Board and Kayak
Get A Fishing License
*Disclaimer: Board and Kayak earns a commission from qualifying purchases.

Inflatable Kayaks: Easy to Transport, Fun to Use! [2024]

Inflatable Kayak

Inflatable Kayak

Updated on 12/5/2023
Abigail ScottBy Abigail Scott
Hi, I'm Abigail đź‘‹ Since embarking on my kayaking and boarding adventures in 2010, I've navigated rivers and lakes across North America and beyond. With over a decade of experience and countless waterways explored, I'm here to help enthusiasts like you embark on unforgettable water adventures!
Learn More about Abigail Scott

Limited space but big dreams of kayaking? We've got you covered. Our team researched and tested over 100 kayaks to bring you the top 5 foldable, packable, and inflatable models of 2024. We paddled through lakes, rivers, and waves to test their durability, comfort, and performance. We even enlisted the help of novice and expert paddlers to ensure each kayak was easy to set up and handle on the water. Whether you're a pro or a beginner, we've found the perfect kayak for your aquatic adventures.

But that's not all. Our experts have also tested the best kayak paddles and PFDs to keep you safe on the water. And if hard-sided kayaks or SUP boards are more your style, we've got you covered there too. Let us help you find the perfect vessel for your next paddling adventure.

Best Inflatable Kayak: Top Five

Best Recreational Inflatable: Sea Eagle 330

Product tested by Board and Kayak
Our Overall Review
4.4

Things we like:

  • Sea Eagle has a wide array of products for all types of paddlers, and they are best known for their versatile, affordable, and beginner-friendly Sea Eagle 330.
  • Sea Eagle is a top pick for several people: it is lightweight, rugged, and offers excellent value for the price. With its weight of 26 pounds and compact size, the Sea Eagle 330 is easy to transport, and it can be placed in your vehicle or RV and taken to your launch site.
  • Although this inflatable kayak is lightweight, Sea Eagle uses proprietary materials and construction techniques that make it highly rugged despite being light and thin. In addition, Sea Eagle is pet-friendly, so your pet can come along, as pet nails will not damage the hull.
  • As a recreational paddler, the Sea Eagle's affordability, portability, durability, ease of use, and storage will all be significant advantages on their checklist.

Things we don't like:

  • Sea Eagle's valuable features can also work against it in other respects. Since Sea Eagle is incredibly lightweight, a big pro in many people's eyes, it is likely to get blown around when it is windy. In addition, some users feel the kayak is not as stable as they would like it to be. Sea Eagle 330 Kayak is built from quality materials, but it is precarious due to its design. Sea Eagle advertises the Sea Eagle 330 as accommodating two adults comfortably, but we feel this is only a stretch.
  • Sea Eagle receives frequent criticism for getting blown away and not being large enough for two people despite being advertised. Therefore, it is essential to consider these factors when deciding on a kayak purchase.
Show more
Read full review

As far back as 1968, Sea Eagle has specialized in inflatable kayaks. When an organization has been around for that long, we must know what it's doing.

Specifications

    A sea eagle weighs about 26 pounds.It measures 11 feet and 2 inches in length.Sea Eagle has a 34-inch width.Sea eagle provides a 500-lb capacity.

 

Advanced Elements AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak

Product tested by Board and Kayak
Our Overall Review
4.6

Things we like:

  • First, the AE1007 AdvancedFrame kayak has an advanced frame design that allows it to paddle more like a hardshell kayak than one might expect from looking at it. As part of its "advanced frame," AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak has built-in aluminum ribs in the bow and the stern to increase rigidity and tracking capability.
  • There is a "convertible" part to the kayak, which comes from its ability to convert from a tandem kayak to a solo kayak with just a few adjustments. AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak can be converted into a tandem kayak with two seat positions forward and aft for tandem paddling and one seat in the middle for solo paddling.
  • An essential difference between the middle position and many other tandem kayaks is that it can be converted to solo kayaks, particularly if the front seat is removed and a paddle is used from the rear kayak. When paddling a 15-foot kayak, paddling from the middle will provide much better control than floating from the ends.
  • Users love the looks of AE1007 AdvancedFrame kayaks, even though it might seem trivial. It is one of the most attractive inflatable kayaks I have ever seen (in my best Fat Bastard voice). With a length of 15 feet, you will find plenty of storage and legroom traveling in this RV! Aside from that, it's equipped with a 550-pound weight capacity, which puts most traditional kayaks to shame.

