Inflatable Sea Kayaks – Sit-In and Sit-on-Top (SOT) Ocean Kayaks
Long and sleek in their profile, inflatable sea kayaks have one special use. With plenty of cargo room, a tracking fin, narrow beam, and smooth glide with excellent handling, these are rugged boats for venturing out to sea.
The Kayak That Suits Your Needs
While shopping for a new inflatable kayak, you need to consider which boat design is better suited for the type of water you spend most of your time around. If you currently use a recreational kayak between 9 feet and 12 feet, it may work fine in small lakes and rivers, but when you are island hopping, you want something longer that has more speed.
Longer kayaks in the range of 13 feet to 16 feet will be the best choice for inflatable ocean kayaks. The longer boats provide the speed you need as well as better tracking when fitted with a large skeg or fin on the bottom of the hull. If you will be paddling for miles, just an extra foot of boat will help your journey go a lot faster, and your paddle strokes more efficient and less tiring than you would experience in a shorter recreational IK.
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Better models of inflatable sea kayaks also feature high pressure air floors to give the bottom of the boat a concave keel shape for superior gliding performance in the water. Try to avoid models with a low pressure floor, as the hull can bottom out under the weight of the paddler and create drag in the water.
What Style is Right For You
Inflatable sea kayaks come in two primary designs: the Sit-In kayak and the Sit-on-Top (SOT) kayak. The latter type is popular for coastal fishing or for use as a diving platform, and both are long and narrow with good tracking capabilities.
A few SOTs, for example the StraightEdge 2 by Advanced Elements, are hybrid designs. The StraightEdge features aluminum bow and stern ribs under the skin, and it doesn’t look like a Sit-on-Top at first glance but it has a shallow cockpit.
A newer type of inflatable sea kayak uses a double pontoon design for stability and hauling more gear, but generally, it is classified as an SOT model. The Sea Eagle Paddleski is a good example of this style.
Discover Award Winning Designs
Though they are sometimes called touring kayaks or even expedition kayaks, not all 13-foot and longer inflatable kayaks are sea worthy. For example, the 14-foot Sea Eagle 420x Explorer has self-bailing ports so it can be taken down Class IV rapids but it won’t perform well at sea, especially when compared to the Innova Helios II, which twice won a Readers Choice Award from Sea Kayaker magazine in the inflatable kayak category. Just 30 inches wide, the Helios II is far narrower than most sea IKs that can typically be 39 to 40 inches at the waist.
Innova also makes a model with true sea kayak styling in the Seaker II that offers a dry, enclosed interior with a standard cockpit opening, spray skirt, and deck hatches.
Inflatable sea kayaks are rugged and ready for severe weather conditions. They are designed to handle breaking water, move well in the chop, and have plenty of space for dry storage. Whatever your intended purpose, these ocean-going yaks offer an ideal balance of speed, stability, and performance while setting out on a sea quest.
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