When it comes to exploring the sights of a beautiful destination on water, it doesn’t get much better than kayaking. It can be a serene, blissful experience and can also be a heart-pumping and muscle-flexing adventure.

No matter what your preferred kayaking style is, you’re on the lookout for an inflatable kayak that you can add to your list of travel equipment. If kayaking is on your list of top activities, it makes sense to invest in an inflatable kayak that you can pack up and use wherever and whenever you want. They make a much more affordable and portable alternative to hardshell kayaks.

So if you’re looking for a handy guide to the best inflatable kayaks on the market right now – you’ve arrived at the right place! Below, I’ll cover all of the need to know kayak models to get you out on the water as quickly as possible.

No matter what your experience level and budget are, I’m sure this post will point you to your perfect vessel and you’ll be out there inflatable kayaking in no time!

Let’s get right to it…

inflatable kayak on the lake

So, you want to go Kayaking but you don’t want the weight and hassle of dragging around a hardshell kayak. Well, you’re in luck! A quality inflatable kayak is the perfect combination of the adventure opportunities of a rigid kayak and the portability of a folding frame kayak, all whilst generally being a lot more affordable. Whilst you might think an inflatable boat is just for recreational paddling, many also make for a suitable whitewater kayak too.

Whatever sort of adventure you’re looking for, we’ve got a high-quality inflatable kayak for you!

Quick Answer: The Best Inflatable Kayaks of 2022

Product
Description
BEST INFLATABLE KAYAK OVERALL
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak
BEST INFLATABLE KAYAK OVERALL

Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak

  • Price > $$$
  • > Made of PVC-coated polyester
  • > Tracking is exceptional
STAR Raven Malibu II
STAR Raven Malibu II

STAR Raven 2 Tandem Inflatable Kayak

  • Price > $$$
  • > Roomy enough for 2
  • > Setup is super quick and easy
BEST 2 PERSON INFLATABLE KAYAK FOR BEGINNERS
STAR Paragon Tandem Inflatable Kayak
BEST 2 PERSON INFLATABLE KAYAK FOR BEGINNERS

STAR Paragon Tandem Inflatable Kayak

  • Price > $$$
  • > 2 removable high-back kayak seats
  • > Includes carry bag, pump and repair kit
BEST INFLATABLE FISHING KAYAK
Bote Lono Aero
BEST INFLATABLE FISHING KAYAK

Bote Lono Aero Sit-on-Top Kayak

  • Price > $$$$
  • > 4 built-in rod holders
  • > It has hook, line and sinker
BEST SIT-ON-TOP INFLATABLE FISHING KAYAK
STAR Rival Sit-On-Top Inflatable Kayak
BEST SIT-ON-TOP INFLATABLE FISHING KAYAK

STAR Rival Sit-On-Top Inflatable Kayak

  • Price > $$$
  • > 6 inch-thick deck
  • > 12 ½ feet of space for all the fishing gears
BEST INFLATABLE KAYAK FOR WEEKENDERS
STAR Paragon
BEST INFLATABLE KAYAK FOR WEEKENDERS

STAR Paragon XL Inflatable Kayak

  • Price > $$
  • > 2 core seats with padded cushions
  • > Child’s removable inflatable booster seat
BEST INFLATABLE SEA KAYAK
Oru Kayak Beach LT Folding Kayak - 12
BEST INFLATABLE SEA KAYAK

Oru Kayak Beach LT Folding Kayak

  • Price > $$$$
  • > Large cockpit
  • > Incredible ease to assemble
BEST ULTRALIGHT PACKRAFT FOR TRAVEL
Advanced Elements PackLite Inflatable Kayak
BEST ULTRALIGHT PACKRAFT FOR TRAVEL

Advanced Elements PackLite Inflatable Kayak

  • Price > $
  • > Weighing in at only 4 lbs.
  • > Compact size of 11x11x5 inches when compressed
BEST INFLATABLE PACKRAFT FOR MULTI-DAY EXPEDITIONS
Kokopelli Packraft Nirvana Packraft
BEST INFLATABLE PACKRAFT FOR MULTI-DAY EXPEDITIONS

Kokopelli Nirvana Packraft with Spray Deck

  • Price > $$$$
  • > No pump needed
  • > Includes an inflation bag system

Do You Want to Travel FOREVER??

