Outdoors

The Best Inflatable Kayak And The Top 6 Models Plus Reviews

Last updated on July 6th, 2021

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The Best Inflatable Kayaks and Reviews

Inflatable kayaks have evolved from simple pool toys to serious watercraft. You can traverse rivers and lakes with an inflatable kayak just like you would do with a hard side boat. Some inflatables can compete with hard side kayaks in terms of performance and durability, yet inflatables have the extra advantages of convenience, portability and ease of storage.

If you’ve navigated your way to our site, it’s obvious that you are looking for an inflatable kayak. Whether you are a beginner looking for your first inflatable kayak or an advanced kayaker looking for the ultimate model, this guide will lead you to the best inflatable kayak.

We also review 6 of the very best inflatable kayaks, which we have spent hours researching, and provide relevant recommendations for each of them. Even if you are looking for the best two-person inflatable kayak to use with a friend, we have something that is just ideal for you. If you already know what to look for in an inflatable kayak, skip right to our inflatable kayak reviews. Below we are starting with our much deserved ‘Best Pick’.

BEST PICK

Sevylor Riviera Two Person Kayak
The Sevylor Riviera Two Person Kayak is a lightweight, inflatable kayak that can easily convert between a single or double person kayak thanks to its removable seats. This model is also easy to transport to wherever you decide to kayak due to the fact it can be worn as a backpack. Genius idea! A broad design that combines I-Beam floor construction to ensure maximum stability, especially when using along seashores. Maximum load capacity of 180kg.

Below are those which we found to be the best inflatable Kayaks and have included in our review:

  1. Sevylor Riviera Two Person Kayak – BEST PICK
  2. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak – BEST BUDGET PICK
  3. Intex Challenger K2 Kayak
  4. Sevylor Inflatable Kayak Tahiti Plus 2+1 Man Canadian Canoe
  5. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
  6. Sea Eagle SE370 Pro Inflatable Kayak

Below you will find our reviews for the Top 6 models we would recommend. After hours of research, we feel these are the best models from over 16 models that we originally compared.

Following this, you will find a buyer’s guide designed to help you decide which model would be best for you and what features you should look out for. So let get straight to it and see which inflatable kayaks are worth considering.

Inflatable Kayak Reviews

1. Sevylor Riviera Two Person Kayak

BEST PICK

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Sevylor Riviera Two Person Kayak

The Sevylor Inflatable Kayak Riviera is a sturdy 2-person kayak designed for use in lakes, rivers, even along the seashore and would also make a decent fishing kayak. The kayak is easy to inflate (and deflate later on) due to the included Boston valves that can easily be inflated with a foot or hand pump. These valves allow you to regulate the amount of air going in and out of the air bladder. Inflating the kayak is done by unscrewing the top cap and inserting the pump. There’s an air security flap that prevents air leakage upon removing the pump. To deflate the kayak, simply unscrew the whole valve. Overall it’s a decent but simple system that makes inflating super easy.

This model also has a pressure gauge incorporated into the kayak to help with accurate inflation. A red bar on the integrated Sevytest pressure gauge shows whether you need to add or reduce air. If the bar stops somewhere in the green area, then the kayak has enough air pressure level, again this is a brilliant system.

It has a broad shape that makes for stability as well as comfort when out on the water. The kayak comes with multiple independent chambers for safe and enhanced stability. These large side chambers stabilise the vessel whilst I-Beam floor chambers provide extra rigidity to the base making it firm, especially when compared to cheaper models. The chambers are made of heavy-duty PVC for enhanced durability, and again is a quality material designed to reduce the chances of an air leak or puncture.

Another positive feature of this kayak is the backpack system. After a long day of kayaking, simply deflate the kayak and roll it into the spray deck. The item converts into a portable backpack that you can easily transport on your shoulders. Forget the hassle of a tight fit carry bag and appreciate the portability of this product.

By the fact that it carries two people, the inflatable seats on this kayak are adjustable and removable, thus providing desirable comfort whilst paddling. The kayak’s inflated size is 315 x 84cm and only weighs (an easy to carry) 8kg and has an impressive maximum load capacity is 180kg which is 2 fully grown adults comfortably, this is a bit higher than most standard two-person kayaks we have looked at. A paddle and canoe repair kit is included to help fix any puncture on the kayak.

