Best Inflatable Kayak Reviews and Ratings 2017 Guide

Written by Joe

Kayaking has become one of the favorite sports for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. Our best inflatable kayak guide will walk you through the whats available

Kayaking has become one of the favorite sports for anyone who enjoys adventures in the outdoors. Anyone today can go kayaking in rapid waters or open sea water. This, however, requires that you get the best ride you can get. An inflatable kayak offers the best solution as it offers a whole lot of benefits as compared to wooden, foldable and plastic kayaks. They are more durable, less rigid and lighter compared to other types of kayaks. Moreover, they can be easily stored in the boot of your car and inflated in minutes when you need them.

Their material makes it easy for inflatable kayaks to bounce of rocks rather than smash head-on. If you are looking for an inflatable kayak, you will want to buy the best that the market can offer. We have put together a guide reviewing some of the best inflatable kayaks on the market today. They are perfectly suitable for beginners to the sport or if you’ve been kayaking for a while, they make a great alternative to your traditional hard shell. I think you’ll agree that they will prove a worthwhile investment.

Comparing the 10 best inflatable kayaks

Different types of inflatable kayaks

Inflatable kayaks come in various shapes and sizes. There are five types of inflatable kayaks, each of which is built for specific locations and uses. Some work great in rapid waters while others don’t. Here are the different types to consider during purchase.

1. Fishing Inflatable Kayaks

As the name suggests, fishing inflatable kayaks are ideal for individuals who love fishing - check out our guide on the best inflatable fishing kayaks for some inspiration. And while many may not realize it, fishing with a kayak can prove to be an exciting experience. The main advantage of fishing inflatable kayaks is that they allow you to get to areas that motor boats couldn’t access. Their weight makes it possible to launch from anywhere.

This means that you can hike to a remote area while carrying your kayak on your back and inflate it when you get to your desired fishing area. In addition to paddling out on the water and catching your next meal, you get a great workout from the hike – bonus! Another benefit of fishing kayaks over boats is that they don’t need fuel. And with extra storage, adjustable seats, rod holders and other features that fishing kayaks come with, they are certainly better than boats in more ways than one. We're especially keen on small pontoon fishing boats, for the sheer convenience of it if anything!

2. Tandem Kayaks

These are a great option for those who want to spend time on the water with a loved one. Having someone to talk to while watching birds and paddling can be quite fun and a completely different experience than doing it on your own. Tandem kayaks tend to be very safe, which makes for another reason to own one. Having someone with you can prove helpful in case of a capsize and other emergencies especially since there is a chance that you will be paddling in remote waters.

 Tandem kayaks are usually larger and heavier than other types of kayaks so as to accommodate the weight of extra passengers, but they are usually a lot roomier. Some come with a backpack to make it easy to carry to and from the water.

Other types of inflatable kayaks include:

  • Single inflatable kayaks: Designed to accommodate one person and tend to very light
  • Sit-in and sit-on inflatable kayaks
  • Self-bailing inflatable kayaks – Designed with portholes at the bottom that allow water to come and out, thus preventing flooding
  • Stand-up inflatable kayaks
  • Other types of inflatable boats which aren't strictly classed as kayaks

Quality Brands Of Inflatable Kayaks

While several brands have made it to our top picks, there are few inflatable kayak brands that stand out from the rest as they offer outstanding quality for your money. These include Coleman, Advanced Elements and Sea Eagle.

1. Coleman

Founded in 1900, Coleman has long been a manufacturer of some of the best outdoor equipment ranging from pressure lamps and camping tents to airbeds and kayaks. Coleman’s inflatable kayaks are known to be some of the best products in their category and are popular among consumers for their features. Over the years, the company has unveiled ten different kayaks, all of which are designed for various uses and locations. They accommodate 1-3 persons. With more than 100 years in the industry, Coleman certainly delivers on its promise of versatile, quality and fun products.

2. Advanced Elements

While relatively new to the market, the 10+ years that Advanced Elements has been in the business of inflatable kayaks have proven life-changing for many consumers. The company made an industry debut with an introduction of the world’s first truly hybrid inflatable kayak and has since developed revolutionary, high performance inflatables. Most of their products impressed when it came to delivering on creative innovation, performance, portability and durability. Located in California and with a goal of developing unique products that enhance consumers’ outdoor experience, it’s safe to say that Advanced Elements hasn’t disappointed and will continue to make consumers happy with great inflatable kayaks for years to come.

