What Makes an Inflatable Kayak the Best?
To help you understand why we rated these 10 kayaks the best, here’s a guide to the features that we looked at when reviewing kayaks.
There are three main types of material used for inflatable kayaks. PVC is the most commonly used, and is typically a coating over something else such as nylon. PVC-coated kayaks are usually the most affordable, and are very easy to patch. They come in a lot of colors and are fairly durable against punctures. The downside to PVC is that it’s not very durable against high temperatures and UV rays. It’s also not the most eco-friendliest material.
The next type of material is called hypalon, which is again a coating put over something such as polyester or nylon. This is hands-down the most durable choice on the market, which makes it very popular for extreme sports fans. It is much more durable in the face of UV rays, and generally lasts longer than any other material. However, it is also the most expensive material option.
Finally, a newer material that is striking a balance between PVC and hypalon is nitrylon, which is similar to PVC, but made in a way that is more eco-friendly. It is more resistant to punctures than PVC as well, and can withstand UV rays and temperature better as well. However, because it is not quite as high-performing as hypalon, it is more affordable. This is a great choice for outdoor lovers who want a quality product, but who want to stick with their budget as well.
Type of Kayak
The next thing to consider about kayaks is what type you need. This will largely depend on what activities you are doing with the kayak. There are five main types of inflatable kayaks that you can choose from today.
The first type is called a sit-on-type kayak, which doesn’t require you to sit down in a hole. Instead, you just sit on a seat that is on top of the kayak. This is great for those who don’t want to cramp their legs in a kayak hole, but doesn’t offer a ton of stability. If you like to paddle around on calm water in total comfort, this is a great choice. But for fishing or very active water, you won’t have the stability you need.
The next type is the classic sit-in kayak. This is the type of kayak where your lower body sits in the boat itself, and the fit is very tight. It’s not as comfortable as many other types out there, but it does offer you a lot of stability. This is a very good design for whitewater paddling or rafting through choppier waters. However, if you have issues with your legs or back cramping quickly, this won’t be a great choice.
Another type of inflatable kayak you can choose is a canoe type, which gives you a kayak that is more stable and roomier. You’ll sit down in the kayak, but the boat has more room for you to move. These kayaks fit up to three people usually, as well as coolers and equipment. These kayaks also have higher walls similar to canoes, which makes them better for protecting your equipment or a cooler as well. This is a great choice for those who primarily want to fish or hunt from their kayak.
If you want to try something new, inflatable kayaks are now made in stand-up versions. The “sup kayak” is a rigid inflatable device that allows you to balance on the kayak and paddle while you stand. This is perfect for the beach-lover who also wants to kayak in other settings but only wants one piece of equipment.
Finally, you can try what is called a “self-bailing kayak”. These are entry-level models that are primarily made for kids or those on a tight budget. They are affordable models sold at general stores, that have a hole in the base to prevent flooding. These are only made for paddling around shallow pools or streams; they aren’t durable enough to handle rivers, oceans, or other settings. However, if you just want to try out an inflatable kayak for a fun weekend with the kids, and understand that these are designed with low-quality materials to make them more affordable, this could be a good option. You won’t have to worry about the kids ruining something more expensive.
The weight of the inflatable kayak you choose will be very important if you intend to use this kayak for hiking or camping. Most of the very light models weigh under 20 pounds, but the average models weigh around 30 pounds when deflated. There are some that are designed for hiking specifically that weigh about 17 pounds, but compared to a hard-shell kayak, which can weigh up to 80 pounds or more, these are significantly lighter. Keep in mind that lighter kayaks must sacrifice something in order to reduce weight, so you’ll need to consider what you are willing to give up if you want a super-light model.
Most kayaks that are made for one person are around 14 feet long. Any longer would make them harder to stabilize, which is the main selling point of a kayak. Inflatable kayaks are not as steady as hard-shell kayaks, so it’s even more important that they are shorter to ensure the best balance. However, the inflatable kayaks that are made for two or three people will be longer. Make sure you choose an inflatable kayak that is the perfect size for the number of people who will use it.
