The evolution of the inflatable kayak has been impressive. From being considered only for fun in the pool, it has now transformed to a serious, advanced sports item and has even been raised to be at par with its hard shell cousin!
Having said this, if you have started browsing for an inflatable kayak, you may feel inundated with the many varieties, from material used and techy jargons, to portability as well as functionalities of products on offer.
How do you choose, in this jungle of specifications and specialized product descriptions?
We have been there and that is why we have come up with this review, aimed to unravel the intricacies of making a choice.
Best Inflatable Kayaks Reviewed
We have compiled a list of the best portable inflatable kayaks for fishing & adventures reviewed by experts:
1.Sea Eagle Razolite
This is a tandem kayak with an impressive inflatable time of 8 minutes and comes with a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty. Suitable for both fresh and saltwater, this versatile product covers all your bases!
The specifications for the Sea Eage inflatable kayak make it very close to that of a hard shell. It has high pressure, supported with overall drop stitch for enhanced support and has a long; narrow form, with a tapered, hard-nose bow and stern. Its paddling speed takes you up to 6 mph and for the intermediate paddler intending to take this on flat water, the Razorlite is the perfect option.
Its size is considered big compared to others in the same category. This sits two adults very comfortably with a lot of extra room to spare for your gear. Setting up and deflating is easy. If you do not have an electric pump and use the pump supplied, you will need 60–75 pumps for each compartment, inclusive of adding pressure in the last stages. The pump has a built in pressure gauge so you can adjust the amount of air needed accordingly.
Portability will also not be a problem as this comes with a carry bag pack. Two pieces of carbon fibre paddles are included and as carbon fibre transfers less heat and is lighter than other materials, you can paddle comfortably for much longer without your hands getting cold or tire prematurely. The two seats that come with this are comfortable, with a tall back to lean on and contoured base. Your foot can be conveniently placed into the adjustable footrests as you paddle away. A repair kit is also included with the product.
A sizeable kayak, which is easily inflated, deflated and moved about, this is much suited for your flat-water adventures. It is durably double stitched and the extras that you get with this product makes its a valued investment, particularly the lightweight carbon fibre paddles.
|Designed as close to a hard shell as possible|
|Durable drop stitch used|
|Spacious for two people|
|Carbon fibre paddles, lightweight|
|Carry bag included|
|Easy set up|
|Vague instruction manual|
|Not versatile for strong rapids|
|Not recommended for solo use|
For the avid angler, this is made with you in mind! Its stability is raved about, where you will be able to stand and fish with no issues, even for use as a paddleboard. Weighing at 50 pounds, in its inflated state, the NRS Pike can be carried with one arm with relative ease, so you can consider taking it almost anywhere!
As the drop stitch on the floor is very rigid, it prevents the sides of the kayak from buckling when you sit in it. With this, you can be confident that water will not get in when it is not supposed to. The construction is extremely tough and it is very well built, with the use of 2,000 denier fabric which in comparison, is twice as thick as that used for other inflatables. You can navigate through rough banks and surprise bumps in shallow waters without worry, enabling more exciting adventures! It is also well designed, with Scotty mounts and D-rings in the right places for your accessories.
It is roomy enough for two adults and there are also bailing holes in the bottom for white water, while at the same time ensuring that on flat water the inside stays dry. There is a bag pack with decent straps that fits an even loosely rolled up kayak. There is a pocket especially allocated to fit a pump in. This eases portability greatly, in addition to the packed up inflatable fitting nicely in the back of a car.
The sturdiness, stability and design of the NRS Pike back pack kayak open up a wider selection of waters to you as an angler. It is strong, with adjustable seats and a lot of nooks to mount your fishing accessories. The ease of inflating and fast deflating is also a bonus!
|Very stable, can stand in it|
|Sides do not buckle in|
|Strong material used in construction|
|Bailing holes, but stays dry in flat water|
|Scotty mount and D-rings for accessories|
|Can be carried by one person|
|Bag pack comes with it|
|Roomy for two adults|
|Manual not helpful|
|Seat height not optimal|
This canoe type inflatable fulfils your needs as an angler. In it, you will be able to stand and cast from a stable, high-pressured floor that acts as a platform – something rather elusive in with other inflatables. Furthermore, with a weight capacity of 700 pounds, you can bring friends and family along to witness your historic catch (or even your practice towards it!)
