Inflatable kayaks? Have you ever experienced using a self-inflating kayak instead of a solid and conventional kayak? If not, then you must have the concern, is an inflatable kayak safe or not?
There is no doubt we are moving forward toward smart living. Things that do not cover much space and are easy to manage are an attraction for everyone. Inflatable kayaks are a part of this transformation. But there is a question, are inflatable kayaks safe? Not only immature or beginner kayak paddlers but the professionals have similar concerns and questions.
After a lot of studies and my personal experience riding both cheap and luxury inflatable kayaks, I’ve gathered the essentials of inflatable kayak stability.
Let’s get right into it and look at whether inflatable kayaks are safe or not.
Are inflatable kayaks safe? What do paddlers think about it?
Thinking about using an inflatable kayak in the ocean will definitely give you some jitters in the first place. It is apparently not normal or ideally suitable as we do not trust most of the inflatable options around us. There can be punctures, cracks, and other issues. But, this is not the case with portable kayaks at all.
If you question whether an inflatable kayak is worth it then the answer is yes. Inflatable kayaks are not an immature production. It is a product by experts in the industry. Even professionals recognize these kayaks as important and worthy. In many professional contests, these kayaks are used and perform well.
Many of the recreational spots offering kayak activities are using these kayaks and making it normal to see inflatables there. At the beginning for the paddlers, it can be hard to shift from a solid kayak to an inflatable, but it is not that difficult or tricky at all.
What Materials Are Used in Inflatable Kayaks?
One aspect that affects inflatable kayaks’ essential stability is the materials utilized to construct them. PVC is a common material used to construct inflatable kayaks. These vinyl & polyester materials are commonly found in entry-level inflatable kayaks, yet even these budget kayaks withstand severe use rather well.
In certain cases, while making inflatable kayaks, a tough fabric is used for the outside or a fabric core is surrounded by many layers of synthetic rubber. Pick a good kayak constructed of Nitrylon and Hypalon if you want a kayak of the highest quality and one that can handle choppy water, damage, and stony shorelines.
Reasons inflatable kayaks are popular
Ignoring the concerns of inflatable kayaks being reasonable or not, many people get inflatable kayaks for ocean use. Other than the ocean, they approach the kayaks for streams, rivers, and other locations as well. Here are a few reasons why people are into these kayaks most of the time.
Easy with mobility
People who are into kayaks and paddling understand the difficulty of kayaks. Even if you have your own solid kayak, you need to town it in the trunk and then take it with you. Most of the time, paddlers have to access commercial kayaks.
The case is pretty much different in the case of inflatable kayaks. You can pack them in a bag and take them anywhere with you. There is no need to tie it all the way to the car’s roof or hire any specific mover for the job. Just pop out all the air, pack it in the back, carry the pump and you are good to go.
The inflatable kayaks are simple and quick to set up. The effortless settings make it the best option to carry. Though solid kayaks are not too hectic to manage, for the setup and maintenance you need a professional. The case is different from the inflatable kayaks. You just have to attach the air pump whether manual or automated and it is all good to go.
Reachable to difficult locations
For the adventure lover who wants to experience kayaking at difficult or strange locations, it is the best option. There is no restriction on carrying a packed kayak anywhere with you. It is like your backpack buddy. All you need is to manage your weight. When you are good at working with weight, things are pretty awesome. There is no need to struggle for the solid kayak to make it all the way to a stream or any adventure location.
Requires no commercialization
Inflatable kayaks do not require any commercialization. You will find inflatable kayak options by commercial vendors, but it is not essential to take that option. You can have your own kayak yourself and there is no need to worry about the rentals or other things.
Maintenance and clean-up of the kayak are one of the most difficult tasks of all time. You have to come up with a complete maintenance schedule. Things can be hectic when you have a hardshell kayak. With the inflatable kayak, you can make things better and simple. It is easier to manage and maintain it. From clean-up to fixes and other things are on the go.
Selection of inflatable kayaks:
Getting an inflatable kayak is not as easy as you think. It is equally hectic as a hard-shell kayak. Eventually, there are certain factors you need to check out in the kayak. Without these features, you are unable to access the best product. Remember, selecting the right kayak is essential for your experience and safety. One loop in the product selection will eventually get you the most trouble.
