The Best Inflatable Kayak For (2023 Updated)

Newly Designed Airis Inflatable Kayaks by Walker Bay

Newly Designed Airis Inflatable Kayaks by Walker Bay

Abigail Scott

Abigail Scott
Mother, Professional Kayaker, and Software Engineer

Updated on 12/6/2022

Inflatable kayaks' explosive popularity has caused many to reconsider their options for affordable, lightweight, and transportable kayaks, but when you compare different inflatable kayak options, you are confronted with a blast of inflatable kayaks on the market. If you have a memory of riding on the back of an inflatable "Shamu the Whale" pool toy as a kid, it would probably not help one imagine whether inflatable kayaks are a viable alternative to traditional kayaks.

Where does this all come from? How does it work? What is the truth behind all of this? Do Inflatable kayaks have any stability? Is their safety guaranteed? What is the durability of these products? Will they last for a very long time? You might have many questions, like what is the best inflatable kayak? And this article will answer them all. 

Common Answers To Inflatable Kayak Questions

Inflatable Kayak

Inflatable Kayak

Why are inflatable kayaks so popular these days? While we all loved our green alligator floaty pool toy back in the day, you would not want to use the same kind of floaty when swimming in open water or fast-moving waters.

In this article, we will explore some of the most frequently asked questions about inflatable kayaks, and then we will present our recommendations for the best inflatable kayak. Ready? Let's go!

Inflatable Kayaks: Are They Good Enough?

So, in a nutshell: yes! Throughout this article, I have probably done a disservice to you by mentioning pool toys multiple times, so now it's time to banish that negative thought from your mind.

Valwix 2 Person Inflatable Kayak for Adults w/ Sun Canopy
Summary
Easy to inflate9.2
Easy to inflate
Maneuverability9.2
Maneuverability
Leg room8.2
Leg room

 Over the past few decades, inflatable technology has come a long way. Innovative kayak companies have adapted the same process to build a high-quality, durable, professional kayak that better suits an ever-increasing number of people.

Currently, you can see inflatable water toys of all kinds, such as standup paddleboards, canoes, wakeboards, fishing pontoons, and more. Inflatable kayaks are more and more becoming the preferred choice in a multitude of sports. 

How Stable Are Inflatable Kayaks?

Overall, inflatable kayaks are just as stable as traditional kayaks for the most part. Since inflatables have some weight and toughness, they are similar to solid white water kayaks.

White water rafting in the Naranjo River Costa Rica

White water rafting in the Naranjo River Costa Rica

Although Inflatable Kayaks have a tipping point and variable primary and secondary stability, they are essentially the same as a standard kayak. If you plan to stand up in your inflatable kayak or fishing kayak, I highly recommend researching which kayak is more stable. Some inflatable kayaks may not be as well suited for that as others due to varying degrees of "hardness" in the floors of the kayaks.

If you want your kayak floor to be tougher, you can always buy or build hard floor covers. Typically, if you buy one of these, it will be made of an easy-to-inflate drop-stitched construction material that inflates to a high, strong PSI value.

If you wish to build one yourself, you can always find tutorials on YouTube or elsewhere on how to do so using plywood or other materials.

How Durable And Safe Are Inflatable Kayaks?

Inflatable Kayak

Inflatable Kayak

It is a significant question, especially for those doing river kayaking or other shallow-water kayaking, where you may run over sticks, rocks, or other obstacles.

Suppose you are looking for an inexpensive inflatable kayak. In that case, you can find the inflatable kayak on Amazon and elsewhere for under $200, and they are fully functional for lazing around a lakeside dock or a pond. However, if you're planning on traveling away from the shores or putting some miles on it, you need to know that an inflatable kayak will be reliable when you need it most. Unfortunately, some of these cheap inflatables are not made as solidly as their more expensive correspondents.

Several features are available on more expensive kayaks, including double and triple-layered fabrics, separate inflation chambers, and airtight valves. These features all play different roles in keeping the kayak secure and durable.

Factors That Make Inflatable Kayaks So Durable

It is worth mentioning that the two or three layers of fabric provide extra protection against tears and punctures. Sometimes, a stray stick may penetrate through one layer but would be prevented from penetrating through the other layers.

Inflatable Kayak

Inflatable Kayak

Each air chamber is entirely independent, So if a hole or rip occurs in one part of your kayak, it is contained in that one chamber only. It is possible to stay afloat for an extended period if you have two or three other sections that have not been damaged, allowing you to get to the shore and find help or fix it. 

