This summer if you’re planning to be outdoors, bring an inflatable kayak with you to paddle in a lake or river. Before choosing an inflatable kayak (or any other kayak), outdoor explorers need to decide exactly what they’ll be doing in their kayaks. Will it be whitewater rafting? Fishing? Heading out for a three-day trip across a quiet river, or paddling over a lake? Most inflatable kayaks are designed for one or more of these activities, but there are other important considerations, too.
Rafters should also decide how many people will be riding with them, how much storage space they’ll need, how portable the kayaks are, and how far they may need to be transported. These questions pertain to which fabrics and materials must be used to create the kayaks and fortify them against punctures, how many seats will be built into each one, what types of straps and carrying cases may come on/with them, attachments to hold additional gear, adjustable features like seating and footrests, and much more. Let’s take a look at our favorite inflatable kayaks in each category to examine these and other important features. We’ve also found the best inflatable paddle boards and inflatable hot tubs worth a look.
At A Glance
- Best for whitewater:
- Best for fishing:
- Best for easy storage: Advanced Elements Sport
- Best for lakes:
- Best for touring: Gumotex (Innova) Seawave
Best for whitewater: Driftsun Rover Inflatable Whitewater Kayak
Reinforced along the sides and bottom for superior durability and puncture protection, this kayak weighs only 22 pounds. It maintains impressive control in all types of water including up to class III and IV whitewater rapids. The high-backed padded seat shown is adjustable, as is the 2-piece paddle included. It has a front action camera mount so you can film your adventures to show friends. This kayak can carry up to 300 pounds and takes no longer than 5 minutes to inflate.
It’s currently discounted by $70, bringing the price down to $730 on Amazon.
Best for fishing: Intex Excursion Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Easily portable with room for two riders, the Intex Excursion Pro K2 Kayak is only 39 pounds and can carry up to 400 pounds. With adjustable footrests, comfy bucket seats, additional storage in the bow and stern, and plenty of D-Ring attachments for extra gear, this kayak is brilliantly designed with fishing trips in mind. When fully inflated, this kayak is 12-feet, 7-inches long and 37-inches wide. It comes with a mounting bracket for fishing accessories and more.
It’s available in salmon or silver as shown with two paddles for $265 on Amazon.
Best for easy storage: Advanced Elements Sport
Weighing only 26 pounds at 10-feet, 5-inches long, the Advanced Elements Sport requires no assembly when you’re ready to use it. Kayakers will just need to open it up, attach the seat, inflate, and go. Although it’s designed for only one person up to 250 pounds, the cockpit area is remarkably spacious and allows for a smooth entry and exit. It packs easily into your car or trunk when folded into its accompanying heavy-duty duffel bag. This kayak comes with a repair kit and performs well in most water conditions.
It’s available in colors shown orange and blue for $400 at REI.
Best for slow-moving waters: AIRE Lynx II Tandem Inflatable Kayak
Gently paddle down the river with your partner in this 12-foot, 6-inch long, 39-pound tandem inflatable kayak. The exterior is built strong and highly resistant to punctures, while numerous cargo loops line the edges for attaching any necessary gear. Its smooth design makes for efficient maneuvering through the water, and 3 drain holes allow for water to be removed from the cockpit as needed. This kayak holds up to 475 pounds, and comes with two paddles, a repair kit, and a 10-year no-fault manufacturer warranty.
It is available in lime or green for $1,600 at Backcountry.
Best for touring: Gumotex (Innova) Seawave
The sleek, narrow design of the Gumotex (Innova) Seawave is said to make it highly maneuverable and quite swift on the water. Equipped for two riders, a third can be purchased and added on, making the kayak adjustable for as many as one, two, or three riders at one time (weight capacity is 551 pounds). Take a day trip on the lake or river, or stay out under the stars overnight; there’s plenty of space aboard the Seawave to store an overnight bag or two. This handy kayak folds down easily and fits into a portable bag with convenient shoulder straps. It comes with adjustable foot braces, a repair kit, puncture-resistant Nitrilon fabric, and inflatable high-backed seats.
It’s available in red and black as shown for $1,000 at Innova.
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