Best Inflatable Kayak

The Intex Explorer K2 is our pick for the best inflatable kayak, which has a large size and is a 2-person boat. It comes with high quality aluminum paddles and has a skeg that can be removed.

Our step-up pick is the Sea Eagle SE370K_P and it has a weight capacity of up to 650 lbs, which means that it can fit up to 3 persons at a time. It is pretty large and has a total of 5 valves.

The budget pick is the Intex Challenger K1 and it comes with aluminum oars as well, but it is only for one person. It also comes with an air pump for easy inflating and it is very easy to setup overall.

A Little Background

An inflatable kayak is a kind of one person or two person boat that can be easily inflated and set up when the need arises. Unlike traditional kayaks, they are good for light packing and camping so as not to carry too much with you on your trip. They are very beneficial for those who want to have this kind of boat but do not have space for it.

These inflatable objects can be easily set up for immediate use. They can be simply inflated with a hand pump or similar object for you to be able to use it properly. Like any inflatable pool object, it is super simple to manage, but you only need to watch out for potential punctures. These punctures can be triggered by rocky areas, sharp objects and the like, making them less durable compared to actual kayaks due to their design.

Anyone can use them, especially for recreational purposes. Fishing is the most common recreational activity that uses this kind of boat because of its ease of use and setup, compared to regular and large boats out there. They are mostly used by those going on a vacation on a lake and perhaps other bodies of water. They should not, however, be used on rocky areas such as on rivers and streams.

They can get punctured so they should only be used in calm surfaces of water just to be on the safe side. They do, however, come with safety repair kits and unlike regular inflatable objects on the pool, they usually have thicker layers so they are less likely to get punctured faster. Having UV ray protection also makes your boat more durable and less likely to blow up in super hot temperatures.

Their advantage is that they are so lightweight to carry along with you. If you are going on a backpacking trip or just want to go into a lake but don’t want to carry along a really heavy mini boat, especially if you do not have a vehicle, you can take an inflatable one instead. The fact that they are packable/inflatable on-site means that you can use them whenever and wherever you want or need them, without the bulky hassle.

How We Picked

When you want to have the best inflatable kayak, you need to consider these facts first before buying one:

Weight capacity: the weight capacity of this kind of boat is greatly important, since it is only an inflatable type of boat and therefore may not be as durable as a real boat. The weight capacity of this kind of boat can be somewhere from 220 to 400 lbs depending on the model that you have and whether it is a solo or tandem model.

Number of persons allowed: usually, you can get either a solo or a tandem style boat, but some can also allow as much as 3 persons at a time. The capacity of a boat is important when you choose one, knowing how many people intended to use the boat itself at the same time.

Navigation type: this feature is also important when choosing this kind of boat. There can be two types of navigation, such as skeg and rudder, so you should choose accordingly depending on your preferences and your needs.

Seat material: the seat of this kind of boat should also be chosen carefully, as any inflatable boat may have any of the following materials: foam or inflatable. Foam seats are generally much more comfortable but may add weight whilst those that are also inflatable may risk punctures but are very lightweight to carry on the trail.

Color or design: there can also be different color choices for your needs, such as those with patterns and designs that make the boat much more visible on water. Because they are inflatable boats, they can be colored anything you want, and they often give off a vibrant color. Just make sure that they are UV resistant with the color coating to make sure they last longer and keep the material from fading.

Intended purpose: some of these inflatable boats can be used for fishing, while others are simply for kayaking and other recreational purposes. Most fishermen boats come with rod holders, which are especially important and useful for anglers and those who want to try the sport of fishing but don’t want to carry a large boat.

Our Pick

As our top pick, the Intex Explorer K2 is a large sized kayak that can be used in most bodies of water, including rivers and lakes. It has a skeg that can be removed at will and has a size of 20 x 123 inches. It is also highly visible with its color and it comes with a set of 2 inflatable seats for 2 paddlers.

Flaws but Not Dealbrakers

The only small non-deal breaking concern with the Intex Explorer K2 is the fact that its durability is only made for recreational purposes due to its price.

Step-up Pick

As our step-up pick, the Sea Eagle SE370K_P comes with high quality 7-foot paddles for 2 paddlers and extra room for one more person aboard. It has 2 carry handles and a hull material that is seaworthy. It also comes with spray skirts and can be inflated within 8 minutes due to its design.

