Many people use the terms canoe or kayak interchangeably, which got me thinking about the difference and what makes the best inflatable canoe. In terms of inflatable canoes, the distinction has become blurred, partly because of inflatables’ design limitations. You’ll see items listed here advertised as kayaks, but their design is closer to a canoe, so we have included them.
We discuss the differences between kayaks and canoes in more detail later in the article. However, if you really want something that fits the description of a canoe, then it has to be the Sea Eagle TC16. If you are prepared to compromise a little, then we think the Sea Eagle 370 Pro will suit most people. It is supplied with everything you need except PFD’s (Personal Flotation Devices) and comes in at a reasonable price.
- The 10 Best Inflatable Canoes:
- 1. Sea Eagle TC16 Inflatable Travel Canoe
- 2. Advanced Elements Strait Edge
- 3. Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Canoe
- 4. Saturn FK396 Fishing Kayak
- 5. Aire Traveller Inflatable Canoe
- 6. Advanced Elements Island Voyage 2
- 7. Solstice by Swimline Durango
- 8. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
- 9. Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
- 10. Sevylor Coleman Colorado
- Advantages of an inflatable canoe
- Kayak vs. Canoe
The 10 Best Inflatable Canoes:
1. Sea Eagle TC16 Inflatable Travel Canoe
- Two webbing bench seats
- Huge 915-pound weight capacity
- Hand pump, carry bag, and puncture kit supplied
The Sea Eagle is the second most expensive boat on this review, but it is one of the few actual inflatable canoes available. One of the canoe design benefits is the ability to carry heavy loads, and the Sea Eagle doesn’t disappoint. With a maximum weight capacity of 915 pounds, you won’t need to leave anything behind when you set off on your trip.
A benefit of the inflatable design is the canoes lightweight. At 16 feet long but weighing in at just 65 pounds, it is easy to move around and get into the water. When you get back from your trip, it quickly deflates and fits in your trunk using the supplied carry bag.
If you want a true inflatable canoe, this is probably the one.
2. Advanced Elements Strait Edge
- Aluminum ribs fore and aft for improved tracking
- Self-bailing ports
- Built-in rod holders
The Strait Edge is one of the most expensive inflatable canoes on the review but accounts for this with excellent features and build quality. Both the bow and stern sections are reinforced with aluminum ribs for strength and improved straight-line tracking. The outer material is a sandwich of layered vinyl, giving incredible strength and puncture resistance.
In the well, you’ll find self-bailing ports that enable you to automatically empty water when tackling challenging conditions. The ports can be closed in calm conditions.
A generous weight limit of 300 pounds means you can pack all your camping equipment and head off for extended adventures. If you are interested in fishing, there are two built-in rod holders.
The Advanced Elements is an expensive option for a single-seat canoe, but for us, the price is justified.
3. Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Canoe
- Two comfortable padded seats
- Good weight capacity of 650 pounds
- Pump, paddles, and pressure gauge included
- Only ten feet long, so more suited to two people
Our second Sea Eagle canoe on the review, and this time it’s a more standard type of inflatable canoe. Instead of benches, two inflatable padded seats are provided on the floor of the canoe.
The design is open, just like a canoe, and it offers plenty of space for your kit, with a generous 650-pound weight limit. Although sold as a three-person canoe, it is more suitable for two with a small child or a dog.
Fore and aft are covered storage areas for your gear, plus space in the center for heavy items. On the floor is a self-bailing drain, and on the outside are two skegs for good straight-line stability.
4. Saturn FK396 Fishing Kayak
- Two bench seats
- Good weight capacity
- A trolling motor can be fitted
- No self-bailing ports
The Saturn is one of the few inflatables designed like a traditional canoe, with bench seats, an open design, and a high weight carrying capacity. It is a perfect alternative to the conventional hard-shell canoe, offering the advantages of an inflatable boat.
With a carrying capacity of 700 pounds, you can load this canoe with two people and all their camping gear for an extended stay in the great outdoors. When inflated, the high-pressure air floor gives immense rigidity to the canoe, while a double layer of PVC protects the floor from punctures or damage.
For camping and fishing trips with a friend, the Saturn FK396 has everything you need.
5. Aire Traveller Inflatable Canoe
- Two webbing bench seats
- Good weight capacity of 750 pounds
- Price, price, price!
- Paddles and pump are extra
This is by far the most expensive inflatable canoe on the review, the Aire Traveler Canoe. It is constructed of heavy-duty 1300 denier PVC, making it virtually puncture-proof, is 15 feet long, and can carry up to 750 pounds.
Considering the price, you might have thought they would provide everything, but you will still need to buy a pump and paddles. What you do get for your money is a stable, go almost anywhere load carrier.
On the floor are two self-bailing drains, allowing you to tackle white-water areas with confidence, and the wide beam gives excellent stability.
With space for plenty of gear, the Aire Traveller lives up to its name and can take you to faraway places with ease.
6. Advanced Elements Island Voyage 2
- Detachable long tracking fin
- Low weight capacity
The Island Voyage is a more affordable offering from Advanced Elements, priced around $400 instead of nearly $2,000 for the Strait Edge model. Unlike the Strait Edge, this model is more of a hybrid design, with features from both canoe and kayak types.
Matching the lower price, the construction is in 600 denier PVC, with a heavier tarpaulin cover protecting the hull. What may disappoint, compared to other models, is the relatively low carrying capacity of 400 pounds. However, with careful packing, this should be adequate enough.
Along with two adjustable seats, you can find covered storage front and rear, plus bungee cord storage points on top of the spray covers.
Overall, the Island Voyage is a good choice, but some manufacturers offer the same specification at a lower cost.
