Kayaking

The 10 Best Inflatable Kayaks of 2021

Best Inflatable Kayak

Photo: inflatablekayakworld.com

The inflatable kayak is a fun boat that can be used for a wide range of activities, ranging from recreational family outings to competitive kayaking.

As the name suggests, this kayak type is pressurized using air, making it easy to transport, quick to set up, affordable, and very lightweight. Moreover, the inflatable kayak is one of the rare types of boats that do not need a permit to operate.

If you are fresh on the market for the best inflatable kayak, we have you covered! Here are our impressions on a few hand-picked kayaks that are worth considering.

10 Best Inflatable Kayaks – Review

IMAGE

PRODUCT

FEATURES

Sea Eagle SE370

1. Sea Eagle SE370 (Best Overall)

  • High 3-person capacity
  • High 650-lb weight capacity
  • 2 deluxe seats
Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak

2. Intex Explorer K2 (Best Budget)

  • Reasonably priced
  • Widebody (3-ft)
  • Removable skeg
Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak

3. Intex Challenger K1 (Best Sit-in)

  • Nimble design
  • Removable skeg
  • Affordable
Intex Excursion Pro

4. Intex Excursion Pro (Best for Fishing)

  • Fishing equipment mounting bracket
  • Two rod holders
  • Tough 3-ply PVC construction
Sevylor Quikpak K1 Inflatable Kayak

5. Sevylor Quikpak K1 (Most Lightweight)

  • Lightweight (18 lbs.)
  • Airtight system
  • Multi-position footrests
Driftsun Voyager Inflatable Kayak

6. Driftsun Voyager (Most Heavy-Duty)

  • Durable puncture-resistant design
  • Corrosion-resistant hardware
  • EVA padded seats
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak

7. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame (Best for Touring)

  • Long 15-ft length
  • Built-in aluminum ribs
  • Padded, adjustable seats
Sevylor Quikpak K5

8. Sevylor Quikpak K5 (Spray Covered)

  • Built-in spray covers
  • Puncture-resistant PVC construction
  • Double-lock valves
Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak

9. Sea Eagle SE330 (For Whitewater)

  • Ideal for up to class 3 whitewater
  • Tough Polykrylar construction
  • 2 deluxe seats
Sevylor Coleman Colorado Inflatable Kayak

10. Sevylor Colorado (Easy to Motorize)

  • Trolling motor fittings
  • Adjustable rod holders
  • Airtight system

PRODUCT

1. Sea Eagle SE370

(Best Overall)

Sea Eagle SE370
  • High 3-person capacity
  • High 650-lb weight capacity
  • 2 deluxe seats

2. Intex Explorer K2

(Best Budget)

Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak
  • Reasonably priced
  • Widebody (3-ft)
  • Removable skeg

3. Intex Challenger K1

(Best Sit-in)

Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak
  • Nimble design
  • Removable skeg
  • Affordable

4. Intex Excursion Pro

(Best for Fishing)

Intex Excursion Pro
  • Fishing equipment mounting bracket
  • Two rod holders
  • Tough 3-ply PVC construction

5. Sevylor Quikpak K1

(Most Lightweight)

Sevylor Quikpak K1 Inflatable Kayak
  • Lightweight (18 lbs.)
  • Airtight system
  • Multi-position footrests

6. Driftsun Voyager

(Most Heavy-Duty)

Driftsun Voyager Inflatable Kayak
  • Durable puncture-resistant design
  • Corrosion-resistant hardware
  • EVA padded seats

7. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame

(Best For Touring)

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak
  • Long 15-ft length
  • Built-in aluminum ribs
  • Padded, adjustable seats

8. Sevylor Quikpak K5

(Spray Covered)

Sevylor Quikpak K5
  • Built-in spray covers
  • Puncture-resistant PVC construction
  • Double-lock valves

9. Sea Eagle SE330

(For Whitewater)

Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak
  • Ideal for up to class 3 whitewater
  • Tough Polykrylar construction
  • 2 deluxe seats

10. Sevylor Colorado

(Easy to Motorize)

Sevylor Coleman Colorado Inflatable Kayak
  • Trolling motor fittings
  • Adjustable rod holders
  • Airtight system

1. Best Overall Inflatable Kayak: Sea Eagle SE370 

Sea Eagle SE370

Photo: Sea Eagle

  • People Capacity: 3
  • Kayak Weight: 32 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 650 lbs.
  • Materials: Polykrylar

The Sea Eagle SE370K-P is our best overall inflatable kayak because it has the highest people capacity and weight capacity. It can accommodate up to 3 people and up to 650 lbs. in weight, which is very impressive.