Budget Pick

The Intex Challenger K1 is our budget pick, which is also made with aluminum oars and a pretty visible green design. It has room for 1 person and has a good deck line. For the setup, it roughly takes only 3 minutes to inflate it and the pump is very helpful in doing so. You only need a PFD for this boat and it is ready to be used.

Best Inflatable Kayak for 2 People

Made or tandem use, the AIRHEAD AHTK-2 spans 12 feet long and has a weight capacity of up to 500 lbs. it is super portable while being made with quality PVC construction to resist punctures as much as possible. It can be use on lakes and some moderate rapids.

Best Inflatable Kayak for 1 Person

The AIRE Tributary Tomcat is great or solo boating and it has a self bailing quality. It comes with a repair kit on board so you can easily make repairs on the fly. Its high back seat makes you feel more comfortable and it has 3 air chambers. It has a 1 year warranty.

Best Inflatable Kayak for Camping

The Innova Sunny is an amazingly lightweight camping boat that weighs only 33 lbs. it is great for most outdoor activities such as fishing and camping and can be packed into your backpack due to its simple setup and inflatable quality. It has a vibrant red color for visibility as well.

Best Inflatable Kayak for Fishing

The Sevylor Coleman Colorado is a great fishing boat that you can consider for you and your grandpa or dad. It is made with a tarpaulin bottom with 1000d quality and has a nylon cover with a 840d quality. There are also some paddle holders for your convenience and the PVC construction is of 18-gauge for added durability as well. There are easy to use rod holders included for added convenience.

Best Inflatable Kayak with Convertible Seating

Designed with a high back support for the seating, the Advanced Elements AE1007-R can be adjusted or configured to either solo or tandem boating because of its three seating locations, which make the boat fully customizable. The ribs that are made of aluminum add durability to the boat.

Best Inflatable Kayak with Bottle Holders

The Island Voyage 2 comes with unique bottle holders so you can have a drink while you are out paddling in open water. It has a supportive backrest for a long day and can be easily drained due to the rear drain plug. Its seating positions can also be re-configured and the tracking fin can also be removed when not needed.

Best Inflatable Kayak for Heavy Duty Use

For those who need to go into moderate whitewater, the Attack Whitewater may be a good choice for you. It has sufficient cargo space for touring and has a thick PVC tarpaulin material for its body for added durability against punctures and for a long day of boating.

The Competition

Others were not in our list because they were not easy to inflate and had durability issues for their material and were also not very simple to set up. They also suffered some inflation issues and were not UV protected in their design.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the different kinds of kayaks?

A: There are many different kinds of this boat, such as the following:

Touring variants are made for regular paddling and can be used on most oceans, lakes and any open water out there. The design of their decks is usually low and they are relatively easy to control due to the good cockpit design.

Recreational variants are made for beginners and those who just need to go through an overnight boating trip. They are the best for very quiet water and are usually the most portable ones. They are made with a higher designed deck. Their stability is the best of tall due to the wider design and shorter length, compared to the touring one.

Whitewater variants are the most challenging ones, and are mostly ideal for experts. The term “whitewater” refers to rapids and rivers that run very fast, hence creating “white water” in the sense. Those with enough balancing skills usually use this kind of boat, as they are snug in design so it can be less comfortable for other people. Their design is slimmer and more on speed rather than on balance, so it can be hard to control compared to others.

Inflatable variants are the most portable of all, and can be packed wherever you go. The main advantage is that they can be flattened to the back of your car instead of hanging over your car and reducing your gas mileage. They are very efficient when it comes down to light packing so you can use them in any place you like without much hassle of having to pull up a large and heavy boat.

Q: What different materials can make up this kind of boat?

A: Many various kinds of materials can make up this boat. The materials are all very crucial into the durability of the boat, and therefore the right quality of these materials should be kept in mind. Different materials have their own pros and cons, and here they are:

The wooden boat is the type of boat that is usually made with more durable materials and they often look aesthetically pleasing and beautiful. They can be made out of DIY kits but there are also some that are manufactured by experts. Here are some of their pros and cons:



·         They look very visually beautiful and pleasing.

·         They can be designed any way that you want them to.

