The Best Inflatable Kayak Review Guide for 2020

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Kayaking has become more than just a sport for the athletic adventurer. Nowadays just about anyone can go kayaking at open ocean waters or at rapid whitewaters. However, you want to be fully prepared and that includes having the best ride possible. These days, a blow up kayak is the way to go. Their advantages far outweigh those of wooden, plastic, and foldable kayaks.
Inflatable kayaks are the perfect choice since they are lighter and more durable than rigid kayaks or wooden kayaks. You can easily store them in your car and then bring them out, unfold them, and inflate them in minutes. Their material makes them easier to bounce off rocks instead of smashing head-on.

Sea Eagle SE370K_P Inflatable Kayak with Pro Package

Our favorite for 2020

Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak with Pro Package

A great value option

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Amazing value!

If you’re gearing up to purchase an inflatable kayak then you will want to look into the best that the market can offer. You want to make sure that the kayak you buy is the last purchase you’ll make for a very long time. It has to be suitable for the conditions you are planning to use it in and it has to be at a reasonable cost.

Before you start looking into brand names, here is a look at the important elements that the best inflatable boat should have. Discussed below are the different types of inflatable kayaks and the different things you need to consider to ensure you get the best one for your needs and wants.


AE1007-R KayakThe O5VE Advanced Elements Convertible Kayak is one of the newest and most revolutionary kayaks that is designed for both amateur adventurers and the professional rafter alike. It separates itself from the rest of the crowd by featuring a convertible seat deck and easy-to-transport system.

Its main features include a foldable aluminum frame and an inflatable hull. This makes it portable and very durable, something you wouldn’t expect from an affordable kayak. Its convenient design is another major feature since it allows the kayak to work both as a solo kayak for whitewater rapids or as a tandem canoe for lake or ocean water fishing.

Its main advantages include its portability, durability, and versatility as a kayak for all purposes. The only major drawback is that it weighs in a little more than the average inflatable kayak.

Advanced Elements  KayakAdvanced Elements FireFly Inflatable Kayak With so many inflatable kayaks already flooding the market, it might be nearly impossible to identify which one works the best. Some are too expensive, some are too cheap, and very many of them do not deliver the level of convenience and performance needed.

That’s where the FireFly Kayak breaks out from the competition. It is very affordable, coming in at a low to mid-range price, and yet it can be assembled and ready for kayaking in mere minutes. It’s so lightweight than a single person can carry it on their shoulders and it is very durable for anything but the roughest water conditions.

It is one of the few kayaks that comes with a rigid bow and stern, built-in landing plates and tracking fins, and built with durable outer materials to ensure it won’t puncture even against rough collisions. The FireFly is literally a perfect kayak for beginners and veterans alike.

Sea Eagle SE370KThe Sea Eagle SE370K_P Kayak is a very different beast when compared to other inflatable boats offered today. While most are weak toys that track poorly, the SE370K_P is as tough, as versatile, and as useful as a hard shell plastic or carbon-fiber kayak. It is that amazing.

Its main features includes its PolyKrylar hull that enables it to ride Class 3 rapids, a setting even the most durable hard shell kayaks often fail to survive in. The design and material of this kayak allows it to safely bounce off the rocks instead of ramming straight forward. Even when something pushes forward, the PolyKrylar hull ensures nothing can puncture through.

Even more amazing is that the whole package weighs no more than 35 pounds, and that’s with everything in the bag. You can easily carry it, keep it in your car or closet, and bring it out entirely on your own. Now you won’t need the whole neighborhood and heavy machinery just to put it in the water.

Sea Eagle 330 KayakThe Sea Eagle 330 is one of the best kayaks that you can purchase if you are looking for a simple but versatile kayak that doesn’t need a large truck to tow it out of your garage and to the riverside. Un-inflated you can fit the whole kayak and its equipment inside the duffle bag.

That doesn’t mean it loses points for durability. With its PolyKrylar hull you are guaranteed optimal durability. It is so strong that you can use this inflatable kayak while whitewater rafting up to Class 3 rapids. You can also plug the self-bailing drain valve and turn it into the ideal canoe for fishing in calmer waters.

It’s affordable, and it is ideal for people looking for a simple to use but very versatile for both leisure and professional use. The Sea Eagle 330 is a perfect choice for those looking for more than a heavy, one-purpose wooden or plastic kayak.

Intex K1 KayakIntex Challenger K1 KayakThere are a lot of inflatable kayaks out there but the majority of them are quite expensive. Of course, the saying goes that you get what you pay for but in today’s world that is not always the case. Case in point: the Challenger Kayak which is both affordable and ideal at once.

In the basic sense of the word, inflatable kayaks are meant to be lightweight and easy to transport but many of them sacrifice durability and tracking capabilities to achieve this. This is no longer the case with the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak because it retains its convenience and portability while maintaining durability, affordability, and safety.

an inflatable tandem kayak

What Types of Inflatable Kayaks are Available?

