Now that you’ve learned the basics of kayaking and decided to make this fun outdoor activity part of your life, you’re thinking of buying your own kayak. If you don’t have access to a basement or garage (as many urban dwellers don’t), an inflatable kayak might be the right option for you. See our pros and cons below. (This is based primarily on our experiences with the Sea Eagle, but these points generally apply to most inflatable kayaks.)
- Does not require a lot of storage space. (For those who rent an apartment but still want to get outdoors sometimes, getting an inflatable kayak is essentially the only option.)
- Does not require rigging and can fit into a car trunk.
- For the most part, just as sturdy as a regular kayak (you don’t have to worry about punctures).
- Sometimes less expensive than hard shell kayaks.
- Accompanying bag accommodates kayak, oars (disassembled into three pieces), life jackets, and other small gear (like compass, whistle, etc.).
- The seats are customizable (can be inflated to your preference).
- More easily affected by strong winds, the current flow, and other natural elements.
- Requires quite a bit of time to inflate, either manually with the foot pump or by hooking it up directly to a car’s battery with an electric pump (this includes all the different parts of the kayaks as well as the chairs).
- Requires thorough drying, especially in the nooks and crannies. Once it’s packed up, it can easily form mold if there’s a significant pocket of water left.
- Relatively heavy and usually requires two people to carry.
- Generally not a lot of extra leg room if two people are in it. (However, you can probably fit a small dry bag in it.)
- Oars require assembly each time.
BONUS: Tips for Cleaning
- Let it dry directly in the sun for as long as possible.
- Use an absorbent towel that can really soak up all the water that inevitably gets into your kayak. Make sure that you wipe underneath the sides, top, and bottom of each compartment.
- Turn it upside down to wipe off the bottom and let any excess water fall out of the top.
- If you’re kayaking in a place with lots of mud or seaweed, bring paper towels to clean up the mess before using the absorbent towel.
Inflatable kayaks can make this fun water sport a part of your life, regardless of whether you have much storage room. For more, see our tips for kayaking and canoeing!