Inflatable Kayaks – Inexpensive, Stable, and Affordable

Of all the fun boats we review, nothing compares to inflatable kayaks. Thanks to their sleek design, these boats are frequently the choice of campers and fisherman who are willing to go a little smaller in craft in order to have more zip and maneuverability on the water.

Why These Designs are Popular

Inflatable kayaks, and their close cousin, inflatable canoes, are not only nimble, you won’t mind sitting in one all day. You can use them as a workhorse: hauling your gear for weeklong floats down Class IV into the wilderness, or use them for paddle fun at the lake while RV camping. These easy-to-inflate kayaks are so lightweight and compact to store that people even take them on vacation or take them along on raft trips and let the kids paddle solo alongside the larger raft.

Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak

Another reason these kayaks have gained popularity over the last few years is the advanced fabric technology and the seam construction. It’s not to say that one won’t ever puncture, but heavy-duty fabric such as Polykrylar PVC and 1000 denier-rated hull material make these inflatables incredibly tough little “yaks.”

Learn more about Inflatable Kayak Materials and Fabrics

Don’t worry about “popping” one either since the air pressure is low (below 3 psi) even though the air chamber is firm when filled. Buoyancy will also be a factor in how well the kayak or canoe responds on the river, since it will boof and bounce against rocks rather than get pinned in a hole like a hardshell can. Kayakers find that running fast rapids are usually safer in inflatable kayaks than in hardshells.

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Take a quick look at how inflatables compare to traditional hardshell kayaks:

Innova Whitewater Kayak

Pros of an Inflatable

  • Easy to learn
  • Wide, stable beam — won’t tip or capsize
  • Portable (deflate and carry)
  • Open design – you aren’t jammed in a cockpit all day
  • No need for car rack or garage storage space
  • Economical

Cons of an Inflatable versus a Hard-Shelled Kayak

  • Slower in the water
  • Takes more effort to paddle

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Wet and Dry Conditions

Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak

If you are weighing the choice between models, keep in mind that many inflatable kayaks and canoes are designed for “wet” conditions, that is, water is expected to get inside the compartment. To overcome this problem, the boat has a self-bailing drain valve to remove the water.

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Two examples of this type of self-bailing craft come from Sea Eagle which makes the canoe-inspired Sport Kayaks, and the Explorer Kayaks. They have a wet or dry feature, and that means the inflatable is ready for all kinds of weather and river conditions: with the four drain valves open, the kayak is self-bailing in whitewater conditions. Then, on a non-technical river or calm water, you can close the drain valves. With this option, you and your gear in the boat remain dry.

Size also matters in terms of how the inflatable kayak or canoe will track on the water. The Sea Eagle 330 weighs just 26 lbs yet can carry up to 500 pounds. Sounds perfect for solo travelers but here we recommend a longer boat for better performance. In the Explorer series, we suggest you step up to the 380x (12'6") or the 420x (14') over the 340x (11'). The difference is only $50 between sizes but the longer kayaks track straighter and handle better in the water than short ones.

If you are interested in learning more about inflatable kayaks and canoes, accessories, availability, and pricing, check out our reviews of Sea Eagle and other inflatable models. There’s no need to settle for an old, used, and cheap kayak, not when you can buy new at an economical price.

How to Choose an Inflatable

Inflatable Recreational Kayaks – The Most Popular Yaks on the Market

Inflatable Sea Kayaks – Sit-In and Sit-on-Top (SOT) Ocean Kayaks

Inflatable Whitewater Kayaks Rival Performance of Hardshell Kayaks

Inflatable Fishing Kayaks Bring Versatility to Your Favorite Sport

Return from Inflatable Kayaks to the Best Inflatable Boats Home Page

Inflatable Boats

Sea Eagle 124smb

Sea Eagle 124 Super Motormount
Length/Width: 12'4" x 5'6"
Capacity: 4 persons (1560 lbs)
Engine: 6 hp/74 lbs thrust electric
Warranty: 3 years

Inflatable Kayaks

Sea Eagle 420x Explorer Kayak

Sea Eagle 420x Explorer
Dimensions: 14' x 3'1"
Capacity: 3 adults (855 lbs)
Warranty: 3 years


Sea Eagle 440fc FoldCat

Sea Eagle 440fc FoldCat
Length/Width: 14'3" x 5'11"
Capacity: 4 adults (950 lbs)
Engine: 4 hp gas
Warranty: 3 years

Inflatable Kayak Comparison Charts

Inflatable Kayaks Comparison Chart

Kayaks $70 - $999
Kayaks $1000+

Inflatable Boat Comparison Charts

Inflatable Boat Comparison Chart

Boats $85 - $999
Boats $1000+