Kayaking is more than just a sport for athletic people. It’s a leisure activity that can be enjoyed by almost anyone no matter your age or fitness level. Whether you’re paddling around a calm and peaceful lake and maybe doing a spot of fishing or you’re more of a thrill seeker keen on battling white water rapids.
It’s a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors, whether on your own or with a friend. Plus paddling a kayak can be a lot of fun too! And it can give you a great low impact upper body workout. No wonder so many people, from all walks of life, are now enjoying this most pleasurable leisure activity.
Another reason this sport has become so popular is because of the increasing availability and affordability of the inflatable kayak. No longer do you need to own a large vehicle to transport your kayak or struggle to hoist one up onto the roof racks of your car.
An inflatable kayak is easy to transport and stores away just as simply. There are now hundreds of inflatable models available to suit almost any budget. But herein lies another problem – how do you choose which inflatable kayak is right for you?
To make it easier for you, we’ve taken a closer look at the most popular models which are available today to give you our top reviews of the best inflatable kayaks. We’ve scoured all the technical information plus the best user reviews on Amazon to narrow down the choices.
And, to make it even easier, we’ve grouped our top picks into 1-person or 2-person kayaks. But before we give you our top picks, let’s look at the most important features you should look for when purchasing your own inflatable kayak.
What Features Should You Look For When Buying An Inflatable Kayak?
- Firstly you need to decide whether you want to paddle alone or if you would rather take a friend with you. Alternatively, you may decide that you would like the option to do both. This means you’ll need a kayak with flexible seating options so that you can move the seats to suit your situation. Some people even prefer to take their dog along for the ride!
- Next you’ll want to consider what type of kayaking you’re going to be most interested in. Do you want to tackle the white water rapids or would you prefer much calmer waters?
- Your next consideration should be the weight capacity of the kayak and of course, its overall size. You want to be comfortable while you’re out on the water, so you need to ensure that the kayak is large enough for you to sit in without being cramped.
- You’ll also need to consider how much storage space you need. If you plan on taking it overnight or on longer trips, you’ll need adequate space to store all the gear that you might need. A lot of inflatable kayaks have storage areas in front and in the rear hull to allow you to clip on bags and other useful items.
- You should also think about what kind of weather conditions you’ll most likely be paddling in as you may want a kayak which has a spray skirt to keep you nice and dry.
- If you are planning to take your kayak white water rafting, you’ll want one with a self bailing option. These types of kayaks have holes in the bottom so that the water can drain out. Some of these also have plugs so that you can plug the holes when in calm water.
- One of the most important features of any inflatable kayak is the actual weight of it. It needs to be light enough for you to easily carry around once it’s deflated.
Now that you know what to look for in an inflatable kayak, it’s time for us to give you our reviews of the best choices available both for 1 and 2 person kayaks.
What Is The Best Inflatable Kayaks For Solo Paddling?
Here are our top 3 choices for the best 1 person inflatable kayaks. We chose these for their construction, easy set up, durability and affordability.
#1 – Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Inflatable Kayak
We picked the Sevylor inflatable kayak as our number 1 choice because it’s extremely easy to set up, has multiple air chambers and is well constructed, rugged and durable.
- This kayak only takes 5 minutes to set up which means you can start paddling sooner.
- The maximum weight capacity is recommended at 250 pounds.
- The dimensions of the inflated kayak are 20 inches x 8.5 inches x 33.5 inches and it weighs just 25.5 pounds.
- It comes in its own back back which converts into the seat in the kayak. The back pack also has ample room to carry all the supplies that you may need.
- There’s also a 3 part paddle and a pump.
- The Sevylor is made from 24-gauge PVC making it very durable.
- The bottom of the kayak is made from a heavy duty tarpaulin to provide protection from punctures and scrapes. It also has a tough polyester spray skirt for added protection. This can be unzipped if you prefer to paddle without it.
- The kayak has multiple air chambers so in the event that one chamber becomes damaged, the other chambers will still keep the kayak afloat.
- The unique Airtight construction of this kayak means it is guaranteed not to leak.
- The inflation valves have a Double Lock system so the kayak is easy to inflate and deflate.
- Included with the kayak are spray covers to keep you dry when you’re paddling in rougher water.
- There are D rings on the front and back of the kayak as well as a bungee storage area on the back behind the seat. This means you can easily carry all the supplies that you need.
Is This Kayak Self-Bailing?
The Sevylor is not designed to be self-bailing. It has two plugs in the bottom which are designed for draining out any water once it’s on dry land. The inner tube also has a couple of small drainage holes to release water which may come in over the sides.
It’s quite easy to keep the inside of the kayak dry by using a good chamois or microfiber cloth to wipe it out when needed.
