man kayaking

There's a reason so many people are looking for the best inflatable kayak. After all, they're incredibly fun!

But guess what?

They're also amazingly practical. That's because they're ultra-portable, and super-easy to use. And you know what else? They've revolutionized the world of fun!

When you consider that the kayak has been with us for nearly 4,000 years, that's quite the feat. Of course, the original kayaks weren't made for fun. The indigenous people of the Arctic, particular the Inuit, pioneered the use of kayaks for fishing, hunting, and general transportation.

But there's more to it than that.

The original kayaks were custom-built to their owner's size. It's true! Each kayak fit only one man. In fact, the word "kayak" is Inuit for "man's boat."

Move forward a few thousand years, and you get today's kayaks, which are mass-produced rather than customized. But thankfully we have something the Inuit never had: inflatable kayaks. The best inflatable kayak allows you to transport it in the trunk of your small urban car, enjoy a day on the water, and pack it up again.

Now that's convenient!

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Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
Ztotop 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set
Bestway Lite Rapid X2 Kayak
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
Sea Eagle Razorlite 473rl Inflatable Kayak

How We Reviewed

You're probably wondering how it is that we know so much about inflatable kayaks. Truth be told, we went and looked it up.

You see, there's a lot of information out there. Some good, some not-so-good. We did the hard work of sifting through it all for you, so you can read all the good stuff in one place.

Then, we went to Amazon and read through customer reviews on a bunch of inflatable kayaks. We love customer reviews because they tell us how a product performs in the real world. Eventually, we were able to narrow down a list of options to what may be the best inflatable kayak for you.

Also, we love kayaks. So there's that.

The Best Inflatable Kayak for Fun

We all do it. We see two products that sort of look the same, but one is significantly cheaper than the other, so that's the one we rip off the shelf and take to the cashier.

Only, often it doesn't work out too well. In the case of inflatable boats, that's not something you want to worry about. Which is why we always recommend reviewing products before buying them.

We've assembled some options for you in your hunt for the best inflatable kayak. These aren't the kind of kayaks that tear and sink, although we can't make any guarantees. All we're doing is presenting the information to you so you can make an informed shopping decision.

Also, these aren't listed in any particular order.

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum...
3,949 Reviews
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum...
  • COMFORTABLE FOR ANYONE: Kayak includes an adjustable inflatable seat with backrest; Cockpit designed for comfort and...
  • DIMENSIONS: Inflated size 10 feet 3 X 3 feet X 1 feet 8 Inch; Maximum weight capacity: 400 pounds
  • DIRECTIONAL STABILITY: Removable skeg for directional stability

First up is the two-seat Intex Explorer K2 inflatable kayak. You'll love this inflatable kayak because it has two tandem seats with high backs for supreme comfort. In fact, the entire cockpit was designed for comfort and space.

This bright-yellow kayak includes a removable skeg, which you can use for better stability. It's 36 inches across at its widest part and 123 inches long. That's 10 feet! One thing to take note of is that this is a small-water kayak. Stick to rivers and lakes with calm water, and you'll have a blast.

Best of all, more than 2,200 customers reviewed this kayak, and their average score was 4.3 out of 5 stars. That's incredible! Many of them praised the amount of leg room in this kayak. But they also loved that is was super-maneuverable and easy to inflate.

The only complaints seemed to be involving typical manufacturing defects. Also, some customers had complaints about the seams, which they said were not that sturdy and tore easily in rough water. Of course, the manufacturer specifically instructs people to NOT use this kayak in rough water, so there's that.

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Ztotop 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set

Ztotop 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Inflatable Boat,Two Aluminum...
65 Reviews
Ztotop 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Inflatable Boat,Two Aluminum...
  • Please Note: Overall Length:138 in(3.5m). Overall Width:42 inch(1.06m). Maximum weight capacity: 400 pounds
  • Durable Material:Heavy duty puncture resistant vinyl is durable enough to provide durable protection from punctures.
  • Comfortable Design:Inflatable seats are adjustable.A storage bag is behind one of seats.Two paddles are long enough to...

Next up is the Ztotop two-person inflatable kayak. One great thing about this kayak is that it comes with a pump. That alone puts it in the running for best inflatable kayak.

This kayak also comes with two tandem seats, which include comfortable backrests. Also, it's 138 inches long, or nearly 12 feet. And it can hold up to 400 pounds. We like this kayak because it's constructed out of heavy puncture-proof vinyl, so scraping the bottom isn't going to sink you.

