Inflatable kayaks have been blowing up (pun intended). They offer more portability than traditional hardshell kayaks. Modern pvc construction has made them so durable they can even replace a hardshell kayak altogether as your primary watercraft.
There are a lot of high-quality inflatable kayak options on the market ranging in price, size, durability, and feature sets. We tested some of the most popular options to compare.
When you are deciding, the first major decision you will be making is how many people you want to carry. We have broken down our top picks by:
- Best Inflatable Kayaks for 1 Person
- Best Inflatable Kayaks for 2 People
- Best Inflatable Kayaks for 3 People
Other considerations for you will include how puncture-resistant the material is, how fast and easy it is to inflate and deflate, how much storage space it has, the back support, and overall versatility depending on what you want to use it for.
Also, make sure to check what kind of water the kayak is best for. The type of kayak you will need for calm or shallow waters will be different than what you need for whitewater.
Best Inflatable Kayaks for 1 Person
Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak
For solo kayakers, the Intex Challenger K1 is the perfect little kayak. The Intex Challenger K1 is a smaller option in this category, making it lightweight and compact to transport.
It also comes with a Boston valve for quick inflation and deflation, which is essential on the go. This kayak is a great option for solo kayaking lakes and mild rivers, but would not be suitable for whitewater.
The Intex Challenger is also very maneuverable courtesy of the inflatable I-beam floor and a removable skeg for added directional stability.
This kayak is also a great size for stowing on your pontoon for additional fun out on the water.
Sevylor QuikPak K1 Inflatable Kayak
The Sevylor QuikPak K1 is my favorite option for camping. This kayak takes 5 minutes to inflate and comes with a handy backpack for carrying (that even holds the paddles). It weighs in at 8 kilograms or 18 pounds, so not too bad for carrying and portaging.
The QuikPak K1 is a sit-on-top kayak, making is It is a great craft for exploring flat water (especially when it’s hot out). However, this kayak is definitely not rated for white water or rough conditions.
Another feature I like about this kayak for camping and trekking is that it is constructed with multiple airtight chambers that allow the other chambers to stay inflated if one is punctured.
Rave Sports Sea Rebel Inflatable Kayak
The Rave Sports Sea Rebel is such a good little touring kayak. It has some creature comforts like a water-resistant dry bag for your gear, a bottle holder, and a recumbent-style sling seat for easy cruising that’s easy on your back.
This kayak is also really lightweight and includes a hand pump, paddle and carry bag for easy transport.
This is a sit-on-top kayak and is even great for kids.
Elkton Outdoors Steelhead 130 Fishing Kayak
As evidenced by the name, the Elkton Outdoors Steelhead 130 Fishing Kayak was specifically designed for fishing. For solo anglers, this is the ultimate inflatable fishing kayak.
The Steelhead 130 includes universal hard mounting points that can be used for rod holders, action cameras, fish finders, and more.
It also has a solid drop stitch floor that allows anglers to steadily stand and position themselves for better bait-casting.
The overall rugged pvc construction, bungee storage area, and included travel bag, all make the Steelhead 130 a great buy.
Advanced Elements Packlite Inflatable Kayak
The Advanced Elements Packlite delivers on what it promises – it packs light! At only 4 pounds, this is bar far the lightest of all the inflatable kayaks we tried. I also packs down to 11″ x 11″ x 5″, making it very easy to transport.
The Packlite is a good inflatable kayak for calm waters or to get you into remote locations. It is even something the kids can use and carry on their own.
This kayak won’t give you the level of maneuverability other options on this list would, but is your best option if weight and compactness are at the top of your wish list.
Best Inflatable Kayaks for 2 People
Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak
Another option I love from Intex is their Intex Explorer K2 Kayak. The K2 is an inflatable tandem kayak that comfortably seats two adults with a max weight capacity of 400 pounds.
My favorite feature of this kayak is how fast it inflates and deflates. To me, this is really a key metric on any inflatable kayak because you are not going to use it if it takes forever to pump. The Intex Explorer is particularly fast because it features a Boston valve on each side and a high-output pump.
The Explorer K2 is also really comfortable. It has two adjustable, inflatable seats with backrests. This really improves the overall paddling experience.
Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable Kayak
If you’re a more serious paddler or looking to do some fishing, the Intex Excursion Pro is the way to go. The Excursion Pro is made with a super tough laminate material and polyester core that is very high-strength and durable, while still remaining lightweight and portable.