The Saturn 13 inflatable kayak has two removable aluminium benches that allow you the option of fixing your own seat, as well as other accessories such as rod holders, fish finder, GPS units etc. Although you are seated up high should you install a chair, lateral stability is still maintained. One other plus point on the portability of the Saturn 13 is that due to its fabric-less construction, it dries much quicker, enabling you to deflate and roll it up for storage in no time.
Many also rave about the quality of the valves. This is as air pressure is maintained internally when in inflated state, even lasting up to 4-5 months for some. Made from heavy-duty PVC, and double layered at certain spots to withstand accidental puncture from hooks, it can also take in bumps and encounters with rocks and as well as the unexpected shallow water with a jagged riverbed.
A total value for money, the Saturn 13 canoe blow up kayak comes with its own pump, a carrying bag, as well as a repair kit. Furthermore, a kayak paddle is also included.
Specifically designed for fishing enthusiasts, the Saturn 13 portable kayak offers a lot of flexibility especially in terms of mounting a motor, accessories and more importantly your own selection of seats, ranging from proper kayaking ones to swivel chairs for ease of angling. It delivers good value for money for the range of water activities you can do in it, and since you can take people with you – it will be more fun for all.
|Versatile & Strong construction|
|Repair kit provided|
|Options to mount motor and accessories|
|High weight capacity|
|Comes with pump and paddles|
|Good air pressure retention|
|Does not come with chair|
|Not easy to paddle to get somewhere|
|Not a self-bailer, strictly for flat water|
With an open design the Advanced Elements offers so much in terms of value for money and flexibility of use. You get to choose interchangeably between solo or tandem or convert your kayak from an open deck to a closed one effortlessly.
It is fifteen foot in length, and looks and delivers manoeuvring so similar to that of hard-shelled counterparts. This is down to the aluminium-constructed rigid bow and stern rib-frame, which enhances tracking. Furthermore, the outer part of the kayak is layered three times and you will have no problems in harsh landings including at beaches, rocky conditions with barnacles and wooded areas. This also makes it fit for your 4-legged best friend!
With an open deck design, you can easily enter and exit the boat and as for comfort, the seats provide high support and easy paddling, with an air-cushioned back, adjustable to fit your physique. The seats can also be removed to cater to the times when you want to paddle alone or with someone else. Internally, there are paddle holders for break times and D-ring tie downs to accommodate your accessories securely.
Set up and take down is easy, allow 30 minutes for each and you are ready. This is as it is already per-assembled and you are just required to unfold, inflate and attach the provided seats. Portability is made easy with rubber handles on the sides, and the spacious carrier duffel bag you get with it.
The variations of use that this allows has captured the hearts of many as it can be used solo or tandem, with an open deck design that can be further customized with additional options from Advanced Elements. It is strong enough to withstand punctures, and more importantly the paws of your furry friend!
|Easy to get in and out with open design|
|Flexible for solo or tandem use|
|Fast set up and deflate|
|Side handles for easy transporting|
|Can convert from open deck to closed one|
|Good quality and sturdy|
|Comfortable, adjustable seats|
|Paddle holders and D-ring for accessories|
|Carrier bag badly designed|
|Rides low and susceptible to getting wet|
|Unsuited for sharp and fast manoeuvring|
|No pump or paddles|
5.Driftsun Rover 220
The best feature of this kayak is its outstanding performance in both flat and white water, handling up to class III and IV rapids. This is down to its removable rear tracking skeg which in flat water provides great tracking but can be taken off when necessary. Furthermore, this comes with an easily taken off/put in drain plugs for the purpose of self-baling.
You will get what you want with the Driftsun Rover 220 portable kayak, namely it provides you the feel of a hard kayak, but minus the weight! This is as it comes with a high-pressure drop stitch floor – which ensures its rigidity and stability, even allowing you to stand on it with no trouble. The seats can also be adjusted to fit either your solo journey or a tandem one, and it comes with a good back support for extra comfort when paddling. Strap yourself to the backrest and floor and you will be secured when encountering rapids. Footrests also enhance your comfort.
The outer layer is doubled, made of reinforced PVC therefore encounters with rocks; logs and even the claws of your dog would not be a problem. Its manufacturer claims that this inflates in 9 minutes, which is the average for inflatable portable kayaks. For transportation, there are 4 handles to help with lifting it off the ground and you do not have to worry about not being able to film action on the kayak as there is a front action camera mount.
