Typically and traditionally, kayaks have been made of hardened materials such as hardwood and Plastics such as PVC. Now, however, the world of kayaking is growing and more and more options are coming to the market. The most prominent of these new developments inflatable kayaks.
Many potential kayak buyers have reservations when it comes to purchasing an inflatable boat, the reasons for which you can probably imagine. People think they’re going to sink due to punctures, or that they’re not even remotely durable. This, however, is not the case.
Some of the inflatable kayaks that are available on the market today are as durable as, if not more durable than their traditional solid counterparts. In this guide, we’re going to explain why that is the case, as well as look at a number of the advantages and disadvantages that come with the purchase of an inflatable kayak.
If you like the sound of inflatable kayak, read on towards the end of our guide in which we recommend some of what we think are the best inflatable kayaks available.
Why Are Inflatable Kayaks Good? Are They Right For You?
Whether or not inflatable kayaks will work in your situation or depending on exactly what your situation is. Some of the things that you won’t want to consider all your transportation options, how regularly you’re going to be using your kayak, as well as the storage opportunities that you have available. You should also consider the types of water that you will be moving around on.
Transportation and Storage of Inflatable Kayaks Is A Breeze
As you have probably guessed, transporting and storing inflatable kayaks is far easier than transporting and storing traditional kayaks. They are of course significantly lighter and pack away into a much smaller area than hard-shell kayaks do.
You can also travel around the more easily with an inflatable kayak – with a hard kayak, you’re pretty much restricted to your personal transportation means if you’d like to move it anywhere. However, an inflatable kayak can be rolled up into a holdall and taking on any public transport that you like to wherever you like to go – true freedom!
Even in terms of your personal transportation, there’s no need to modify the roof of your car with an inflatable kayak – it can be quickly put inside and inflated on arrival at your destination.
It tends to be the case that inflatable kayaks have wider dimensions than they are hard shell counterparts. With the wider bases and teller sides, inflatable kayaks can keep you in a much more secure position when it comes to a faster-moving part of water. The wider the base and the taller the sides, the more likely you are to remain in a secure and balanced position.
Not all inflatable kayaks are designed for faster water though, there are also touring options available. There truly are all bases covered when it comes to the market of inflatable kayaks.
Due to the fact that inflatable kayaks are filled up with a year and are not as dense as hard-shell kayaks, they are more difficult to capsize. This could be an important point to consider in terms of safety, particularly if you are an inexperienced paddler.
In the majority of cases, inflatable kayaks are cheaper than the hard-shell alternatives. If you were to compare two similar specs to kayaks together, one inflatable and one hard shell, the chances are that the hard shell is going to be considerably more expensive.
The advantage of inflatable kayaks being cheaper is that they offer a much more accessible entry point into the world of kayaking compared to hard shell kayaks. On the contrary, even if you are a highly experienced kayaker, an inflatable boat can act as a great backup to store within your main kayak should the worst happen. A lot of professional kayakers simply keep an inflatable kayak at home too, in the event that for example, their main kayak is temporarily out of service.
Inflatable kayaks truly do tend to both sides of the market.
They Can Be More Likely To Burst And Sink
Some of the more expensive inflatable kayaks that are available on the market I made from extremely durable material, that is in many cases just as robust as a hard shell. However, there are also an awful lot of inflatable kayaks that are not as robust as hard shells and will be more open to damage and sinking.
Some of the previously mentioned more expensive inflatable kayaks are reinforced internally with hard-wearing rubber. This means that if the outer shell were, in fact, to be damaged, which is unlikely, then the air inside would still be more protected from escaping. In other words, if you’re looking to buy an inflatable kayak, it’s not advisable to cheap out!
One of the main points to look out for when purchasing an inflatable kayak is how many air compartments your boat has. The best boats have multiple compartments to ensure that, in the event, one deflates, the boat will still stay afloat. Each compartment has its own air valve and is inflated individually.
More Difficult to Paddle Than Hard Shells
The large majority of the time, inflatable kayaks will not be as easy to paddle or as fast as hard-shell kayaks. This is due to the fact that they are more resistant, and often not as streamlined. This, however, does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that inflatable kayaks are slow – they’re just not the absolute best option if you’re looking for maximum paddling efficiency.
Unless you’re paddling particularly hard, the chances are that you won’t even notice the difference between the two types.
Another thing to be particularly aware of is the weather – if you are in an inflatable kayak in the wind becomes high, they can become quite difficult to keep under control.
Setting Up and Packing Away Is More Time Consuming
There is no doubt that getting started with a hard shell kayak is a lot faster. With an inflatable kayak, you need to set aside a considerable amount of time to unwrap the kayak and inflate it. You then need to set aside arguably even more time at the end to deflate the kayak and pack it away properly. This can be very annoying if you’re on a time budget.
In terms of getting started and finishing with your day of kayaking, a hard shell is so much more convenient since they simply need to be pushed and pulled out f the water and can be loaded onto a car or van quickly and easily.
They Won’t Last As Long
This is probably another obvious point to make. A kayak that is made of inflatable material is it simply not going to last as long as a hard shell eternity this made of wood or plastic will. Inflatable material inevitably deteriorates over time and will become more prone to punctures and damage.
Another thing to consider is that in the event a puncture does take place, this area will be permanently weak and structurally, and not as resistant to bumps and use.
What Inflatable Kayaks Do We Recommend?
The Best For Fishing – The Intex Excursion Pro
The Intex Excursion Pro is one of the best kayaks that’s available for fishing – from both the hardshell and inflatable kayak markets. It is packed full of amazing features that make it an extremely hardwearing kayak that’s a pleasure to use.
The Intex Excursion Pro has been developed with a poly material that is 3 plies thick – it’s extremely durable and resistant to pretty much anything that you could throw at it – within reason of course!
As we mentioned previously in our guide, inflating and deflating kayaks can be quite time consuming and tiring. Intex has recognized this and fitted this kayak with spring-loaded valves to ensure that air can get into and out of the kayak as quickly and as easily as possible. These reduce the effort needed when deflating and inflating considerably.
There are three different air chambers in the Intex Excursion Pro, meaning that in the unlikely event one were to deflate, you would be kept afloat for the time being by the other two.
Sitting in this kayak is a very nice place to be – it feels extremely secure and is comfortable. The i-beam floor makes for tough construction, and the adjustable inflated seats are a very comfortable place to sit.
The Intex Excursion Pro comes with a wealth of extra features too, including directional skegs to guide the boat through the water, footrests that can be adjusted to your desired position, and fishing rod supports.
The package comes with a carryall, pressure gauge, powerful pump, and two paddles. It’s one of our favorite inflatable kayaks around!
Driftsun Voyager 2
The Driftsun Voyager 2 is another one of our favorite inflatable kayaks. Being a tandem (read more on tandems here if you’re unsure), the Voyager 2 is able to accommodate 2 people on a trip.
It’s a comfortable kayak that’s been well designed to handle a number of different water types – it’s just as ideal for cruising about on a mirror-like lake as it is for taking down a fast-moving river!
The Voyager 2 is constructed from nylon that’s durable and resistant to tearing, as well as a heavy-duty tarpaulin. It’s not a kayak that’s going to be easily punctured.
As we’ve mentioned, the weight capacity on a number of inflatable kayaks is truly amazing when compared to what the kayak itself weighs. For example, the Voyager 2 weighs only 37 pounds but can support up to a staggering 450 pounds. This is more than enough capacity to handle two adults, as well as equipment and supplies for the day.
The padded seating in the Voyager 2 can be adjusted to a position that you’re comfortable in, and the aluminum paddles that it comes provided with make for an easy, lightweight paddling experience.
The Voyager 2 comes as a package that allows you to get out on the water straight away!
Intex Explorer K2 – The High-Quality Budget Option
The Explorer K2 is a kayak that can comfortably house either one or two people. It measures in at 10 feet long and makes a great kayak for touring around smaller bodies of water in great comfort.
The K2 is extremely comfortable – an awful lot of comfort for the small price that Intex is asking for this K2.
The Explorer K2 is fitted with a skeg on the bottom. A sked is a small blade that looks similar to a rudder and helps considerably with directional stability. Even if you’re a beginner kayaker, you’ll be able to get around very easily and very comfortably on an Explorer K2.
Due to the dimensions of the K2, it is primarily suited to smaller areas of water. Even though it’s a small tandem though, this doesn’t mean to say that it’s not strong. The K2 is still able to support a very impressive 400 pounds of load.
The package comes with two paddles, a powerful pump, and a high-quality bag to carry the kayak around in.
Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Sport Kayak – The Fast, High-Performing Kayak
This sport kayak is a kayak that has been optimized to be used in all types of water – from large open areas of lake to small fast rivers, this kayak is more than up to the task.
This Advanced Element’s boat is slightly heavier at the bow and stern (front and back), as it has been weighted very subtly with aluminum. This aluminium not only increases rigidity of the boat, but also agility. This small extra bit of weight at either end of the boat makes turning it around very easy indeed – it’s one of the most agile boats that we have ever reviewed.
This kayak is extremely lightweight, weighing only 26 lbs. Considering the conditions that this kayak has been designed to cope with, this is extremely lightweight. It’s designed to carry one person and can support up to 250 pounds – more than enough for a person and some equipment.
This kayak has 4 separate air chambers too – if you happen to suffer a puncture somewhere, only a quarter of the boat will start to lose air. You’ll still be kept afloat and dry until you can get into the shore.
Aftercare – Keeping Your Inflatable Kayak In The Best Possible Condition
When your kayak is out on the water being used, you should be sure to take good care of its material. Caring for your kayak properly doesn’t take a huge amount of time, and if done properly, it will add years to the life of your boat.
When you’ve finished kayaking for the day:
Be sure not to leave your kayak exposed to UV for an extended period of time – UV rays, just as with our skin, don’t do the material that’s used to make inflatable kayaks any good. They can cause it to weaken and become more susceptible to damage.
Keep It Dry After Use – ensuring that you’re kayak is dry before packing it away is an essential, particularly if you’re not planning on using it again anytime soon. A kayak that is packed away with a lot of moisture will become very open to damage by mold and dampness.
Don’t use any harsh chemicals when cleaning – harsh soaps and chemicals can damage the material of your kayak considerably. It’s important to either use simply clean cold water, or a specially designed kayak soap.
If you take care of your inflatable kayak by following the above steps, your kayak will last a great deal longer than it would otherwise.