best inflatable kayaks review (tandem, single)

Top 10 Inflatable Kayak Reviews [2023 Update]

Shaun Chung Inflatable, Kayak, main-postgallery 4 Comments

Quick Answer: Best Inflatable Kayaks  

Whitewater best seller whitewater sea eagle inflatable kayak under 1000300x Explorer™
Fishing & Whitewater sea eagle best inflatable fishing kayak this year

350fx Explorer™

sea eagle best value inflatable kayaks with gas motor

435ps Paddleski™

Racing fastest inflatable single kayak

393rl RazorLite™

Under $500

cheap inflatable tandem kayak under 500Sport Kayak SE370


Inflatable kayaks are pumped with air to inflate them for use and later deflated for carrying and storing after use.

So, you can easily transport your kayak from one place to another by just carrying it in your trunk.

Also you don’t need to worry about the storage place!


Most inflatable kayaks made by Sea Eagle are ranked on the top because they are well-known and reliable brand with inflatable products. They have been making kayaks, boats, canoes, and SUPs using inflatable technology since 1968. 

Sea Eagle offers 180-days risk free period with 3 years of warranty.  You can’t ignore this!

I also like Outdoorplay online store when I look for other kayak brands because they carry many brands and offer price match. 

If you don’t know what types of kayak you want to buy at this moment, then you can read Kayak Buying Guide section below.

And if you consider buying canoes, read Canoe vs Kayak article.  


Check out 10 Best Inflatable Kayak Reviews below:

Our rankings are based on the brand reputation, warranty, refund policy, customer service, product quality, buyers’ review, specifications, and features.

Top 10 Inflatable Kayak Reviews

1.  Sea Eagle – 300x Explorer™

best seller sea eagle inflatable kayak

If you want an inflatable kayak that can handle literally anything, you need look no further than this one.  

Sea Eagle designed 300x Explorer™ to tackle whitewater as well as open-water and surf.  It has 16 super-fast self-bailing drain valves that can be left open for wet whitewater and ocean kayaking or closed for high and dry flat-water paddling. And it only weighs 31 pounds, so  you can transport to the water from your car without using a cart.

This model is 1 person inflatable kayak.  There are other Explorer™ series models for 2 persons (380x Explorer™), and for 3 persons (420x Explorer™). 

As I mentioned earlier, Sea Eagle offers great warranty and return policy that other brands don’t offer.

If you are not satisfied with your product, just return it in good condition and get a full refund within 180 days.

I highly recommend 300x Explorer™ as your first kayak.

Kayak Activity Type:  Whitewater, Flat water, Ocean, Surfing

Reviews   Youtube

  • Weight Capacity: 395 lb
  • Person Capacity: 1 
  • Length x Wdith (ft): 9.8 x 3.3
  • Interior (ft): 8.8 x 1.3
  • Hull Weight: 31 lb
  • Inflation Time: 5 mins
  • 16 High capacity self-bailing drain valves
  • 18 D-rings to secure  seat and gear
  • Front & rear spray skirts with carry handles and bungee cords
  • Super lightweight and easy to maneuver
  • 3 Years warranty, 180 days risk-free period

2.  Sea Eagle – 350fx Explorer™

sea eagle best inflatable fishing kayak

350fx Fishing Explorer™ model is one of the Explorer™ series, so you can use this kayak from any type of water like #1. 300x Explorer™ model. Same as 300x Explorer™, this model has 16 drain valves which is a good feature to have when kayaking from whitewater.

It has six built-in rod holders, 2000 reinforced protective layers, both forward and aft spray skirts.

When it is compared to 300x Explorer™ above, this is longer, but heavier. Sea Eagle designed this model with comfort features for fishing activity. 

