15 Best Inflatable Kayaks in 2023 | 1 & 2 Person Inflatables

There are hundreds of inflatable kayaks on the market right now. Supermarkets as well as clothing companies are branding their own models, and they come from the same factories in China with varying degrees of quality.

That’s why we’ve looked at 15 of the most popular inflatable kayaks to steer you toward the best kayaks and away from buyer’s remorse.

The best inflatable kayak is easy to find as long as you know what to look for. Read these reviews and you’ll easily figure out how to choose the best for your needs.

Check out our buyer’s guide at the end of this article for more information on inflatable kayaking.

 

The Top 5 Inflatable Kayaks in 2023

All the Inflatable Kayaks We've tested

The Intex Challenger K2 is an 11’6 inflatable tandem kayak that’s good for easy set up and transport. It’s a budget model that works better, for one or two paddlers, than similar boats. And with a maximum weight capacity of 400 lbs., it can carry some extra gear on top of two paddlers.

This affordable kayak tracks better than cheaper competitors and is easy to maneuver. Everything you need for your session is also included in the Challenger package.

Made of just a single-layer vinyl there’s nothing impressive about this inflatable boat as a performance boat. There are better models for touring. But for its price, the Intex Challenger K2 comes off very well compared to similarly priced inflatable boats.

Specs & Features

  • Material: 30-Gauge Vinyl
  • Length: 11’6”
  • Width: 2’6”
  • Height: 1’3”
  • Weight: 38.24 lbs.

Our Overall Review

4.6

Things we like:

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    Tracks better than similarly priced inflatable kayaks
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    Provides an introduction to kayaking
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    Easy to set up
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    Pretty maneuverable and stable
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    Spacious cockpit and secure bungees

Things we don't like:

  • check-markSingle-layer inflatable kayaks are less robust
  • check-markA little cramped for two 6-foot paddlers
  • check-markNo mounts
Read full review

Where to buy:

intex-challenger-inflatable-kayak.jpg

Intex Challenger K2

The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame tandem inflatable kayak is a popular choice for kayakers who are looking for a portable touring kayak for day trips or even expeditions. This kayak is made of high quality PVC tarpaulin and is compatible with the BackBone flooring accessory and Drop-stitched flooring upgrade for rigid high pressure floors.

The Advanced Element tandem inflatable kayak is portable and easy to set up after the first time. It provides kayakers with a reliable level of stability and maneuverability compared to many other similar boats.

Overall, the Advanced Elements tandem inflatable kayak is a choice for kayakers who like to get out on the water in calm conditions or protective waterways but don’t have the space to store a rigid boat.

Specs & Features

  • Best Suited For: Beginners/Day touring/Expedition touring
  • Material: PVC tarpaulin
  • Type: Sit Inside
  • Capacity: 550 lbs (249 kg)
  • Dimensions: 15’ x 32”

Our Overall Review

4.8

Things we like:

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    Converts from single to tandem
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    Great for flatwater and lakes
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    Can deal well with formidable weather conditions
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    Very durable and tracks very well in the water
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    Has paddle holders at the sides

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot suitable for heavier kayakers
  • check-markTakes a long time to dry
  • check-markWill take on water if underinflated
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Advance Elements AdvancedFrame

Best Hybrid Kayak and SUP

The Switch is a SUP kayak hybrid from Isle Surf & SUP. This is one of the most versatile inflatable craft we’ve seen in the last few years.

It’s got cargo features and accessory options that are designed in unique ways. As a tandem kayak, these features really shine through. As a stand up paddle board, the Switch is a pretty awesome touring board that has the maneuverability to match the best all rounders too.

Just to top it off, the Link System allows for more attachments, while eliminating all the D-rings used by other boards. That makes this one of the best yoga boards as well.

Specs & Features

  • Material: AirTech Fusion Lite Drop Stitch Construction
  • Board Height: 11’6”
  • Board Width: 35”
  • Thickness: 6.35”
  • Weight: 19 lbs.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.9

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Doing yoga, fishing, tandem kayaking, tandem SUPping
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    Most comfortable 2-in-1 seat
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    One of the most lightweight models out there
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    The seat can also be used as a trekker chair
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    Looking forward to future accessories with the 40 loop Link System

Things we don't like:

  • check-markCurrently no Action Mounts
  • check-markAs a trade-off, the more comfortable deck pad takes longer to dry=longer packing time
Read full review

Where to buy:

Isle Switch Product Image

Isle Switch SUP & Kayak

Best for Fishing

The Blackfoot 160 Tandem Kayak is Aquaglide’s highest capacity and most stable kayak. Packed with features for fishing enthusiasts, this quality inflatable kayak is made with commercial-grade materials, enabling it to perform like a hard-shell boat.

