5 of the Best Inflatable Kayak (Reviews) in 2021 | Buying Guide

Kenneth ReavesEdited by: Kenneth Reaves
Michael DarmontReviewed by: Michael Darmont

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: AQUAGLIDE Navarro
“Overall, what you want in an inflatable kayak is portability and reliability. Coming in three different sizes, it allows you to choose which one fits your gear requirements best. It’s a great option combining portability and reliability, with options for different sizes based on your needs.

Best Fishing Option: Seylvor Coleman Colorado
“If you love to fish like me, you’ll want your inflatable kayak to be ready for your fishing trips. This one is built to last, rigged to fish, and has plenty of space for storage and to move around.”

Best For the Price: Intex Challenger Kayak
“This little kayak is great for paddlers on calm waters and comes with a paddle and air pump in the package. A perfect choice for kids, teens, and casual paddlers.”

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Technology in inflatable kayaks is much different than the cheap pool rings you find at your local store. Not only are inflatable kayaks safe, they’re a vital option for people who want to explore rapids or don’t have the space for a hard shell kayak. Inflatable kayaks take up much less space, are easy to transport, and are a great reliable option for your paddling adventures. 

You of course want to find a kayak that is comfortable and reliable, but there are some other important factors to consider before buying an inflatable. Look at the size of it deflated and its carrying options, as you want these to make your life easier. You also want to know what kind of paddling you’re getting into, and pick a kayak that fits your activities. 

With a ton of inflatable kayaks available, we’ve done the research to determine which ones are the top picks and worth your consideration. Once you’ve read through the article, you should have a good idea of what you need and will be able to make an informed purchase decision.

Sources researched
10
Sources researched
Customer reviews
14,869
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
20
Hours spent testing
Products tested
5
Products tested
Product Name
Best Overall
Best Premium Option
Best for Fishing
Our Ranking
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
AQUAGLIDE Navarro 110 Convertible Inflatable Kayak with Drop Stitch Floor, Green
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
Our Grade
Our Rating 92/100
Our Rating 90/100
Our Rating 88/100
Feature 1
Easy to transport, fits in trunk of car
Cargo net for extra gear storage
Rigged to fish with rod and paddle holders
Feature 2
3 sizes to fit your needs
Removable skeg for better tracking in the water
Multi-chambered to stay afloat in case of a leak
Best Overall
Product Name
Our Ranking
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
AQUAGLIDE Navarro 110 Convertible Inflatable Kayak with Drop Stitch Floor, Green
Our Grade
Our Rating 92/100
Feature 1
Easy to transport, fits in trunk of car
Feature 2
3 sizes to fit your needs
Best Premium Option
Product Name
Our Ranking
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Our Grade
Our Rating 90/100
Feature 1
Cargo net for extra gear storage
Feature 2
Removable skeg for better tracking in the water
Best for Fishing
Our Ranking
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
Our Grade
Our Rating 88/100
Feature 1
Rigged to fish with rod and paddle holders
Feature 2
Multi-chambered to stay afloat in case of a leak

Best 5 Inflatable Kayaks

AQUAGLIDE Navarro

Best Overall: combines portability and reliability, with options for different sizes based on needs.

AQUAGLIDE Navarro 110 Convertible Inflatable Kayak with Drop Stitch Floor, Green
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KEY FEATURES

  • Easy to transport, fits in the trunk of a car
  • 3 sizes to fit your needs
  • 1 year limited warranty 

Overall, what you want in an inflatable kayak is portability and reliability. Coming in three different sizes, it allows you to choose which one fits your gear requirements best, and even has a two person version for taking kids and family out. It’s a fantastic choice for paddlers who want to get out and explore lakes and rivers.

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Kayak Specifications

For the specs, we’ll look at the Navarro 110, the smaller, single-person kayak. Fully inflated it sits at 11’4” in length and 34” wide. While boxed up, its box dimensions are 24.5”L x 22.5” W x 11” H. That’s a huge difference in size, making it incredibly easy to store at home or transport to your preferred paddling location.

It has rear dry storage, as well as tie-downs running down the bow. The easy-carry handles on the bow and stern make it a cinch to get to the water, and it weighs in at only 28 pounds. It has a detachable rudder that will help the boat stay on a straight track while paddling. 

It doesn’t come with a paddle, pump, or life vest. That’s okay since it lets you get a paddle that is properly sized for your body instead of trying to make a default one work. Remember to grab a life vest before going out on a trip.

What It’s Best At

This kayak is designed for long days of paddling. It’s a fairly comfortable seat and is made for touring landmarks. Keep this one in calmer water around rivers and in lakes. You could take it into rapids if you added on a wet slip to keep water out of the cabin, but again it performs best in calmer water. 