Pros

  • Offers excellent comfort whilst paddling since the seats can be adjusted and fixed in desirable positions.
  • Has an integrated pressure gauge for ensuring the right pressure level is achieved so you always know it has the correct amount of air in.
  • Very stable kayak, due to a broad shape and floor chamber with I-Beam construction.
  • Highly portable, thanks to its enhanced backpack system which lets you transport the kayak hassle-free.
  • Has a decent carrying capacity of 180kg, which is superior to most other two-person kayaks.
  • Includes a paddle and boat repair kit to save you from travelling to the lake bottom when crisis strikes.
  • The paddle comes in two parts so you can use them individually so two people can paddle or as one double-sided paddle for use with one person.

Cons

  • If not using in still water you will need to purchase a directional skeg separately to keep it going straight. Not a deal-breaker, but it is worth purchasing one at the same time if you are on the shore or river.

Our recommendation

The Sevylor Inflatable Kayak Riviera is a very impressive 2-man kayak, ideal for beginner kayakers and is perfect for taking on camping trips, holidays or to the local lake and comes are an equally impressive price and offers excellent value for money

It has some nice unique features such as the integrated pressure gauge to help you pump the right amount of air into it. One big positive of this item is the backpack system which we love as it provides unmatched portability. We also like how this kayak has a versatile carrying capacity as it can be used as a one-man or two and this combined with a highly stable shape ensure you feel very safe at all times, another reason it is great for someone just starting out.

One notable flaw is the paddle could be better, perhaps more study but we must appreciate the fact that it’s included, unlike the skeg which we would advise buying if you want to use it on anywhere that is not still water. For those looking for a portable, inflatable kayak that can be customised to suit personal preferences, the Sevylor Inflatable Kayak Riviera is one of the kind.

After taking everything into consideration we decided that it deserved to win our ‘Best Pick’ spot and would probably be the best choice for most people looking for the best inflatable kayak at an affordable price.

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2. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

BEST BUDGET PICK

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INTEX Canoë Explorer K2 Kayak pour Deux Personnes avec Rames + Pompe

The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is a 2 person inflatable kayak designed for recreational purposes on slow rivers, lakes and ponds. It has a streamlined design, bright yellow in colour and sporty graphics that make the kayak highly visible in the water.

One of the top considerations when choosing a kayak is functionality. The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak scores very good marks in this area. The kayak carries 2 people with a combined weight of up to 350 lbs max. (158kg) – 22kg less than our best pick. It has a spacious seating area that provides enough freedom for movement. The seats are inflatable and easy to adjust to your desired position in order to achieve maximum comfort, which is also ensured by the backrest. The vessel includes two 86’’ aluminium oars which are quite functional, however, not adjustable.

When taking kayak trips far from the shore, reliability is a must for any reasonable kayak. The 30 gauge vinyl material used on this kayak has the ability to withstand the usual bumps as well as children who jump in and out of your kayak on a consistent basis.

The stability of the kayak is addressed by inflatable I-Beam floors whilst removable skegs ensure directional stability. In the event of a knock against the vessel, it is likely to be associated with limited storage with two persons due to a short bow that is inadequate for storage. Solo kayakers can use the extra seat as storage and help counterbalance weight to enhance stability.

The body has 2 separate air chambers to help the kayak remain buoyant just in case a puncture occurs. The chambers are located in the main hull and in the floor. A repair patch is included to help you fix any punctures that may occur during use.

When out with family for fun, safety is a top priority. The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is designed with safety in mind thanks to a durable construction that helps support the prerequisite weight in all water conditions. The kayak is well-balanced and that offers a great sense of security trying to move about the vessel or even standing in it.

The vessel is genuinely hard to capsize without intent and should it flip it’s lightweight and this allows one person to turn it back to an upright position with little effort. The hull is quite deep to prevent taking on the water in all except the worst water conditions. In addition, the dazzling yellow colour makes it easy to locate in tough weather conditions.