Then pop your email address in below and we’ll send you a FREE copy of ‘How to Travel the World on $10 a Day!’ – make travel your LIFE.










    Best Inflatable Kayak Overall

    Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak

    best inflatable kayaks
    This thing is pretty badass.

    If you want a kayak that has everything a solid kayak should have – performance, portability, easy set-up and cutting edge design – this is your winner! It quite literally blows many other inflatable kayaks, as well as most traditional hard shell kayaks out of the water!

    It’s made of PVC-coated polyester with aluminium rims for maximum durability with a length of 10 feet 5 inches, 34-inch width and 11.5-inch depth. It weighs 36 pounds and offers plenty of onboard space without sacrificing legroom for a comfortable ride. Long trips feel even comfier with its high-support, adjustable padded seat.

    Its tracking is exceptional – right up there with the tracking you’d find in a hard-shell day-touring kayak – thanks to its rigid aluminium frame reinforced bow and multiple air chambers. The stern, also with aluminium frame reinforcement, functions as a skeg, further increasing the tracking performance.

    One of the best things about the Advanced Frame inflatable kayak is there’s nothing complicated about this bad boy’s setup. Simply unfold, inflate and you’re good to go! There’s good reason this bad boy puts many traditional hardshell kayaks to shame!

    Best 2 Person Inflatable Kayak

    Ocean Kayak Malibu II

    Kayaking can be a great solo sport, but it’s also fun to bring someone along to enjoy the ride. It’s nice to have the option! With the Ocean Kayak Malibu II, you can easily switch between solo and tandem touring with its adjustable seat positions.

    This versatile double inflatable kayak is 13 ft. 4 in. and weighs 74 pounds, making it roomy enough for 2 to paddle in comfort while being compact enough (and crucially, light enough) to take with you on any adventure.

    Like most STAR kayaks, the PVC material they are constructed from is tough and can survive bumps with sharp boulders, sticks, etc.

    Again, the setup for this tandem kayak is super quick and easy. No assembly required whatsoever – unfold, inflate, attach seats, go! Pump and repair kit included and it even comes with fishing rod holders.

    Best 2 Person Inflatable Kayak for Beginners

    STAR Paragon Tandem Inflatable Kayak

    best inflatable kayaks for fishing
    Meet the top beginner-minded kayak.

    If you’re new to kayaking and are looking for a compact and reliable recreational tandem kayak that makes for awesome flatwater exploration, we recommend this Voyage 2 tandem inflatable kayak by Advanced Elements.

    It has everything you need for some awesome flatwater exploration while being easy to set up and transport. Its polyester/PVC tarpaulin construction gives it a durable, compact design – measuring 11 feet and 2 inches long and weighing just 32 pounds – that allows you to just fold it up and pack it away anywhere!

    This beginner’s 2 person kayak has removable highback seats with 3 available seating positions for your choice of a tandem or solo paddling. Bring along some snacks and cold drinks that you can tuck away in the convenient seat pockets and bottle holders and enjoy the ride!

    Check out the 1 person STAR Paragon Kayak on REI.

    Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak

    Bote Lono Aero Sit on Top Kayak

    Bote Lono Aero

    For kayakers searching for a kayak that can be used for flatwater paddling and for fishing, look no further than the Bote Lono Aero Sit on Too Kayak.

    It’s a true lightweight Kayak coming in at just over 48 pounds and 12 feet 6 inches in length, giving it plenty of space for one paddler but also has the capacity for 2. This inflatable fishing kayak has an extra 39 inches and a hard-bottom floor that gives it extra space overall and standing stability for a smoother, more secure feel.

    The Bote Lono inflatable kayak doesn’t miss a detail when it comes to accommodating fishing needs with 7 Scotty amounts available that can be customised with rod holders and any other accessories an angler’s heart desires. That’s a whole heap more than most inflatable kayaks offer!

    No need to worry about a fishing cooler; the Bote Lono includes one with 4 built-in rod holders that secures easily to the kayak. What’s more, it even comes with a repair kit and a carry bag included.

    There’s even a removable platform for the Rugged Core seat that allows for a higher seating position – perfect for fishing. And with its multiple air chambers, it’s able to retain its shape with ease. This kayak has it all – hook, line and sinker!