Paddler capacity – most kayaks have single paddler or dual paddler capacity. There are special kayaks for more than two paddlers. In the case of inflatable kayaks, you have to choose carefully among the paddler capacity options. Normally, you will get only the two paddler capacities in these kayaks. So select the option as per your preference.
Material classification – although inflatable kayaks are made of special bounce and air pressure handling material. but, you should get confirmation about it. Things need to be clear. There are kayaks available for normal conditions and basic training. You cannot use them in rough water streams. So you should have an idea about the material.
Weight limit – another essential option is the weight limit. You cannot go ahead with the kayak without knowing its weight limit. Check out how much weight it can bear and match it with your requirement.
Safety features – observing the safety features is essential in the selection of the kayaks. Many people have concerns about whether inflatable kayaks are durable or not because they do not know these kayaks have safety features. You need to look into the belts, covers, and rope options in the kayak.
Are Inflatable Kayaks Safe for Children?
Yes. Everyone of any age or size may use an inflatable kayak. They are extremely sturdy and simple to use, making them safe—and enjoyable—for both children and adults.
You want to think about introducing children to inflatable kayaks that are smaller and lighter. Both paddling and controlling them are simpler. Again, if you just take your kids canoeing in calm weather, any kayaking trip will be considerably less perilous.
Can a Dog Fit Inside an Inflatable Kayak?
If you want to take your dogs with you in your inflatable kayak, you may do so without any worries. If your weight and that of your dog are less than the kayak’s carrying capacity, you can paddle comfortably (Overloading a kayak is dangerous). Furthermore, stiff materials are used to create the most inflatable kayaks. You won’t generally need to be concerned about their claws harming your inflatable.
Never forget to bring your pet along on every excursion without a PFD and a leash. Remember to pay attention to how your pet responds to the situation. This is important, especially if this is their first time.
Animals like birds and other animals may easily divert dogs while they are kayaking. When investigating locations farther out in the ocean, it’s better to stay close to the beach and only travel short distances. They might swim to shore if your dog becomes agitated or jumps out of your kayak.
Inflatable kayak vs solid
There is always a fight between the users of inflatable kayaks vs hardshell kayak users. It is a fact that people have their own preferences. They like or dislike a few products based on their experience, preferences, and information.
Here is the common ground of argument between inflatable and hard shell kayaks:
1. Ease of use
Using solid kayaks requires you to be in a specific environment and keep it right there. If you believe in moving the kayak with you, then it is a mess and hectic as well. Instead, an inflatable is the appropriate alternative and gives you the ultimate ease of use.
2. Purchase cost
Both kinds of kayaks do have a difference in their overall cost. Hardshell kayaks are more expensive than inflatable kayaks. Eventually, you cannot have a solid kayak for personal use and enjoy it anytime. Whereas, an inflatable is the best option for you to access and make the most out of the lesser investment.
3. Maintenance cost
The maintenance cost for inflatable kayaks is far less than the hardshell kayaks. The cleaning, drying, fixing, and other things with the hardshell kayaks are difficult. Along with a kayak you need to get a maintenance kit or hire professionals for the cleaning.
4. Damage vulnerability
No matter how durable inflatable kayaks are, these cannot stand hardshell durability. Solid kayaks have their own perks of durability that make them better and all-time preferred.
Inflatable Kayak Safety Precautions-2023
Before getting in the water, thoroughly check your kayak. Around the seals, look for any indications of leakage. Make sure the valves are in good shape and are properly plugged after that. Moreover, make sure the PFD & kayak seats are in good working order.
- Keep your inflatable kayak off of dirt and pebbles. Damage and punctures are more likely as a result. Instead, think about purchasing a kayak cart and enlisting the assistance of a paddling companion to get your kayak to and from the sea.
- Have a repair kit with you everywhere you go. While they don’t happen often, punctures can happen. It’s always a good idea to be ready for punctures. Thankfully, kayak repairs are rather simple and you can rapidly apply patches.
- Never let your kayak have too much or too little air. You must adhere to the pound-per-square-inch (PSI) recommendation made by the manufacturer. To get the best performance out of your kayak, you must inflate to that recommended PSI.