Built to perform in a variety of conditions, the Blackfoot 160 can be paddled in rougher waters thanks to the scupper draining holes that allow for self-bailing and a splash guard designed to keep water out of the cockpit.

The open-cockpit design is ideal for casting and snagging the perfect catch, and allows for easy entry and exit of the craft. The adjustable seats also allow each paddler to decide whether they want to sit low in the boat for greater stability, or higher up for ease of standing. You can even use them as beach chairs when you reach the shoreline.

Versatility is the Blackfoot 160’s number one feature from seat position to gear storage. The kayak has 36 webbing loops along the floor for flexible seating positions, cooler attachment and other gear. It also has adjustable velcro straps and MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) pads that allow each paddler to organize their gear in a manner that suits them.

The universal attachments can be used for rod holders, anchor points, cameras, cup holders and other gadgets. Whether you’re paddling for speed or enjoying a lazy picnic on the water, the Blackfoot 160 can be customized to suit all your adventure needs.

Specs & Features

  • Materials: Duratex™ reinforced PVC & Drop-stitch Floor
  • Weight: 50 lbs.
  • Length: 16’
  • Width: 38”
  • Height: 13.5”

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.8

Things we like:

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    Ideal for fishing
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    Packed with features
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    Versatile and comfortable seating
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    Durable
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    Stable

Things we don't like:

  • check-markTakes a little longer to inflate than other inflatables
  • check-markPump not included
  • check-markMore expensive than other tandem inflatables
  • check-markHeavier than other inflatables
  • check-markBow and stern storage areas are not waterproof
Read full review

Where to buy:

aquaglide-blackfoot-160-product-image

Aquaglide Blackfoot 160

Easiest to Set-up

The Razor Kayak R1 is a high-performance, top-quality inflatable kayak that is best suited to flatwater conditions with minimal turbulence or waves. The construction of the craft makes it one of the most durable in its class, meaning it will outlast the majority of other brands while withstanding a large amount of punishment.

This kayak is perfect for beginner to intermediate paddlers either looking for a relaxing day puttering across a lake or down a river or for the more advanced paddler looking to face some lower-class white-water or choppier waters along the coast.

Specs & Features

  • Materials: Tech-Stitch™ inner floor, 1000 denier PVC & toughened mesh
  • Hull Weight: 18 lbs.
  • Length: 9’4”
  • Width: 33”
  • Weight Capacity: 395 lbs.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.6

Things we like:

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    Quality construction and durability
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    Performance
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    Comfort
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    Easy to transport and store
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    Versatile in a variety of conditions

Things we don't like:

  • check-markBackpack is big, but a bit bulky
  • check-markPump not included
Read full review

Where to buy:

Razor Kayaks R1 Ultra Product Image

Razor Kayaks R1 Ultra

Most Versatile

You can enjoy paddling in this inflatable kayak by Driftsun both solo and with another person. Choppy waters are no longer an obstacle to a pleasant time in the water – the boat’s pointed nose, removable tracking fin, and a rocker profile are the reason behind it.

The rugged PVC Tarpaulin bottom, along with the coated 840D Nylon Oxford material provides protection from tears and prolongs the life of the gear. You are able to see the return on your investment in a year’s time with continuous use.

The back seats are padded, the skegs are removable, and the bungee storage is spacious – there is hardly anything else you would need from a kayak. Make use of the paddles that are adjustable between 0 and 60 degrees and sail from one shore to another with confidence in your skills.

You don’t need to be a professional kayaker to do so – beginner’s skills and a high-quality kayak like this is more than enough.

Specs & Features

  • Material: PVC Tarpaulin, 840D Nylon, EVA
  • Weight: 27 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 450 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10 ft. x 35 x 16 inches
  • Use: Recreational

Our Overall Review

4.8

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    The heavy-duty construction allows you to continue using it for many years
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    Aluminum paddles, hand pump, rear tracking fin, and carry bag are all included in the packaging

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot suitable for professional kayakers due to the lack of features
Read full review

Where to buy:

driftsun-2-person-inflatable-kayak-1.jpg

Driftsun 2-Person

Best for Beginners

Whether you go camping, exploring new places, or practicing for races, this inflatable kayak by Airhead Montana will be a great option for you. It fits in the back of your car, in a suitcase, and in a duffel bag with no problems.

