Are you a new kayaker and wondering: are inflatable kayaks any good? Would they be a worthwhile investment? Inflatable kayaks are popular for being wonderfully portable and are great for people who travel a lot or have limited storage space, but are there are also some drawbacks.
In this article, we’ll explore the world of inflatable kayaks and take a look at their positive and negative points. In the process, you will get a strong idea of whether this kind of kayak would be an appropriate choice for you.
Inflatable Kayaks Range in Quality
When searching for an inflatable kayak, do research on the different levels of quality available.
Manufacturers design inflatable kayaks for a range of different activities. Decide beforehand how you’ll use your new boat before making your decision. The specific environment and conditions in which you want to kayak will determine if an inflatable craft will be right for you.
It will also guide you toward the quality of an inflatable kayak you want to invest in.
Many beginners are surprised to learn that you can get inflatable kayaks that are suitable even for going on white water. You will find that kayaks made specifically for white water conditions track extremely well and allow for quick maneuvering. The key is to find and purchase a kayak that is made for the conditions you want to kayak in.
One manufacturer that makes an sells inflatable kayaks for white water is Aire. You can purchase Aire inflatable kayaks that do well in class IV white water conditions. With an inflatable kayak for white water, you need to have a good ability in self-bailing. This can be achieved with holds made in the floor of the boat’s seams. These holes let water promptly drain from the bottom of the craft.
One advantage of inflatable kayaks is the fact that they tend to have a wider base than many hard shell models would have. This lends them great stability, even if you come across significant waves.
How Much Do They Cost?
The price of your inflatable kayak will vary. This highly-reviewed solo Intex model on Amazon will run you around $250, wheras this high-end tandem model from Star will cost you over $1,000.
How Are They Inflated?
Quality inflatable kayaks always come with a hand pump. This pump will quickly bring air into the interior of the kayak, inflating it.
When inflating your kayak, it is crucial for both performance and safety that you do so fully. An inadequately inflated kayak will cause problems or perhaps even be dangerous.
Do Inflatable Kayaks Puncture Easily?
As long as you buy a high-quality inflatable kayak, you are not likely to find yourself with punctures. In fact, with many models, you can even use them safely in the ocean.
In order to maximize kayak stability and structure, you can look for an inflatable kayak with aluminum parts. These parts will be within many layers of thick-coated materials, such as vinyl and polyester. These materials are extremely durable.
With today’s inflatable kayaks, punctures are quite rare because of the modern technology that is used in production and the boat’s construction.
Generally speaking, you should be able to brush up against objects such as tree branches or rocks without a puncture of your craft.
What to Watch Out for in an Inflatable Kayak
Be aware though, as with many other kayaks, if you slam into an object then you will probably have a puncture (as well as other potentially dangerous problems). A sharp edge on a rock could even poke a hole in your kayak. If a puncture happens, seams can open up and this can mean that air will leak out quickly. While it’s a lower risk than you may think, it can happen. It’s important that you’re aware of it and prepared for it.
Be careful when you’re transporting your inflatable kayak. You don’t want it coming into contact with something sharp that can cause a puncture before you even inflate it. Don’t drag it across a rocky shore, or over asphalt.
If you decide to get an inflatable kayak, you should also get a patch kit. You can fix most punctures that occur in an inflatable kayak with this. It’s something you can do right on the shore to quickly get back on the water. I like this kit from Amazon, but the Gorilla brand waterproof patch tape is handy and a fast solution to tears that I recommend you keep on hand as well.
How are Inflatable Kayaks Constructed?
Your inflatable kayak will either have small inflatable sections that have the effect of rods in the construction of the craft, or a real metal framework within the material. Both systems create excellent stability for the kayak. They are instrumental in making sure the kayak travels straight and remains stable during paddling.
One reason why it’s important to get a more expensive kayak is the fact that it will be much more likely to offer double and triple layer fabric. It will probably also have airtight valves and separate inflation chambers. The double or triple layer fabric will help to give you an extra element of protection against potential punctures or tears. Even if an object, such as a sharp stick, punctures one layer, the other layers will provide protection against water getting inside.
Drawbacks of an Inflatable Kayak over a Traditional Kayak
While there are many advantages to going with an inflatable kayak, there are also some drawbacks. Let’s take a look at them below:
- Inflatable kayaks are more easily impacted by the flow of the current, strong winds, and other forces of nature. They also travel slower than traditional kayaks.
- You will have to give your inflatable kayak lots of time to dry, including in its nooks and crannies. Otherwise, mold will quickly become a problem if you try to pack up the kayak with moisture still in it.
- Inflatable kayaks can be quite heavy and you will probably need someone else to help you carry it. This surprises most people, as they consider inflatable kayaks to be easily portable in every way. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
- Inflatable kayaks don’t usually have a lot of leg room if you’re going to have more than one person in it.
- You will have to assemble your kayak paddles on every use.
So, Are Inflatable Kayaks Any Good?
Yes, but they aren’t for everyone
The advantage of an inflatable craft lies in its portability. It won’t take up your entire garage, you can throw it in the back of your 2-door coupe, and it’s a great solution for urban residents who want the freedom to go boating when and where they please.
Today’s construction materials make most inflatable kayaks a solid investment for people who want or need the storage and transportation flexibility that an inflatable yak provides.
If those things are not a concern for you, you may be happier with a traditional kayak from a reputable brand.
Kayaking is a fantastic recreational activity that will help improve your level of fitness and create wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. Whatever type of kayak you settle on, I hope you have a great time on the water!