Things we don't like:

  • There aren't many negative reviews about the AE1007 AdvancedFrame kayak, but a few have taken the time to complain about the storage bag being a big issue. It's barely big enough to fit your kayak after using it, and it's more like an oversized tote bag than a convenient and dependable carry-on bag. The strappings are not long enough to take it over the shoulder, so carrying it by hand is a hassle.
  • A negative aspect of this inflatable kayak is that it is a bit heavy for a kayak in the inflatable category, weighing in at 56 pounds. There are better inflatable kayaks out there if you're looking for a lightweight alternative to traditional kayaks if you're looking for an inflatable option.
  • As well as paddles, pumps, and optional backbones and frames, you may need to pay extra for some extras that turn a reasonably-priced kayak into a higher-priced kayak after adding extras.  
Show more
Read full review

Among the top players in the world of inflatable kayaks is Advanced Element. Inflatable kayaks are available for all skill levels and types of paddling, so they offer a wide range of options.

One of the highest-rated kayaks from AdvancedFrame is their AE1007 AdvancedFrame Convertible kayak. How does this kayak differ from others of its kind? Here are quite a few differences.

Specifications

  • AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible kayak weighs 56 pounds.
  • It has a length of 15 feet.
  • Five hundred fifty pounds is the maximum weight capacity of the AdvancedFrame Convertible kayak.
  • AdvancedFrame Convertible kayak has a width of 34 inches.  

 

BOTE Deus Aero Inflatable Kayak

Product tested by Board and Kayak
Our Overall Review
4.7

Things we like:

  • Every single detail has been given great thought. It will be difficult to capture every one of BOTE Deus, but I will do my best. At first glance, It is hard to tell just by looking at this kayak that it is inflatable.
  • Regarding visual appeal, BOTE stands out visually with teal and orange colors, which certainly have that BOTE appeal.  
  • Deus Aero is more than just visually pleasing; Its construction is impressive. Deus Aero kayak features four independent chambers, making it unsurpassed in terms of durability and stability in the world of inflatable kayaks. 
  • Another elegant feature of the Deus Aero kayak is its unrestricted stern; it doesn't fill with water by funneling water out the back.  
  • Moreover, it has a non-slip deck pad that makes it easy to stand up and paddle, whether a kayak or a paddleboard.

Things we don't like:

  • The price tag of BOTE Deus Aero kayak will be one of its significant downsides. As a result, you will not be able to obtain Cadillac quality at a Ford price in this case. BOTE Deus isn't a "value" kayak; it is an excellent, high-quality, cutting-edge kayak that deserves every dollar it costs.
Show more
Read full review

BOTE Deus Aero Inflatable Kayak made me scream like a little girl when I saw it for the first time! BOTE Inflatable kayaks like the Deus Aero continue to impress and set kayak design and technology trends.

BOTE Deus Aero, what are my feelings for you? Allow me to count how much I love you.

BOTE DEUS Aero Walkthrough

Specializations

    BOTE Deus Aero weighs 41 pounds.Its length of 11 feet.Its width of 33 inches.BOTE Deus Aero has 300 pounds capacity.