The 12-foot beast is built from 840D Nylon and is coated with the UV water-resistant layer that ensures the ultimate long-lastingness. The 6 d-rings at the stern and the bow of the kayak help in securing the gear, while the tracking grab handles allow you to quickly get in and out of the boat.

The seats are movable and are comfortable to use, which comes in handy when paddling for long hours at a time. You even get Neoprene elbow guards – this is a nice bonus to have.

The bright orange exterior helps to make you visible in case of an emergency and differentiate you from other kayakers.

Specs & Features

  • Material: 840D Nylon, Stainless Steel
  • Length: 12 ft.
  • Weight: 36.3 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
  • Dimensions: 28.5 x 19.8 x 11.9 inches

Our Overall Review

4.2

Things we like:

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    The air chambers are protected by the Nylon fabric for the highest level of durability
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    The elbow guards provide additional comfort for those long paddling expeditions

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot suitable for windy weather conditions
Read full review

Where to buy:

airhead-montana-inflatable-kayak-1.jpg

Airhead Montana

Beginners and recreational kayakers alike will come to appreciate this low-maintenance FireFly inflatable kayak designed by Advanced Elements.

It has built-in rigid panels for smooth tracking that put it on the same level with some of the toughest hard-shell kayaks.

The easy inflation is backed by the Twistlock and Spring valves, whereas the rugged exterior is the result of the 600-Denier Polyester material.

For your convenience, it features molded rubber-grip handles, a tracking skeg, and a bungee cord that work together for delivering the best kayaking trip of your life. Bring your family on board with you, pack your kayaking essentials, and you are set for a weekend of adventures.

Specs & Features

  • Material: 600-Denier Polyester
  • Length: 7ft. 10 inches
  • Weight: 16 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 250 pounds
  • Dimensions: 94.5 x 34.6 x 9.8 inches

Our Overall Review

4.1

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    The rigid panels ensure the ultimate stability when in the water
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    The bungee deck lacing allows you to bring a jacket or other essentials with you

Things we don't like:

  • check-markIt is prone to tipping
  • check-markThe weight capacity is quite low
Read full review

Where to buy:

advanced-elements-firefly-inflatable-kayak.jpg

Advanced Elements FireFly

When it’s just you kayaking on the weekends, an inflatable kayak like the one from Rave Sports seems like a good idea. With 200 pounds of weight capacity and a 423-Denier Nylon cover combined with the 500-Denier Tarpaulin bottom, it can be used in any type of water regardless of the currents.

Don’t let the relatively small size of the boat scare you from using it – instead, make the most out of it. The miniature size means you can throw a deflated version of it in your car or on your back (packed in the backpack) and carry it to your destination without any issues. It also means you will likely spend less time assembling your kayak and more time actually kayaking.

The 4 carry handles make it easy to transport your kayak on long distances, while the 1-year warranty gives you a sense of security in case something happens to your boat.

Specs & Features

  • Material: 423-Denier Nylon, 500-Denier Tarpaulin, 24 gauge PVC
  • Length: 8ft. 6 inches
  • Weight: 22 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 200 pounds
  • Dimensions: 103 x 35 x 8 inches

Our Overall Review

4

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    The hand pump shortens the inflation time to 6 minutes or less
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    The sling seat has an adjustable backrest

Things we don't like:

  • check-markThe weight capacity is low
Read full review

Where to buy:

rave-sports-inflatable-kayak.jpg

Rave Sports

Originally built for fishing, the Elton Outdoors kayak has since become a ‘go-to’ of many outdoor enthusiasts. It is an excellent choice for both shallow and deep waters, salty and brackish waters.

The 5 hard modular mounts enable you to stuff your gear with rod holders, downriggers, and bait trays. It is crafted from the durable 1000-Denier reinforced PVC with multiple layers that ensure the longevity of the boat.

The Hi-Rise EVA seats are adjustable, the cargo and bungee storage is spacious, and the tracking segs are removable. You can easily change your positions while in the kayak, from sitting to standing, thanks to the solid drop stitch floor.

The watercraft is just as simple to set up as it is to pack it in the backpack that comes with it, and head out the door. The 1-year warranty from the manufacturer gives you additional peace of mind, which is always a nice bonus to have.

Specs & Features

  • Material: 1000-Denier layered PVC
  • Length: 10ft. 10 inches
  • Weight: 40 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 400 pounds

Our Overall Review

3.9

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    The footrest is adjustable, and the back is padded for your comfort
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    The dual-action hand pump allows you to inflate the equipment in a matter of minutes

Things we don't like:

  • check-markThe manual with instructions doesn’t have all the required information for the gear installation
Read full review

Where to buy:

elkton-outdoors-fishing-kayak.jpg

Elkton Outdoors

When looking for the 3-person kayak, Sevylor has got you covered. Its Big Basin model is built from the rugged PVC with a Tarpaulin bottom that is as tough as it can get.

