Best Inflatable Kayak Reviews: 2018 Buying Guide and Top Brands

Inflatablekayakreview.com provides reviews of the best inflatable kayaks and other types of inflatable watercraft. Here you will find a comprehensive guide to help you determine which product is right for you to purchase.

Our goal is to help you make a smart and sound decision for you and/or your family. There are many factors in selecting a good kayak from price to ease of transport and therefore we have gathered all of the data for you in one location. Some brands we have reviewed are Sea Eagle, Advanced Elements, Coleman and more.

We try to focus on only the top models to save you time reading long reviews for products we would not recommend for purchase.

Please see our reviews PAGE to read and compare all of the watercraft we have reviewed at this point. You should also check out our inflatable paddle board reviews and inflatable boat reviews pages. We hope you enjoy reading!


Kayaking is a sport that continues to grow in popularity. Some people are looking to stay in shape and burn some calories. Others just want to be out on the water and enjoy nature.  Each year, there are new and improved options when it comes to this fantastic outdoor adventure.

Inflatables popularity has grown as opposed to the standard hard-shelled kayaks. With the constant improvements in the market, people have to do extensive research into discovering the best one for their next water adventure.

Our goal is to make this chore easier by providing you with our picks of the top rated inflatable kayaks.

Inflatable Kayak Comparison Chart

Kayak NameKayak ImageRatingWeight CapacityKayak TypePrice
Advanced Frame Convertible

convertible inflatable kayak5.0550lbsSolo/Tandem Kayak$$$
Sea Eagle 330

Sea Eagle 330 Tandem Inflatable Kayak4.6500lbsSolo/Tandem Kayak$$
Coleman Colorado

Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak4.8470lbsFishing Kayak$$
Sunny Inflatable Kayak

Best Inflatable Tandem Kayak4.7400lbsTandem Kayak$$
Coleman QuikPak K1

Best Inflatable Kayak3.5400lbsSolo Kayak$

Best Inflatable Kayak

Anyone who enjoys kayaking with a friend or loved one will enjoy the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible kayak. Below is a list of reasons why we love it.

  • Tracks very well
  • Has built-in aluminum ribs to define the bow and stern
  • Three layers of material to give you extreme protection against punctures
  • Padded seats ensure comfort for all riders
  • Adjustable seat locations helps with tandem or solo kayaking

Click here to read our in-depth review of the Advanced Frame Convertible.

 

 

Top-Rated Inflatable Fishing Kayak

If fishing is your preferred kayaking adventure, you should consider the Coleman Colorado inflatable. Below is a list of reasons why we recommend this fishing watercraft.

  • Has rugged design and durability
  • Multiple air chambers prevents it from sinking if you get a small puncture
  • Guaranteed not to leak through its air valves
  • Trolling motor add-on, which will expand your fishing capabilities
  • Has paddle holders on board

Click here to read our in-depth review of the Coleman Colorado.

Best Tandem Inflatable Kayak

The Sea Eagle 330 is our pick as the best inflatable kayak because of its versatility and great price. Below is a list of reasons why we love it.

  • Has enough room on board for tandem riding
  • Weight capacity of 500 lbs.
  • Lightweight design makes it easy to carry on your favorite hiking trails
  • Works well in whitewater and has a class III rating
  • Total time to inflate and attach the seat is less than 10 minutes

Click here to read our in-depth review of the Sea Eagle 330.

Top-Rated Three Person Kayak

Are you looking to enjoy the open water with two other people? Do you just need a lot of extra space for a friend and gear? The Coleman Big Basin 3 is the three-person kayak for you. Below are reasons why we love this big vessel.

  • Can hold up to almost 500 lbs and weighs less than 40 lbs
  • Tarpaulin bottom makes it is very durable and hard to puncture
  • Multiple air chambers means if there is a puncture you will be able to make it back to shore safely
  • Tracks well which will keep you from tiring out
  • Extremely comfortable for those longer trips.

Click here to read our in-depth review of the Coleman Big Basin 3.

Best Whitewater Inflatable Kayak

When you want to go on whitewater, it is important to have a vessel that is up to the task. The Advanced Elements StraightEdge is that one and below are reasons why we recommend it.

  • Has self-bailing system
  • Has aluminum ribs for durability
  • Made of heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin material to resist punctures
  • Has a weight capacity of 300 pounds
  • Folds up small enough to fit into a duffel bag

Click here to read our in-depth review of the Advanced Elements StraitEdge.

Top-Rated Inflatable Kayak for Beginners

Beginners need to feel confident and stable when they first get into a watercraft.  They don’t need all of the bells and whistles that some of the more advanced kayakers would want. That is where the Coleman QuikPak K1 comes in.

