Travel

9 of the Best Inflatable Kayaks

When it comes to exploring the sights of a beautiful destination on water, it doesn’t get much better than kayaking. It can be a serene, blissful experience and can also be a heart-pumping and muscle-flexing adventure.

No matter what your preferred kayaking style is, you’re on the lookout for an inflatable kayak that you can add to your list of travel equipment. If kayaking is on your list of top activities, it makes sense to invest in an inflatable kayak that you can pack up and use wherever and whenever you want.

So if you’re looking for a handy guide to the best inflatable kayaks on the market right now – you’ve arrived at the right place! Below, I’ll cover all of the need to know kayak models to get you out on the water as quickly as possible.

No matter what your experience level and budget are, I’m sure will point you to your perfect vessel.

Let’s get right to it…

inflatable kayak on the lake

Quick Answer: The Best Inflatable Kayaks of 2022

BEST INFLATABLE KAYAK OVERALL

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak

BEST INFLATABLE KAYAK OVERALL

Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak

  • Price > $$$
  • > Made of PVC-coated polyester
  • > Tracking is exceptional

STAR Raven Malibu II

STAR Raven Malibu II

STAR Raven 2 Tandem Inflatable Kayak

  • Price > $$$
  • > Roomy enough for 2
  • > Setup is super quick and easy

BEST 2 PERSON INFLATABLE KAYAK FOR BEGINNERS

STAR Paragon Tandem Inflatable Kayak

BEST 2 PERSON INFLATABLE KAYAK FOR BEGINNERS

STAR Paragon Tandem Inflatable Kayak

  • Price > $$$
  • > 2 removable high-back kayak seats
  • > Includes carry bag, pump and repair kit

BEST INFLATABLE FISHING KAYAK

Bote Lono Aero

BEST INFLATABLE FISHING KAYAK

Bote Lono Aero Sit-on-Top Kayak

  • Price > $$$$
  • > 4 built-in rod holders
  • > It has hook, line and sinker

BEST SIT-ON-TOP INFLATABLE FISHING KAYAK

STAR Rival Sit-On-Top Inflatable Kayak

BEST SIT-ON-TOP INFLATABLE FISHING KAYAK

STAR Rival Sit-On-Top Inflatable Kayak

  • Price > $$$
  • > 6 inch-thick deck
  • > 12 ½ feet of space for all the fishing gears

BEST INFLATABLE KAYAK FOR WEEKENDERS

STAR Paragon

BEST INFLATABLE KAYAK FOR WEEKENDERS

STAR Paragon XL Inflatable Kayak

  • Price > $$
  • > 2 core seats with padded cushions
  • > Child’s removable inflatable booster seat

BEST INFLATABLE SEA KAYAK

Oru Kayak Beach LT Folding Kayak - 12

BEST INFLATABLE SEA KAYAK

Oru Kayak Beach LT Folding Kayak

  • Price > $$$$
  • > Large cockpit
  • > Incredible ease to assemble

BEST ULTRALIGHT PACKRAFT FOR TRAVEL

Advanced Elements PackLite Inflatable Kayak

BEST ULTRALIGHT PACKRAFT FOR TRAVEL

Advanced Elements PackLite Inflatable Kayak

  • Price > $
  • > Weighing in at only 4 lbs.
  • > Compact size of 11x11x5 inches when compressed

BEST INFLATABLE PACKRAFT FOR MULTI-DAY EXPEDITIONS

Kokopelli Packraft Nirvana Packraft

BEST INFLATABLE PACKRAFT FOR MULTI-DAY EXPEDITIONS

Kokopelli Nirvana Packraft with Spray Deck

  • Price > $$$$
  • > No pump needed
  • > Includes an inflation bag system

Best Inflatable Kayak Overall

Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak

best inflatable kayaks
This thing is pretty badass.

If you want a kayak that has everything a solid kayak should have – performance, portability, easy set-up and cutting edge design – this is your winner!

It’s made of PVC-coated polyester with aluminum rims for maximum durability with a length of 10 feet 5 inches, 34-inch width and 11.5-inch depth. It weighs 36 pounds and offers plenty of onboard space without sacrificing legroom for a comfortable ride. Long trips feel even comfier with its high-support, adjustable padded seat.

It’s tracking is exceptional – right up there with the tracking you’d find in a hard-shell day-touring kayak – thanks to its rigid aluminum frame reinforced bow. The stern, also with aluminum frame reinforcement, functions as a skeg, further increasing the tracking performance.

One of the best things about the Advanced Frame inflatable kayak is there’s nothing complicated about this bad boy’s setup. Simply unfold, inflate and you’re good to go!

Best 2 Person Inflatable Kayak

Ocean Kayak Malibu II

Kayaking can be a great solo sport, but it’s also fun to bring someone along to enjoy the ride. It’s nice to have the option! With the Ocean Kayak Malibu II, you can easily switch between solo and tandem touring with its adjustable seat positions.

