With inflatables you get what you pay for. A cheap one will probably hold water, and may last through a season or two without any air leaks. When you pay for the best inflatable kayak you can find you get a boat that makes you fall in love with the sport. If you struggle paddling, you might come to the conclusion that kayaking isn´t for you. If you start with a better quality Kayak you will enjoy paddling for years to come.
So how can you determine which inflatable kayak that’s right for you? It’s easier than you might imagine. Just follow these simple guidelines, and you’ll soon be relaxing in a boat that was made for you:
1. Size matters
Determine whether you need a kayak for one person, or two people. The best way to figure this out is to consider what you will be using the kayak for. If you just want to enjoy your kayak for solo trips then a one-seater would be enough. But if you enjoy the company of a companion, then a two-seater would be appropriate. Remember that a two-seater will be more compatible for boating trips. You can fit one passenger in a two-seater, but you can’t fit two passengers in a one-seater!
2. Sit On Top or Sit In?
If you’re a new kayaker, you may want to consider the sit-on-top inflatable kayak. In fact, the majority of inflatable kayaks are of the sit-on-top variety. This type of model is easier to control requires less expertise than decked kayaks need. Where are sit-on-top inflatable kayaks most effective? They’re perfect for calm lakes and rivers, sounds, near shorelines, and even whitewater! Remember the rule of “safety first” when choosing an inflatable kayak. Even if you’re really adventurous, it’s advisable that you master a sit-on-top inflatable raft first. It also can ease your fear of being upside down and under water while in your kayak.
3. The price is right
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Today’s inflatable kayaks have become much more fordable since the 1980s. All Coleman inflatable kayaks are of the finest quality, like the sturdy Hair Straighteners. Nonetheless, their prices differ, based on how many people they seat, their features, etc. So before choosing an inflatable yak, determine what your kayaking needs are, and most importantly, which ones are within your budget.
On top of that the material is glued on by hand with overlapped seams, this is very labor intensive and increases the price of a kayak greatly however it makes them super durable and allows the manufacturer to provide warranties of up to 10 years.
In 2010 the USA plant for Hypalon was closed by Dupont so now NRS and different kayak companies go with the Pennel Orca type which is very similar to Hypalon and manufactured in France.
When looking for a kayak a good rule of thumb is to look at the thickness of the fabric. It is measure in denier, a higher denier means that the kayak will be thicker and stronger.
There is one negative however and that is that it is heavier however manufacturers only coat the outer hull with it to remedy this problem.
Inflatable Kayak Benefits
Portability -- because they can deflate to fit into a closet, garage or a trunk.
Affordability -- a good inflatable for about $500 can last for many years.
Resistant -- Inflatables may be made from new material like PVC, hypalon or nitrylon.
Versatile -- There are many styles: expedition, fishing and ocean kayaks. A good model can be used in a river or ocean as well.
Easy to maintain – You can treat some kayaks with 303 Protectant for the sun. You simply need to wash off the grime and let them dry completely before storing them.
Easy to repair – It´s easy to apply a patch if it gets a puncture, after that let it dry and get your kayak back in shape for use.
Great for beginners -- inflatable kayaks are easy to use for beginners. They're easy to maneuver.
Accessibility -- Many people perceive it's too expensive. With a good inflatable kayak and paddle you can get started for less than $800.
Other Inflatable Kayak Questions To Consider
Inflatable kayak Design Considerations
The performance and characteristics of a kayak is really determined by its hull size and shape. The fact is that long kayaks the size of 13 feet or over can glide and track easily, while the shorter ones can turn easier. The most important thing is the boats waterline length, which might be much shorter than the overall length.
While the wider boats have more stability in calm situations, the narrow boats are quicker and better with regards to the secondary stability, which is when the boat is leaning on its side. To see how easy it is to ride on the kayak, just try getting in and out the cockpit. The depth of a touring kayak from the hull to the decks top may be from 13 to 16 inches, while the sit-on-tops kayaks height is about 11-16 inches deep. Taller and bigger paddlers should make sure of the ample depth for having enough legroom and space. Besides providing more space, the taller sides also help to deflect water, but they can catch more wind that causing you to slow down.
The triangular metal plate under the stern that is called the skeg reduces the weather cocking effect of a boat in the wind. It improves tracking in cross-currents and crosswinds. To adjust it to different positions, you can use the hand lever or hand controls. Skeg is a popular feature for kayaking addicts, although its not easy for the beginners. There is also a rudder, a paddle that goes up, down, left, and right, which is attached to the kayaks stern top that is lowered using a hand lever into the water. The foot lever is used to turn easier, deciding the direction the rudder goes.
Other kayak design considerations that you have to be careful of are weight capacity and limit for each boat. You should think of how much paddlers your boat will take and the weight you are going to carry. At one or both ends of touring kayaks, there are storage areas that are enclosed with a lid on the deck.
The hatch lids come in different types or variation with their own advantages and disadvantages.
-neoprene cover stretches over the hatch secured with straps and sometimes combined with hard outer cover
-plastic lid with a gasket attached to the deck and lid that closes with cargo straps
-toggled hatches with toggles and a gasket sealing a plastic lid-rubber hatch cover snaps to molded deck or the hatch ring
Aside from those kayak design considerations above, I also want to inform you of some of the things you should know for the hatch. After capsizing or during rough situation, you should carry a bilge pump, and replace the old gaskets when they worn. You should also use some small dry bags instead of one big bag. To add extra buoyancy whenever it is capsizing, you can also put the float bags in the hatches.
