The best inflatable kayak of 2021

Boating & Sailing

Inflatable vessels were used in ancient times for fishing and transporting goods.

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Inflatable kayaks

Whether you’re new to the world of kayaking or someone who gets out on the water often, kayaking is a great way to spend a day outdoors while getting some exercise. The only problem with traditional hardshell kayaks is the amount of space they take up when not in use. 

For people with small homes or apartments who cannot properly store a traditional kayak, inflatable options are a perfect solution. Their lighter weight and compact size make them ideal for fitting in tight spaces, either in your home or the backseat of your car. When choosing an inflatable kayak, there are a few key features to keep in mind, including style, size, capacity and more.

Inflatable kayak key features 

Type of inflatable kayak

There are several different types of inflatable kayaks, but most break down into two categories based on length. 

The longer the kayak, the smoother and faster it glides through the water. Longer kayaks are great for calmer bodies of water like lakes and the ocean. Shorter styles make great whitewater kayaks, as they are easier to maneuver and better suited for more turbulent water. Recreational kayak length tends to fall somewhere in the middle.

Style of inflatable kayak 

Other than the length, the style of the kayak will make a difference. Some kayaks use a closed design that keeps most of your lower body protected from splashes. You’ll also see hybrid or canoe-kayak designs, which utilize a more open body with higher walls to prevent water from entering. A sit-on-top kayak design offers little splash protection but is easy to get in and out. 

There are also self-bailing kayaks, which allow any excess water to drain out through strategically placed holes throughout the boat’s floor.

Size of kayak 

If you think you’ll be the only person paddling at any given time, a single kayak will do the trick. However, if you plan to go out on the water with friends or family, a tandem kayak or even a three-person kayak might be a more practical option.

Other considerations

Some inflatable kayak models come equipped with paddles, though for those that don’t, you’ll want to choose a paddle length compatible with your kayak’s style and size. For instance, recreational kayaks will require longer paddles than whitewater kayaks. 

One of the main reasons people opt for inflatable kayaks is their portability. When choosing your boat, you’ll want to consider kayak storage, especially if you plan on transporting your inflatable kayak in a small car or even in a backpack. 

Safety

Are inflatable kayaks safe? Yes, inflatable kayaks are just as safe as hardshell kayaks and feature solid and durable materials in their build. Many are NMMA-certified. If you plan on using your kayak for whitewater, you should be familiar with specific safety guidelines. 

What is the best inflatable kayak to buy?

Intex Challenger Kayak Inflatable Set with Aluminum Oars

Intex Challenger Kayak Inflatable Set with Aluminum Oars

An affordable, one-person kayak, this Intex model features a comfortable adjustable seat and convenient cargo netting for extra gear storage.

Sold by Amazon

EPROSMIN 9FT Raft Inflatable Kayak

EPROSMIN 9FT Raft Inflatable Kayak

This model had improved safety with a double-layer airbag design and is suitable for 1-4 people, around 705 pounds in total. It is suitable for either boating or fishing.

Sold by Amazon

Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak

Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak

Crafted with fishing in mind and suitable for recreational use, this kayak comes with all the equipment you need to have a successful day on the water.

Sold by Amazon

Intex 68310VM Dakota K2 2-Person Heavy-Duty Vinyl Inflatable Kayak

Intex 68310VM Dakota K2 2-Person Heavy-Duty Vinyl Inflatable Kayak

Designed with two adventurers in mind, this two-person model is made of heavy-duty vinyl and has three air chambers. This is a solid inflatable kayak if you’re looking for speed and agility.

Sold by Amazon

Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak

Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak

This fishing kayak utilizes adjustable rod holders, making fishing easy. Its rugged and durable build will help prevent any leaks or punctures while transporting it to and from the water.

Sold by Amazon

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak

Similar in many aspects to the solo-person version, this two-person model features a longer body and an additional adjustable seat, which can even be positioned in the center for solo trips.

Sold by Amazon

Aquaglide McKenzie 125 Inflatable Kayak

Aquaglide McKenzie 125 Inflatable Kayak

Whether it’s a calm day on the lake or a heart-pounding paddle down some rapids, the Aquaglide McKenzie is up for the challenge. The self-bailing mesh keeps excessive amounts of water from filling up the cockpit.

Sold by Amazon

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak

Though you don’t have to use this kayak for your fishing trips, it does come equipped with two rod holders. Included in this bundle are two aluminum oars and a high-output pump.

Sold by Amazon

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Large enough to fit two passengers with gear and still not feel cramped, the Intex Explorer K2 uses a bright yellow heavy-duty vinyl for visibility in emergencies.

Sold by Amazon

Sea Eagle 330 Pro 2 Person Inflatable Sport Kayak

Sea Eagle 330 Pro 2 Person Inflatable Sport Kayak

Weighing just 26 pounds, the Sea Eagle 330 Pro features two skegs for increased speed and includes higher seatbacks for more comfort and support.

Sold by Amazon

Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak

Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak

NMMA-certified, this 12-foot kayak can easily fit three people. Conveniently placed splash covers help to minimize the amount of water landing in your kayak, keeping you dry.

Sold by Amazon

Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak

Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak

Being a three-person kayak with a weight limit of 650 pounds means you and a couple of friends can enjoy a day on the river or lake. Plus, you won’t have to worry if you come across a few rapids, as this model is rated for Class III whitewater.

Sold by Amazon

BRIS Inflatable Fishing Kayak

BRIS Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Though this model may feature a different design than most on our list, there is more than enough room and weight capacity to fit four people out on your next fishing excursion. The heat-welded seams will protect against any unwanted leaks or tears.

Sold by Amazon

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.