Moreover, you get two quality paddles with this purchase. These paddles have aluminum shafts for maximum strength and durability, while their asymmetrical blades provide a wide surface area for quick thrust.

You also get two comfortable deluxe seats that have improved back support and are movable to allow you to adjust your seating position.

Two skegs are attached to the underside for improved tracking, while a rugged 38mm thick Polykrylar construction plus a sturdy I-beam floor help to maintain maximum durability & rigidity.

The only problem is that you only get two seats instead of three, yet the boat accommodates three people.

Pros:

  • 3-person capacity
  • High weight capacity of 650 lbs.
  • Includes 2 high quality paddles
  • 2 skegs for better tracking
  • Rigid I-beam floor

Cons:

  • Only has 2 seats

2. Best Budget Inflatable Kayak: Intex Explorer K2 

Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak

Photo: Intex

  • People Capacity: 2
  • Kayak Weight: 30.6 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 400 lbs.
  • Materials: Vinyl

This kayak is very reasonably priced, yet it has some impressive features. These include a wide, stable design that ensures that you cannot easily overturn even when paddling on rough waters. Additionally, you get a removable skeg at the bottom for directional stability. 

Other than that, the product has a weight capacity of 400 lbs., which is decent for carrying two people, while a bright yellow exterior color improves visibility for safety purposes.

You also get three separate air chambers to guarantee buoyancy, a rigid I-beam inflatable floor, and Boston valves for quick inflation/deflation. 2 aluminum paddles and a heavy-duty manual pump are in the set as accessories.

However, the boat lacks a 3-ply construction, which limits its sturdiness and durability.

More Detailed: Intex Explorer K2 Review

Pros:

  • Economical
  • Wide stable design 
  • Removable skeg for directional stability
  • Bright yellow exterior
  • 2 paddles and a heavy-duty pump

Cons:

  • Lacks 3-ply construction

3. Best Sit-in Inflatable Kayak: Intex Challenger K1 

Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak

Photo: Intex

  • People Capacity: 1
  • Kayak Weight: 23.9 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 220 lbs.
  • Materials: Vinyl

If you prefer using a sit-in kayak, we recommend Intex's Challenger K1. It offers quick & light movement performance and adds on a removable skeg for directional stability.

The unit is also quite similar to the K2 because it has a bright green exterior for improved visibility and a cargo net at the front for storage. However, this one accommodates only one person, which means it has a single seat and comes with one 84-inch aluminum oar paddle.

A puncture-resistant vinyl construction enhances the kayak's durability while its rigid I-beam floor gives firm support. You also get Boston valves for quick inflation and deflation, an adjustable & removable seat, and grab lines on the front & rear end.

The boat has a low weight capacity of 220 lbs. though but considering it fits one person, this is quite reasonable. However, we do not recommend this for an overweight person. On the bright side, the K1 is the best cheap inflatable kayak because it is very affordable.

More Detailed: Intex Challenger K1 Review

Pros:

  • Nimble design
  • Removable skeg
  • Firm I-beam floor
  • Boston valves; easy to inflate/deflate
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Low weight capacity

4. Best Inflatable Kayak for Fishing: Intex Excursion Pro

Intex Excursion Pro

Photo: Intex

  • People Capacity: 2
  • Kayak Weight: 39.01 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 400 lbs.
  • Materials: PVC, Polyester

Some inflatable kayaks are ideal for fishing, and the Intex Excursion Pro is particularly suited for this. It features removable & adjustable mounting brackets for holding fishing equipment like GPS systems, fish finders, and swivel fishing rod holders. In addition to this, it has two built-in fishing rod holders.

Aside from that, the vessel is fitted with two adjustable bucket seats and two floor-mounted footrests for better comfort when fishing.

High-pressure inflation with I-beam floors ensures you get maximum rigidity & stability, while two removable skegs under the hull give you deep & shallow water stability.

All components plus the pressurized air are held in place by a super tough 3-ply PVC construction (with a polyester core) that is impact, abrasion, and UV resistant.