Once the air has entered the valve, it will not leak out because it is airtight. Once the kayak is inflated, there is no need to worry that it will lose air or deflate on you. As long as you properly pump up an inflatable kayak and take care of it, you can expect a kayak as tough and durable as a regular kayak.

The extremely tough military kayaks used in military operations, such as Navy SEALs beaching a stealthy inflatable boat and jumping from it to carry out some covert operations, are impressive. In some cases, inflatable kayaks have been produced using techniques similar to those used to manufacture military equipment.  

When you think of it that way, it should put your mind at ease that what you're purchasing is a safe, reliable, and durable piece of equipment that you'll be able to use for years to come.

What Are The Differences Between Inflatable Kayaks And Traditional Kayaks?

Inflatable Kayak

Inflatable Kayak

It is perfectly valid to ask this question. Inflatable kayaks are more convenient than traditional kayaks, but if they paddle like turds, you'll lose all of that convenience.  

I believe that rigidity is one of the keys to performance. As well as that, the kayak must have a proper keel and bow shape to perform well. Over the past few years, inflatable technology has advanced dramatically in this area.  

Fairly or unfairly, an excellent inflatable kayak will never beat out a traditional high-performance kayak in terms of performance. Kayaks of this type cannot be built with the precision of conventional kayaks. However, the average recreational kayaker won't notice much difference between an inflatable kayak's quality and a traditional kayak's.

Can I Use Inflatable Kayaks On Sunny Days? An Inflatable Kayak Sun Shade Is The Solution.

In most cases, you can purchase different types of sunshades in various dimensions. In addition to ensuring that your bimini is the right size for your kayak, you should also check that it provides the shade you require. Size, when packed, is also a significant consideration. The sport of kayaking requires a substantial amount of gear, all of which must be transported and stored.

Best Inflatable Kayak: Top Five

As we discussed a few of the most common questions people have about inflatable kayaks, the next step is to look at some of the most common answers.

With inflatable kayaks becoming increasingly popular nowadays, getting overwhelmed with all the available options can be confusing. Fortunately, we are here to help. Unlike you, we have spent hours researching the best inflatable kayaks available to ensure you don't have to. Here is what we have found to be the best inflatable kayaks suited for your needs.

Best Recreational Inflatable: Sea Eagle 330

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.

Carol Derer talks about her Sea Eagle 330 kayak

Pros

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.

Cons

Sea Eagle 330

Sea Eagle 330

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. For example, one user commented,

"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.

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.

Tandem Inflatable Kayak: Advanced Elements AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak

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.

AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible kayak Setup Video

Pros

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.

AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak

AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak

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.

Cons

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.  

Specifications

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

Best Hybrid Inflatable Kayak/SUP: BOTE Deus Aero Inflatable Kayak

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 trends in kayak design and technology.

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

Pros

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. 

BOTE Deus Aero

BOTE Deus Aero

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.

Cons

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.

Deemed as the Latin word for "god," the DEUS reigns supreme in portability, performance, and versatility.

Specializations

  • BOTE Deus Aero is at weight of 41 pounds.
  • Its length of 11 feet.
  • Its width of 33 inches.
  • BOTE Deus Aero has 300 pounds capacity.

BOTE DEUS Aero Walkthrough

Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak: Elkton Steelhead Fishing Kayak

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

Pros

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.

According to one of our happy users,

“This kayak is solid, sturdy and has all the space I need for carrying supplies for fishing or just for fun (or taking the family pet for a ride!) on the water. To the manufacturer – VERY WELL DONE!!”

Cons

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.

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.

Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Summary
Sturdiness9.4
Sturdiness
Comfort9
Comfort
Durability9
Durability

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

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

Pros

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.

The Attack Pro was made to be a kayak that provides enough stability to appeal to beginners but also playful and responsive enough to please the more experienced adrenaline junkies.

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.

Cons

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.  

Specifications

  • Advanced Elements Attack Pro White water Kayak weighs 26 pounds 
  • It Measures 9'9" by 30."
  • Advanced Elements Attack Pro holds 225 pounds  

AE-Attack-Pro-1024x579

AE-Attack-Pro-1024x579

Bottom Line

After reading about top inflatable kayaks, you all should be on your way to becoming inflatable kayaks, Einsteins! I'm kidding, of course. There is no doubt that inflatable kayaks are safe, durable, and reliable, and they are just as good as many traditional kayaks, especially considering inflatables continue to improve and innovate.

We've already discussed five of the best inflatable kayak on the market, but many more are out there. Even if these inflatable kayaks did not whet your appetite, it is worth considering other inflatable kayaks available on the market. We are sure you'll be able to find one that meets all your needs to go out there and enjoy the water! 

Frequently Asked Questions