Last but not least, the item comes with a high output manual hand pump to help inflate the kayak every time you want to take it on the water. At the end of the day, the kayak is easy to deflate and carry using the supplied carry bag and pack away until the next trip.

Pros

  • Comes with everything you need to get going – sturdy 86’’ aluminium oars, quick to inflate Boston valves, and a Hi-Output manual hand pump to get you out in no minutes.
  • Easy to spot from other boats due to bright colour exterior combined with contrasting shades of the water. This makes you stay safe on the water.
  • Offers plenty of space for two and leaves enough space for other items such as food, water, and extra gear.
  • Provides users with maximum comfort and support thanks to the adjustable seats with backrests.
  • Quite lightweight, making it ideal for one-person operation and going for solo trips, or when a partner gives up paddling. This ensures you won’t be left stranded in the middle of nowhere.
  • Comes at a decent price which many find as an absolute bargain for the quality and functionality of the kayak.

Cons

  • Paddles are not adjustable, so this kayak is hard for kids to maneuver around, it is also a little soft so looses energy when paddling, may be worth investing in a new set but fine for just playing around.
  • Plastic connectors on the oars are susceptible to snapping, thus making storage a bit difficult.
  • Does not fold down into a backpack so is not as portable as our best pick and as also fairly heavy.

Our recommendation

The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak scores points in two major areas relating to functionality, durability, safety and price. It’s designed for two passengers, however, it also encourages solo trips. Everything you need to get going is included as well as a repair kit for emergencies. The kayak is well-constructed for increased stability and reduced weight for ease of use, however, it is fairly heavy, especially when compared to our ‘Best Pick’.

Probably the biggest positive about the Intex Explorer K2 model is the price, this kayak offers great value for money in the long run, making it an ideal choice for beginners.

Of course, there a few niggles with the Explorer K2. One is that the paddles are a little flimsy so you lose energy in the water, we would get some new more sturdy ones. The quality is also not on par with our ‘best pick’ which is probably why it is not advertised for use along the seashore.

All in all, if you are on a budget, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is an excellent choice that would save you money to spend on other accessories. It would hard to find another item that works straight out of the box at the same price. Great product for having some fun with at the local lake or taking on holiday.  Just to confirm our best pick is lighter, more robust and overall a better choice we think for not a lot more money.

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3. Intex Challenger K2 Kayak

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Intex K2 Challenger Kayak 2 Person Inflatable Canoe with Aluminum Oars and Hand Pump

The Intex Challenger K2 Kayak is a close cousin to the Explorer K2 model and this one is known for easy manoeuvrability, effortless tracking and durability.

To start with, this vessel is made from Intex’s custom-designed, ultra-tough vinyl which makes it hard to puncture and resistant to UV damage. This means that you can kayak without worry because this material needs some serious effort to damage. In the rare event of a puncture, the kayak comes with an onboard repair kit, which can be a lifesaver if you have a puncture halfway through your boating trip.

Most beginner kayakers tend to worry about the possibility of capsizing whilst on the lake. Well, inflatable kayaks are ideally hard to capsize given their natural buoyancy. Yet, twice the number of passengers on board doubles the danger of someone swaying the vessel a bit too enthusiastically.

To give you peace of mind, Intex included I-Beam support for extra stability, so you can even stand in the kayak and it won’t topple. This is the same thing that gives the kayak an impressive 350lb weight maximum carrying capacity, which is enough for two passengers and their gear.

The appearance of this kayak makes it quite safe to use on the water even when operating in the middle of other kayakers. With its bright vinyl coating and striking graphics, you are less likely to be missed, importantly minimising the threat of collision. That should be substantial enough to overcome the fear of the more timid first-timers.

With inflated dimensions of 30 x 15 x 138 (W x H x D), this item has a decent size that also helps with stability. If you are out fishing, the aluminium oars are light and easy to control, so the body rests well for fishing rather than wasting a lot of energy trying to get to the correct location. The vessel offers a snug fit around the legs and torso of an average-sized person and this helps provide extra control and stability.

