Finding the perfect inflatable kayak to suit all of an adventurer’s needs can be tricky. Regardless of whether the person is a beginner or at an advanced kayaking level, there is a variety of aspects to think about when buying one. For starters, safety is of the utmost importance. Last year, 241 canoe and kayak fatalities were recorded. The safety elements that these products have can help prevent injuries and potentially death. These reviews of inflatable kayaks will help consumers find their perfect fit.
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak | Best 1Person Inflatable Kayak
The Intex Challenger K1 is a unit for one person that arrives with a set containing all things a person might need. Included in a purchase is an aluminum oar that is super light. This makes for easy travel when trekking between streams or when carrying from site to site. The unit also arrives with a High Output Air Pump. Air pumps with high output help conserve their users’ energy because it takes less time and effort to blow their boat up. This means users can use less energy setting up their trip and more energy doing what they love– kayaking. Once a user gets into their unit, there is a fin located on the underside of the product that helps a kayaker maintain control of their boat. It can keep the boat heading straight or make the unit more sensitive to turns initiated by its user.
This single-person inflatable kayak is a lovely green and blue with a charcoal gray bottom. Its components are welded for optimum durability. On that note, it is also designed for optimum stableness and comfort. Its base contains a beamed bottom and the seat-area section of the boat is spacious to seat people of various sizes comfortably. The boat’s seat also has a sturdy backrest to help subdue back pain during long trips. The tip of the boat has a black net for storing cargo, such a day’s lunch and first aid kit. There are also grab lines on both of the unit’s ends for tying it up or catching it from drifting away.
This kayak also only weighs 27.2 pounds. Due to its comfort, practicality, and ease of transportation, this is a great boat for kayakers of all levels. It is arguably the best inflatable kayak under 500 dollars.
- Super light with a high weight capacity of 220 pounds
- Comfortable seat with decent back support
- Fin for precise steering and boat control
- Arrives with an air pump and oars
- Storage net at the front of the boat
Intex Challenger K2 Kayak | Best 2 Person Inflatable Kayak
The Challenger K2 Kayak has many things in common with its sibling, the K1. The primary difference is that this version is designed to carry two passengers instead of just one. It comes with the same extras– the air pump that operates at a high-output level and the oars built using aluminum. Aluminum is one of the lightest metals in existence, so these oars won’t be a problem to carry to a nearby waterway or hike around with. As far as 2 man inflatable kayaks go, this one pretty much takes the cake, hence why it is ranked number two on this best inflatable kayaks review. Like the K1, its seats are supportive and offer plenty of legroom for boaters. Its colors are the same blue and green, which helps the unit stand out in the water. This makes kayakers more visible hence protecting them from other boats out on the water.
The two-person Challenger is able to hold roughly 180 more pounds than the K1 since it is built for two adventurers. It also comes in a beige nifty carrying bag. Once its users are all done with their trip, they can quickly deflate it and pack it up for an easy lug back home. Additionally, this kayak comes with a patching repair kit just in case the product gets ripped or snagged. The unit is constructed from tough vinyl, making it a highly durable inflatable kayak. Its surface is also UV resistant. This helps protect the product and makes it last longer. Whether it is being used for ocean, river, or lake kayaking, thus unit can do it all, and for a low price at that.
- Easy for other boaters to spot in the water
- UV surface protections and vinyl composition
- Fits up to two people comfortably
- Comes with a patch repair kit
- Slightly less storage room than the K1
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak | Safe for Small Bodies of Water
Intex is one of the more trusted inflatable kayak brands currently on sale. The Intex Explorer K2 is similar to the Challenger K1 and K2 in some ways. For example, it also comes with the popular high-output pump. It is made from the same vinyl material that is heavily resistant to physical tear wounds. It also has three separate pockets of air just in case one of them somehow still gets a hole. Like the K1 and K2 Challengers, this kayak also has a beamed floor and a fin to secure stability. This kayak is built for two passengers and it has Boston valves to increase the speed of deflation and inflation.