High-pressure spring-loaded valves are built-in for inflation & deflation, which make the process very easy. You also get a high-output pump to fill it up quickly and two 86-inch aluminum oars as accessories. The only issue is that the boat is quite expensive.

Pros:

  • Removable bracket for mounting fishing equipment
  • Two built-in rod holders
  • 2 skegs for deep & shallow water stability
  • Tough 3-ply PVC construction

Cons:

  • Quite expensive

5. Most Lightweight Inflatable KayakSevylor Quikpak K1 

Sevylor Quikpak K1 Inflatable Kayak

Photo: Sevylor

  • People Capacity: 1
  • Kayak Weight: 18 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 400 lbs.
  • Materials: PVC, Tarpaulin

Though built using heavy-duty 21-gauge PVC material, Sevylor's Quikpak K1 is surprisingly very lightweight. Coming in at 18 lbs., this kayak is very easy to carry into or out of your kayak trailer

In addition to the PVC fabric, this boat also has a tarpaulin bottom that protects against punctures. An airtight system with multiple air chambers ensures you remain afloat even if one pocket is punctured.

You also get multi-position footrests that let you sit in your most comfortable position, double lock valves for easy inflation/deflation, a cargo net at the front, a cup holder, and carrying handles at the front and rear.

The only problem is that the seat is not adjustable because it is part of the boat (permanently attached).

More Detailed: Sevylor Quikpak K1 Review

Pros:

  • Very lightweight
  • Airtight system with multiple air chambers
  • Multi-position foot rests
  • Cargo net and a cup holder

Cons:

  • Non-adjustable seat

6. Most Heavy-Duty Inflatable Kayak: Driftsun Voyager 

Driftsun Voyager Inflatable Kayak

Photo: Driftsun

  • People Capacity: 2
  • Kayak Weight: 27 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 450 lbs.
  • Materials: 840D Nylon Oxford, PVC

Just like the Coleman Colorado, this Driftsun Voyager is very durable. It has a tough 840D coated nylon oxford fabric as the top cover, a puncture-resistant heavy-duty PVC Tarpaulin material at the bottom, and leak-proof double-threaded Boston valves. 

On the inside, you get high-quality, non-slip EVA padded seats, while splash guards at both the rear and front end prevent water from getting inside. All the hardware is corrosion-resistant, and this makes the Voyager one of the best inflatable ocean kayaks.

The nose has a pointed design for superior streamlined performance, while a removable skeg under the hull gives responsive tracking. You also get paddle straps, but there are no storage slots or pockets in this boat.

Pros:

  • Durable puncture-resistant construction
  • High quality EVA padded seats
  • Corrosion-resistant hardware
  • Removable skeg

Cons:

  • Lacks dedicated storage slots

7. Best Touring Inflatable Kayak: Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame 

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak

Photo: Advanced Elements

  • People Capacity: 2
  • Kayak Weight: 52 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 550 lbs.
  • Materials: PVC

Touring requires good tracking performance, and this AdvancedFrame gives you that due to its long 15-ft design. Additionally, it has built-in aluminum ribs that enhance tracking because of the way they define the bow and stern.

Since you might be covering long distances, two comfortably-padded and adjustable high-support seats are built-in for solo or tandem paddling. You also get bungee straps for storing your supplies and carrying handles at the front & rear end.

The boat comes pre-assembled from the factory for easy use. It is built using PVC with three layers for maximum durability and enhanced puncture resistance. On the downside, it is heavy and expensive. 

Pros:

  • Long length
  • Aluminum ribs for enhanced tracking
  • Durable 3-layered construction
  • Comfortable and adjustable seats

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Expensive

8. Spray-Covered Inflatable Kayak: Sevylor Quikpak K5

Sevylor Quikpak K5

Photo: Sevylor

  • People Capacity: 1
  • Kayak Weight: 25.5 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs.
  • Materials: PVC

Sevylor’s Quikpak K5 has a unique design that incorporates the use of spray covers to block splashes from getting to your lower body. This feature comes in very handy if you are kayaking during winter.

The vessel has a durable 24-gauge PVC construction that is strengthened by a tarpaulin bottom and a polyester cover for increased puncture resistance. In case there is a puncture, the multiple air chambers inside ensure you remain buoyant.