This versatile 2 person kayak is 13 ft. 4 in. and weighs 74 pounds, making it roomy enough for 2 to paddle in comfort while being compact enough (and crucially, light enough) to take with you on any adventure.

Like most STAR kayaks, the PVC material they are constructed from is tough and can survive bumps with sharp boulders, sticks, etc.

Again, the setup is super quick and easy. No assembly required whatsoever – unfold, inflate, attach seats, go! Pump and repair kit included.

Best 2 Person Inflatable Kayak for Beginners

STAR Paragon Tandem Inflatable Kayak

best inflatable kayaks for fishing
Meet the top beginner-minded kayak.

If you’re new to kayaking and are looking for a compact and reliable recreational kayak that makes for awesome flatwater exploration, we recommend this Voyage 2 tandem inflatable kayak by Advanced Elements.

It has everything you need for some awesome flatwater exploration while being easy to set up and transport. It’s polyester/PVC tarpaulin construction gives it a durable, compact design – measuring 11 feet and 2 inches long and weighing just 32 pounds – that allows you to just fold it up and pack it away anywhere!

This beginner’s 2 person kayak has removable highback seats with 3 available seating positions for your choice of a tandem or solo paddling. Bring along some snacks and cold drinks that you can tuck away in the convenient seat pockets and bottle holders and enjoy the ride!

Check out the 1 person STAR Paragon Kayak on REI.

Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Bote Lono Aero Sit on Top Kayak

Bote Lono Aero

For kayakers searching for an kayak that can be used for flatwater paddling and for fishing, look no further than the Bote Lono Aero Sit on Too Kayak.

It’s lightweight at just over 48 pounds and 12 feet 6 inches in length, giving it plenty of space for one paddler but also has the capacity for 2. This inflatable fishing kayak has a width with an extra 39 inches and hard-bottom floor that give it extra overall and standing stability for a smoother, more secure feel.

The Bote Lono inflatable kayak doesn’t miss a detail when it comes to accommodating fishing needs with 7 Scotty amounts available that can be customized with rod holders and any other accessories an angler’s heart desires. No need to worry about a fishing cooler; the Bote Lono includes one with 4 built-in rod holders that secures easily to the kayak.

There’s even a removable platform for the Rugged Core seat that allows for a higher seating position – perfect for fishing. This kayak has it all – hook, line and sinker!

Best Sit-on-Top Inflatable Fishing Kayak

STAR Rival Sit-On-Top Inflatable Kayak

best inflatable kayak

The STAR Rival is the ideal vessel for the kayaker that wants the option to stand, sit, paddle and cast during their kayaking excursion. It has a 6 inch-thick deck that inflates to a firm 8-10 psi for maximum versatility.

As a solo adventurer, you’ll get plenty of leeway with 12 ½ feet of space for all the fishing gear, tackle and any ride-along accessories you want. The removable suspended-mesh, aluminum-framed seats provide the ideal position for casting, fish sighting and paddling.

As far as having sufficient attachment points for your favorite fishing accessories – like rod holders and anchor locks – the Rival’s 5 Scotty Mount Bases will have you covered. It’s the best blow up kayak choice for any adventurous solo angler!

Best Inflatable Kayak for Weekenders

STAR Paragon XL Inflatable Kayak

The STAR Paragon is the perfect all-purpose kayak for weekend warriors looking for fun-filled, recreational days out on the water. Whether you’re paddling solo, with a friend or partner – or even want to bring a child or dog onboard – this trusty vessel will meet all your needs!

Weighing 47 pounds but with 13 feet in length, the Paragon 130 offers 400 lb. capacity to accommodate not only the companions you’d like to bring along but also any fishing gear, food, drinks and accessories you need to make your excursion complete. As for every weekend mission – your time is valuable – so why spend more time with the set up? Not very interesting. In line with other kayaks, the setup for this boat is straightforward and easy. Sorted.

For added ease and convenience, this kayak for weekenders rolls up into its own bag that can be easily stored in the trunk of a car or closet. When you’re ready to hit the water, just take it out of the bag, inflate, arrange the seat and get to paddling!

Best Inflatable Sea Kayak

Oru Kayak Beach LT Folding Kayak

Oru Kayak Beach LT Folding Kayak - 12

Yes, it’s technically not an inflatable kayak, but it is extremely portable. The thing about an inflatable kayak for sea journeys, is that you really shouldn’t be using an inflatbale kayak. The Oru Beach LT instead gives you an option with awesome packability and ease of disassembly with durability much, much closer to that of a hardshell.

Measuring at 12-feet, a raised keel and the angular bottom makes this kayak able to cut through the water with ease. With a large cockpit and ample storage space (with a carrying capacity up to 300 lb) you’re able to bring plenty of extra gear on your water-borne trip. Unfortunately, this added breadth to the cockpit means that you’re more likely to gather water as you paddle.

