best inflatable kayak

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 uses 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 for fishing, 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).

Paddles Meet Portability: The Absolute 5 Best Inflatable Kayaks

Preview
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
Ztotop 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Inflatable Boat,Two Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Foot Pump
Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak with High Pressure Floor and EVA Padded Seats with High Back Support, Includes Action Cam Mount, Aluminum Paddles, Pump and More
Item
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak
Ztotop 2-Person Kayak
Driftsun Rover 220 White-Water Kayak
Size
10 ft
9 ft
8.5 ft
11. 5 ft
12.5
Capacity
400 lbs
220 lbs
400 lbs
400 lbs
600 lbs
Case
Best For
Rivers
Lakes and rivers
Fast-moving rivers
Lakes and mild rivers
Whitewater
Preview
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Item
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
Size
10 ft
Capacity
400 lbs
Case
Best For
Rivers
Check Price
Preview
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Item
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
Size
9 ft
Capacity
220 lbs
Case
Best For
Lakes and rivers
Check Price
Preview
Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
Item
Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak
Size
8.5 ft
Capacity
400 lbs
Case
Best For
Fast-moving rivers
Check Price
Preview
Ztotop 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Inflatable Boat,Two Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Foot Pump
Item
Ztotop 2-Person Kayak
Size
11. 5 ft
Capacity
400 lbs
Case
Best For
Lakes and mild rivers
Check Price
Preview
Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak with High Pressure Floor and EVA Padded Seats with High Back Support, Includes Action Cam Mount, Aluminum Paddles, Pump and More
Item
Driftsun Rover 220 White-Water Kayak
Size
12.5
Capacity
600 lbs
Case
Best For
Whitewater
Check Price

What are some of my favorite inflatable kayaks? Let’s profile them in this handy list:

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Check price on Amazon

best inflatable kayak

I’m a big fan of this option for two people, as the design is sturdy, the seats are designed to be comfortable and it can fit a maximum capacity of 400 pounds. This is a perfect date-night kayak, and the bright yellow color is perfect for visibility.

Keep in mind, though, that a kayak like this is designed for smaller bodies of water (ideally rivers) and even comes with its own paddles, pump and case. This is a great (and budget-friendly) option for casual kayakers and couples.

  • Size: 10 foot
  • Capacity: 400 lbs
  • Case: Included
  • Perfect For: Rivers

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Check price on Amazon

best inflatable kayak

Another great option for those who don’t want to break the bank but want a sturdy option. This kayak is the perfect one-seater and it even includes an additional storage net to keep supplies.

While it’s better suited for mild lakes and rivers, the inflatable i-beam floor helps prevent against punctures and it can comfortably suit someone roughly 220 pounds.

  • Size: 9 foot
  • Capacity: 220 lbs
  • Case: Not included
  • Perfect For: Lakes and rivers

Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak

Check price on Amazon

best inflatable kayak

Now, this is an inflatable kayak designed for adventurers!

This sit-on-top model is perfect for those who like to really traverse open waters, with rugged construction elements and a backpack carrying case (which is ideal for long-haul voyages over land).

Made out of PVC, the tarpaulin bottom is especially handy when treading occasional rocky or less-than-smooth terrain.

Also, while I’d be concerned about the seat’s comfort, the additional cup holder tells me that this is for someone who really likes to have fun out on the water.

  • Size: 8.5 foot
  • Capacity: 400 lbs
  • Case: Included
  • Perfect For: Fast-moving rivers

Ztotop 2-Person Kayak

Check price on Amazon

best inflatable kayak

A bit more expensive than most, this kayak is still a deal. Comfortably able to fit two full-grown adults, this heavy-duty and puncture-resistant inflatable kayak is better suited for larger bodies of water (or a little bit of choppiness here or there).

It deflates to the size of a suitcase, which makes it ultra-portable, and the additional foot pumps, paddles and repair kit make it easy to maintain. For a fishing trip, this would be a great option.

  • Size: 11.5 foot
  • Capacity: 400 lbs
  • Case: Not included
  • Perfect For: Lakes and mild rivers

Driftsun Rover 220 White-Water Kayak

Check price on Amazon

best inflatable kayak

If you really want to hit the water and have some fun, then this inflatable white-water kayak is exactly what you need.

It can fit up to 600 lbs and comes equipped with high-back seats and sturdy construction to stand even the roughest waters.

There’s even a camera mount for when you want to strap on a GoPro to film your adventures!

The best part? It only weighs around 28 pounds and pumps in nine minutes, which makes it super convenient for true adventurers.

  • Size: 12.5 foot
  • Capacity: 600 lbs
  • Case: Included
  • Perfect For: Whitewater

Handy Accessories for Your Inflatable Kayak

Once you decide on an inflatable kayak, you may want to upgrade with a few accessories.

Inflatable Kayak Bags and Cases

Preview
AIRE Inflatable Kayak Storage Bag
NRS Inflatable Kayak Storage Bag
Foldable Inflatable Boat Hull Storage and Carrying Bag (Size A: for Boats Upto 10.5')
Item
AIRE Inflatable Kayak Storage Bag
NRS Inflatable Kayak Storage Bag
Foldable Inflatable Boat Hull Storage and Carrying Bag (Size A: for Boats Upto 10.5')
Preview
AIRE Inflatable Kayak Storage Bag
Item
AIRE Inflatable Kayak Storage Bag
Check Price
Preview
NRS Inflatable Kayak Storage Bag
Item
NRS Inflatable Kayak Storage Bag
Check Price
Preview
Foldable Inflatable Boat Hull Storage and Carrying Bag (Size A: for Boats Upto 10.5')
Item
Foldable Inflatable Boat Hull Storage and Carrying Bag (Size A: for Boats Upto 10.5')
Check Price

What happens when your inflatable kayak doesn’t come with a case? In a “case” like this, here are a few options:

Inflatable Kayak Seat Cushions

best inflatable kayak

Another major concern, as previously mentioned, is opting for a more supportive kayak seat. One of my personal favorites is the Lixada Kayak Seat Cushion (check price on Amazon), which slips in wherever you need and prevents skidding while still providing comfort.

Inflate a Kayak For Your Next Paddling Adventure

When it comes to inflatable kayaks, it’s easy to see why they’re taking the market by storm and why so many people are turning to them over the traditional alternatives.

As you seek your ideal fit, keep these amazing inflatable kayak models in mind for your next adventure!