How Well Does This Kayak Track?
This kayak tracks extremely well especially in calmer waters, which it is designed for. It is extremely stable and easy to control plus the seat is very comfortable.
Some reviewers have reported that even in mild ocean waves and swells, it will track very well.
What Customers Are Saying
Overall, most customer reviews on Amazon were happy with the Sevylor K5 kayak. A lot of people commented on how quick and easy it was to set up and how much more comfortable it was compared to a hard shell kayak.
Customers were also impressed with the rugged construction and some had even used it in rapids without any problems as it just bounces off the rocks. And of course everyone loves how easy it is to transport and store.
The only con that we found were from customers saying that the included paddle was not the best quality. This is easily fixed however, by investing in a separate paddle.
The Sevylor K5 kayak came in as our # 1 choice for a 1 person kayak because it’s ruggedly constructed and super easy to set up. The multiple air chambers makes it nice and safe even if you do run into some rough water.
The included back pack which becomes the seat is roomy enough to carry additional supplies and is nicely centered when you carry it on your back.
#2 – Advanced Elements Firefly Inflatable Lightweight Kayak
The Firefly came in as our second choice because it’s a little wider than other kayaks and therefore extremely stable on the water. It’s the perfect kayak for people who just want to leisurely paddle around a lake or calm river and enjoy the scenery.
- The Firefly has built-in rigid panels to define the bow and stern and to improve its tracking.
- It features a tough 600D polyester outer cover to provide strength and durability but still remain lightweight.
- The maximum weight capacity for this kayak is 250 pounds.
- It measures 35 inches x 94 inches when inflated and weighs just 16 pounds.
- The kayak has multiple air chambers for safety and security.
- It’s super easy to inflate with a hand pump. There is no pump included.
- This kayak comes with its own carry bag and a repair kit.
- The inflation valves are twist-lock with high flow springs so that the kayak can be inflated fairly quickly and easily.
- To improve tracking there is a landing plate and tracking fin.
- For extra storage, there are D rings on the front and back of the kayak, a bungee cord system on the front and a small, zippered net pocket.
- The perimeter seam is welded for extra durability.
How Durable Is The Skin On This Kayak?
The skin is designed to be tough and durable for this kayak. We read reports of people using this on rivers and going over smooth rocks without any problems at all.
In saying that, the Firefly is designed to be used mainly on calm water and is not the ideal choice for going white water rafting but it should stand up to calm rapids fairly well.
How Long Does It Take To Inflate This Kayak Using A Hand Or Foot Pump?
Using a hand or foot pump, it should take no more than 10 minutes to inflate. There are basically 3 chambers which need to be inflated including the bottom of the seat.
Advanced Elements make a hand pump which is ideally suited to this kayak. There are instructions included regarding the order of the chambers to be inflated. Following these instructions will definitely save you time.
What Are Customers Saying?
Most customers were very happy with their purchase of the Firefly kayak on Amazon and agreed that this was ideal for paddling around a lake or down a slow moving river. Many said it was a very stable kayak and perfect for first timers even kids.
Almost everyone agreed the kayak was easy to set up and transport and that it folds back into its carry bag easily. There were also comments saying that this kayak is lightweight enough to carry around even when fully inflated.
The Firefly kayak is our # 2 choice of the top inflatable kayaks for solo paddling. We like the fact that it’s a little wider than other inflatable kayaks so it’s a bit more stable especially for first timers.
It’s easy to inflate and made from tough, sturdy materials. It’s the perfect kayak for paddling around all day on a lovely lake or even for doing a spot of fishing.
#3 – Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
What impressed us most about the Intex Challenger was its value for money, its durability and large storage area. These are the reasons we chose the Challenger as our # 3 top inflatable kayak for solo paddling.
- This kayak is made from heavy duty, puncture resistant vinyl with welded seams.
- It features 2 separate air chambers with Boston valves for quick and easy inflation.
- The maximum weight capacity is 220 pounds.
- The Challenger is also relatively wide measuring 30 inches x 108 inches. This means it’s very stable and long enough to accommodate most people comfortably.
- The inflatable seat is removable and also adjustable. It also has a great backrest.
- For storage, there’s a large cargo net on the front of the kayak which will easily hold all the supplies you want to take with you.
- There’s also a grab line on both ends of the kayak making is super easy to tow or pull out of the water.
- It comes with its own manual pump, an 84 inch aluminum oar and a repair patch.
- The skeg on this kayak is also removable.
Is This Kayak Suitable For A Beginner?
The Challenger is the ideal first kayak for a beginner. It’s extremely stable and very easy to set up and deflate. It’s also designed to be durable and is extremely affordable.