The Explorer K2 is built for meeker types of water such as streams and weak rivers. That being said, some of its reviews do claim that the boat can be taken through some milder rapids as well. Of course, it is better not to push the product for safety reasons. Just because something can do something does not mean it should. This boat is also colored a bright yellow to stand out even more than the Challengers in a body of water. It can hold two passengers up to a total of 400 pounds.
Both of the boat’s ends have grab lines and the skeg on the bottom of the boat is removable. For those looking for boats with comfortable adjustable seats, this one fits the bill. The first seat in the row is not only adjustable but also removable to create more legroom for one passenger. It goes from being the best two-person inflatable kayak to a stupendous single inflatable kayak in a minute! This removable seat makes this an effective fishing inflatable kayak since it makes room for a day’s catch.
- Bright yellow for easy emergency spot
- Removable and adjustable primary seat
- Comes with a repairing kit and carrying bag
- Excellent for calm, small bodies of water
- Can’t be taken out onto the ocean or large rivers
- No exterior cargo net for easy access storage
Ztotop 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set | Sleek and Spacious
The Ztotop comes in a classy baby blue that is easy to find on a body of water. It is specially designed with three different air chambers to make it extra safe. Even if one chamber pops, the rest will not deflate and the boat will be able to at least partially stay afloat. The purchase of the product comes with a rapid air pump and two paddles, as well as an instruction manual. The included air pump is operated with the user’s foot to make the inflation process easier. It inflated the boat in a matter of minutes. The sides on both ends of the boat have plenty of grabbable line segments. The boat also has a tow rope for easy transportation in the great outdoors. On the bottom of the boat is a skeg for making the user’s steering capabilities more precise.
There are two seats in the Ztotop 2-Person that are both cushioned. This might make this boat a great option for those with back problems or adventurers who want to go on several-mile trips. This kayak also has a Boston valve which increases the speed of the unit’s inflation and deflation. If the boat gets snagged or develops holes, kayakers can use the included repair kit to mend them.
The kayak has a storage net for bringing things along on trips. The boat is easy enough to maneuver for even small children, but it does comfortably fit two large adults. It is easy to transport and fit into extremely small cars when deflated. While it is likely not a great open ocean kayak due to its low sides and average stability, it is perfect for calmer bodies of water.
- The beautiful blue color that stands out
- Strong vinyl material and an included repair kit
- Cushioned seats for added comfort
- Less stability in the open ocean
- Less back support than other sturdier seats
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Sport | Luxury Kayak Option
Amongst the top-rated inflatable kayaks currently out on the market, AdvancedFrame Sport is one of the higher-quality options. This boat is ready to take on any body of water, be it choppy or smooth. The bow of the boat is crafted from lightweight aluminum. This helps to not only steer the boat in the right direction but also protect it in case the user accidentally runs into the shore or another potentially damaging surface. Additionally, the boat has stern ribs that increase the efficiency of a paddler’s efforts. Paired with the included paddle, which is similar to that of a hard-plated kayak, this kayak lives up to its sport name. The boat is an orange-gold color with blue accents and a gray bottom. It would stand out adequately in the water in case of an emergency.
This boat has four separate air chambers. While this increases the time it takes to inflate the product, it makes the boat safer. The seat inside has decent back support. Its seating area is fairly spacious. A person can fit inside comfortably after tucking their legs inside the designated area. Unlike some other open leg kayaks though, users will not be able to safely bring their dog along in this one. An adult can easily carry it to and from a campsite, car, or home. When a kayaker is done using their boat, it deflates quickly. Then, it only weighs 26 pounds when deflated.
With a purchase of the unit comes a pump that blows up the boat in roughly 10 minutes. Some consumers claim that they have had theirs for over ten years and they are still in great working condition. For those looking to splurge on a trustworthy kayak that is going to last them, this is likely a good option.
- Bow made from aluminum offers extra protection
- Holds a person weighing up to 250 lbs.
