The Best Inflatable Kayaks for Go-Anywhere Fun

OUTDOORS

   04.27.21

There is no denying the exploding popularity of kayaks for getting out and enjoying the great outdoors. While kayaks have been around for over a century, recent advancements and a general desire to get outside has driven the market and created more options for people looking to hit the water. One of the major advantages of a kayak is how portable they are, and none are as portable as an inflatable kayak. Inflatable kayaks have truly advanced in recent years and are now a great way to head out on the water, regardless of the space you have available to haul your gear. As the sport has advanced, we’re now seeing the best inflatable kayaks to hit the market.

1. Sevylor Colorado Fish/Hunt – Editor’s Pick



Use it for exploring, fishing, hunting and more

Okay, I may be a bit biased here, but I am a huge fan of fishing kayaks. There is no denying that the fishing/hunting segment of kayaks is growing at a rapid pace these days, and that carries over to the inflatable segment as well. The Sevylor Colorado is a sweet, two-person inflatable made from 18-gauge PVC with a 1000D tarpaulin bottom and a 840D nylon cover. In other words, the kayak is durable and tough enough to get you out to where you want to go, and get you back again.

One thing that concerned me was having fishing hooks and an inflatable. That’s why I truly appreciated the fact that this kayak is actually made up of multiple air chambers, so if you have an accident and actually are able to puncture the tough exterior, you’re not sunk and can make it back to shore. It also comes with Berkley rod holders, paddle holders, mesh pockets for gear storage and a trolling motor mount is available, too. The whole package weighs in at just under 33 pounds, making it easy to transport.

Pros/A tough, portable way to get out fishing on your favorite lake or pond

Cons/Spend time adjusting the seats and make sure it’s inflated properly for best performance

Bottom Line/If you’ve wanted a fishing kayak but didn’t have a way to carry one, this is a great solution

2. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame – Best Rower



Packs like an inflatable, paddles with ease

One area that standard kayaks normally have over inflatables is that the rigid construction makes for smoother paddling. The Advanced Elements kayak flips that argument upside down. The AdvancedFrame touring kayak has a rigid frame that unfolds, and then seven air chambers fill to give you a lightweight, easily portable kayak that skims through the water like a standard kayak yet weighs just 36 pounds and can fit in the trunk of a compact car. The frame is made from tough yet light aluminum and the Advanced Elements kayak folds down to just 30″ x 17″ x 10″ for easy carry. It has a weight capacity of 300 pounds, too. If you want an inflatable that rows like a regular kayak, this one is it. Perfect for longer adventures.

Pros/Rigid frame paddles like a standard kayak, yet is easily packable

Cons/One of the more expensive inflatable kayaks

Bottom Line/This kayak is easily the best of both worlds and is great for serious paddling

3. Kokopelli Moki Lite Kayak – Flat-Water Pick



No water too big

Looking at some higher-end inflatable kayaks brings us to the Moki Lite, which is a great kayak for adventurous types looking to paddle lakes, bays and the open ocean. This is another of the inflatable kayaks that paddles like a plastic resin kayak. It uses a high-pressure, rigid drop-stitch floor made of 1000D Reinforced PVC for extreme support. You’ll find user friendly push-push valves for easy filling and deflating. One of the major features that helps this kayak track straight and true is the nine-inch removable tracking fin. This sit-on-top inflatable kayak has an adjustable high-back seat and cargo netting. The weight capacity is 400 pounds. If you want to pack into a remote beach and explore the water before you, this is the perfect kayak for that adventure.

Pros/Sturdy, durable inflatable kayak for open water, 400lb. capacity

Cons/The only drawback is the price – it’s not cheap

Bottom Line/A premium kayak for your open-water adventure

4. Advanced Elements AirVolution Kayak – Premium Pick



Tracks and paddles like a hard shell

Leave it to Advanced Elements to create a premium inflatable kayak that paddles just like a hard-shell kayak would. The AirVolution uses two high-pressure, drop-stitch air chambers that give the kayak an extremely firm feel once inflated. This rigidity is vital to making this kayak perform like a hard shell, open-water kayak would. The heavy-duty PVC Tarpaulin material gives the AirVolution a smooth, hydrodynamic outer skin so it glides through the water with ease. You’d think you were paddling something that you’d need a roof-rack for, but it compacts and folds down to fit in your trunk. It has a wide deck design so you can get in and out easily, and the seat has a supportive high back design. Yes, it’s a little more pricey, but it’s right in line with what you’d pay for a hard shell kayak of similar size, and this is only 39 pounds and can be carried in the trunk of a compact car and still leave room for a cooler and more.

