Best Inflatable Kayak Models

When many people hear the word “inflatable kayak” they think of something cheap, plastic, and more akin to a kid’s toy than a real boat. While that might have been true years ago, times have greatly changed.

Inflatable kayaks are just as solid as any other kayak, but they come with the benefits that they are light and easy to package/store. Every best inflatable kayak fits that bill, but they all have specific choice differences \ that separate them from the pack.

Those are what we’ll focus on this guide.

Light Boats for the Great Outdoors

Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum...

When looking for the best inflatable kayak you want to search for the same features you would when picking any other type of craft.

Just remember the best inflatable kayak is not necessarily the one with the most features, it is more often the one that fits the particular niche you’re looking for.

While the following six kayaks work really well for a range of different purposes, they are all incredibly reliable out on the water for their own reasons.

When looking for the best inflatable kayak, you need to take many factors into account. Of those, transportation (a key reason to go inflatable) is one of the most vital.

That is where the Coleman Quikpak K5 excels.

Everything about this kayak is geared towards making it easy to use. The boat is simple to get going, and it is also simple to tear down.

In fact, it only takes five minutes to set up. That features gets it out onto the water faster than other kayaks and makes it a perfect option for both experienced and novice paddlers.

In addition, it has a special “grab and go” backpack that allows for both easy storage and transportation, as well as double lock valves for simple inflation and deflation.

Though some inflatable kayaks are inherently weak, the 10-foot-long Quikpak K5 has a polyester bottom and is laminated with 24-gauge PVC for extra strength.  It also has multiple air chambers as well as a tarpaulin bottom to protect it from any pricks or punctures.

Such features make this the best inflatable kayak for use on lakes, both calm and tumultuous. The airtight system also prevents leaks, which is another important safety feature.

On top of those characteristics, the boat also comes with a wide storage area complete with bungee lacing and numerous D-rings.

As mentioned above, each “best inflatable kayak” on this list is here because of its individual uses. Though that use differs from boat to boat, the NRS Pike Inflatable Kayak makes it on for fishing.

This model will allow any angler to get out on the water and haul in their catch with little worry. It holds two people (if needed), can comfortably sit one, and weighs a mere 46 pounds. Even so, it is an incredibly dependable boat that can handle many different waters.

While it is inflatable, the Pike Angler is much more solid than you would first think. Not only is it incredibly stable, but it also comes with a rigid floor that you can comfortably stand on.

That makes it so that you can fix your pole or line without worrying about tipping over.

The craft also has a 4-inch thick drop stitch insert than what is commonly used on stand-up paddle boards. That is more than enough support. However, if you want you can inflate that to 10 psi so that it becomes even more sturdy.

Most of the features here are set towards fishing. You get a bow with bungee lacing to secure fishing tackle, a cooler or a dry bag, in addition to a stern with multiple attachment points.

There are also 3 Scotty Mount Pads that can be used with rod holders or other fishing gear if you so wish.

All of the seats on this are also specially made for maximum comfort. You can sit out on the water for as long as you’d like without worrying about being uncomfortable.

Like any best inflatable kayak, this is also easy to transport thanks to its nylon carry bag, carry handles, and handy shoulder strap. Just throw it on and you’re ready to go.

Finally, there are special steel D-rings around the entire boat that allow you to rig it in your own way.

Verdict: 5 Stars

Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum...
  • The Intex Challenger K2 Kayak is sporty and fun with a streamlined design for easy paddling
  • The bright green color and sporty graphics make the kayak highly visible in the water
  • Two 86 inch aluminum paddles and an Intex high output pump for easy inflation and deflation

Though many inflatable kayaks are one-person vessels, it is possible to branch out for tandem options as well.

The Intex Challenger K2 is the best inflatable kayak for recreational and casual kayakers who want to enjoy the water with a friend.

As with the other kayak options on this list, this model is both light enough to carry (just clocking in at 33 pounds) but also tough enough to survive more turbulent waves.

Though some inflatable kayaks have a range of unique and special features, they break down once they get used a few times. That won’t happen with the Challenger because Intex has infused the craft with numerous aspects to help the extreme durability.

First, the boat is made from tough vinyl that resists both leaks and tears. This is a key aspect to note because many lesser inflatable kayaks can become punctured from both rocks and sticks floating out in the water.

That inherent strength shows why the Challenger is an amazing purchase that will last for years. Even if something does go wrong, the kayak comes with a patch kit to ensure you can quickly fix it.

To match that, the ridged floor is incredibly stable so that you can walk and steer without worry about ending up in the water.

The cockpit is also solid, providing quite a bit of room along with an inflatable seat and backrest. Almost anyone can paddle without being too cramped or uncomfortable.

If all of that is not enough, there are also cargo nets for extra storage, two 84-inch aluminum paddles, and a pump.

