Are You Looking For The Best Inflatable Kayak?

Following on from our series of articles on inflatables such as inflatable paddle boards and inflatable hot tubs we bring you our latest in-depth article on inflatables. This time concentrating on the best inflatable kayak.

In this article, We are going to do our very best to help you choose the best inflatable kayak. We will be to provide you with as much information about inflatable kayaks as possible and of course give you our recommended best inflatable kayak in each catogary of kayak. Whether you are new to the sport or just looking to explore different options.

Buying an inflatable kayak or finding the best inflatable kayak can be a little bewildering. There are so many types of kayaks available, that it can be difficult to choose the perfect one for you. But don’t worry, this article is primarily written by keeping this in mind. So take some time to fully read this article and at its conclusion you will know everything you need, to find the best inflatable kayak.

best inflatable kayak

Classes of Inflatable Kayaks:

The following are the four broad classes of inflatable kayaks:

  • Recreational Inflatable Kayaks
  • Whitewater Inflatable Kayaks
  • Expedition Inflatable Kayaks
  • Lake Paddling Kayaks

Recreational Inflatable Kayaks:

These kayaks are meant for casual use in easy waters. You can use these kayaks, when you want to play around on a still lake or river. You can also use them when you are in the mood for fishing or diving. Good quality kayaks can also be used for shorter overnight trips.

Whitewater Inflatable Kayaks:

As the name suggest these kayaks are used for kayaking in some serious and furious whitewaters.

Expedition Inflatable Kayaks:

These kayaks are meant for floating trips through remote terrain. They are also fully capable of tackling whitewaters.

Lake Paddling Kayaks:

This class of kayaks is built for long paddles across flat-water. So, if you are planning on going for a long paddle, lake paddling kayaks will make your paddling faster and easier.

Types of Inflatable kayaks:

There are various types of inflatable kayaks available. The following is a list of the most common ones:

  • Solo Inflatable Kayaks
  • Sit on Top Inflatable Kayaks
  • Sit-in Inflatable Kayaks
  • Stand up Inflatable Kayaks (ISUPS)
  • Canoe-style Inflatable Kayaks
  • Open Style Kayaks

Solo Inflatable Kayaks:

These types of kayaks are designed for a single rider. They are made from different types of materials. Some of these kayaks are made for serious whitewater adventures while other are made for a more leisurely purpose. Solo kayaks usually have many holes/ports in them. When you are in seriously fast whitewater, these holes let the water come in and go out of the back. All this prevents the kayak from filling up with water. These holes can be plugged in case you want to go kayaking in flatwater.

Sit on Top Inflatable Kayaks:

This type of inflatable kayak looks almost like a standard kayak setup, the only difference you’ll find is the raised cockpit. When you sit in a sit on top kayak, you basically have more room and convenience to access your gear. These kayaks are best for the people who are not comfortable being inside an enclosed shell. One drawback of sitting on top is that you might face getting wetter.

Sit-in Inflatable Kayaks:

Sit-in inflatable kayaks have a cockpit and high walls surrounding the rider. This style is the most conventional one. This design keeps the water out of the kayak and is best for kayaking in cold waters. Although you don’t have much room to sit on the top, this design is more also suited for whitewater.

Stand Up Inflatable Kayaks:

Stand up inflatable kayaks are a relatively new design. They are rigid enough so you can stand up on it easily while paddling. Most people use these kayaks for recreational and leisure paddling.

Canoe-Style Inflatable Kayaks:

These types of inflatable kayaks support an open design with higher seats and walls. Canoe-style kayaks use single sided blades rather than using the usual double-sided kayak paddles.

Open Style Kayaks:

These kayaks are variant on the canoe style. The seats are lower than that of a canoe-style and the walls are higher than that of a sit-on top style. This design is a great choice for those who want more convenient and for easier entry. This style also prevents excess water from getting into the kayak.

Best Inflatable Kayak for Fishing:

Best Inflatable Kayak for Fishing

An inflatable fishing kayak always belongs to one the following three categories:

  • Recreational
  • Expedition
  • Lake paddling

Inflatable fishing kayaks are built primarily for fishing purposes. They make fishing fun, comfortable and productive. These kayaks can be used for fishing in rivers or lakes. There are a lot of different fishing kayaks available and each one comes with their own unique features. Let us talk in general about how they are different to your regular inflatable kayak.

Wide Beam

Inflatable fishing kayaks usually have a wide beam. This feature provides extra stability.

Strong Material

The construction is usually strong which can make these kayaks last longer.

Gear Storage

When fishing, it is obvious you need storage space. These kayaks usually come with gear storage to make your fishing experience worthwhile.

Place Holders

You would not want to lose or have to worry about your paddles, when you finally stop at a good fishing spot. Some inflatable kayaks also provide place holder for your paddles.


Some but not all kayaks come with self-bailing features. This allows you to get rid of excess water, when paddling through rough waters.

What Is an Inflatable Kayak and What Are They Used For?

What is an inflatable kayak

As the name suggests, an inflatable kayak is inflated and deflated after use. The common perspective about inflatable kayaks is that they are nothing but cheap floatable pool toys. This would be true, if we were talking about inflatable kayaks about 10-20 years ago; made up of poor material and had bad designs. They were the last thing you would want to use in a remote river or in a choppy sea.

