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6 Best Inflatable Kayaks 

If you are curious about the wonderful world of kayaking, an inflatable kayak is a purchase that may have crossed your mind recently. Summer is just around the corner here in North America, and getting out for a paddle is a beautiful way to embrace the finer weather.

Easy to store, carry, and assemble, inflatable kayaks are an amazing invention. In this guide, we’ve picked a selection of the best inflatable kayaks available to buy now.

With its ingenious folding mechanism, the Oru Beach Kayak is our top pick, although technically it is not inflatable since it requires no pump to inflate. That being said, it’s a folding kayak that is easy to store, quick to set up, and the materials are designed for safe fun on the water.

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The 6 Best Inflatable Kayaks of 2024

Best Overall: Oru Beach Kayak

Image by Oru


  • Best for: Flatwater kayaking
  • Weight: 26 pounds
  • Number of paddlers: 1
  • Packed dimensions: 33 x 29 x 12 inches
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds

Inspired by the art of origami, Oru’s innovative folding kayak may not technically be an inflatable, but their clever design and portability make them our top choice.

Perfect for anyone who lives in a small space, the kayak folds neatly into a backpack for convenient storage. It takes under a minute to assemble with no pump required, and it is super light to carry down to the water.

The material, made from two-layer polypropylene, can be folded thousands of times without weakening, and it is strong and durable for kayaking adventures. It’s an expensive option, but if you’d love to take up kayaking, an Oru kayak is a purchase you will not regret.

Best Solo: Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Sport

Image by Advanced Elements


  • Best for: Flatwater kayaking
  • Weight: 32 pounds
  • Number of paddlers: 1
  • Packed dimensions: 30 x 17 x 8 inches
  • Weight capacity: 250 pounds

The Advanced Elements Advanced Frame kayak is one of the most popular solo inflatable kayaks out there, and this one is the lighter version.

Made from aluminum-rib frame technology, this inflatable boat performs in a similar way to a hard shell kayak. Combine that with the packability of an inflatable, and the result is an extremely handy piece of gear for fun on the water.

It can be put together easily once you’re by the water. Simply unfold, inflate, and attach the seat, then you’re ready to go.

Best Tandem Kayak: Sea Eagle SE370 Pro

Image by Sea Eagle


  • Best for: Flatwater and whitewater kayaking
  • Weight: 44.3 pounds
  • Number of paddlers: 2-3
  • Packed dimensions: 34 x 19 x 11 inches
  • Weight capacity: 650 pounds

Since 1968, Sea Eagle have been making strong and sturdy kayaks, which are popular in the water-sports community.

For under $300, the Sea Eagle kayak is a great value tandem inflatable kayak. It can fit up to three passengers but is probably best suited to two and maybe a water-loving dog. The kayak is supported by an i-beam floor, which increases its rigidity and stability.

The two seats are inflatable and offer back support, which makes them super comfortable for longer trips. The kayak is quick to set up and easy to store away, which can fit into even the smallest of car trunks. It can be used on rivers, lakes, or as a whitewater kayak.

Best Budget: Intex Explorer K2

Image by Intex


  • Best for: Flatwater kayaking
  • Weight: 35 pounds
  • Number of paddlers: 2
  • Packed dimensions: ‎23.5 x 16.6 x 14 inches
  • Weight capacity: 400 pounds

The Intex Explorer K2 is another fabulous kayak that will not break the bank. For around $160, it is one of the best value tandem inflatable kayaks out there. It is renowned for its excellent tracking system and streamlined design.

Made from rugged 30-gauge vinyl and featuring two inflatable seats, it is a comfy ride. It has a removable skeg for enhanced directional stability.

Experienced kayakers note in the user reviews that this kayak is very easy to inflate and deflate, and several people mentioned the good quality of the aluminum paddles and the overall durable construction.

Best Durable: Star Raven I

Image by Star


  • Best for: Flatwater and whitewater kayaking
  • Weight: 38 pounds
  • Number of paddlers: 1
  • Packed dimensions: 24 x 14 x 24 inches
  • Weight capacity: 275 pounds

From river rapid thrills to relaxing afternoon paddles, the strong and sturdy STAR Raven I is a durable inflatable kayak.

The Star Raven I has a self-bailing design, an advanced PVC-coated polyester material, and a drop-stitch floor that is resistant to abrasions. Specifically designed for navigating rocky river passages, this boat can handle rougher conditions than most.

The package features a carry bag, a pump, and a repair kit. It has removable foot braces, thigh straps, and a padded seat that anchors into place with ease.

Some reviewers noted that the assembly instructions were limited, but most people found the set up quick and easy.

Best Lightweight: Kokopelli Moki-Lite

Image by Kokopelli


  • Best for: Flatwater kayaking
  • Weight: 26 pounds
  • Number of paddlers: 1
  • Packed dimensions: 30 x 19 x 6 inches
  • Weight capacity: 400 pounds

The perfect kayak for anyone looking to pack light, the Moki Lite is a fun boat with high-performance design that keeps you safe and stable on the water.

Its multi-chamber inflation adds extra security for water adventures, and there is a removable tracking fin to keep you on the right course. You can also fit an e-motor if you have a longer trip in mind. This feature makes it a great fishing kayak, too.

One of the lightest inflatable kayaks available, it does not take up much storage space at all. It can be easily carried around in its river bag or packed conveniently in the back of the car.

How to Find the Best Inflatable Kayak

When choosing an inflatable kayak, it’s important to check a few important features first, including durability, safety features, and weight capacity. Here are some other important features to look for before you click “buy now.”

