Best Inflatable Kayaks (For Your Next Adventure)

Last Updated: April 1st, 2020

With the improvements in technology and materials, inflatable kayaks are the best they have ever been and can be used for everything from fishing to whitewater rafting. You’re never going to get the same performance out of an inflatable kayak than you would out of a hard shell kayak, but then again you can’t put a hard shell in the boot of your car.

There are quite a few differences between the types of inflatable kayaks available and it’s tricky to work out which one would be best for your needs. Luckily, I have put together this guide of the best inflatable kayaks on the market to help you find the right one for you. Most of the inflatable kayaks come with paddles and a repair kit, so bear that in mind while you read.

 

OUR TOP PICKS

ADVANCED ELEMENTS AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak, 15', Red
Best Allrounder
Advanced Elements Expedition Kayak
  • Fast, Stable & Rigid
  • Comfortable with various seating positions
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Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
  • Large size
  • Stable
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Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Best Budget Option
Intex Challenger 2 Person Inflatable Kayak
  • Safe
  • Durable
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Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak Canoe Boat w/ Paddles
Top Choice
Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Kayak Pro Package
  • Versatile tandem kayak
  • Durable
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Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak
Sevylor K5 QuikPak Inflatable Kayak
  • Safe & Rigid
  • Zipped storage
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Elkton Outdoors Cormorant 2 Person Tandem Inflatable Fishing Kayak, 10-Foot with EVA Padded Seats, Includes 2 Active Fishing Rod Holder Mounts, 2 Aluminum Paddles, Double Action Pump and More
Elkton Cormorant Tandem Inflatable Fishing Kayak
  • Made for fishing
  • Comfortable
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Intex Excursion Pro Kayak, Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Intex Excursion Pro K2 Inflatable Fishing Kayak
  • Stable & Safe
  • Good for fishing
VIEW ON AMAZON →

Best Inflatable Kayaks for 2020


Advanced Elements Expedition Kayak

ADVANCED ELEMENTS AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak, 15', Red

This inflatable kayak is designed for 1-2 people and is as close to a hard shell as you’re going to get. It has been made with safety and stability in mind with a low center of gravity plus aluminum ribs that make it very rigid. Combine this with 6 inflatable chambers and you have a stable, quick and safe vessel.

The seats can be put in 3 different positions and are very comfortable. You can paddle for hours without any worry. It comes with a lot of storage capacity and is the perfect vessel for a day trip or even a week-long expedition.

The kayak is easy to maneuver and tracks well making for efficient paddling rather than going off course all the time.

It’s also hand for fishing thanks to all the bungee tie downs but it doesn’t have any rod holders as it’s not specifically designed for fishing.

There are a few drawbacks to this model, one of which is that it needs to dry before you store it. Not ideal when you’re lakeside and it’s raining. You’ll have to store it and take it out again to try when you’re home. You can also scrape your hands on the zips while paddling and it sags when only one of you are using it.

Pros

  • Fast, Stable & Rigid
  • Comfortable with various seating positions
  • Storage space

Cons

  • Dry before packing
  • Scrape hands on zipper
  • Sags when used solo
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Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak

Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak

This inflatable kayak is one of the few on the market that fits 3 people but to be honest, 3 will be a squeeze, it’s better for two adults and child.

It’s very stable and tracks almost as well as a normal hard shell kayak. This is thanks to two-directional stakes (rudders) that keep you going straight no matter the situation.

It’s made from heavy-duty PVC and has a tarpaulin bottom. This makes the kayak very durable and will withstand bumps on the bottom with getting punctures. It’s also thick enough for your dog to join and won’t be punctured by any claws.

The air chambers do seem to leak after a while and the sides are very low. If you’re paddling on a windy day, water will come in over the side and make for a bit of a wet paddle.

 

Pros

  • Large size
  • Stable
  • Rudders included
  • Durable
  • Good for dogs

Cons

  • Not for 3 adults as specified
  • Air chambers leak after a while
  • Low sides, not dry to use
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Intex Challenger 2 Person Inflatable Kayak

Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump

This is one of the cheapest inflatable kayaks on the market and comes with 2 83″ aluminum paddles and cargo nets for storage. It’s made for 1-2 people and is the perfect lake or slow-moving river kayak.

It’s made from super strong vinyl making it tough and very durable. It’ll bounce around and won’t tear or leak easily. The cockpit is spacious and will fit anyone comfortably but there are no footholds to help you paddle.