  • It can be set up in as little as 5 minutes
  • Has a tarpaulin bottom to protect it from punctures.
  • Multiple air chambers to ensure it does not deflate before you can get back to where you need to
  • Very reasonably priced

Click here to read our in-depth review of the Coleman QuikPak K1.

Honorable Mention

The Hobie Mirage i9S is our honorable mention. Below is a few reasons why we like it.

  • Gives you the power to steer using an integrated rudder system
  • Also has a sail mount add-on to use wind power
  • Has a large cargo area
  • Has easy carrying handles built-in
  • Folds up to fit inside of a rolling travel bag
  • Has a maximum weight capacity of 325 pounds

Click here to read more about the Hobie Mirage i9s.


Inflatable Tandem Kayaks

Tandem kayaks are great for people who want to spend time out on the water with a loved one or friend. Things like bird watching and fishing are fun alone but can be even more fun with someone else.

If you’re specifically looking for a tandem fishing kayak I would recommend the Coleman Colorado. the Having someone to talk to or help with the paddling can be relaxing for many people.

Another good reason to own a tandem model is safety. Some people like to go into remote areas that could dangerous if an accident occurred. It is always better to have a partner in these cases. You never know what could happen out on the water so kayaking with others could save your life.

They tend to be larger and a little heavier to accommodate the extra passenger weight. So if you plan to also use it alone making sure you are comfortable carrying the overall weight by yourself.

Some inflatable kayaks such as the Innova Sunny, come with a carry backpack which makes it easier to transport if you plan on kayaking in more remote areas that a car cannot access.

Please see our list of the top inflatable tandem kayaks.


Inflatable Fishing Kayaks

Fishing from a kayak is a great experience. You can quietly get into remote areas that many motor boats cannot access.

Due to their weight, you can launch your boat from just about anywhere. You can hike into remote areas with your inflatable on your back, blow it up and then get in the water.

You will get a nice workout hiking to your location and paddling out on the water. It may not seem like much but a day out on the water can really be good for your health.

Fishing kayaks are also easier and cheaper to maintain compared to many boats. You won’t need to buy gas or oil for your watercraft. There also aren’t many parts that can break which can be costly.

Many fishing kayaks come with rod holders, adjustable seats, extra storage and more. So while they may be smaller than many boats you still have some nice features.

Please see our list of the top inflatable fishing kayaks.

If you are looking for something different check out our top inflatable fishing paddle boards and inflatable fishing boats here.


Inflatable Kayak Buying Guide Tips

Taking the plunge into the world of kayaking is exciting. Imagining yourself paddling through the pristine waters, immersing yourself in the wonders of nature, finding yourself in adventures of one kind or another. It can be considered a sport, hobby, or work-out routine depending on whether you are interested in recreation or leisure.

Many people enjoy the solitude of kayaking while others enjoy the comradery that comes when you row with a partner. Maybe you just want to bring your dog!

Perhaps you will add camping, hiking, fishing to your itinerary.

What types of water will you take your vessel?

There are many factors to keep in mind when purchasing your inflatable boat.

The following is a list of important things to consider when looking to buy a new inflatable kayak that will meet your needs.

Single or Tandem Kayak

Will you be kayaking alone or with a partner? Inflatable boats offer many options here from one seat to three seat options.

Many tandem inflatable kayaks are easy to maneuver and transport alone as well as with a partner, so keep that in mind if you need versatility. Even those who often paddle in solitude appreciate the extra space and storage that a tandem kayak offers.

Pay attention to weight capacity for each inflatable boat you look at as well. You will want to be sure that even with two people, that you also have enough room for supplies.

If you consider yourself larger than average, you will want to pay close attention to legroom, and the size of the cockpit in the tandem inflatable kayaks.

Size and Weight of Kayak

Once you have decided on a single or tandem boat, the next thing to consider is the size and weight. How much storage space do you need and what sort of vehicle will you use to transport the kayak?

Most inflatables fit nicely into the trunk of even small vehicles when deflated. Scan the specs for the weight of the kayak when it is packed away for transport so that you can plan for hikes into more remote areas if you choose.

If you plan to go solo you want to make sure that your inflatable is able to be transported by you alone without too much trouble. Many inflatable boats are designed to fold into a backpack with padded shoulder straps for the ultimate comfort in transport.

What Types of Water Are You Kayaking On

Many manufacturers specify the class of rapids their watercraft is built for. If you are going to be paddling on lakes and slow rivers, you will be fine with a vessel rated for class I or II rapids. If you plan to take on rougher waters you will want to get an inflatable kayak built specifically to handle white-water.