If it wasn’t for the incredible ease to assemble, we wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending this over an inflatable sea kayak. However the stability and durability of this kayak combined with it’s supreme portablity makes it an easy recommendation.

Best Ultralight Packraft for Travel

Bote Deus Aero Sit-on-Top Kayak

Kokopelli Packraft Rogue-Lite Packraft

All savvy adventure travelers know that the key to traveling is packing light. So when you want to abide by this rule and have the luxury of bringing your kayak along with you, and have more water type options to choose from than with an inflatable canoe, the Kokopelli Packraft Rogue-Lite is your answer!

Weighing in at only 5 lbs. 8 oz. and boasting a compact size of
12 x 9 x 6 inches when compressed, there’s nowhere you can’t take this little guy. It’s perfect for transporting to off-the-beaten-track spots that you’re itching to explore on water. Its
thermoplastic polyurethane-coated nylon construction makes this travel blow up kayak both durable and simple to pack into its small carry bag with inflatable seat.

I love the freedom that the Kokopelli Rogue-Lite packraft gives you. Never miss the perfect paddling opportunity again by traveling with your own kayak – when you see the spot, just unpack, inflate and go!

Best Inflatable Packraft for Multi-day Expeditions

Kokopelli Packraft Nirvana Packraft with Spray Deck

best travel kayaks
Kokopelli Nirvana Packraft is an awesome choice for multi-day expeditions.

If hitting the whitewater of backcountry rivers is more your style, the Kokopelli Nirvana packraft is definitely the way to go. Equipped with a spray deck and watertight TiZip storage system, this kayak is perfect for multi-day whitewater rafting expeditions.

Don’t worry about being able to hike it into your favorite rafting spot either; it weighs only 10 pounds and can be packed down to a 24x9x6 compact size. To make things even easier, the Nirvana inflatable packraft includes an inflation bag system that inflates the vessel in under 3 minutes; no pump needed.

This raft is built with durable thermoplastic polyurethane-coated nylon material and all the watertight details needed for some serious rafting fun. Enjoy the ride!

Best Foldable Kayak

Oru Kayak Beach Lt

In case you lack the lung power to blow up an inflatable Kayak, then why not consider this amazing folding Kayak by Oru?! Styled on a the Japanese art of Origami, this innovative beauty folds up into a nice little carry-able cube making it easy and convenient to transport.

The latest generation of the Beach LT is now even easier than ever to assemble. The Beach LT’s stable hull shape and spacious cockpit make it ideal for beginners, without compromising speed and agility.

best inflatable kayaks
Name Weight Length Price
Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak 36 pounds 10 ft. 5 in. ‎$499
Ocean Kayak Malibu II 74 pounds 13 ft. 4 in. $1,149.99
STAR Paragon Tandem Inflatable Kayak 32 pounds 11 ft. 2 in. ‎$1,095
Bote Lono Aero Sit on Top Kayak 48 pounds 12 ft. 6 in. $1,499
STAR Rival Sit-On-Top Inflatable Kayak Unavailable 12 ft. 6 in. $995
STAR Paragon XL Inflatable Kayak 47 pounds 13 ft. 6 in. $995
Oru Kayak Beach LT Folding Kayak 26 pounds 12 ft. $1,199
Bote Deus Aero Sit-on-Top Kayak 41 pounds 11 ft. $1,099
Kokopelli Packraft Nirvana Packraft with Spray Deck 9.5 pounds 7 ft. 6 in. $875
Oru Kayak Beach Lt 25 pounds 12 ft. 1 in. $1,199

How to Choose the Best Inflatable Kayak for You

Above you’ve seen my top picks for different types of kayaks – there are a lot of choices! But if you’re looking to shop around to make sure you’re ultimately choosing the best kayak that’s right for YOU, I wanted to provide this quick guide to help you out.

It’s important to take your time when choosing the best kayak because it’s not an item that you can exactly try on and return, like a pair of shoes. To avoid disappointment, be thorough in your research criteria. There are a variety of key factors you want to consider while going through the shopping process, so let’s take a closer look…

1. Size and Weight

best inflatable kayak
Having a lightweight, portable Kayak definitely has its advantages.

Obviously, a kayak isn’t a “one size fits all” piece of equipment – no less so than a bike or a surfboard. So being aware of the size and weight of your vessel is important. It has to “fit” you in order to best serve you for the ways and locations you wish to enjoy

If you’re more of a beginner paddler, you’ll probably feel more comfortable with a kayak that provides more stability. In this case, a wider, heavier kayak is probably a better choice. On the flip side, heavier boats are more difficult to turn and maneuver; which is fine if you’re new to the sport and will be opting for a more mellow ride.