·         Adding a varnish and fiberglass finish makes it totally durable.

·         They may also be lighter in some models.

·         Because they are a DIY thing, they may not appeal to people who don’t have building skills.

·         They should only be paddled in soft water because they can be hard to paddle in whitewater.

The composite boat is also known as the fiberglass boat and is the most preferred type of boat material around the world due to its durability, ease of construction and lightweight feel. They are usually made from separate halves (the deck and the hull) and put together to form a boat. Here are their pros and cons:



·         The fiberglass boat is considered a very durable boat because of its design and construction.

·         It is also lighter in weight compared to most boat types and materials.

·         They are also easy to produce due to the construction of the material.

·         Field repairs are also very easy because of the construction.

·         For speed, composite or fiberglass is a great material to count on.

·         They can still potentially get impact from sharp objects, especially on the hull part.

The rotormolded boat is made with polyethylene powder into a single-piece model. They can be heavy so they are pretty good for durability. If they are to be used in really harsh water, they can be used very well. Here are their pros and cons:



·         They are less expensive compared to other boats.

·         They can be used on rocky waters and on whitewater.

·         They have outstanding durability.

·         Repairing them may not be very easy.

·         They can be very heavy to carry around.

·         Speed is not very good compared to other boats.

The thermoform boat is made out of ABS material and are also pretty similar to that of composite or fiberglass boats. They are also added with an acrylic layer to make them sturdier and the deck and hull are also made separately. Here are their pros and cons:



·         They have UV protection from the sun, making them effective against hot weather.

·         They are very lightweight so they steer easily.

·         They can also be cheaper when it comes down to pricing.

·         They have good durability similar to that of a rotomold.

·         Thermoform has a UV protective layer that may not be as durable as other boats.

The inflatable and folding boat is made out of poly-based fabric, much like with other inflatable boats. The goal of this kind of boat is to make it easier for the person who is using the boat to carry it from one place to another, enabling a very portable boat and riding activity that can be done elsewhere without having to carry it over your car. Here are its pros and cons:



·         This kind of boat is the most portable of all of them.

·         They are generally the lightest of all of the boat types.

·         If they do get punctures, they can be repaired right off the bat and easily.

·         They can also be stored easily when you are not using them.

·         They can get punctured as compared to rigid boats.

·         Foldable ones can be pricier.

·         They may not be that good for whitewater riding.

Q: How does kayaking benefit me in any way?

A: Kayaking is a sport that has been known to man for many decades already. Like other water sports, it can be tough at first, but with enough practice to get you going, there are also many benefits you can get out of it, such as the following:

·         You tend to become stronger with using this boat because of its benefits for your muscles.

·         Your cardiovascular health will also be strengthened.

·         Your mental health can also be improved greatly.

·         It provides you a sense of relaxation.

·         You gain more self-esteem with your life and yourself.

·         It also lowers cholesterol levels.

·         It keeps you physically fit.

·         You can control your blood sugar levels better.

·         You tend to have lower blood pressure overall.

·         You train your lungs to endure workouts better.

·         You can burn somewhere from 200 to 1,000 calories depending on your boating activity.

·         It can alleviate bouts of depression and anxiety.

Q: What are the parts of a kayak?

A: To fully understand how this kind of boat works, you need to understand its parts and what each of them do, such as with the following:

Main parts:

a. Starboard – this is the part of the boat that is on the right side.

b. Port – this is the part of the boat that is on the left side.

c. Stern – this is also known as the rear or the back of the boat.

d. Bow – this is also known as the front of the boat and points to where you are going to.

Sit in parts:

a. Hull – this is the underside of the front of your boat.

b. Deck – this is the top side of the front of your boat.

c. Cockpit – this is where you sit on the boat and do your stuff.

d. Keel – the ridge in the hull part in which connects the bow to the stern.

e. Seat – this is where you sit in the cockpit.

f. Carry handle – this is the part of the boat that allows you to carry it from one place to another.

g. Hatch – this is where you put your cargo and items.

h. Deck line – this can either be made with a static or a bungee design.

i. Coaming – the part of the cockpit that is around it, or the edge.

k. Skeg or rudder – either can be placed on your boat to improve the tracking capability.

l. Thigh braces – they can help you fit your boat well and are placed around your thighs.

m. Foot braces – they are the ones that allow you to control your rudder.

n. Bulkhead – this is the part of the boat that encompasses the inner wall.

