The traditional fishing kayak has always been a hard shell made of plastic or fiberglass.
But with advancements in technology, it is now easy to spot an inflatable kayak alongside other rigid kayaks in rivers and lakes.
What is an inflatable fishing kayak? To know what an inflatable kayak is, we have to differentiate its features from the regular rigid kayak.
Inflatable kayaks are made of rubber, PVC, or Nitrylon. They are much lighter than hard-shell kayaks weighing as little as 16 pounds while rigid kayaks can weigh as much as 70 pounds. You’ll be able to fold down an inflatable kayak into a duffel bag or large backpack which can comfortably fit in your car’s trunk. This saves you from needing a car rack to transport your kayak. You can even take an inflatable kayak with you on camping trips in your backpack.
For those who have limited storage space, they are also much easier to store. They can easily be stored in the back of a closet or corner of the garage. They open up opportunities for kayaking in the backcountry or abroad since they are easy to transport from place to place.
Surprisingly, inflatable kayaks are much like the standard kayak in terms of safety and comfort (even better in comfort because of the extra padding). They can have space for up to three kayakers. The base of inflatable kayaks is wider than a rigid kayak meaning it is more stable and less susceptible to capsizing.
Inflatable kayaks use drop-stitch technology which is a technique where small fibers in the board interlock when the board is inflated thus creating a sturdy surface.
Since these kayaks have a construction of rubber and robust PVC, they are very durable and very different from inflatable “pool” raft.
Unfortunately, speed is not an area where the inflatable kayak excels. They can certainly get you to where you need to go, but they’ll never match up the speed of a good hard-shell kayak. Inflatable kayaks have a different paddling feel. You’ll not paddle the same way since they are wider prompting you to adjust your paddle stroke slightly.
Nevertheless, they don’t feel cramped because you won’t be in a closed deck like in a sit-in kayak.
These types of kayaks are perhaps the easiest to use and learn on. Whether you are a novice kayaker or want to get your children into kayaking, it will be much easier on them. This is because of their lightweight structure and a small turning radius. Inflatable kayaks are great to help learn and understand the basics of kayaking before moving on to hard-shell kayaks.
Inflatable kayaks only need inflating and clipping on the seats before heading out in the water. Washing down the kayak with a water hose and waiting for it to dry before storing especially if using in salt water is basically all you will need to do in terms of maintenance.
If you are looking to own your first inflatable kayak, there are a few things you need to look for. In this industry, it’s true what they say; “you get what you pay for.” This is regarding quality, design, and materials.
There’s a wide range of quality in inflatable kayaks. Cheap models are not as maneuverable as high-end models. Cheap materials also mean that you risk puncturing the material every time you inflate and deflate the kayak. You can also buy an inflatable kayak at a price close to that of a rigid kayak. These inflatable kayaks are made of sturdy materials with minimal chances of puncturing the material.
Similar to hard shells, inflatable kayaks also have different styles to suit different needs. You’ll have to identify what kind of kayaking you will be using yours for. From whitewater, rivers, oceans, and ponds, there’s a style to suit every water activity.
Also called self-bailing kayaks, these models are designed with numerous holes at the bottom of the kayak. The holes allow fast-moving water to enter and leave the kayak so that it won’t fill with water. You can expect a wet ride with one of these kayaks.
These are mostly preferred by fishermen and people who live in warmer climates. The kayaker can get one leg into the water when they want extra stability.
This is more of the traditional kayak thanks to the enclosed cockpit. They keep most water out as the kayaker sits inside on a comfortable seat. They are longer and narrower than regular inflatable kayaks; making them a good choice for rougher water especially when you need a dry ride.
There are two materials most favored in the making of inflatable kayaks; Hypalon /synthetic rubber and PVC. Nitrylon is another material, but it’s relatively new in the market. Let’s look at some of the differences in these construction materials.
This is a type of synthetic rubber made of sulphonated and chlorinated polyethylene. It is a well-received material among inflatables owing to its resistance to extreme temperatures, chemicals, and UV light. This is the longest lasting material that your inflatable kayak can be made out of.
Hypalon is coated onto nylon or polyester fabric and makes the exterior of most inflatable kayaks since it is resistant to UV rays and environmental factors like fungus and mildew. Manufacturers combine coated Hypalon with neoprene as the inside material because of neoprenes excellent air holding capacity.
Kayaks made out of Hypalon are the most expensive inflatable kayaks, but that’s because of the quality and durability of the material.
This is a vinyl polymer which is usually used to coat the exterior of inflatable kayaks. Just like synthetic rubber, it offers longer durability since it can be welded instead of being glued. PVC is conveniently more portable and flexible than Hypalon. It is tear-resistant and easy to patch up. With reasonable care, a PVC inflatable kayak will also last a long time.
Nitrylon is a material made from the lamination of natural rubber and nitrile synthetic rubber onto a low-stretch, 1200-denier, polyester fabric. It is abrasion and puncture resistant and better performing than PVC. It is also easier to patch than PVC and performs better in cold weather. The downside is that is is very heavy and can only be used to construct areas that are most susceptible to wear and tear.
The most common valves are Halkey Roberts and Boston valves. They offer simple inflation and deflation of your kayak. The Halkey Roberts valve is a compact mechanical sealing valve that has a double seal to prevent leaks.
The Boston valve is a one-way valve consisting of two caps. You just pop off the top cap and connect a pump when filling your kayak with air. The Boston valve will require an adapter, but it will work with almost all double action hand pumps.
An excellent inflatable kayak will have multiple air chambers. They come in handy in case one is punctured so that you can safely paddle to shore.
The time it takes to inflate and deflate your inflatable kayak is determined by the model and size you own, but it should be from 6-10 minutes.
Advanced Elements brings us two reliable inflatable fishing kayaks.
Designed with anglers in mind, the Advanced Elements Straight Edge Angler Kayak is a great pick for class I to III rapids or on flat water. It uses a wide beam that is ideal when out for big fish. This beam provides extra stability when reeling in a large fish. It comes with multiple air chambers that hold up against harsh weather conditions and rough waters. The Angler has a length of 9’8” a width of 35” and weight of 41 lbs. The Angler can carry a maximum of 300 lbs.
One advantage of this kayak is the ease of setup. The spring valves make it incredibly simple to be in the water as soon as you reach your favorite fishing spot. This inflatable kayak also comes pre-assembled. You just unfold the kayak, inflate, and attach the seat. No more messing with parts especially when you don’t have or want to take the time assembling things.
When it comes to comfort, you have a kayak that features high back seats which offer support for all-day fishing. It comes with rod holders so that your rods are secured and in sight at all times. It also includes a removable accessory frame which gives you multiple entry points. The inflatable lumbar support will keep you comfortable even after sitting in your kayak for multiple hours at a time.
The durability of this Advanced Elements model is expressed by built-in aluminum ribs that define the bow and stern. This greatly improves tracking as you’ll be gliding smoothly through the water.
However, you do not get a paddle or pump with this model. You will need to buy these items separately.
If you are not into fast water kayaking, the Advanced Elements StraightEdge Angler Pro is a good pick. It can still handle class I-III rapids, but it is heavier than the AE1006 model. This kayak features a drop-stitch floor, and it includes five air chambers for maximum durability. The Angler Pro has a length of 10’6” a width of 38.5” and weight of 45 lbs. The Pro can carry up to 40 lbs.
The floor on this kayak is covered with a grip pad that allows you to stand up and bring in big fish easily. It has an AirFrame PRO seat with mesh paneling. It offers the all-day user support when you want to be out for an extended period of time.
This kayak also features Advanced Element’s patented aluminum rib for better tracking. It carries an Accessory Frame System which allows you to add aftermarket equipment for maximum personalization of your kayak.
This fishing kayak can be easily taken to almost any location. It only weighs 45 lbs. and it can comfortably fit in your car's trunk. You’ll be able to bring it just about anywhere you plan to go fishing.
This is another brand that has two models with the only difference being their capacity.
The Intex Challenger K1 and K2 are both incredible inflatable fishing kayaks. Their only difference is the capacity since one is a solo kayak (K1) and the other is a tandem (K2). The K2 is 11’6” long and 2’6” wide with a maximum weight limit of 400 lbs. Made from super durable vinyl, the challenger line of kayakers is built to withstand everyday fishing. It’s going to be a while before you see any signs of damage to the body of an Intex Challenger.
These kayaks are renowned for their maneuverability and great tracking. The Intex Challenger features I-Beam support for added stability. It is quite difficult for it to capsize thanks to the natural buoyancy alongside the additional beam. Together, these two elements allow you to stand worry-free, as the floor is very rigid.
The Intex Challenger is designed to carry one or two passengers. It has a spacious cockpit including the inflatable seat(s) and backrest(s). The K1 model weighs 27 pounds while the K2 weighs only 37 pounds. These kayaks are both very portable and can easily be stored in a closet or the trunk during transport.
Intex supplies this kayak with 86-inch aluminum paddles. Not to mention, it also comes with a high capacity manual hand pump. It is a thoughtful addition seeing that not many inflatables come with the pump.