Much stronger..

Fortunately, those days are gone. With advancements in technology, inflatable kayaks are as strong and reliable as traditional kayaks. Nowadays you can buy the best inflatable kayak that is not only reliable but also durable and light, making it perfect for outdoor adventures.

Inflatable kayaks were primarily used by the military and for commercial operations. However, recreational companies have finally figured out a way to utilize the same construction processes to build durable, professional, and high-quality best inflatable kayaks that serves the needs of an ever-increasing number of people.

What Are Inflatable Kayaks Made Of?

PVC and Hypalon are two of the most commonly used materials in the manufacturing of inflatable kayaks. However, a new material known as Nitrylon is also making its way into the world of inflatable kayaks. These materials have their own edges and drawbacks and many people have their different opinions about which one is the best. All of them are extremely durable, rugged and reliable. The material used might not affect your selection of the best inflatable kayak but it would be interesting to know the characteristics and differences between these materials.

  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • Hypalon
  • Nitrylon

Polyvinyl Chloride:

Polyvinyl chloride, after polyethylene and polypropylene is the world’s third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer. It is the most common material used for inflatable products. Polyvinyl Chloride has following features:

  • PVC maximizes durability, portability and convenience of many products including inflatable ones.
  • PVC-coated fabrics are available in larger array of colors than Hypalon or neoprene coated fabrics in the market.
  • With reasonable care PVC can have a very large life span.
  • Polyvinyl Chloride is cheaper than Hypalon.
  • PVC can be welded allowing better solid construction, which is not the case with just using glue.
  • PVC is very easy to patch.
  • Can be coated on polyester or nylon to increase their strength and tear resistance.

Drawbacks of PVC:

  • When it comes to chemical, gasoline, temperatures and sunlight then PVC is less resistant and somewhat less successful that Hypalon. However, some of the PVC fabrics are considered to be better at cold resistant.
  • PVC can be damaged by exposure to the ultraviolet rays. So, you have got to take care of the PVC for your kayak’s long life. Using a UV protective spray can be a solution to this problem.


Hypalon is a kind of synthetic rubber made up of chlorinated and sulphurated polyethylene. Like PVC, Hypalon is also considered to be one the most commonly used material in the manufacturing of inflatable products. Let us look at some of its features:

  • Hypalon’s life span is greater than any other inflatable kayak manufacturing material available.
  • It has a lot better UV resistance as compared to PVC.
  • Hypalon is extremely resistant to environmental factors like mildew and fungus.
  • Many inflatable kayak manufacturers choose Hypalon for making the exterior. Interior usually has neoprene coating.
  • Hypalon coated onto polyester or nylon fabric having an interior coating of neoprene is considered to be the most reliable and durable inflatable boat fabric available in the market. Kayaks made out of this material have warranties of 6 to 10 years.

Drawbacks of Hypalon:

  • Hypalon is the most expensive material among all materials used in the manufacturing of inflatable kayaks.
  • It is glued rather than welded.

Nitrylon :

Nitrylon is comparatively new in the world of kayaks. It is basically a lamination of nitrile synthetic rubber and natural rubber over a low stretch polyester fabric. Following are some of its features:

  • Nitrylon is extremely puncture and abrasion resistant.
  • It is stronger than PVC.
  • Patching Nitrylon is easier as compared to patching PVC.
  • A better cold resistant than Hypalon and PVC.

Drawbacks of Nitrylon:

  • Nitrylon being heavy is used only on the exterior of the kayaks, where the contact with the water is maximum.
  • The choice of choosing the best material solely depends on you. Each material has its own strengths and weaknesses. It’s up for you to decide, which material’s kayak is a perfect match for you.

Every material used for making inflatable kayaks are best in their own right. However, one can be slightly better than the other. Every material is well tested before it is used to bring you the best inflatable kayak in the market.

Inflatable VS Hardshell Kayaks:


Inflatable kayaks vs Hardshell kayaks has been a hot topic among kayakers for quite some time now. We will discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of both inflatables and Hardshell kayaks. This might help you in having a clear picture of which would be the best inflatable kayak for yo

Inflatable Kayaks:

Inflatable kayaks are becoming increasingly popular. Unlike the old kayaks, which were not very suitable for kayaking in the real waters, the new age inflatable kayaks are reliable as well as durable. They provide almost everything the traditional kayak provides. Plus, they come with some advantages over the Hardshell kayaks as well. Following is the list of some of the advantages of inflatable kayaks:


  • Weight and Size
  • Transportation
  • Durability
  • Stability
  • Less Cost

Weight and Size:

Inflatable kayaks are lighter than traditional kayaks and can be carried easily. But being lighter doesn’t mean that they are weaker. Inflatable kayaks mean business. In some cases, the inflatable kayaks have a better weight threshold than the conventional kayaks. As these kayaks can be deflated after use so, storing becomes a non-issue.


