The 7 Best Inflatable Kayaks 2018 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
Kayaks let you travel areas otherwise unreachable by traditional means. These amazing water crafts help you explore breathtaking views not seen from the shore. Leisurely paddle a quiet river waterway leading to a picturesque lake or enjoy an early morning workout as nature starts its day.
Knowing which kayak is right for you is based on whether you’re new to the sport or are an experienced paddler. A traditional style kayak has a covered deck and two or more cockpits and is best suited for a skilled kayaker.
With the sit-on-top kayak, the paddler sits on top of the kayak instead of down inside the kayak. The SOT style boat has a design suitable for large or long-legged individuals or those with flexibility problems. This less expensive kayak is an inflatable boat made of polyethylene and is easy to use for the first-time kayaker.
Table of Contents
- 1 7 Best Inflatable Kayaks
- 1.0.1 1. Advanced Elements AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak
- 1.0.2 Pros
- 1.0.3 Cons
- 1.0.4 2. Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
- 1.0.5 Pros
- 1.0.6 Cons
- 1.0.7 3. Intex Challenger 2-Person Inflatable Kayak
- 1.0.8 Pros
- 1.0.9 Cons
- 1.0.10 4. Sea Eagle SE370K_P Inflatable Kayak
- 1.0.11 Pros
- 1.0.12 Cons
- 1.0.13 5. Sevylor QuickPack K1 1-Person Inflatable Kayak
- 1.0.14 Pros
- 1.0.15 Cons
- 1.0.16 6. Advanced Elements Attack Whitewater Kayak
- 1.0.17 Pros
- 1.0.18 Cons
- 1.0.19 7. NRS Pike Angler IK Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- 1.0.20 Pros
- 1.0.21 Cons
- 1.1 Our Final Review for Best Inflatable Kayaks
Top 7 Sit-On-Top Inflatable Kayaks
Advanced Elements AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak
Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
Intex Challenger 2-Person Inflatable Kayak
Sea Eagle SE370K_P Inflatable Kayak
Sevylor QuickPack K1 1-Person Kayak
Advanced Elements Attack Whitewater Kayak
NRS Pike Angler IK Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Which inflatable kayak is the right one for you? Before you begin your shopping trip, take the time to consider how much you want to spend and how you plan to use your kayak.
An inflatable kayak used for fishing takes a different set of features than one used for exercise or sightseeing trips. Check out our reviews for what we consider our top picks for inflatable kayaks:
7 Best Inflatable Kayaks
1. Advanced Elements AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak
The AE1007-R inflatable kayak by Advanced Elements is the closest option to the hard-shelled kayaks. With lightweight, built-in aluminum ribbing, you get excellent rigidity for optimal tracking and speed.
Advanced Elements’ 13-foot frame gets excellent stability from its low gravity center. With the AE1007-R’s high back seats, you have hours of easy and comfortable paddling. The AE1007-R inflatable kayak offers you top water safety with its nine air chambers. Three layers of sturdy construction give you the best leak and puncture resistance found in an inflatable.
A large storage capacity makes the AE1007-R kayak perfect for a simple day trip or a week of camping. If you’re catching dinner, you get excellent maneuverability and tracking and bungee cord tie downs to secure fishing gear.
The compact 15-inches high by 15-inches wide by 20-inches long size stores in a duffle bag carry case. The small size makes the AE1007-R perfect for carrying in the trunk or back seat of your car.
- The rigid frame allows faster paddling without the zigzag motion with most inflatables. This construction also lets you cover more ground than with other kayaks in its class.
- This kayak has a build for heavy-duty use. Three advanced PVC layers make the AE1007-R durable and puncture resistant. Even if the outer layer gets torn, the triple layer system ensures no punctures get to the inner lining. The AE1007-R holds up against collisions with most surfaces and is the closest you can get to a standard hard body kayak.
- With the three-seat location feature, you can go tandem or solo. A switchable deck lets you adjust the seat placement for solo or buddy rides. With the 2-in-1 ride capability and a large weight capacity of 550 pounds the AE1007-R is all you need.
- The portable size of the AE1007-R when stored in the bag carrier makes transportation easy. The small 15 x 15 x 20 size folds up for transporting in any car yet assembles and inflates in minutes.