You also get double-lock valves that use two locking points for easy inflation/deflation. This mechanism lets you set up the kayak in less than 5 minutes using the included air pump.

There are bungee storage areas for tying your gear and multiple D-rings for attaching extra straps to carry extra gear. On the downside, the boat has a relatively low weight capacity of 250 lbs. However, this is quite enough for a single person.

Pros:

  • Built-in spray covers
  • Puncture-resistant PVC construction
  • Double-lock valves
  • Bungee storage areas with multiple D-rings

Cons:

  • Low weight capacity

9. Inflatable Kayak for Whitewater: Sea Eagle SE330 

Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak

Photo: Sea Eagle

  • People Capacity: 2
  • Kayak Weight: 26 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 500 lbs.
  • Materials: Polykrylar

If you like whitewater kayaking, Sea Eagle's 330 should be your go-to option. With its 2-person capacity and 500-lb weight capacity, the boat is ideal for class 3 whitewater, which is mildly intense but recommended for experienced paddlers.

The kayak is also made from a heavy-duty Polykrylar material with a reinforced I-beam floor for enhanced durability when paddling through the whitewater.

You also get two rear skegs for excellent speed and tracking, two super comfortable deluxe seats with improved lumbar support, two aluminum shaft paddles with asymmetrical blades, a foot pump, and a carry bag. 

However, the skegs are not removable, which would otherwise be ideal for improving maneuverability.

Pros:

  • Ideal for class 3 whitewater
  • High weight capacity of 500 lbs.
  • Heavy-duty Polykrylar construction
  • Comfortable deluxe seats

Cons:

  • Non-removable skegs

10. Easy-to-Motorize Inflatable Kayak: Sevylor Colorado 

Sevylor Coleman Colorado Inflatable Kayak

Photo: Sevylor

  • People Capacity: 2
  • Kayak Weight: 41.2 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: N/A
  • Materials: PVC, 1000D Tarpaulin, 840D Nylon

Sevylor's Coleman Colorado features provisions for a trolling motor at the back, which allows you to attach this engine to expand your fishing capabilities.

That said, the unit is equipped for fishing because it has adjustable Berkley quick-set rod holders for hands-free fishing, mesh storage pockets for keeping your fishing gear within close reach, and multiple D-rings for attaching extra gear. 

Another thing that distinguishes this kayak is its superior build quality. Indeed, this model has a sturdy 18-gauge PVC construction that is very durable.

Additionally, you get a 1000D tarpaulin bottom plus an 840D nylon cover, which improves puncture resistance, while an airtight system assures you of leak-proof performance.

The only downside is that there are no paddles in the set.

More Detailed: Sevylor Coleman Colorado Review

Pros:

  • Trolling motor fittings
  • Adjustable rod holders
  • Mesh storage pockets and D-rings
  • Heavy-duty puncture-resistant construction

Cons:

  • Paddles not included

How to Buy the Best Inflatable Kayak

How to Buy an Inflatable Kayak

Photo: Sea Eagle

1. Types of Inflatable Kayak

There are several types of inflatable kayaks, and each is suited for a particular purpose. Here are some popular kayak types that you will encounter.

Self Bailing Kayaks: These kayaks have holes at the bottom, which are known as ports. Their use is to drain water if it gets inside the kayak.

Indeed, this type of kayak will need those holes as it is for whitewater rafting. It sounds pretty weird that an inflatable kayak is used for whitewater because this is usually reserved only for hard-shell kayaks.

However, the self-bailing kayak has a very durable build-quality with a heavy-duty underside that allows it to raft on those dangerous waters.

Sit on Top Kayaks: The sit on top kayak has an open cockpit so that you can freely move around. Additionally, you have a bird's eye view over the waters around you because of the elevated seat.

The only problem with the sit on top kayak is that when water gets inside, it is difficult to get it out.
Therefore, this type is ideal for calm rivers and lakes where there is little possibility for water getting inside the cockpit.

Sit Inside Kayaks: The sit-inside kayak has a closed cockpit. Therefore, this type of kayak is better suited for rapid waters and sports rafting since the inside stays dry. Nevertheless, maneuverability is not as good as a seat on top kayak since the cockpit is smaller and limits movement.

Canoe-Kayak: As its name suggests, the canoe-kayak is a hybrid between a regular canoe and a kayak. The result is a short and wide kayak that is very stable on the water.

