Are Inflatable Kayaks Safe? ( UPDATED GUIDE)

How safe are Inflatable Kayaks?



Kayaking is an excellent way to get outside and connect with the world around you. It is an exciting activity, offering much-needed peace while also allowing you to exercise your body a bit. As fans of the sport, we can’t help but notice the surge in popularity of inflatable kayaks.

While blow up Kayaks offer a more lightweight, portable and affordable way of getting on the water, there are some concerns over the level of safety that they offer.

So, what’s the deal with inflatable kayaks? Well, as much as they might remind you of your favourite blow-up pool toy from childhood, you don’t want a toy when you are taking on fast moving waters or a wavy sea.

Let us delve into the most common concerns that most people have about inflatable kayaks and try to understand them better.

Are Inflatable Kayaks Worth it?

In a nutshell, Yes! You’d be surprised how far the technology behind the production of inflatable kayaks has come.

The same innovations that were reserved for military purposes have now found their way to recreational manufacturers. As such, the construction process in today’s inflatable kayaks results in durable and high-performance water vessels to cater to the ever-changing needs of consumers in the market.

The latest models of inflatable kayaks can go wherever their hard-shell counterparts can go! From rivers to lakes and even seas, you can count on your blow-up canoe to deliver reliable performance. However, this will only be possible if the conditions on the water favour use of the inflatable kayak.

Are Inflatable Kayaks Stable?

To a great extent, inflatable kayaks are as stable as traditional hard-shell kayaks. These vessels are designed with the heft and ruggedness to take on Whitewater Rivers.

Note that there are numerous brands of kayaks with varying degrees of floor hardness. If you happen to find a kayak with a solid floor, then you’ll have no trouble standing and even walking on it.

Alternatively, you can always build a hard floor insert on your own to solve this problem. You can also buy one from the market; these usually feature a drop-stitch construction fabric that you can inflate to a high and strong PSI.

Those with a knack for DIY homemade projects can find YouTube videos and tutorials that guide you through every step of the process.

Are Inflatable Kayaks Durable?

This is a reasonable concern for anyone thinking of using an inflatable kayak for river kayaking or any other type of shallow water kayaking that exposes your vessel to sharp rock edges, sticks, and other debris in the water. The short answer to this is “you get what you pay for”. Keep in mind that the market offers both cheap and expensive products to cater to all kinds of consumer needs.

You can buy a relatively cheap kayak that will only be good for cruising around a pond or lakeside dock.

On the other hand, you can also get a premium brand kayak to take on rougher waters and still put some miles on it. These are designed with a combination of double and triple-layer fabrics, airtight valves, as well as separate inflation chambers. All these components play a crucial role in solidifying the overall construction of an inflatable kayak.

How Do Inflatable Kayaks Compare to Conventional Ones?

If you are thinking of dropping your hard-shell kayak for a more lightweight and portable inflatable kayak, you may be wondering whether you’ll get the same kind of performance. As convenient as an inflatable kayak is, it will be of no use if it can’t hold up well on the water. One of the key performance areas to look at is rigidity.

Thanks to improving technology, inflatable kayaks have come a long way over the years to be rigid vessels that can match hard-shell models.

In general, a high-quality inflatable kayak cannot outshine a high-performance conventional hardshell kayak.

Their construction generally doesn’t allow that degree of precision. However, this is not something you’d expect the average kayaker to notice between the two. So, to the hobbyist or recreational kayaker, an inflatable canoe can be a viable substitute for a hard-shell kayak.

What Activities are Safe to do with an Inflatable Kayak?

An inflatable kayak is the perfect vessel for fishing excursions. Ideally, you should get a model between 10 and 12 feet long to have the perfect sitting position and be able to perform fly casting appropriately.

Another activity that will suit an inflatable canoe or kayak is lake paddling. The V-hull feature, as well as the short profile of the vessel, enables you to paddle on lakes comfortably, even when it gets a little too windy.

The paddling system is easy enough to be convenient for newbies. Furthermore, some models are equipped with a compass to help in tracking the actions of the vessel in a neat position. This can be a great option for use in frothy water. Nevertheless, it will mainly depend on the kind of material used to construct the kayak. For instance, old-style PVC or vinyl fabric used on premium kayak brands is capable of coping with rapid water flow.