Inflatable kayaks come in all shapes and sizes. In general, there are five main types of kayaks, each one built for a specific use and location. What may work for rapid whitewaters will not be a great choice for the open ocean or sea. Consider the different types below:

Self-Bailing Kayaks – these are the typical inflatable kayak types that you find in most stores these days. They are designed with pot holes in the bottom, which allows water to safely pass in and out of the boat so that it doesn’t get flooded. You’ll need to plug them for open waters, which makes this a poor choice if you’re looking for an inflatable sea kayak or inflatable ocean kayak.

Sit-On Top Kayaks – these look like traditional kayaks but their “cockpit” is slightly raised, giving you more room to move and easier access to get in and out. It is ideal for claustrophobic riders or if you have difficulty riding traditional kayaks.

Sit-In Kayaks – these are the most traditional types, which comprise of high walls and a cockpit where the lower body is concealed inside. It is a tighter fit but it is perfect for whitewater kayaking.

Canoe-Types – these are normally an inflatable 2 person kayak or 3 person kayak that looks more like a wide canoe. They have higher walls and deeper seats, giving more space to move around. Since they give more open space for more passengers and equipment, this is the type of kayak used for fishing.

Stand-Up Kayaks or ISUPS – these are the newest forms of kayaks and are very rigid, so rigid that they allow the rider to stand up while paddling. They are more often used for relaxed paddling although some do use them for races and downriver rafting.

Are Inflatable Kayaks Good for Fishing?

kayak fishingNot all inflatable kayaks are ideal for fishing. Some, like the inflatable sit on top kayak, is better for rapid waters. If you were to use self-bailing kayaks at a calm lake or the open ocean, then you’re boat would be filling up with water.

The best inflatable fishing kayak is either the wider canoe-types or the stand-up kayaks. These are the kayaks made for staying afloat on calmer water and they have more space to store fishing equipment. The canoe-type is often made to hold more than one paddler so it is the perfect choice to go fishing with a friend or relative.

Can you still use an inflatable self-bailing kayak if that’s the only one you have? You can but you will need to make sure it comes with plugs. These plugs are used to open and close the open port holes, allowing you to control when and how water goes through. You’ll need them open when the waters are actively moving but on a calmer surface you’ll need to keep them closed.

How to Choose the Best Inflatable Kayak for You

The first factor you should always consider when buying an inflatable kayak is your budget. You never want to step too high over your financial boundaries. Luckily, you can find the best inflatable kayak for incredibly low prices, often between the budget and mid to high end price marks. Of course prices will differ depending on the type of kayak you are buying.

So you’ve figured out what your budget is but now you need to consider if the kayak you are getting is suitable for the conditions you are going to put it under. A self bailing inflatable kayak is the best inflatable kayak for whitewater rafting or other high-speed conditions. A two person inflatable kayak is better for open, calmer waters and is generally used for fishing. Always keep in mind what its usage is before you go purchase the cheapest offer at the store.

If you are going to bring a lot of kayaking gear then you will want an inflatable kayak with a lot of storage space. Sit-inside kayaks allow you to clip on additional storage around both hulls but the best choice for maximum storage is an open type canoe-kayak, especially if you’ll be using such a large kayak on your own without a tandem paddler.
You’ll need to put all three aspects to consider choosing the best inflatable kayak for you. You want one that is affordable, perfectly suited for your needs, and one that has sufficient storage for all your kayaking gear. When you’ve found one that checks clear on all three requirements then you’ve got the best inflatable kayak for all your needs and wants.

Budget Inflatable Kayaks

how to choose the best inflatable kayak on a budgetThere are second-hand kayaks in mint condition and there are brand new ones that break down easily, meaning you have to ensure that the seller you are buying from has a sterling reputation for manufacturing kayaks. One of the best ways to find out the quality of a kayak is by reading customer reviews on your chosen type.

It helps to know if the others who have tried the kayak you want were satisfied with its performance. Believe it or not, an inflatable kayak is available for just about any kayaker there is. If you want to foray into white water rapids, for instance, you have to know that it is not true at all that an inflatable kayak is useless in white water rapids.

A lot of inflatable kayaks are designed for this location alone. Essentially, the best kayak is really that which will suit your budget and the kind of waters you want to paddle in. You also have to remember that a single seater kayak will be less expensive and more affordable if you are on a tight budget.

The cheap Challenger by Intex, for instance, sells for less than the Challenger for two persons. The operative words in buying an inflatable kayak are really safety, durability, good tracking, stability, and sufficient room for your thighs and legs.

For more information on the different kayaks discussed in the reviews, check out their official websites to see which one may be suitable for you. Just don’t forget that if it’s your first kayak, restrain yourself from buying one that costs a fortune. You wouldn’t buy a Ferrari if you just got your driver’s license, would you?