Though this is not the vessel for rougher waters, it is the best inflatable kayak for those who want a reliable and affordable way to go across quiet lakes or down lazy rivers.

Verdict: 5 Stars

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One of the best and well-known kayak brands in today’s market is Advanced Elements. They make a range of hard-shelled models, but they also create some of the best inflatable kayaks as well.

An example of that is the Attack Whitewater Kayak. This craft is interesting because, unlike many other inflatable kayaks on the market, it is able to handle intense waters with ease.

Many people assume that using an inflatable kayak means you can only stick to calm rivers or lakes. Though that is true sometimes, this model breaks that molds and shows that you can go whitewater rafting with an inflatable model if you want to.

First off, this boat is incredibly durable. It is crafted from 840-Denier PVC tarpaulin that comes with a zippered outer shell and 3 air chambers. That is then furthered by special abrasion rails on the hull to help withstand any extra impacts that it might endure.

Another reason why the Attack is considered the best inflatable kayak for rafting is because of its small size. The boat measures 9 feet, six inches long and only weighs 34 pounds.

That may seem counter intuitive, but the compact design is important in combination with the tough materials creates an incredibly nimble and easy to pilot craft.

Large boats may be able to crash through waves or some small debris, but it is better (and safer) to go around such obstacles. Being able to dodge rocks is important when out on the water, and a larger model simply wouldn’t allow that.

As you would expect from any best inflatable kayak, the model has some extra features as well.

There is an adjustable seat that uses Velcro to stay in place, as well as thigh straps to keep you inside the kayak no matter how rough things get.

To complete the package, this model comes with quite a bit of back storage for those that secure their items with bungee cords.

While there are other kayak options on the market, this is the best inflatable kayak option for people who want to pack light and still enjoy extreme sports.

It is quite affordable as well.

ADVANCED ELEMENTS AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak,...
  • 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....
  • Pre-assembled at the factory; simply unfold, inflate, and attach the seats

Our number five best inflatable kayak is another Advanced Elements model.

A few could have been in this slot, but the Advanced Frame Kayak gets the edge because it can be used on many different waterways in many different regions of the world.

What makes this particular boat so interesting is that it is an inflatable kayak that is close to a standard hard shell.

You get all of the reliability that comes with a traditional kayak (including a 550-pound carrying capacity) as well as the ease of use that comes with inflatable models. That blend is something truly unique and shows why this is in the running for the best inflatable kayak out there.

The Advanced Frame has built-in aluminum ribs to improve speed and general tracking, as well as three PVC layers that actively resist any punctures or tears. While you do not need to take this into tough areas, you can if you so desire.

As with some of the above models, the Advanced Frame has special drop stitch construction on the bottom that becomes hard when inflated. That increases the general durability and gives you a strong boat that can be rolled up into a carry duffle bag.

The 15-foot kayak is stable, comes with high back seats for maximum comfort, and has six chambers to provide extra safety while paddling.

It is also made with special three-layer construction to resist every tear or imaginable puncture, including claws. That is particularly important for those who like to travel with their dogs.

Another bonus of this model is that it has enough storage for a week-long camping trip, providing it with extra versatility for those who like to adventure. 

Adding to that, it is quick, has solid tracking, and is perfect for fishing. That doesn’t even mention the three separate seat locations, allowing it to be paddled both solo and tandem.

Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak Canoe Boat...
  • 3 person/650 lb capacity, weighs 32 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...
  • 2 AB30 7'10"" 4 Part Paddles with asymmetrical blade and aluminum shaft

Last, but definitely not least, is the Sea Eagle SE 370. This model is different because, while it weighs just 26 pounds, it can hold up to three people and has the best weight capacity on this list of up to 650 pounds.

This is a powerful boat in all aspects of the word. The two built-in molded skegs give it ample tracking and speed, while the two 83-inch aluminum paddles cut through the water.

The PolyKrylar hull is also strong enough to resist just about anything that could potentially pierce through the exterior.

The two inflatable and removable seats allow for an easy ride, while the self-bailing drain valves and rope handles make the entire package easy to use. There is even a handy carrying case for easy transportation to and from the water.

Despite all of that, it only takes 8 minutes to assemble and inflate thanks to the great foot pump.

Verdict: 4.5 Stars

Comparison Table

Whatever Floats Your Kayak

It is easy to turn away from inflatable kayaks. However, as the above list shows, inflatable kayaks are just as impressive (if not more impressive) than other hard-shelled models.

Though some of the boats lose a bit of durability, they more than make up for it with how easy they are to move around.

Sometimes, you just don’t want to lug a large, rigid boat out to the water. Sometimes, you just want to take a small bag and inflate when you get there. If lighter options appeal to you, the above kayaks are the best purchases out there.

Janice Friedman

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