Inflatable kayaks are easy to store and transport. They are great for beginners since the inflatable hull makes them more stable on the water.
You can have all the fun of an outdoor adventure without having to purchase a more expensive hard-shell kayak or worry about transporting one. Here is what to look for when shopping for the best inflatable kayak and a few recommendations.
A Few Questions to Ask Before Shopping for an Inflatable Kayak
You need to invest in a quality product to remain safe on the water. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for an inflatable kayak.
What Are the Different Types of Inflatable Kayaks?
You will find two main designs when looking at inflatable kayak:
- Sit-on-top kayaks. It’s easy to get in and out of a sit-in kayak, and we recommend them for beginners.
- Sit-in kayaks. Part of the hull will cover your legs from the elements.
It’s best to use a sit-in kayak if you are a beginner since it’s easier to get back in if you capsize. However, a sit-on-top inflatable kayak can be a good option too since you will be a lot less likely to capsize in an inflatable kayak.
You can also find tandem kayaks. These kayaks typically have a sit-on-top or open design.
How Do Materials Impact Quality?
Pay attention to the materials used when shopping for an inflatable kayak. Choose sturdy materials to prevent tears.
PVC is a popular option because it’s affordable. However, UV rays can cause damage to PVC.
Hypalon and nitrylon are more expensive alternatives. These materials are more durable compared to PVC. They can add weight to the kayak, which is why you will usually find kayaks that use different materials for the parts of the hull that need reinforcement.
Pay attention to the seams since this is where damage often occurs. It’s relatively easy to fix a small hole or tear in a PVC kayak but repairing other materials might not be possible.
Which Features Should You Look for When Choosing an Inflatable Kayak?
Use this checklist to compare products and find the best inflatable kayak for your needs:
- Check the length and width of the kayak.
- Find out how resistant the materials are.
- Is the kayak quick and easy to inflate and deflate?
- Are there storage options on the kayak?
- Is the seat inflatable or does the kayak come with a hard seat?
- Does it come with accessories like a pump and paddle?
- Make sure the manufacturer offers a comprehensive warranty.
- Is it possible to fix the kayak with patches?
- Are there separate air chambers in case you damage the kayak?
How We Reviewed Different Inflatable Kayaks
We looked at different kayak manufacturers and selected the brands with the best reviews and reputation. We narrowed down our selection to the inflatable kayaks that have consistently received great reviews from shoppers.
We compared the designs and materials used to give you different options to consider. We made sure the kayaks listed below meet high standards in terms of quality and safety.
How Much Do Inflatable Kayaks Cost?
Inflatable kayaks are a lot more affordable than hard-shell kayaks. You can find entry-level kayaks in the $60 to $100 price range if you are shopping for a one-person inflatable kayak. There are even a few tandem kayaks in this price range.
If you would like to get a kayak with more features or need heavy-duty materials, we recommend shopping in the $200 to $400 price range.
Top 4 Best Inflatable Kayaks
Here are some of the kayaks we recommend if you want to purchase a quality inflatable kayak for your next outdoor adventure.
1. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
- Nimble, durable kayak is made of durable welded material with eye catching graphics for added safety on the lake or slow moving river
- Cockpit is designed for comfort and maximized space, and inflatable I beam floors add stability. Removable skeg provides exceptional directional movement
- Cargo net to store extra gear, and grab line on both ends of kayak; inflatable seat with backrest
- Comes with 84 inch aluminum oar, repair patch and Hi output manual hand pump; Rugged vinyl construction
- Measures 108 by 13 by 30 inches (W x H x D), with 27.2 pound weight and 220 pound maximum capacity
We like this one-person kayak because of its simple design. Intex uses vinyl to make durable kayaks, and the welded assembly process makes the kayak more durable and resistant.
The maximum capacity of this inflatable kayak is 220 pounds. The kayak is just under nine-feet long and is two feet and five inches wide.
The cockpit measures 1’10” by 5.’ It’s a comfortable sit-in design with a wide sitting area. The hull will cover half of your legs.
The kayak weighs 26 pounds when deflated. It fits in a small carrying case with handles. You can set up the kayak in a few minutes and fold it back into the carrying case when it’s time to go home.
You will find a keel under the hull of the kayak. The keel improves tracking and stability in the water.
There is a net that covers the front of the hull. You can secure a few items thanks to this net, but overall, this kayak doesn’t have a lot of storage space.
It comes with a durable aluminum paddle and a manual pump. You will also get a few repair patches.
We like this kayak because it’s fun and easy to use. It doesn’t take long to inflate and is the perfect size for one person.
- Affordable option
- Bright colors
- Fun to use
- Easy to store and transport
- Large sitting area
- There are more durable options than vinyl
You will find this one-person kayak from Intex for approximately $60 on Amazon. Intex gives you 30 days to return the kayak if there is an issue with the product. Given the excellent reviews, we don’t think you will need to use the warranty.
2. Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
- 5-minute setup lets you spend more time on the water
- Easy-to-carry backpack system turns into the seat
- 21-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use
- Tarpaulin bottom provides durable protection from punctures
- Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated if one is punctured
This kayak from Sevylor is another option to consider if you want to get a one-person inflatable kayak. The design is slightly different compared to the one-person kayak from Intex. The sitting area is higher, and there is more room in front of you.
We like the seat of this kayak because it features some reinforced plates that offer more support than an inflatable seat. There is a small net on the hull that you can use for storing a few items.
The manufacturer claims that you can fully inflate the kayak in five minutes. The quick and easy setup makes this kayak a convenient option, and it comes with a small backpack you can use to store the deflated kayak.
