(photo courtesy of @stacey_joy)
Inflatable kayaks have been getting very popular, and for many good reasons. But they also bring up several questions you don’t have to answer with a hardshell kayak. In this video, Aqua Bound ProStaffer Ken Whiting talks about what you need to know about inflatable kayaks:
Why Choose an Inflatable Kayak?
The two main reasons paddlers choose an inflatable kayak over a hardshell kayak are:
- Inflatables are super portable
- Inflatables are easy to store
You don’t need roof racks, trailers or garages to transport and store an inflatable. For many it may be their only option for owning their own kayak.
What Are the Disadvantages of an Inflatable Kayak?
COST: A similar size inflatable recreational kayak will cost more than a hardshell kayak.
PERFORMANCE: A hardshell kayak will outperform an inflatable just about every time. However, the higher quality inflatables are getting pretty close.
DURABILITY: Again, the higher quality inflatables are surprisingly durable. But they’re still not as rough-and-tumble as a hardshell.
Will the Quality Hold Up?
There’s a wide range of quality in inflatable kayaks, from box store brands to highly-specialized brands. Generally, the more you spend the more durable and comfortable it will be.
Ask yourself how much kayaking you plan to do in the next few years, and what type of water conditions you want to paddle on.
The performance of a $500 inflatable, like the Advanced Elements model in the video won’t be as good as the $1,000 Sea Eagle model. With higher quality inflatables, you’ll have better features like drop-stitch construction that allows for higher PSI inflation. You’ll have foot pegs that make your kayaking a full-body workout and give more stability.
Especially if you have a high-end kayak paddle, you’ll definitely notice the performance difference between the lower end and higher end inflatable kayaks.
(photo courtesy of @wish.to.wander)
If you plan to paddle some whitewater with rocks and other hazards, you’ll want the most durable material you can get in your budget. That means a higher-end kayak.
In the unlikely event you get a puncture in your inflatable, any inflatable should be able to be repaired quickly and easily (if you keep your repair kit in your kayak!!).
The valves are the weak point of inflatables. Grit, sand or dirt in the valves can prevent a complete seal, and therefore cause a slow leak. Keep it protected with the cover. And all these parts (from a quality manufacturer) can be replaced.
How Do You Care For an Inflatable Kayak?
Never store an inflatable in the sun (actually, no kayak should be stored in the sun!). It’ll weaken the PVC and other fabrics. You can buy a spray-on protectant to help with that for those paddling hours.
Ideally, you’ll dry out your inflatable completely before folding or rolling it up for storage again. But if you don’t have time or space for that, give it a good towel dry when you’re off the water, and that can do the trick, too.
How Do You Choose an Inflatable Kayak?
There are SO MANY inflatable options on the market these days, so you really need to ask yourself how you plan to use it.
A quality inflatable can handle quite a load! (photo courtesy of Rebecca T.)
Do you want a kayak just to tool around the lake once in awhile at the cabin or local river? Do you want one you can take on day tours? Will you want to run whitewater? Answer that question first, then establish your budget and go from there.
Hope that helps! Happy paddling :)
We want to help you find the paddle that’s right for you! Contact our friendly Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]
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