Another nifty safety feature is that every air chamber is separate from the others, so even if you do manage to rip one of them, you'll stay afloat. But don't worry, because it includes a patch repair kit to get you back in the water. To be safe, the manufacturer recommends staying in smaller bodies of water such as lakes and calm rivers.

Another thing to love about this kayak is the high rating Amazon customers gave it. It received 4.6 out of 5 stars, which is one of the highest-rated inflatable kayaks on the site. Customers praised its ruggedness. For exploring forest rivers and for camping along lakes, it holds its own.

Also, many people loved how easy it is to inflate, and one person said it packs down into the size of a briefcase. There wasn't a single customer complaint.

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Bestway Lite Rapid X2 Kayak

HydroForce Lite-Rapid X2 Inflatable Kayak w/ Oars
27 Reviews
HydroForce Lite-Rapid X2 Inflatable Kayak w/ Oars
  • Comfortable seating area with adjustable, inflatable seats
  • Removable fin for Directional stability; grab rope with built-in grommets
  • Form-fitted construction prevents water from entering seating area; integrated drain valve

Next up is a strange little two-person kayak. The Bestway Lite Rapid X2 is unlike other inflatable kayaks because it's so small. There's seriously little leg room here, so you'll need to keep your legs bent.

Thankfully the inflatable seats are adjustable, and to be fair, the design helps keep water from getting in. The gunwales (is that what they're still called with inflatable boats?) are nice and high, and also thick. You get a comfy, dry journey.

Because it's 126 inches long, you'll have 10 feet to play with, but it's only 30 inches across. There won't be much room for other gear in here, so don't plan any camping excursions. Also, we love the grab robe that runs along the side.

All in all, customers gave it a healthy 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Most people loved taking it out on calm water, but one rafting guide warned that it won't survive heavy rapids.

On the other hand, quite a few people complained that the seats are too small, and the interior too snug. One woman, who said she was petite, warned that she could barely fit comfortably.

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Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum...
3,027 Reviews
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum...
  • Nimble, durable kayak is made of durable welded material with eye catching graphics for added safety on the lake or slow...
  • Cockpit is designed for comfort and maximized space, and inflatable I beam floors add stability
  • Cargo net to store extra gear, and grab line on both ends of kayak; inflatable seat with backrest

So far we've looked at two-person boats as we search for the best inflatable kayak. But what about single people? Don't worry, because the Intex Challenger K1 might be the best inflatable kayak if you're boating solo.

Get this. It's a nimble single-seat kayak that comes with a grab rope along the side, a cargo net on the front, and thick, durable seams along the edges. The paddle is aluminum, so you know it will stand up to some abuse. Best of all, it comes with a pump!

Finally, the entire boat measures 108 inches in length (9 feet) and is 30 inches wide. There's plenty of room for you to relax here. It can hold up to 220 pounds.

Additionally, more than 2000 customers rated it 4.3 out of 5 stars, which is impressive. They raved about the legroom in this thing, with many saying it's the most comfortable boat they've been in. Customers also loved that it was easy to inflate and super-maneuverable.

There were a few complaints about manufacturing defects, but the strongest complaints involved dealing with Intex customer service. Many people said they were rude and refused to help with warranty-covered issues, so there's that to think about.

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Sea Eagle Razorlite 473rl Inflatable Kayak

Sea Eagle 330 Pro 2 Person Inflatable Sport Kayak Canoe Boat with Pump...
150 Reviews
Sea Eagle 330 Pro 2 Person Inflatable Sport Kayak Canoe Boat with Pump...
  • 2 person/ 500 pound capacity, weighs 26 pounds, Suitable for up to Class III whitewater
  • 330 Pro Kayak Package features two movable, super comfortable Deluxe Kayak Seats for improved back support and 2...
  • 2 AB30 7 foot 10 inch 4 Part Paddles with asymmetrical blade and aluminum shaft

Finally, we have the Sea Eagle Razorlite 473rl inflatable kayak. If you want a simple, thin, two-person kayak, then this is the best inflatable kayak for you.

Funny enough, when inflated it looks like a hardshell. That's thanks to the reinforced PVC material it's built with. Also, this is the longest inflatable kayak we looked at, measuring over 15 feet in length. With 14-feet of leg room, you'll fit comfortably in here. Furthermore, it can carry up to 750 pounds, so feel free to bring your camping gear.