- Whether you’re kayaking in calm water or a swift river, your inflatable kayak will absorb some water. To physically drain the water from your vessel, you must carry a bilge pump.
- While kayaking, use a life jacket at all times. It doesn’t matter whether the weather is perfect and you can swim well; you still need to be wearing a life jacket. Wearing a life vest is mandated by law in many states & recreational areas, and it does more than just keep you safe when you’re on the water.
- Your kayak will stay stable & balanced if the weight is distributed equally throughout it.
- Due to their little weight, inflatable kayaks should not be used on windy days.
- Never kayak by yourself or without letting friends or family know where you’re going.
- Avoid paddling too far from shore. You should swiftly paddle to land if you capsize and suffer a puncture.
5. Inflatable kayaks pros and cons
- Quick to set up
- Easy to move from one place to the other
- An ideal option to own a personal kayak
- Support all the adventures
- Smart maintenance
- Open up a number of possibilities to enjoy and have thrills
- Comes with weight limits
- Balancing with it is difficult initially
- Requires practice to make it work
- The filling pumps can be heavy to carry
- Vulnerable to damages like punctures in severe conditions
- Not a good option to have on extreme shores or streams
Talking about the best kayaks for rivers, many people have questions and concerns about them. Normally, we consider inflatable options as subsidiary options, eventually, these are not as bad as one can think of. Here are some common questions that help you understand are blowing up kayaks is good or not.
Should I buy an inflatable kayak?
If you love adventure water sports and want to have a personalized experience, an inflatable kayak is a right choice. It lets you have an accessible kayak with you all the time and you can even use it anywhere you like. There is no hassle of renting a kayak or sticking to specific kayak spots.
Does inflatable kayak damage easily?
It is not right to say that inflatable kayaks damage easily. These are definitely made of tough material that is quite resistant to minimal threats.
But, it is not as tough as a fiver kayak so you have to be careful with its usage. If you are using it with care, eventually you will have the best performance by kayak.
Do inflatable kayaks pop easily?
Inflatable kayaks are not like the usual inflatable tubes and other options we can use in general. It is quite different and does not pop easily.
The tough material makes them able to sustain minor pinches, rocks, thrusts, and more. One can safely have a kayak experience with these inflatables.
How much weight can an inflatable kayak carry?
It is tricky to know one final weight limit for inflatable kayaks. You cannot ignore the inflatable kayak weight limits. The normal range of the kayak is 400 lbs whereas the advanced portable kayak comes with a limit of around 750 lbs. It is a massive and impressive weight limit for sure.
Is it difficult to use an inflatable kayak?
No, using an inflatable kayak is not as difficult as people think. Normally, paddlers have concerns about its stability and balance.
It is designed to provide the perfect balance even if the inflatable kayak in the ocean works perfectly with the waves and water stream. It does not give any hard time with kayak handling and paddling.
How safe are inflatable kayaks?
Yes, these kayaks are made with expertise by professionals to ensure you will have an amazing kayak experience. These are safe and tough just like any regular kayak. You just have to understand its paddling technique and have amazing experiences. The problems like popping or punctures exist but these are not frequent or common.
How long do inflatable kayaks last?
To be safe with the inflatable kayaks you have to understand their life cycle. The average life cycle of the best-way inflatable kayak is from five to ten years. The life of the inflatable kayaks, provides proof of their strength, quality made, and sustainability.
People in love with kayaks and prefer to experience kayaking differently should think about having the best kayaks for rivers. The portable kayak is in trend and available everywhere. If you are hesitant to think about are inflatable kayaks safe, good? Then, the answer is yes. These kayaks are safe, good, and long-lasting. You can have all the kayak paddling adventures with these inflatable kayaks. All you need is to select the best kayaks for the ocean, river, or any other stream.
To avoid any major damage or loss with the inflatable kayak, make sure to have the best inflatable kayak repair kit with you. Though kayaks do not damage frequently, you can still face issues anytime. Having a quick repair kit will help you in avoiding a critical situation.
Meet Bian, a passionate watersports enthusiast and founder of kayakwave.com
Brian has written guides extensively about kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, sharing surfing tips, techniques, and personal experiences with readers. Brian has also contributed to many publications and websites, sharing his expertise and love of the water with others.