Best Inflatable Kayak 2019 – Expert Review (With Buying Guide)

Best Inflatable Kayak 2019 – Expert Review (With Buying Guide)

Inflatable Kayak

Looking to purchase an inflatable kayak?

One of the huge benefits of getting an inflatable kayak is that they tend to be lighter and more portable than regular kayaks. Weight is one of the most important considerations when purchasing a kayak.

Here is a comprehensive guide to the best inflatable kayaks out there.

​Best Inflatable Kayak
(Mountain IQ #1 Choice)

​The ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak is best for day trips, flat water, ocean, calm rivers and camping. ​This kayak is 15 feet long and 32 inches wide with a maximum capacity of 550lbs. With 3 seat location options, the kayak can be converted for either solo or tandem riding.


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Best ​Inflatable Kayak

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​Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

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1. ​Best Overall

5/5 Overall Rating

The open deck design makes it easy to enter and exit. There are optional single or double decks (to be purchased separately) which allow you to convert the kayak to an open/closed deck in a matter of seconds, with the option of a single deck, double deck or standard open deck.

​​​​​​The ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak comes with 2 high-support, padded seats. The kayak is made from a durable PVC tarpaulin with 1000 denier polyester outer fabric, heavy-duty 30-gauge PVC main chamber, high-density polyurethane-coated polyester inner cover.

The kayak has generous on-board storage and is compact enough to take just about anywhere. The folded size is 35”x21”x12”.

One major downfall of this kayak is its weight, at 56lbs, its certainly heavier than other inflatable kayaks on the market.

The accessories included in your purchase include a carrying duffel bag, 2 folding foam mesh seats, repair kit and owner’s manual.

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Main Features
  • ​Easy to use advanced spring valve
  • ​Integrated pressure relief valve in the floor
  • ​2 adjustable padded back supports
  • ​D-ring tie downs
  • ​Moulded low-profile rubber handles
  • ​Reinforced bow and stern seams
  • ​Durable, double-coated fabric
  • ​Paddle holders
  • ​Skeg tracking fin
  • ​6 chambers
  • ​Rip-stop fabric
What we like
  • ​Stable
  • ​Good manoeuvrability
  • ​Easy to paddle
  • ​Good amount of leg room
  • ​Can be converted for solo use
  • ​Good tracking
  • ​Optional spray decks can be added for more protection from the elements
  • ​The valves are compatible with most pumps
What we dislike
  • ​Heavy
  • ​Easier to control on calm, flat water as opposed to ocean swells
  • ​Set up time is longer than most other inflatable kayaks
  • ​Takes a little longer to dry out
Key Takeaway

​Although this kayak does have a few shortcomings you cannot deny its obvious popularity, good looks and awesome features.

It is a nice, easy ride and has the huge advantage of being able to convert it to either solo or tandem. 

You also have the option to add splash decks for extra protection. This kayak performs fantastically and is well worth the price tag.

2. ​Editor’s Choice

​Driftsun Rover 220 Tandem Kayak

5/5 Overall Rating

​The adventure ready ​Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem Kayak is a versatile 2-person kayak that performs exceptionally well in both flat and rough water.

It allows you to enjoy kayaking regardless of where you go and is made of the highest quality materials to give you confidence as you paddle.

The Driftsun 220 Tandem Kayak is stable and manoeuvrable.

The rigid high-pressure drop stitched floor, removeable flatwater tracking fin and ample rocker profile provide unmatched control and stability in both flat and rough water. 

The rocker profile means the kayak can handle up to class iii and iv rapids with speed and control.

It is durable and lightweight at only 28lbs, has a deflated size of 24.5”x21”x10” and has a maximum capacity of 600lbs and is 12.5 feet long and 38” wide.

The PVC tarpaulin bottom provides fantastic protection from punctures.

The Driftun Rover 220 can handle rapids with control and speed and is built for class iii and class iv rapids.

The high pressure drop stitch floor can rival against the feel of a traditional hard kayak.

The kayak comes with a rear tracking fin, double action hand pump, adjustable aluminium kayak paddles and a repair kit.

The kayak also has tie-down points, self-bailing ports and a front action camera mount.

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Main Features
  • ​Rocker profile
  • ​High-pressure drop stitch floor
  • ​Reinforced layered PVC construction
  • ​Removeable rear tracking skeg
  • ​7 rapid self-bailing drain plugs
What we like
  • ​Durable
  • ​Stable
  • ​Lightweight
  • ​Fully inflates in 10 minutes
  • ​Flat water tracking fin can be removed
What we dislike
  • ​Seat material isn’t good quality
  • ​Expensive
  • ​Wind sensitive
Key Takeaway

​The Driftsun Rover 220 Tandem kayak is definitely on the expensive side, but you get what you pay for. This kayak is lightweight and made of the highest quality materials. This kayak performs fantastically in rough conditions and can handle rapids with control and speed. This kayak is great for more serious paddling.

3. ​Best Value

​Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

4.5/5 Overall Rating

The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is a sporty and fun inflatable tandem kayak with a streamlined design that makes for easy paddling, it is the perfect option if you are looking for an entry-level inflatable kayak on a budget.

The kayak is great for casual paddling in calm waters such as lakes, bays and slow-moving rivers. Its bright yellow colour makes it perfect for children as it is highly visible.

The Intex Explorer K2 is lightweight and compact at 31.31lbs. It is 10.3 feet long and 3 feet wide and has a maximum capacity of 400lbs.