- Large, comfortable cockpit with supportive seat
- At only 26 pounds, it is easy to carry
- Storage cargo net on the front tip of the boat is small
Sevylor Quikpak K1 | Open Deck Perfect for Camping with a 5-Minute Set-up
The greatest aspect of this kayak is arguably its wicked fast inflation time. Most of the other kayaks on this list take at least 10 minutes to blow up. This one on the other hand only takes five minutes to be completely filled with air. It also has a convenient carrying pouch. The seat of the Sevylor Quikpak K1 kayak can be folded into a bag with backpack straps. It is on the lighter side, weighing in at 18 pounds. Users will be thrilled about being able to carry it around on their backs hands-free.
It is likely not the best inflatable kayak for ocean kayaking, however, it is perfect for trips out on the lake. Because of its backpack carrying pouch, it also could be a practical option for campers. Because of its open cockpit design, this kayak is also perfect for bringing along furry friends. Dogs can still fit comfortable around the leg area even with a full-sized adult inside. It also helps that this kayak can hold up to 400 pounds even though it is only designed for one person. This kayak not only has a rope net that is excellent for storing lunch but also a cupholder, which is easy to access from where the kayaker is sitting.
The underside of the boat is constructed from Tarpaulin, which is a trustworthy material that offers some protection from sharp rocks or sticks that a user may float over. Plus, the bottom of the boat has additional protection in the form of 21-gauge PVC pipes. In the event that the kayaker still accidentally tears their boat, the kayak is constructed to have multiple air chambers. These air chambers have special airtight elements that guarantee adventurers that their boat will not leak air or let in water when being used properly.
- Only weighs 18 pounds when empty
- Can be folded into a convenient backpack
- Extremely high weight capacity
- Open deck for storage or bringing along pets
- Air pump requires hands and upper body strength
- Kayaker might get wet getting in and out of the kayak
Advanced Elements Island Voyage 2 | Maximum Comfort for Two
The ADVANCED ELEMENTS Island Voyage 2 is a high-end kayak that holds up to 400 pounds on the water. It has several unique features that help it stand out amongst other options, such as the embedded plug in the rear of the kayak. This plug is useful when attempting to drain accumulated water from a voyage or when rinsing the boat clean. Amongst the inflatable tandem kayak reviews, many regard this as the best tandem inflatable kayak, and here is why. The kayak comes with two seats equipped with superior back support for long journeys. The seats have both pockets for easy-access storage and bottle holders. One of the coolest things about this product is that the seats can change positions. There are three different spots that the user can position the seats in. The user can also choose to remove one seat all-together. This way, they can choose between solo paddling or tandem usage.
The purchase of the ADVANCED ELEMENTS Island Voyage 2, unfortunately, does not come with any extras. If adventurers do not already own their own paddles or air pump, they will have to purchase these things separately. If they would like, they can choose to purchase the matching equipment, but this is not necessary. What is included in the kayak, though, is a deep-tracking fin that can be taken off or left on depending on trip requirements. This type of fin keeps the boat on track well and makes it easier to control. The pointed shape of the Island Voyage 2’s bow also helps users steer the boat and decreases its friction against the water. Because of these features, this kayak is recommended for all types of kayaking, including ocean and river. It is also easy to set up and has solid stability.
- The two seats are rearrangeable
- Pointed nose and removable fin
- Rear plug for convenient drainage
- Seats have bottle holders and storage pouches
- Paddle and air pump not included
- Skeg might come loose and get lost in the water
How We Tested
Our office decided to test these kayaks in three main ways. First, we wanted to verify that all of the claims the various companies made were true. We decided to check things like strength of the material, legroom, inflation and deflation ease and time, etc. Then, we would put the kayaks on a body of water to test their weight capacity. Finally, we would take them out on a body of water to test their ability to handle waves and light rapids versus calm water. When all seven of these kayaks arrived at our office, we eagerly unboxed them. After ensuring that every box arrived with what it was supposed to, we began our testing process.