It has enough room for most people to sit comfortable and there’s even an included foot bolster if you need one. It’s also very easy to get in and out of, even when it’s on the water.
Will This Kayak Be OK To Use On A River Where It Can Drag On The Occasional Rock?
Paddling down a slow moving river with the occasional smooth rocks should not be a problem. In fact we read several reviews on Amazon from customers who have gone river paddling many times without any incidents.
The construction of the kayak is extremely sturdy however it’s not strong enough on jagged rocks and fast rapids. It’s mainly designed for smooth water paddling.
What Customers Are Saying
Overall this kayak received excellent reviews from many happy customers on Amazon. Most people agreed that it was easy to set up and fun to use. Almost everyone was happy with the value for money they received with this purchase.
The Intex Challenger K1 is our #3 choice for the best inflatable kayaks for solo paddling. It’s lightweight but durable and extremely stable. Its ease of inflation makes it the perfect choice for beginners and even children. It’s designed for calm water paddling but will handle some slow moving rapids over smooth rocks.
What Are The 3 Best Inflatable 2 Person Kayaks?
2 person kayaks need more room to accommodate the extra person plus they need to be a little sturdier due to the extra weight they’ll be carrying.
Once again we’ve researched the most popular 2 person kayaks and have chosen the top 3 for you based on their durability, construction, ease of use and positive customer reviews.
#1 – Sea Eagle 330 Two Person Inflatable Kayak
The Sea Eagle 330 is our # 1 choice for the best 2 person inflatable kayak. Our decision is based on the kayak’s durability, ease of inflation, easy transportation and its suitability for all kinds of kayaking adventures.
- The Sea Eagle is made to be tough! It has an extra thick 33 mil K-80 Polykrylar hull, yet it weighs just 26 pounds. In fact, it’s one of the sturdiest inflatable kayaks we found and can even withstand dog claws! All the seams are high frequency welded to make them virtually indestructible.
- It’s maximum weight capacity is 500 pounds.
- This kayak measures 134 inches long x 34 inches wide so there’s plenty of room for 2 as well as some extra gear.
- It has 2 removable and inflatable seats which sit in the kayak nice and securely.
- There are 3 air chambers for added safety and security.
- Made from inflatable I-beam construction, the floor of the kayak is both sturdy and stable.
- It also comes with a foot pump, storage bag, 2 paddles, a repair kit and a removable skeg.
- The Sea Eagle is designed to be used on all sorts of terrain including lakes, rivers, the ocean and even Class III white water rapids.
- It also has an inflatable spray skirt to keep you nice and dry when tackling those rapids.
- This kayak has a self bailing drain valve which is really handy when traversing white water rapids or in ocean surf.
- Due to its light weight, this kayak can also be used by one person and has the capacity to store camping supplies for several days.
- It’s also great for fishing as there’s plenty of room for all your gear.
- The Sea Eagle comes with a 3 year full warranty.
Are The Seats Attached Inside This Kayak?
The inflatable seats just sit inside the kayak and are not attached in any way. They can be moved around to suit whoever is sitting on them. Once fully inflated, they should fit quite snugly and will not move.
Does This Kayak Roll Over Easily?
Due to it’s strong floor construction, this kayak is very stable in most water conditions. It will tend to rock a little from side to side when waves hit it sideways but it’s unlikely to actually roll over.
If you’re going to be paddling in choppy water, you can deflate the bottom of the seat a little and this will give you a much more stable center of gravity. This will certainly make you feel more stable and secure.
What Are Customers Saying?
Overall most customer reviews on Amazon were extremely happy with the Sea Eagle 330. Most agreed it was super simple to set up and great in all kinds of water. Customers also agreed that the seats were very comfortable although some found that deflating the bottom of their seat a little made them feel more secure.
The Sea Eagle 330 is one of the sturdiest inflatable kayaks on the market place and can even handle Class III rapids.
We chose this as our #1 pick of all 2 person inflatable kayaks because of it’s solid construction, ease of set up and many positive customer reviews on Amazon.
#2 – Advanced Elements AE1007-R Convertible Inflatable Kayak
For our second top inflatable 2 person kayak we chose the Advanced Elements AE1007-R because of its super sturdy construction and the ability to convert this from an open deck kayak to a closed deck for 1 or 2 paddlers.
The AE1007 is definitely designed with the more serious kayaker in mind as it has excellent tracking and extreme puncture resistance.
- The AE1007 has built in aluminum ribs to define the bow and stern and offers much better tracking.
- The maximum weight capacity of this kayak is 550 pounds.
- The kayak measures 180 inches long x 32 inches wide and will comfortably seat 2 adults.
- It has 6 air chambers for safety.
- It’s constructed from 3 layers of heavy duty material which comprises of an inner chamber, a tube cover and the kayak outer cover. This increases the kayak’s durability and makes it virtually puncture resistant.
