Getting out on the water in a kayak is great fun, and an inflatable kayak makes it easy. No need for a roof rack and large storage area at home, these inflatable kayaks will fold down into the size of an extra-large rucksack.
- Inflatable Kayaks Under $500 Summary Table
- Inflatable Kayak FAQs
- What are Inflatable Kayaks made of?
- Is it Easy to Damage an Inflatable Kayak?
- Are Inflatable Kayaks Safe?
- Can I take my dog in an Inflatable Kayak?
- Do Inflatable Kayaks have Storage Space?
- The 5 Best Inflatable Kayaks Under $500 (Review):
- 1. Bestway Hydro-Force 2-Person Inflatable Kayak
- 2. Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Inflatable Kayak
- 3. Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe 3 Person Inflatable Kayak
- 4. Solstice by Swimline Durango Inflatable Kayak
- 5. Intex 68310VM Dakota K2 2-Person Inflatable Kayak
- Benefits of an Inflatable Kayak
- Types of Inflatable Kayak
Our review of the five best inflatable kayaks under $500 will help you find the perfect boat for your next adventure on the water.
Inflatable Kayaks Under $500 Summary Table
Here’s a quick summary of the best inflatable kayaks under $500 currently on the market. You can find our full review of each tent a bit further down.
Inflatable Kayak FAQs
What are Inflatable Kayaks made of?
PVC is the most popular material, and the majority of inflatable kayaks currently use this material. Pennel Orca is often used as an outer coating but is more expensive. Nitrylon is heavy and only used by a limited number of companies at the moment.
Is it Easy to Damage an Inflatable Kayak?
No, not at all. The materials used are very tough and hard-wearing. Of course, the strength of the kayak is dependant on the materials used, and as the price decreases, so the thickness of the material will decrease. Taking a little care, such as not dragging your kayak over rough stony ground, and being careful when approaching a dock, and you won’t have any issues.
More susceptible to leaks are the seams. These usually are heat-sealed, but inevitably they are a weak point.
As inflatable kayaks are made from plastic materials, the kayaks can suffer damage by UV light from the sun. Protective coatings are available to prevent this.
Are Inflatable Kayaks Safe?
Yes, they are very safe. Probably the most critical safety feature is that all inflatable kayaks contain separate air compartments. This means that if one chamber deflates, you won’t sink, and will be able to continue back to safety.
Besides the kayak safety, there are standard safety precautions to take when setting out on the water.
- Always wear a personal flotation device.
- Check the weather forecast before setting out.
- Make sure you know about any tides.
- Keep an eye on the wind. Paddling into a strong headwind is hard work.
Following these simple rules, and perhaps taking some training will give you years of safe fun on the water.
Can I take my dog in an Inflatable Kayak?
Yes, taking your dog in the majority of inflatable kayaks is not a problem. Even the cheapest models are made of materials that won’t be damaged by a dogs claws.
Do Inflatable Kayaks have Storage Space?
In most cases, your kayak will have bungee hooks or D-rings built-in along the side, and some have bungee straps fitted. If there are no D-rings, you can buy them and glue them on. The spray decks usually make a good area for storing items, plus some kayaks will have storage areas.
The 5 Best Inflatable Kayaks Under $500 (Review):
Below take a more in-depth look at each of the inflatable kayaks under $500 we believe work great in all conditions:
The Bestway Hydro-Force kayak is designed for two people (tandem) and can carry a maximum weight of 400 lbs. The Hydro-Force is part of Bestway’s premium range and features a durable vinyl construction resistant to ultraviolet light, oil, and salt-water.
Featuring a quick inflate/deflate valve, you’ll soon be out on the water with the Hydro-Force. Inflation takes only around five minutes, and once deflated, the kayak folds to a small size for easy storage and transportation.
You’ll find D-rings on both sides of the kayak near the front and back, perfect for packing your camping gear and setting off on an expedition.
The streamlined and hydrodynamic design of the hull allows the Bestway to cut smoothly through the water. Along the center of the hull is a removable keel fin to aid directional stability.
Supplied with two lightweight aluminum reinforced paddles, you have all you need for a great adventure on the water. This sit-on style inflatable kayak is perfect for getting out and exploring some gentle rivers, but it can also cope with more challenging waters if required.
- Plenty of room for two people
- Comfortable inflatable seats
- Reasonable price for a two-person inflatable kayak
- The construction is not as durable as some others
The Sevylor Quikpak K5 is a one-person sit-in style inflatable kayak that is packed with great features. Taking only five minutes to set up, the Quikpak K5 gives you more time on the water and less time onshore.
If you enjoy hiking and getting out on the river, the K5 could be just right. When packed down, it converts into a rucksack for carrying, and when you want to start paddling, the backpack becomes the seat. The paddles break down and attach to the backpack’s side, and there’s also room for the pump. On the water, you stow the pump in one of the convenient storage areas.
Constructed in tough 24-gauge PVC, the underside also has a tarpaulin cover, and there is a separate polyester cover for the top. All this makes the Sevylor Quikpak K5 extraordinarily durable and gives excellent protection from punctures.