For more advanced paddlers who want more speed and agility, a lighter model makes sense. Just be sure that you’re confident about your balancing skills on the water because a light vessel will feel much less stable!

Also, you need to consider your own size and weight. The same size kayak will feel quite different to a 125-pound adult versus a 200-pound adult. Or if you’re over 6 feet tall, a small kayak won’t make for a very comfortable ride!

Be sure to pay attention to the length and width – and also the packing measurements if you plan on traveling or trekking long distances with your kayak in tow. Make a note of the kayak’s total weight capacity too, especially with a 2 person kayak if you plan on paddling with a partner or friend.

2. Materials Used

best inflatable kayak
PVC material is easy to patch if ever your kayak gets a hole.

The price of a kayak usually has a lot to do with the materials that are used for its construction. The cheapest is tough vinyl but the most common is PVC-coated fabric. On the more expensive end of the spectrum are Hypalon and Nitrilon.

PVC is affordable and easy to patch, which is why it’s the most popular choice of kayak material. It waterproofs the vessel and provides ample stability. The more expensive brand-name options, Hypalon and Nitrilon, are made of synthetic materials and fabrics like neoprene. They are lighter and allow for more compact packaging and are also UV resistant, unlike PVC.

So depending on the conditions you plan to take your kayak into, and your budget, you’ll want to take these different materials into consideration when choosing the best kayak for you.

3. Saftey

best inflatable kayak
When on the water, safety is the name of the game.

Whether you’re using your kayak for leisurely rides on a lazy river or bumpier rides on whitewater, you must always keep safety top of mind.

First, in order to be approved as safe for open water, the kayak model must be NMMA certified. All major brands will have this certification, but if you’re researching more obscure manufacturers, make sure this step is covered.

Make sure that the kayak you choose is appropriate for the types of conditions you intend to use it for. A vessel that isn’t wide or heavy enough may not be safe for certain elements.

Next, you’ll want to choose a watercraft that has the space and/or necessary accessories needed to accommodate safety equipment. An absolute must is wearing a lifejacket, or PFD (personal floating device) that’s securely fastened at all times. Make sure they’re appropriately sized for the paddler onboard. For more rugged conditions, wear a helmet for added head protection should you get bumped out near rocks or debris.

4. Purpose

best inflatable kayak
Going fishing on a lake? There is an awesome kayak for that.

Last, but certainly not least, consider the purpose of your kayak. Will the kayak be used for fishing or rafting? Lakes and rivers or the open sea? Where and how you plan to use your boat will dictate the type of kayak that’s best for you.

For paddling on flat water, you’ll want a longer kayak with skegs for better tracking. For quick-moving water, like in rocky-bottomed rivers, a more maneuverable and stable boat will be necessary.

If you plan on spending hours out on the water – like for fishing or longer excursions – you’ll want to prioritize comfort. The seat options – padded, adjustable, high back – and legroom will make a difference on how enjoyable a day-long journey will be. Extra storage space and added accessories also matter; having cup holders and space for a small cooler becomes more than an optional luxury if you plan on enjoying a drink and having some lunch onboard!

Also, how much you intend to use your kayak – weekly, seasonally or just occasionally while you travel – it will make a difference on how much money you want to spend and how compact/travel friendly you need it to be. You may want to prioritize the type of material and will be worst investing a bit more if it will be used frequently and undergo lots of wear.  If your kayak is just meant to be used while you travel, choosing a lightweight model that’s easily transported will be a top consideration.

FAQ about the Best Inflatable Kayaks

Still have some questions? No problem! We’ve listed and answered the most commonly asked questions below. Here’s what people usually want to know:

Final Thoughts on the Best Inflatable Kayak

Choosing the best kayak for your own needs is not an easy task. You really need to know what you want to use it for, the types of conditions you expect to use it in, how much you’re willing to spend and how much you intend to use it. In many cases, choosing the right vessel with the proper features is a safety issue, so please choose according to your specific needs.

Most importantly, kayaking is a beautiful activity and such an amazing way to connect with nature. So I hope you’ve found my list of best inflatable kayak reviews helpful and that you’re inspired to hit the water! But do your extensive research first. Even with the most budget-friendly models, a kayak is still an investment decision and one you want to be happy with for a long time to come.

Having said all that, let me encourage you to go for it! I know firsthand the pleasure kayaking brings and the unmatched moments you can experience paddling out on the water. Grand adventures await…enjoy!

best inflatable kayak
We hope you have found this kayak review useful! Be safe out there!

Find out how YOU can support the site.

We’re a big site with a big team and this job isn’t always easy. But we do it because we love it – we love providing epic and free content. We love the knowledge that our content keeps you adventuring. We don’t ask for money, but if you’d like to find out how you can help the site in more organic ways, click the button below.
Thank you for your support 🙂

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button