DMUC Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak

Best Premium Option: Easy to carry fold up that can handle all your adventures.


KEY FEATURES

  • Folds into a handbag for easy carry
  • Solid tracking and speed in the water
  • Excellent stability and great wind rating for inflatable

If you’re looking for an inflatable that can take on any body of water this is the kayak for you. While not ideal for high winds and waves, this kayak has no problem exploring bays, coves, and calm ocean waters. It’s an ideal choice for paddlers who want to combine the stability of a larger kayak with the portability of an inflatable.

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Kayak Specifications

Fully inflated the kayak is 12 ‘7 “ long, but folded into its handbag form its dimensions go down to 33” x 29” x 11”. It will easily fit in your car trunk, and you can even fit it into your luggage for far-away trips. 

Not only does it have inflatable sections, but when deflated the kayak folds into a handbag shape. It comes with shoulder straps that make it easy to carry on your back to help distribute its weight on a longer hike. 

It’s missing dedicated storage due to the fold-up design, but it does have bow mounts for attachments like cameras, phones, or rod holders. The bungee cords give you an option to carry gear in dry bags as well.

What It’s Best At

Due to its lack of storage and accessory mounts, this kayak is ideal for casual paddling in any body of water. It’s a great inflatable kayak for touring, and even camping trips with your gear tied on in dry bags. 

Intex Challenger Kayak

Best Budget Option: Perfect choice for kids, teens, and casual paddlers.

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
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KEY FEATURES

  • A cargo net for extra gear storage
  • Removable skeg for better tracking
  • Short length gives it great maneuverability

This little kayak is great for paddlers on calm waters, and comes with a paddle and air pump in the package. It has two sizes, a single person and a two person, which is great for a family outing. It’s a durable inflatable kayak that has great maneuverability and is easy to store and transport.

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Kayak Specifications

For specs, we will focus on the K1 version of this kayak. Coming in at 9 feet when fully inflated, this little kayak is great for maneuverability. It’ll turn quickly, and the skeg on the bottom helps with tracking a straight line. The seat is also inflatable and can be inflated separately for comfort. Remember that this kayak is small without a ton of legroom, so it isn’t ideal for taller paddlers.

The bow has a cargo net to allow for gear storage in some dry bags. All the way around the kayak is a grab line to make it easy to tie off or pull the kayak when you need to. It has two separate air chambers, so if one begins to leak you won’t immediately sink. 

The kayak is made of puncture-resistant vinyl, making it very durable when scraping along rocks and river bottoms, just try to avoid sharper objects. It features Boston valves to quick inflation and deflation, and it packs up nicely once deflated making it easy to transport.

What It’s Best At

This is a solid kayak for use in calm rivers and lakes. It’s a great fit for kids and teens to teach them appropriate paddling skills but is absolutely serviceable for adults wanting to paddle around in calm water. 

Sevylor Coleman Colorado Fishing Kayak

Best Inflatable for Fishing:  Rigged to fish and built tough for rugged upriver adventures.

Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
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KEY FEATURES

  • Built-in rod and paddle holders
  • Heavy-duty, puncture-resistant materials
  • Multiple air chambers to avoid sinking due to leaks

If you love to fish like me, you’ll want your inflatable kayak to be ready for your fishing trips. This one is built to last, rigged to fish, and has plenty of space for your accessories like a fish finder, storage and to move around. It’s an ideal choice for anglers in the market for an inflatable kayak. 

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Kayak Specifications

At ten feet and weighing under forty pounds, this kayak can deflate and fold up to store easily. It’s light enough to make carrying it to the water easy, and its canoe shape cuts through the water easily. With a great weight limit and plenty of storage space, you can take all your gear with you.

Built from 18 gauge PVC with a tarpaulin bottom and nylon cover, this kayak won’t have any issues running over rocks and other underwater hazards. In the event that it does end up being punctured, it has multiple air chambers, keeping it afloat even if one section begins to leak. 

The two-person kayak has two adjustable seats, with plenty of side pockets for quick access to your tackle. Berkeley Quick Set rod holders let you troll a line or sit your rod down to wait on a bite. There are additional mounts for extra gear like a GPS or fishfinder as well, making it a great choice for extended trips to unfinished areas.

What It’s Best At

This inflatable is perfect for fishing. It’s built tough, so it can handle some faster water and running over rocks better than most of the kayaks on this list. Take it out into the rugged wilderness to find fishing holes that haven’t been fished before, or just enjoy a nice day paddling around the lake.

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak

Most Versatile Inflatable Kayak: Perfect for an offshore trip, a casual paddle around the lake, or a rugged fishing trip.