You can rest assured no punctures will pose a problem for you because of the strong and sturdy construction of the equipment.

It comes with air chambers that help avoid sinking in the middle of the ride. To our regret, we know first-hand how frustrating it is to experience any mishaps when in the middle of the lake.

The Boston valves built into the kayak are responsible for quick and easy inflation and deflation. The three seats are not only adjustable but also comfortable for all-day kayaking with no breaks.

Whether you prefer to sit down the entire time or stand up every few hours to stretch your legs, this gear will help you maintain your stability. Use the spray covers that come with the kayak to keep yourself dry and you are bound to have a trip of your lifetime.

Specs & Features

  • Material: PVC, Tarpaulin
  • Capacity: 3 people
  • Weight: 34.8 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 490 pounds
  • Dimensions: 24 x 18 x 10 inches

Our Overall Review

3.9

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    The construction of the gear is made to be resilient
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    It can easily fit 3 people

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNo pump is included
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Sevylor Big Basin

Built with a traditional outline of a river runner, Driftsun Rover inflatable tandem kayak is a speedy boat. It has the ability to handle rough waters and bad weather conditions while keeping you afloat.

The high-pressure drop-stitch floor makes it rigid yet lightweight, which means more fun kayaking.

The layered PVC construction protects your watercraft from getting damaged – it will bounce off the rocks and similar “obstacles” with no punctures. The carry handles make it easy for you to transport the equipment from A to B.

They are built from high-quality material that won’t rip apart halfway through the ride. The EVA seats are adjustable, the footrests can be modified too – basically, you are given the all-inclusive boat that will do its job well.

There is no need to make any separate purchases before venturing out for a ride as the Rover comes with aluminum paddles, a rear tracking fin, a hand pump, and a travel bag.

Specs & Features

  • Material: PVC, Tarpaulin
  • Length: 12 ft. 6 inches
  • Capacity: 2 people
  • Weight: 28 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 600 pounds

Our Overall Review

3.7

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    It takes less than 10 minutes to fully inflate the kayak
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    The high capacity allows you to bring plenty of essentials on board

Things we don't like:

  • check-markThe fin is hard to remove
Read full review

Where to buy:

driftsun-rover-inflatable-tandem-kayak.jpg

Driftsun Rover

Designed for calm waters, Advanced Elements Island Voyage kayak is a recreational piece of equipment with sturdy multi-layered construction.

The air chambers are built with separators consisting of durable material in order to ensure the ultimate leakage protection. Additionally, the 600-Denier ripstop deck material backs up the already rugged kayak and makes it a long-lasting watercraft.

Long paddling trips are a real possibility with this kayak – the padded foam seats along with the retractable skeg tracking system allow you to sit back and relax for hours. You can adjust the seat so that you are not employing too much energy when kayaking for a whole day.

It is super easy to install – all you need to do is to unfold and inflate the gear and then attach the seats. Regardless of what turn the weather takes on a particular day, the high-volume side tubes allow you to stay afloat at all times.

Specs & Features

  • Material: PVC, Tarpaulin
  • Length: 11 ft. 2 inches
  • Capacity: 2 people
  • Weight: 31.5 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 400 pounds

Our Overall Review

3.6

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    The supportive backrest allows you to sit comfortably and focus on the path ahead of you
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    The back drain plug enables you to efficiently drain the water before storing the kayak away

Things we don't like:

  • check-markSome users complain about the unequal inflation on both sides of the boa
Read full review

Where to buy:

advanced-elements-island-voyage-kayak.jpg

Advanced Elements Island

If you are not willing to spend a lot of time assembling your water gear and would rather spend more time kayaking, Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person kayak model is your best bet. All it takes to inflate it is 5 minutes – the high-pressure hand pump is there to help you.

When you are finished with your trip, you can fold your kayak into its own integrated backpack that has padded shoulder straps for convenient transportation.

Built from 21 gauge PVC fabric with Taurplain bottom, it is bound to last you several years without developing any points of leakage.

Multiple air chambers further ensure the puncture-free construction of the kayak – if one is punctured, the other ones will come to the rescue to keep the equipment afloat.

The backrest and the multi-positioned footrest allows you to sit back and relax while you are drifting in the waters of a river or lake.