 

Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak: Elkton Steelhead Fishing Kayak

Product tested by Board and Kayak
Our Overall Review
4.5

Things we like:

  • There are two primary reasons why the Steelhead fishing kayak is one of the best inflatable kayaks for fishing. They can either be purchased as solo kayaks or tandem kayaks. A rigid drop-stitch floor is also included with the Steelhead. When fishing, it's essential to have a solid platform to stand on and cast, and the Steelhead lets you release from a sturdy, stable platform.  
  • Furthermore, the Steelhead comes with a self-bailing drain on the floor so the water won't leak. Self-bailing can come in handy if you're fishing in rough waters or moving in a lot of fish which causes the kayak to leak water. The accessories and features are included: 5-7 hard mounting points for rod holders, spray shield, locking valves, drop-in adjustable footrests, lightweight paddle, carry bag, pump, and much more.

Things we don't like:

  • At this point, there isn't much to report on the con side. The reason for having no cons is that the Elkton Steelhead kayak is a relatively new product. Because it is not as well known as other kayaks, there is not as much information available. But I would say the packaging and the instruction manual are the only things I have noticed that I don't find particularly important. Let's see what happens! If more information becomes available about this kayak, I will update this post as soon as possible.
Show more
Read full review

Elkton kayaks are my favorite kayak. They're a relatively new player in the kayak world, but Elkton Steelhead has already made a name for itself as a manufacturer of good quality kayaks and accessories. Let's explore a few of the pros and cons of this kayak, shall we?

Specifications

  • Elkton Steelhead weighs 40-44 pounds 
  • It measures 10 feet 10 inches to 12 feet 6 inches wide.
  • Elkton Steelhead has a capacity of 400-600 pounds.

 

Best Whitewater/River Inflatable Kayak: Advanced Elements Attack Pro Whitewater Kayak

Product tested by Board and Kayak
Our Overall Review
4.7

Things we like:

  • A rock-solid drop stitch floor and a 12" rocker make it exceptionally maneuverable. With a length of 9'9", it is ideal for running rapids.
  • Even though the Attack Pro White water kayak features high-performance features like the ones mentioned above, its 9.5" tubes provide a comprehensive, stable platform suitable for beginners just getting into white water kayaking.
  • Additionally, the Attack Pro features adjustable footpegs and thigh straps. Attack Pro kayak is also designed explicitly with a self-bailing system which means that you will never be swamped in an emergency.
  • An excellent aspect of this harmonious interaction between beginner and advanced kayaks is the price tag of the Attack Pro. Considering the price level of this kayak, it'll be a great bargain that will make the lives of everyone who buys it much better.

Things we don't like:

  • Although the Advanced Elements Attack Pro kayak looks well-suited for some pretty white water, Perhaps adding a little rocker to the front would make the ride smoother. It is possible to easily ride over the waves in other inflatable kayaks with a rocker of 18 inches.  
Show more
Read full review

I want to mention the Advanced Elements Attack Pro as a final note. Unlike many other kayaks discussed above, the Attack Pro is not your typical recreational or touring kayak. Inflatable kayaks for white water would be incomplete without mentioning one top-notch option, and that's what the AE Attack Pro offers.  

Advanced Elements Video

Specifications

Related Inflatable Fishing Kayak

 

What to Look for in an Inflatable Kayak:

Inflatable kayaks can be overwhelming to choose from, so we've compiled a list of the most important things to consider.

We've also created guides for kayaking for fishing, sea touring, and tandem kayaks if inflatables are not your style.

Materials used in inflatable kayaks

To make an informed decision about the inflatable to choose, you will need to consider its material quality, its weight, its seating capacity, its length, and accessories it comes with.

Your kayak will be in the water most of the time, so you must ensure it is built to last.

PVC, vinyl covered in a nylon or polyester fabric, or vinyl covered in a nylon or polyester fabric are the most commonly used materials. 

Inflatable kayaks are commonly made with vinyl fabric.

A vinyl record

PVC is heavier and more expensive than vinyl but cheaper and lighter. Due to its lower rigidity, it loses out on the performance factor of PVC. But if you're not touring long distances, this difference is moot.

With vinyl and fabric

Although vinyl inflatables with fabric protect from the sun and the constant stress of paddle strokes, they are slower to dry and risk molding if left unattended.

