Inflatable kayaks have really grown in popularity these days and it’s no wonder. You get to enjoy days out on the water exploring previously unreachable areas. You can do this as a solo expedition or take your family out with you too. All of this is done with the added benefit of not needing a huge storage area thanks to its inflatable and transportable nature.
Are Inflatable Kayaks good?
Yes. One of the pet peeves of water sport activities is the loading of your equipment onto a roof rack. Whether it’s a windsurf board, canoe or kayak, getting a large hard shell object onto the roof of a car can be troublesome. The inflatable option negates all these issues.
For some people an inflatable kayak might be the only way they ever get a chance own a kayak and enjoy all the benefits that come with paddling around in the great outdoors. I have several friends that live in apartments in London. Carrying a 10 foot kayak from the ground floor all the way up to the seventh floor of their apartment block is never going to happen. These inflatable kayaks are fantastic for allowing people to easily store and transport a kayak around.
We like this kayak as it is drop stitch and high quality.
With this deal you get kitted out with kayak accessories so you’re ready to hit the water and have fun.
Modern technology has allowed the kayak to be neatly inflated and then packed away following a day’s fun. It also means you don’t have to park right next to your favourite water spot as you can carry the deflated kayak to any of the great water spots in the UK. This is why there has been a boom in inflatable paddle boards, you get great performance and better mobility and storage.
Best Inflatable Kayaks
Bestway Hydroforce Ventura Kayak Set
This is a really good piece of kit that will give you great pleasure when out on the water. With the option of riding solo or as two adults, this inflatable kayak set is built from a durable PVC material that will stand up to a full day’s kayaking, without needing to worry about wear and tear. Thanks to its premium nylon coating, this kayak gives good durability and can withstand some tougher stretches of water. This unlocks more areas to explore as you don’t need to stick to just the lakes or mild rivers.
It gives a very comfortable ride thanks to the adjustable seats. You can choose from different heights, so all users can find the sweet spot that allows for a comfortable paddling position. The adjustable fins give good speed and manoeuvrability. On the side are two oar clasps that mean you can safely stow the aluminium paddles when resting. This is a great set up for anyone looking for a high quality inflatable kayak.
Aqua Marina Memba, Leisure Drop Stitch Inflatable Kayak
This drop stitch kayak is as close as you will get to a hard shell kayak in terms of durability and performance. If you’ve fully read this article you will know that a drop stitch kayak provides the best level of performance as it can be pumped to a higher PSI, which gives greater stability. The kayak itself is designed for mid-distance touring and any other type of water activities.
In terms of performance, the flat rocker that runs along the bottom of the kayak, provides good tracking and speed, so you will feel quick as you paddle across the water. The speed is further enhanced with the dual fin system.
It comes in two sizes. The 330cm version is a one seater vessel, whereas the 390cm option is capable of carrying two people. There is a premium adjustable backrest which really provides a smooth ride. Once inflated this sturdy vessel will give you hours of fun on the water. With an easy to assemble set up, we really rate this inflatable kayak as it ticks so many boxes for any level of kayak enthusiast.
Sevylor Tahiti Plus Inflatable Kayak: 2+1
What is a 2 + 1 Kayak? Well, the answer is simple, this kayak is designed for two adults and one child. For some families this is the perfect kayak for that reason alone.
This kayak works well on lakes and calmer rivers. The two inflatable seats are easily installed and adjusted, so it’s very user friendly. It comes with PVC material that is hard wearing and durable, so don’t be put off thinking it wont last as it will perform well on rugged terrain. The two way valve system allows for easy inflation. It didn’t take us long to get up to the right PSI and by the end of our two hour paddle, it went back down and packed away without any fuss.
This is a very much a beginner kayak that is perfect for novice kayakers who want to test the waters (pun intended) of the inflatable kayak world. Ideal for a family who spend lots of time outdoors or a keen fisherman who wants the freedom to explore new fishing spots all to themselves.
Itiwit Drop Stitch Floor Inflatable Kayak
We have enjoyed this kayak from Itiwit because of its high performance and versatility. The drop stitch floor gives a reassuring durability, as you get a very high pressure that can withstand almost anything. The side tubing also added to the overall stability of the vessel.
This kayak is suitable for either one solo rider, or a tandem ride with a friend. To me that represents good value for money as you get new dynamics that some other kayaks can’t offer.
The seating on this kayak is from a raised position, so you feel well positioned to paddle, whilst the inflatable seating offers a nice comfortable ride. The bow of the kayak has a great glide performance across the water, which made paddling light work. The material is also quick drying, so once you are done, you can pack it away into it’s compact bag.
It’s worth noting that you only get the Kayak when you purchase this. Meaning you’ll still need to find yourself a paddle and other essentials. This is something to bear in mind if you are looking to get an all in one kayak set. However, if you want a high quality inflatable kayak at a reasonable price, this one is well worth considering.
Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak
This inflatable kayak sits on the budget end of the scale when comparing the best inflatable kayaks. By that I mean you are not going to break the bank when you choose to buy it, but you will still get some good features that mean you get a good overall experience.
Things you can expect are a fun streamlined design that is light and easy to paddle. The colour options with this kayak make it stand out, which I feel is a nice feature. The seats are comfortable to sit in and it allows for a pleasant paddle. Speaking of paddles, these come included, as does the pump, which takes a few minutes to inflate the kayak.
Anyone who buys this should be thinking about using it on calm lakes or mild rivers. With the twin seats, you are able to go out as a duo which adds to the enjoyment if you want a fun day out with your partner.
You should be looking at this as a serious option if you are new to kayaking and want to explore a new world of opportunities. Maybe you are unsure how much you will use it….well this is a great option as it’s not over priced and will adequately let you see how much you love the world of kayaking.
Aqua Marina Laxo Kayak Package
A great mid level kayak package that offers good value for money should you want some extras thrown in. Capable of being used as a single or double which is ideal for any couple wanting to explore. We used it on a local lake and after four hours and no issues. The first thing we noticed was how quick and easy it was to inflate. The Boston valves mean that you can get it up to inflation level with ease. The seats can be adjusted should you only want to use it as a single. If you have a friend that it hoping on the kayak, the seats are easily moved around.
The polyester feels durable and hard wearing. The manufacturer states that it stands up to UV rays. I can’t comment on this yet, however I can tell you that we had a fun thrash around on it. The V-shaped flooring gives good tracking and manoeuvrability, whilst also being quite roomy thanks to the large deck space.
Itiwit 1 Place Inflatable Touring Kayak
Itiwit have produced a range of touring kayaks that range from a 1 person vessel, a 2/3 person and all the way up to 4 person kayak. Rather than just look at one, we thought it’s best to trial each one and then give you a summary on what we found. While each one has its differences, the overall features are mostly the same.
All of these inflatable kayaks are easy to assemble. The larger you go the more time you spend inflating, but overall Itiwit have a great thing going with these inflatable touring kayaks. The glide performance was sound, which made paddling an easy task rather than a laborious drag.
The single place kayak works well for all beginner kayakers. I’d advise calm waters only for the single, whereas the 3 / 4 place kayak is slightly studier, thanks to the drop stitching, so you could enjoy some slightly rougher waters. All these kayaks were stable out on the water, whilst also feeling like we could move it around easily. This is a good product that gives performance and value for money whichever model you choose.
Itiwit 1 Person Inflatable River Packraft Kayak
I felt it necessary to review something that is different to all the other kayaks on this list. The Itiwit Packraft is definitely that.
At 1.8kg this i very lightweight piece of kit that will allow you to go for a hike before getting onto the water. So if you are someone who gets off the beaten track, you might just want to take a closer look at this.
You might be worrying about the ruggedness on offer considering the lightweight of this vessel. Well it has a double laminated polyamide material that stands up well against the elements so you will feel safe out on a calm lake. As a single rider kayak, you can position yourself comfortably on the raised seat so that the paddle is relaxing.
If you want something that is lightweight and can be transported easily then is just up your street.
Why have inflatable kayaks become so popular?
Traditionally, kayaking involved heavy, hard-shell kayaks that required racks, storage space, and a good amount of upper body strength. However, in recent years, inflatable kayaks have become a must have water sport item. These portable, versatile vessels have made kayaking accessible to more people and have become a mainstream choice for adventurers of all levels. But what led to the rise of inflatable kayaks?
The Rise of Inflatables:
Inflatable kayaks first made an appearance in the kayaking scene during the mid-20th century. They were initially designed for military use, offering a compact, easily transportable option for waterborne missions. Afterward, their practicality and convenience began to catch the eye of outdoor enthusiasts. When you take a zoomed out look at how water sports have evolved, you can see the rise of the stand up paddleboard moved alongside the inflatable kayak.
Advancements in Technology:
Advancements in materials and manufacturing technology have really developed the quality of kayak product. High-quality materials like durable PVC and drop-stitch construction techniques have made modern inflatable kayaks remarkably sturdy and puncture-resistant. These innovations have helped people trust inflatable kayaks in various water conditions.
Ease of Transportation:
One of the biggest selling points of inflatable kayaks is their portability. This convenience makes them accessible to urban dwellers, road-trippers, and anyone who wants to explore different waterways without the hassle of transporting a bulky kayak.
Inflatable kayaks also tend to be more budget-friendly than their hard-shell counterparts. The affordability allows individuals and families who may have been deterred by the higher cost of traditional kayaks. It’s a win-win situation, as it makes outdoor adventures more accessible while also stimulating the kayak industry.