Multiple air chambers further ensure the puncture-free construction of the kayak – if one is punctured, the other ones will come to the rescue to keep the equipment afloat. The backrest and the multi-positioned footrest allows you to sit back and relax while you are drifting in the waters of a river or lake.

Specs & Features

  • Material: PVC, Tarpaulin
  • Length: 8ft. 7 inches
  • Weight: 18 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 400 pounds
  • Dimensions: 103 x 36 x 30 inches

Our Overall Review

3.5

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    The airtight technology guarantees leakage-free kayaking sessions
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    The backpack can be used as a seat

Things we don't like:

  • check-markThe tracking is not great
Read full review

Where to buy:

sevylor-quikpak-k1-1-person-kayak.jpg

Sevylor Quikpak K1

The Advanced Elements 10’5” Inflatable Kayak is a hybrid of an inflatable kayak and a folding frame that sports a 3-layer construction. The kayak also boasts high-end features for an affordable price. It can be set up in a matter of minutes and taken on a weekend adventure without occupying too much space. 

The Advanced Element inflatable kayak’s hull is built from PVC Tarpaulin – a strong and durable material that is robust and made to last. The mix of inflation chambers, rigid panels, and an aluminum frame reinforces the already heavy-duty construction, meaning that this kayak will last you a long time with proper maintenance. 

The manufacturer incorporated a skeg for improved tracking performance and plenty of storage space. You won’t have any issues stuffing your kayak with inflatable gear, snacks, and on-board entertainment should you decide to take a lengthy trip. 

Overall, the Advanced Element Inflatable Kayak is the perfect solution for kayakers who want excellent tracking, portability, and an extremely reliable hull construction for their inflatable kayak. 

Specs & Features

  • Type: Sit Inside
  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Material: PVC Tarpaulin, Polyester, Aluminum
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs.
  • Weight: 36 lbs.

Our Overall Review

3.4

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    The built-in aluminum ribs add to the tracking of the kayak.
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    The adjustable seats are padded.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot suitable for heavier kayakers
Read full review

Where to buy:

advanced-elements-105-inflatable-kayak.jpg

Advanced Elements 10’5”

Distinguished by its portability and comfort, the Sea Eagle RazorLite is a high-quality, reliable inflatable kayak that has acquired a loyal fan base over the years

The construction of the kayak is superb. It features a drop-stitch PVC material, a removable skeg, and an adjustable seat and foot braces. The bow and stern storage areas are designed for keeping your belongings dry and are compatible with spray skirts. 

Besides the kayak itself, an air pump, a double-paddle oar, a patch kit, and a carry bag are all included in the Sea Eagle RazorLite package, eliminating the need for any additional purchases. Measuring at 22 by 22 inches when deflated, this kayak appeals to kayakers who also happen to travel a lot.

The Sea Eagle RazorLite Inflatable Kayak is the perfect kayak for travelers who want a well constructed, comfortable, and convenient inflatable kayak with a high capacity. 

Specs & Features

  • Type: Sit on Top
  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Material: 1100 Decitex Reinforced
  • Weight Capacity: 500 lbs.
  • Weight: 33 ½ lbs.

Our Overall Review

3.4

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    The stern molds and the stiff bow enable quick and easy entry and exit.
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    The inflatable construction makes it one of the most portable kayaks in this guide.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot as long-lasting as a hard shell kayak
Read full review

Where to buy:

sea-eagle-razorlite-inflatable-kayak.jpg

Sea Eagle RazorLite

The Aquaglide Navarro Inflatable Kayak is an easy-to-transport, 2-person boat intended for getting out on the water and enjoying yourself.

This kayak is a favorite of many paddlers who want a portable and robust kayak.

Built from durable HexShell 600-Denier Polyester material, the Aquaglide Navarro features non-removable bow and stern decks that are further equipped with zippers for quick access. 

The seats attached to the kayak are also made of heavy-duty materials. They are installed via D-ring straps with velcro that runs along the kayak floor and the bottom of the seats. For versatility and good value for money, you can’t go wrong with Aqualide’s Navarro inflatable kayak. 

The Aquaglide Navarro inflatable kayak is a brilliant choice for kayakers looking for a durable and portable kayak. Always be aware of the time required to dry the yak when done paddling.

Specs & Features

  • Type: Sit Inside
  • Person Capacity: 1-3
  • Material: HexShell covered pontoons w/ drop stitched floors
  • Weight Capacity: 500 lbs.
  • Weight: 40 lbs.