    Best Sit-on-Top Inflatable Fishing Kayak

    STAR Rival Sit-On-Top Inflatable Kayak

    best inflatable kayak

    The STAR Rival is the ideal vessel for the kayaker that wants the option to stand, sit, paddle and cast during their kayaking excursion. It has a 6 inch-thick deck that inflates to a firm 8-10 psi for maximum versatility.

    As a solo adventurer, you’ll get plenty of leeway with 12 ½ feet of space for all the fishing gear, tackle and any ride-along accessories you want. The removable suspended-mesh, aluminium-framed seats provide the ideal position for casting, fish sighting and paddling. This beast is much more versatile than most inflatable kayaks on the market.

    As far as having sufficient attachment points for your favourite fishing accessories – like rod holders and anchor locks – the Rival’s 5 Scotty Mount Bases will have you covered. It’s the best blow up kayak choice for any adventurous solo angler! It even comes with its own carry bag too.

    The best present of all… is CONVENIENCE!

    Now, you could spend a fat chunk of $$$ on the WRONG present for someone. Wrong size hiking boots, wrong fit backpack, wrong shape sleeping bag… As any adventurer will tell you, gear is a personal choice.

    So give the adventurer in your life the gift of convenience: buy them an REI Co-op gift card! REI is The Broke Backpacker’s retailer of choice for ALL things outdoors, and an REI gift card is the perfect present you can buy from them. And then you won’t have to keep the receipt. 😉

    Buy on REI!

    Best Inflatable Kayak for Weekenders

    STAR Paragon XL Inflatable Kayak

    The STAR Paragon is the perfect all-purpose kayak for weekend warriors looking for fun-filled, recreational days out on the water. Whether you’re paddling solo, with a friend or partner – or even want to bring a child or dog onboard – this trusty vessel will meet all your needs!

    Weighing 47 pounds but with 13 feet in length, the Paragon 130 offers a 400lb capacity to accommodate not only the companions you’d like to bring along but also any fishing gear, food, drinks and accessories you need to make your excursion complete. As for every weekend mission – your time is valuable – so why spend more time with the set-up? Not very interesting. In line with other kayaks, the setup for this boat is straightforward and easy. Sorted.

    For added ease and convenience, this kayak for weekenders rolls up into its own bag that can be easily stored in the trunk of a car or closet. When you’re ready to hit the water, just take it out of the bag, inflate, arrange the seat and get to paddling!

    Best Inflatable Sea Kayak

    Oru Kayak Beach LT Folding Kayak

    Oru Kayak Beach LT Folding Kayak - 12

    Yes, it’s technically not an inflatable kayak, but it is extremely portable. The thing about an inflatable kayak for sea journeys is that you really shouldn’t be using an inflatable kayak. The Oru Beach LT instead gives you an option with awesome packability and ease of disassembly with durability much, much closer to that of a hardshell.

    Measuring at 12-feet, a raised keel and an angular bottom make this kayak able to cut through the water with ease. With a large cockpit and ample storage space (with a carrying capacity of up to 300 lb) you’re able to bring plenty of extra gear on your water-borne trip. Unfortunately, this added breadth to the cockpit means that you’re more likely to gather water as you paddle.

    If it wasn’t for the incredible ease of assembly, we wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending this over an inflatable sea kayak. However, the stability and durability of this kayak combined with its supreme portability make it an easy recommendation.

    Best Ultralight Packraft for Travel

    Bote Deus Aero Sit-on-Top Kayak

    Kokopelli Packraft Rogue-Lite Packraft

    All savvy adventure travellers know that the key to travelling is packing light. So when you want to abide by this rule and have the luxury of bringing your kayak along with you, the Kokopelli Packraft Rogue-Lite is your answer!

    Weighing in at only 5 lbs. 8 oz. and boasting a compact size of 12 x 9 x 6 inches when compressed, there’s nowhere you can’t take this little guy. It’s perfect for transporting to off-the-beaten-track spots that you’re itching to explore on the water.

    Its thermoplastic polyurethane-coated nylon construction makes this travel blow up kayak both durable and simple to pack into its small carry bag with an inflatable seat.

    I love the freedom that the Kokopelli Rogue-Lite packraft gives you. Never miss the perfect paddling opportunity again by travelling with your own kayak – when you see the spot, just unpack, inflate and go!

    Best Inflatable Packraft for Multi-day Expeditions

    Kokopelli Packraft Nirvana Packraft with Spray Deck

    best travel kayaks
    Kokopelli Nirvana Packraft is an awesome choice for multi-day expeditions.