7. Solstice by Swimline Durango
- Supplied with a repair kit, carry bag, and detachable skeg
- Very light
- Only 440 pounds weight limit
- Paddles and pump are extra
The Durango is another excellent value inflatable canoe, with space for two paddlers and plenty of storage. The construction uses heavy-duty 1000 denier nylon on the bottom and sides for protection from puncture, with lighter 840 denier top covers.
At around 11 feet long and weighing only 29 pounds, the Durango is very easy to move in or out of the water. When you’ve had enough paddling and want to head home, it can be quickly deflated and put in your trunk.
Both the bow and aft sections offer covered storage areas, and there are heavy-duty D ring tie-down points.
Overall, the Durango is a good choice for shorter trips where you don’t need to carry too much gear with you.
8. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
- Supplied with paddles and a pump
- Maximum weight only 400 pounds
- Not the strongest construction
We’ve included the Explorer K2 because although it occupies the very cheapest end of the market, it will be perfectly adequate for someone’s needs. In that sense, it will be the best choice for them.
At only a little over $100, the Explorer allows beginners to get out on the water without spending a fortune, and everything except PFD’s is included.
Even at this low price, there are multiple inflatable compartments and an I-beam floor for added rigidity. No, it isn’t suitable for tackling white-water rapids, but to get you out on lakes and slow rivers, it’s perfectly adequate.
A removable skeg is supplied for directional control, plus grab handles and a grab line front and rear.
9. Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
- Space for three people
- Strong construction
- Maximum weight only 490 pounds
Sevylor makes an extensive range of inflatable canoes and kayaks, and the Big Basin is one of their three-person models. Constructed from heavy-duty PVC with a tarpaulin underside for added puncture protection, the Big Bason will undoubtedly take the knocks with no problem.
However, one serious downside is the low maximum weight of 490 pounds, limiting the amount of gear for three people. That said, with three people on board, there isn’t a tremendous amount of space for equipment on the 12-foot canoe.
Storage is available under spray covers front and rear, but there are no bungee straps on top for additional gear. If you use the canoe for two people, there will be bags of room for the paddlers and their gear.
- Designed for fishermen
- Fishing rod holders
- Paddle holders
- No covered storage
- You pay a lot extra for the fishing equipment
Designed from the ground up as a fishing canoe, the Colorado has plenty of features to keep the angler happy. On the sides are several fixed and quick set adjustable rod holders, there are mesh pockets on the inside to hold spare gear, and paddle holders to keep them out of the way. The Colorado is also built to take a trolling motor for easy maneuvering around your favorite fishing areas.
Constructed from 840 denier nylon, with a 1000 denier tarpaulin cover for the underside, you’ll have little trouble edging into shallow waters to get to the best fishing spots.
If fishing is your main reason for buying an inflatable canoe, this could be ideal.
Advantages of an inflatable canoe
Inflatable canoes weigh considerably less than an equivalent hard-shell model. This makes it easier to transport the canoe to and from your home and help launch and recover it from the water.
Even at the cheaper end of the market, the materials used to build inflatable canoes are solid. The main difference is that cheaper versions often use lighter material for the upper surfaces to save money.
Lots of Storage
The open design of a canoe provides plenty of storage space. Both the bow and stern usually offer covered storage, plus there usually is space in the center between the paddlers. The limiting factor to look out for is the maximum allowed weight.
Easy to transport
Inflatable canoes can be simply deflated for transport and easily fit in the trunk of a car. Compare this to a hard-shell canoe that will most likely need to go on a roof rack.
Easy to launch
Thanks to inflatable canoes’ lightweight design, getting your boat in and out of the water is very easy and easily achieved on your own.
Easy to maintain
Inflatable canoes require very little maintenance if they are stored correctly. The two main points are;
- If you have used your canoe in saltwater, ensure you hose it down thoroughly with clean water before storing it.
- Before storing your canoe, make sure it is 100%
Easy to store
Once deflated, your canoe can be stored in your garage and takes up a relatively small amount of room. So long as the storage area is cool and dry, it’s okay for your inflatable canoe.
While some canoes we have listed today are expensive, you can buy your first inflatable canoe for as little more than $100.
Kayak vs. Canoe
As we touched on in the opening paragraph, the terms canoe and kayak are often used to describe the same boat type. But there are distinct differences between the two.
In a kayak, the deck is closed, allowing you to fit a spray deck if required. You sit in a kayak with your legs stretched out in front of you. The last crucial difference is the paddles. Kayaking paddles have a blade at each end.
Canoes are open deck and generally wider than a kayak. In a canoe, you tend to kneel or quite often sit on a bench. You tend to sit much higher than you do in a kayak and have better visibility. The final difference is that when canoeing, you use a single-bladed paddle.
For inflatable boats, the differences have become blurred. Most inflatable kayaks or canoes are open deck, and you tend to sit in them with your legs outstretched.
Are inflatable canoes safe?
Yes, inflatable canoes are perfectly safe. Follow the same safety guidelines as you would for any watersport, and you’ll have a great time in complete safety.
Can my dog come with me in an inflatable canoe?
Taking your dog is no problem at all. Even the cheaper models will be strong enough. Just make sure you trim your dog’s nails and bring them something to sit on.
Do inflatable canoes require a lot of maintenance?
There’s very little maintenance required, simply rinse your canoe in clean water after use, and allow it to dry completely before putting it into storage.
What are inflatable canoes made of?
All inflatable canoes use PVC variations as their construction material, with the more expensive using the thickest. But even the material used in cheaper inflatable canoes is very rugged.
From our brief review, you can see there is a vast difference in cost and equipment between the top and bottom ends. What is best for you will depend on your particular requirements. Even the cheapest models will provide you with great enjoyment out on the water, and if taken care of, years of use.
This article was last updated on April 22, 2021 .
The Outdoors Blog is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More.