It’s very easy and quick to inflate and deflate but the valves can begin to leak after a while and the grey color gets very hot in the sun. The seats are comfortable and come with a backrest for supported paddling

Pros

  • Safe
  • Durable
  • Good value
  • Cargo nets for storage
  • Comfortable
  • Quick inflate and deflate

Cons

  • No footholds
  • Bends in the middle
  • Gets hot
  • Valves lose air
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Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Kayak Pro Package

Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak Canoe Boat w/ Paddles

The Sea Eagle SE370 is one of the best inflatable tandem kayaks on the market and has a reasonable price. It’s made for 1-3 people, comes with two 84″ aluminum paddles, a covered front to stop splashes getting in and rear storage.
This tandem kayak is very well made and can be used for anything from whitewater rapids or a gentle lake paddles. It’s made from a 38mm PolyKrylar hull which is super durable and will take a lot to puncture and tear. Even your dog can come along, no claws are going to get in there.
One amazing thing about this kayak is how light it is at 32lbs while it can carry 650lbs. This is thanks to its I-Beam construction that makes it almost as rigid as a solid kayak. It comes with 2 skegs that help keep it straight and give you maximum efficiency and speed. That being said, it’s not the most stable kayak.

There are 2 seats, both inflatable and removable which are super comfortable. It rides lows and splashes easily end up in the kayak, luckily it has a front and rear self-draining valve.

The kayak is super easy to inflate and you’re fully inflated after 100 pumps of the foot pump that is included. You can be on the water in under 10 minutes from opening the trunk of your car.

Pros

  • Versatile tandem kayak
  • Durable
  • Good for dogs
  • Takes a lot of weight
  • Tracks well and is fast
  • Easy to inflate

Cons

  • Rides low in the water
  • Have to dry before you store
  • Not very stable
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Sevylor K5 QuikPak Inflatable Kayak

Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak

This inflatable kayak is made for just 1 person, so if you’re into escape kayaking and love going solo, this may be the one for you. It comes with an 84″ paddle but it is a little fragile, plus covered front and rear storage.

One of the best features about this kayak is that it folds up into a backpack and can be carried up a mountain to remote lakes and rivers. It’s very easy to set up and you can go from the backpack to on the water in 10 minuted and after some practice in 5 minutes. How much easier could it get?

The back has a zipped storage compartment and there is space to lash things down at the front with bungee cords. It comes with easy to carry handles and features a ridged flat floor, a 3 chamber safety design and it’s good at maintaining its shape and tracking straight.

It’s 10 ft long but there are reports of it feeling short but I’m not sure why. It is also hard to drain the water from the kayak which is not ideal if it keeps coming in. You’ll have to pull over and empty it out.

Pros

  • Safe & Rigid
  • Zipped storage
  • Easy to inflate/deflate
  • Folds up small

Cons

  • Paddle breaks easily
  • Feels short
  • Hard to drain water
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Elkton Cormorant Tandem Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Elkton Outdoors Cormorant 2 Person Tandem Inflatable Fishing Kayak, 10-Foot with EVA Padded Seats, Includes 2 Active Fishing Rod Holder Mounts, 2 Aluminum Paddles, Double Action Pump and More

This inflatable kayak is specifically made for fishing and comes with 6 rod-holders and paddle holders. It’s made for 1-2 people and has a max capacity of 450lbs. It doesn’t just have to be used for fishing though and is great for recreation activities too.

The seats and comfortable and adjustable for an easy, relaxed fishing experience. It’s made from 18-Gauge rip resistant 1000D PVC  and is thick enough not to be punctured by any hook, so you won’t have to worry about that.

Usually, fishing kayaks have a lot less storage than a normal kayak but that’s not the case with this one. It does have a little less but the front mesh storage area will hold a lot of gear and the stern has a good storage area too.

The bottom is made from thick tarpaulin and will protect the kayak from abrasion and tears. You can fish in rocky water and near oyster beds without worries.

It comes with 2 aluminum paddles and removable skegs. The rod holders do get in the way a bit when paddling and the seats sit low, you’ll need a cushion under there to get a bit higher for better paddling.

Pros

  • Made for fishing
  • Comfortable
  • Durable & Stable
  • Good value

Cons

  • Not as much storage space
  • Seats sit low
  • Rod holders get in the way
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Intex Excursion Pro K2 Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak, Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak

This is a inflatable fishing kayak that comes in at an amazing price. It’s made for 1-2 people and has a max capacity of 400 lbs. It’s has designed with a lot of thought for fishermen and both the bow and stern have a lot of room for storage of fishing tackle. It comes with a mounting bracket for a GPS or fish finder and comes with rod holders.

The kayak is exceptionally rigid thanks to its I-beam construction, it’s, therefore, safe and stable. The skegs, that are removable, give you great tracking and the footrests make for powerful paddling. The seats are comfortable for long fishing days and the D-ring attachment points mean you can take everything you might need with you.

The kayak is made from 3 air chambers for safety and is made from a 3-ply PVC that is hard to tear and puncture, perfect for shallow waters. It’s not that durable and there are some reports of leaks.

It does come with an 86″ paddle which people say is a bit short but it’s actually quite a good length. The kayak is also said to not have much legroom.