Sit on top parts:

a. Deck – this is the top part of the front side of the boat.

b. Seat – this is where you sit on the boat.

c. Carry handles – this allows you to carry your boat off the water.

d. Deck line – the deck line is located on top of the deck in sit on top variants.

e. Keel – this part sits directly below the seat and carry handle.

f. Rudder or skeg – this is located at the stern or rear and can help stabilize the boat.

g. Hull – the hull is under the deck.

h. Hatch – the hatch in a sit on top is usually in the middle, just in front of the seat.

i. Scupper holes – these are located at the back of the seat and can help drain water from the boat.

Q: How does an inflatable one compare with a rigid one?

A: There has been some debate over “real” boats versus the inflatable boats. Comparing a rigid boat to an inflatable one, here are their pros and cons and where are they best used for:




Size and weight

They can be less of size and tend to be lightweight.

They can be more of size and tend to be heavier.


They are much more packable and portable. They can be easy to store.

They can be heavy to lift from one place to another. Storage can be a hassle for them.

Storage inside

Inflatable boats tend to have fewer amounts of items that you can place in the hatch.

Rigid ones allow more storage inside compared to inflatable ones.


Inflatable ones can be hard to maintain because it might get deflated and you should also dry it up after using.

Rigid ones can be less of a maintenance, but wood ones need a lot of attention.


Inflatable ones can be less durable than rigid ones due to their puncture-prone surface.

They will not get punctured so they are much more durable in general.


Inflatable ones can be cheaper because of their material.

These tend to be much pricier due to their heavy material.


Inflatable ones can be hard to control because they are lighter than rigid ones.

Rigid ones tend to be controlled easier, although heavier boats can be hard to control as well.

Q: What staples or must-haves should I bring in every boating trip?

A: To have a successful floating trip, you should have the following staples:

·         Prepare your boat.

·         Grab a decent paddle – and a spare.

·         Each paddler should have a PFD or personal floatation device.

·         Consider a bilge pump.

·         Get a dry bag for your wet items such as shirts, shoes and the like.

·         A signaling whistle is important in case you get lost, stranded or injured.

·         Lighting devices such as headlamps can be important for the wee hours.

·         A spray skirt can also be used for absolutely cold weather.

·         Wear a waterproof watch so you’ll know the time of the day.

·         You can use a compass to help you navigate in case you get lost.

·         If you do bring a map, make sure it has a waterproof case.

If you are going on an overnight trip, you should consider the following:

·         Grab a paddle float and knife.

·         A towline and some float bags can be handy.

·         GPS devices can help you navigate.

·         VHF or weather radios can also help you get alerted for storm signals.

·         Two-way radios are important for communication.

Q: Which bodies of water can I use this kind of boat?

A: Going into a body of water for this kind of boat can be intimidating at first, but here are the different bodies of water in which the kayak is applicable for:

Rivers – going into the river may require some licensing but this depends on your country and area. Rivers are one of the best way to start with and it depends on whether they are whitewater or quiet rivers. Do consider the fact that whitewater or rapids may be a little bit more dangerous than still or calm and quiet water.

Lakes – going into the lake is also a great choice, especially for those who are out on a vacation. Going into the lake is easier because lakes are usually calmer with their stillness and therefore are easier to navigate into. If you have an inflatable boat then lakes are a good choice.

Canals – most canals can be open for using this kind of boat but it may also require some licensing depending on your country. It also depends on where you live or where you want to paddle as to whether there are sufficient number of canals for you to explore.

Sea or oceans – this one is for the pros because ocean boating is always the most difficult of all. The sea can take lives and this is why you need to be fully prepared and really skilled in terms of navigation if you ever want to go out in this kind of open water. If ever you do, you need to make sure that your companion is in good condition and is knowledgeable and that your boat is seaworthy.

Q: What’s the difference between a kayak and a canoe?

A: Most people can find these two boating activities very confusing, simply because they look pretty similar – they have paddles and they are narrow boats in which you might fall off if you are not careful. Most of those who go through this kind of boating activity are the youngsters or those skilled in terms of balancing themselves in open water. To make the difference, here are the things you need to know about these two boating activities:





They have an open boat design and can sit from one to two persons.