- Included with the kayak are 2 high back, adjustable, padded seats for ultimate comfort when paddling for long periods. The seats have 3 different attachment locations so that the kayak can be used solo or in tandem.
- This kayak can also easily be converted from an open deck to a closed deck with the addition of either the Double Deck or Single Deck Conversion.
- The Double Deck conversion has D rings and a mesh pocket for extra gear storage while the Single Deck conversion has a series of D rings, bungee deck lacing and a rear cargo hatch. Both these conversion decks are optional extras.
- The open deck design also has D rings front and back and bungee deck lacing on the front for extra storage.
- The AE1007 comes with its own carry bag, 2 folding seats and a repair kit.
- It also features paddle holders and a skeg tracking fin.
Is This Kayak Easy To Set Up?
Despite the fact that the AE1007 is a slightly more advanced inflatable kayak, it is reasonably easy to set up following the included instructions.
All you need to do is unfold the kayak and inflate as per the exact instructions. Once inflated you’ll need to install the thwart and inflate. This is only necessary if using the kayak with 2 people.
Then there are two rigid pieces which need to be inserted in the back and front pockets. These are the ribs which help with tracking.
Next you install the seats and belt them in securely and then you’re ready to take to the water.
Does This Kayak Handle White Water Rapids?
The AE1007 is rated for use in Class III rapids. It does sit quite low in the water, so you might want to consider getting the deck conversion covers if you intend to battle the rapids often.
The air chambers in this kayak are very strong and are similar to the type of tubes which are used in white water rafts. The kayak quite happily bounces off large rocks and boulders.
What Customers Are Saying
The AE1007 has received many positive reviews on Amazon for its sturdiness and toughness especially from seasoned kayakers. Most people agreed that it was very stable, easy to transport and only took about 10 minutes or so to set up.
Customers also mentioned that this kayak tracks very well and was quite fast on the open water. There were also quite a few customers who enjoyed taking their dogs out for a paddle!
We decided on the Advanced Elements AE1007-R inflatable kayak for our # 2 choice because of its durability and its ability to handle most types of water conditions. It is certainly a rugged inflatable kayak and is just as easy to use solo as it is when paddling with a companion.
#3 – Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak
We couldn’t go past the Intex Explorer K2 for our third choice due to its affordability and value for money. Designed for smaller bodies of water, this kayak is ideal for beginners and those just wanting to get out on the water for some leisure paddling.
- The Intex K2 is made from heavy duty, puncture resistant vinyl with an inflatable I-beam floor for rigidity.
- It has 2 separate air chambers and Boston valves for quick and easy inflation and deflation.
- The maximum weight capacity of this kayak is 400 pounds.
- The kayak measures 20 inches x 36 inches x 123 inches when fully inflated.
- It has a removable skeg for directional stability.
- The inflatable seats are removable and adjustable and are belted in for security.
- For ease of transporting and storage, there’s a D ring front and back as well as a grab line on both ends.
- It comes with 2 x 86 inch aluminum oars and a high output air pump.
Can This Kayak Be Used When Paddling Solo?
The Intex K2 is suitable for both solo and tandem use. If you’re going to use it solo, you’ll probably want to use the seat in the rear position as this will make it more stable. The kayak tracks well with both one or two paddlers.
Can This Kayak Be Stored Inflated Long Term?
Ideally, inflatable kayaks should not be stored long term fully inflated. The reason for this is that temperature fluctuations can cause expansion of the construction material.
If you don’t want to fully deflate, at least deflate it partly and then re-inflate again before use. This will ensure that your inflatable kayak will last well.
What Are Customers Saying?
Most customers on Amazon were very happy with their Intex K2 and said it was so easy to inflate and a lot of fun to use. Many people agreed that it was a great inflatable kayak for beginners and excellent for leisurely paddling around a lake or down a slow moving river.
A lot of people commented that the kayak was comfortable to travel in and that it tracked fairly straight and was easy to maneuver.
We chose the Intex K2 as our third top inflatable kayak for 2 people because of its affordability, solid construction and ease of set up. It’s an excellent inflatable kayak for beginners and those people who just want to leisurely paddle around in calm waters.
Conclusion Of Our Best Inflatable Kayak Reviews
We do hope you like our selection of the best 1 and 2 person inflatable kayaks. Our top picks were based on a number of factors including the overall kayak construction and durability plus the ease of set up of each kayak.
We were also conscious of offering you some choices in relation to price and our budget options do offer excellent value for money as far as durability and quality is concerned. Our choices were also influenced by the many positive reviews that we read on Amazon as well as the many photos that we saw of happy customers enjoying their time on the water.