The adjustable, inflatable seats with backrests and the cockpit are designed for comfort and space.
The kayak is built with stability and durability in mind.

Built with SUPER-TOUGH 30-gauge vinyl over a 1200 denier nylon-shell with internal tubes, it is certainly capable of handling a few scuffs. There is a removeable skeg for directional stability.

The kayak comes with 2 86” aluminium oars and an Intex high-output pump for easy inflation and deflation, repair kit and two adjustable, inflatable seats with back rests.

Although the Intex Explorer K2 is a great option for beginners or casual paddlers, it is not ideal for serious kayakers as it isn’t built to withstand rougher waters.

Main Features
  • ​Puncture resistant heavy-duty vinyl
  • ​Two separate air chambers
  • ​Two seats
  • ​Air pump
  • ​Removeable tracking skeg
  • ​Grab lines
  • ​Boston valves for quick inflation and deflation
  • ​Inflatable I-beam floor for rigidity
What we like
  • ​Easy to enter and exit
  • ​Quick setup time
  • ​Bright colour makes it highly visible
  • ​Comes with everything you need to start paddling
  • ​Cheap
  • ​Uplifted bow allows for a more powerful paddling stroke
  • ​Can be used by one or two people
  • ​Great for calmer water
  • ​Great option for entry level paddlers
What we dislike
  • ​Not great for rougher conditions
  • ​The paddles and the carry bag aren’t ideal
  • ​Over inflation can occur due to the sun heating up the kayak
  • ​Paddling becomes harder in heavier wind conditions
Key Takeaway

​The Intex Explorer K2 is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a beginner kayak or something family friendly. It is affordable, durable and easily visible.

However, this kayak is not able to tolerate rough water conditions, it is for casual paddling in calm water.

4. ​Best Single Kayak

​Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

4/5 Overall Rating

The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak​ is an affordable single kayak designed for lakes and slow-moving rivers.

The kayak is nimble and durable, it is made from heavy-duty puncture resistant vinyl.

The cockpit is designed for comfort and maximised space and it has a cargo net to store extra gear. There are grab lines on both ends of the kayak.

The single kayak is 9 feet long and 2.6 feet wide and has a maximum capacity of 220lbs.

It is lightweight at 27.2 pounds. It is easy to store and light enough for one person to easily carry it short distances by themselves.

The kayak inflates in less than 10 minutes and deflates in about 2 minutes.

The kayak comes with everything you need to start paddling including an 84-inch aluminium oar, repair patch and high-output manual handpump.

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Main Features
  • ​Heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl
  • ​2 separate air chambers
  • ​Boston valves for fast inflation and deflation
  • ​Inflatable I-beam floor for rigidity
  • ​Repair kit
What we like
  • ​Quick inflation time
  • ​Lightweight
  • ​High buoyancy
  • ​Easy manoeuvring
  • ​Cheap
What we dislike
  • ​The seat can be uncomfortable
  • ​Paddles, although high-quality, are not adjustable
  • ​The kayak can be difficult to clean
Key Takeaway

​The Intex Challenger K1 kayak is an absolute winner in terms of price.

It does however come with a few downfalls, such as paddles that are not adjustable and it is recommended that you purchase different ones.

Other than that, this is a great single rider kayak that will perform well in calm and flat water.

​Buyer’s Guide for Inflatable Kayaks (Key Features)

​Here are the key features to look out for when purchasing an inflatable kayak.

​Material

​Your kayak needs to durable, as it may come in contact with rocks or the bottom may scrape against the floor in shallow areas, therefore it is important that your kayak is made from strong, puncture resistant materials.

Inflatable kayaks are generally made from either Hypalon, PVC or Nitrylon.

Hypalon is a durable material that doesn’t bend or flex, it is heavy and can be difficult to move around, because of this it isn’t often used. 

PVC is the most common material used in the construction of inflatable kayaks. It is strong and can be inflated to a relatively high PSI.

It is lightweight and can be folded and reused. PVS seams can be welded instead of stitched providing a superior construction to glue.

The last type of material is Nitrylon, which is also widely used.

It is more eco-friendly than PVC and is puncture and abrasion resistant, however it is quite heavy, so it is mostly used on the bottom of kayaks.

​Weight

​One of the huge benefits of getting an inflatable kayak is that they tend to be lighter and more portable than regular kayaks.

Weight is one of the most important considerations when purchasing a kayak. 

You need it to be as lightweight as possible to make it easier to transport, increasing your ability to use it.

​Length

​A typical inflatable kayak will be around 12 feet long, this gives them good stability and allows for tandem paddling.

Kayaks can be as short as 10 feet and as long as 16 feet, however, a longer kayak will be more difficult to get into the water and may require a kayak dolly.

​Weight capacity

​When considering the weight capacity, you need to think about what you want to use your kayak for.

A higher weight capacity allows you to paddle with one than one person, if you are just looking for a solo kayak, the weight capacity may not be that important.

​Seating capacity

​The presence of a second seat makes your kayak more versatile.

You could of course use the second seat for another person, or you could use it as a spot to store your cooler or your tackle box. 

A second seat also allows you to bring your child or even your dog along for the ride.

​Accessories package

Inflatable kayaks usually come in a package that include everything you need.

This makes inflatable kayaks more affordable because you don’t need to make any separate purchases to go along with your kayak.

Look for packages that include a pump, up to two paddles, a repair kit and removeable skegs (which are the essential fins on the bottom of your kayak to help you navigate through the water.

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