This is an affordable inflatable kayak. It is ideal for slow moving waters so don’t take it out to the rapids. Otherwise, it’s a good investment if you are looking to have fun fishing on the river or lake.
Bring along a friend and have some fun fishing in the Sevylor Coleman Colorado Inflatable Fishing Kayak. This is a durable kayak with 18-gauge PVC construction. It is guaranteed to give you an incredible time even when you paddle into waters riddled with sharp and rocks and other debris. It also consists of a 840D nylon cover and 1000D tarpaulin bottom. This means you’ll have extra protection against punctures when you run over jagged rocks or other debris.
Safety is a priority on this fishing kayak. It has five air chambers meaning if one ever starts to leak; you’ll have four more. Its air system is highly reliable as there have been no reports of the kayak leaking. You’ll be safe even when the kayak is miles from the shore. It assures you that you’ll always get back to shore safely.
With a weight capacity of 470lbs, this kayak has more than enough room for two plus fishing gear. The Sevylor is 10’9” long and 3’3” wide. It feels spacious even for tall people so you can stretch your legs to keep from getting cramps. It has numerous locations for storing gear. With the quick set rod holders, you can adjust your pole angle for hands-free fishing.
You have the option of adding a trolling motor. This way, you can access those areas where other larger boats go for fishing as you won’t have to paddle the whole way. The Coleman Colorado is supplied with carrying handles for easily getting it in and out of the water. It brings lots of simplicity in its set up which adds up to the ease of handling.
If you are looking forward to a long fishing weekend, a comfortable fishing kayak will help to ensure the you enjoy your time on the water. The Elkton Outdoors is built with a fisher’s needs in mind. It inflates in minutes, stores compactly, and is also effortless to transport. The Elkton is 118 inches long and 35 inches wide with a maximum weight limit of 450 lbs. The Elkton weighs 43 lbs.
This kayak boasts a durable construction from 18-gauge tear-resistant 1000D PVC. It has a robust nylon cover and thick tarpaulin bottom. You’ll spend less time wondering about anything that could poke a hole in your kayak and more time enjoying how well you can catch fish.
This fishing kayak includes all the accessories you’ll need for a long day. The seats are adjustable to allow for a comfortable sitting angle which prevents spine and back fatigue. They also reduce bounce so that you can be out longer before fatigue kicks in.
The Elkton Outdoors fishing kayak also includes double-sided oars, two vertical rod holders, and four trolling holders. You won’t go looking for a pump since it supplied with a foot pump. The repair kit and carry bag are also included for an effortless fishing excursion.
This is another company with two unique inflatable kayaks. These models have similar designs, but they also have distinct features that set them apart.
We find these inflatable kayaks very practical and comfortable for fishing. The models have Sea Eagle’s patented state-of-the-art NeedleKnife Keel in their construction. They are rigid and even for fast and smooth paddling.
This model is designed with space for up to three riders. It weighs 45lbs and has a weight capacity of up to 650 pounds. The 385 is 12’6” long and 3’ wide. The hull material is 1000D PVC which is durable and will last for a long time with proper care. It features front and rear sprays skirts with inbuilt tool, rod, hook, and lure holders.
The design of this kayak follows a narrower, sharper, and tapered bow that makes a quick entry into waves, wind, water, and current. It is the ideal kayak for an angler, and you’ll find it comfortable to stand on thanks to the tubes and EVA foam floor. It also includes a built-in fish ruler to ensure your catch is legal.
This is a lighter model, weighing only 32 pounds. But it can hold up to 650 pounds meaning that you can bring all the fishing gear you might need. The 370 is 12’6” long and 2’10” wide. This kayak features an inflatable I-beam construction on the floor. You will feel secure and well-supported even as you reel in your catch.
The SE370 kayak has five air chambers which take approximately 8 minutes to inflate. It is suitable for rapids up to class III meaning it will go where it’s impossible for the 385. You can have some fishing fun being out on the sea, river, or lake without worrying about leaks with this model.
Kayak fishing is very popular. We have highlighted some of the top performing inflatable fishing kayaks. These inflatable models offer the convenience of being portable and lightweight. They have better stability than hard-shelled kayaks. This opens the doors for new kayakers to feel comfortable and safe while kayaking.
Whether you want a versatile, affordable, or high-capacity kayak, one of these inflatables will bring you the joy of fishing in them. They boast durable construction, fast inflation, and setup, plus tgw different designs ensure you can find the best one to suit your needs.
Why not try out a new experience with the best inflatable fishing kayak?