Look for a used wooden or fiberglass one -- it will greatly improve your paddling experience. All Kayaks are susceptible to leaks, that´s why a good patch kit with a full roll of waterproof duct tape is a must! Avoid rivers with lots of overhanging trees or wood in the water.
Go with an experienced group a couple of times first, or take an introductory course from a local instructor.
If your looking for the best inflatable kayak in terms of security we recommend the Advanced Elements Advanced Frame it is more expensive but in our opinion is the best inflatable kayak out there today.
There was a day when whitewater kayakers wouldn't even consider using an inflatable kayak. However, things have changed. The whitewater inflatable kayaks that are manufactured today are highly rugged, extremely sturdy and will rival the performance of a hard-shelled kayak. They also have the added convenience of being very portable and easily stored in small spaces.
Whitewater inflatable kayaks are perfect for someone that wants to take their kayak hiking, travelling or camping as well as be able to store it in a closet or throw in the trunk of a car. They offer supreme convenience,
versatility and fun.
The most popular brands of whitewater inflatable kayaks are Aire, Innova, NRS, Advanced Elements and Sea Eagle. Below are the most popular models on the market right now.
Aire Force - This kayak is very popular for whitewater with up to class IV rapids. It is geared for the intermediate to advanced paddler that expects great performance and versatility from their kayak. It comes with thigh straps, foot pedals and a phenomenal ten year warranty. It is also available in XL size for a person who wants or needs more room.
Tributary Tomcat - The Tomcat comes in a solo or tandem version. Tributary is Aire's imported line of kayaks and will be much less money then the American made Aire products. They are a much more affordable option for a person who is a recreational whitewater paddler and doesn't mind sacrificing a little bit of the quality of the boat for a great price and still a great performance. The Tomcat comes with a one year warranty and is great for paddlers of all levels.Innova Safari - The Safari is extremely light as it weighs only twenty-four pounds. This kayak is perfect for anyone who loves to travel and wants to easily be able to bring their inflatable kayak on an airplane. It can handle up to class III rapids and is best suited for intermediate to advanced kayakers as it is fairly narrow and not completely stable. If you know how to handle a whitewater kayak, the Safari will not disappoint.
NRS Bandit - The Bandit is really cool because it is an environmentally friendly kayak (it is PVC-free). This kayak is very light weight as it weighs only twenty-one pounds and can literally be taken anywhere by any mode of transportation. It is not a high performer but will get the job done nicely on some nice river runs. It is very much suited for a smaller person. There is a tandem version that would be better for a taller person or for two people.
Advanced Elements StraitEdge - The StraitEdge is a very stable kayak and will suit beginner to novice whitewater kayakers. It can handle a lot of different water conditions and track decently on open water. It is light enough to be taken anywhere in the world and easy enough to handle for a person of any age.
Sea Eagle Explorer Kayaks - The Explorer kayaks are very popular. They are not your best performing whitewater kayak but what they offer is excellent versatility. They can handle heavy whitewater rapids easily as well as be paddled easily on flat water or on the ocean. They are unbelievably rugged and stable as well as super comfortable. The Explorer kayaks come in three different sizes, the 340X, 380X or the 420X and can each hold an unbelievable amount of gear. They will get you anywhere you need to go and come with a great three year warranty.
All of these whitewater inflatable kayaks are self-bailing, solid and great quality boats. Finding the right one for you will depend on what level of kayaker you are as well as your price range. They can vary greatly in price so it should not be hard to find one that is affordable and also suits your needs. An inflatable kayak is a great investment in some eco-friendly outdoor recreational fun.
Commonly heard inflatable kayak myths
Caution – They are going to pop the first time they hit a hard rock
This is what can happen with the pool toy that you purchased for the kids however the modern-day inflatable whitewater kayaks are a distinct strain they perform very well and though sometimes punctures do occur the majority of them are made from a PVC shell that bounces right off rocks and causes no damage.
Caution – They are slow and aren’t that maneuverable
I remember when I used to lug around my large fishing kayak around the pond it was huge and was very hard to get into the water by myself it would take me forever to move it from one side to the other and I’m a rather big guy the great thing with inflatable kayaks is aside from the bonus of them being lighter and quicker to get into the water they actually perform very well in regards to tracking.
Caution – They are not meant for Whitewater
This is one of the funniest myths I’ve heard because inflatable kayaks in many cases are better for Whitewater since they can take a beating and jagged rocks have the kayak bounce off them rather than sustaining hard-hit many manufacturers make and promote inflatable kayaks made expressly for IV Whitewater.
Caution – They take on water very easily
Since the majority of the inflatable kayaks out there don’t have a cockpit that’s enclosed many people believe that inflatable kayaks are going to fill up a lot of water compared to their hardshell counterparts however there are Whitewater inflatable kayaks that are self-bailing, and you can find openings that allow water to drain out of these.
Caution – Even the best inflatable kayak is not as safe as a standard hardshell kayak
Inflatable kayaks are usually wider than hardshell kayaks this leaves the more stable and waves I can count the number of occasions I’ve noticed Whitewater kayaks that have been smacked around whereas an inflatable kayak was sustained with no damage or a scratch on it.
Caution – They are not for professional kayakers.
This is just completely not true when you look at the sites of some of the leading inflatable kayak makers some of the top Whitewater kayak contest out there are handing out awards to the best competitors in some of these and competitors are using inflatable kayaks.
Caution – They are tough to inflate
It only takes a few minutes to fully inflate a kayak it’s much quicker than you think many of the kayaks come with a hand-held pump that allows you to pump the kayak full of air without issue quickly.