We used a measuring tape to verify that all of the kayaks and oars were the same size as promised. We then used a scale to make sure that they were as heavy as they were supposed to be. We wanted to ensure that they would be able to. After verifying dimensions and weight, two or one of our grown male team members climbed into each kayak to see whether or not they could fit comfortably. Out of all of the one-person kayaks, the Intex Challenger K1 and the AdvancedFrame Sport were found to be the most comfortable. The Intex Challenger K2 was very comfortable for two. The Ztotop 2-Person set, on the other hand, was spacious but the seats, though cushy, were found to be slightly unsupportive.
Lastly, we moved the kayaks into a medium strength river to test their weight capacity and ability to navigate stronger bodies of water. All kayaks met their promised weight capacity. Additionally, all kayaks performed fine in the type of water they said that they would. Some even outperformed their promises, such as the Intex Explorer K2.back to menu ↑
When purchasing an inflatable kayak, there is more at risk than simply fun. A consumer has to think about many other factors such as safety, the kayak’s ability to navigate difficult water, and its weight capacity, amongst other things. Consumers may find themselves stuck, wondering “are inflatable kayaks any good?” and “which inflatable kayaks are the best?” A great place to start while on the hunt for the perfect option is reading these seven reviews on inflatable kayaks. Seeing what other people believe to be the top inflatable kayaks can sometimes help steer consumers in the correct direction. Once a few good inflatable kayaks are pointed out, consumers can then begin to evaluate them to see if they would suit their needs.
The top concern for an adventurer should always be safety. Water sports can get dangerous quickly if the gear being used is not up to par. All of the boats in this inflatable kayak review have thankfully already been determined to be safe. However, not all boats are built with safety in mind. One important feature to look for is the color of the boat. Brighter colors are easier to spot in the case of an emergency, such as a flipped boat or bad weather. Consumers should be on the lookout for neon or other bright colors instead of purchasing a dark-colored boat that would blend in with the water or surrounding nature.
In addition to color, one should note what the boat is made from and how the boat is blown up. Some kayaks are built from sturdier materials than others. Canvases and thick plastics make for trustworthy kayaks. Kayak material can also be layered for added protection or reinforced with other materials such as aluminum. If the whole boat is blown up using one air valve and is built with one singular air chamber, this could bring potential danger. If a boat were to get snagged on a rock or something and has a tear ripped into it, the whole boat would deflate. This could potentially leave its user trapped inside or outside of the boat treading water if they were not able to get to a safe shore or somewhere else they could stand fast enough. It is best to purchase boats that are constructed from not one but several different air chambers. This way, if one of them gets a hole, the other air chambers will not deflate and the user will be able to remain at least semi-afloat.
Another safety element that kayakers need to pay attention to is the boat’s limits. Inflatable kayaks are not normally as capable of ocean and river kayaking as hard-shell kayaks are. Consumers who are solely interested in open ocean kayaking may find that even the best inflatable kayaks would not be able to keep them safe in oceans that are known to be less calm. While there are some inflatable kayaks that claim to handle ocean kayaking, it is best to keep the inflatable boats in calmer ocean waters. The same goes for rivers. Just because a kayak can survive being taken through class 5 river rapids does not mean that it should. Inflatable kayaks are notorious for accidentally being filled with water. This can happen from a wave crashing over the side of the boat, by one end having too much weight and slipping under the surface, or via the effects of bad weather.
The depth of the hull of a kayak might help a user tell what their kayak is capable of. If the hull is deeper, it is less likely to be flipped or steered off course due to wind. This is because a larger percentage of the boat will be underwater not being affected by the wind. This, of course, does increase its ability to be affected by underwater currents. Hulls that have more depth may also provide a user with more storage room or legroom to make their trips more comfortable. Users should also note that these types of hulls are unfortunately more likely to retain water than shallower hulls that would allow water to slosh or run out. The width of the boat also plays a big role in the boat’s performance. Wider boats will go slower in the water because of wind resistance, friction, and other factors. However, they will be more stable due to their large surface area. Users will be able to float over larger waves without as big of a risk of tipping. Narrower kayaks, on the other hand, will be able to cut through the water faster. For those looking to cover long distances or travel quickly, this is likely a better option. They are less stable though, and therefore are more likely to tip from large waves or an unbalanced kayaker.