One thing we wouldn't recommend is taking it out on the ocean. The walls are low, and waves could easily swamp it. Instead, use it as a lake and river kayak, perfect for camping and exploring.

Customers gave it a whopping 5 out of 5 stars. Everyone loved how easily it glides through the water, and customers also called it "surprisingly solid." The only complaint was that it takes a while to inflate, but for this level of comfort and durability, that's a small concession.

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All About Inflatable Kayaks

girl kayaking next to mountain

Image via ​Pixabay 

What does the best inflatable kayak have that a normal hardshell kayak doesn't? After all, the hardshell kayak is the gold-standard of kayaks. But it can't do everything.

The first thing you need to know is that there are a dizzying amount of kayaks out there. From sea kayaks to whitewater kayaks, and even folding kayaks. The inflatable kayak is just one more. But the best inflatable kayak is possibly the best kayak you can get, period.

But why?

Inflatable vs hardshell kayaks

Want to know more about inflatable kayaks? Of course, you do! To find the best inflatable kayak, let's first take a look at standard hardshell kayaks.

kayaking in the water at sunset

image via Pixabay

Hardshell kayaks come in many shapes and sizes. Most of them follow the same basic kayak principle, that you sit in a seat low below the waterline with your legs comfortably stretched out in front of you.

And they really are great for long voyages. If you're going to paddle up a coastline, camping at night, a hardshell kayak is your best bet. They can carry a lot of gear, and you don't have to worry about sharp rocks.

But they're bulky, and you need specialized equipment to transport them. Also, you'll need somewhere to store them. Furthermore, they cost a lot of money.

Now, look at inflatable kayaks. Firstly, they come in a small package. Have you ever seen a deflated air mattress? Well, these kayaks are smaller than that. Some of them you can even carry in your backpack! Also, they don't require any extra storage space at home. Jam the box in a closet and forget about it.

Finally, they're a whole lot cheaper than a hardshell kayak.

And get this.

Except for ocean journeys, the best inflatable kayak can do anything a hardshell kayak can do. In fact, in some situations, the inflatable kayak is better. Take whitewater paddling, for example. A sturdy inflatable kayak will navigate the rough water and glide over rocks much easier than a heavy hardshell.

So there you have it.

Safety

kayaking in the sea

Image via Pixabay

By now you're probably wondering whether or not inflatable kayaks are safe. Because let's face it, nobody wants to go out on the water in a boat that could sink.

Good news!

Inflatable kayaks are incredibly safe. In fact, they have a fantastic safety record thanks to the tough, sturdy materials they're built with. Most of them use a strong silicone or vinyl-infused plastic, which gets layered for strength. Some even have aluminum supports.

You can take these things out almost anywhere. We wouldn't recommend using them in freezing water, however. For that, you'll want a hardshell, because the cold water could cause warmer air inside the kayak to burst out.

And don't worry about punctures. Thanks to modern materials, it rarely happens. After all, if river guides can take their inflatable kayaks out in rapids time and again, you're going to be okay.

Where you need to be careful is actually when they're out of the water and in storage. You'll want to keep them away from all sharp objects and don't let them sit in the freezing cold. Also, keep them dry, so mold doesn't form. A cool, dry place like your basement is perfect. And above all, keep your cats away from your inflatable kayak!

Which Is the Best Inflatable Kayak for Summer Fun?

By now you're asking "So which is the best inflatable kayak? Which one should I buy?" We get it. But here's the thing: there's no single best inflatable kayak. They all have their strengths and weaknesses.

For instance, if it's only you, then the Intex Challenger K1 single-seat kayak is the best inflatable kayak. You certainly don't need a beast like the Sea Eagle Razorlite.

On the other hand, if you have kids, then something like the Bestway Lite Rapid will provide hours of fun. It's sturdy and big enough so kids won't fly out of it when they get rowdy.

As you can see, finding the single best inflatable kayak is impossible. But we do have a couple of favorites, starting with the Ztotop two-person inflatable kayak.

It comes with fantastic customer reviews and includes everything we could want, including a pump and a grab rope. Also, the Intex Explorer K2 is a solid purchase that will provide a summer of memories.

What's your favorite inflatable kayak? Let us know in the comments!

Featured Image via PIxabay