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If you’re looking for a fun workout on the water that can be done by people of all ages and abilities, we’ve got your new favorite warm-weather activity. The best inflatable kayaks are inexpensive and user-friendly boating devices that help users enjoy long stretches of time on the water, whether they’re near a river, lake or ocean. Paddling solo or need room for two? We’ve got you covered.
The best inflatable kayaks were frequently thought of as upgraded floating alligators. You know, those floaties that every pool had in the 1990’s that immediately sunk in the middle when you sat on them, sending the alligator’s head and tail straight up and out of the water. Inflatable kayaks have come a long way since they were first introduced and now provide an even and stable boating experience.
Although not as strong as the hard body construction of a traditional kayak, these materials are designed to withstand punctures and damaging abrasions, making them durable enough to handle anything from rocks to fishing hooks without enduring major damage or deflating.
While inflatable kayaks may not have the same durability, ruggedness, load capacity and tracking abilities as hard-body kayaks, they have other benefits that make them a worthwhile investment. Often less expensive than hard-body kayaks, inflatable kayaks are much easier to transport and store thanks to their easy inflate and deflate features. Inflatable kayaks are lighter than hard-body kayaks, which makes them easier to carry, which is especially beneficial if you plan on kayaking alone or need a boat that doesn’t require much upper body strength. Choosing an option from a reputable brand is also beneficial in ensuring that you won’t end up with a glorified pool float when buying an inflatable kayak.
Check out our favorite picks below to find out more about the options. And if you already have a good kayak on hand, don’t forget to take a look at our round-up of the best kayak paddles!
1. Advanced Elements Convertible Inflatable Kayak
This option from Advanced Elements fits two people, and the bright orange color gives it a sporty look and makes it easier to see while in the water. It has bungee straps at the front of the kayak for mounting gear, and the padded seat makes it comfortable for longer trips. The detail that sets this kayak apart is the ability to adjust it so that it accommodates one or two passengers by converting the top.
2. Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
This kayak from Sevylor Coleman has 18-gauge PVC construction and is NMMA certified. It’s built for lake use with a 1000D tarpaulin bottom and an 840D nylon cover that provides excellent protection against punctures and holes. It has multiple backup air chambers in case one gets deflated somehow, and an Airtight System that minimizes the chances of leaking. This particular kayak is also equipped with Berkley fishing rod holders on the sides that are adjustable and perfect for hands-free fishing. It also has paddle holders to keep them out of the way when you don’t need them.
3. Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3-Person Inflatable Kayak
BEST FOR 3
This inflatable kayak from Sea Eagle can hold its own in up to Class III rapids and has enough room for three people in it. It has two movable, super comfortable kayak seats inside with improved back support as well as two paddles and a foot pump for easy inflation. Each paddle has four parts including an asymmetrical blade and aluminum shaft for optimal use. The kayak has two skegs on the bottom for improved speed and tracking, and it has five different deluxe one-way inflation/deflation valves.
4. Intex Explorer 2-Person K2 Inflatable Kayak
This inflatable kayak from Intex is perfectly comfortable and spacious enough for two people. Each seat has a backrest and a cockpit designed to provide plenty of space efficiently. There’s a removable SKEG for directional stability, and the bright yellow color improves your visibility to other boats in an emergency and in everyday use. This kayak is made for smaller, more temperate bodies of water including lakes and mild rivers.
5. Intex Challenger K2 Kayak Kit, 2 Person
Intex makes some of the most affordable inflatable pools and kayaks, and this two-person kayak costs about a fifth of what some of the single-person kayaks on this list cost. So while it won’t necessarily be as performance-minded as the premium picks, it’s still a great option for casual use. Oars, a pump and a patch kit are included.
6. STAR Challenger Sit-On-Top Inflatable Kayak
BEST SIT-ON-TOP STYLE
This inflatable kayak from STAR is made in the sit-on-top style, meaning that the seat is above the hull of the kayak, rather than recessed inside of it. The seat itself is removable for easier transport, and a detachable skeg is included. The front and rear of the kayak have straps for securing your gear.
7. Intex Excursion Inflatable Kayak
BEST FOR 4
If you’re more interested in leisurely cruising than aggressively whitewater rafting, this four-person inflatable boat from Intex is a great option. It has two benches that are facing each other, making it great for just hanging out on the water. Built-in oar holders make it easier to paddle, and with three separate air chambers, a single puncture won’t sink the entire boat.
8. Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
This inflatable kayak from Sevylor takes only a few minutes to set up and comes with an easy-carry backpack system that turns into the seat. It has a 21-gauge PVC construction that’s built for lake use, and the tarpaulin bottom provides durable, long-lasting protection from punctures as you paddle the day away. It has multiple air chambers that allow one to stay inflated if one becomes punctured, and the Airtight System is guaranteed not to leak. It also has two double lock valves for easy inflation and deflation.
9. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak
This two-person kayak from Intex is made of durable PVC and features a polyester core. It’s equipped with high-pressure spring-loaded valves so that you can easily inflate and deflate before and after use. There are two removable skegs to help you navigate both deep and shallow water and a mounting bracket that can hold extra accessories that you may need. Two 86-inch oars are included with this purchase.
10. Kokopelli Packraft Moki-Lite Inflatable Kayak
This sleek inflatable kayak from Kokopelli has an eye-catching yellow and gray colorway, and it’s made from durable 420 denier nylon and reinforced PVC. This kayak also comes with a convenient carrying bag, repair kit and an air pump. It’s designed to accommodate a single rider and has a total weight capacity of 300 pounds, but the kayak itself weighs a manageable 16 pounds, making it easy to carry.