Whatever the case, once a boat begins filling with water, it risks sinking or at the very least, distracting the boaters and increasing the risk of injury. If a consumer is interested in being able to take their inflatable kayak out in tumultuous waters, they better double-check that the boat they want will be equipped to handle them. Some kayaks actually come with safety gear to help protect their users. For example, some boats may come with a bilge pump, which helps empty water. Some may also come with towlines, which allow others to tug a user to the shore, and paddles that float in case they are accidentally dropped. If these options are not included with a kayak purchase, they can easily be purchased separately. Some other safety features include a whistle and a light source. Kayakers should also always wear life jackets even though their kayaks float, just in case they are knocked from their boat.
An additional factor to note when purchasing an inflatable kayak is the water temperature it is going to be used in. It is a commonly known fact that air volume varies depending on temperature. When the surrounding temperature is warmer, air will expand. On the contrary, when the surrounding temperature is cooler, air will shrink. This goes for not only air but also water. That means that when a kayaker inflates their boat and places it into a body of water, the temperature of the air and water will affect its degree of inflation. Those using their kayaks in the northern part of the globe where the temperatures are cooler should purchase an inflatable kayak with really thick skin so it will be less affected by water temperature. This is especially true in the winter seasons. Otherwise, when they set off on their trip, the boat will begin to deflate putting the kayaker at risk.
Kayakers that live in warmer climates such as Florida or tropical islands do not have to worry about this as much. Their bodies of water are typically warm enough to protect accidental deflation. The water is are also not so warm as to increase the air inside so much to the extent that the kayak would pop. Those utilizing their kayaks in warmer climates do have to watch that hot air won’t expand their kayak to the point of popping though. They also have to watch that the hot sun will not melt any plastic parts of their beloved boat.
Some other aspects consumers should weigh while searching for the best inflatable kayak is the activity they want to use it for. In the case of simple recreational kayaking use, every inflatable kayak will pretty much fit the bill. However, some want to be able to race their kayaks. In this case, a sport kayak with a narrow, streamlined design will work best. Some also want to be able to take their best-rated inflatable kayak fishing. Fishermen need to prepare for the added weight that bringing their catches aboard will cause, such as the weight of the ice to store them in and the weight of the actual fish. They also need to account for the extra space they will need to store their catches while continuing to fish comfortably. An inflatable kayak with a special storage compartment made for fishermen will work best. However, any kayak that offers extra legroom or a tight enough cargo net should also do the trick.
The preferences of a kayaker also matter. For example, some boats have an open deck while some have a closed cockpit. A closed cockpit is slightly safer for a person inside. It holds them in better while racing over rapids or tackling large waves. However, some find them less comfortable. In the hot sun, they can get extremely warm inside around the legs. They can also retain moisture if not dried out properly. This might lead to mildew or mold developing on the interior of the cockpit. Closed cockpit kayaks are harder to climb into and out at the beginning and end of trips. They can also potentially trap the kayaker inside in the case of an emergency. If the kayak were to flip, it may be tricky to get out of, putting the kayaker at risk of drowning. Open deck kayaks, on the other hand, would be much easier to escape if the boat were to flip. That being said, they are also easier to fall out of by accident. Lower level kayakers or those who use them for simpler trips may prefer the open deck types. Closed cockpit kayaks, on the other hand, might be better for advanced level kayakers.
Fin types also vary based on experience levels and needs. There are three different types of fins that could be found on the bottom of a boat: skegs, rudders, and tracking fins. Skegs are a fin-shaped like that of a shark fin but upside-down beneath a boat. Kayakers can put the skeg down if its windy and they need to take better control of their boat. However, in smoother waters, they can also choose to retract it. Tracking fins are not designed to be used or removed easily mid-trip but are usually at least removable before entering the water. When in the water, they provide the same benefits as skegs. Without them though, the kayaks turn faster. Using them versus not using them is a trade-off. Lastly, there are rudders. These are fastened to one point usually at the back of the boat and flip up and down off the back of the kayak. Their direction can then be changed using hands or feet. Rudders are less common on inflatable kayaks though. The most common are skegs and tracking fins.