The ease of setup ranks high, especially considering there’s already a pump to get you started every time you want to go out.

Pros

  • Made from high-quality vinyl material, which is puncture resistant (remember not puncture proof) and UV resistant. 
  • Comes with I-Beam support for added stability. This kayak is difficult to topple even if you stand in it.
  • Safe to use on water even when surrounded by other water users. The kayak has bright and eye-catching colours that ensure you’re visible from the rest.
  • Includes a high-output pump and 84″ aluminium oars which split into 4 sections for easy transportation.

Cons

  • Limited water conditions. The Challenger K2 is better suited for using on slow moving rivers and lakes and not places with high currents or the open ocean.
  • Quality could be better, especially when compared to other models.

Our recommendation

Altogether, the Intex Challenger K2 Kayak is a great vessel, perfect for beginners who want to find some confidence on the lakes. Designed for two, the kayak benefits from superb construction for the price, which includes the use of tough vinyl to ensure maximum durability is achieved. We think the quality is adequate but could be better and is certainly not the same standard as the Sevylor Inflatable Kayak Riviera.

It is quite stable, but remember, it’s advisable to distribute weight evenly. You can safely use this kayak in the middle of other users and avoid collision since it’s quite distinguishable.

On the downside, the Challenger K2 is a bit limited in water conditions. You can go around paddling all you want in slow-moving rivers and lakes but don’t take this vessel to high-current areas, for we advise you to invest in our best pick. Therefore, advanced kayakers may not find it an essential addition to their fleet yet beginners cannot find anything better at the same price range. Overall, the quality could be better but for the price it is one of the best inflatable kayaks available.

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4. Sevylor Inflatable Kayak Tahiti Plus 2+1 Man Canadian Canoe

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Sevylor Tahiti Plus Kayak - 2 + 1 Person

Similar to the Sevylor Inflatable Riviera in terms of construction, the Sevylor Inflatable Kayak Tahiti Plus – 2+1 man Canadian Canoe has allowed the creation of an extra seat so as to carry 3 passengers, (2 adults and a child) and can be easily converted to a 2 or 3 person kayak when needed. Sevylor has also given this kayak a broad shape to help with stability and increase comfort when out on the water. The kayak specifically measures 363 x 88 cm in its inflated state, meaning it’s 1 1/2 feet longer than the Riviera version, and it weighs 11.7kg so can still be easily transported by wearing it as a backpack.

The maximum carrying capacity is an impressive 200kg (440lbs) and the kayak is known to be the perfect vessel for family kayaking as it carries 2 adults and 1 child as we have already mentioned. With this idea in mind, Sevylor incorporated 3 independent chambers onto this kayak for purpose of safety and stability. Large inflatable side chambers stabilise the vessel whilst the inflatable I-Beam floor chamber makes the base a bit more rigid. The seats are also very supportive and comfortable due to their backrests.

The construction material is PVC and just like the other PVC products from Sevylor, the Tahiti Plus is equipped with a Sevytest pressure gauge to help in accurate inflation. A red bar on this gauge lets know whether to increase or reduce the air, so you can always be confident of the canoe you are taking out onto the water.

The kayak inflation itself is quite a breeze, thanks to the two-way Boston valves that allow you to control the air going in and leaving the chambers. Inflation simply requires you to unscrew the top cap and inserting the pump through the valve. The inflation time is estimated to be just under 10 minutes, maybe 15 minutes for some. Once you are done pumping in the air, return a valve to prevent leakage and you’ll be set for your trip. Later on, deflate the kayak by unscrewing the entire valve.

After deflating the canoe, simply roll it into the spray deck and it converts into a nice backpack that you can easily transport on your shoulders. This kind of portability is unmatched and we highly commend Sevylor for the creativity.

Pros

  • Provides an extra space for a third passenger (child). This makes for a great kayak to go out with friends and family.
  • Offers unrivalled portability due to its backpack system. The kayak deflates, rolls back and transforms to an easy-to-carry backpack, eliminating the need of an extra carry bag. Watch the product video on amazon to see this in action,
  • Equipped with a Sevytest pressure gauge for accurate inflation. Furthermore, the kayak inflates in less than 10 minutes.
  • Has a great carrying capacity of 200kg (440 lbs).