A paddle inflatable kayak may also be used for cruising on the river. For this, you’ll need to get a large capacity kayak that can accommodate 500 to 600lbs of weight. Aside from offering ample seating space, the large-liner should offer extra room to store gear and other accessories you’d want to bring for the adventure.

What are the Best Inflatable Kayaks?


Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak

The Intex Challenger K1 is a small inflatable kayak that will perfectly fit one person. It is a great choice for exploring calm waters, whether on a lake or a slow-flowing river. With its friendly price tag, the boat is popular among beginners still getting their feet wet in the sport of kayaking. Despite this, it manages to deliver reliable and stable performance on the water that will impress even experienced paddlers.

The Challenger K1 is designed with an adventurous bright green colour to capture the exciting mood of kayaking. It measures 9 feet long and weighs around 25 pounds when deflated.

The relatively smaller size of the kayak means that it can only sustain a maximum weight of 200 pounds. 3 air compartments are incorporated into the craft, allowing for fast inflation and easy setup.

A rugged vinyl fabric is used on the boat to create a durable watercraft while an inflatable I-beam floor serves to enhance the Challenger K1’s rigidity. This allows you to have a stable and agile paddling experience on calm waters.

The cockpit area consists of an adjustable seat with a backrest and enough room to paddle without feeling restricted. Meanwhile, grab lines are included on either end of the boat to keep you stably inside the boat on rougher rides.

Aside from the inflatable kayak, other accessories included in the package are an 86” aluminum paddle, a high-output hand pump for fast inflating, as well as a repair patch kit in case of any tears or rips on the outer fabric. Lastly, a removable fin at the bottom of the vessel helps to keep it moving in a straight line while paddling.

  • Easy to set up
  • Good value for money
  • Skeg for stability and tracking
  • Durable vinyl construction
  • Extra accessories
  • Can only support one paddler

Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak


The Explorer K2 is another remarkable offering from Intex that you can use for a two-person expedition on the water. It is an ideal substitute for a hard-shell kayak if you’re looking for something cheaper and easier to transport. This 10-foot blow-up vessel comes with a bright yellow colour that you can easily point out in a crowd.

It boasts a hard-wearing and puncture-resistant vinyl construction to make for durable service.

With a maximum weight capacity of 350 pounds, the boat will easily carry two paddlers. When deflated, the package only weighs 31 pounds for convenient carriage and transportation. A spacious cockpit area is meant to offer comfort and this features two inflatable seats with a back rest.

You also get grab lines on both ends of the boat to keep you securely inside the Explorer when you hit a rough section of the water.

The manufacturer included a removable skeg to help with tracking the right direction, but this will work best in calm and relatively mild waters. An inflatable I-beam floor offers rigidity and comfort during paddling whereas the streamlined design of the boat makes for easy handling on the water.

Accompanying the inflatable boat are two 86” aluminium oars and a high-output hand pump to make easy work of the inflation process. In the event of a puncture or tear on the fabric, an included repair patch will come in handy when you want to conduct DIY repairs. The only downside to this boat is that you can’t use it in rough river waters.

  • Easy to inflate
  • Durable fabric
  • Great bag for the buck
  • Nice design and colors
  • Removable skeg
  • Not for use in rough waters

Intex Challenger 2 Person Inflatable Kayak


The Intex Challenger K2 is a bigger version of the K1 discussed above. It follows the same design and construction, the main difference being that it is built for two people. Overall, it is one of the cheapest yet reliable 2-person inflatable vessels available on the market. It also makes for the perfect choice on slow-moving rivers and lakes.

This inflatable kayak measures 11 x 2 x 1′ when fully inflated and can support a maximum weight of 400 pounds.

It is manufactured with extra strong vinyl fabric to result in a tough and durable build. Meanwhile, the cockpit offers enough room to wriggle around for the perfect positioning when paddling, although there are no footholds to help you out.

Two seats in the cockpit offer enough comfort during paddling and these come with a backrest to prevent premature fatigue. The boat inflates and deflates almost effortlessly to make for an easy setup process.

This is facilitated by the included hand pump. However, some users have complained that the valves let out air after a certain period of use.

At the bottom of the craft is a removable skeg that allows for stable directional movement while a handy repair set enables you to perform speedy patching in case of leakage.

The package also comes with two aluminium paddles and a cargo net to store any extra accessories that you may want to bring along. Overall, this a luxurious inflatable boat, and you can tell this from the GS and TUV certification it has.

