Typically, kayaks are hard-shelled boats. But due to the demand for a convenient equipment, inflatable types had surfaced in the market. It’s easy to doubt these products as it seems like a single puncture would send a paddler sinking in the midst of the water. But this has been proven wrong. The best inflatable kayaks are made of high-grade plastic and a sturdier hull to withstand scraping and harsh water current.
Another good thing about having an inflatable boat is its capacity that is at par with the hard-shelled ones. It’s safe to say that inflatable kayaks are no longer just a vessel for recreation as it can also be a good choice for fishing and even surf kayaking.
But here’s the deal. Inflatable kayaks aren’t made equal. There are some models that won’t last long while there are some that are best in quality but very high in price. Here, I’ll give you some tips to help you out with your purchase:
How easy is it to maneuver?
Maneuverability is one of the crucial characteristics of a kayak that you shouldn’t forget. It speaks of tracking and ease of paddling while on water. Some kayaks of this type are made to be racers and can cut through the water with excellent speed. There are also some that are freighters that can carry two to three people but it could be slower than the latter and a bit low-lying once in the water.
If you’re a competitive kayaker, you might want to go for a narrow and long inflatable kayak. This is the same thing when you’re buying a hard-shell type.
What kayaking activity are you doing?
Like regular kayaks, inflatable ones are made for specific purposes. Sure thing, there are fishing kayaks that are inflatable and there are also sit-inside types for the touring kayaker. Choosing the right boat will make your trips worthwhile. If you’re planning to bring your dog, kids, or partner, it’s best to invest in a sit-on-top one with a high weight capacity.
If you’re going for quiet afternoons by the lake, the best inflatable kayaks are sit-on-tops so you can move around, swim, or dive.
How much can it hold?
This is the most important part. There’s a notion that inflatable kayaks are like floaters that will sink if a 6-feet tall human stepped on it. Passenger capacity is also the advantage of inflatable kayaks as some of the models are made with air tubing that increases buoyancy and cuts the risk of capsizing or lying-low on water.
Some models could carry about three people in a tandem kayak. Surprisingly, inflatable kayaks can have as much as 300 pounds of user weight limit. Most of the time, inflatable kayaks are best for families who are planning to have a water adventure but one thing to remember is that these are not rafts.
You can actually get a kayak that can be converted into a tandem boat then back into a solo kayak. It depends on the number of people you’re intending to bring on the paddling trip.
The good thing about the best inflatable kayaks is it bears almost the same features as hard-shelled ones. It also has seats and paddles; however, it’s unlikely to have a storage hatch because of the air tubes that run from the bow to the stern. If you’re getting a sit-inside model, you can stuff your belongings on the bilge of the boat given that there’s enough space in it. Still, there are those that come with zippered compartments.
Another thing that you should consider is the weight of the kayak. Lightweight ones are the best as you can bring it with one hand and launch it into the water. Just take note that the weight would also depend on the material used on the boat. Aluminum hulls would weigh heavier than the usual PVC or soft polyethylene. The rule of thumb here is to get one that’s not prone to punctures and is made of a few layers of plastic material. Those with compartmented air tubes are also great during the event of punctures and holes.
Inflatable kayaks usually come with a repair kit because as much as some models are not susceptible to holes, there’s still a possibility of encountering strong bumps on rocks. The kit would contain quick-dry patches so you can mitigate the situation if ever your boat was damaged in the middle of a kayaking day.
Remember that some kayak packages only use kits that have to be applied and dried for 12 hours. That’s quite a long wait for a kayaker and the not the best inflatable kayaks.
Aside from the kayak, it’s the paddle that will make the adventure possible. Aluminum paddles are mediocre and will do well on mild currents, say lake or river kayaking. But if you’re planning to take your boat on the sea, invest in a fiberglass oar that’s lighter and durable in fighting the waves.
Set up time
Inflatable kayaks are famous for its convenience but not every model would bring such advantage. Always get a kayak that’s easy to inflate and deflate. Some could be ready for use in just eight minutes while others would take time for half an hour. The best thing is that most inflatable kayaks come with a small pump so you no longer have to buy it separately.
The best inflatable kayaks with one- way valves are good choices as it prevents the air from escaping if ever the plug comes off. There are also dual valves that make deflation fast and easy. It’s advantageous, but you should be careful when you’re in the water as it can sink you fast.
Like most kayaks, inflatable types vary in price tags. Some could be affordable while others could be expensive. This would usually equate to the features, build, and technology used in the model.
Now that you know the basics of getting an inflatable kayak, you might want to consider a commercial option for your kayaking.
One thing that makes this kayak worth the purchase is its massive cockpit that gives enough space for tandem kayakers. It’s composed of strong vinyl plastic with an I-beam floor for stability as well as two separate air chambers so you won’t sink in the event that the material got holes.
This kayak is excellent when it comes to self-rescue as there are grab lines on the bow and stern and it can endure up to 400 pounds of total passenger weight. Re-entry on the best inflatable kayaks is effortless if ever you’re using it as a snorkeling or diving boat.
The paddles on this kayak consist of aluminum that you can detach in three pieces for easier storage.
Just keep in mind that this isn’t a hard-shelled kayak and it may be susceptible to damage over time. Anyway, there’s a repair kit that comes with a few patches that you can use in case there’s a seam problem or holes in the material. Overall, it’s to die for without spending too much.
The best inflatable kayaks have quality and reliability when it’s in the water. The aspects I listed here are what you need to have basic knowledge so you can wisely choose your first kayak. Know what you want to do on the boat and start from there.