Our Overall Review

3.4

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    You can fit up to 3 people in this kayak.
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    There’s a 1-year limited warranty on the kayak.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markPump and attachments have to be purchased separately.
Read full review

Where to buy:

aquaglide-navarro-146-inflatable-kayak.jpg

Aquaglide Navarro 14’6”

Though it’s not very ambitious as a paddling boat, the Intex Explorer K2 is an affordable, inflatable kayak that will get people out on the water.

It’s really an advanced beach toy that offers a glimpse into what kayaking can be. The best thing about this cheap inflatable is its portability and stability on flat water.

Kids will enjoy paddling in circles within view of their parents. Two adults can hop in with a cooler bag and spend a few hours piddling about too.

But whereas there’s no performance to rave about, it’s a complete set that offers some exercise for two or one paddlers.

 

Specs & Features

  • Best Suited For: Beginners/Recreational/Family
  • Material: Rugged Polypropylene Vinyl
  • Type: Sit Inside
  • Capacity: 400 lbs (181 kg)
  • Dimensions: 10’3” x 3’ x 1’8”

Our Overall Review

3.8

Things we like:

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    Lightweight and portable
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    Good value for money
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    Converts from single to tandem
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    Ideal for 2 person recreational kayaking
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    Great way to introduce kids to basic kayaking

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot suitable for heavier kayakers
  • check-markBasic paddles and accessories
  • check-markNot suitable for longer kayak trips
  • check-markMore a beach toy than a kayak
  • check-markBad tracking
Read full review

Where to buy:

intex-explorer-k2-product-picture.jpg

Intex Explorer K2

Related Reviews

How to Find the Best Inflatable Kayak:

It can be overwhelming choosing the right inflatable kayak so we’ve listed the main things to consider.

Just in case inflatable isn’t your style we’ve created guides for selecting tandem kayaks, kayaks for fishing, sea touring and more.

Inflatable Kayak Material

To make a well-thought-out decision regarding what inflatable to choose, you have to evaluate the quality of its material, the weight and seating capacities, the length, and the availability of accessories.

Since you will be spending 99% of your time in the water, you need to make sure the construction of your kayak’s material is sturdy and durable.

There are generally 3 types of material used: vinyl, vinyl covered in a nylon or polyester fabric, and PVC. 

The most common fabric you will see inflatable kayaks made with is vinyl.

Vinyl

Vinyl is cheapest and lighter than PVC and packs down smaller. But it is less rigid than PVC and therefor misses out on performance factor. But if you’re not touring long distances, this difference is moot.

Vinyl with Fabric

Be aware that vinyl inflatables with fabric offer protection against the sun and the constant stress from paddle strokes, but have the drawback of taking longer to dry and risk moulding if they are not.

PVC

With PVC no gluing is involved – instead, the manufacturers weld the seams, making the material reliable and lightweight. Besides that, it is easily foldable, which comes in handy when transporting the kayak.

Weight

The typical weight capacity of an inflatable ranges between 350 and 700 pounds, while the seating capacity varies from accommodating one person to accommodating three people.

The more people occupying an inflatable kayak and the more equipment you will be bringing on board, the bigger capacity your boat should have. Take into account that if you will be taking your furry friends with you, you will need more room so they feel comfortable.

Length

You will find most inflatable kayaks to be 12 feet long, which is a great length for maintaining buoyancy even in the windiest weather conditions. That said, there are kayaks as short as 10 feet and as long as 16 feet. The shorter ones are generally easier to maneuver, while the longer ones are more stable on the water.

Other features such as removable skegs, a hand pump, paddles, and rod holders can help differentiate kayaks. Removable skegs are generally used to help with navigation, the rod holders are a required accessory for fishing, and an included hand pump and paddle eliminates the need for additional purchases.

Is An Inflatable Kayak Safe?

The best competitive advantage of an inflatable is their superb buoyancy. Since they are filled with air and are generally lightweight, the risk of them sinking is very low.

In addition, these kayaks are built from the highest quality materials that are not prone to punctures. Thanks to current-day technological advancements, the exterior of these boats might even be sturdier than the hull of hard-shell kayaks.

The possibility of an inflatable popping is still there, but you can remove it by storing it away from sharp objects and taking good care of it. In case you do happen to get a puncture, there are patch kits that can help you efficiently repair it.

Learn more about Kayak Safety.

Kayaking An Inflatable?

If we compare the fastest hard-shell kayak with the fastest inflatable, the hard-shell will be faster. However, you can’t assume that every inflatable is slow.

