Five Best Inflatable Kayaks for 2017


 

Inflatable Kayaks: “Blow Up” Your Kayaking Experience

Kayaking has a long and rich history, which began with the Inuit tribes of Arctic North America building the and using the first kayaks.  The materials used to make these kayaks varied from light weight driftwood to whalebone frames that were covered in animal skins.  These first kayaks were used to hunt and travel.  In fact, the word kayak actually translates to “hunter’s boat”.

Today we are seeing an increase in popularity in the sport of kayaking.  Today, you can see people on local lakes and rivers paddling away.  Heck, kayaking is even an Olympic sport!

And let’s not forget about the wonderful health benefits that kayaking provides.  A 200 pound individual will burn 300-400 calories per hour kayaking.  This allows kayakers to take in nature while at the same time lose weight and get fit.  As far as building strength, kayaking will help develop shoulder, back, and chest muscles.

Maybe the best benefit to kayaking is the breathtaking views and ability to get in touch with nature that it provides.  When you are out on the water it is amazing how you can feel one with nature and all the stress from your day melts away with the flow of the river.

Today, there are many different kayaks to chose from.  Most modern kayaks are made from polyethylene, a soft and flexible plastic.  However, more recently a whole new category of kayak has been made available: the inflatable kayak.  Inflatable kayaks are more easy to transport and store due to the fact that they can be deflated and inflated.  These inflatable kayaks are rising in popularity quickly due to this versatility.

Today, we’ve selected five of the top inflatable kayaks that money can buy.

The Contenders

sea eagle slider

  • Dimensions: Deflated: 31" x 19" x 8" Inflated: 12' 6" x 34"
  • Total Weight: 32 lbs.
  • Weight Limit: 650 lbs.
  • Max Occupants: 2 adults and 1 child
  • Pros: Bailing drains are included that allow for natural draining without taking on too much water in rougher white water kayaking.
  • Cons: Promoted as having space for three full size individuals, but really meant for a max capacity of two adults and one child.
  • Price: ~$300

intex explorer slider

  • Dimensions: Deflated: 16.25"x23"x13.5" Inflated: 123"x36"x20"
  • Total Weight: 37 lbs.
  • Weight Limit: 350 lbs.
  • Max Occupants: 2 adults
  • Pros: Our best value, the Explorer K2 gets you on the water for without breaking your budget.
  • Cons: Only meant for calm lakes and rivers. Max weight capacity of 350 pounds may not be enough to support two larger individuals.
  • Price: ~$100

coleman big basin slider

  • Dimensions: Inflated: 12'3" x 3' 1"
  • Total Weight: 44 lbs.
  • Weight Limit: 490 lbs.
  • Max Occupants: 3 adults
  • Pros: Has the ability to fit three full sized occupants to allow you to share your kayaking experience with others.
  • Cons: The weight capacity of 490 pounds may not be enough to actually support the three occupants as is advertised.
  • Price: ~$340

airhead ahtk2 slider

  • Dimensions: Deflated: 11.6" x 20.6" x 28.5" Inflated: 12 feet in length
  • Total Weight: 36 lbs.
  • Weight Limit: 500 lbs.
  • Max Occupants: 2 adults
  • Pros: This performance kayak is ready to handle moderate white water rapids while many other inflatable kayaks are only built for calm waters.
  • Cons: Does not come with any accessories such as an air pump or paddles, meaning you'll need to buy these separately.
  • Price: ~$300

intex excursion 5 slider

  • Dimensions: Deflated: 24" x 12" x 22" Inflated: 144" x 66" x 17"
  • Total Weight: 60 lbs.
  • Weight Limit: 1000 lbs.
  • Max Occupants: 5 adults
  • Pros: The Excursion 5 is a versatile kayak that is perfect for both casual kayaking on the lake and for fishing.
  • Cons: The vinyl material cover is not as durable as other kayaks making it more susceptible to puncture.
  • Price: ~$120

Best Inflatable Kayak Quiz

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In Depth Best Inflatable Kayak Reviews

1. Sea Eagle SE370K_P Inflatable Kayak

Materials:              4.75 Stars (4.75 / 5)
Value:                     4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)
Performance:        4.75 Stars (4.75 / 5)
Overall:                  4.7 Stars (4.7 / 5)

Materials

The Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak is a two seater that is made from PolyKrylar, again is a flexable yet extreme durable plastic.  This hull is able to take a beating without being punctured.