You get quite a lot with it, as it comes with 2 adjustable aluminium paddles, equipped with ergonomic grips as well as its own hand pump. You also get a carry bag and a repair kit with the Rover 220.
This ticks all the right boxes – dual use for flat and white water, solo or tandem, it is so versatile that it could probably be the only kayak you will need ever! Furthermore, it glides on water as well as any hard shell kayak, sans the heft.
|Comes with two paddles|
|Carry bag provided|
|Pump and repair kit included|
|Adjustable seats and footrest|
|Self baling, and can re-plug drain holes|
|Good for flat or white water -removable skeg|
|Camera mount on the front|
|Can use solo or tandem|
|Strong material & easy to lift|
|Hard to fold back into bag|
|Instruction manual not clear|
This pontoon shaped inflatable kayak offers a lot of usage, namely it can be used as a regular kayak, but can also take in a motor either electric or gas, and is also much suited as a dinghy for yachts and sailboats! With so many possible uses, it can be considered a good value for money, and what more, minus the weight of hard shell varieties and increased mobility.
Strength, durability and stability are not a problem with the BRIS inflatable fishing kayak. Its main tube and also bottom floor fabric is constructed of 1100 denier fabric and thick PVC, securing it against accidental punctures on rocks and other debris. It is stable – you can stand on the removable drop stitch air deck floor should you wish to do so with ease, particularly when casting your rod.
For easy rowing, the oars can rest in its built-in oarlock and tracking is smooth and hassle-free with not one or two fins, but 4 in total! It comes with a one-way drain valve with a plug as well. Together with the BRIS back pack kayak, you get a good range of stuff. It comes with its own foot pump, seats and oars, as well as a dedicated carry bag and repair kits.
A product that can be paddled like a kayak, rowed, or powered – what more can you ask for! It is generously equipped with oars, bag, foot pump and seats, and you all have to do is decide on when and where you’re taking it!
|Comes with oars and oarlock|
|Easy to fix motor on|
|Stable with floor|
|Fins good for tracking|
|Has drain valve|
|Weakly constructed carry bag|
|Low maximum weight capacity|
|Heavier than most in same category|
Uniquely designed by Aquaglide to fit a solo kayaker or up to three persons, this tandem inflatable kayak is made for adventure seekers. Named the Chinook, it is very roomy for even two adults you can now include even your dog in your outings! In addition to this, there are many slots for your gear, strategically placed to allow maximised use.
Its stability is one of its best qualities as Aquaglide used its own technology for the floor construction, creating an impressively stable and efficient hull. Three grown men in the Chinook failed to flip it, and it remained stable! This feature makes it much suited to beginners, as well as in performing as a platform to fish from, and even light touring which includes overnighting.
Seats and foot tests are fully adjustable, front and back. For use by one person, it is easy to customize as connection between the seat and platform is through Velcro snaps. Simply move it about to obtain your comfortable position, and paddle on.
There is also a fin in the back, which makes steering easy and smooth gliding. The spacious cockpit gives you great flexibility when you are paddling. Convenience is a major design consideration for Aquaglide, and this is much apparent with the kayak. The Chinook comes with an ample amount of storage straps, and you will find one for almost anything you bring with you on-board.
One other plus point is the ease of setup and take down, requiring just about 10 minutes each time once you get the hang of it. Simply place it in the carry bag and you are ready to go.
This comes with no frills, but makes up for this by being extra stable and spacious as well as sturdy and convenient. It handles well with fins for tracking, and versatile enough for solo, tandem or a three-person adventure!
|Stable to accommodate up to 3 adults|
|Easy to remove and adjust seats|
|Can be used solo|
|Has carrier bag|
|Fast setup and take down|
|Straps for accessories|
|Steer easy with fin|
|Discolouration to be expected|
|Did not come with paddles|
|No pump included|
Get to your favourite fishing hole in this amazingly well made and sturdy inflatable kayak, and take a friend along! The Sevylor Colorado has always been the brand of choice for gear such as this and it did not disappoint with the Colorado.
With the construction, this is able to withstand a lot – it is double walled and inflatable portions of it is entirely covered in a very thick nylon aimed to be puncture resistant. Its bottom is made of dense tarpaulin for the added protection against bottom scrapes on rock and logs. Should you encounter an unfortunate puncture, there are multiple chambers of air to ensure that you can get ashore quickly. Nevertheless, it is still light in weight, only at 41 pounds, making it a good choice in terms of portability.