Models that are in the affordable price range can indeed be sluggish, but as it is with any other piece of equipment, you get what you pay for. Many avid kayakers claim that they found some inflatables to outperform the hard-shell kayaks in terms of speed. It’s a matter of setting your priorities straight and investing in the gear that will entirely meet your needs and expectations.

How to find a leak in an inflatable kayak?

The first sign of the leakage is the deflation of your kayak. To determine where the weak spot is, search for bubbles that will appear at the leak spot. Make sure you don’t float far from the shore while you are investigating your gear for potential leakage, to prevent accidents.

You should keep in mind that deflation doesn’t always mean leakage. If you don’t happen to find any signs of tearing, it might just be that your kayak has deflated throughout the day. All you need to do is to pump it up with a bit more air to keep it afloat.

How to clean an inflatable kayak?

One of the main ways to preserve the quality of your water equipment is to take good care of it. This means inspecting your kayak for punctures, thoroughly cleaning it after every use, and storing it in a dark place.

You should always clean your kayak after use, as it prevents it from developing mold overtime. The cleaning process is very straightforward – hose your kayak with fresh water to get rid of the residue that has accumulated on the exterior of the equipment. Once it is clean, allow it to dry in the shade, and store it in a cool and dry place.

If you already have an inflatable kayak or you just bought one, leave a comment in the comment section below and share your experience with it.

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

What are the best inflatable kayaks?

For an inflatable kayak to be considered in the top 10, it needs to be portable, lightweight, and sturdy. These are only some of the categories that are important. To know which inflatable kayaks are the best depends on your experience and the type of water you’ll by yakking in as well. Our guide to iYaks offers more insight and advice.

Otherwise, check out the list of our favorite inflatable kayaks:

    1. Driftsun 2-Person Inflatable Kayak
    2. Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak
    3. Airhead Montana Inflatable Kayak
    4. Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe Inflatable Kayak
    5. Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
    6. Advanced Elements FireFly Inflatable Kayak
    7. Rave Sports Inflatable Kayak
    8. AIRE Tributary Tomcat Solo Inflatable Kayak
    9. Elkton Outdoors Fishing Kayak
    10. Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
How good are inflatable kayaks?

Although not as fast as traditional kayaks that have hard hulls, inflatable kayaks are a lot more portable and lightweight, making them ideal for holidays and travel. Most inflatable kayaks also perform exceptionally well in the water and are great for recreational kayaking. The better ones can also be used for touring.

How safe are inflatable kayaks?

Inflatable kayaks are just as safe as traditional kayaks. You must take the proper precautions to stay safe while kayaking, such as wearing a life vest and avoiding whitewater. Ultimately, the material that inflatable kayaks are made of is robust, durable, and strong enough to take you on most aquatic adventures.

What are inflatable kayaks made of?

There are three main types of material used in the construction depending on the category of inflatable kayak. The first category is light recreation that is made of single-layer vinyl. The second category is also vinyl but covered in a type of nylon fabric to protect from the elements. The last type of material is thick PVC, sometimes with drop-stitching, that is more rigid, durable and more expensive. A majority of inflatable boats are made of PVC.

Where to buy inflatable kayaks?

Depending on what inflatable kayak you want, you can probably find it on Amazon, rei.com or evo.com. We have provided links under the where to buy section of each inflatable kayak review so that you can easily access the products.

Related Reviews

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Christos
Christos
Reply to 

Hello Shannon,

I would definitely recommend the Advanced Elements 10’5” Inflatable Kayak.

Depending on the conditions of the river, there should be no problem using this kayak. As long as the current of the river isn’t too strong and there are not so many big rocks, you should be ok.

Hope this helped.

Christos
Christos
Reply to 

Hi Man of sea,

For fishing, I recommend the Elkton Outdoors Fishing Kayak. It has reinforced material that helps avoid punctures from spears. Nevertheless, you should always try and have your spear covered, especially when using an inflatable kayak.

Consider going with a fishing kayak – https://www.divein.com/kayaking/fishing-kayak/

Hope this helped.

Christos
Christos
Reply to 

Hi Steve,

The reason that the Sea eagle 393L Razorlite didn’t make this list is that the material used in this inflatable kayak’s construction is quite fragile and we are worried about the durability level of the kayak. We only recommend inflatable kayaks that we know will last.

Hope this helps.

Christos
Christos
Reply to 

Hi Patty,

Although it is true that the Driftsun kayaks offer a good level of stability, there are other inflatable kayaks such as the Advanced Elements models that are just, if not more stable. For this reason we don’t think that the Driftsun stands out for stability.

Hope this helps.