Products constructed with I-beam floors are going to offer more stability (less tipping). Pay attention to the materials that it is constructed from. Depending on the water terrain, you may need more durability and puncture resistance.

If you frequent large, open bodies of water you should look for models that are designed with multiple air chambers so that if you do experience a puncture, you’ll still be able to paddle to safety.

Also reading reviews from other customers is a great way to get a true feel for what each product can handle based on the personal experience of others.

What Do You Plan to Do on the Water

Will you be out all day and need plenty of room for provisions? If you plan a day-long trip on a sea kayak, consider the design of the seats. Inflatable seats offer comfort and supportive seat backs as an added feature that serves well for long trips.

Also important for longer trips is storage space. Storage space usually comes in the form of D-rings for clipping extra cargo, mesh pockets, and a bungee laced deck. Behind the seat, storage is very convenient for the things you want to be able to reach from the cockpit.

Are you going to be fishing? There are lots of wonderful options designed exclusively for the angler like rod holders, extra stability, low visibility, and trolling motor fittings.

Are the kids coming along with you? Some kayaks are better than others for stability for kids who like to move around a little more and even jump on and off for quick swimming ventures. Again, I-beam floors are recommended for those who will be getting in and out of the inflatable kayak during their ventures.

Extras

Certain extras are truly necessities like the kayak paddles, air pumps, PFD’s, and repair kits. Depending on which kayak you decide to go with, some of these items are not included. Look for high-quality paddles and dual action air pumps.

We recommend purchasing an air gauge to be sure that you are inflating your vehicle to the perfect level.

If you are planning to paddle in rougher waters or cooler temperatures you may want to look into a spray skirt and some kind of waterproof storage.

A storage bag is a nice added feature for those looking at inflatable kayaks as a practical purchase for small living spaces and easy transport.

Consider whether or not the inflatable boat includes a warranty of any kind just in case you encounter any issues.

You should now have your checklist in front of you and be ready to find the model that suits your needs.

There are so many choices on the market that you can practically customize to your kayaking experience. Many offer features that allow for versatility from sport to leisure and will accommodate different family members.

Think about what you hope to gain from your paddling experience and good luck!


Advantages of an Inflatable Kayak

They are convenient, easy to use and lightweight. They are also generally cheaper than hard-shelled boats which is a good thing for people just looking to try the sport.

There are inflatables with plenty of room for cargo and they can track as well as some hard-shell kayaks.

Most inflatables are extremely durable since they are designed for heavy duty whitewater rapids and ocean touring.

Models which are recommended for Class IV whitewater rapids have the ability to endure obstacles along the way.

Watercraft that is rated for Class III whitewater rapids are almost nearly as durable because the softer material practically bounces off of obstacles.

Hard-shell kayaks that strike rocks or hit docks are prone to extensive damage. The hulls are like shock absorbers.

Even when full of water, many will remain stable and afloat.

Compared to other types of kayaks, inflatables are the most buoyant since they are basically comprised of blown up internal compartments. They are also very safe to use because they are difficult to tip over.

The models with flatter bottoms are very stable. The double floor feature of certain models makes them nearly impossible to puncture.

These watercraft have the performance benefits of traditional models without the bulk. Most track well and are easy to paddle.

In contrast to other kayaks, the inflatable ones are easy to transport. They only need to be deflated, folded, dried and then packed up.

Likewise, they do not take up too much space and only need enough space for storage when deflated.

Though many have room for tons of gear, they can be packed into the size of a small carrying bag. They can be easily transported in the trunk of a car (no roof rack needed).

From there they are carried like a suitcase or backpack to the edge of the water where it is then inflated and launched. Inflation takes normally range from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the model and pump.

Many of these products also have an excellent weight capacity. Whether for day trips or long expeditions, they can carry a lot of gear.

The price of inflatable kayaks makes them more appealing than some hard-shelled kayaks. Compared to canoes and hard-shell models, inflatables are more convenient to transport and store.

Kayaks can vary by length, width, weight, load limit, costs, and kind of water that they are most appropriate for. These kayaks are the smart and reasonable choice for anybody beginning the hobby.

They also come in many styles depending on the type of water you plan to paddle in, much like their hard-shell partners.

Click this link for a list of some inflatable kayak myths.


How to Repair an Inflatable Kayak

Inflatables are great because they are easy to transport and store compared to hard-shelled kayaks.

Unfortunately, inflatables can be punctured while out on the water. Hard-shelled kayaks also carry a risk of being damaged but will likely require a greater impact.

Depending on where you store your inflatable it could also become damaged by rodents and/or other things. Most come with a repair kit and you should always bring one along with you if you plan to be out on the water for longer period of time or in secluded locations.