There are also inflatable kayaks that do not have any type of fin. Like a closed cockpit, a deep fin might be better for higher-level kayakers who plan on taking their boat into the ocean, into rougher rivers, or out in windy weather. The deeper the fin, the more sensitive the boat will be responding to a user’s paddling movements. However, a fin is not always needed for beginners who are simply boating in a calm, glass-like lake. A deep fin may also cause problems in shallow rivers if the fin drags along the bottom or gets snagged on tall rocks and sticks. Usually, it is best to purchase a kayak with a removable fin if the opportunity presents itself.
The carrying case that a kayak comes in or transforms into should be noted. All of the inflatable kayaks on this review list can be deflated and folded up to be carried easier. However, some of them are not able to be turned into a carrying case with a handle, nor do they all come with one. It is fine to buy a kayak without a case or case-transformation ability if it is only being transported by vehicle. However, many hikers like to go on several-day trips that also include kayaking. For these types of trips, it is best to purchase a kayak that can be carried with straps after it is deflated. The Sevylor Quikpak K1 is particularly great for this since it can be transported on the back. This way, hikers can hike miles to a river, use their inflatable kayak in the water, and then fold it up and easily carry it again for hiking more once they are finished.
Finally, buyers should consider how often they are going to use their kayak when deciding on the right one to purchase. For adventurers who plan on using theirs at least once a month, perhaps, a good investment should be made. However, users looking to use their kayak on one vacation need not splurge on a luxury kayak. Cheaper ones will still be able to get the job done just fine. All in all, there are a lot of different things one must consider when buying an inflatable kayak. A lot of research goes into choosing the perfect one that meets all of the needs a consumer may have. Once they find the ideal one though, they will be happy they did all the work to find it.back to menu ↑
What are the best inflatable kayaks? It is a bit of a loaded question. It depends entirely on the kayaker’s unique needs and preferences. Kayakers should read the buyer’s guide to figure out which option currently on the market will be best for them. If they need the kayak right away for an upcoming trip, any of the kayaks on this list should do depending on the body of water the user is planning on kayaking in. However, if they can afford to wait, there are also some great inflatable kayaks coming out in 2020.
Aquaglide has a new line of inflatable kayaks coming out that majorly improve upon the ones they currently have out on the market. They are retiring six of their older models, upgrading three of them, and then introducing seven completely new versions. The seven new versions are separated into two different lines, the Deschutes and the Navarros. The Deschutes will have PVC in their chambers and foam in their floors to increase stability. The Navarros will allow kayakers to utilize a spray skirt if they choose to, they will feature removable tracking fins, 6 PSI flooring and more. An adventurer would not go wrong with either of these models if they decided to hold out for their release.
The HOBIE I12S Mirage is also set to be released in the 2020 year. This kayak is classified as a hard-shell kayak but is actually still inflatable. It is colored a bright yellow so it is easy to locate out on the water. It can actually be operated by foot pedals for anyone who wants to shake things up, though it does come with an oar that it can also be used with. It is definitely positioned as a luxury kayak, giving buyers everything they could want in their kayak. Though it is only a one-person kayak, it holds up to 500 pounds, fins that automatically flip up when confronting obstacles, a supportive seat, and optional accessories such as cup holders. It comes with a storage bag and usually fits into the back seat of a vehicle or inside a larger boat. It can also be paired with a sail for added fun.
All in all, picking an inflatable kayak takes time if a person wants to do it the right way. That being said, it does not have to be a frustrating process. It is recommended that those in search of an inflatable kayak first write down what they will be using it for, their kayaking level, and what they are expecting from their boat. Then, it will be easier to read through inflatable kayak reviews and identify some great options to choose from. If a buyer does not have a lot of time to do this though, between the seven different kayaks on this list, there should be something for everyone. There are beginner-friendly kayaks, ones that are better for advanced people searching for speed, options for all types of bodies of water, and options for people of different weights. There is an inflatable kayak out there to help everyone to get their adventure on.