There is an option to hook the kayak up to a trolling motor if you so wish, and rest your paddles on the holders available. Designed with the angler in mind, this also has rod holders for hands-free fishing, as well as many compartments, D-rings and mesh pockets for other accessories. Sevylor inflatable kayaks are known for high quality & durability.
Inflating the kayak is fast, even with a manual pump, guided by the with the Boston Valve to get the right air pressure for your inflatable. The seats are also adjustable to maximise your paddling position. The removable skeg that comes with it makes tracking effortless and keeps you going straight. After you are done, pack it into the carry bag provided, and you’re set for home!
Able to satisfy even the pickiest angler, this is definitely a good buy. It has come with all you can possibly need in a vessel to take you to the ultimate fishing spot. With the multiple chambers, you are at peace knowing that however unlikely it is for the kayak to puncture, the separated air chambers ensures that you can get to safety in no time.
|Heavy duty construction|
|Separate chambers for safety|
|Skeg for easy tracking|
|Multiple accessory compartments|
|Option for attaching trolling motor|
|Carry bag given|
|Tight fit, enough just for two|
|Rod holder hampers paddling|
|No pump included|
|Need to get own paddles|
Very lightweight, at only 36.3 pounds, but with a capacity to take in 500 pounds in weight, this 12-foot inflatable open top kayak is a good portable choice for you and your mate! It is designed for flat water and you can also take your adventure into moderate Class II white-water with the Airhead Montana. With its compact and lightweight specification, you can get paddling whenever the mood strikes you.
The Airhead is made to be very durable, as its inflatable element is placed inside a heavy duty covering of vinyl, preventing unwanted accidental punctures. This is made in a tubular shape with floor support and movable and removable inflatable seats, which provide great back support to ensure that you are comfortable. It is also extremely buoyant and is equipped with 4 bottom fins, therefore tracking is made easy. You remain dry in this due to its excellent design, but in the event of water getting in, there is a threaded drain hole with a plug for excess water to flow out from.
Inflating and deflating is guided and fast with the addition of 2 Boston valves. Handles further make it easy to transport and the 6 D-rings at the bow and stern is useful for your gear, together with the stretch net. The Airhead Montana is also highly visible, in orange PVC. No one can miss you when you’re out there in the open water.
Its best feature is the lightweight but heavy-duty construction that this product offer. It is good for use in calm waters, and comes with a lot of enhancements to increase user comfort, such as gear storage, adjustable seats and good tracking. You can’t go wrong with this!
|Strong material used|
|Seats adjustable and comfortable|
|Great tracking with 4 fins|
|Has drain hole|
|Inner bladder has to be taken out to dry|
|Have to get your own paddles|
|Unsuitable for fishing|
|Not rigid enough to cut through water|
10.Intex Explorer K2
It is no surprise that the Intex Explorer K2 has gained so much popularity among kayak enthusiasts. It is made with a lot of useful features while at the same time not losing sight of the comfort of the paddler. All this while maintaining a very affordable price bracket! Its highly visible yellow is also a plus point for safety as well as aesthetic enhancement.
The Intex inflatable kayak is made specifically for small bodies of water, namely lakes and calm rivers. Its strong vinyl layer on the outside added with the inflatable beam floor makes this acceptably sturdy. It has two air chambers and with Boston valves, the K2 is easily assembled and deflated for storage. Portability is of no issue with the handles on each side. A carry bag and pump comes with this product too, together with a U.S. Coast Guard I.D. and a repair patch kit.
For ease of tracking, there is a removable skeg underneath, making it easy for you to go wherever you intend to on the water. Two aluminium oars are also added in your purchase of the K2 making this a total value for money. The seats are high backed and adjustable, adding to your paddling comfort. Additionally, this has a drain plug to get rid of excess water should there be a need to do so.