Cons

  • Seats are not quite as supportive as expected and they slide about when wet.
  • Instructions are pathetic, so beginner kayakers may have a hard time setting up the kayak.

Our recommendation

The Sevylor Inflatable Kayak Tahiti Plus – 2+1 person Canadian Canoe is specifically designed for two adults and 1 child, however, three people can still be good as far as they don’t weigh more than the recommended capacity.

Just like our best pick, we really like the backpack system of this kayak, which comes into play after deflating the kayak ready for going home. The pressure gauge is incredibly useful whilst a boat repair is also included.

This version has a few niggles, especially concerning the seats. We found concerns that they don’t offer enough support for some people, however, it is evident that there are lots of customers who have purchased this model and not had the same complaints but it is worth thinking about. 

All in all, the Sevylor Inflatable Kayak Tahiti Plus – 2+1 is a perfect choice for enjoying leisure time and adventures with friends and family and is a great alternative for someone looking for a 3 seat vessel.

It is a great alternative to our ‘Best Pick’ and would probably rank them the same with the number of seats being the deciding factor of which to invest in.

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5. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

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Intex Challenger K1 Kayak 274x76x38cm

For those looking for an all-in-one solution, the Intex Challenger K1 kayak includes everything needed to get you on the water within minutes. Probably the most standout feature of this kayak is the price. Intex deserves recognition for making such a top-quality kayak at such an affordable price. The reason for the budget price is majorly due to the construction material. The kayak is made from super-tough vinyl that is puncture-resistant and UV-damage resistant as well as being lightweight and durable.

This kayak is capable of carrying up to 220lbs (99kg) at a time, so it’s quite strong. Additionally, by the fact that it’s an inflatable kayak, it will collapse down to fit into the back of your car making it highly portable. This only extends your scope for kayaking locations.

Most people are usually concerned with a kayak’s stability and think it’s hard to obtain balance on the water with an inflatable item. Well, the Challenger K1 is designed with stability in mind, with I-Beam support added to the already natural buoyant body. This provides enough support for you to sit in any way you like and offers the ability to stand up whenever you want without toppling.

Intex has also looked into comfort by designing the cockpit to offer maximum space. It also contains an inflatable seat with a backrest to provide that extra support when kayaking for long hours. In addition, there’s a convenient cargo net to keep whatever you’re carrying with you without cluttering the cockpit.

One more positive, that perhaps an uninformed kayaker may miss, is that the colouration has been done with safety in mind. The kayak is brightly coloured with eye-catching decals that anyone can see. While some may think it’s flashy, we think it’s safe. The kayak is so low to the water’s surface so the bright colours make it easy to be noticed by other water users, thus eliminating the risk of collision.

The kayak also comes with everything you need to get started. The Challenger K1 is bundled with a high output hand pump, an 84’’ aluminium oar, and a puncture repair kit.

Pros

  • Offers great value for money as the kayak is well built, yet it comes at a great price.
  • Lightweight and portable – folds down nicely to fit in the boot of a car for easy transportation.
  • Designed with I-Beam support for increased stability and buoyancy.
  • Provides great comfort due to the large cockpit and inflatable seat with backrest.
  • Coloured with bright colours for easy visibility by other water users. This ensures enhanced safety on the water.

Cons

  • Insufficient back support, making it uncomfortable over time.
  • Obviously limited to one person

Our recommendation

The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is a great offering from Intex. For those looking to get out on the water on a budget, the Challenger K1 is absolutely excellent. It is easy to manoeuvre and offers some handy storage space that is rare to find.

Beginners may find it hard to fault, however, experienced kayakers may feel there are a few niggles. For instance, we feel the back support could’ve been better and also found that some sections of the kayak have poor finishing but are adequate.

In any case, it’s hard to find an incredible kayak, so this one is a huge bargain for a single kayaker. Personally, we would recommend paying the extra for a 2 seat model and removing the extra seat when kayaking alone. Overall a great choice for anyone looking for a single-seat model.