This kayak also comes with fishing rod holders on both sides and a waterproof bag you can latch to the front for storage. Additional storage space can be found in bow and stern with stainless steel D-rings for tying down dry bags and gear.
This kayak is simply built to last and the added recreational features make it a fantastic all-round kayak that you will have for years to come.
Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
Another great option if you are looking for an inflatable fishing kayak is the Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak. This kayak maxes out on maneuverability, making it perfect for accessing remote fishing spots that are typically difficult to access. It is even compatible with a trolling motor.
I also love the rugged design of this kayak. It is made with 18-gauge PVC, a thick tarpaulin bottom, and a tough nylon cover. The deep green color is also perfect for blending into the background.
Finally, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado has lots of storage with various mesh pockets and D-rings for attaching gear.
Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Whitewater Kayak
I love the Driftsun Rover 200 because you can just feel the quality in the construction and every detail.
The Driftsun Rover 220 is a highly durable and adventure-ready kayak. This kayak can be used on both flatwater and whitewater (Class IV Rapids), with 8 self-bailing ports.
It features adjustable seats, adjustable footrests, reinforced handles for carrying, corrosion-resistant hardware, removable skeg, high-pressure valves, and even an action camera mount to capture all the fun.
Airhead Montana 2-Person Inflatable Kayak
The Airhead Montana is a great option for anyone looking for an inflatable kayak designed for general use and with safety in mind. This is a good one to keep at your cottage.
The Montana features a bright orange color to make it highly visible in the water. It also includes a number of other safety features like 3 air chambers that are completely enclosed by rugged 840-denier nylon with UV and water-resistant coatings and durable tri-laminate bottom for a lifetime of use.
I like the maneuverability of this kayak as well courtesy of the 4 tracking fins on the bottom.
Best Inflatable Kayaks for 3 People
Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe Inflatable Kayak
The Sea Eagle 370 is the perfect all-purpose inflatable kayak.
This kayak defies the laws of nature, weighing in at only 32 pounds but can hold up to 650 pounds when inflated.
This kayak is rated for fresh or salt water and can be used on whitewater up to Class III. The Sea Eagle 370 is also a great fishing or touring kayak with comfortable seating and superior tracking and speed courtesy of 2 skegs at the bottom.
Other features include an 8 minute inflation time, 5 deluxe one-way air valves, and multiple air chambers.
Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
The Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak stands out due to its comfortable seating room. This kayak fits 3 adults easily, with enough space to actually move your legs.
This is also a very safe and durable kayak. It is made with heavy-duty PVC and the Tarpaulin bottom provides durable protection from punctures.
In the rare case of a puncture, the Big Basin also has multiple air chambers that allow it to stay afloat.
I like this kayak for families looking to stay together on the water, or bringing some beginners on board (pop them in the middle and you are good to go!).
Inflatable Kayak Accessories
You don’t need too much to get out and enjoy your inflatable kayaks, but a couple of items you may need include:
Some inflatable kayaks come with only a hand pump, and if this is the case, consider upgrading your air pump to something less manual.
Trust me, the enjoyment you get out of your inflatable kayak will be directly impacted by the speed you can inflate and how long deflation takes.
Always check your valve type before getting an air pump to make sure they are compatible. Flextailgear has a Portable Air Pump that charges via USB and has 4 nozzles that fit most valve types.
With any inflatable watercraft, it is always a good idea to have a repair kit with you. Look for a repair kit that is rated for the type of material your kayak is made out of. For example, if you have a PVC inflatable kayak, look for a PVC repair kit like the Aqua Pro PVC Sitch Kit.
A lot of inflatable kayaks come with D-rings for attaching gear. To keep it dry, a dry bag is your best option. Look for dry bags with roll-down and snap closures. These are really easy to open and close on the water.
I like the Marchway Floating Dry Bag. It comes in a lot of color and size options, and the floating feature is a real added bonus.
A few extra bungees can go a long way towards keeping all your stuff secure on a kayak. Grab a pack with multiple size options. I like the Cartman Bungee Cords Assortment Jar.
These are handy for a lot more uses than your kayak too.
When it comes to inflatable kayaks, functionality will likely drive your decision more than preference. Once you have determined how many people you will carry and for what type of water, your decision will mostly come down to the small features you will find most useful.
About Deb Sauvé
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