- The weight of the AE1007-R is greater than other inflatable kayaks. Even with its small fold-up size, you’ll need help to lift its 60 pounds of total weight.
2. Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
Built with the unexpected in mind, the Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak has three separate air chambers. The three-chamber safety feature gives you enough inflation to get you to shore if the kayak gets punctured. We advise you to always carry enough PFD’s for each passenger.
Bargain priced, the Big Basin has great features normally found on its higher priced competitors. The generous storage for fishing gear or a cooler and cup holders at each seat gives this kayak extra class at the discount price.
This kayak comes with comfortable and adjustable seats and front-end splash guards keeping the water out. We don’t recommend using in rapid water, but the Sevylor has the capability for whitewater rafting.
The Big Basin is a large boat, measuring 12 feet 3 inches by 3 feet 1 inch with a weight capacity of 490 pounds. Pump and paddles don’t come with the package, and because of its large size, we recommend getting an electric pump for inflation. Look for a high-volume quality pump for quick inflation.
For the features and capacity, you get with the Sevylor Big Basin; it’s a good value for the amount you spend.
- The heavy-duty hull of PVC construction and a durable tarpaulin bottom gives the Big Basin a solid, strong structure for safe, calm water exploration.
- Three air chambers with double thread Boston valves give the Big Basin easy inflation and deflation. The Sevylor Airtight® System guarantees no leaks for a better airtight ability.
- The Big Basin has superior tracking with two direction strakes.
- A large inflated size of 12’ 3” x 3’ 1” and certified up to 490 pounds of cargo and passenger weight.
- Seats with adjusting straps let you position them for the most comfort according to your body shape and height. The Big Cabin keeps passengers dry with spray covers keeping water out.
- NMMA certification means the Big Cabin meets all construction quality and safety standards.
- Has a folded dimension of 24 x 10 x 18 inches and comes with a pressure gauged and a bag for carrying.
- Made for calm river and lake paddling and not rapid or whitewater.
- Limited storage options without bungee cords for securing gear and holding paddles.
3. Intex Challenger 2-Person Inflatable Kayak
The low-priced Challenger 2 Person Inflatable Kayak by Intex Recreation is the perfect boat for slow flowing rivers and lakes.
Construction of a super heavy-duty vinyl for optimal durability makes the Challenger resistant to tears and leaks. The Challenger has a comfortable build with its generous size and easy adjusting, inflatable seat with backrest. The style and size of the cockpit and seat make it a good comfortable size for fitting almost anyone.
Intex keeps safety first. Challenger’s combination of design and color gives the Challenger quality and high visibility with great durability. This high quality makes buying added sets due to punctures no longer necessary. Another safety feature of the Challenger is the removable skegs. You get easy and better directional stability by removing the skegs while still riding.
The Intex Challenger underwent intensive stress safety testing and meets all Coast Guard set safety standards.
- A perfect starter kayak with its compact design and good performance and stability.
- Made from rugged vinyl for durability and puncture resistance over rocks beneath the water surface. The Challenger also includes a repair kit and easy to understand instructions for quick repair should you damage the kayak.
- Quick inflation with an easy to use air pump, making the Challenger ready to go in under fifteen minutes. With easy inflation and deflation, you get easy towing for quick water access and is perfect for limited storage space.
- The Challenger has a 400-pound weight capacity, enough for two paddlers and gear. The support from I-Beams gives the Intex Challenger added stability for better performance and fewer chances of capsizing.
- Sporty color and graphics is a common feature in most Intex products. Made in a bright green color, the Challenger stands out on water, making it easy to tell if you have an emergency.
- The sides of the kayak have sharp edges and can easily cut.
- Not made for swift moving or whitewater.
- The oar size and quality are sub-standard. We recommend replacing the included oars with higher quality adjustable length oars for better kayak performance.
- Only usable on slow moving lakes or rivers. If you like swift-moving or whitewater, this kayak is not for you. Fast current water makes getting forward motion very difficult.
4. Sea Eagle SE370K_P Inflatable Kayak
The durable Sea Eagle SE370K_P takes you where you need to go. Whether paddling around a calm lake or maneuvering Class III rapids, the SE370K_P takes you there.
