Best Inflatable Kayak for Beginners
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Whether you are white water rafting or fishing with your kayak, your selection of an inflatable kayak can make or break your trip.
As there are a vast amount of kayaks out there, we care about leading you to choose the right inflatable kayak. At Outdoormagnet, we have performed hours of detailed research and have narrowed down a list of features we think campers need most for an Inflatable Kayak. In this guide, we have listed down 5 Best Inflatable Kayaks as our top picks.
If we had to pick one, then our top choice is the Intex Challenger Kayak Series K2 kayak.
Table of Contents
5 Best Inflatable Kayaks
Why an inflatable kayak
You get maximum fun per dollar ratio. It is well worth the money spent. Using it once, is equal to renting a kayak for a day. Imagine renting a kayak every other week!
It is so easy travelling with an inflatable kayak. Get in the car, throw in your kayak, and a few minutes later you are out on the water. There is no longer the transport hassle of hitching your kayak to the roof rack of your car. They are much lighter and easier to carry than hardshell kayaks.
It can be conveniently compressed down into a transport bag and stuffed into the trunk of a car. This makes it convenient to bring them on a hiking trip. It is especially useful, when you are trying to reach rough terrains that are difficult to navigate with a hardshell kayak.
Inflatables are useful if you live in a small apartment that does not have any real land to store a full sized kayak. With it stored in your car trunk, you will have less concerns of having it stolen.
Having a kayak of your own makes a great choice, as it can act as an extra kayak when you have family or friends visiting. You may want to make the most of your summer and spend the day out with your loved ones.
If you are a parent who wants to spend more time with your child outdoors, then this is the perfect solution. Its flatter bottom surface makes it very stable and safe. They are designed with thicker and higher quality plastic materials specifically to withstand situational hazards and hard surfaces.
How to choose an inflatable kayak
Before choosing a kayak, think about the purpose of you using it. Most inflatable kayaks are designed for lakes and tranquil rivers with little waves. It is most ideal for novice kayakers.
If you are planning for choppier waters for white water rafting, then it is good to invest in one that gives optimum performance in these conditions. White water rafting kayaks usually come with a self bailing option that you will not find on other standard kayaks.
If you are into fishing, choose an exterior that is durable enough to withstand sharp hooks. Fishing kayaks are specialized with custom-fit features for anglers looking to fish and kayak.
There are also kayaks available for dog owners who love to ride their kayak with their dogs. The exteriors are usually claw resistant which is effective in preventing abrasion and tears.
Construction, Comfort and Safety
It is common to drift through sharp branches sticking out from riverbanks. Thus, it is even more necessary that the kayaks be constructed with durable materials that armours the base against sharp points. It is good to choose one with multiple air chambers to protect you against deflation of any chamber. Inflatable kayaks usually have a wider base than hardshell kayaks. This which removes the possibility of flipping over.
Compare the seats from models to models. Some are fully adjustable, ergonomically made for proper back support. This makes your trip more comfortable and enjoyable.
For a peace of mind, verify if the kayak is certified by the NMMA (National Marine Manufacturers Association. This means it has been tested to meticulous standards of quality and safety.
Weight and Capacity
Kayak comes with options of solo or tandem, accommodating 2 to 3 persons in capacity. With more people, you can have more fun by having someone to kayak together. Otherwise, you can use the extra space for storing your fishing gear.
As inflatable kayaks are filled with air, they are usually more buoyant than hard shells. Thus, they are capable of carrying more weight. Different models have different maximum weight capacity. Choose a kayak that fits your weight as a paddler. You can also choose to get your own kayak paddle.
Usually the larger the size, the heavier it is for you to bring it to the water, unless you have a kayak trailer. So choosing an inflatable kayak is about trade offs. Go for a kayak that serves the purpose and situation of your kayaking style.
How to take care of your kayak
After using your kayak, ensure you remove all sand and gravel out of the kayak. This is because leftover debris is extremely abrasive. It may rub against the surface of the kayak when you pack it back into the bag.
It is important not to over inflate your boat. You may easily over inflate it under heat when the rubber becomes softer. This will make the material more likely to get damaged.
Before you store your kayak, hose it and let it dry in the sun. Use a towel to do a final wipe down before folding it. This prevents mildew from developing early.
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Intex is the reputable market leader in inflatable products over the last 40 years. This makes Intex a reliable brand to trust.