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6. Sea Eagle SE370 Pro Inflatable Kayak

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Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak - SE 370 Pro Package

The Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak – SE370P is an all-purpose kayak designed for two passengers. Weighing 14.5kg, this inflatable kayak is easy to inflate and transport. It comes as a complete package which includes deluxe seats, oars, a foot jump, repair kit and carry bag. Indeed, the SE370 inflatable kayak is a remarkable kit, with manoeuvrability and durability at levels that you’d not expect to find in standard inflatable kayaks.

The kayak has two skegs on the bottom side, which means unlike many of inflatables, it tracks in a straight direction with exemplary ease. Paddling your way on water is also quite easy and labour-intensive, making it a good choice for the elderly or less physically fit. Furthermore, the inflatable seats with a backrest provide extra back support for paddling.

This inflatable kayak can also be a perfect choice for one person, especially by the fact that it weighs so little. The inflatable seats are removable, meaning that you can create more space for extra gear if you are out on a solo trip. The vessel can hold up to 295kgs so there is a lot of room for all your equipment.

The Sea Eagle SE370P also provides incredible versatility. The kayak is made from 38 mil PolyKrylor (K80 PVC) which is extra thick and durable. This allows the craft to succeed in many places where other kayaks fail, including whitewater rapids and the open ocean. It is genuinely a versatile kayak, moving smoothly with little effort on open water, probably making it a great pick as a fishing kayak.

When it comes to stability, the SE370P benefits from I-Beam construction which enhances directional stability and improves the comfort of the trip. Combined with the natural buoyancy brought by inflation it also makes the kayak very difficult to capsize.

Assembly time is about 8 minutes. The package also includes 2 paddles featuring aluminium shafts with Fibrylon blades. There are snap-lock buttons that help disconnect the paddles into 4 parts for easy transportation. A carry bag is included for transporting your SE370P and it’s made from heavy-duty 440 denier nylon fabric, making it quite durable. It also comes with a puncture repair kit.

Pros

  • Inflates in a matter of minutes – just 8 minutes.
  • Very high quality construction.
  • Comes with handy extras for convenient usage. This includes removable seats, paddles, carry bag, and repair kit.
  • Offers great comfort whilst paddling due to the backrest on the inflatable seat.
  • Incredibly versatile kayak which can be used both on mild waters and the open ocean.

Cons

  • It’s quite expensive compared to other 2-person kayaks in its class.
  • Doesn’t have footrests, meaning you’re not able to generate as much power in your paddle strokes.

Our recommendation

The Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak – SE370 Pro is a high quality inflatable that outclasses most of the competitors out there with its build quality, customizability and multi-purpose design. With a dual skeg system, this craft will enable you to paddle across most waters with minimal effort. This makes it a great kayak for physically challenged people.

As nice as the SE370P sounds, the goodies come at a price. This product is very expensive. For the kind of money, you can buy a fishing kayak, racing kayak or anything depending on your needs. However, what you pay for with this version is the convenience. It is quick to inflate, pack it away when you are finished and easy it is to transport.

Overall, the Sea Eagle SE370P is for the everyday person looking for a top quality kayak for various activities. The only downside is most sellers seem to be outside the UK so it may not come with warranty but you would need to check this when ordering as it does usually have 3 years warranty.

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The Buyer’s Guide

Now that you’ve decided to get an inflatable kayak, considering the right factors prior to the actual purchase will ensure you pick the right boat that suits your needs.

At this point, we’ll guide you to your right kayak by looking at the most important considerations. Before then, here the general benefits you’ll enjoy out of your kayak:

Advantages of inflatable kayaks

  • Portability – due to the fact that they can deflate to fit into a car boot, small cupboard or garage.
  • Versatility – kayaks come in many styles; fishing, expedition and ocean kayaks. A decent version can be used in rivers, lakes and the sea shore.
  • Easy maintenance – kayaks simply need washing off the grime and letting them dry well before storing.
  • Easy repair – if it gets a puncture, it is easy to apply a patch and let it dry for some time, eventually getting it back in shape for use. The only downside is seams cannot usually be fixed properly.
  • Affordability – a good inflatable kayak goes for about £100 – £150 and can last for a few years if looked after correctly and not misused.
  • Easy to use – inflatable kayaks are easy to manoeuver even for beginners but always check it has a skeg or can be fitted with one.