Its inflated weight comes in at 32 pounds, making this inflatable kayak very portable and easy to use.  Another benefit is that the Sea Eagle takes only eight minutes to inflate, which means with this kayak you will be out on the water in no time!

There are two skegs on this kayak giving it exceptional tracking, speed, and control.

When inflated the Sea Eagle has the exterior dimensions of 12′ 6″ by 34″.  When deflated it is 31″ x 19″ x 8″.

Value

The Sea Eagle is without a doubt significantly more expensive than the Intex Explorer K2.  This inflatable Kayak will run you about $300 to own.  While not the best value on our list there are some extras that still make the Sea Eagle a good value inflatable kayak.

First off, the materials on this kayak are second to none in the inflatable kayak world.  Secondly, it comes with a pump, paddles, bag, repair kit, and other extras that enhance the overall value of this kayak.

Performance

The Sea Eagle really makes it’s mark in terms of performance.  This inflatable kayak has a maximum weight capacity of 650 pounds so you will not have to worry about this thing being overwhelmed.  While Sea Eagle promotes this as having the ability to take three people, we do not recommend this due to the kayak only having two seats.  If you use this kayak for three people someone is not going to be very comfortable!

If you are going out on rough white water rapids then the Sea Eagle will be a good inflatable Kayak choice due to the bailing drains that are included.  Bailing drains can be opened so that water can come in an out of the kayak which eliminates flooding in the interior of the kayak.

Most of the users of the Sea Eagle have mentioned that it is a very comfortable yet sturdy inflatable kayak making it dependable and long lasting.

The Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak is also great for use in saltwater environments as the PolyKrylar material is able to handle these conditions.

Compared to the Intex, the Sea Eagle is certainly a more heavy-duty kayak that is made to take more punishment.  If you are planning to take your inflatable kayak on rougher bodies of water, or saltwater, then the Sea Eagle should be one the inflatable kayaks that you consider.

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Materials:              3.75 Stars (3.75 / 5)
Value:                     5 Stars (5 / 5)
Performance:        4 Stars (4 / 5)
Overall:                  4.25 Stars (4.25 / 5)

Materials

For a budget inflatable Kayak the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak has some quality materials.  To start the whole inflatable kayak is made from durable vinyl materials that can take a hit.

The two seats on this inflatable kayak are independently adjustable and have a backrest for enhanced comfort during your next kayaking journey.

When inflated the Intex K2 Explorer Kayak has the dimensions of 123″x36″x20″.  When deflated the kayak can fit into spaces that are 16.25″x23″x13.5″.

There are also a couple of extras on this inflatable kayak including a removable skeg, repair patch, high-output air pump, two paddles, and a grab line on both ends of the Explorer K2.

Value

intex explorer 2 water

It is hard to imagine another inflatable kayak that is a better value than the Intex K2 Explorer Kayak.   For around $100 you and a partner can be out on the water enjoying nature.  We’ve just mentioned all the extras that comes with this inflatable kayak in the materials section, which also help to make this kayak the best value out of the five on our list.

Performance

Certainly, value is a big consideration for anyone looking to purchase an inflatable kayak, but an even more important factor is performance.  A poor performing inflatable kayak will have holes in no time making it impossible to use and enjoy.

Thankfully, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is of good quality despite the budget price.  The weight capacity of this inflatable kayak is significant as it can hold a combined weight of 350 pounds.  This kayak also has a low profile which is designed for lakes and mild flowing rivers.

We do not recommend this kayak to those who are looking for more adrenaline pumping adventures as this kayak simply is not made for this kind of abuse.  However, if you want a low priced inflatable kayak that can be used again and again to enjoy the water then this Intex is a great choice.

Coleman Big Basin 3-Person Kayak

Materials:              4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)
Value:                     4.25 Stars (4.25 / 5)
Performance:        4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)
Overall:                  4.4 Stars (4.4 / 5)

Materials

For those in the market for a 3-person inflatable kayak do not worry as Coleman has got you covered.  The “Big Basin” kayak has the inflated dimensions of 12’3″ x 3′ 1″.