Kayak Activity Type:  Whitewater, Fishing, Flat water, Ocean, Surfing

Reviews   Youtube

  • Weight Capacity: 575 lb
  • Person Capacity: 1 
  • Length x Wdith (ft): 11.5 x 3.2
  • Interior (ft): 10 x 1.4
  • Hull Weight: 51 lb
  • Inflation Time: 7 mins
  • 16 Rapid self-bailing drain valves
  • 12 D-rings to secure seat and gear
  • Right & left side anchor trolley attachment D-rings
  • Front & rear spray skirts with built-in rod, tool, hook and lure holders
  • Plenty of storage for fishing gears
  • Built-in 40″ fish ruler
  • 3 Years warranty, 180 days risk-free period

3.  Sea Eagle – 385fta FastTrack™

sea eagle inflatable fishing tandem kayak

385fta model is a tandem setup that can accommodate up to three people with a maximum capacity of 635 pounds.

It’s a little bit longer at 12’6” but has a lower hull weight at just 45 pounds.

Inflation and deflation time are identical to the model we highlighted above (7 mins and 3 mins, respectively).

Watersnake Freshwater and Saltwater Kayak Motor

Watersnake Electric Motor

For this 385fta model, you can choose to install an electric motor which costs extra $300 (Motor, Motormount).

If you are planning to use your kayak for both whitewater kayaking and kayak fishing, I recommend #2. 350fx. 

For fishing only, 385fta would be your best choice.

Kayak Activity Type: Fishing, Flat Water, Calm Ocean

Reviews   Youtube

  • Weight Capacity: 635 lb
  • Person Capacity: 2 
  • Length x Wdith (ft): 12.5 x 3
  • Interior (ft): 11.6 x 1.5
  • Hull Weight: 44 lb
  • Inflation Time: 7 mins
  • 18 D-rings to secure seat and gear
  • Plenty of storage for fishing gears
  • Built-in 36″ fish ruler
  • Front & rear spray skirts
  • Built-in rod, tool, hook and lure holders
  • Non-slip crocodile hide EVA foam padding on floor
  • More durable 29% thicker 1000 denier
  • 3 Years warranty, 180 days risk-free period

4.  Sea Eagle – 393rl RazorLite™

fastest sea eagle inflatable single kayak

393rl RazorLite™ is very light, narrow, and fast. It goes up to 6 mph.

If you want to enjoy the speed, I highly recommend this model. 

It is fully constructed using Drop Stitch Technology. Drop Stitch material uses thousands of high tensile strength threads connecting the top and bottom fabric layers.  This enables the RazorLite™ to be inflated to a much higher pressure (10 psi) than other kayaks (3-4 psi) which increases overall rigidity. If you do some research, you may know that an inflatable kayak with 10 psi is rare.

It is also easy to paddle and maneuver through the pounding rain and wind. RazorLite™ is not as stable as the FastTrack™, but it’s faster. Also it tracks and handles similar to a long hard shell kayak and best suited for flat water.

If you are looking for tandem kayak with this model, you can see #5. 473rl RazorLite™ from Top 10 Tandem Kayaks (2022 Review).

Kayak Activity Type: Flat water, Racing

Reviews   Youtube

  • Weight Capacity: 500 lb
  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Length x Wdith (ft): 12.8 x 2.3
  • Interior (ft): 12.2 x 1.4
  • Hull Weight: 35 lb
  • Inflation Time: 7 mins
  • Fully Constructed with Drop Stitch Technology
  • Quickly and easily adjustable seat positions for any size of paddler
  • Ultra lightweight, easy to transport, inflate and pack up
  • 2 Open and close drain valves
  • 3 Years warranty, 180 days risk-free period

5.  Sea Eagle – 435ps Paddleski™

sea eagle best value inflatable kayaks with motor

If you are interested in this kayak, see #6. 435ps Paddleski™ from Top 10 Tandem Kayaks (2022 Review).

Kayak Activity Type: Touring, Fishing, Sailing, Flat water, Calm ocean

Reviews   Youtube

  • Weight Capacity: 650 lb
  • Person Capacity: 2
  • Length x Wdith (ft): 14.5 x 3.2
  • Interior (ft): 12.5 x 1.3
  • Hull Weight: 42 lb
  • Inflation Time: 7 mins
  • Catamaran design, pontoon style (super stable, sailed safely in winds up to 15 knots)
  • Three aluminum yokes for a rigid structure
  • 16 D-Rings to secure seats and gear
  • 2 Skegs for directional stability
  • Option to install gas motor or electric motor
  • 3 Years warranty, 180 days risk-free period

6.  Sea Eagle – Sport Kayak SE370

cheap inflatable tandem kayak under 500 beginner

Sea Eagle 370 has very good price. So if your budget is under 500 dollars, this model is highly recommended.