All inflatable kayaks can be placed in a bag and put in the trunk of your car. You can carry them anywhere you want. You can fly to a foreign country with the inflatable kayak accompanying you. The deflated form gives so much flexibility and convenience. You can take them while hiking, to add to your trip. This feature of easy transportation is making inflatable kayaks sell extremely popular amonst a range of enthusiasts.


When you think about an inflated kayak the first question that might come to mind would be about of its durability. One thump against a pointed rock and you will end up with a deflated kayak. But that is not the case at all. The new age inflatable kayaks are constructed with one of the strongest materials. They are designed to take a beating. So, hitting rocks will not damage them so easily. And if unfortunately, you end up damaging your kayak, the repairs are relatively easy to do. Most inflatable kayaks come with a repair kit. All you need to do is cut a patch and glue it to your kayak and you are good to be kayaking on your best inflatable kayak again.


As far as the stability is concerned, inflatable kayaks can be more stable than conventional hard kayaks. This is due to inflatable kayaks being a little wider than their counterparts. This gives them stability. However, you might have to face some decrease in speed because of this. But everyone can live with a little less speed for a safe trip. Especially for a beginner. They are more stable even in the rough water.

Less Cost:

Inflatable kayaks will cost you a lot less than a Hardshell kayak. And if you are new to this hobby, you might spend less money before deciding if you are going to stick to it or not. Buying an inflatable kayak would be a better choice as it will cost you less money and if you decide to go on with this activity, you can always use this kayak in the future as well. However, the high-end brands and kayaks designed for rough waters might cost you almost equal to a conventional kayak.


  • Inflating and Deflating
  • Control

Inflating and Deflating:

Although taking an inflatable kayak to waters is far easier than taking a conventional kayak the drawback is obviously having to inflate and deflate, every time you use them. This can be time consuming. The Inflation process can take up to 10 minutes with an air pump and a lot more without it. Plus, to get the maximum performance out of your kayak, you need to fill it to a specific air level. This is measured in Pounds per square inch (PSI).


Although inflatable kayaks are stable that doesn’t mean you get better control in rough waters. Because of their lightweight they are not able to get as much control as their counterparts. However technological advancements are made in improving controlling features every day.

Hardshell Kayaks:

Conventional types of kayaks made from wood, plastic, fiberglass or composite material are known as Hardshell kayaks.


  • Ready to Use
  • Control

Ready to Use:

Even though conventional kayaks are heavier and more difficult to carry around than inflatables, they are quicker to get onto the water.

Similarly, when you are done with kayaking in the water, you don’t have to deflate it to transport it back. This not only saves time but also energy. Thus, providing you more time to enjoy the water.


To control the kayak, you need to be good at kayaking and it requires a lot of experience. But it is a fact that conventional kayaks provide better control than inflatable ones. This is because the Hardshell kayaks are more rigid and thus provide more weight in the water. This helps a kayaker to get extra control.


  • Heavy Weight
  • Storage and Transport
  • Maintenance

Heavy Weight

Hardshell kayaks are made up from wood, plastic, fiberglass or composite material. No matter which material is used, there could be a possibility that you might need two people to carry a conventional kayak to and from the water. This is one of the biggest disadvantages of hardshell conventional kayaks. They also have a lower weight threshold than inflatable kayaks.

Storage and Transport:

Hardshell kayaks are obviusly rigid so you need a dedicated space to store and transport them. But if you have enough space in your garage to carry and store a rigid kayak then it doesn’t make much of a difference. But for those who do not have the space, then you have to take this into account before buying a conventional one.

Maintenance and Durability:

In general, Hardshell kayaks are prone to maintenance and care a lot more than the inflatable ones. Conventional kayaks do not have a rubber exterior and flexible materials so are at a higher risk of receiving damage by bumping and knocking into rocks.

Different materials are used in the manufacturing of Hardshell kayaks such as wood, plastic and fiberglass. Maintenance also varies with the material. Wood generally requires more maintenance as it receives damage more easily and plastic is more resilient. But the maintenance cost of plastic is far more than that of wood.

Fiberglass is the most successful material of all is less likely to get damaged and requires much less maintenance. But for less maintenance and repair, you have to pay a hefty amount of money upfront as the fiberglass kayaks are the most expensive kind.

best inflatable kayak

Tips for Cleaning Inflatable Kayaks:

Keeping a kayak clean is very important. It will not only give you a nice and clean experience but will also increase the lifespan of your kayak drastically. The following are some tips on how to keep a clean inflatable kayak:

  • After kayaking, place your kayak in the sun to dry for as long as possible
  • Always use an absorbent towel that is capable of soaking up all the water that gets into your kayak. Don’t forget to wipe underneath the sides, top, and bottom of each compartment.
  • Turn you kayak upside down to wipe off the bottom. This will also let all the excess water come out from within the inflatable kayak.
  • If you are going kayaking in a place where there is a lot of mud, then keep some cleaning towels with you. Clean the kayak with these towels before using the absorbent towel.


Well, that was a lot of information to take in. I hope you enjoyed reading through this article and learnt a thing or two about inflatable kayaks. I wish you the best for buying the best inflatable kayak for yourself. Happy Kayaking!




Photo by Jesse Bowser on Unsplash

Photo by Sri Gowda on Unsplash
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