Pros/Paddles like a hard-shell kayak, perfect for big water

Cons/It’s a bit pricey

Bottom Line/A premium inflatable kayak that paddles like a hard-shell kayak

5. Decathlon Itiwit – Adaptable Fun



Switch from two to one person

The Itiwit kayak is a solid performing inflatable kayak for one or two people. Marketed as a two-up, this fullt inflatable kayak can be switched to a single person kayak with ease. It has high-back seats that can be adjusted for comfort and support. One of the really great features about this kayak is that the air bladders can be swapped out in the event of a puncture or failure. This is a great feature for someone who likes to row in areas where popping your kayak is a legitimate threat. The Itiwit paddles great and tracks like a regular kayak thanks to its three keel hull design. The triple keels help with tracking, making the Itiwit paddle straight and true.

The Itiwit has a maximum weight capacity of 331 pounds. It inflates in just 7 minutes using a double-action hand pump. It folds up and can be easily carried in the included backpack carry bag so you can take the fun anywhere.

Pros/Easily packs up and three-keel design helps it track smooth and true in the water

Cons/The pump and paddles are not included

Bottom Line/A good two-up kayak that can switch to a single

6. Oru Kayak Bay ST – Foldable Fun

This is not a true inflatable kayak, but it meets the same criteria and is an amazing kayak. It has a collapsible frame that folds down for easy carry. You simply expand the frame in the outer cover and wah-la! Instant 12-foot kayak! Set-up takes 10-15 minutes. The outer shell is made of extremely durable 5mm double-layered, custom-extruded polypropylene with a 10-year UV treatment. You can drag this kayak over rocks and down trails without worrying that the fabric will shred. The whole kayak weighs just 26 pounds and can easily fit in a small trunk space. Performance wise, the Oru is stable enough to give newbies a sense of safety, and it tracks extremely well, so experienced kayaks will love it too. It has handles for carrying and an adjustable seat so you can dial in your comfort. It works on most water surfaces, but is best for smooth water. Weight capacity is 300 pounds.

Pros/Foldable and easily portable, yet high performance

Cons/It’s pricey and best for experienced paddlers

Bottom Line/If you want an extremely portable kayak that isn’t inflatable, here you go

Picking the best inflatable kayak for you

There are a lot of inflatable kayaks on the market these days, and more are surely on the way. How do you pick the best kayak for you? There are some questions you need to ask yourself before you pick one. You need to decide up front what you expect out of the inflatable kayak. What type of water are you going to use it on. That is a big one because open water kayaks don’t perform well on rivers. Are you planning to paddle to see where you can go, or are you planning on fishing from it? You can always explore with a fishing kayak, but some paddling ones aren’t going to work well for anglers. The same can be said for tandem versus solo kayaks. Do you want the room, or just enough for yourself? I usually lean toward the more room of a tandem, but that’s me. Get what works for you.

Price is another consideration. You need to set your budget. Some inflatable kayaks are less expensive than hard-shell ones, and some cost right in line with top-end kayaks. If you’re looking for packable performance from an inflatable kayak, you can plan on blowing up your budget expectations too.

What you’ll need to use your inflatable kayak

There are things you will need to use your inflatable kayak safely. Some things are included with select inflatable kayaks, while other brands don’t include the accessories. Here is a checklist of what you will need:

This covers the basics. You may find you need other items, but that is entirely up to you.

Should I leave my inflatable kayak inflated while storing it?

In a word, no. The air bladders will last longer if not under the constant pressure from being filled with air.

It is easy to pop an inflatable kayak?

While it is possible and accidents can and do happen, most modern inflatable kayaks are very resistant to punctures. Store your kayak appropriately  and carry a patch kit just in case.

How stable is an inflatable kayak?

Due to the nature of the air bladders, inflatable kayaks are extremely stable. In fact, many of them are more stable than hard-shell kayaks.

About the Author

Derrek Sigler has been a professional outdoor writer for more than two decades since earning his Master’s Degree in creative writing with a thesis about fishing humor. But if you ask anyone that knows him, he’s been telling fishin’ stories since he was old enough to hold a pole. He has written for Cabela’s and served as editorial director for Gun Digest books. Over the years, he has also written for Petersen’s Hunting, North American Whitetail Magazine, Wildfowl, Grand View Media, and has worked with Bass Pro Shops, Hard Core Brands and Bone Collector. Successful Farming had him write for their magazine and he has appeared on their TV show to discuss hunting and ATVs on multiple occasions. He writes about the things he loves – hunting, fishing, camping, trucks, ATVs, boating, snowmobiles and the outdoor lifestyle he enjoys with his family in their home state of Michigan and more as they adventure around North America.

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