Its durability is amazing, as its material is made of heavy duty puncture-resistant. Its vinyl is also UV damage resistant. This makes the exterior strong enough to defy tearing and scratches.
The bright green coloring makes this boat easy to spot, if you find yourself in a tricky situation. Other well thought safety features are its grab ropes lining the stern and the bow of the craft. It helps you to easily jump off and get back into the boat. An excellent addition is its emergency kit, which is packed together with the boat if there is a puncture.
There are 2 separate air chambers , and which are built with Boston valves for quick inflation. To deflate it, just open the valves to allow air to release quickly. It comes with a Intex high output pump with hose attachment for easy inflation and deflation. It pumps so fast, there is no need for an electric pump. When inflated properly, it feels solid, making it an incredibly stable platform in the water. It is more stable than standard kayaks and will not give you any worries of turning over. Some users have reported that it can stand pretty strong waves.
This kayak is lightweight at 33.53 lbs, making it super easy to pack. The bag dimensions when fully packed is about 23 by 14 by 8.5 inches, making it easy to carry around. When inflated, it holds a decent size measuring 30 by 15 by 138 inches (W x H x D). This creates plenty of room to place your luggage behind the seat or under the net. It holds a capacity of 2 passengers with a maximum weight of 400 lbs.
For such an affordable price, the kayak comes with two 86 inches paddles and a removal skeg to keep your kayak straight in the water. The only downside is the lack of a drain valve. It makes it cumbersome to clean and dry the interior. Otherwise, this kayak is brilliant to bring along for a family trip.
- Great value
- Handy cargo net in front
- Popular among beginners
- No drain valve
If you are looking for something to take to the lake or easy rivers, this is a great kayak to go for. The exterior of the boat is durable as it is built over a 1200 denier nylon-shell with internal tubes. Given its SUPER-TOUGH™ 30-gauge vinyl, it is highly tolerant to rough surfaces. This kayak is constructed with 3 separate air chambers. This provides extra protection in case you managed to make a hole in the vinyl. It will give you sufficient time to get back to shore before you get soaked.
Intex Explorer K2 is highly spacious. It fits tall and big guys with ease because there is ample floor space for your legs and storage area. It holds the weight of 2 persons comfortably, as it has an excellent weight capacity of up to 400 lbs.
Its inflatable I-beam floor is made for comfort and rigidity. The floor does not bend or buckle in the water. It is incredibly stable, allowing someone to get in and out while the boat is deep in the water.
With Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, you will be getting a removable skeg that helps tremendously with steering. The manufacturer also provides two 86”aluminum oars which is easy to steer and go fast. It comes with a nice touch of an emergency repair patch kit, U.S. Coast Guard I.D. and a transport bag.
It is easy to assemble, blow up, and disassemble and yet have all the functionalities of a regular kayak. It is easy to inflate with the provided Intex high-output manual pump. Generally, the whole process of setting up takes 20 to 30 minutes.
- Easy to set up and use
- Budget friendly
- Paddles are short
- Flimsy transport bag
If you are looking for higher weight capacity, then this inflatable kayak is for you. This remarkable tandem boat is able to carry up to 3 persons. But it also can be used by an adult alone. It is rated as one of the best kayaks for big guys, as it can take a maximum weight capacity of 650 lb. Its greater capacity means more space for your fishing, picnic or camping gear. Of course, when lugging this big craft around, the small inconvenience may be the weight, at 32 lbs.
This kayak can perform up to Class III whitewater. But based on general users’ feedback, they work better in Class II. What makes it stand out among competitors is its thick 38-millimeter PolyKrylar hull. Its thick hull is resistant to both salt water and sun. It is also resilient enough to withstand dog paws and claws, which means you can bring your family dog along.
It is highly maneuverable with 2 molded skegs that tracks very nicely in the current and wind. Just like a surfboard, these skegs help you go faster with less paddling. This craft is well built for stability which works great in choppy waters. You will be amazed to find it difficult to turn or tip it.
One thing great about this kit, is that it has 2 movable Deluxe Kayak Seats which are well built. The back has a separate chamber and provides good back support. There are two AB30 7’10″” 4 Part Paddles with asymmetrical blade and aluminum shaft.