Christos
Christos
Reply to 

Hi Sue,

The HO Ranger tandem kayak is a great option. It is made using high-quality material and also offers lots of space. The fact that it is inflatable also gives it an edge as it is more portable.

I would recommend giving it a test try before buying it as we haven’t tested this one out.

Let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Christos
Christos
Reply to 

Hi Cassey,

All of the kayaks on this list are made using high-quality materials, however, if I was to choose, I would recommend the Advanced Elements 10’5” Inflatable Kayak or the Aquaglide Navarro 14’6” Inflatable Kayak as they offer an outstanding experience at an affordable price.

Hope this recommendation helps you find your ideal kayak.

Christos
Christos
Reply to 

Hello Pat,

You should always check the kayak volume as it is the measurement that helps you to understand how much room the kayak has inside the cockpit. That said, the available space is relative to the dimension of your body. For this reason, we recommend testing kayaks out before buying them.

Hope this helps.

Christos
Christos
Reply to 

Hi Leonidas,

Your paddle of 2,35 meters should be suitable for the Sevylor ST 5656 sit-on-top kayak. I do not recommend purchasing a longer paddle as this might make paddling more difficult and less efficient.

Hope this helped.

Shannon
Shannon
Reply to 

I am wondering what type of Inflatable Kayak is a good option that I can bring out in the Ocean and in the river. I live near the Ocean but travel and go river rafting as well and am wondering if I could use a Kayak I buy for the Ocean on the river as well, or is this not a good idea.

steve
steve
Reply to 

Do you have any single person inflatables to recommend? Im looking at the Sea Eagle 393RL. Mostly because it looks better than the other inflatables and appears easier to paddle. .

thx

Man of sea
Man of sea
Reply to 

Is there a kayak for fishing. I’m worried my spear may pop the boat

Steve
Steve
Reply to 

I noticed you didn’t include the Sea eagle 393L Razorlite. This is the one I am seriously considering. Did you find something with it that you didn’t care for?
Thx

patty hart
patty hart
Reply to 

I heard the drift sun is most stable. true? And why is that not a key point in descriptions?

Torben Lonne
Member
Torben Lonne
Reply to 

Thank you 🙂

Did it help you get out there?

Jane
Jane
Reply to 

Detailed & informative article. Thanks for sharing

Sue Rougeau
Sue Rougeau
Reply to 

I would like to know you thoughts on the HO Ranger tandem kayak. Living in Canada we do not have a huge selection but this one is available

Cassey max
Cassey max
Reply to 

It is a great explained of a article and quite intresting to read too but Which type of kayak I should buy that can be good in quality and also have a fair price range?

Pat williamson
Pat williamson
Reply to 

bought an Advanced Elements inflatable 5 yrs ago when grandkids visiting – i sold my heavy kayak and now using one of theirs; however, I’m 5’8″ and find it crunches my legs so i have to comfortably dangle them – so how do i know inside measurements? thnx

Leonidas Margelis
Leonidas Margelis
Reply to  Torben Lonne

Dear Cristos,be so kind to reply ,informing me about the ideal length of paddle for my Sevylor ST 5656 sit on top cayak,recently purchesed by me used.The paddle that was sailed ,is 2,35 meters long.Is good enough for sailing normally o a longer size is required.Iam waiting your reply as a specialit who knows well this type of cayak that is very common in US.Thanks in advance and best regards

Bradley Axmith
Member
Bradley Axmith
Reply to 

Just to add another couple of options to Christos’, there are a few possibilities from Bote. They have inflatable kayaks and models that are somewhere between canoe and kayak. Check them out here.

Christos Nicolaou
Christos Nicolaou
Reply to 

Hey Victoria,

I personally recommend the Advancedframe Convertible Kayak: AE1007 for your parents, as it is super lightweight at 52 LBS and the seats are really comfortable. It’s difficult to find chair options for an inflatable kayak as this adds to the overall weight and portability of the kayak and for this reason, most manufacturers avoid having this option. You can always buy a Surf To Summit Elevated Kayak Seat from Amazon to add some height if these seats aren’t accessible enough. This kayak can be paddled both solo or tandem and is one of the most convenient and accessible kayaks on the market.

Hope this helps you out!

Victoria Nelson
Victoria Nelson
Reply to 

Hello,
I am looking for an inflatable Kayak for my dad. He is in his upper 70’s and loves to canoe; however, because of his health the canoes are getting too heavy for him to lug around. I was thinking about getting him an inflatable Kayak, but he is not able to sit down in them. Would you know of any inflatable canoes or kayak that have a chairs or higher seating option. If possible can fit two people, my mom likes to go with him.

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