Inflatable kayaks used to be something best left in the bathtub toy department. Sure, if you had one, you could probably take it out on the lake for a sundowner “float”, but that use to be it – there was really nothing fancy about an inflatable kayak. Today, however, inflatable kayaks have evolved to such an extent that they’ve become some pretty interesting recreational machines. For those of us who just can’t afford or haul a solid, molded kayak, inflatable is the next best thing!
|Sea Eagle Fast Track||2||$$$$|
|Aire Lynx II||2||$$$$|
|Sea Eagle Razor Lite||1||$$$$|
|Innova Helios I||1||$$$$|
|NRS Outlaw II||2||$$$|
But, there’s a catch with inflatable kayaks. It all comes down to just how well it’s able to track, although they’re faster and track straighter than older inflatables.
When it comes to the outer shell of an inflatable, you’ve got three basic options:
- PVC – probably one of the best materials for the outer shell of your inflatable kayak. It’s not the lightest of materials, which is exactly why there are two other options.
- Fabric Skin – fabric skin inflatables have better water resistance thanks to their frame designs
- Hypalon – Hypalon is a synthetic rubber that’s super lightweight and very resistant to the elements.
Having an inflatable kayak with the right skin ensures that your investment will be well worth it. Keep in mind that if your activities include anything but tranquil waters, you might want to seriously consider an inflatable kayak that comes with a reinforced aluminum hull.
The Inflatable Kayak Basics…
There’s quite a lot to consider before dicing in and investing in an inflatable kayak, such as:
- What amount are you prepared to spend? Some inflatables can be acquired for less than $200 while others will break the bank if you don’t know how much you can or should invest.
- Do you need a single or a tandem kayak? Single person kayaks are great for solo expeditions, but if you love company, tandem kayaks are great investments.
- What size do you need? Some of them come in at 10 feet, others at 12. Most kayakers believe that 14 feet is the perfect length.
- How far will you be carrying the kayak? This is a major determining factor when it comes to the weight of the kayak.
Inflatable kayaks ARE very budget friendly.
Average quality, entry level inflatable kayaks cost less than $200. Sure, some of them push the red-line, hovering at around the $2000 mark, but then you’re looking at the very best quality reinforced hull kayaks. If you’ve got about $600 to spend, you should easily be able to find yourself great quality inflatable kayak.
We’ve got the business end of things pretty much sorted there, which leads us to the most important part of this article…
The Best Inflatable Kayaks
While the options seem endless, in our opinion there are some inflatable kayaks that just stand out from the rest. We’ve rounded up 5 of the best inflatable kayaks on the market today that cater to just about every need. We picked these guys based on their quality, stability, value, performance and popularity. They’re not lined up in any particular order, and to be honest, any one of these would be an excellent choice.
This inflatable kayak has been around since 2010, and it’s still hugely popular, so it’s not hard to understand that it really brings great quality to the table.
Weighing in at only 31 lbs., its unique slim design gives it the great factor of speed when you need it most.
The Fast Track is perfect for flat water use, but it could easily handle a little whitewater.
We love the fact that it comes available in solo models, 2-seaters, a sailing package, an electric motor package and a fishing package, which just makes you realize that Sea Eagle caters for just about anyone’s needs.
Check out our review on the Sea Eagle 330!
The Lynx comes in as one of the best all-day river adventure inflatable kayaks.
It weighs in at around 32 pounds, so it’s not going to break your back carrying it around.
We love the fact that it comes with a pretty solid 10 year warranty, which automatically reassures you of the great quality you’ll get for the money invested.
The other great thing about this inflatable is the fact that it wasn’t designed with just flat water in mind, handling class IV rapids with ease. If you need higher performance, there’s an optional closed-cell floor that can be added on, or you can just stick with the air-cell floor if you want to keep the weight down to a minimum.
In our view, the Lynx’s main reason for being so popular is the fact that it performs magnificently and was built solid with durability in mind.
For solo flat water touring, and an experience unlike any other inflatable kayak, the Sea Eagle Razor Lite is probably one of your best go-to options.
Its sleek design measures in at a width of only 28 inches for the solo model and 30 inches for the tandem model.
The drop-stick technology in the construction is probably what really makes this inflatable kayak stand out above the rest.
That translates to the kayak being able to hold much more air pressure, so you can inflate it to a much higher PSI level than any other inflatable kayak.
With the higher air pressure you get a much more rigid kayak. Add that to the super sleek design, a solid bow and stern molds PLUS the fact that the entire length of the kayak is in the water while paddling and you’ve got a serious powerhouse inflatable kayak!
There’s one thing you should note however, and that is that the Sea Eagle Razor Lite might not be as stable when compared to other inflatables, but that sure doesn’t mean it’s not a pleasure to paddle.
Here’s an inflatable kayak that’s perfect for open water paddling such as sea kayaking.
One of the main reasons for the Helios’s popularity is the fact that it weighs in at a feather light 29 lbs. It’s super easy to just roll this guy up and transport it in the backpack you get when purchasing it. This makes the Helios one of the best outdoor adventure kayaks on the market today.
We love the fact that it will hold its own even in wind and waves while ocean paddling.
If you need an inflatable kayak that’s easy to manage, super easy to take along just about anywhere you go and that can be used on the ocean or on flat water, then the Helios is a great pick.
The Helios is available in a solo and a tandem model and comes with a solid 2 year warranty.
The Outlaw is probably the best bang for your buck.
You’re probably not going to want to use this one for open water paddling, but it will give you loads of value for your money and can be used for a wide variety of applications. That’s also probably one of the main reasons why the Outlaw is so popular, it’s affordable!
But it doesn’t only offer affordability… it also packs comfortability and stability and its design really makes it a great performer for the amount of money invested.
This inflatable will easily handle up to class IV rapids, even more so if you add thigh straps and a foot brace. You can choose between the solo model and a tandem model, and you get a pretty good 3 year warranty with this inflatable kayak.
The Wrap Up
While the options seem endless, we believe that you now have the knowledge of what to look for in the best inflatable kayak.
When it comes down to it, reading the specifications of the inflatable kayak you have your eye on is one of the most essentials things to do before investing in it.
Kayaking has become so much more than just a sport for athletic adventurers, which is why nowadays just about anyone can embrace the world of kayaking.
Having the best ride possible is you best way to be fully prepared for this (often daring) adventure, and an inflatable kayak is the easiest and cheapest way of getting your hands on that ride.
Since they are lighter and more durable than rigid kayaks, inflatables seem to be the perfect choice, and hopefully armed with the right information, you’ll be able to invest in the perfect kayak for your needs.