Plastics

Manufacturers weld the seams of PVC instead of gluing them, making the material lightweight and reliable. In addition, the kayak can be folded easily, which makes it convenient to transport.

Weight

Seating capacity varies from one person to three people, according to inflatables' weight capacity and seating capacity.

When you bring more equipment on board an inflatable kayak and more people, your boat's capacity needs to be more significant. It's essential to remember that you'll need more space for your furry friends if you're taking them with you.

Amount of time

Typically, inflatable kayaks are 12 feet long, which allows them to maintain buoyancy even in windy conditions. Despite this, kayaks ranging in length from 10 to 16 feet are available, and longer ones tend to be more stable, while shorter ones are easier to maneuver.

Kayaks can also be differentiated by skegs, paddles, and rod holders that can be removed. A removable skeg makes navigation easier, rod holders make fishing more accessible, and an included hand pump and paddle eliminate the need for additional accessories.

Related Best inflatable canoe

What Is The Safety Of An Inflatable Kayak?

Inflatables boast a significant advantage due to their superb buoyancy. Since they are typically air-filled and relatively lightweight, the risk of sinking is minimal. Moreover, these kayaks are made from materials that resist punctures. Thanks to modern technological advances, the exterior of these boats can be even more robust than the hull of a hard-shell kayak.

Proper care and maintenance of your inflatable kayak will reduce the risk of it popping. Please keep it away from sharp objects and out of children's reach. Patch kits are available to help you fix punctures if they occur.

Is it possible to kayak on an inflatable boat?

While hard-shell kayaks tend to be faster than inflatables, not all inflatable kayaks are slow. You may find sluggish performance in the affordable price range, but as with anything else, you get what you pay for. Numerous kayak enthusiasts claim that some inflatable kayaks outperform their hard-shell counterparts. The key is to invest in gear that meets your needs and expectations.

How to detect a leak in an inflatable kayak?

The first sign of leakage is usually deflation. To locate the leak, look for bubbles forming around the weak spot. Avoid drifting too far from shore to prevent accidents when checking your gear for leaks.

Keep in mind that deflation doesn't always indicate a leak. If you don't see any signs of tearing, you may need to pump more air into your kayak to keep it afloat.

How do you clean inflatable kayaks?

Proper care and maintenance are crucial for preserving your water equipment's quality. After every use, inspect your kayak for punctures, clean it thoroughly, and store it in a dark area.

To prevent mold growth over time, clean your kayak after each use. Rinse off any residue on the kayak's exterior with fresh water. Once clean, let it dry in the shade before storing it in a cool, dry place.

 

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the inflatable kayak worth it?

The inflatable Kayak is worth it. As inflatable technology continues to improve, inflatable kayaks are safe, durable, and reliable. In fact, they are just as good as some traditional kayaks.

What is best inflatable kayak?

Based on our research, the best inflatable kayak is Sea Eagle 330.

Do inflatable kayaks puncture easily?

Inflatable kayaks do not puncture easily. A modern inflatable kayak is constructed from layers of tough, thick-coated materials and topped with a puncture-resistant shell. The probability of leaks and punctures during regular, expected use is extremely low.

Is it OK to leave an inflatable kayak inflated?

No, it is not ok to leave an inflatable kayak inflated. In order to prevent damage, do not leave it inflated while storing away for a long time. Leaving it inflated can lead to stress on the seams and valves, especially if the temperature rises and the air expands.

Can one person use a 2 person inflatable kayak?

Yes, one person can use a 2 person inflatable kayak. A few inflatable kayaks are tandem kayaks, but they can be converted into solo kayaks by moving the seats. For my own use, I chose this option. You can always bring someone with you, but you can also paddle alone and still have the kayak balanced.

Can I use an inflatable kayak in the sea?

Yes, It is generally safe to use inflatable kayaks in the ocean, but only experienced kayakers should feel comfortable doing so. Inflatable kayaks are designed to offer a stable and reliable performance comparable to hard-shell kayaks.