This Coleman inflatable kayak also is made from heavy-duty PVC with a tarpaulin bottom that offers enhance protection from snags and rocks.

This Coleman Big Basin Inflatable Kayak has a “Airtight” system that Coleman promotes as being guaranteed not to leak.  This is protected by a one-year limited warranty which can give you confidence in your purchase.

The seats in this inflatable kayak are not inflated in the back, but are adjustable to fit each individual.

Value

Due to the size and quality materials of the Coleman Big Basin it should come as no surprise that this inflatable kayak is not the cheapest on the market.  At the time of this review this kayak can be purchased at around $340.

While this may seem like a high price, it is actually quite reasonable for kayak that offers seating for three and material quality that is second to none.

One of the downsides as far as value is that this inflatable kayak does not come with a pump or paddles, which will have to purchased separately.

Performance

coleman big basin in actionThe Coleman Big Basin Inflatable Kayak gets high marks for its performance.  Users mentioned that a big strength for this kayak is that it tracks incredibly well in the water so that you feel in control and can cut through wakes and ripples with little effort.

On the flip side, they do mention that this kayak is not really able to handle three adult sized people, but rather can fit two adults and maybe one child with little difficulty.  So, please keep this in mind when deciding to purchase this inflatable kayak if you plan to use it for three adults.

The Big Basin weighs in at 44 pounds, and can hold up to 490 pounds when in use.  This is a solid number, but not as high of a capacity as the Sea Eagle which can manage 650 pounds of people and cargo.  Overall, this inflatable kayak is a medium capacity unit.

Carrying handles on the Coleman Big Basin Kayak do come in handy when carrying the kayak from your car to the water.  As with all inflatable kayaks, the Big Basin gets high marks for being portable and easy to use.

Lastly, the Big Basin utilizes multiple chamber technology so that if one chamber becomes punctured the other air chambers will stay inflated allow you to get to your destination without being stuck with a deflated kayak.

AIRHEAD AHTK-2 Montana Performance 2 Person Kayak

Materials:              4.75 Stars (4.75 / 5)
Value:                     4.25 Stars (4.25 / 5)
Performance:        4.75 Stars (4.75 / 5)
Overall:                  4.6 Stars (4.6 / 5)

Materials

The first performance kayak on our list is the AIRHEAD AHTK-2.  This inflatable kayak is made of semi-rigid heavy PVC with neoprene elbow guards to enhance rider comfort.

This inflatable kayak also comes with handles that make it easier to transport when it is inflated and ready for use.  At 36 pounds it is fairly easy to lift for a single healthy individual.

The bottom of this kayak is tri-laminate, which means there is three layers.  This helps to offer extra reinforcement for the bottom portion of the AIRHEAD AHTK-2.

You can also move and remove the seats of the AIRHEAD AHTK-2 Inflatable Kayak, allowing for greater customization of the fit for each rider.

Value

At over $300, the AIRHEAD AHTK-2 is not the cheapest inflatable kayak on our list.  However, it may be the most durable and heavy-duty of the five.  In this case value really comes down to what you intend to use the kayak for.  Mainly, if you want a kayak that can handle some medium white waters then the AIRHEAD AHTK-2 becomes a good value.

Also, recognize that this inflatable kayak does not come with a pump or paddles which will need to be ordered separately.

Performance

airhead ahtk2 waterThe AIRHEAD inflatable kayak has a reputation for good performance.  Many users have commented that this inflatable kayak feels very stable in the water and is a good choice for both people and those who plan to take their dogs out on the water.  Another user mentioned that they had had this inflatable kayak for nine years and have never had any issues with it.  This really shows the quality of the construction of this kayak.

The seats on the AIRHEAD AHTK-2 are movable and removable and have backs to them for added support and comfort.

We feel that this inflatable kayak is best for those who are looking for some adventure in moderately rough white water conditions.  It certainly will not be able to handle severe falls and waters, but for the vast majority of users it will get the job done and done well.
 
 

Intex Excursion 5 Kayak

Materials:              3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)
Value:                     5 Stars (5 / 5)
Performance:        3.75 Stars (3.75 / 5)
Overall:                  4.1 Stars (4.1 / 5)

Materials

Well it is easy to see how the Intex Excursion 5 stands out from the crowd.  This inflatable kayak is a five seat model meaning you can bring the whole family out on the water.