They have a closed boat design and can sit usually just one to two people.


Sitting on this kind of boat is usually higher above water, so it is safer and easier.

This kind of boat requires you to be lower in the water in terms of its sitting design.


The paddle of this kind of boat is usually just one-sided on its blade and is usually shorter.

This kind of boat has a paddle that is similar to cotton buds – they have blades on both tips.


This kind of boating technique requires a simpler paddling mechanism.

This one requires a more difficult and often more tiring paddling technique.

Safety measures

Most who do this kind of boating wear a life jacket, so they tend to have less movement freedom.

They can be less restricted in movement because they usually wear buoyancy aids instead of the life jackets that can be more restrictive to wear.


This kind of boat is often found in still water such as in lakes, quiet rivers and the like.

This kind of boat is often found on some medium to high intensity rapids and occasionally, some whitewater.

Typical usage

This kind of boat is typically used for recreational purposes as well as for fishing.

They can also be used in fishing, but they are mostly used for water sports.

Q: How much calories do I burn when riding this boat?

A: If you go on riding this kind of boat, you may burn much more calories than you think. Here is a helpful chart for you to figure out how much calories you might be burning:

Amount of calories burned

Weight of the person

Amount of time paddling

150 calories

125 lbs

30 minutes

222 calories

185 lbs

30 minutes

If you want to increase your calories burned with this kind of activity, you should do the following:

·         Lengthen the amount of time that you spend on paddling.

·         Consider going against the wind or current for more pressure.

·         Try using slightly heavier and bigger boats.

·         Compete in friendly races or time your paddling and beat your personal best.

Q: How do I launch this boat to the water?

A: Launching your boat into the water can be troublesome at first, but here is how to do it:

If you need to launch from the shore, here’s what you should do:

1. Position your boat perpendicular to the shore and put it down on shallow water.

2. Use the deck line to temporarily put your paddle for later use.

3. Straddle over the cockpit and move the boat slightly for a little push into the water.

4. Get in the cockpit with your legs and quickly grab your paddle.

5. If you have a spray skirt, attach it right away.

6. Start paddling!

If you need to launch from a dock, here’s what you should do:

1. Position the boat parallel to your dock while in the water.

2. Put our paddle onto the dock, near the boat.

3. Use one leg to hold the cockpit closer to where you are.

4. Balance yourself with your buttocks while sitting and sliding yourself slowly.

5. You can use your hands to help balance yourself while getting in the cockpit.

6. Sit comfortably in your cockpit and attach your spray skirt if you have one.

7. Use the paddle and start paddling!

Q: What’s the difference between inflatable ones and folding ones?

A: These two types of portable boats can also have differences, such as the following:





The inflatable one is usually lighter in weight due to the lack of rigid parts.

Folding ones are slightly heavier because they are still composed of some rigid parts.


Inflatable ones tend to get deflated easily so they need to be treated with care.

Folding ones can also be prone to damage, but not as much as inflatable ones.

Gear storage

You get less gear storage with an inflatable one.

You get more storage with a foldable one.

Setting it up

You can easily set up an inflatable boat.

You may take some time before you complete set up a folding boat.

Ideal water

Inflatable boats are great for still water, rivers and short trips or paddling activities.

For longer trips and slightly rocky water surfaces, the folding one is more ideal.

Q: How is a sit on top different from a sit in kayak?

A: These two types of this boat can have the following differences based on their definitions:

The sit on top is more like a canoe in style because of its open design. They are more prone to getting you wet but entering them is a lot easier. They can be entered even when you’re in the water in contrast to sit inside designs. They also offer more breathability, but they’re not ideal if you don’t want to get really wet. Scupper plugs exist on this kind of boat because of its tendency to get wet more.

The sit inside is a variant that resembles what we think of first when we hear the word “kayak”. It is basically a closed boat that offers less breathability but also less likelihood of you getting wet. They are more difficult to enter but they are better when it comes down to cold water and for longer trips in which you need to keep your gear dry inside. Trickier to get on, flipping over means you’ll need to restart again.

Q: What proper clothing should I wear while using this boat?