Questions to ask yourself before purchasing an inflatable kayak

What kind of kayaking will you be doing?

The first thing you need to know is what kind of paddling you will be doing and how often you will be doing it. There are various types of inflatable kayaks that are intended for beginners to those for more experienced paddlers. Choosing the right kayak will ensure you have a great time out on the water and a more rewarding experience. Having a general idea of how often you will be kayaking will determine the quality of kayak you want to buy. Remember not all models are recommended for use on the sea so check first to ensure it can be used on the sea if you plan to do so.

What weather conditions will you be kayaking in?

If you intend to paddle during the winter months, stormy weather or winds, consider a kayak with a spray skirt alternative. This kit usually attaches to the cockpit of the kayak and extends onto your chest, allowing you to keep out spray, wind and some of the cold. Most inflatable kayaks don’t have this feature though.

If you will be kayaking in lots of sun or during the summer months, you’ll want something a bit more open and one that allows you to easily slide into the water to cool off when temperatures are on the higher end.

What kind of water conditions will you be paddling in?

Some kayaks are designed to be used on calm lakes, others on whitewater, and some on the open ocean. What works for mild waters will not work best for turbulent waters. Most manufacturers will tell you where the specific model will work best and where it shouldn’t be used. User reviews are also a good place to find out how different previous individuals experienced using the kayak.

Solo, tandem or convertible?

Do you plan on having a companion for most of your trips? If so, a tandem inflatable kayak is what you need. If you want to go solo, then there are many one-person boats available. The good thing about going solo is that you get to explore that small cove that a partner would rather pass. However, a tandem (double kayak) is certainly faster and more stable than a solo option.

Whilst you can paddle an inflatable tandem on your own, it can be difficult to manoeuver due to the fact that you will not be sitting in the centre of the kayak. On this regard, a tandem-solo convertible is a perfect choice, specifically designed to address the issue of paddling alone by allowing you to shift the position of the seats.

Important considerations

Weight and portability

Inflatable kayaks are great alternatives to traditional hard-shelled kayaks since they offer convenient portability, they are relatively lightweight and perfect for travelling. Even though they are fairly lightweight, the actual weight can vary considerably within the inflatable kayaks themselves. Keep in mind that you’ll need to consider your personal weight as well as how much gear you plan to take with you. This is because inflatable kayaks have a weight limit and you’ll not want to overload the boat.

Indeed, inflatable kayaks are easy to transport compared to conventional rigid kayaks. If you want to be able to carry your water gear in a backpack or even on a plane, then take into consideration the packed size and weight. If you’ll be paddling alone or in the case of a solo inflatable kayak, weight can also be an issue since you’ll need to get the kayak in and out of the water by yourself. Make sure you get something that you can manage.

Manoeuverability

Some kayaks manoeuvre better than others. Some are awesome at following straight ahead whilst others are incredible at turning effectively. Generally, a shorter vessel manoeuver easily whilst a longer kayak tracks better. Beginner kayaks are usually shorter and broader to give starters an easy time on the water. Advanced paddlers will want a longer, narrower kayak, which allows them to pick up higher speeds and enjoy great tracking.

