Whitewater Inflatable Kayaks Rival Performance of Hardshell Kayaks

The category of whitewater inflatable kayaks is broader in range than just the short, zippy, one-person yaks that most people think of. They aren’t just for wild rapids, either; they can be a good choice for rolling down lazy rivers as well as discovering remote wilderness waters where packing a lightweight craft is the only way to go.

Small Kayaks for Fast Water

But beyond just being highly maneuverable, these whitewater inflatable kayaks are specifically designed for faster water. They are rated for river conditions ranging from Class I and II (swift but easy for beginners with some maneuvering ability needed) to Class III (moderate rapids and large waves), Class IV (heavy volume rapids, boulder gardens, quick maneuvering required), and up to Class V (dangerous water, hazards, and steep drops).

Whitewater Inflatable Kayak

Inflatable whitewater kayaks that are intended for Class III and higher are self-bailing boats, which means they have ports alongside the inner floor that allow water inside the cockpit to drain off back into the river. These ports are then plugged to keep water out and the paddler dry when floating on calm water.

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Typically, these inflatable kayaks also have more of a rocker profile that allows for higher maneuverability and quick turns when quick adjustments are needed. Along with this upturned profile at the nose and rear of the kayak to help it punch through waves, some hybrid models, such as the Advanced Elements StraightEdge, incorporate an aluminum bow and stern frame in order to perform more like a traditional hardshell whitewater kayak.

Solo and Tandem Kayaks

River Inflatable Kayak

Solo river inflatable kayaks are shorter one-man models made by AIRE, Tributary, Advanced Elements, Innova, NRS, Zoik, and many other brands. Tandem whitewater kayaks can carry two people and can be easily be configured for one paddler who wants extra leg room or plans to stow gear. Innova, NRS, and others also make tandem yaks, and kayaks such as the popular AIRE Lynx come in both solo and tandem models.

Ready to Go When You Are

If fast rapids are your intended playground, owing one (or several!) of these incredible whitewater inflatable kayaks is the key to a perfect day of adventure. They are incredibly sturdy, rugged, easy to set up, and comfortable, as well as highly portable. Depending on the hybrid styling, they can rival the performance of a hardshell kayak in many classes of river water.

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