Highly rated and popular, this is a value for money, straightforward, functional inflatable kayak. It comes with all you need to start your adventure and most suited to beginners and intermediates alike. A good choice for simplicity and ease of use.
|Comes with pump|
|Two aluminium oars provided|
|Adjustable high backed seats|
|Handles on sides for ease transportation|
|Removable skeg makes tracking easy|
|US Coast Guard ID included|
|Repair kit added|
|Boston valves for easy inflate/deflate|
|Carry bag lacks quality|
|Oars do not fit into bag provided|
|Water sprays when paddling with provided oars|
|No glue in repair kit|
Inflatable Kayaks Buyer’s Guide
The ease of transportation is definitely the advantage an inflatable kayak has over hard shell ones. Sure, some might argue that nothing compares to control and glide of the traditional ones, but if you live nowhere close to a body of water or have little to no storage space, not to mention a mode of transporting a regular one, then the best choice for you would be the inflatable variety.
Kayaking has gained popularity throughout the years, and bearing in mind that portability is an issue for most, a wide selection of inflatable products are now out there for you to choose from. This is definitely is a good thing, BUT with the advanced technology in terms of design and material it is constructed with as well those nifty elements that are now part of such products, selecting one can be an overwhelming process.
Now, how do you choose among these inflatable models, with the varied specifications?
This is what we are here for! We have done the research, carefully reading up user experiences and technology advancements as well material and construction updates to come up with a fast and easy guide to get the most of one, with your needs in mind.
We are going to tackle this by first laying out to you, the types available and then proceed to guide you in making a choice by listing questions that can shed some light on your preference and need.
Self-bailing ones are most suited to activities in rapidly streaming water, namely white water rafting. This is as these have strategically placed holes on the base, which serves to let water move in and out. You will definitely be paddling wet in these, unless it comes with plugs to cover the holes. If you mostly have your activity in flat water, this does not perform as well, due to its design.
Sit-on top kayak, as the name suggests, means you do not have to get into it, but merely sit on it. If you are someone who hates feeling trapped then this is for you. As water will splash on you as you paddle, this might be best suited in warmer conditions.
For the next type, again, as the name suggests, a sit inside is one that is more of the traditional variety with an enclosed cockpit. Since you will be inside, coupled with an optional splashguard, this type makes it the best in cold conditions.
Canoe style on the other hand, is designed to look like regular canoes, which has high walls and where your seat is elevated. This comes with canoe paddles as opposed to double sided ones. Open style is also almost similar to canoe ones, with high walls together with high seats.
Moving on from types, which we hope have served the purpose of giving you a bit of a background to what are available out there, we can now move on to your specific needs.
Question yourself on these:
Are you a solo kayaker or you prefer company, or you want the flexibility to do both?
If you prefer going solo, get a solo kayak! If you want the flexibility to change your options, there are also inflatable kayaks that allow the seats to be moved and or added on to accommodate an extra passenger. Even for with fixed seats for two people, you can still go at it solo as you can sit at the back.
Next question: Where do you intend to enjoy your kayak? Would this be in hot or cold temperatures, open water like the sea or coast, or flat water such as lakes? Or are you more for rapids and fast streaming rivers? By answering this question, you can then decide whether you want a kayak with a cockpit or if you need storage space for long expeditions as well as how comfortable you can be in facing the elements.
The next question to ask is your physique. A person with long legs, long torso vs. someone with petite built and height requires a different kayak altogether. Also consider your paddling partner and take note of the combined weight of the both of you, in addition to what other gear you will have with you, should you so wish to go on long trips. Make sure to compare the combined weight to the manufacturer’s specification.
Regardless of whether you go solo or with a friend, the perfect inflatable kayak you choose needs to be one that you will be able to transport either in your backpack or if it comes with a trolley etc. Portability is really a major draw to why people consider inflatable kayaks so make the best of this when choosing.
Additionally, the ease of how you inflate your kayak is also to consider. You might need an extra gear that is the pump, and its weight combined has to be taken into consideration.
In a nutshell, we have guided you through what to look for, starting with types available out there, to the criteria to zoom in on, namely, your usage intention, your physique and gear, it weight and portability as well as ease to inflate. These are some of the basics that we think will be able to help in you choosing the perfect product.
Are you now ready to get an inflatable kayak and start your new adventure?
We hope this is what this buyer’s guide has accomplished – provided some insight into what is out there, be it for the hard-core kayak adventurer, white water enthusiast or the keen fisherman. This range of products is selected for various activities and we hope that there is one that is perfect for you.
Now It’s Your Turn
Rest assured that we have tried our best here! Nevertheless, we would love to hear your comments and suggestions, even corrections – hey, we know our research is by no means exhaustive, so do help sort us out in the section below. We definitely welcome your input: