We all want to adventure on the water with ease, taking in everything that nature has to offer us in breathtaking ways, and one of the best ways to do that is through an inflatable kayak. There are tons of amazing benefits when it comes to an inflatable kayak, so we’re going to talk about what it is, how it works, and everything you need to know about why you should choose an inflatable kayak.
What is an inflatable kayak/inflatable kayak anyway?
A recreational inflatable kayak often referred to as an “inflatable kayak,” is a kayak that is stable and easy to paddle, can be inflated in minutes, and deflated for convenient transportation. Inflatable kayaks have many styles, but most fall into the categories of sit-on-top, sit-inside, and deck kayaks. From there, there are more hybrid types, often referred to as stand-up kayaks, kayak paddle boards, SUP kayaks, hybrid kayaks, or hybrid paddle boards.
When it comes to inflatable kayaks, there is a wide range of prices and design options. From “pool toys” that can be so inexpensive to high-quality inflatable kayaks, which cost more, there are plenty of choices to choose from.
More, if you are familiar with kayaking, you know that feeling confident and in control, while paddling is a key factor in a successful kayaking trip. So you may be wondering: is it harder to paddle an inflatable kayak than a hard-shell kayak? Not at all! In fact, they can be easier to paddle because they are softer and more comfortable than rigid kayaks. They are also more forgiving to the user.
Are inflatable kayaks durable?
When it comes to inflatable kayaks, one of the main features to look for is long-term durability. Obviously, you want a kayak that will hold up on many bodies of water, and that will be durable and easy to transport by being inflatable, which is one of the biggest advantages of having such a kayak.
However, there is a wide range of inflatable designs, and the quality of this design will ultimately determine how long an inflatable kayak will last. Some are quite thin and designed for light use and won’t stand up to too much abuse without risking punctures. On the other hand, you have kayaks that are sturdy enough to launch on mountain rivers and even bounce off rocks! To make sure you ultimately choose the best inflatable kayak, take a closer look at the material.
Durable materials distinguish a cheaper inflatable kayak from a high-quality model. Try to look for a thicker PVC or TPU material with a thickness of at least 0.7 mm for a kayak that will last for years without worrying that it will puncture with each use. A drop-stitch kayak adds extra stiffness and is very durable. For high-pressure models with drop-stitch construction, you’ll need a high-pressure pump with a gauge that pumps up to 15 psi. Lower-pressure models can use a simple pump and inflate to about 3 psi. Inflatable kayaks are usually very stable, especially recreational models designed for ease of use. Stability depends primarily on the width, and to some extent, the length, depending on how many paddlers use the kayak. If you’re looking specifically for a tandem kayak, make sure you choose one that can accommodate multiple people without sacrificing stability or durability.
Inflatable kayaks – What are their benefits?
One great advantage of all inflatable kayaks over hard-shell kayaks (rigid kayaks) is that they are very portable and can be stored in a small space. Other advantages depend on the style and type of kayak. In addition, you don’t need a roof rack to transport the kayak, as it can easily fit in a storage bag, trunk, back seat, closet, and more.
There is a wide range of inflatable kayaks for all types of activities. Most of them are designed for use in calm bodies of water for recreational use, but depending on the material and design, inflatable kayaks can also be used for fishing, cruising on inland waters, hiking, and paddling on the open ocean. Compared to a hard-shell kayak, an inflatable kayak has the advantage of being much lighter, so you can travel to your preferred body of water with the intention of doing any of these activities with ease.
Another advantage of having an inflatable kayak is that it can also be a hybrid paddleboard and kayak! Hybrid inflatable kayaks that turn into a paddle boards are very versatile and allow you to choose your adventure depending on the water conditions around you and what you feel like doing. However, be sure to look for key features that optimize the use of both the kayak and paddleboard. Just because it’s a “hybrid” doesn’t mean it does both (or both activities) very well.
Inflatable kayak seemingly easy to pump!
Even a child can do it! My friend’s daughter inflated her inflatable kayak faster than not a single adult. We currently own two Intex Explorer K2, 2-person inflatable kayaks. The inflatable kayak came with a hand pump, two aluminum paddles, a detachable SKEG, and a carry bag. At each end of the kayak, there are 3 main chambers to fill and two additional small sections. Each chamber is numbered and you fill them in numerical order from 1-5.
The two seats for the kayak are also inflated, and each chair has two chambers to inflate. The aluminum paddles easily connect together and fold out of the bag. After a few trips with the inflatable kayak, I will say that I would recommend a portable air pump to keep an eye on the kids on the beach while inflating the kayak. With a hand pump, it takes us about 10 minutes, and a portable air pump will definitely speed up the process and is easier.
