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A Complete Guide To The 10 Best Inflatable Kayaks

“Inflatable kayak” may bring to mind a glorified pool toy. But thanks to advances in technology, today’s inflatable boats are durable and dependable enough to take on the lake, river, even ocean. And they’re a good option to consider if kayak transportation is an issue for you. After all, hardshell kayaks may be sleek and easy to maneuver in the water, but they can be clunky and heavy to cart around on land. If you’re ready to consider an easier-to-haul kayak option, we’ve scouted out the best inflatable kayaks for you.

What’s the difference between a hardshell and inflatable kayak? A hardshell (or solid) kayak is made from wood, plastic, fiberglass, or a composite. An inflatable kayak is a nylon, neoprene, or rubber shell that’s filled with air. (To transport or store it, you simply deflate and pack it up.)

There are few different styles of inflatable kayak: sit-in, sit-on-top, and folding hybrid. The latter is the higher end (in price and quality) of inflatable kayaks. This style is constructed with a frame of aluminum ribs that helps it behave more like a hardshell kayak.

(Also, not quite into kayaks but looking for an easy way to get on the water? Check out our post on the best inflatable SUP boards.)

Here are the 10 best inflatable kayaks:

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak

This is by far one of the best inflatable kayaks for under $500. It’s a hybrid inflatable meaning it has a frame that’s paired with its inflatable core.

Sale
Advanced Elements AE1012-R AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak
  • Built-in aluminum ribs define the bow and stern and improve tracking
  • 3 layers of material for extreme puncture resistance
  • PreAssembled at the factory. Simply unfold, inflate and attach the seat
  • High support, adjustable padded seat provides comfort for hours of paddling
  • Looks and paddles similar to a rigid hard-shell kayak with the portability of an inflatable

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

On the other end of the price spectrum is the Intex Challenger K1. For under $100, you may doubt its dependability but its consistently high rating should give you some peace of mind.

Sale
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
  • Nimble, durable kayak is made of durable welded material with eye-catching graphics for added safety on the lake or slow-moving river
  • Cockpit is designed for comfort and maximized space, and inflatable I-beam floors add stability
  • Cargo net to store extra gear, and grab line on both ends of kayak; inflatable seat with backrest
  • Comes with 84-inch aluminum oar, repair patch and Hi-output manual hand pump. Rugged vinyl construction
  • Measures 30-by-15-by-108 inches (W x H x D), with 27.2-pound weight and 220-pound maximum capacity

Sevylor Quikpak K5

This model from Sevylor lives up to its name: The whole kayak folds up into the seat which becomes the easy-to-carry backpack.

Sale
Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak
  • 5-minute setup lets you spend more time on the water
  • Easy-to-carry backpack system turns into the seat
  • 24-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use
  • Tarpaulin bottom and polyester cover provide durable protection from punctures
  • Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated if one is punctured

Driftsun Rover Whitewater Kayak

Driftsun’s Whitewater Kayak is amazingly rated to run up to class III and class IV rapids. Just call it The Little Kayak That Could.

Driftsun Rover 120 Inflatable White-Water Kayak with High Pressure Floor and EVA Padded Seats with High Back Support, Includes Action Cam Mount, Aluminum Paddles, Pump and More
  • Durable & Lightweight - Fully inflates to a full sized kayak in less than 5 minutes and weighs a manageable 22 Lbs. 1000D Reinforced Layered PVC side tubes, Heavy-duty PVC Tarpaulin bottom provides durable protection from punctures.
  • Stable & Maneuverable - Rigid High Pressure Drop Stitch Floor, Removable Flat Water Tracking Fin, and ample rocker profile deliver unmatched stability and control in rough and flat water
  • Adventure Ready - Whitewater Rating: Suitable up to class III and IV rapids, 5 Self Bailing Ports, Plentiful Tie Down Points for Gear and Front Action Camera Mount
  • Included - Adjustable EVA Padded Seat with High Back Support, Adjustable 2-Piece Aluminum Kayak Paddle, Deluxe Double Action Hand Pump, Rear Tracking Fin, and Travel Bag.
  • Kayak Specifications - Exterior: 8.5'(L) x 36"(W) x 13"(H) / Weight: 22 Lbs. / Capacity: 300 Lbs. / Inflation Time: 9 Mins. / Inflation Pressure: 3 PSI Side Tubes & 6 PSI Floor

Advanced Elements Expedition Elite Kayak

This model from Advanced Elements is a step or two above their AdvancedFrame model. It’s also a hybrid inflatable and at 13 feet long offers plenty of storage space for long day trips.

ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame Expedition Elite Inflatable Kayak
  • Drop-stitch floor
  • High-back Lumbar seat
  • Repair kit included
  • Duffel bag with removable shoulder straps
  • Rudder mount

Advanced Elements PackLite

If backcountry paddling is in your future, you might want to check out the PackLite model from Advanced Elements. Its small size and weight make it a good option for backpackers who think they might meet a lake or two.

ADVANCED ELEMENTS PackLite Inflatable Kayak, Red
  • Rubber molded handle
  • Mesh carry bag doubles as on-deck storage
  • Military style valves
  • Eco-friendly fabric reinforced Polyurethane construction
  • Welded perimeter seam

Sea Eagle 370 Tandem Kayak

Sea Eagle gives you (and a friend!) everything you need in this package: a tandem kayak, paddles, foot pump, and carrying case.

Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak Canoe Boat w/ Paddles
  • 3 person/650 lb capacity, weighs 26 lbs, suitable for up to Class III whitewater
  • 370 Deluxe Kayak Package features two movable, super comfortable Deluxe Kayak Seats for improved back support and 2 paddles, foot pump, and carry bag
  • 2 AB30 7'10"" 4 Part Paddles with asymmetrical blade and aluminum shaft
  • 2 skegs on the bottom for better tracking & speed
  • Open and close drain valve, 5 deluxe 1-way inflation/deflation valves

Advanced Elements Convertible Tandem Kayak

This is the two-person version of Advanced Elements’ AdvancedFrame model. Perfect for you and a friend, or kayak with your dog!

Sale
ADVANCED ELEMENTS AE-1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak, 15', Red
  • Built-in aluminum ribs define the bow and stern and improves tracking
  • Three layers of material for extreme puncture resistance.Folded size 35 X 21 X 12 inches. Max Weight-550 pounds. Weight-52 pounds
  • Pre-assembled at the factory; simply unfold, inflate, and attach the seats
  • High support, adjustable padded seats provide comfort for hours of paddling
  • Three seat locations allow for paddling solo or tandem

Driftsun Rover Tandem Whitewater Kayak

Driftsun’s Rover Whitewater kayak also comes in a two-person version—if you don’t feel like facing the rapids alone. Suitable for up to class III and class IV rapids.

Sale
Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak with High Pressure Floor and EVA Padded Seats with High Back Support, Includes Action Cam Mount, Aluminum Paddles, Pump and More
  • Durable & Lightweight - Fully inflates to a full sized kayak in less than 10 minutes and weighs a manageable 28 Lbs. 1000D Reinforced Layered PVC side tubes, Heavy-duty PVC Tarpaulin bottom provides durable protection from punctures
  • Stable & Maneuverable - Rigid High Pressure Drop Stitch Floor, Removable Flat Water Tracking Fin, and ample rocker profile deliver unmatched stability and control in rough and flat water
  • Adventure Ready - Whitewater Rating: Suitable up to class III and IV rapids, 8 Self Bailing Ports, Plentiful Tie Down Points for Gear and Front Action Camera Mount
  • Package Includes - (2) Adjustable EVA Padded Seats with High Back Support, (2) Adjustable Aluminum Kayak Paddles, Deluxe Double Action Hand Pump, Rear Tracking Fin, and Travel Bag
  • Kayak Specifications - Exterior: 12.5'(L) x 38"(W) x 13"(H) / Weight: 28 Lbs. / Capacity: 600 Lbs. 2 Adults + Child, Gear, or a Furry Friend / Inflation Time: 9 Mins. / Inflation Pressure: 3 PSI Side Tubes & 6 PSI Floor

Sevylor Big Basin Kayak

It’s not easy to make a boat “family-sized” and have it still be considered a kayak. But Sevylor’s Big Basin model manages to do just that. Comfortably fits three people.

Sale
Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
  • Heavy-duty PVC construction is rugged for lake use
  • Tarpaulin bottom provides durable protection from punctures
  • Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated if one is punctured
  • Airtight System is guaranteed not to leak
  • Boston Valve is double threaded for easy inflation/deflation
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