Intended Use

One of the main things you need to consider with an inflatable kayak is deciding on your type of water adventure. Are you looking to go for a relaxing paddle on flat water, or perhaps a day of fishing, touring, or whitewater kayaking? There are lots of kayaks out there to suit different purposes.


Inflatable kayaks made from durable materials will last longer. Look for constructions made from PVC, Nitrylon, or reinforced vinyl. Thick materials like these are stronger and will resist abrasions.

Drop-stitch fabric is also used to enhance durability. Drop-stitch fabric consists of thousands of interconnected threads that create a lattice structure when inflated under high pressure. This helps the kayak avoid punctures.

Stability and Tracking

You will want to find a safe and stable kayak for your adventure. Generally speaking, kayaks with wider hulls (the underside of the kayak’s body) offer more stability, whereas narrower hulls will be faster through the water but less stable.

If you are a beginner, a wider kayak is usually preferable.

A kayak’s ability to track through the water and maintain a straight course is also key. The shape of the hull plays a role, as does the presence of a keel or a retractable skeg. These small fin-like structures are found on the underside of the kayak, similar to those found on boats and surf boards.

Chamber Design

You might notice that many inflatable kayaks offer a multi-chamber design. This refers to the construction of the kayak, with multiple separate air chambers instead of a single large chamber. Each chamber is separated by internal walls within the kayak.

The main purpose of a multi-chamber design is safety. If one chamber gets punctured or deflated, the other chambers remain inflated, providing buoyancy and keeping the kayak afloat. This feature significantly reduces the risk of sinking.

Portability and Storage

The best thing about an inflatable kayak is that it can be stored easily when you are not using it. It can also fit neatly into the trunk of the car for road trips. Check the packed dimensions to make sure that it will fit into your spaces easily.

Weight Capacity

All kayaks will note a weight capacity, which shows how much weight the kayak can support. Remember to include the body weight of the kayakers, supplies, and gear you plan to bring along with you when you calculate your weight capacity.

If the weight exceeds the weight capacity, it will affect the performance and safety of the kayak.

Inflation and Assembly

Ideally, it should take under 10 minutes to fully inflate and assemble your inflatable kayak. Most inflatable kayaks will come with a pump, repair kit, and a carry bag. The assembly should be quick and easy, so you can be ready to hit the water in no time.

Read the user reviews to see how quickly and easily the kayak can be put together.

Additional Features

Consider additional features such as an adjustable, padded, or inflatable seat with back support, storage compartments, bungee cords for gear storage, skegs for improved tracking, and repair kits for emergencies.

Reviews and Reputation

User reviews are great for gaining insight into how a kayak performs in the real world. Look for feedback from experienced kayakers who have used the kayak in similar waters.

Consider the reputation of the kayak manufacturer. Established outdoor gear brands with a history of producing reliable products may be more likely to offer well-designed and durable inflatable kayaks.


The kayaks on this list are priced between $160 and $1,200. Your budget will depend on several factors, including the waters you plan to explore and how often you intend to use the kayak.

Remember, investing in a higher quality inflatable may be worth it in the long run. Think about your budget carefully and find a vessel that offers the best combination of features within that price range.


Consider the reputation of the manufacturer. Established outdoor brands, such as Oru, Advanced Elements, and Sea Eagle have a history of producing reliable kayaks.

Check the warranty coverage and customer service reputation of the kayak manufacturer. A good warranty can provide added peace of mind and protection against any defects or issues with the kayak.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are inflatable kayaks safe?

There are always safety considerations for any type of water sport. It is always a good idea to tell someone where you are going and the time you plan to be back. You should always wear a buoyancy aid or a life jacket when you’re on the water. For more advice, read our guide on what to wear kayaking.

Inflatable kayaks are designed to be buoyant and stable on the water. It’s wise to check the durability of the materials, the chamber design, and the weight capacity before you purchase a kayak to ensure it is as safe as possible on the water.

Can I take my inflatable kayak to the beach or ocean?

Inflatables in the sea can be a lot of fun, but there are some safety considerations. Sea kayaking in the ocean takes a little more experience and special equipment (such as a hard shell kayak), especially if you have to navigate rough surf and strong currents. Always check the forecast before you head out.

However, it can be done safely if the sea water is calm and your inflatable kayak is designed for ocean use. Salt water and rigorous waves can result in more wear and tear for your boat.

You might find that many inflatable kayaks are designed for flatwater kayaking on rivers and lakes.

What does PSI mean in relation to inflatable kayaks?

PSI stands for “pounds per square inch” and refers to the measurement of pressure exerted on each square inch of a surface. In the context of inflatable kayaks, PSI is used to measure the air pressure inside the kayak’s chambers when inflating it.

Most inflatable kayaks come with recommended PSI levels provided by the manufacturer. This recommendation ensures that the kayak is properly inflated for optimal performance and durability.

It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding PSI when inflating your kayak. Underinflating can result in a kayak that feels unstable and lacks rigidity, while overinflating can potentially damage the kayak’s seams or valves.

Final Thoughts: The Best Inflatable Kayak

An inflatable kayak allows you to explore waters freely, without the hassle of carrying a heavy piece of gear around. They are easy, convenient, and will help you to create great memories.

We still can’t get over the amazing folding technique and design of the Oru Beach Kayak, which is our favorite choice. Light, simple, and durable, it’s perfect for laidback fun on the water. Yes, it’s a little pricey but a worthy investment if you’re keen to get out on the water all summer long.

Also check out our recommendations for best beginner kayak.

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