Inflatable Kayak Guide for Beginners

Choosing a perfect inflatable kayak for you will depend on a series of factors that you should consider before taking the final choice.

  • How many air chambers should it have?
  • Which is the best material?
  • What features should you be looking for?

Although these questions might not look easy to answer, the truth is that picking a high-quality kayak that happens to be ideal for you is not very challenging, that is, as long as you know where to look.

Inflatable Kayak Basics

You should know these basic facts about the inflatable kayaks that can make or break a deal.

Type of Kayak

This is, undoubtedly, the first and most important consideration of all: which kind of kayak are you looking for? On the market, you will easily find the following types to choose from:

  • Whitewater Kayaks: these models are self-bailing, meaning that they feature holes that let out the water when it goes into the cockpit. They normally lack the tracking fin.
  • Fishing Kayaks: these kayaks can vary in size although they are mostly round in the front and back, a feature that gives them stability. They also bring a lot of storage places and D-rings where you can secure your fishing equipment.
  • Sit-on-top Kayaks: these are characterized by their elevated seats and no enclosed cockpit. They’re also frequently used for fishing. Here’s a great guide you should read for more info.
  • Canoe-Kayaks: these are very similar to normal canoes except for the fact that they are inflatable. They are entirely open and can be used in calm waters like lakes and bays.


The size of the kayak is as vital as the design you are looking for. If you are a small person, a big kayak will make you feel insecure and unstable and the same happens with the opposite situation.

It’s important that you pick a kayak that’s neither too small nor too big for your body size and weight which is why you should check these attributes before buying.

You should also check the size of the paddles for your inflatable kayak,

Kayak’s Bottom

The bottom of the kayak determines its use. There are two types of inflatable bottoms you’ll have to choose from according to what you’ll be using the kayak for:

  • Flat bottom: these are most efficient in shallow waters and are well-known for their stability.
  • V-bottom: V-bottom these models perform well in fast waters and can gain much more speed. They are commonly whitewater kayaks.

Construction Material

The three main materials used to fabricate inflatable kayaks are:

  • PVC: the most common material used for more affordable kayaks. It is reinforced and very resistant.
  • Hypalon: this synthetic rubber will stand strong against weather, chemicals, and sunrays. Because of its quality, these kayaks are usually more expensive.
  • Nitrylon: a relatively new material, this is the only eco-friendly option among inflatable kayaks. It gets along well with cold weathers.

Check this awesome guide for more info about the all kayak material.


This is an important factor for those who need to take a lot of gear when they go kayaking. If you are planning on fishing with your inflatable kayak, you’ll need to buy a model that can allow you to carry all your equipment with you. Gear laces on the sides of the deck, equipment nets, and D-rings are all options you can opt for when browsing for one.


You want your inflatable kayak to be both portable and lightweight. Some kayaks are far too heavy to be carried on your back when hiking, although others are high-tech items that turn into backpacks themselves.

If you usually get to the places where you paddle by car, weight is not as important then; however, you still want your inflatable kayak to bring a storage bag that will protect it from dirt, perforations, and sunrays.


Do you like to paddle or your own or do you prefer having company? How about a kayak that can give you both? Some models are designed for solo adventurers while others come with extra attachable seats in case you feel like inviting someone else to the trip.


While the accessories an inflatable kayak comes with don’t foreshadow its quality, they can sometimes be useful if you still don’t own these indispensable items. Some these accessories can be:

  • Paddles
  • Air pump
  • Repair kit

Noteworthy Parts

Lastly, if you ensure that all the small parts that comprise an inflatable kayak are high-quality, you’ll know with certainty that you’re buying a great item. Keep an eye on these:

Air Chambers: the more air chambers it brings, the safer you are if one of them gets punctures as the rest will allow you to paddle back to the shore and repair the holes.

Valves: make sure that these don’t close loosely or important pieces, like your seat, could end up deflating at any time.

Best Inflatable Kayak Brands

While you can find a couple dozen companies that manufacture and sell different types and sizes of inflatable kayaks, not all of them are as pioneering and trustworthy as these:

1. Sea Eagle

Sea Eagle is a popular, inflatable brand that is characterized by their white-and-blue, high-quality kayaks. They sell both roll-up and foldup boats and have been manufacturing durable but light products since 1968.

Among their inflatable product range, you can find canoes, SUPs, boats, and outstanding fishing kayaks. They also offer “packages” which include extra accessories such as paddles and foot pumps

2. Intex

Intex is well known for their brightly colored and eye-catching inflatable kayak designs. However, they are a big company that manufactures all sorts of water products such as airbeds, pools, and even inflatable toys.

This brand sorts their boats and kayaks into two groups: a sports series recommended for everyone who’s interested in having fun on the water, and a more professional series that is manufactured to deliver supreme performance.

3. Advanced Elements

This is, without a doubt, one of the top inflatable equipment brands. Designed in California, all their kayaks and SUPs are innovative, comfortable, and reliable at the same time.

The quality of the materials they use is outstanding and their kayaks offer performance, speed, and technology, making them an excellent choice for both whitewater adventures and calm, fishing days. Check their website here.

4. Sevylor

Sevylor started out manufacturing rubber rafts back in 1948 and they have slowly become one of the top-rated inflatable kayak brands. Their products are all high-quality and extremely stable, making it a preferred choice for those who have recently entered the kayak world.

From Sevylor, you can purchase both kayaks and canoes, suitable for one, two or even three people.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Type of Inflatable Kayak Should I get?

The ideal kayak for you depends on what you plan to use it for. If you are looking forward to an adventure in rapids or whitewater, it’s mandatory that you get a kayak especially designed for this environment.

Likewise, there are inflatable kayaks exclusively for fishing and touring so it’s a good idea to be clear about what kind of escapades you want your kayak to be able to offer you.

Do I Need a Self-Bailing Kayak?

If your ideal day in nature is to explore and have a break on calm waters, you do NOT need a self-bailing kayak. Nevertheless, if you are into more adventurous plans where you know your cockpit will get flooded, a self-bailing model is a must.

Is an Open-Deck Kayak Better Than a Closed-Deck One?

This is just a matter of preferences. Open-decks inflatable kayaks are usually designed like canoes while closed-deck ones allow you to have more control over how wet you get. Similarly, some models offer the possibility of having both.

Should I Get a Solo or a Tandem Kayak?

This will depend on whether you like to go into the water on your own or in the company of someone else. What’s wonderful is that most tandem inflatable kayaks allow you to remove the extra seat and adjust the remaining one to transform it into a solo model.

Can I Use Inflatable Kayaks for Fishing?

Absolutely! In fact, certain brands manufacture and sell kayaks specifically engineered for fishing.

While some people might think that all the fishing equipment could damage the kayak, the truth is that the technology used for fishing-oriented inflatable kayaks is splendid enough to endure most accidents.

How Can I Dry and Clean My Inflatable Kayak?

Inflatable kayaks need to be cleaned properly before putting them away; otherwise, the material could get damaged irreparably.

To clean your kayak, remove all its features first. After that, using a kayak cleaner and lukewarm water, give it a soft scrub to get rid of saltwater and sand. Lastly, wipe it all out with a clean cloth.

To dry your kayak, turn it upside down and leave it hanging overnight.

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