There are very inexpensive models you can find on Amazon such as Intex Challenger K1 (single kayak) and Intex Explorer K2 (tandem kayak).  If you aren’t buying a kayak to use it just for few times, investing little bit more would be better for long run.

With a lightweight design and efficient hull shape, it is swift paddling kayak and easy to handle for young or old alike.

However, this kayak is not recommended for fishing and whitewater kayaking because it doesn’t have enough stability and enough self-bailing drain valves.

Sea Eagle says that the person capacity for SE370 is 3 persons and it has about 1.3 ft longer length than 2 person model, SE330. However, SE370 model is recommended for two adults.

You probably won’t be able to find a better inflatable kayak under $500 than this one.

Kayak Activity Type: Flat water, Touring

Reviews   Youtube

  • Weight Capacity: 650 lb
  • Person Capacity: 2
  • Length x Wdith (ft): 10.7 x 1.2
  • Hull Weight: 33 lb
  • Inflation Time: 8 mins
  • Affordable, lightweight & portable
  • Open and close drain valve
  • Five deluxe one-way valves
  • 3 Years warranty, 180 days risk-free period

7.  Star – Pike

sit on top fishing inflatable kayak comfortable chair

Pike is a single inflatable kayak and it is designed for fishing.

This kayak is actually tandem size of kayak. It is 12.7 ft long, so it is really fast. Also the stability is amazing.

My friend has this kayak in green color and he can stand on his kayak for fishing. I would say this kayak is the best to go with if you are into kayak fishing.

One downside of this kayak is that the weight is 45 lb which is quite heavy.

Kayak Activity Type: Fishing


  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Length x Wdith (ft): 12.7 x 3.2
  • Hull Weight: 45 lb
  • Inflation Time: 5 mins
  • Comfortable aluminum-framed suspended-mesh seat
  • 5 Scotty mount for rod holders, fish finders
  • 3 Year Warranty

8.  Star – Paragon

star tandem inflatable kayak

Kayak Activity Type: Flat water, Touring


  • Weight Capacity: 550 lb
  • Person Capacity: 2
  • Length x Wdith (ft): 15 x 3
  • Hull Weight: 52 lb
  • Inflation Time: 10 mins
  • High-pressure drop-stitch floor insert gives the boat the rigidity of a hard-shell kayak
  • Adjustable high-back kayak seat and foot braces for added support
  • Bow and stern rigid keel inserts provide outstanding tracking and stability
  • 3-year retail manufacturer warranty

9.  Aquaglide – Chelan

aquaglide tandem inflatable kayak blue

Kayak Activity Type: Touring, Flat water


  • Weight Capacity: 600 lb
  • Person Capacity: 1-3
  • Length x Wdith (ft): 15.5 x 3
  • Hull Weight: 35 lb
  • Inflation Time: 10 mins
  • Innovative Splash-Guards
  • Sturdy molded handles
  • PRO-formance seats provide an array of thoughtful features
  • Supremely rigid Hard-Bottom floor
  • 1-year manufacturer limited warranty

10.  Aire – Lynx

aire best inflatable kayak single

Kayak Activity Type: Whitewater, Flat water


  • Weight Capacity: 350 lb
  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Length x Wdith (ft): 10.2 x 3.1
  • Hull Weight: 33 lb
  • Inflation Time: 7 mins
  • A favorite choice for any river you are comfortable kayaking
  • Airtight urethane bladders zipper into a tough PVC outer skin for abrasion protection and durability
  • Self-bailing floor drains quickly and double-mesh covers keep debris out of the floor pocket
  • Adjustable Cheetah Chair provides excellent back support and has a rear cargo pocket
  • 10-year no-fault warranty (5-year commericial warranty)

Kayak Buying Guide

There are different types of kayak meant for varying versions of kayaking.

