Are Inflatable Kayaks Good? Pros and Cons!

sport kayak

What I want to do in this article is to help you understand whether buying an inflatable kayak is a good way to get on the water. Or whether you’re pondering buying a more traditional plastic kayak.

What I want to do is try and answer some of those questions or provoke some of those questions before you go out and buy an inflatable kayak.

2 man blow up kayak

Personally, I think these things are one of the must-haves for summer!

When I bought my kayak, I was always a little bit wondering whether an inflatable kayak is the way to go.

In terms of buying this, let’s just go through a few of the pros and cons of buying an inflatable kayak.

I just want to go through absolutely everything that you need to think about before you buy an inflatable kayak.



single inflatable kayak

The first one is the glaringly obvious advantage of having an inflatable kayak – the space.

You can literally put this in its bag and store it anywhere. If you are stuck for space, these things are absolutely perfect!

When you get a plastic kayak, and I’ve had these in the past, I’ve always found them to be one of those things that are great when you’re on it and when you are kayaking.

The moment it’s out the water, the moments it’s in your garden or garage, it’s in the way, you tripping over it. It looks unsightly, unless you’ve got one of these homes with boat shed on the lake and you put your kayak there and it looks like a photograph.

They look strangely out of place, kayaks down the side of houses. By the time you’ve got a winter, they’re all green in algae, dirty and there are things living in them.

Put them in the garage, you are tripping over it.

I’ve seen people that have the pulley systems in the garage, where you pull up the kayak and you’ve got it in the roof part. That’s great but it comes with a cost. And you’ve got these things swinging over the top of your head.

But as I said, these things come in a very small bag, that you can store anywhere.

Best Inflatable Kayaks For Sale


Another advantage is transportation.

This comes in its own little bag. If you’ve got a small car, no problem. Goes on the back seat, goes in the trunk, goes anywhere you want to put it.

If you have a plastic kayak, you’ve got to start thinking about how you’re going to transport it. It’s about roof rack, roof bass, roof adapters.

You see these cars with great big kind of scoops on the top of them where the kayak goes in. All this again comes with the cost.

I always think a car when it’s got kayaks on the top of it looks really cool. A car driving around with these boat mounts on it without the boat on it looks a little bit awkward.

Again, inflatable boats come in the bag. Put it in the car, take it down to the beach, blow it up in 10 minutes and have a great paddling.


inflatable river kayak

You see people and the cars parked in the carpark quite a ways away and the way that they get plastic kayaks across the beach is usually by one of these little boat dollies. They can be great if you’ve got two people.

But once on the beach and kayak is in the water, you then have to push the boat dolly back to your car to store. Then you have to get it again from your car once you are done with kayaking.

But an inflatable kayak comes in a bag, pick it up, off you go.

Even if it’s inflated in the back of the car, I can get this onto my shoulder, I can walk down to the beach and it is as light as a feather.

Ease of Getting Back Into

Next thing is the way that this is set out, the way it sits on the water is that if you should topple out of it, it’s quite easy to get back into.

You don’t need a great deal of courses and that kind of stuff to work out how you use your kayak. If you fell out of this kayak you can get back into it quite easily. Because it’s an inflatable kayak, if it fills up with water, it doesn’t really matter because the air will keep it buoyant.

If you’ve got a plastic kayak and you flip it, you get back into it, the thing’s full of water, you’ve got to get a bilge pump and manually get the water out, which is a big problem if it’s choppy.

self bailing inflatable kayak


Not Good In Wind

In terms of downsides, as I said, the weight is fantastic, it’s light, it’s easy to transport, but that will be against you if the wind is against you or it is a little bit choppy.

Because basically it’s just your body weight plus the weight of the kayak, which is next to nothing. You’re just paddling your body weight, but when the wind picks up, you’re gonna have to paddle harder to keep on a straight line.

The plastic boats are a little bit more stable and are able to take passes when the wind gets up, because you’ve got your body weight and you’ve also got the weight of the boat.

Plastic kayaks are way more streamlined. They are narrower, more sleek and they will will keep a straight line in the wind.

You Get Wet

Inflatable kayak can be wet. By that I mean when you’re paddling it, there are bits of water dripping on you and filling your kayak. There’s no way of fitting a spray deck.

On a plastic kayak, the spray deck comes up tied under and it stops all the water from going into the kayak. With the plastic kayak, the less amount of water you can get into the boat, the better it’s going to handle.

With inflatables, you do get wet, it doesn’t fill with water a lot, but you do get wet on it. There’s no way of putting the spray deck on it. But if there is any water in your inflatable kayak, because it’s lightweight, you can get the water out of it very quickly, and because of its material, what’s left of the water will evaporate very quickly.

In The End

sport kayak

The last thing that influences whether you buy an inflatable kayak or not is that these things are not gimmicky things that hang outside a gift shop at the seaside.

These things are purpose-built. There’s a lot of design gone into them and the technology, especially in vinyls and gluing seams together has come on leaps and bounds over the last 10 years. So this will give you a number of years of enjoyment.

Don’t think for one minute that these things are flimsy, they are certainly not flimsy.

You blow them up to a reasonable PSI, where these things are rock solid, the floors are rock solid. You could stand on them. It’s not flimsy at all.

So I think they’re absolutely awesome. I really do.

I think when you look at inflatable kayaks versus plastic kayaks, there’s a lot going for inflatables, especially if your storage space is limited, you have a small car and you don’t want to put roof racks on it.

There’s a lot less to concern yourself with.

They usually come complete, you get the paddle, you get the pump. The only thing you have to go out and buy is your life jacket. They’re quite cheap.

To actually get you set up, get you out on the water, there’s very little to do. Just buy it, buy your life preserver, go down to the beach, blow it up and off you go.

In terms of getting it out of the bag, in terms of inflating it, in terms of ready to go, it takes less than 10 minutes.

What Are The Best Kayaks For Rivers?

Are Inflatable Kayaks Good? Pros and Cons!
Scroll to top