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Best Inflatable Kayak

Best Inflatable Kayak Reviews

Inflatable kayaks have exploded in popularity in recent years as a portable, convenient alternative to hard-shell kayaks. Thanks to advances in materials and construction, inflatables provide a paddling experience rivalling traditional hard shells while packing down into an easy-to-transport bag.

With inflatable kayaks, remote bodies of water become accessible that aren’t reachable by standard boats. Their lightweight, collapsible nature opens up kayaking to those without roof racks or storage space. Just deflate them, toss them in the trunk, and head out on your next adventure.

Choosing the right inflatable kayak involves weighing factors like intended use, number of paddlers, and performance needs. Are you seeking a nimble vessel for exercising and exploring or a stable raft for leisurely family trips? Do you need a cargo room for gear on overnight excursions?

By determining priorities like speed, comfort, durability and portability, it becomes easier to select an inflatable kayak tailored to your needs. This guide will walk through the key considerations when researching your options. Let’s explore what makes for a legendary inflatable kayak and get you on the water!

Blue Inflatable Kayak
Blue Inflatable Kayak

How to Choose the Best Inflatable Kayak

Number of Paddlers

One of the first decisions is choosing between a solo or tandem inflatable kayak. Think about if you’ll be paddling alone most of the time or want to bring along passengers.

Solo inflatable kayaks offer a nimbler, more responsive feel for covering distance efficiently. Their sleek size makes them easier to transport and store. If kayaking will be mainly an individual activity, a one-person vessel may be the best fit.

Tandem inflatable kayaks provide space to bring along friends, kids, pets, and gear. Two-person kayaks range from 10-13 ft. in length. The extra room allows for leisurely paddling and extended trips. Just note the additional size impacts portability.

Intended Use

Inflatable kayaks come in designs tailored for particular activities. Knowing how you plan to use it helps narrow your options:

  • Recreational: All-around versatile boats for calm waters. Wider for stability and shorter for maneuverability.
  • Touring: Longer kayaks built for covering distance efficiently. Track well and have storage.
  • Whitewater: Shorter, highly maneuverable kayaks for rivers. Feature durable construction.
  • Fishing: Wider boats with ample cargo room. Often feature rod holders, gear storage, and stand-assist straps.
  • Surf: Designed to handle waves. Feature rounded hulls, rocker profile, and fins. Beginner-friendly options are available.

Construction and Durability

Inflatable kayaks utilize different synthetic fabrics and coatings:

  • PVC: The most common material. Multiple PVC layers create a rugged, abrasion-resistant kayak. Dense material with good tear resistance. Also the most affordable.
  • Hypalon: More costly but extremely durable in rugged conditions. Excels in puncture and UV resistance. Often found on premium kayaks.
  • Nitrylon: Proprietary synthetic from Sevylor with extra layering for enhanced resilience. Falls between PVC and Hypalon in cost.

Premium one-piece fabrics like Hypalon are more rugged than multi-layer PVC—extra coatings like polyurethane boost tear and abrasion resistance. Look for multiple layers or fabrics engineered to flex without kinking.

Cockpit Size

Your height and size will factor into choosing a kayak providing sufficient legroom and sitting space. Measure your torso length to determine the ideal cockpit dimensions.

  • Closed cockpit: Better for rougher seas and cold weather paddling. Require an exit port for safety. Good choice for smaller paddlers.
  • Open cockpit: Allow easy entry and exit. Preferred for recreational paddling in fair weather. Provide more space but less protection.

Also, check specifications like maximum height and weight capacity to ensure a good fit. Those over 6 feet tall often prefer 12+ foot kayaks for adequate cockpit space.


A major upside of inflatables is their transportability versus hard-shell kayaks. Look for the following ease-of-transport features:

Lightweight: Inflated sizes often rival hard shells, but the best inflatables weigh 20-40 lbs deflated. Lifting heavier models on and off vehicles becomes difficult.

Compact storage bag: Duffel bags, backpacks, or rolling bags protect the folded kayak. Make sure it fits your packing space.

Grab handles: Allow two people to move a deflated kayak. Handles on bow, stern, and sides ease lifting.

Pump style: Electric pumps offer faster, easier inflation than manual versions. Dual-action pumps utilize air on up and down strokes.

Deflation time: Quality valves make breaking down kayaks quick after paddling, so they pack back up fast.

Stability vs. Agility

Wider, flatter-bottomed inflatables provide a stable platform for beginners but don’t track as well. Narrower kayaks knife through the water but require better balance. Choose accordingly:

Stable: Hull width 30″ or greater. Optimal for recreational paddling, fishing, and other stationary activities. Easier for kids and pets.

Agile: Hull width under 30″. Pick this for exercise, racing, and covering distance. It may be happier until you develop skills.

Also, consider the rocker, length, and cargo. Rockered hulls handle turns well but aren’t as quick. Longer boats gain speed but aren’t as maneuverable. Cargo weight impacts stability.


Some key accessories that enhance time on the water include:

Paddle: Look for a lightweight, adjustable paddle to match your height and style. Fiberglass or carbon fiber are durable options.