  • Comfortable seats
  • Quick inflation and deflation
  • Cargo net for storage
  • Stable on the water
  • Durable design
  • No footholds
  • Lose valves

Sevylor Riviera Two Person Kayak

If you an alternative to the Intex inflatable kayaks, this a fine brand you can rely on for a fulfilling kayaking experience. The Sevylor 2-person blow-up boat is as stable as a hard-shell kayak and tracks as well as the best options in the market. It boasts a sturdy design featuring a hardwearing PVC hull, I-beam floor construction, as well as two PVC side chambers.

This results in a stable and reliable vessel that will be perfect for use on lakes, rivers, and seashores. The kayak measures 312 x 92cm when fully inflated with a weight of around 18 pounds. It can also support up to 400 pounds of load, which should be enough for two adults to ride without worry.

Stability on the water is provided by two-directional skates, which ensure you maintain a straight line during paddling. You also get inflatable seats in the cockpit that are both removable and easy to adjust.

These are also padded to guarantee comfort however long you’ll be in the water. Furthermore, an integrated pressure gauge on the vessel enables you to get just the right PSI during inflation.

You’ll also appreciate that the package is delivered with extra accessories such as a paddle and repair set to fix any leakages. Also, an enhanced backpack system makes it easy for you during storage and transportation.

You can easily wear the canoe on your back and comfortably find your way to your next adventure destination.

  • Comfortable seats
  • Easy to assemble
  • Good capacity for two
  • Durable PVC construction
  • Only one paddle

Bestway Hydro-Force Rapid X2 Kayak

Last but not least, the Hydro-Force Rapid X2 inflatable kayak from Bestway rounds up our review of the best inflatable water vessels. Thanks to sturdy and reliable construction, you can expect a safe and reliable adventure of kayaking. The design features durable pre-tested fabric to reassure your safety while on the lake.

Two inflatable seats provide you with the comfort needed to enjoy a peaceful summer cruise on the lake.

The seats are removable, meaning you can transform the boat into a one-person kayak whenever you want to. Meanwhile, a pair of 18m double-sided aluminium paddles are included in the package to offer dependable stability and control during paddling.

The Hydro-Force uses a form-fitted build and an integrated drain valve to keep water from getting inside the cockpit. This means incidences of capsizing are rarely on this inflatable kayak.

A removable fin at the bottom is meant to offer directional stability, even at top speeds on the water.

Lastly, the boat can carry a total weight of just under 350 pounds, which is more than you’ll need to take a friend or spouse on an exciting adventure on the lake. Not to mention that you get storage space for extra accessories at the front and back of the kayak. Overall, this a great buy for anyone looking to get a taste of kayaking.

  • Pretested vinyl fabric
  • Two aluminum paddles included
  • Form-fitted construction
  • Integrated drain valve
  • Removable skeg
  • A bit tight for tall riders


So, are inflatable kayaks safe? From the above, we can conclude that there is nothing to be afraid of when you get on the water inside an inflatable kayak.

As long as you get the right quality and brand, they can be safe as their hard-shell counterparts. The five models reviewed above are an example of the quality you can get from the best inflatable kayaks around!


Do Inflatable Kayaks Puncture Easily?

The latest models of inflatable kayaks are a totally different breed! Some of these are constructed with military-grade fabrics to result in a durable and puncture-resistant outer shell.

This heavy-duty shell easily bounces off rock edges, branches, and other debris in the water. Even though punctures are possible, they are very rare and will require a lot of force to compromise the multiple layers of the inflatable kayak.

Are Inflatable Kayaks Good for Beginners?

Most inflatable kayaks provide stable and reliable performance on relatively calm waters- where you’d expect a beginner to paddle.

They are relatively easy to handle and will be the ideal vessel for enthusiasts that are still finding their way around a kayaking paddle. Not to mention that they are cheap, lightweight, and conveniently portable!

Which is Better Between a Sit in ad Sit on Top Kayak?

Both sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks come with unique pros and cons. For instance, sit-on-top kayaks are the better alternative for nervous paddlers and suit well in warm environments.

They are also a nice choice if you are riding with children who want to swim. On the downside, you can expect to get splashed on this design of kayaks, which is not something you’d want when the water is chilly.

Meanwhile, sit-in kayaks do a great job of keeping you dry and protecting you from the cold, although they can be nerve-wracking for rookie paddlers.