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Best Kayaks

10 Reliable Inflatable Kayaks in 2021 (Portable + Affordable)

Your regular hardshell kayak may look like a sporty statement when transporting around on the roof of your car — but for some, this could be reminiscent of a horrific Final Destination scene. With inflatable kayaks, you avoid causing road accidents, and also enjoy the convenience of easy-storage!

Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start searching for the right kayak. This article includes our favourite finds so you can get straight into planning your next summer trip.

Best & Reliable Inflatable Kayaks of 2021

1. Our Pick: Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Gadget User Rating 5

The Intex Explorer Inflatable Kayak is a recommended go-to option for many beginners or those who only kayak recreationally. While it is built to withstand scratches and puncture holes, it’s definitely not recommended to use this kayak on vigorous water activities.

However, it is handy that this kayak comes with paddles and an air pump to ease your set-up procedures. If you’re new to kayaking or enjoy just a short paddle around the waters, the Intex Explorer will not let you down.

Gadget Features Inspired For You

Great Value | Strong Durability | Helpful Accessories Included | Attractive & Flashy Design | Easy Set-up

Benefits

  • Seats on kayak come with backrest for comfort
  • Flashy yellow design increases visibility
  • Pair of paddles (2.18m in length) included
  • Air pump included as well
  • 3 air chambers

Drawbacks

  • Carry-bag could be more durable
  • Space can be restrictive for tall people

2. Premium Pick: Oru Beach LT

Gadget User Rating 5

The Oru Beach LT earned its spot as our Premium Pick for a reason. For its price, it provides similar performance quality as that of a hardshell kayak without weighing like one. Plus, it’s foldable for convenient storage. Although, it is important to note that many users have provided feedback on how unfolding and folding does take a bit of time to get used to the first few tries.

We highly recommend the Oru Beach LT kayak to any seasoned kayaker looking for a more convenient alternative to the hardshell.

Gadget Features Inspired For You

Modern & Sleek Design | Heavy-Duty Durability | Easy Set-Up | Convenient Storage

Benefits

  • No inflation needed
  • Lightweight & Portable (11.8 kg)
  • Performs just like a regular hardshell kayak

Drawbacks

  • Paddles sold separately

3. Best Value: Bestway Hydro-Force Lite-Rapid

Gadget User Rating 5

The Bestway Hydro-Force Lite-Rapid is great for kids and adults alike. Don’t be fooled by its lightweight structure, it can carry a maximum load of 160kg. It’s built out of durable vinyl, which makes it resistant to UV rays and corrosion due to extended periods out in the sun and water. It may be an inflatable kayak, but it can weather adequately rough waters such as river streams.

Additionally, it’s great for fishing trips too! When you’re done for the day, it’s extremely easy to deflate and store until the next adventure.

Gadget Features Inspired For You

Extremely Durable | Easy to Transport | Budget-Friendly

Benefits

  • 2 oars included
  • Seats with backrests for comfort
  • Great for fishing, rivers or streams
  • Easy to assemble and disassemble

Drawbacks

  • Drip rings on oar paddles could be larger

4. Driftsun Voyager 2 Person Inflatable Kayak

Gadget User Rating 5

The reason why there’s so much hesitation when it comes to inflatable kayaks is due to the higher chances of them getting punctured during use. The Driftsun Voyager 2 Person Inflatable Kayak changes that narrative. This is great for anyone at any skill level and is manufactured to resist harsh waters too. The floor of the Driftsun is made of PVC tarpaulin to prevent punctures from sandy or rocky floors during your trip. Its overall structure is also coated with nylon fabric to prevent tears.

Plus, its valves are so reliable that they will not come undone when in use to cause leakage. The only shortfall is that this kayak does not come with an instruction manual — but fret not as many experienced kayakers have uploaded easily-accessible tips and reviews online.

Gadget Features Inspired For You

Quick Set-up | Compact & Lightweight | Heavy-Duty Durability

Benefits

  • Aluminium kayak paddles included
  • Air pump and travel bag included
  • Designed to withstand both calm and rough waters

Drawbacks

  • Lacks a detailed instruction manual, leaves users to figure out assembly on their own

5. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak w/ Aluminium Oar

Gadget User Rating 5

If you love fishing on kayaks, you would know how uncomfortable it gets to sit for long periods of time. This Intex Excursion Pro Kayak model assures comfort so that you can have a better time fishing. Beyond fishing, it’s definitely great for chill kayaking sessions in calm water bodies. On the plus side, it’s extremely easy to inflate and set-up, as well as deflate it and fold it up for storage.

We recommend the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak for anyone looking for comfort when it comes to kayaking!

Gadget Features Inspired For You

Comfortable to Sit in | Great for Fishing Trips | Durable | Easy Set-up

Benefits

  • Comfort guaranteed
  • Lightweight & easy to store
  • Has a capacity of 181.44 kg
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Oars included

Drawbacks

  • Oars are quite flimsy

6. Sevylor K1 Quikpak 1-Person Kayak

Gadget User Rating 4.7

Prefer to kayak solo? Sevylor K1 Quikpak is the choice for you. Extremely stable on water, it’s safe for any one of any age or skill level to use. While it is absolutely durable and mostly puncture-resistant, we advise only seasoned kayakers to attempt using the Quikpak in choppy waters.

Aside from that, it’s super easy to transport in its travel backpack thanks to its lightweight structure. Plus, it’s so easy to set-up that you’ll be in the water in no less than five minutes!

Gadget Features Inspired For You

Compact & Lightweight | Extremely Portable | Quick Set-up | Budget-Friendly

Benefits

  • Comes with a backpack for easy portability
  • 21-gauge PVC body structure to withstand rough surfaces and waters
  • Couple of air chambers to combat any punctures during use
  • Airtight, double-lock valves system to prevent leakages
  • Comes with air pump & paddle

Drawbacks

  • Recommended to buy a separate set of paddles instead of using the one provided

7. Solstice by Swimline Durango Kayak

Gadget User Rating 4.7

If you’re looking for a kayak that is heavy-duty enough to withstand choppy waters but still be lightweight and portable, Swimline Durango Kayak’s Solstice is the way to go. It’s versatile and durable enough to work as a fishing kayak, but also brave the roughness of whitewater activity. We love that it includes storage space inside the kayak too — which means you can keep snacks, essentials, or fishing gear when in use.

Plus, the nylon seating is 100% adjustable. This means you can switch from a two-seater to a single-seater, or even bring a pet along for the ride. Just take note that this kayak can only hold up to about 200kg in weight, which is still pretty impressive for an inflatable.

Gadget Features Inspired For You

Great for Any Water Activity | Heavy-Duty Durability | Secure Storage Space in Kayak

Benefits

  • 22-gauge K-80 PVC premium & durable material
  • PU coated 840 nylon oxford fabric cover to withstand exposure to harsh elements
  • I-beam flooring
  • Comes with travel bag to for easy transportation
  • Comes with repair kit

Drawbacks

  • Paddles not included
  • Singular built-in drainhole

8. Sea Eagle 370 Pro

Gadget User Rating 4.8

Sea Eagle’s popular for creating the most reliable inflatables — and they didn’t disappoint with the 370 Pro model. If you’re a seasoned kayaker looking for a portable alternative to the bulky hardshells, put this inflatable kayak on your list. Inflating the 370 Pro takes no longer than six minutes, and is built to conquer the ruggedness of class III whitewater.

Great for all skill levels, and has enough capacity (around 295 kg) for a fur friend to tag along. It’s less likely to capsize, so it’s easier to get back on should you fall off it. Seatings could use some improvements for comfort levels, but overall is a great inflatable kayak to have.

Gadget Features Inspired For You

NMMA Certified | Easy Portability | Doesn’t Take Up a lot of Space in Storage | Great for All Types of Water Activities

Benefits

  • Trusted & renowned brand name
  • Premium-grade PVC to ensure maximum durability
  • Easy & quick to inflate
  • I-beam flooring
  • Easy to maneuver on

Drawbacks

  • Seating isn’t as comfortable

9. Solstice by Swimline Flare Kayak

Gadget User Rating 4.7

We just had to include another Solstice by Swimline Flare Kayak because of their tough durability feature — which is a key quality when looking for good inflatable kayaks. You can rely on this kayak for various levels of activities, be it touring around calm waters or tackling a choppy river stream. The adjustable seats make it very versatile for different occasions too.

Due to it being an inflatable, there may be a little bit of instability when you paddle too hard on the Swimline Flare Kayak. Besides that, it’s a pretty neat kayak great for all skill levels and water activities.

Gadget Features Inspired For You

Heavy-Duty Durability | Compact & Portable | Great for All Water Activities

Benefits

  • Nylon-covered fabric for durability & resistance to scratches
  • 1000 denier nylon fabric cover & high pressure floor to withstand choppy waters
  • Adjustable seats
  • Elastic cords built-in for cargo storage
  • Comes with air pump, carry bag and gauge

Drawbacks

  • Can get unstable when paddling too hard

10. Advanced Elements AE1012-R Advanced Frame Inflatable Kayak

Gadget User Rating 4.7

To the untrained eye, the Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak looks just like a regular hardshell one. It’s actually a cross between an inflatable and folding kayak — which explains its sturdiness and portability. Its structure allows better tracking performance It may only hold one paddler, but it offers spacious storage when in use too.

Once you get used to setting it up, it’ll take a few minutes to get it up and running. Additionally, you’ll be in safe hands when out and about thanks to its multiple air chambers.

Gadget Features Inspired For You

Awesome Stability | Easy to Inflate | Lightweight & Portable

Benefits

  • Aluminum ribs are built-in to give structure to bow and stern
  • Incredible puncture-resistance thanks to three layers of protective material (PVC Tarpaulin and vinyl)
  • Seat is comfortable and comes with padded backrest

Drawbacks

  • Set-up needs quite a bit of practice to get used to

Buying Guide

No matter your skill level, buying a kayak means a ton of research and criteria to be met. Before purchasing, you should make sure your selection meets the following:

Determine Purpose of Inflatable Kayak

Don’t make the mistake of assuming every inflatable kayak is designed to perform like the regular hardshell. Most of the time, customers get disappointed when the kayak they’ve purchased isn’t suitable for their activities and they leave bad reviews about it. If you are clear about your purpose, you’ll avoid this disappointment!

Some kayaks are made just for relaxed paddling around, while some are made to withstand rougher waters for extreme water sports enthusiasts. For example, if you’re interested in tackling whitewater rapids, perhaps getting a more durable inflatable like the Sea Eagle 370 Pro would be suitable. If you are in search for a fishing kayak, then comfort would be your priority since you will need a longer time out in the water.

Additionally, it’s good to consider if the seating is comfortable for your planned purpose. Usually, fishing may entail a lot of idle time — so if you’re not comfortable in your seat, it’ll be an unpleasant experience. An inflatable seat or padded seats with backrests are some of the features to ensure comfort when in use. Ideally, we recommend you find an inflatable that permits adjustable seating for versatility too. That way, you can always choose to bring a friend along or go solo whenever you feel like it!

Kayak’s Materials

When it comes to inflatable kayaks, there are many concerns about safety as it could often mean the risk of being easily punctured. This is a valid concern, especially if you plan to go whitewater rafting or tour around places with rocky or sandy bottoms. To avoid fears of damage and leakage, it’s always safer to invest in a boat with premium-grade durability. To get peace of mind, here is a quick table that includes reliable materials you should look out for to ensure durability.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Common material used in inflatable kayaks. It can be easily merged with other materias to resist scratches, punctures, choppy waters and more. However, this material can be damaged by UV rays, so look out for kayaks manufactured with additional UV protection.
Nitrylon A more durable version of PVC — it is a combination of synthetic rubber, natural rubber and polyester. This will ensure a scratch-resistant and puncture-resistant kayak. Plus, it’s a more eco-friendly alternative.
Hypalon This is a heavy-duty material usually used in military-grade crafts. More on the pricier side, but it’s an investment to consider if you want maximum durability against harsh elements.

You could also keep a lookout for the amount of denier used in the fabric covers of the kayak. The higher the amount, the better the durability. Additional coatings are useful as well.

On the plus side, an inflatable kayak usually comes with multiple air chambers too, which help you stay afloat and buy you sometime to get ashore should you actually puncture your craft.

Weight Capacity and Size of Kayak

This is a criterion that many users overlook — they pack on too close to the stated weight capacity. Although it is designed to carry that much weight, it’s highly recommended to have enough leeway. After all, it is an inflatable craft. You still have to consider if the activity you’re using the kayak for can withstand both the weight and the elements you’re in.

Additionally, many users forget to estimate if they can fit comfortably in the selected craft. If possible, it’s always great to contact the manufacturer for more information. For example, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is marketed to fit two people — and yet two customers feedbacked that it was too small for their height. Getting estimates of the space available can help you avoid this mishap.

Extra Accessories

As you can see from our list of inflatable kayaks, some packages include its own specific air pump, a carry bag, and sometimes paddles. Again, it really depends on what you plan to use the kayak for. If you’re more into a fishing kayak, extra accessories like fishing rod holders would come in handy.

Having storage on board would be a plus for you too. D-rings help to keep your essentials in place and prevent them from shifting around when in use. It is important to note that sometimes, these additional accessories may not be of equal quality as your kayak. Bear this in mind when you are deciding on which craft to purchase, as you don’t want to end up having to buy separate accessories.

When it comes down to safety, keep a lookout for the inclusion of grab lines. These are essential in helping you get back on your kayak should you fall overboard or capsize. Additionally, a repair kit can come in handy in times of emergencies too. Take for example, the Solstice by Swimline Durango Kayak comes with its own specific repair kit.

Conclusion

When you have a reliable kayak, you can concentrate on having fun and enjoying your water activities. That being said, we hope this article has cleared up some doubts and helped you in your search for the best inflatable kayak for your next adventure!

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Adam Lucci

Father to Kaiser 🐕 and currently living in Melbourne. Enjoy my phenomenal reviews on the most trending and coolest released gadgets.