Pros

  • Stable & Safe
  • Good for fishing
  • Decent Storage
  • Lots of D-rings for roping in
  • Mounting bracket for gps/fish finder
  • Good value

Cons

  • Small legroom
  • Short paddle
  • Not so durable
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What To Look For

This is what to look for when you’re buying a kayak.

Inflatable Kayak Materials

Kayaks today are made from these materials each with its own benefits.

PVC: Polyvinyl Chloride is the most often used material used for inflatable kayaks. It is usually bonded to nylon for extra tear-resistance and is fairly UV resistant but will break down if in the sun for long periods of time.

Nitrylon: This is a combo of nitrile synthetic rubber and is more eco-friendly than PVC. It is more abrasion and puncture-resistant than PVC.

Hypalon: This is a more expensive choice as it’s harder to work with and requires more labor. It’s better at handling UV than PVC and is more abrasion resistant than both Nitrylon and PVC. Some kayaks are made with PVC and a Hypalon coating to reduce costs and increase durability.

Are You Going to Use it For Fishing?

You can fish from any floating vessel but one that’s designed for fishing will make life a little easier. If you plan on fishing from your inflatable kayak then there are a few types to consider. A sit on model will let you turn and move around easily for quick casting and landing fish. A canoe style kayak is also handy as they are wider, more stable and have more space for storage and let you carry a lot of equipment.

Where Will You Use It?

Some kayaks can handle whitewater and ocean waves and others are made for calm lakes or slow-moving rivers. If you’re planning on going into rougher waters, you’ll want a sit-inside kayak whereas a sit-on kayak may be fine for calm lakes. Be sure to pick your kayak based on where you want to use it.

Your Height and Weight

Remember to check the dimensions of the kayak suit your weight and height. This will make using the kayak far safer and more comfortable.

What Are You Going To Use It For?

Are you planning of some week-long expeditions or just a weekend paddle? Make sure to get a kayak that can handle what you need. If you’re planning a camping trip, be sure it has storage and can handle the weight of all the gear you need.

How Comfortable Are You Getting In and Out?

If you think you may struggle to get in and out of a kayak then maybe a sit on top kayak is best for you. These are much easier to get in and out of but they are less stable and tip more often. Their center of gravity is higher than sit-in kayaks which makes them more likely to capsize.

Kayak Seats

Inflatable kayaks are known for bad seats but that isn’t always the case. There are some with good seats out fo the box and you do get what you pay for. You can usually improve a bad seat by replacing it with one you buy separately. Just be sure to get a kayak with removable seats in the first place.

Seats with high backs clash with bulky lifejackets and make life uncomfortable. If you want a highbacked seat, be sure to get a seat friendly PFD life jacket to make life a little more pleasant.

Do You Need a Self-Bailing Kayak?

Self-bailing kayaks have holes in the base to allow water to drain automatically while you paddle. It will never drain it all and there will be residual water leftover but it does mean you won’t sink. These are usually used in whitewater or rough ocean conditions and are not necessary if you’re going to be in a calm area all the time.

Kayak Length

Most kayaks sit between 6 and 15 feet in length. Short kayaks in the 8-12ft range are more agile but slower to paddle and harder to paddle straight. Short kayaks are better in rivers where you need to be agile especially if you’re in whitewater.  Long kayaks or 12-15ft are more efficient, faster and track a straight line better as they have more contact with the water. They are more stable and of course, more spacious. They are great for long journeys and fishing.

Our Favorites

The all-rounder prize goes to Advanced Elements Expedition Kayak. It’s well made, durable, comfortable and you can trust it to go down the river for a week-long camping trip. What more could you want from an all-rounder?

Sale
ADVANCED ELEMENTS AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak, 15', Red
  • Built-in aluminum ribs define the bow and stern and improves tracking
  • Three layers of material for extreme puncture resistance.Folded size 35 X 21 X 12 inches. Max Weight-550 pounds. Weight-52 pounds

The best on a budget kayak is the Intex Excursion Pro K2 Inflatable Fishing Kayak. This kayak will have you spending fund days on calm waters for an amazing price.

Sale
Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
  • The Intex Challenger K2 Kayak is sporty and fun with a streamlined design for easy paddling
  • The bright green color and sporty graphics make the kayak highly visible in the water

The best of the bunch is the Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Kayak Pro Package. This inflatable kayak can go down rapids, in rough seas and will manage anything you can throw at it. It’s got great storage, it’s durable and comfortable.

Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak Canoe Boat w/ Paddles
  • 3 person/650 lb capacity, weighs 32 lbs, suitable for up to Class III whitewater
  • 370 Deluxe Kayak Package features two movable, super comfortable Deluxe Kayak Seats for improved back support and 2 paddles, foot pump, and carry bag