3. Sea Eagle

Sea Eagle produced the first inflatable kayak in 1968 and has over the years sold more than half million kayaks, boats and SUPs (Stand up paddleboards). With such a long history of producing inflatable kayaks, Sea Eagle has grown to become one of the most trusted brands that provide the very best. The company designs and produces inflatable kayaks that are meant to perform better, provide true value and last longer. Like sea eagles, the kayaks by this company are light, making portability easy. Moreover, they easily convert to luggage that can be stored in the boot of your car when deflated. Talk of super convenience for consumers!

Overview Of The Top Rated Inflatable Kayaks

Kayaking is an outdoor sport that has become more popular over the years. When it comes to inflatable kayaks, we are presented with new options each day as they gain popularity over their standard hard shell counterparts. With the constant improvements made in the market, finding a suitable kayak becomes a hassle for many consumers. Our goal is to make the search easier for you by providing our top picks. Let me know if I’ve anything!

1. Coleman Quikpak K1 Kayak

Coleman Quikpak K1 Kayak

The Coleman Quickpack K1 is a single person kayak that requires as little as five minutes to set up. And while it is ideal for lake use, it also features a tarpaulin bottom that offer protection from punctures when in rocky waters. It has multiple air chambers that protect against deflation in case of small punctures before you get to the shore. It basically means getting a puncture won’t sink the boat completely. When not in use, this kayak converts to a backpack complete with straps. This makes portability and storage more efficient. Other features that make this a valuable investment include double lock valves that ease inflation and deflation, a secure cargo net for holding gear and food, a handy cup holder for holding your drink to keep you hydrated as well as a lift handle to get in and out of shallow waters easily. The Coleman Quikpak K1 is ideal for starters as it doesn’t require all the whistles and bells that come with advanced kayaks. It makes beginners feel confident as well as stable when kayaking for the first time.

Advanced Elements Firefly Inflatable Kayak

At a price of less than $250, the Advanced Elements Firefly Inflatable kayak certainly stands out from the competition. The ability to quickly set up in a few minutes offers additional convenience for users and this is made possible by its Twist-lock Valve and Spring-lock Valve. It is also made of lightweight material making it easy for one person to carry. In addition to being lightweight, this kayak is durable and designed to withstand even the roughest of conditions in water. It features rigid built-in panels for the bow and stern, which helps promote faster paddling as well as better steering. The Advanced Elements Firefly offers additional tracking performance (the way the boat moves on the water in a straight line) thanks to its built-in fin and landing plate. Enhanced durability, portability, convenience and improved performance make this kayak a great choice for amateur kayakers.

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This is a great 2 personal inflatable kayak for those looking for a simple yet versatile inflatable tandem that doesn’t need a truck to get it to the beach. When deflated, the Sea Eagle 330 can easily fit inside your duffel bag making portability easy. And contrary to what some may think this doesn’t compromise its durability. With a hull made of PolyKrylar, optimal quality is guaranteed. This inflatable kayak is so strong that it can be used for white water rafting in Class 3 rapids – we were really impressed by this! It has a self-bailing drain valve to turn it into a fishing canoe for use in calm waters. Retailing for under $300, the Sea Eagle 330 is ideal for individuals looking for a simple, versatile kayak for both professional and leisure use. It’s also a perfect solution for those looking for something that can be used for more than just one purpose. Check out our guide on the sea eagle 330 vs sea eagle 370

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This is an all time inflatable kayak classic that comes with a repair kit, kayak body, seats and thwart. It features six inflatable chambers i.e. two military valves and four twist-locks that make inflation and deflation easy. The bungee lacing on the bow offers a storage net for food and gear while the convertible deck area allows it to accommodate not just two, but three paddlers. It’s therefore ideal for family kayak trips. A front center zipper adds 21-inches worth of space for easier entry when you are interested in a more open feeling. The upper part of the kayak is made of PVC laminate in diamond rip-stop material while the hull has electronically welded seams, making it ideal for use in rough waters without fear of punctures. And while it may be heavier than other kayaks, it still breaks down easily and can fit in the trunk of your car for transportation. We had a lot of fun on this one!