This sturdy kayak goes from car trunk to water in eight minutes. With just 100 pumps of the included foot pump, you have an inflated kayak. Two 83-inch aluminum paddles round out the accessory package for ready-to-use convenience.
A rugged hull of K-80 PolyKrylar makes this kayak durable enough to carry you and a furry four-legged friend. The durable 38-mil K-80 hull stands up to tears and punctures and is resistant to sun and saltwater.
Weighing in at a light 32 pounds, the SE370K_P carries a weight of up to 650 pounds. Construction with I-Beams gives this inflatable kayak a rigidity found in a solid hull kayak. Two skegs give the SE370K_P great traction for top speeds and efficiency.
The SE370K_P includes two inflatable and removable seats, front and back rope handles, and self-bailing, front and back drain valves. Inflatable spray skirts help keep water out of the kayak.
Sea Eagle delivers easy transportation deflating to 31-inches high by 19-inches wide, and 8-inches deep. Stored in the included carrying bag, the SE370K_P fits in most cars.
- Sea Eagle has excellent stability on water with little chance of tipping. Perfect for those not comfortable with their swimming strength.
- Quality construction with a rugged hull made from thick K-80 PVC material. Sturdy floor with I-Beam resists tears and punctures. Repair kit and pressure gauge included for fixing any issues while on water.
- With three chambers for compartmentalized inflation, this design keeps the kayak afloat even if one chamber gets a leak.
- Built for convenience, the SE370K_P has a tow point on the bow and a drain plug on the stern.
- Seats are inflatable, detachable, and replaceable.
- Generous storage space lets you carry a good amount of gear compared to other kayaks of its class.
- Quick eight-minute inflation or deflation.
- You can carry the lightweight kayak in the included carry bag and transport in the car trunk.
- The included deluxe package inflatable seats have little back support and are not comfortable. The pro package seats are better quality and offer more comfort.
- Like most inflatables, it can’t handle heavy currents or whitewater. The SE370K_P has decent speed perfect for calm lakes and rivers and makes a great fishing or diving vessel. Much like other inflatables, currents and the wind also create problems for the SE370K_P.
- Only one strap on the carry bag makes the SE370K_P difficult and uncomfortable to carry.
- Paddles won’t fit in the carry bag.
5. Sevylor QuickPack K1 1-Person Inflatable Kayak
The 1-person Sevylor QuickPack K1 has an excellent paddling design. The take anywhere QuickPack folds into an integrated backpack with padded shoulder straps for a comfortable trip from car to water.
You get a quick ten-minute setup thanks to double lock valves and an included air pump. With practice and experience under your belt, you can cut the setup time down to five minutes. Once inflated, the front and back handles let you carry the kayak from car to water.
The QuickPack’s lightweight and easy setup makes it the perfect kayak for fishing and camping trips. A rear zipper compartment lets you pack food or gear, and you have more area up front for securing other gear with bungee cords.
A 3-chamber safety design and ridged floor with flat bottom help the QuickPack K1 keep its shape and help with tracking. This special layout mimics the hard-shell kayak style.
With the total length a little over 10 feet and width under 3 feet, this sturdy 1-person kayak holds a total weight of 250 pounds.
While the Sevylor QuickPack K1 kayak package includes an aluminum paddle, we suggest buying a higher quality paddle. The 2-piece paddle has a history of easy breakage so buying a paddle of better quality is advisable. Even with this slight drawback, the Sevylor QuickPack K1 1-Person inflatable kayak is your best buy for under $500.
- Best entry level, single person inflatable kayak for under $500.
- Durable construction of 24-guage PVC lets you use the QuickPack on lakes and in Class III whitewater.
- Great puncture protection from the durable tarpaulin bottom.
- The five-minute setup with Double Lock™ valves allows easy inflation and deflation.
- Airtight® System with double lock valves has a no leak guarantee.
- With multiple air chambers if one chamber gets punctured the others stay inflated.
- Secure and safe gear storage with bungees.
- Footrests with multiple positions let you paddle in comfort.
- Extras include cup and bottle holder, hand inflation pump, paddle, and splash covers.
- A portable kayak with handles for easy carrying in and out of the water.
- Folds and stores in a backpack system that turns into a seat during paddling.
- Carry weight including integrated backpack is a little over 35 pounds.
- The QuickPack does not track well for smaller people under 175 pounds. The kayak front moves independently and requires added weight.