An inflatable kayak is comfortable
If you’ve ever floated in a regular kayak for an extended period of time, you’ve probably struggled to adjust the proper position for optimal comfort. Inflatable kayaks allow you to enjoy the comfort of a float, but with much more durability.
It’s comfortable for two to swim, and even more relaxing with one person stretched out. You can get as wet as you want. My friend and I spent most of our time on the lake relaxing in kayaks while we kept an eye on the kids in the water.
Is an inflatable kayak safe?
When I first heard about the inflatable kayak, what came to mind was more of a pool toy than a real water vehicle. They certainly couldn’t stand up to real kayaks… were they even safe enough to go on the water? Many people have similar concerns and assumptions. Inflatable kayaks are nothing like real kayaks, so are they even safe to use? If you’re in that boat too, don’t worry!
Inflatable kayaks, contrary to what many people think, are actually extremely durable. They are currently built to withstand harsh conditions. You can take them to flat water, rivers, and even the ocean without worrying that they will break and sink. While not suitable for all conditions, overall they are incredibly well-designed and are great kayaks for beginners and advanced paddlers. Sitting in an inflatable kayak will be a little less stable than in a traditional boat, but I think you’ll be surprised at how stable and supportive they are.
How durable are they?
Unlike simple pool toys, inflatable kayaks are not just made of a single layer of thin material. Some inflatable kayaks, use aluminum parts to increase structure and stability.
They are surrounded by multiple layers of thickly coated materials, such as vinyl and polyester, which are strong and durable. These materials can take a beating. Whether you’re paddling on rocky waters or wearing street shoes, standing to step into it, you shouldn’t worry about damaging it.
I wouldn’t drag them over gravel, but with normal wear and tear these kayaks generally hold up very well. You’ll want to protect your inflatable kayak, but it won’t be like an inflatable raft or balloon. They are built to last.
What about punctures?
Because of their durable construction, punctures are rarely a real problem in inflatable kayaks. Modern technology and materials have made these kayaks extremely durable outdoors.
You can rub up against rocks and tree branches without any serious consequences. Of course, there are exceptions to this. If you try hard enough, you will definitely be able to get it through. Seams can tear, causing air leakage, and a sharp stone hit the right way can cause a hole in the boat.
Punctures can happen, and while they are not very common, it is worth considering when paddling an inflatable kayak. Be careful to store them away from sharp objects and use caution when transporting them. If you are careful with this, your kayak should survive without any punctures or cracks. If you get a small set of patches, most inflatable kayaks can be easily repaired.
A look at stability and rigidity
How stable will the kayak be when inflated? If you try to stand in it, will it fold and collapse on top of you? The good news is that the answer is no.
You’d be surprised how strong and stiff these kayaks can be when fully inflated. Although that’s the key: make sure the kayak is fully inflated. An under-inflated kayak will not be stable and will be difficult to keep afloat.
Most inflatable kayaks use either small inflatable sections that act like fishing rods or actually incorporate a metal frame in the boat. Both of these methods act as rigid stabilizers in the boat. They keep it straight and stable while paddling. When inflated, the kayaks become incredibly rigid. Often they are not much different from regular hard-hull kayaks.
If you plan to hit the white water paddling, make sure you have an inflatable kayak suitable for rapids.
Will they sink?
One of the biggest advantages of inflatable kayaks is that they are incredibly buoyant. If you’ve ever capsized in a regular hard-shell kayak, you know that deflating the kayak and getting back into the water can be a huge hassle. Inflatable kayaks have the advantage of being air-filled, making it easier to stay afloat even if you capsize. Their lightweight nature also makes it easier to dump any water that might fill them.
Precautions for inflatable kayaks
Inflatable kayaks may be rugged today, but they are not invincible. You must take precautions to stay safe on the water, just as you would in any kayak.
Inflatable kayaks do not adapt to rough conditions or rough water. Take extra caution when paddling on a river with rapids and debris. You’ll want to stay away from any conditions that could endanger you or your boat.
Keep in mind that inflatable kayaks are very lightweight. This means they are easily susceptible to being swayed by currents and strong winds. Be careful not to paddle in rough conditions. As a general rule, never kayak alone or without telling others where you are, and always wear a life jacket!
With durable materials, rigid construction, and comfortable seating, inflatable kayaks are as safe and easy to use as any other kayak. But you should always exercise caution when paddling, especially in one of these boats.
Remember that while problems such as leaks and punctures are rare, they can still happen. Don’t expect your kayak to be impervious to damage. If you use common sense and take care of your boat, you should have no problems paddling an inflatable kayak!
Check out our article in which we outline what to consider when choosing an inflatable kayak and outline our list of inflatable kayaks that we think are worthy of consideration.
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