Finally, we look at two things: The first thing is how inflatable kayaks are stored. Because their key selling point is portability, how the kayak is packed or stored will be an important point. Most inflatable kayaks come with a duffel bag or some sort of storage bag to keep in your car or hiking gear. The second thing is how much storage the kayak itself offers. Are there clips on the outside that allow you to store gear around the kayak, or is there room in the kayak for gear? This may be important if you are on a multi-day trip or fishing, for example. The best kayak will have enough storage to handle whatever needs you have.
Frequently Asked Questions About Inflatable Kayaking
Are inflatable kayaks any good?
The truth is that an inflatable kayak can offer many benefits that a traditional boat just can’t. Kayaks like the Sea Eagle, the Intex Challenger K1, and the Sevylor Quickpak K5 are a few examples of kayaks that are inflatable which have plenty of room, have puncture resistance, incorporate rod holders, and even use a tarpaulin bottom. Inflatable technology has come a far away and these kayaks have been used in both commercial and military situations. Today you’ll find everything from canoes, standup paddleboards, wakeboards, and fishing pontoons in an inflatable version.
Do inflatable kayaks pop easily?
When using the best inflatable kayak, you might wonder if they are durable enough to last. However, many kayaks are made with aluminum parts, which increase the structure and stability while on the water. Most are covered in multiple layers of thick materials like polyester and vinyl, both of which are rugged and durable. This sort of boat is not going to pop just taking it out on a lake or a river.
If you’re going through rocky waters or even standing in the boat in street shoes, there’s little need to worry about damage. You may not want to make a habit of pulling it over gravel, but typical wear and tear is something an inflatable kayak can handle. That means you should protect the boat, but unlike an inflatable balloon or raft, it doesn’t require a huge degree of caution.
How long do inflatable kayaks last?
The best boat that is inflatable can last a lot longer than you might expect. A modern inflatable boat can last for up to a decade with the proper care. Assuming you are buying a quality boat, it can last through many seasons on the water. This applies whether you’re hanging out on a calm lake or a river with a bit more action going on. These new models are like a traditional boat in terms of durability and safety.
Are inflatable kayaks safe in the sea?
There is absolutely no reason to avoid taking your best inflatable kayak out into the ocean or sea. However, it’s a good idea to let someone know where you are going and when you plan to come back, especially on a long trip. You also need to stay close to the shore as strong winds can make it hard to come back. Some items you might need include drinking water, layered clothing, a cell phone, and a whistle. You may also need to bring along some sunblock to avoid a sunburn.
How do you get into an inflatable kayak?
If you’re trying to get into the boat from the short, it can be challenging. What you want to do is place the kayak in water that is deep enough that it won’t stick to the ground when you take a seat. With your paddle in your hand, stand over the boat with the seat underneath you. Make sure you are wearing appropriate shoes since they are going to get wet in the process.
Next, you should put the paddle on the ground below you for stability. Don’t put a lot of pressure on it. Instead, sit into the boat sea carefully while shifting your weight onto one foot and using the paddle for balance. It won’t be long until you can bring in your other leg to sit comfortably.
It can seem challenging, but the next time you do it, it will be even easier. After that, it won’t be long before the process is so simple you don’t even have to think about it.
Are inflatable kayaks durable?
When using an inflatable boat, you might be wondering if it can handle wear and tear like a traditional watercraft. However, as the number of these devices grows, they become more and more durable and capable of whatever you need from them. These items are made to handle occasional bumps and knocks. They can bounce off of rocks and other hard surfaces if you end up in a collision.
Just like a standup paddleboard that is inflatable, the best of the kayaks are going to use drop-stitch technology. That means there are small fibers inside of the board which interlock when it’s inflated to make the surface strong and rugged. The outside of the boat, on the other hand, will likely be made of PVC or rubber, which is the same material used for a whitewater raft or a lifeboat. In fact, some of the modern kayaks that inflate are even tougher than a hard shell kayak will be.
These 10 kayaks are the best inflatable kayaks on the market right now, but you can use the features above to research other, too. Be sure to keep your budget in mind, and then prioritize the durability and type of kayak above all. You can leave a reply below to let us know which kayak you chose and how it’s holding up. Then hit the water and have some fun with your best inflatable kayak!