Versatility and Accessibility:
Inflatable kayaks come in various shapes and sizes, from recreational models designed for calm waters to rugged inflatables built to tackle white-water rapids. This versatility means that people of all skill levels can find an inflatable kayak that suits their needs. Additionally, their stability and ease of use make them an excellent choice for beginners.
The eco-conscious movement has also played a part in the inflatable kayak’s ascent to mainstream popularity. Many manufacturers are now using environmentally friendly materials and production processes, making inflatable kayaks an attractive choice for those who want to minimize their environmental footprint.
What are the downsides of an inflatable kayak?
The one spanner in the inflatable dream is the worry over a rip or tear. The last thing you want is to be kayaking across Loch Lomond, only to find that your kayak is hissing out air and you’re beginning to sink!
Thankfully the manufacturers have spent hours investing into the construction process so that the modern day kayak will stand up to lots of rough play. Today’s modern kayaks are built to last and the ones we look at in this article are some of the best inflatable kayaks in the UK. They also have the added benefit of being repairable, so any issues can usually be sorted quickly and easily.
Another debate that rages between experienced kayakers is that due to the fact that inflatable kayaks are slightly lighter, is there a risk of it being more affected by the wind? Will performance be compromised? This is due to the fact that a light object will be blown off course a lot easier than something more heavy or sturdy.
We have taken that into consideration in this article and made sure that all the kayaks that we have reviewed are ones that can stand up to a heavy gust. This way to get an objective option to consider against any hardshell kayaks. Today’s inflatable kayak would surprise most people in terms of how well they stand up next to a hard shell option and I wouldn’t worry about performance when it comes to making your choice.
One other consideration might be that of price. If you have to size up an inflatable kayak against a hard shell kayak, the hard shell option might just be a little bit cheaper. However, you have to weigh up all the other benefits against this, as I feel there are plenty of budget kayak options that will still deliver high performance and allow you to get out on the open water.
What should I look for in an inflatable kayak?
One question to answer first, is how much do you intend on using your inflatable kayak? That question can be two-fold as you need to consider how many times a year you plan on taking it out on the water and also, how long you intend to spend out on the water during a session.
Like most other things in life, you will get what you pay for, meaning that the more money you are willing to invest in an inflatable kayak the higher performance you all receive. With the increase in cost you should expect a longer lasting product that is less likely to break and therefore get more use out of. However, remember, if you’re not planning on using it for long periods of time or that many times a year, you may want to look for the best budget inflatable kayak range.
The higher end products will be made with something called drop stitching. Drop stitching refers to the way that inflatable kayaks are made and it essentially means that you are buying a more rigid type of vessel. This is because a drop stitch kayak allows you to pump it up to a higher PSI. The increased rigidity means a higher performance level and an overall better paddling option. This is as close as you will get to matching the performance of a hard shell kayak.
The lower end and much cheaper inflatable kayaks will be made out of an inflatable tube which has a much lower PSI rating and therefore will be slightly softer and less responsive during your paddle.
Other features you might get when you invest in a more expensive kayak that has drop stitching, is a higher quality seat that will be more comfortable while out on the water and you will also get foot pegs that make it much more comfortable for your legs when you are sitting and paddling. It gives you something to push off, which you might not get in even the best budget inflatable kayak.
What are inflatable kayaks made out of?
Most inflatable kayaks are made out of PVC material. The PVC material is hard-wearing and built to last. The only downside I can see is that it does not stand up well to extremely high temperatures, however if you’re planning on kayaking in the UK this is not going to be a problem.
A cheaper kayak may have an inflatable tubing with a covering on the outside that increases its durability and helps avoid any ripping, however these types of kayak will not stand up as well to the PVC model which are much more sturdy and resistant to wear and tear.
How do I care for my inflatable kayak?
Firstly, protect your valves. These are the lifeblood of the inflatable kayak. The valve is what get the air in and out of the boat, so look after them. Make sure you keep them clean so that there aren’t any issues with air leaking out.
The sun is the enemy of the inflatable kayak. Just like anything that is left in the sun for too long, an inflatable kayak will suffer if left out in the sun for a long period of time. Make sure that you store it away appropriately. You can look for specific PVC protectors that will also help to reduce the effect of the sun while you are out paddling on the water, this will be useful if you are really looking to increase the longevity of your inflatable kayak.
Another thing to try and do is dry off your paddle board after use. Now it would not be practical or realistic of me to say that you need to make sure your kayak is bone dry before you pack it away in its storage bag. You will soon become tired of using an inflatable kayak if you have to wait around for hours waiting for it to dry after use. It is practical however, to use some sort of towel to get the worst of the water off before you pack it away to ensure that you’re not going to get excess mould, especially if you pack it away wet and then leave it for months without using it again.
We like this kayak as it is drop stitch and high quality.
With this deal you get kitted out with kayak accessories so you’re ready to hit the water and have fun.