overall. Since you’re using this for kids, safety and stability is a big issue. You won’t have too much of a problem with punctures, since it uses heavy-duty PVC and at the bottom there’s rugged tarpaulin.
Its “Airtight” system makes sure that it won’t leak air. It also uses multiple air chambers so a single puncture isn’t a dire emergency. It’s great for gentle lakes, and after a while you can venture into easy white waters. This offers a comfy ride, as the seats are cozy and adjustable. You also have spray covers to keep you dry.
- Punctures and air leaks won’t be too much of a problem at all.
- It has a tracking fin and 2 directional strakes, so it tracks very well.
- If you remove the 3rd seat, you can have 2 people padding without difficulty. But it’s still possible for 3 people to go paddling together with practice.
- It’s very durable.
- The seats are comfortable with proper back support, and there are even bottle holders.
- There isn’t any mesh netting for the decks so you can put in some supplies.
- If you’re going solo, it can be a bit slow.
9. Advanced Elements FireFly
Do you have a kid who’s good enough to go kayaking solo? If so, you will want a more compact kayak that a child can carry without too much effort. For many, that’s the FireFly.
This is extremely light, so a teenager shouldn’t have any difficulty carrying this to the water.
But this can also be used by adults, since the weight capacity is actually 250 pounds. Advanced Elements FireFly also easy enough to inflate with the high flow Spring valve and Twistlok valves. It also has rubber molded handles so you can bring it in and out of the water easily.
This is quite durable, and on the water it tracks really well. It has rigid panels built in to define the bow and stern and enhance the tracking. Also, its tracking fin and landing plate really helps keep it to the direction you want.
- It’s very light and compact for portability and storage.
- It’s easy to set up.
- It’s durable.
- This is meant only for gentle waters.
- There’s not much room for stuff, and not even for your legs if you’re an adult.
- It’s not going to go fast.
10. Sevylor Fiji Kayak
This is a 2-person kayak rated to carry up to 400 pounds. The rear seat is fixed, but you can remove the seat in the middle for more leg room if you’re going solo.
It’s also quite durable as it uses 22-gauge PVC. That should keep punctures to a minimum, and for that you also have multiple air chambers to keep you afloat if it happens.
As for air leaks, the Sevylor “Airtight” system guarantees that it won’t happen. The special valves make inflation and deflation quick and easy, and the kayak is light enough for anyone to carry.
There are also grab lines at the bow and stern. It’s very stable on the water, so it’s great for just traveling leisurely. You also have spray covers so you don’t get wet.
- Punctures and air leaks aren’t too much of a problem.
- It’s great for leisurely kayaking.
- It’s extremely stable.
- It’s very portable.
- With 2 people, it can get a bit cramped.
- It’s only meant for beginners or for relaxed water rides.
How To Buy Inflatable Kayak
So what factors should you consider before you make your final choice for your best inflatable kayak, considering it has a lot of pros and cons? Of course, there’s the price to consider. But other factors are important as well. Here are some questions you need to ask first:
Q. How portable is it?
Inflatable kayaks are supposed to be portable, but some are more portable than others. Aside from its weight, you should look if it has convenient carry handles.
Q. How many people can it fit in?
Some kayaks are for sole users, so you can go on an adventure on your own and you have plenty of legroom and space for equipment. But others can accommodate up to 3 people. There are kayaks with removable seats so it can handle 1 or 2 people.
Q. How much weight can the kayak handle?
This is related to the number of people it can accommodate, though with this weigh capacity you’ll know if the kayak you want to get will accommodate your size. Some kayaks may be 2-seaters, but with their low weight limit it may only allow an adult and a child. You also have to take into account the weight of the equipment you’re bringing with you.
Q. Is it easy to inflate?
Some kayaks take only a few minutes to get ready, while others may take a bit longer.
Q. How durable is it?
Here you need to check the quality and toughness of the material and see how it can protect from punctures.
Q. Does it have a specialized purpose?
Kayaks can be used for particular purposes. It can be used for fishing, for whitewater adventures, or just for some recreational paddling. There are even entry-level kayaks meant for beginners. You have to check out the features that support this particular purpose.
Q. Does it come with freebies?
Some come with free paddles and air pumps, but these may be temporary offers.
Q. How comfortable is it?
You’ll want to check out if you have enough space to fit, if the seats are well-padded and with ample back support, and if the seats can be adjusted.
Q. Are there storage spaces?
Fishing kayaks need enough hatches and spaces for equipment. But some people will want storage spaces that can keep their smartphones secure and dry.
Q. How easy is it to control?
You can read various reviews and check out features to see if it can change directions easily and if you can paddle with no trouble.
Q. How stable is it?
It’s not fun if you tip over, especially when you’re just going out fishing. However, some are so stable that you can stand on it or sit on its side.
Even if you limit your search to just the inflatable kayaks, it’s quite evident hat you have plenty of good choices. This type of kayak has gone a long way since it first came out as little more than a plaything, but today even kayaking pros recognize the value of the best inflatable kayaks. Pick one from this list that suits your purpose, needs, and preference, and have fun!
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