The basic version of kayaking is essentially for recreation. The recreational kayak is also its simplest form.

Fishing kayaks are different. Whitewater kayaking and other adventure sports require different kayaks.

In this guide we shall talk about kayaking for beginners, the differences among fishing kayaks and inflatable kayaks among others.

Types of Kayaking


Are sit on top kayaks good for Rivers?

Recreational kayaking is the most basic form and is usually indulged in on lakes and other water bodies that do not pose any great threat. The lakes are well protected. Recreational kayaking on rivers is confined to the safer and steadier parts, not where the stream is rapid or the depths are too great. A recreational kayak is wider and more stable.


The second most popular form is touring. A touring kayak is longer than a recreational kayak. It also needs more paddling. Some touring kayaks look exactly like sea kayaks but they have just one sealed bulkhead. Touring kayaks are not suitable for seas as the unsealed bow area can get filled up with water. Touring kayaks are mostly used on lakes and other protected or safer areas.


What kayaks are best for sea or ocean?

Sea kayak is larger and have both bulkheads sealed. There is more space in the hatch for a kayaker to carry the required gear. You can actually carry camping gear in a sea kayak. This is not an inflatable kayak. Sea kayaking is fun but not recommended for beginners. Sea kayaks can be up to fifteen feet long and they can be quite heavy.


Are kayaks dangerous?

Whitewater kayaks are designed for rapids in streams, rivers or creeks. This is an adventure sport. The extreme sport is not recommended even for intermediate kayakers. There are some designated places where whitewater kayaking is deemed as safe. There is a classification system that implies the risks involved in kayaking at a particular part of a river or stream.


Surf kayaking is another form. It is a version of surfing and one uses a kayak instead of a surfboard. Surf kayaking requires practice. Sit on top kayaking is either recreational or for a specific purpose. Fishing kayaks are sit on top designs. Apart from kayak fishing, such designs are also suitable for surfing and diving.

Types of Kayak

Are you planning to buy a kayak?

To choose the best kayak that meets your needs, you first have to know what types of kayaks are out there in the market.

Inflatable vs Hard Shell Kayak

First thing you need to decide when buying a kayak is whether you buy an inflatable kayak or a hard shell kayak. Both of them have pros and cons.

However, we highly recommend inflatable kayaks if you do not have:

  • Roof rail installed on your car or sports trailer
  • Enough space to store at your place (apartment, condo)

If roof rail is already installed on your car, then you need to buy crossbar racks and j-shape racks. It will cost you around $250.

There are cheap racks at Walmart and Amazon, but it is not a good idea to go with cheap ones especially when it can possibly take away someone’s life while you are driving with kayaks on your roof. Here are racks you can have a look: Roof Rack and  J-shape Rack

If roof rail is not installed on your car, you first need to install the roof rail. It costs around $300 to install the roof rail for 2018 Honda CR-V. There are some crossbar rack products which do not require the roof rail. However, it is very difficult to load your kayak by yourself without the roof rail. It can damage your car and you don’t want that especially when you recently bought your car or when it is on lease.

The video how to load your kayak shows the importance of the roof rail.

For sports trailer, the price range is around $1000-$3600.

how to carry kayaks

Multi-Sport Trailer

If you do not have trailer, roof rails, or other carrier tools yet, we recommend you buying inflatable kayak and spend more money onto the kayak itself. Because you get better quality of kayaks based on what you pay for.

If you have no problem with carrying hard shell kayak, I recommend you to go to nearest kayak shop and see actual size of the kayak you want to buy, especially when it’s your first time buying kayak. Walmart and Costco have kayaks as well. Because kayaks are way bigger than you probably thought. Hard shell kayak with length of 8.8 ft can just fit inside the car (2017-18 Honda CR-V) with no other passengers seated.

Before buying a hard shell kayak, make sure you have a place to store your kayak. It is better to store inside of your house than outside or garage.

