Paddles Meet Portability: The Absolute 5 Best Inflatable Kayaks

Whether it’s to get your adrenaline pumping, cast a line, or simply to watch the world go by—kayaking is one of the best boating activities!

That’s why, whenever it comes to making kayaking easier or more convenient, I’m all ears. And this is especially true for the increasingly popular inflatable kayaks I see more and more.

In fact, after taking a few for a test drive (or paddle), I feel they might be one of the best investments you can make as a boater.

So let’s break down why you might want to consider buying an inflatable kayak and some of the best out there today.

Why You Need an Inflatable Kayak

Most folks are simply happy to rent a kayak or buy a hard shell kayak. But could there be a happy medium?

Buying your own kayak is easier than renting the well-worn, potentially busted versions at the local boat rental shop.

And keeping a hard shell kayak around your house is hard to move around, easier to ruin and more difficult to transport (you sometimes need a kayak roof rack for your car). Sitting in your shed or garage, it’s more like a cumbersome paperweight than a watercraft.

Here’s a quick rundown of why inflatable kayaks offer the best bang for your buck:

  • Easy Storage — Kayaks that deflate are immensely easier to store in and around your home. Most inflatable kayaks even come with their own carrying case, allowing you to store them in your shed, basement, heck—even a hallway closet or car trunk!
  • Portability — Imagine going for a weekend of kayaking with your friends, and while they’re portaging and lifting their kayaks, all you have to do is deflate yours, wrap it up and walk it to your tent. Sound easy? That’s because it is!
  • Built to Last — Thanks to its compact design, everyday damages are much less likely to strike your inflatable kayak. Your kayak is going to be much safer (away from potential destruction via kids or canine) when it’s tucked away safely and out of sight.

Finding the Best Inflatable Kayak

Available are a whole host of options for inflatable kayaks. But before I profile a few of my favorites, I want to discuss some important considerations to make:

It’s All About Materials

Most inflatable kayaks are constructed from PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Why’s that? It’s easily the most cost-effective material available, while still providing a pretty safe ride.

The one major downfall is that PVC is sensitive to UV rays, which causes wear and tear to your kayak in particularly warm-weather climates.

Regarded as the ideal material is Hypalon. While it’s more expensive, Hypalon is by far more durable.

Comfort Is Key

Not all inflatable kayaks are designed equal, and that’s never more apparent when it comes to seat design. Keep in mind that these are inflatable, so sometimes their unrigid seats are not quite supportive enough and can cause backache.

While this isn’t a problem for short trips or younger riders, it leads to a lot of discomfort for older riders or anglers out on the water for hours at a time. Instead, consider purchasing an extra seat, which you can find in the accessories below.

Watch Out for Leakage!

Comfort and leakage issues go hand in hand. Quite often, paddlers unintentionally cause damage due to the bare-bones elements of a more basic inflatable kayak.

The same way that a cushion can prevent the keys in your pocket from unintended rips in the material, so can the added benefit of floors to your kayak.

These additional features can minimize the impact of your feet and body on your kayak, which means that multiple users don’t turn into long-term damage as readily.

All Sorts of Sports

Inflatable kayaks come in all shapes and sizes. There are ones specifically designed by fish, white-water conditions and others best suited for everyday use and adventures. Some even lend themselves better to larger bodies of water.

That said, I’ll profile the best ones below so you can discover which you need based on your specific boating requirements (and where you like to paddle for fun).