A: To properly venture into open water with your kind of boat, there are some things you need to prepare for your clothing, such as the following:

·         Consider quick drying fabrics and avoid cotton as much as possible. While cotton is good for the summer, they are bad for water because they tend to get mold quickly.

·         Make sure your clothes allow you to move comfortably. While you can dress with layers, you should consider allowing more movement for paddling.

·         If you’re going to be out in the sun, make sure you dress properly so your skin does not get damaged by the UV rays of the sun.

Q: Do fishing kayaks differ from those for touring?

A: Those that are for fishing are specifically made with fishing qualities such as a rod holder and a better stability than those that are for touring. They also tend to have more storage so you can put your fish, but some touring ones might also have more cargo space as well.

Q: What is “tracking” in boat lingo?

A: Tracking means the ability of a boat to go into a straight line without steering it. Any boat with good tracking means that it is easier to steer, much like properly aligned wheels on a vehicle. The tracking can be helped with the use of the rudder and skeg.

Q: Does length, depth and width matter when choosing this kind of boat?

A: Yes, these three things matter:

·         Longer depth is an advantage for those with longer legs.

·         Wider width adds more stability to the boat.

·         Longer length means it is more suited for overnight touring.

Q: What is a skeg and how does it work?

A: The skeg is an optional part of the boat that allows it to track properly. However, in most cases, it is only a supplementary part, and it is most likely to fix its performance while on the water:

·         A crosswind happens when it is half way down

·         A downwind happens when it is down

·         A weathercock happens when it is up

Q: What are the different kinds of seats for this boat?

A: With this kind of boat, you can have a myriad of choices for the seat, such as the following:

·         Inflatable – these are more lightweight to carry but can be a hassle to setup.

·         Closed cell foam – these are more durable but can be heavy to carry around.

Q: What is the usual weight capacity for this kind of boat?

A: Usually, you will encounter weight capacities that are around 200 to 300 lbs but there can also be ones that are meant for the plus size people, such as those around 400 to 500 lbs. This is especially the case when you need to carry a lot of gear in the boat and also when the boat accommodates more than one person at a time (e.g. 2-person or 3-person).

Q: How do I stay safe while kayaking?

A: When you are riding this kind of boat, many bad things are bound to happen if you are not careful or if you don’t stick to a plan. Therefore, here are some safety tips for you to have a pleasant and safe trip on your boating adventure:

Always consider going with a group or partner. Having someone along with you can make a difference should anything bad arise. Even if you are a very skilled person in boating, when Mother Nature stirs up a storm then there’s no way you could possibly get rescued without the help of someone. Going solo can be fun sometimes, but in dangerous situations, you really need someone to watch over you, or for you to watch over them.

Consider bringing safety gear and first aid kits. These are very crucial when you want to ride on any boat because having a safety kit ensures that you can remedy nearly any kind of basic injury. This is so that you can wait for the authorities to come while rescuing someone else’s life from danger. Having a first aid kit is always important in any physical activity, especially one that is against nature.

Make sure you have a plan for your trip and stick to it. if you stick to a plan, then it will be easier for you to execute your boating activity for the day. It will be also quicker if you have a plan so you can start off early and then finish the route in a matter of time so you can have more time to do other things later on when you get off your boat.

Create a float plan, in case of emergency. Most who ride this kind of boat make a “float plan”, in which you enter details such as information about yourself and your group or tandem, the planned route, the launch and return of your boats and what to do next if ever you don’t return by a certain date. Leave copies of this plan to important people so they can easily contact the authorities in case something bad happens (hopefully not).

Gear up properly when you go into the water. Make sure you check all of your gear, including your boat, supplies and that you dress up properly. The importance of dressing up properly when you go on a boating trip is that when you get wet, it will be harder for you to dry up quickly. Not getting dried right away can make you sick because of the dampness of your clothing.

Check for any weather updates or alerts in the area. There could be instances when a storm, typhoon, hurricane or storm surge might be lurking in your boating area, so you should stay up to date with weather alerts on your phone/device. Bringing a portable radio can also help you identify any boating warnings or cautions so you know when to put your boat on shore immediately when the going gets tough and you need to go home right away.

Wrapping It Up

Overall, the Intex Explorer K2 is our pick for the best inflatable kayak due to the complete packaging, inclusion of quality aluminum paddles, removable skeg and large size for a tandem boat.