    If hitting the whitewater of backcountry rivers is more your style, the Kokopelli Nirvana packraft is definitely the way to go. Equipped with a spray deck and watertight TiZip storage system, this kayak is perfect for multi-day whitewater rafting expeditions.

    Don’t worry about being able to hike it into your favourite rafting spot either; it weighs only 10 pounds and can be packed down to a 24x9x6 compact size. To make things even easier, the Nirvana inflatable packraft includes an inflation bag system that inflates the vessel in under 3 minutes; no pump needed!

    This raft is built with durable thermoplastic polyurethane-coated nylon material and all the watertight details needed for some serious rafting fun. Enjoy the ride!

    Best Foldable Kayak

    Oru Kayak Beach Lt

    In case you lack the lung power to blow up an inflatable Kayak, then why not consider this amazing folding Kayak by Oru?! Styled on the Japanese art of Origami, this innovative beauty folds up into a nice little carry-able cube making it easy and convenient to transport.

    The latest generation of the Beach LT is now even easier than ever to assemble. The Beach LT’s stable hull shape and spacious cockpit make it ideal for beginners, without compromising speed and agility.

    best inflatable kayaks
    NameWeightLengthPrice
    Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak36 pounds10 ft. 5 in.‎$499
    Ocean Kayak Malibu II74 pounds13 ft. 4 in.$1,149.99
    STAR Paragon Tandem Inflatable Kayak32 pounds11 ft. 2 in.‎$1,095
    Bote Lono Aero Sit on Top Kayak48 pounds12 ft. 6 in.$1,499
    STAR Rival Sit-On-Top Inflatable KayakUnavailable12 ft. 6 in.$995
    STAR Paragon XL Inflatable Kayak47 pounds13 ft. 6 in.$995
    Oru Kayak Beach LT Folding Kayak26 pounds12 ft.$1,199
    Bote Deus Aero Sit-on-Top Kayak41 pounds11 ft.$1,099
    Kokopelli Packraft Nirvana Packraft with Spray Deck9.5 pounds7 ft. 6 in.$875
    Oru Kayak Beach Lt25 pounds12 ft. 1 in.$1,199

    How to Choose the Best Inflatable Kayak for You

    Above you’ve seen my top picks for different types of kayaks – there are a lot of choices! But if you’re looking to shop around to make sure you’re ultimately choosing the best kayak that’s right for YOU, I wanted to provide this quick guide to help you out.

    It’s important to take your time when choosing the best kayak because it’s not an item that you can exactly try on and return, like a pair of shoes. To avoid disappointment, be thorough in your research criteria. There are a variety of key factors you want to consider while going through the shopping process, so let’s take a closer look…

    1. Size and Weight

    best inflatable kayak
    Having a lightweight, portable Kayak definitely has its advantages.

    Obviously, a kayak isn’t a “one size fits all” piece of equipment – no less so than a bike or a surfboard. So being aware of the size and weight of your vessel is important. It has to “fit” you in order to best serve the ways and locations you wish to enjoy

    If you’re more of a beginner paddler, you’ll probably feel more comfortable with a kayak that provides more stability. In this case, a wider, heavier kayak is probably a better choice. On the flip side, heavier boats are more difficult to turn and manoeuvre; which is fine if you’re new to the sport and will be opting for a more mellow ride.

    For more advanced paddlers who want more speed and agility, a lighter model makes sense. Just be sure that you’re confident about your balancing skills on the water because a light vessel will feel much less stable!

    Also, you need to consider your own size and weight. The same size kayak will feel quite different to a 125-pound adult versus a 200-pound adult. Or if you’re over 6 feet tall, a small kayak won’t make for a very comfortable ride!

    Be sure to pay attention to the length and width – and also the packing measurements if you plan on travelling or trekking long distances with your kayak in tow. Make a note of the kayak’s total weight capacity too, especially with a 2 person kayak if you plan on paddling with a partner or friend.

    2. Materials Used

    best inflatable kayak
    PVC material is easy to patch if ever your kayak gets a hole.

    The price of a kayak usually has a lot to do with the materials that are used for its construction. The cheapest is tough vinyl but the most common is PVC-coated fabric. On the more expensive end of the spectrum are Hypalon and Nitrilon.