Inflatable kayak material

  • Hypalon and Pennel Orca -This synthetic rubber is also known as chlorosulfonated polyethylene (cp). The material is extremely durable and sturdy. It’s only common in the highest quality inflatable kayaks. The fabric is known stand up to harsh weather, strong UV rays, various chemicals, and impacts. Kayaks have usually a Hypalon coating on the outside with the inside being polyester. The major drawback to this material is that it’s not quite abrasion resistant as some types of PVC and it’s quite expensive. In addition, this material is usually glued on by hand with overlapped seams, a process that is labour intensive and further increases the cost of the inflatable kayak significantly. However, it makes the final product extremely durable and the manufacturer feels confident to provide warranties of up to 10 years.
  • PVC – This material is made from vinyl polymer plastic. It’s not as tough against elements as fellow Hypalon, however, it’s inexpensive and the manufacturing processes allows it to be a cost-effective option. As a general rule, pay attention to the thickness of the fabric, which is measured in deniers. A higher denier means that the boat will be thicker and sturdier.
  • Nitrylon – First introduced by Innova kayak manufacturer, this material has a lamination of nitrile synthetic rubber and contains a natural rubber on the base. It is stronger and more resistant to the conventional PVC and is also known to be eco-friendly since it can be recycled. However, this material is heavy and so manufacturers only use it as a coating on the hull to remedy the problem.

Design considerations

The general performance of a kayak is usually dictated by its hull size and shape. Wider boats provide more stability in mild situations while narrow kayaks are faster and superior with regards to subservient stability, which is when the kayak is leaning to one side.

If you are big and tall, make sure the kayak has ample depth in order to have enough space and legroom. Taller sides will help deflect water and catch more wind that may cause you to slow down.

Skeges under the stern minimises the weather cocking effect of a kayak in the wind and improves tracking in crosswinds and cross-currents. There is usually a hand lever or hand control that allows you to adjust the skeg to a different position. Kayaking addicts love this feature, however, it’s not easy for starters.

Another important feature is the rudder, a paddle that’s attached to the stern top, and is lowered into the water using a hand lever. A foot lever is used to move it up, down, right, and left, depending on the direction you want it to go.

There are storage spaces on one or both ends of an inflatable kayak and they’re usually enclosed with a lid on the deck. The storage compartments should be carefully considered based on how much gear you plan to be taking out with you.

Set up time

Inflatable kayaks can easily be set up in less than 10 minutes, simply pump up the air chambers and you are ready to go. Some performance-oriented kayaks may take a bit longer since they have more chambers to inflate. If you’ll be out in the cold weather, make sure to pump the kayak slightly more since the chill will make the air contract. If out in hot weather, do the opposite. We also wish to make one point about inflatables – never leave a fully inflated kayak in the hot sun, release some considerable pressure.

Cost

Inflatable kayaks are usually affordable, however, the price varies from model to model based on the design and intended purpose. The price of an inflatable, however, should not be a top priority. We found a good model that would set you back £100 to £150 with some larger 3 person models costing £300-£500.


Final Conclusion

Inflatable kayaks are great recreational equipment for water activities. However, the experience can only be much rewarding if you’re sailing in the best inflatable kayak.

The most important considerations when choosing a kayak include the kind of activity you plan to do, the waters you’ll kayaking in, and whether solo or tandem option.

From the products we reviewed above, we concluded that the Sevylor Inflatable Kayak Riviera is the best inflatable kayak for most people, whilst the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is the undisputed 1-person kayak. For a quick round-up here’s our summary of our best pick and our best budget 2 person kayak for those looking for a cheaper alternative.

The Sevylor Inflatable Kayak Riviera is our overall winner as it ticks all the boxes and comes at a great price. This 2 person inflatable kayak is incredibly easy to inflate and deflate due to the integrated Boston valves.

One major pro is that the PVC shell features the Sevytest pressure gauge which helps in accurate inflation which we really like. This inflatable also allows an impressive user weight capacity of up to 180kgs. Its seats are fully removable and this allows for easy customisation making it perfect for a solo mission or as a 2 person trip. At 8kg, this kayak is pretty much lightweight and will give an easy time transporting it remembering it can be worn as a backpack.

The interesting fact is that you’ll get to benefit from portability, ease of use and high performance at a fair price from one of the most trusted brands around.

The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is our budget option. By the way, there’s no big difference in price between this version and our best pick. It’s only that it’s the cheaper model between the two and a great 2-person inflatable.

The kayak carries a maximum weight of 160kgs and it benefits from a rugged vinyl construction. It has bright colours for visibility and its inflatable seats are fully adjustable and supportive. It’s hard to find a two-person kayak at the price of the Intex K2 and we’ll be right to say this is the best budget inflatable 2 person kayak.


Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

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