The following table summarizes pros and cons for inflatable kayak and hard shell kayak.

Inflatable Kayak
Hard Shell Kayak
Easy to carryTakes 7-10 minutes to inflate or deflate kayakReady to use right awayHard to carry
Easy to storeNeed air pumpMany brands, models, colors are availableTakes up too much storage spaces
Easy to purchase & return (low shipping cost)Limited color selectionDifficult to purchase & return (high shipping cost)
Easy to repairCosts a lot on kayak carrier tools
Bounce off when hits hard surfacesExpensive to repair

Sensitive to bumps, knocks

Single vs Tandem Kayak

Single kayak is 1 person kayak and tandem kayak is 2 persons kayak.

If you are thinking to buy tandem kayak just in case you may go out to the water with your friend or family once a while, do not buy tandem kayak.

Even though there are some tandem kayaks that you can adjust seat when riding alone, single kayak performs best for 1 person and tandem kayak performs best for 2 people.

If you are planning to go kayaking with your child or dog, tandem kayak would be great choice. If that is not the case, single kayak is highly recommended. When you go out to the water, you will see many couples kayaking separately with single kayaks.

Sit-on-top vs Sit-in Kayak

There are two different seat styles for kayak: sit-on-top and sit-in.

If you are using kayak for fishing or diving, stability is the important thing to consider. Some sit-on-top kayaks are stable enough to stand up on the kayak. Also it is easy to load your gears for other activities.

If you are not going to fish on kayak, want to enjoy the speed, and paddle for long distance, sit-in kayak is good choice for you.

Sit-on Top Kayak
Sit-in Kayak
StabilitySlower speedFaster SpeedUncomfortable for long hours due to limited movement
Easy to get in & outExposed to sun and cold (lower body)Easy to paddleDifficult to get in & out
Large storage areas and cockpitSmall cockpit
Easy to access to deck hatchRequire spray skirt and bilge pump to prevent from sinking

Fishing Kayak

Many people buy kayaks for fishing activity because shore fishing is very limited and it gets bored at some point.

If you are looking to buy a kayak for fishing, fishing kayak would be good choice for you even though it costs more than regular kayak. Fishing kayaks have better seat options, fishing rod holder installed, and lots of large storage areas for your fishing gears and tools.

There are few people buying regular kayak and install fishing rod holder, mounts for action camera by themselves after watching videos from Youtube. It is not easy as you see on the video, so it can waste your money and it is very likely that you will not be satisfied with your work.

If you are thinking to buy a kayak for fishing, inflatable fishing boats can be a better option to meet your needs. Compare to inflatable fishing kayaks, it has spacious room which allows you to cast easily while having friends and family on the boat.

Specifications and Warranty

Once you decide the type of kayak, you also have to pay attention to the specification and warranty when choosing a model.

  1. Load Capacity : Every kayak has its maximum load capacity. Think about your weight and gears you want to carry on the kayak. To be safe, you should not be close to the maximum.
  2. Seats : Adjustable and padded seats are highly recommended. It definitely cost more, but it is worth it. You don’t want to be uncomfortable when you are on the water to relax and have fun. Don’t try to save money on the seats by buying cheap ones. You will end up with paying more money on getting treatment for your back-pain.
  3. Storage area : It is good to have larger storage area but because of the load capacity sometimes you won’t be using all storage spaces. And as more you go out to the water, you become minimalist. So you will only take things that you must need.  Deck hatch is useful to store your cell phone, ID card, or any valuable items you want to carry with you on kayak.
  4. Stability : Wider kayak has better stability, so fishing kayaks are wider than other regular kayaks. If you want to enjoy the speed with kayak, narrower and longer kayak is recommended.
  5. Durability : Most inflatable kayaks are made from PVC of 1100 denier. Denier is a measurement of thickness of the fibers. There are inflatable kayaks made from other materials than PVC, but it is more expensive and there are pros and cons.
  6. Inflation time: For inflatable kayaks, it takes about 7-10 minutes to inflate the kayak. It may take longer for 2-3 people size kayaks.
  7. Warranty: When you buy an inflatable kayak, warranty is the most important thing you need to consider. Sea Eagle is a well known brand for inflatable products and they have very good warranty and return policy. They offers 3 years warranty and  6 months risk free period. You’ll get to try it for 6 months and if you are not happy with your product, just return it in good condition for a full refund of your purchase price. There are other brands such as Innova, NRS and Advanced Elements, and they allow you to return it when products are unused and offers 1-3 years warranty. AIRE kayak has 10 years warranty, but their kayaks are way more expensive.