- Only good for use on calm waters.
6. Advanced Elements Attack Whitewater Kayak
If you enjoy taking on faster and rougher waters, then you’ll love the Attack Whitewater Kayak. The Attack, with its self-bailer, makes a great whitewater inflatable.
The tarpaulin hull made of 840 Denier PVC and independent PVC bladders give you excellent protection against punctures and holes. With its three air chambers for compartmentalized inflation, you keep afloat even if one chamber gets a leak.
Advanced Elements gave their Attack a design made for using in whitewater. The kayak handles Class III rapids with ease. The 12-inch rocker gives the Attack quick turns while the extra wide 35-inches adds fantastic stability.
If you’re paddling in calm waters without good currents, you get about the same wobble as a hardshell sit-on-top.
The adjustable seat has inflatable lumbar supports for a comfortable ride and easier paddling during long rides. Add to the comfortable seating the cushioned floor, and you have a seat with better balance and more responsiveness. The perfect combination for extended river runs.
A self-draining rear cargo hold gives you the perfect place to store your gear. The hold has a cover so you can take your food, cooking utensils or clothing with you, and keep them dry.
- The Attack has straight tracking with easy maneuverability and great stability.
- Bow and stern have an aluminum frame built in, giving the kayak excellent steering and tracking.
- Hull made from durable 840 Denier PVC. This kayak can take a beating against rocks, coming out with a few scratches, but seldom any punctures.
- Good space for storing gear with a covered cargo hold and a mounting bar for fishing rods and other accessories.
- When deflated, the Attack kayak weight 33 pounds and rolls up small for fitting in a backpack.
- Difficult to reach the mounting bar when you’re sitting.
- Long drying time.
- The hull zippers line up with your ankles when you use thigh straps. This small design flaw makes access a little more difficult.
- While Advanced Elements gives a manufacturer’s warranty on the Attack, it’s only one year. Other manufacturers offer better warranties on their kayaks. Most companies offer between two and five years with the pricier boats having up to ten-year warranties.
7. NRS Pike Angler IK Inflatable Fishing Kayak
For those anglers looking for an inflatable fishing kayak, the Pike Angler is a great choice. This convenient and portable kayak has a sturdy rigid floor, inflatable to 10psi, for lots of stability for standing. A thick 4-inch insert with drop stitching gives the Pike Angler extra stability like found on a stand-up paddle board.
The NRS kayak has the perfect design made for angling. Bungee lacing on the bow helps secure dry bags, coolers, or fishing tackle. The stern comes with added attachment points for extra gear storage. Three Scotty Mount attachment points let you add accessories like a rod or fish finders made for kayaks.
The movable, collapsible and adjustable seats, designed for comfort, let you comfortably paddle for a full day.
The NRS is large enough to carry two people and gear with a total weight capacity of 350-pounds. When inflated, the kayak has a measurement of 12’ 8” long by 39” wide.
Rugged construction of 2000 Denier PVC tarpaulin and three air chambers help ensure safety and durability. If you puncture a chamber, the kayak still stays afloat.
Customization capabilities come from the 32 D-rings, made of durable stainless steel, lining the edge of the kayak. Each end has carry handles making transporting the kayak to and from the water easy.
- Three Scotty Mount attachment points for adding accessories.
- Three Scotty Mount attachment points for adding accessories.
- Three Scotty Mount attachment points for adding accessories.
- Durable 2000 Denier PVC tarpaulin construction.
- 4-inch drop stitch floor inserts for added stability.
- Large enough for two anglers with an inflated size of 12’ 8” long by 30” wide.
- Two removable fins.
- Includes the NRS Super Pump with C7 inflation valves and carrying bag with two shoulder straps.
- You don’t get foot braces with the Pike Angler. Foot braces make paddling easier, giving the angler more paddling control.
- The seat has little padding making it uncomfortable with a feeling you’re sitting on the floor.
Our Final Review for Best Inflatable Kayaks
All the inflatable kayaks we reviewed are solid, good quality boats. Your perfect kayak depends on your level of experience and price range.
Kayaks come in a variety of styles and prices helping you find one to fit your needs. If you’re looking for fun, eco-friendly recreation, investing in an inflatable kayak is the perfect answer.