    PVC is affordable and easy to patch, which is why it’s the most popular choice of kayak material. It waterproofs the vessel and provides ample stability. The more expensive brand-name options, Hypalon and Nitrilon, are made of synthetic materials and fabrics like neoprene. They are lighter and allow for more compact packaging and are also UV resistant, unlike PVC.

    So depending on the conditions you plan to take your kayak into, and your budget, you’ll want to take these different materials into consideration when choosing the best kayak for you.

    3. Saftey

    best inflatable kayak
    When on the water, safety is the name of the game.

    Whether you’re using your kayak for leisurely rides on a lazy river or bumpier rides on whitewater, you must always keep safety top of mind.

    First, in order to be approved as safe for open water, the kayak model must be NMMA certified. All major brands will have this certification, but if you’re researching more obscure manufacturers, make sure this step is covered.

    Make sure that the kayak you choose is appropriate for the types of conditions you intend to use it for. A vessel that isn’t wide or heavy enough may not be safe for certain elements.

    Next, you’ll want to choose a watercraft that has the space and/or necessary accessories needed to accommodate safety equipment. An absolute must is wearing a lifejacket, or PFD (personal floating device) that’s securely fastened at all times. Make sure they’re appropriately sized for the paddler onboard. For more rugged conditions, wear a helmet for added head protection should you get bumped out near rocks or debris.

    4. Purpose

    best inflatable kayak
    Going fishing on a lake? There is an awesome kayak for that.

    Last, but certainly not least, consider the purpose of your kayak. Will the kayak be used for fishing or rafting? Lakes and rivers or the open sea? Where and how you plan to use your boat will dictate the type of kayak that’s best for you.

    For paddling on flat water, you’ll want a longer kayak with skegs for better tracking. For quick-moving water, like in rocky-bottomed rivers, a more manoeuvrable and stable boat will be necessary.

    If you plan on spending hours out on the water – like for fishing or longer excursions – you’ll want to prioritise comfort. The seat options – padded, adjustable, high back – and legroom will make a difference to how enjoyable a day-long journey will be. Extra storage space and added accessories also matter; having cup holders and space for a small cooler becomes more than an optional luxury if you plan on enjoying a drink and having some lunch onboard!

    Also, how much you intend to use your kayak – weekly, seasonally or just occasionally while you travel – it will make a difference on how much money you want to spend and how compact/travel friendly you need it to be. You may want to prioritise the type of material and consider if it will be worth investing a bit more if it will be used frequently and undergo lots of wear.  If your kayak is just meant to be used while you travel, choosing a lightweight model that’s easily transported will be a top consideration.

    FAQs about the Best Inflatable Kayaks

    Still have some questions? No problem! We’ve listed and answered the most commonly asked questions below. Here’s what people usually want to know:

    Unlock the The Broke Backpacker’s GREATEST Travel Secrets!

    You pop your email here, and we promise to send you only travel content that’s actually relevant — sounds like a pretty good deal to us!










      Final Thoughts on the Best Inflatable Kayak

      Choosing the best kayak for your own needs is not an easy task. You really need to know what you want to use it for, the types of conditions you expect to use it in, how much you’re willing to spend and how much you intend to use it. In many cases, choosing the right vessel with the proper features is a safety issue, so please choose according to your specific needs.

      Most importantly, kayaking is a beautiful activity and such an amazing way to connect with nature. So I hope you’ve found my list of best inflatable kayak reviews helpful and that you’re inspired to hit the water! But do your extensive research first. Even with the most budget-friendly models, a kayak is still an investment decision and one you want to be happy with for a long time to come.

      Having said all that, let me encourage you to go for it! I know firsthand the pleasure kayaking brings and the unmatched moments you can experience paddling out on the water. Grand adventures await…enjoy!

      best inflatable kayak
      We hope you have found this kayak review useful! Be safe out there!

      Thanks for reading – that was fun! 😀

      We bring you epic FREE content!
      Find out how YOU can help support us.

      We’re a big site with a big team and this job isn’t always easy. But we do it because we love it – we love providing epic and free content. We love the knowledge that our content keeps you adventuring. We don’t ask for money, but if you’d like to find out how you can help the site in more organic ways, click the button below.
      Thank you for your support 🙂


      Bye for now, but not forever!

      If you want MORE top-tier Broke Backpacker content like this, then sign up for our weekly newsletter below to get the latest and greatest!










        And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!