Is Inflatable Kayak Sturdy and Durable?

Thanks to science and the fast technology growth, recreational companies today harness similar construction to build long-lasting, sturdy and durable kayaks.

With proper marketing and reasonable costs, inflatable kayaks have become all the rage in recent years. Their sturdiness places them in the same league as hard-shell kayaks in terms of stability, durability, and sturdiness.


Users that have had the chance to try out inflatable kayaks on the oceans, rapids, and rivers attest that inflatable kayaks are stable and give them a similar stability score as traditional (hard-shell) kayaks.

By considering that when it gets inflated, it becomes more like a stiff whitewater raft, the inflatable watercraft gains some heft and ruggedness. As far as sturdiness is concerned, it varies between primary and secondary points.

Inflatable kayaks are not necessarily built for carrying out fishing, standing up in, and other water-related activities.

Varying floor-hardness degrees determine how sturdy these kayaks are in the ocean and other bodies of water and which activities they can handle.


Just like hard-shell kayaks, inflatable kayaks are built to take in knocks and bumps without disintegrating. They are designed to bounce off hard surfaces and rocks when they collide.

Most manufacturers use military grade materials to design kayaks. They incorporate drop-stitch technology where small fibers inside the boat interlock. The kayak’s board gets inflated thus creating a hardened surface.

On its exterior, the kayak is composed of durable PVC and rubber the same materials used in whitewater rafts and lifeboats. Their construction makes them more robust, safer and more durable than hard-shell kayaks.


Their design includes 2-3 fabric layers that guarantee additional protection against a puncture or tear.

During the bumpy rides on the water, a sharp rock might put a hole in the outer layer; however, the kayak will remain sturdy as thanks to the other non-penetrated layers.

For safety, the design incorporates separate inflation chambers that help contain tears are rips in the affected chamber. The remaining two layers will hold on steady, hauling users to the safety of the shore and repairs can commence afterward.

Inflatable kayaks are fitted with airtight valves that hold in the air without letting none escape. By using the correct PSI unit to inflate the kayak, it will not deflate unless on command.

The air pumped into it, the design and materials used to build it makes inflatable kayaks tough, durable and sturdy to use on the open waters just like a hard-shell kayak.

To be on the safer side, and get their money’s worth, users should carry out thorough research to invest in military-grade inflatable kayaks.

Their ruggedness, inflating using the correct PSI units makes them safe, sturdy and perfect for rapids and the open seas. They might fetch a higher price, but the service rendered, and their durability will more than compensate!

Tips for Beginners – Safety and Rules

Beginners to kayak should always wear a life jacket, regardless of how great a swimmer one may be.

Every kayaker should dress appropriately and for the local conditions. The weather and the immediate landscape should influence the choice of dress. Those who intend to kayak through the day or into the evening must prepare for a substantial change in temperature.

One of the most important safety tips pertaining to kayaking for beginners is to follow the rules. Every designated area has some rules. Adhere to these.

enjoy kayaking

Kayakers should wear a helmet if the water gets rougher in some parts.

The kayaking course should be chosen after assessing the difficulty level. Beginners should not embark on courses rated as class two or higher.

rules for kayaking

Drinking and paddling or kayaking is dangerous.

Beginners should practice how to get into a kayak when they are in the water. If the kayak flips over and the kayaker falls, one must be able to get back in.

If you want to learn about kayak fishing, go to Kayak Fishing Tips for Beginners.

Return to the top of the page: Top 10 Inflatable Kayaks in 2023.

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