- Solid construction
- Packs down into a rucksack for easy carrying
- Built-in D-rings
- Storage areas
- Multiple air chambers and Airtight System for safety
- Supplied with a pump
- Badly designed paddle
- Seat comfort compromised by doubling as a bag
- Doesn’t drain very well
Although there is room for three people, there are actually only two seats on the Sea Eagle 370 inflatable kayak. The space is great for carrying extra equipment or maybe your dog, though.
The Sea Eagle is particularly safe during use, thanks to the multiple air compartments. The only slight downside to this is that it takes a little longer to inflate. The floor alone has five compartments that create grooves running the full length of the kayak for improved tracking. Also, keeping the Sea Eagle heading in the right direction are two skegs at the rear of the kayak.
While the Sea Eagle 370 has plenty of room for gentle paddling and carrying camping gear, it’s also been designed for more exciting water. It’s been tested on class I, II, and III rapids, and it’s perfectly capable of taking two people and their gear for an exciting adventure!
Overall, the Sea Eagle 370 inflatable kayak offers a great way of getting on the water quickly and exploring even some of the roughest waters you can find. A dependable kayak at a reasonable price.
- Includes foot pump, paddles and carry bag
- Paddles breakdown into four parts for carrying
- 650 lbs carrying capacity
- Two skegs for improved tracking
- Multiple air compartments for added safety
- Seats not very comfortable
Built from 22-gauge K-80 PVC, with an 840 Denier nylon top cover and 1000 Denier nylon bottom, the Solstice is a sturdy inflatable kayak. It is supplied with two seats but can be adapted to just one position with massive carrying capacity. Great for long solo expeditions. The bucket seats are nylon covered, and their location is easily adjusted within the kayak.
Storage areas are provided on both the front and back, with built-in bungees. There is also undercover storage front and rear, plus plenty of room behind the rear paddler’s seat.
Underneath, the bottom of the kayak is V-shaped to assist with directional stability, plus there is a detachable skeg at the rear.
- Plenty of storage for camping gear
- Durable construction
- An electric trolling motor can be attached
- Sturdy base, suitable for dogs
- Does not include a pump
- Does not include paddles
- Poorly designed seats
The Intex is the most expensive in our review but justifies the price through added features and the brand name of Intex. It’s constructed from heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl, has three separate air chambers, and an I-beam in the floor panel for added rigidity.
There is room for two paddlers, with adjustable seats and storage areas, both front and rear. Grab handles on the front and rear make portaging easy, especially as the Dakota K2 only weighs 31 lbs. There are grab ropes along both sides at the front and back, should you end up in the water.
Two skegs are supplied, a long one for straight-line stability on smooth waters, and a short skeg for quick turns in more challenging waters.
The total carrying capacity of the Dakota K2 is 400 lbs, so even with two paddlers board, there is plenty of spare capacity for your camping gear. Included in the price is everything you need, right down to two dry bags for your equipment. However, at around $450, it is the most expensive here, so you would expect everything to be included.
- Strong construction
- Carrying capacity
- Carry bag and two dry bags included
- Large and small skegs supplied
- Paddles breakdown for carrying
Benefits of an Inflatable Kayak
Inflatable kayaks are easy to carry and store, thanks to their small size. Unlike traditional hard-shelled kayaks, an inflatable will pack down to the size of a large suitcase. This means that you don’t need a roof rack to transport the kayak, you can simply throw it in the back of your car. Some are even small enough to take backpacking. When not in use, it only takes a small space in your garage.
Compared to a hardshell kayak, inflatables are much lighter. If you intend to go on more extended expeditions, you may need to portage your kayak, which could help you decide on an inflatable against a hardshell.
Thanks to their design, inflatable kayaks tend to be a little broader and more stable than hard-shelled kayaks. This is great for nervous first-time paddlers!
Tracking Fin (skeg)
Flat bottomed boats like kayaks can be difficult to paddle in a straight line. Tracking fins attached to the underside of the hull helps prevent drift and keep the nose of the kayak pointing the right direction.
Types of Inflatable Kayak
These are aimed at more experienced paddlers, that want to tackle fast-moving whitewater. Ports located along the bottom of the kayak allow water to escape as you progress through the whitewater area.
On a flat, slow-moving water surface, the ports will allow water to enter the kayak. If you don’t intend to do much whitewater paddling and want to stay dry, don’t buy a self-bailing kayak.
Traditional hardshell kayaks are all sit-in, and typically have a spray deck to cover the canoe opening, keeping water out. Some sit-on kayaks are almost like a stand-up paddleboard, where you sit on the top deck. Others have a wide opening, which allows easier access and allows more water to splash into the kayak.
These are more like traditional hardshell kayaks, where your legs are inside the boat, and a spray deck can be attached. These are great during cold or wet weather, keeping you dry and warm compared to the sit-on style.
Like the sit-in style, the sides of the canoe-style kayak are higher, and the seats tend to be larger. Because of the high sides, you tend to use single blade paddles in the canoe-style kayak.
Inflatable kayaks have improved immensely over the years. Once considered only suitable for gentle river paddling, there are now boats that can take you down challenging rapids if you should desire!
We have two favorites from this review. First, the Sevylor Quikpak K5 if you are paddling alone, and second the Intex Dakota K2 if you’re paddling with a friend. Both offer robust and durable construction, plenty of features, and should give you years of trouble-free kayaking.
The Outdoors Blog is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More.