Spray skirt: For enclosed cockpits, a spray skirt seals out water from waves or splashes. Neoprene or nylon.

Pump: Electric pumps inflate kayaks in minutes. Dual-action designs utilize air pressure on both upward and downward strokes.

PFD: Coast Guard-approved life jackets are vital for safety. Ensure a proper fit.

Whistle: Sounding a whistle helps rescuers locate you in emergency situations on the water.

Compass: Useful for navigation and maintaining direction. Helpful on open water and multi-day trips.

These accessories and gear improve the time spent in your inflatable kayak and provide needed safety. Invest in quality equipment to enhance the paddling experience.

Best Inflatable Kayak Reviews

Aquaglide Navarro 130 Convertible Inflatable Kayak

Best Inflatable Kayak
Best Inflatable Kayak

With its convertible open deck design and performance-driven shape, the Aquaglide Navarro 130 inflatable kayak provides versatile paddling for one. This kayak can transform to suit different conditions, making it a top choice for all-around use.

The open deck offers an airy feel during warm weather paddling. For cooler trips, the optional zip-in deck quickly converts it to an enclosed kayak. The absence of the deck does make this feature an additional cost.

Constructed with durable ripstop polyester sides and a rigid drop stitch floor, the Navarro 130 tracks and handles excellently for its inflatable design. The hard bottom adds stability when launching or landing. Ample above-deck storage secures gear, along with conveniently placed paddle holders.

The adjustable mesh seat supplies comfort for hours on the water, aided by the supportive foot brace. For a stable yet fast solo kayak, the Navarro 130 hits all the marks. Just be prepared to purchase the zip-in deck separately.


  • Convertible open or enclosed deck
  • Great tracking and speed
  • Ripstop polyester and drop stitch construction
  • Mesh seat and foot brace for comfort


  • Deck is a separate add-on purchase

Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak

The Intex Challenger inflatable kayak line provides an affordable option for one to two paddlers seeking a basic recreational vessel. While not built for performance, the Challenger offers reliable stability in a simple, inexpensive package.

Available in both one and two-person models, the kayak sits low and steady in the water. The one-person Challenger K1 provides a compact yet stable solo craft, while the two-person K2 model accommodates duos at its spacious 351 cm length.

Made from durable vinyl, the Challenger is a breeze to inflate and pack down into its included carry bag. The streamlined design handles decently, though the included paddles are rather flimsy. For casual paddling on a budget, however, the Challenger gets the job done.


  • Inexpensive price point
  • Low sitting for stability
  • Quick inflation and breakdown
  • 1-person and 2-person versions


  • Mediocre included paddles
  • Not for performance paddling

Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable Kayak

As a step up from the basic Challenger, the Intex Excursion Pro inflatable kayak provides more features for increased versatility. While still budget-friendly, the Excursion Pro is larger and includes bonuses like rod holders, adjustable seats, and a tracking fin.

The two-person Excursion Pro offers substantial space for a tandem vessel, measuring over 3 meters long. The included electric pump makes inflation fast and easy. Extras like the removable tracking fin, mount for GoPro cameras, and rod holders make this a compelling fishing kayak.

Comfort is aided by the adjustable bucket seats and footrests. Storage space in the bow and stern secures away gear and snacks for longer trips. For two people looking for an affordable inflatable kayak with ample room and versatility, the Excursion Pro is a great value option.


  • Spacious two-person capacity
  • Quick electric pump inflation
  • Rod holders and GoPro mount
  • Removable tracking fin for performance


  • Paddles run slightly short

Sevylor Quikpak Inflatable Kayak

The Sevylor Quikpak kayak provides a lightweight, packable option for solo paddlers seeking portability. Weighing only 8 kg, the Quikpak stuffs into an integrated backpack for easy transport.

Despite its packable design, the Quikpak assembles in only 5 minutes thanks to its easy inflation system. The sit-on-top style rides high on the water for decent stability, though tricky for novice paddlers to enter and exit.

The Quikpak’s narrow, streamlined shape allows good speed for an inflatable kayak. The 181 kg weight capacity also makes this a nice choice for larger kayakers. While the paddles aren’t high-end, they suffice for casual paddling. For a quickly portable vessel, the Quikpak is among the top inflatable choices.


  • Ultra lightweight at 8 kg
  • Packs into an integrated backpack
  • Inflates in just 5 minutes
  • Good speed from a narrow hull


  • Sit-on-top style is not ideal for stability
  • Paddles are mediocre quality

Bestway Hydro-Force Lite-Rapid X2 Kayak

Offering approachable performance for new paddlers, the Bestway Hydro-Force Lite-Rapid X2 tandem kayak makes inflatable boating fun and accessible. While not built for hardcore use, its quality rivals higher-priced recreational options.

The Hydro-Force strikes a balance between affordability and usability, with a rigid hull when fully inflated. The removable skeg fin provides welcome tracking, while adjustable seats and footrests allow comfort for hours of paddling.

Set up is hassle-free with the included pump and convenient carry bag. Built-in grab handles make transporting the deflated kayak simple, even with two people. For couples or friends seeking a first inflatable kayak without a big investment, the Hydro-Force hits the recreational sweet spot.