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak, Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak
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KEY FEATURES

  • Two different skews for tracking in shallow or deep water
  • Mounts for rod holders and other accessories
  • Comes with oars, carry bag, pump, pressure gauge, and repair patch

Whether you want to take your kayak out off the beach, up a rocky river, or just paddle around a calm lake, this kayak is a great choice for you. It comes with everything you need to store it and get on the water. With mounts for fishing gear, cameras, or other accessories, this kayak can become whatever you want it to to match your paddling activities.

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Kayak Specifications

At 12’7’’ and 39 pounds, this is one of the larger kayaks on the list. Its inflated length of almost 13 feet makes it stable enough to take into open and wavy water if you choose, just remember it doesn’t drain. Made from highly durable PVC with a polyester core, this kayak is durable enough to bounce off of rocks without puncturing. 

Installed on the kayak are multiple mount points that let you attach rod holders, a GPS, fishfinder, or anything else you want to take with you on your trip. It comes with two different skegs, a longer one for deep water, and a shorter one for shallow water. 

Its two seats are adjustable, as are the footrests. The back seat has an included removable booster seat for kids or extra padding. The package includes a carrying bag for storage and transport, an air pump, a pressure gauge, and a pair of paddles.

What It’s Best At

This kayak can be outfitted for whatever adventure you choose. It’s durable enough for a rapids trip and stable enough for an offshore adventure on a calm day. Take it anywhere you want to, and rig it to meet your needs.

What To Look For When Buying Inflatable Kayaks

Portability

One of the most important things to look for in an inflatable kayak is portability. You want to be able to store it in a small space and have it take up very little space when you transport it. If this isn’t a concern for you, you might as well look into a hard shell kayak, as they typically track better, move faster, and are more reliably durable against abrasion.

That being said, inflatable kayaks will deflate and fold up, making them ideal for carrying on hikes or to faraway places. You want something that can fit in a travel bag, is light enough to carry, and fits in with your normal outdoors gear.

Durability

Inevitably, you will run over something in the water. Whether it’s a tree branch or a rock, you don’t want it puncturing your boat. When you take your kayak into rapids, it can be very rough on the vessel, so the better durability you have the better. We’ll go mover materials next, but there are a few things to look for otherwise that show better durability.

Multiple air chambers is very helpful in avoiding sinking, as a puncture won’t affect the entire boat. Extra beams, even if inflatable, that run along the spines of the boat help it keep its shape and last longer. 

Materials

These days, inflatable kayaks, (including the ones on this list) are made of high-quality materials that resist punctures, tears, and abrasions. While it is still possible to pop an inflatable, it is rare, and they can be patched easily with a patch kit that brings your kayak back to being like new.

Some of the best materials to look for are PVC, Nylon, and tourmaline. These don’t absorb and hold water, and are great for abrasion and cut resistance. Most importantly and when possible, find a kayak with one of these materials for either the entire boat or the bottom hull where it will get the most punishment.

What do you plan on doing?

The last thing to consider is what you’re buying the kayak for. If you want an inflatable for some casual paddling and exercise you don’t need the bells and whistles of other models. If you want to go camping you’ll need more storage space for gear. And of course, if you plan to fish from it you want to make sure you have both storage space and rod mounts.

Always consider what you’ll be doing in your kayak and take extra precautions for safety. Wear a life vest and carry repair patches just in case. 

Questions & Answers

Will inflatable kayaks pop and sink easily?

Inflatable kayaks of today don’t pop easily. Thanks to technological advances and high-quality materials being easily accessible, inflatable kayaks are very durable and puncture resistant. Multiple air chambers decrease the risk of sinking as well, since a puncture only affects one part of the vessel. 

If this is a concern for you, wear a personal flotation device, carry repair patches, and buy an inflatable made from strong materials. If you plan on running rapids often, take a guide to learn the river and avoid slamming into rocks.

Are inflatable kayaks slow?

 Inflatable kayaks are generally slower than hard shells. This is mostly due to their weight distribution and shape, as inflatables drag more in the water. As with most gear though, you get what you pay for. A good-quality inflatable won’t be noticeably slower than a hard shell at the same price point.

How do you spot a leak in your inflatable kayak?

The easiest way to find a leak is in a multi-air chambered kayak. That section will begin to slowly deflate, narrowing down your search area. If the hole is below water, you should be able to see a small stream of bubbles leading you back to the hole.

Also remember that kayaks aren’t 100% airtight, meaning they will deflate slowly as the day goes on. If you can’t find any signs of a hole, you might just need to pump a little more air into your vessel.

In the end, if you can’t locate a puncture but the deflation is severe, get off the water. You don’t want to sink. Once you get home or if you have it on hand, get some soapy water and cover the kayak in suds. Fill it with air and watch for spots where the bubbles are moving and bubbling on the kayak to help locate any leaks. Once you’ve found it, follow the instructions in a patch kit to fix it up.