This type of kayak is generally meant for recreational purposes and can accommodate all-sizes (big or small people) with ease.

2. Size

Size is one of the most important considerations for an inflatable kayak. A long vessel offers better tracking performance, which is ideal for touring purposes, while a shorter one is more maneuverable. On the other hand, a wider hull gives better stability, and we highly recommend this.

That said, longer kayaks such as Advanced Elements' AdvancedFrame Convertible are better for tracking, while short 1- or 2-person units are better for whitewater. Wide boats like Intex's Explorer K2 are more stable and better suited for beginners.

3. Material

You need to check the build quality of an inflatable kayak to avoid punctures or sinking. Ensure the unit has a durable, high-quality construction, and we recommend PVC boats such as Driftsun's Voyager.

Additionally, the material needs to be made in such a way that it will not lose durability when inflated and deflated over time.

For best security, we recommend you go with an inflatable kayak that has a reinforced bottom and an airless system (like in Sevylor's Quikpak K1), which guarantees buoyancy.  

4. Capacity

Apart from the kayak's weight, you should also consider its capacity, in which there is the weight capacity and people capacity.

Weight capacity shows you the maximum weight that the boat can carry. That said, the higher the weight capacity, the better because it is more difficult to sink. In this case, Sea Eagle's SE370K-P stands out because it can carry up to 650 lbs.

On the other hand, the people capacity shows the number of people that can fit on board. Similar to the weight capacity, the more the people-capacity, the better. Sea Eagle's SE370K-P still takes the top spot on this because it can carry up to 3 people.

5. Kayak Weight

The weight of a kayak directly affects its portability. If you have to load and unload the kayak to your car or trailer, it makes sense to go for a lightweight model such as Sevylor's Quikpak K1.

6. Setup Time

An inflatable kayak setup time is primarily determined by how fast it is to inflate. For this, you need to consider two main features: the pump output and the valves.

We recommend getting a high-output pump for quick pressurization and a kayak with double-lock valves, which have two locking points.

6. Accessories

Keep an eye out for accessories like a removable skeg, removable seats, cargo nets, and grab lines. All those accessories make your kayaking much more enjoyable.

FAQs

Are Inflatable Kayaks Durable?

Yes. However, nothing lasts forever. Sunlight is one of the causes of degradation, and therefore, always store the kayak while covered. Seawater also causes more harm than freshwater. Eventually, the lifespan of your inflatable kayak will depend on how and where you use it.

How To Care For The Inflatable Kayak?

After each use, you must deflate and spray your kayak with clean, fresh water to clean any dirt, saltwater, etc. Let it dry, then fold and pack it.

Before use, do not to over-inflate your kayak as it may rupture or make the PVC material lose its elasticity over time.

What Type Of Pump Is Best For Inflation?

You can go the manual route or choose an electric pump for ease-of-use. An electric pump usually consumes 12V of power and can be connected to the outlet in your car. All types are good enough so you should pick the one you prefer.

What Type Of Valves Do They Have?

Most inflatable kayaks come with three types of valves.

  • The drain valve
  • The one-way valve
  • The dual-lock valve

The drain valve is responsible for deflating the inflatable kayak. It usually comes as a screw system that slowly lets air escape so that the kayak can go flat.

On the other hand, the one-way valve is where you connect your pump to inflate the kayak. As its name suggests, it allows air only in one direction, and therefore, if you remove the pump valve, the inflatable kayak will not deflate.

The dual-lock valve system allows air to pass through one valve at a time only, which works like a security feature. It prevents your inflatable kayak from deflating while you are inflating it.

What Kind of Wear and Tear Should I Watch for?

Mostly small punctures and rips as those can render your kayak useless. However, you can mend these using patch repair kits.

Conclusion

In summary, we can conclude that all the products reviewed above fit the best inflatable kayak description.

However, Sea Eagle's SE370K-P stands out as the overall best because it can carry up to 3 people and up to 650 lbs. in weight. The product also has a durable Polykrylar construction and features two skegs for better tracking.

That said, for the best tracking performance, we recommend Advanced Elements' AdvancedFrame Convertible because it has a long frame with aluminum ribs for enhanced tracking.

If you are on a tight budget, check out Intex's Explorer K2. It is very economical but packs in some useful features such as a stable hull and a removable skeg.

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