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With many kayaks being expensive, finding an inexpensive one that offers the benefits of a high-end kayak is difficult. Moreover, many inflatable kayaks that offer convenience and ease of transport often compromise on durability and tracking capabilities. The Intex Challenger K1 offers both portability and convenience but doesn’t compromise on durability, safety or convenience. It retails at less than $100 and is one of the few kayaks that you can trust with your life at this price range. The floors are also inflatable for added stability while in water while the cargo net ensures that you can reach your gear and food easily when you need it. It is made of durable welded material that protects against punctures and tears. The Intex Challenger K1 also has grab lines that you can use to get back on board when you fall out, ultimately promoting your safety. Inflatable seats with backrest allow for stability as well as comfort on your aquatic adventures.

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While most self-bailing inflatable kayaks are designed for paddling white water, the Strait Edge kayak is the first inflatable to incorporate an aluminum bow and stern frame to improve tracking in open water conditions.​ The Strait Edge is made from heavy-duty PVC Tarpaulin material. It is made by combining two sheets of PVC with a fabric mesh in the middle for extreme puncture resistance. Best of all, it can be packed away into its included duffel bag and carried into remote locations. Whether you are storing it in your closet or the trunk of your car, you can be sure that you are always just a few pumps away from your next adventure. Now get out there and go for a paddle!

7. Sevylor Fiji 2-Person Kayak

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Inflatable kayak Buying Guide

Plunging into the world of kayaking requires that you own a high quality inflatable. There are many factors that you have to consider when purchasing an inflatable kayak and discussed are a few.

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Single or tandem kayak: Will you be kayaking alone or with a friend? There are many options available including kayaks that accommodate one paddler to 2-person kayaks. Many single and tandem inflatable kayaks can be carried by one person, but some tandems may prove too heavy for one person. Those who paddle often may consider the additional storage and space that tandem kayaks offer. You want to ensure that whether a single or tandem, the kayak has enough room to store your gear and supplies. Pay attention to the leg room available especially if you are tall.

Type of water you’ll be kayaking in: Inflatable kayaks are built for varying rapid grades. A kayak rated for Class I or II is perfect if you will be paddling in rivers and lakes. Kayaks built for white water may prove more beneficial if you plan on paddling in rougher waters. The water terrain is also an important consideration when it comes to puncture resistance. Inflatable kayaks with multiple air chambers will allow you to paddle to safety in case of a puncture. Consider the durability of the materials used to manufacture an inflatable kayak before purchase.

What you plan to do on water: If you plan on frequent long trips, you may need a kayak that offers plenty of room for provisions. Seats with supportive backs may also prove beneficial in case of long trips. Storage space is of significance and may come in the form of bungee laced deck, mesh pockets or D-clips for clipping extra cargo.

Necessary extras: Some extras are real necessities and may include PFD’s, paddles, repair kits and air pumps. Some of these aren’t provided depending on the type of kayak and what it’s meant for. Whatever you buy, you want to ensure that it has a dual action air pumps and high quality paddles. You can include an air gauge to ensure that your kayak is inflated to the correct level. Some kind of waterproof storage or spray skirt may be necessary if you will be paddling into rough waters. Don’t forget to consider the warranty.


With so many options available to consumers, buying an inflatable kayak can quickly become overwhelming. And while customer reviews can help ease the task, there are still many things you have to think about. We have covered many aspects of inflatable kayaks in this guide in the hope that you have a seamless buying experience. Having covered the best brands, top kayaks and a buying guide, you now know what goes into buying an inflatable.

The most important thing is to know why you want to buy an inflatable and what’s non-negotiable. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting something that meets your preferences and something that you’ll love using every time you head to nature.

About the author



I'm Joe, I run Nature Rated. I love spending time in the outdoors. Whenever daily life gets me down I head to the nearest lake or river with my kayak and my camera and I spend time recharging my batteries. I hope you'll love my no fluff to the point reviews and that they'll help you choose the right gear for your next adventure!

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