Are Inflatable Kayaks Worth the Money?

Inflatable kayaks are a good choice if you have limited storage. They can be inflated in about 15min. On the water they travel well. They are easy to carry weighing half of regular type and also cost less.

Inflatable Kayaks prices of models

  1. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak: A budget-friendly option suitable for beginners and recreational paddling on calm waters. Price range: $100 – $150.
  2. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak: Another affordable option from Intex, designed for solo paddling and suitable for beginners. Price range: $80 – $120.
  3. Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Sport Kayak: A versatile inflatable kayak suitable for various water conditions, accommodating up to 3 passengers. Price range: $300 – $400.
  4. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak: A hybrid design with aluminum frame reinforcement that improves performance and stability. Suitable for solo paddling. Price range: $500 – $600.
  5. Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem Kayak: A durable and versatile inflatable kayak designed for tandem paddling, capable of handling Class III and IV rapids. Price range: $800 – $1,100.
  6. Aquaglide Navarro 110 Inflatable Kayak: A solo paddling inflatable kayak with a zip-on deck cover, suitable for flatwater, touring, and mild river conditions. Price range: $600 – $900.
  7. AIRE Tributary Tomcat Tandem Inflatable Kayak: A durable and high-performance inflatable kayak designed for tandem paddling and suitable for various water conditions. Price range: $900 – $1,300.


Inflatable Kayaks vs. Hardshell Kayaks

1. Portability: Inflatable Kayaks: These kayaks are more portable than hardshell kayaks, as they can be deflated and packed into a compact size, making them easier to transport and store.

Hardshell Kayaks: Hardshell kayaks are bulkier and require a roof rack or trailer for transportation, as well as ample storage space when not in use.

2. Setup: Inflatable Kayaks: Inflatable kayaks require inflation before use, which may take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the model and inflation method.

Hardshell Kayaks: Hardshell kayaks are ready to use immediately, without the need for inflation.

3. Durability: Inflatable Kayaks: While modern inflatable kayaks are made from durable materials, they can still be punctured or damaged more easily than hardshell kayaks. However, most inflatable kayaks come with repair kits for minor damage.

Hardshell Kayaks: These kayaks are generally more durable and resistant to damage from rocks, logs, or other obstacles, particularly when made from materials like rotomolded polyethylene or composite materials.

4. Performance: Inflatable Kayaks: In general, inflatable kayaks have slightly lower performance than hardshell kayaks, particularly in terms of speed and tracking. However, high-quality inflatable kayaks can still perform well in various conditions.

Hardshell Kayaks: Hardshell kayaks typically offer better performance, with improved speed, tracking, and maneuverability, particularly in rough water or strong currents.

5. Stability: Inflatable Kayaks: Inflatable kayaks often have a wider and more buoyant design, which can make them more stable and forgiving for beginners or less experienced paddlers.

Hardshell Kayaks: Hardshell kayaks may have varying levels of stability, depending on the design, but can offer more precise control and responsiveness for experienced paddlers.

6. Price: Inflatable Kayaks: Inflatable kayaks tend to be more affordable than hardshell kayaks, particularly at the entry-level. However, high-quality inflatable kayaks can still be pricey.

Hardshell Kayaks: Hardshell kayaks usually have a higher price tag, particularly for models made from high-quality materials or with advanced features.



What Are Inflatable Kayaks? 

As its name implies, designed on inflatable technology, these kayaks need to be inflated and deflated before and after they are used. Available in PVC, Hypalon – a synthetic rubber, and Nitrilon – recently introduced high-grade synthetic rubber; this new generation kayak has been increasingly popular in recent years. Worth mentioning, with evolving inflatable technological advancements, they are now becoming more progressive, durable, and performance-oriented. 

Durability and Stability

When it comes to the durability factor, like many others, you must be a bit anxious as they are made of synthetic rubber. In practical, while the durability of traditional kayaks depends chiefly on the type of material, for inflatable ones, it’s the price factor that determines the durability of your kayak. They will be fairly durable and powerful enough to deal with all kinds of rough waters during your voyage. 

Portability and Setup Comparison 

Unarguably, inflatable kayaks are much better than hard-shell kayaks in terms of portability. Since inflatables can be compressed, as you can store it in your vehicle, home, garage, or backpack while leaving for hiking – can take it into your vehicle easily for kayaking without having to spend money for the installation of a special roof rack on the top of your car for hauling a weighty hardshell onto it.  

However, inflating your kayak before you go into the water and deflating it after use may need to spend more or less 5 minutes. In comparison, rigid kayaks are ready for go type once taken off the vehicle’s roof rack. However, once more you need to lift it on the roof rack and fasten it carefully, which will spoil your time. 

Water Safety 

When out on the water, safety should be your priority concern. Thankfully, designed on multiple-chamber technology, the air inside the tubes of inflatable kayaks and its higher buoyancy compared to traditional kayaks makes it unsinkable, even if it is entirely filled with water. However, hardshell kayaks can possibly sink under such a condition.


An inflatable kayak means absolute comfort with an awesome paddling experience to explore nature that adds a completely new dimension to your holiday. As the most disappointing issue of rigid kayak experienced by kayakers is suffering from numbness while sitting on its hard surfaces, the spongy inflatable floor with a cut back supportive seat of your inflatable kayak helps you leisurely paddle for hours without feeling any kind of fatigue or difficulty in your back or legs.

Higher Weight Limit

As compared to traditional kayaks, the weight capacity limit of inflatable kayaks can make you amazed. Its buoyancy comes as a windfall for buyers as the air-filled tubes and wider floor increase its weight limit capacity by more than 500 lbs and found up to 750 lbs. with higher weight capacity and the wider surface it helps you enjoy your water trip with your family loved or friends. 

Control and Speed 

Well, as long as controlling of the kayak comes into question, rigid types provide better control especially when you are on rough water. The higher weight makes them sit deeper in water and helps in tracking. However, the good news is the new series of inflatable kayaks are found in fairly improved models made quite rigid and steady to offer you superior control. 


Made of plastic polymers or synthetic rubbers makes inflatable kayaks considerably lighter than the hardshell ones. Put simply, whereas inflatable kayaks weigh nearly 25 pounds or 11 kg, depending on the materials traditional kayaks are weighing a minimum of 55 pounds or 25 kg and more. This means while carrying them from your house to the car and equally from the beach to the car as well as putting up and down on/from the car rooftop is not only difficult but may need a helping hand. Compare to folding.

Cost Factor

Although an inflatable kayak is found at a lower price than a traditional hardshell kayak, always invest in higher price models since quality inflatable kayaks mean heavy-duty construction, highly durable material, toughness which are resistant to tears and punctures. 


Compared to rigid types good quality inflatable kayaks need minimum maintenance. Being made of flexible and tough synthetic materials inflatable kayaks are simply harder to get damaged. And even if damaged which can be fixed with a repair patch. In contrast, hardshell is more susceptible to scrapes, crack or fracture and need more maintenance.