Inflatable kayaks on a lake shore

Whether for athletic endeavors or for simply enjoying nature, kayaking is steadily rising in popularity. Purchasing a kayak used to be an intensive process—size, weight, storage, and transportability all had to be thoroughly considered beforehand. Since inflatable kayaks sprung onto the market, these limitations are largely eliminated. Now, kayaks are becoming more accessible, making it possible for anyone to start enjoying all the benefits that the sport has to offer.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, inflatable kayaks open a wide realm of possibilities for enjoyment, physical fitness, and social activity.

What Are Inflatable Kayaks?

As more people begin to add kayaking as a hobby or an athletic activity, the construction of kayaks has begun to change. Rather than produce rigid, chemically-treated plastic or wooden kayaks, manufacturers have begun to offer a more versatile option: the inflatable kayak.

While the classic view of a kayak may create an image of a one-person, rigid vessel, inflatable kayaks are constantly changing this perspective of what a kayak should be, and how it should function.

Essentially, inflatable kayaks are vessels that are made to easily inflate and deflate. This makes them ideal for transportation and storage, which often leads people to choose an inflatable construction over a more traditional, rigid construction. They also tend to be much more stable, which makes them great options for beginners. Even better, inflatable kayaks are much more lightweight than their rigid counterparts.

Their ability to easily inflate and deflate gives these kayaks a prime advantage over traditional models. Not only do they come with improved storage and transportation capabilities, but their lightweight nature, stability, and durability have made inflatable kayaks into highly sought after vessels.

What Are They Made Of?

There are two different types of material that may be used to make inflatable kayaks: synthetic rubber (like neoprene) or plastic polymers (like PVC or urethane). Both are advanced materials that far surpass the materials commonly found in cheap rafts, or inflatable pool toys.

Because they can inflate and deflate, many beginning kayakers worry that inflatable kayaks won’t be as durable as their rigid predecessors. Concerns about durability are a common misconception when considering an inflatable kayak versus a rigid kayak. Surprisingly enough, when comparing the two, inflatable kayaks often have increased durability.

This is due to their ability to absorb impact from obstacles in the water, like rocks or fallen logs. Inflatable kayaks can bounce away from rocks and logs without damaging the structural integrity of the kayak.

Synthetic rubber and plastic polymers are incredibly durable materials, which resist tears and holes and allow the kayak to absorb shock and impact, increasing overall durability. Compared to rigid kayaks, inflatable kayaks are often a better long-term investment.

If holes or tears do occur over time, a great characteristic of synthetic rubber and plastic polymers is that they can easily be repaired. Patching kits are readily available and can be done at home. In comparison, rigid kayaks may require more extensive or even professional repair for any damage that occurs.

Types of Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks can take many sizes, forms, and functions. Just as traditional kayaks, there are plenty of different options to choose from. When considering kayaks as an entire group, however, there are two basic styles. These styles are:

  • Sit-inside kayaks

Easily recognizable, this style is most commonly seen in traditional, rigid kayaks. For those who like the enclosed space that traditional kayaks offer, an inflatable sit-inside kayak is a great choice.

The enclosed cockpit provides protection from outdoor elements, making this an ideal style for use in colder climates.

Check out these Sit In Kayak Reviews

Sit-on-top kayak

These models will allow for easy entrance and exit from a kayak. Rather than operate on a traditional, enclosed shell model, a sit-on-top kayak features a flat platform. They are often more comfortable, as they allow for open leg room.

Sit-on-top kayaks are ideal for warm weather conditions since they feature tons of open air and exposure to the elements.

Check out these Sit on Top Kayaks:

There are many variations between these two basic styles. Some only allow for one rider, while others may have room for two. Shapes and sizes may range from narrow and streamlined for speed, or wide and thick for stability.

The beauty of inflatable kayaks is that they are a versatile and variated vessel, making them a great option for all skill levels and water applications.

What Are They Used For?

Inflatable kayaks can be used for just about any water-bound application. Some inflatable kayaks are formatted for specific environments—like whitewater kayaking—and others are made with leisurely paddling in mind. Their use will vary from one individual to the next, but there are few common uses for inflatable kayaks that may be helpful when determining whether an inflatable kayak is right for you.

The most popular uses for an inflatable kayak include:

  • Recreation

As a weekend hobby—or even on weekdays, if you happen to be so lucky—kayaking is a fantastic form of recreation. Perfect for leisurely paddling, inflatable kayaks are commonly sought after for their ease of use and convenient transportation.

For solo paddling trips, inflatable kayaks are a perfect option. Rather than drag a heavy, cumbersome rigid kayak into the water, inflatable models can easily be carried and inflated by one person.

  • Physical fitness

Paddling in a kayak is a great way to add excitement and variety to a workout routine. Whether traversing through rough, choppy water or gliding across a calm, glassy lake, many physical fitness fans are turning to inflatable kayaks for increased health and toned muscles.

  • Observing nature

Many kayakers have discovered the key to truly appreciating natural beauty—immersing yourself within it. Inflatable kayaks open possibilities for enhanced interaction with scenery, or even for seeing animals within their natural habitats.

For those looking to cultivate a love of natural scenery—or for those who already have a strong appreciation—inflatable kayaks can be incredibly useful tools.

  • Social outings

With many models offering space for two paddlers, inflatable kayaks offer a great excuse to spend time with loved ones, friends, or family members. Paddling with another person makes it easy to talk, laugh, or even simply share an experience together.


For easy paddling through a lake or an expansive ocean, kayaks provide a streamlined way to relax and enjoy nature. For more enterprising individuals who wish to travel through whitewater rapids or moving rivers, they unleash the possibility for excitement and adventure.

No matter how you decide to use an inflatable kayak, the convenience and durability of these kayaks are sure to provide long-lasting, efficient, and enjoyable paddling through any body of water.