The primary material is quality PVC fabric. There is a layer of tarpaulin on the bottom of the kayak to prevent tears. There are different air chambers to prevent the kayak from sinking if you damage it.
The dimensions of the kayak are 8’7” by 3.’ The maximum capacity of the kayak is 400 pounds. It comes with a pump and paddle.
- Tarpaulin at the bottom
- Three air chambers
- Quick setup
- Folds into a backpack
- Supportive seat
- Limited storage space
- The backrest doesn’t look very comfortable
There is a markdown on this kayak, and you can currently order it for $100 from Amazon. The seller offers a 90-day limited warranty.
3. Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Sport Kayak
- A kayak designed to perform in universal water conditions. Roomy, comfortable, and lightweight
- Proven aluminum bow and stern ribs provide increased paddling performance, easy movement & control under all conditions
- Quick set up time, fast to inflate and deflate, lightweight 26 lbs., designed for 1 person, max weight of up to 250 lbs
- Large cockpit area for easy entry and exit. 4 air chambers
- Paddles similar to a rigid hard shell kayak. Compact, no roof rack needed, packs in the trunk of your car
We recommend this kayak if you need a more performing option. We think this inflatable kayak is your best option if you are ready to spend more on a quality product but can’t justify buying a hard-shell kayak or can’t transport one.
The materials used for this kayak include PVC, tarpaulin, and 1000 Denier polyester. This kayak stands out thanks to the reinforced aluminum frame and sides. We recommend this kayak if you want something you can use in an area with strong currents, rocks, or other hazards.
The solid frame improves control and tracking on the water. It delivers a feel that is similar to a hard-shell kayak. You can also gain more speed than with other inflatable kayaks.
This product is the best inflatable kayak if you need something that can handle waves and strong currents.
The kayak weighs 26 pounds and can support up to 250 pounds. It has four air chambers and a large cockpit area. It’s a sit-in design with a comfortable seat.
It measures 10’5” by 32” and folds into a convenient carrying case. There is limited storage on top of the hull, but you can store additional items inside of the sitting area.
- Quick setup
- Reinforced frame
- Better tracking than other inflatable models
- Four air chambers
- Large cockpit
- Doesn’t come with a pump
- More expensive
This reinforced inflatable kayak costs around $400 on Amazon. There is a 90-day warranty you can use to exchange or return the product if you encounter an issue, but keep in mind that you will need to register your purchase with the manufacturer.
4. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
- Comfortable for anyone: Kayak includes an adjustable inflatable seat with backrest; Cockpit designed for comfort and space
- Dimensions: Inflated size 10 feet 3 x 3 feet x 1 feet 8 inch; Maximum weight capacity: 400 pounds
- Directional stability: Removable SKEG for directional stability
- Increased visibility: In case of emergency, bright yellow color helps visibility
- Made for smaller bodies of water: Explorer k2 is made for smaller bodies of water including lakes and mild rivers
This two-people kayak is a fun option if you need a tandem model. It’s comfortable and easy to set up. It’s an open kayak with two inflatable seats in a row.
The main downside of the kayak is that one of the seats doesn’t have much legroom. This small drawback won’t be an issue for a child or teenager but might be a problem for an adult, especially if you plan on using the kayak for hours at a time.
Having two people in the kayak increases your risks of capsizing, especially if you are new to using a kayak. We recommend using this tandem kayak on calm bodies of water to minimize risks. If you have a child, make sure they wear a life vest when using the kayak.
The primary material is PVC. The kayak measures a little over 10 feet by 36 inches. It can carry up to 400 pounds. Inflating the kayak is quick and easy, and you can get the kayak ready in no time.
There is a removable skeg under the hull. We recommend using it to enhance the stability of the kayak and get better tracking in the water.
We like the open design of the kayak. There is a large sitting area with two seats and plenty of space for storing items at the bottom of the kayak. However, the kayak lacks a net or bungee cord you could use to secure items to the hull.
There are two air chambers to prevent the kayak from sinking in case of a tear. It comes with two paddles and a pump.
- An affordable option for a tandem kayak
- Two air chambers
- Open design
- Comfortable seats
- Quick setup
- One of the seats has limited legroom
You can order this inflatable tandem kayak for $75 on Amazon. You will have 30 days to return the product and get a refund if there is an issue with the kayak.
Comparing Different Inflatable Kayaks
Which inflatable kayak is best for you? This table should help you compare the different products we recommend.
Best budget option
- Product name: Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
- Materials: Vinyl
- Design: one-person sit-in kayak
- Price: $60
- Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars
- View product
Most performing, reliable and durable kayak
- Product name: Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Sport Kayak
- Materials: PVC, tarpaulin, polyester
- Design: one-person sit-in reinforced kayak
- Price: $400
- Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
- View product
Best inflatable tandem kayak
- Product name: Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
- Materials: PVC
- Design: open tandem kayak
- Price: $75
- Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars
- View product
Verdict: Which Product Is the Best Inflatable Kayak?
Intex is an excellent manufacturer with consistently excellent reviews. We highly recommend the Intex Explorer K1 and K2 inflatable kayaks.
The K1 model is the perfect option if you want an affordable one person inflatable design, and the K2 tandem design is a ton of fun.
The materials used are durable, and the kayaks have received thousands of reviews from Amazon shoppers with a negligible percentage of negative or mixed reviews. We feel confident recommending these fun inflatable kayaks as long as you plan on using them on calm bodies of water.
If you want to use an inflatable kayak on a body of water with waves or currents, we recommend the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Sport Kayak.
The reinforced hull and sides will keep you safe and preserve the integrity of the hull. These elements will also improve speed and tracking on the water.