  • Budget-friendly price point
  • Removable skeg for tracking
  • Adjustable seats and footrests
  • Convenient carry bag for transport


  • Not engineered for speed

Driftsun Almanor Recreational Touring Kayak

Built for covering distance, the Driftsun Almanor inflatable kayak provides a streamlined, performance-driven vessel for solo paddlers. Its elongated hull shape delivers agile tracking and speed for recreational touring adventures.

The Almanor’s 335 cm length and narrow beam generate momentum for cruising. Maneuverability remains high thanks to the rounded hull profile. However, the tradeoff is stability – wider kayaks provide an easier ride for beginners.

An adjustable ergonomic seat keeps paddlers comfortable mile after mile. While legroom is limited for larger kayakers, overall, the Almanor supplies an efficient platform for fitness-focused touring. Just be prepared for a snug cockpit.


  • Sleek performance shape for speed
  • Lightweight and packable
  • Comfortable seat for long distances


  • Less stable than wider designs
  • Snug cockpit for larger paddlers

Komodo Inflatable Kayak

A recreational vessel for one or two paddlers, the Komodo inflatable kayak focuses on easy transport rather than hardcore performance. Its lightweight polyethylene construction keeps weight low for packing small.

Available in both single and tandem options, the Komodo works best for casual paddling with its portable design – extended expeditions will require a burlier kayak. Fortunately, the setup is quick with included pump and seats.

While narrower than typical beginner kayaks, the Komodo remains stable enough for new paddlers in good conditions. Built-in handles assist in walking this lightweight kayak to the water. For easy weekends away or a starter kayak, the Komodo hits the mark.


  • Lightweight and packable
  • Quick inflation and setup
  • Handles decently for recreational use


  • Narrower than ideal for new paddlers
  • Not for hardcore whitewater use

Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak

Providing an accessible entry point to tandem kayaking, the Intex Explorer K2 packs great value into an inflatable two-person vessel. While best suited for calm, recreational paddling, it delivers surprising quality for the price.

When fully inflated, the Explorer feels reassuringly solid underneath. The streamlined hull, while not built for speed, tracks well enough to cover some distance. The inflatable seats supply ample comfort for casual cruising.

Set up is hassle-free with the high-output pump. Built-in grab handles make hauling this 15 kg kayak easy, and a removable skeg improves directional stability. For new paddlers seeking an affordable tandem, the Explorer K2 is on target.


  • Great value for a two-person kayak
  • Comfortable inflatable seats
  • Removable skeg for tracking


  • Durability lags premium brands
  • Best for recreational, not extreme use

Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak

Combining versatility and resilience, the Sea Eagle inflatable tandem kayak delivers rugged construction at an affordable price point. Its stable, streamlined shape performs admirably across activities.

Shorter yet wider than touring kayaks, the Sea Eagle handles recreationally with agility. The adjustable seats are reconfigured for solo or tandem paddling. Plus, the impressive 295 kg capacity supports substantial gear for extended trips.

Made from durable vinyl, this rigid inflatable kayak withstands scrapes and friction. Set up is quick with the foot pump and integrated spring valves. While leg room is somewhat tight, the Sea Eagle packs lots of value into a sturdy, inflatable package.

Inflatable Yellow Kayak
Inflatable Yellow Kayak


  • Durable vinyl construction
  • Hefty 295 kg weight capacity
  • Configurable for one or two paddlers


  • Limited legroom for size

Seacliff CFX 310 Inflatable Kayak/SUP

The hybrid Seacliff CFX 310 kayak morphs into a stand-up paddleboard for versatile performance across activities. Its durable drop-stitch construction balances rigidity and portability.

At 310 cm long, the Seacliff CFX cruises smoothly when paddled while offering substantial standing space as a SUP. Tracking and acceleration are adequate for casual recreation. The kayak components like seat and foot braces stow away for converting modes.

Weighing 17 kg, the Seacliff isn’t ultra-compact but still transportable. Inflation takes about 7 minutes with a dual-action pump. For paddlers seeking flexibility between kayaking and paddleboarding, the Seacliff CFX is a compelling 2-in-1 option.


  • Easily converts between kayak and SUP
  • Drop stitch construction provides rigidity
  • 10 cm thickness good for stability as a SUP


  • It can be tricky fitting everything in the bag


Inflatable kayaks open up paddling possibilities like never before, thanks to their extreme portability and storage. Choosing the right one equates to factoring in how and where you plan to utilize it most.

Prioritize function over features and pick an inflatable kayak catering to your needs and skill level. Tandem or solo? The storage capacity required? Flat water cruising or river running? Building a list of must-haves helps narrow the field.

While cheap inflatable kayaks may tempt you with their lower prices, resist sacrificing too much quality and construction. In the long run, investing in solid engineering equates to better performance, safety, and longevity.

By no means are inflatables lesser substitutes to hard shell kayaks these days. Take your pick from the top brands and models offering valued versatility without sacrificing key paddling metrics. Soon, you’ll be on the water in your exciting new inflatable kayak, exploring places previously out of reach!

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