This kayak sets up and packs down like a dream, thanks to its 5 deluxe 1-way inflation/deflation valves. With the foot pump that comes along, it takes an average person 15 to 20 minutes to set up from the storage bag to the water. There is an open and close drain valve built in the kayak. When you are pushed around by the wind, you can open the drainage valve. This allows some water in to add extra weight to the bottom. This is an excellent feature when used in whitewater rivers or in ocean surfing. The self-bailing valve is also useful to drain the water out, when you are back on land.
- Extremely stable
- Very roomy for storage space
- High bang for the buck
- Super durable
- Paddles are entry level
Sevlor is constructed with 21-gauge PVC material. This makes the craft resilient from punctures and tears. Its tough tarpaulin bottom is built with Airtight System, guaranteeing no leak. It has 3 air chambers , which is an excellent safety feature. If one of the chambers is punctured, the boat stays afloat along with other chambers inflated.
If you are struggling with lugging the kayak around, then this boat is a great option for you. Its ingenious backpack design makes the kayak easy to pack up. It folds up into its integrated backpack. With its padded shoulder straps, the kayak is portable to carry around for cycling trips. The backpack doubles as a solid seat which is a brilliant idea. This offers a comfortable ride with ample leg room to stretch out.
Sevylor Quikpak K1 is packed together with a high-pressure hand pump, which is super easy to use. Its Double Lock Fast Valves and Mini Double Lock Fast Valves are well designed. This makes inflation and deflation a piece of cake.
Another key highlight is that this kayak has many user friendly features to it. There is a multi-position footrest to help you adjust to your most comfortable position. The kit comes with a cup holder and a secure bungee storage area to keep your food and gear. Although the storage area is within reach, some users find the storage space fairly limited.
- Very portable
- Comfortable seats for the back
- Resilient to punctures and leaks
- Limited storage
- Flimsy paddles
Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is the top range of Intex’s inflatable kayaks. You will have to be ready to pay top dollar for its high quality options. This beast is built to last with its 3-Ply super tough material. Its high molecular PVC makes the boat highly resistant to gasoline, oil and salt water and sunlight. You can take it to the sea or lakes without worry of getting abrasion or impact. This means you can go paddling to an island or light house with confidence.
Because of the craft’s tough construction, it permits more air pressure for rigidity. This makes the kayak very stable in water because of its high pressure inflation. It is able to take a load capacity of 400 lbs. The pressure gauge that comes along with the kit helps with getting the air pressure right. The high volume pump has an awesome dual function. It can both inflate and deflate the kayak. This well designed pump is smarter than other pumps. It sucks all the air out when deflating. Its spring-loaded High-pressure Valves will not allow air to escape during inflation. This makes inflation fast and easy.
The 2 adjustable buckle seats feel like you are sitting on a couch. They are incredibly comfortable and have ample room for leg space. The removable booster seat is a great add on for kids or adults who want to be positioned a bit higher up. There are 2 floor mounted footrests which is a plus point, as most inflatable kayaks are sold without. But some users found these footrests not to be really in the right spots especially for taller guys.
There are 2 skegs provided to keep your kayak tracking straight. The shorter skeg is ideal for shallow waters. The skegs lock very tightly into the boat, which means it is hard for you to lose it in the waters.
If you are planning on fishing. This kayak was built for leisure boating as well as fishing. It is designed with 2 integrated recessed fishing rod holders. However, some users found that rod holders are positioned in an awkward angle and cross the rods. It has a generous amount of storage space in the bow and stern to put your fishing gear and cooler. There is a removable and adjustable accessory bar for your GPS systems or fish finders.
Basically Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is the most complete pack. It comes with everything you need to start kayaking.
- Durability is top notch
- High volume pump that can inflate and deflate
- Complete package
- Value for money
- Fishing rod holders need some improvement in its positioning
- No place to keep the paddles
Among 5 inflatable kayaks we have reviewed, we picked Intex Challenger Kayak Series K2 as our top choice. We find this series affordable and very popular among outdoor enthusiasts. It is a very portable kayak, making it the perfect add on to your camping trip with the kids. This no-nonsense kayak has all the full functionality of what an inflatable kayak needs. This makes it an excellent investment. So enjoy your kayaking and remember to always bring a lifejacket with you!
I hope you enjoyed this review and if you have questions about any of the 5 best Inflatable Kayaks, or want to leave your own personal review, feel free to leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.