Below is a very informative video on how to repair your inflatable watercraft in case it does get damaged.


Recommended Brands

Regardless of which inflatable kayak brand you are currently occupied with, you should first decide how it will be used. Some are intended to be adaptable and utilized for certain conditions, albeit most are particularly similar to their hard-shell partners.

There are many manufacturers out there. While there are many choices to make when purchasing an inflatable kayak, one must not ignore the company making them.

This is an important investment so no need to be spare yourself a couple of dollars by running with a brand without a demonstrated reputation for delivering a quality product.

Advanced Elements

Advanced Elements is one of our preferred brands. They started making inflatable kayaks over a decade ago in California, USA.

Their inflatable kayaks use a PVC Tarpaulin hull material that features a polyester fabric sandwiched by layers of vinyl which creates a durable and strong outer cover.

Unlike many inflatables, in which the side wall of the main chamber is in-fact the inflation chamber itself, their kayaks are developed with multiple layers of material for maximum durability.

They offer a wide variety of products and accessories.

Advanced Elements offers a one year warranty for manufacturer defects.

Aire

This has been viewed as one of the top brands for no less than 25 years. All Aire products are made in Idaho, USA.

Aire has added to their licensed Aircell innovation that is included an external PVC covering, Aircell floors, Aircell tube, and twofold zippers to guarantee that no air will be lost for no less than 72 hours.

Their floors have a urethane covering to give security and quality, making them a prominent choice for rapids.

Aire also provides the best warranty in the business. If you have any issues with your inflatable kayak, ship it to them and they will fix it for free as long it is within 10 years of the original purchase date.

Coleman

Coleman is a large brand that has been trusted by kayakers for a long time. The Coleman Company is known worldwide as one of the most recognized players in the outdoor products business.

Coleman added Sevylor products to their company in 2008. Coleman’s inflatable kayaks are NMMA certified. They are known for their straightforward plans and their skill in designing sit-on-top kayaks.

You can take some Coleman kayaks on white waters up to class IV. They even come furnished with incorporated hydration pockets.  You can expect to transport these kayaks quickly and without the need for a car or boat carrier.

Hobie

All Hobie products are made in the USA. They are ideal for day excursions and weekend experiences.

Hobie offers a line of single and twofold man kayaks that can be pressed conveniently in its moving travel pack that you can even tackle a plane with you if going to your kayaking area. Their inflatable models are sufficiently sturdy to stand straight up in without needing to stress over tipping over.

Hobie vessels are one of a kind from other kayak producers because some of their kayaks accompany removable pedals and flippers with Hobie’s Mirage Drive Pedal System.

They even accompany an alternative to having the capacity to guide the kayak by a rudder; no paddle needed means a hands-free experience when you choose one of these options from Hobie.

You will be free to take pictures, videos, and enjoy the sites with ease.

They also offer sail packs for some of their kayaks which makes for a relaxing experience.

Innova

Built for lifespan, Innova kayaks are intended for extended visits and campaigns. Their products are made of the same material used in high-end, Zodiac-type yacht tenders and high-end whitewater rafts.

They offer a wide range of watercraft for recreational use up to class IV rapids. They are known for their ease of setup and transportation. All of their models come with a backpack to store the product inside and makes it easy to carry on a plane or in the trunk of a car.

Innova products are covered from manufacturing defects for up to two years from the original purchase date.

Sea Eagle

Sea Eagle is another one of the best inflatable kayak brands. They have been making inflatable boats for nearly 50 years and are in New York, USA.

Sea Eagle uses top-rated materials to ensure their products are durable and last for a very long time. All of their kayaks are NMMA certified.

Their deluxe one way valves are easy to use and prevent air from escaping, unlike traditional pipe valves. Sea Eagle inflatable vessels come with skegs (some are removable) which help them track better.

All Sea Eagle inflatable kayaks are covered by a three-year warranty for manufacturing defects.

Sevylor

Sevylor remains one of the best brands, regarded for making the most specialized kayaks available. They were purchased by the Coleman Company in 2008.

They have exceptionally safe models for children. Sevylor products are amazingly reliable and simple to store without thwarting strength. Whether swelled or emptied, you will not need to stress about tipping over.

Their models inflate quickly and after that are prepared to be appreciated out in the water.

Sevylor’s watercraft are incredible for investigating lakes, angling, and getting a charge out of those fast white waters when the minute calls for it.

For the most part, you can’t really go wrong with any of these brands. Some just offer more like extended warranties and great customer service. Some may cater to more novice kayakers while others cater to the more experienced crowd.

Depending on your budget we recommend going with a high-quality inflatable kayak that will last for years to come.