This kayak, as with the Explorer K2 reviewed above, is made from vinyl construction, which is not as strong as some of the materials found on the other inflatables on this list, but will work for those who plan to use this kayak on calm waters.

This excursion kayak comes with three air chambers for extra buoyancy and protection if one chambers became compromised.  This could really be a big deal if you are out on the lake and have an unforeseen accident.

A boston valve is fitted to this inflatable kayak so that when inflated it will not lose air as easily.

Value

You and your friends can be out on the water with this behemoth for about $120, which we think is a steal for the amount of fun you’ll have on this thing.  This inflatable kayak does come with two paddles and a manual air pump.  However, we would suggest investing in a motorized pump if you plan to purchase the Intex Excursion.

Performance

intex excursion waterIf you are considering buying the Intex Excursion 5 Inflatable Kayak it goes without saying that you should not plan to use it on any type of rough waters.  This kayak is simply not made for that type of use.

However, this inflatable kayak is great for two different activities: family kayaking on the lake and fishing.  This inflatable kayak is really the only game in town if you are looking for a kayak that can fit as many as five people.  With a weight capacity of 1,000 pounds, going for a leisurely cruise in the Excursion is a joy that should be shared with others.

Many users have also mentioned how they have used their Intex Excursion as a fishing kayak.  To do this all you need is a trolling motor and you can be on your way to fishing on your favorite lake.  We recommend this kayak for fishing due to its large size which can be used for storing your fishing gear and supplies.

If you are considering purchasing this kayak please realize that it is 60 pounds and will be harder to transport, setup, and carry than the other inflatable kayaks on our list.  Because of this we recommend that there be at least two people to help setup and use the Intex Excursion 5.

ListofFit Best Pick: Sea Eagle SE370K_P Inflatable Kayak

As you can see from our reviews of the top five inflatable kayaks, each pick has different uses, strengths, and weaknesses.  No inflatable kayak that we found was perfect in all three of the areas that we covered: materials, value, and performance.

For example, if you plan to take a group out to the water then the Intex Excursion 5 is your best choice, but if you want to handle some rougher waters then the AIRHEAD AHTK-2 may be the best.

However, despite the difficulties ranking the kayaks we feel that the Sea Eagle SE370K_P stands alone as the best inflatable kayak on the market today.

We came to this determination because of several factors.  The first was that the Sea Eagle was made from a more dense and strong material than the other kayaks, which means it is less likely to spring a leak over time.

Another feature that helped the Sea Eagle stand out was the large weight capacity.  This kayak is able to handle up to 650 pounds!  There is no better weight capacity for the size.

Lastly, the bailing drains make the Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak great for rougher waters allowing water to drain out of the hull so that you can keep going without having to dump buckets of water out while on your kayaking journey.

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Considerations When Buying an Inflatable Kayak

We have describe many of the different factors that should be considered when purchasing an inflatable kayak, but let’s break each one down in more detail.

The first thing you should consider is what type of water will you use your kayak in.  Calmer waters like those founds on lakes do not require such heavy duty materials which can increase the cost of the kayak.  Instead, if you plan to use your kayak on a calm lake then consider a lower cost model that will allow you to enjoy the water without breaking your budget.

On the other hand, if you plan on hitting some white waters with your inflatable kayak, then without a doubt you will want a more expensive kayak that covers durable material to prevent puncturing, especially on the bottom of the kayak.

Also, think about how many people will use this kayak at one time.  Do you plan to go out by yourself most of the time, with one or two other people, or with a group as large as five?  This should help narrow down your decision.

Another consideration is to be mindful of what items come included with your inflatable kayak.  Certainly, more advanced kayakers may prefer to purchase their own paddles and such, but for the majority it will be more convenient if a motorized pump and paddles come included with your purchase.

To summarize, we love kayaking and buying an inflatable kayak is an easy and cost-effective way to get yourself on lakes and rivers.  Think about how you plan to use the kayak and consider each of your options carefully.  If you take some time to research, like you’ve done here, then there’s little doubt that you’ll be happy with your purchase.