Getting out on the water in my kayak is one of my favorite ways to explore. This got me thinking about which is the best one-person inflatable kayak currently on the market, so I did some research.
The Intex Challenger gets an honorable mention as a great value for money one-person kayak. Thanks to a balance of cost, performance, and quality materials, the Driftsun Rover 120 is our choice of the best one-person inflatable kayak. You can go almost anywhere in the Driftsun, taking everything you need for an extended trip, and thanks to the quality, it will give you years of use.
- The 10 Best One Person Inflatable Kayaks:
- 1. Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak
- 2. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak
- 3. Advanced Elements FireFly Inflatable Kayak
- 4. Airhead Montana TK-1 Kayak
- 5. Advanced Elements Strait Edge Inflatable Kayak
- 6. Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
- 7. Sea Eagle SE330 Inflatable Sports Kayak Pro Solo Package
- 8. Bestway Hydro-Force Koracle Inflatable Kayak Set
- 9. Driftsun Rover 120/220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak
- 10. ADVANCED ELEMENTS AirFusion Evo Inflatable Kayak
- Advantages of an inflatable kayak
- Type of inflatable kayaks
The 10 Best One Person Inflatable Kayaks:
1. Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak
- Complete package, including paddle, pump and carry bag
- Not the strongest construction
The Intex Challenger is one of the cheaper models here but doesn’t fail to impress nonetheless.
Constructed from tough vinyl with welded seams, the K1 version is ideal for the single paddler who wants an affordable way to get out on the water. An I-beam floor panel gives improved rigidity, while two inflatable chambers form the upper surfaces. That said, something has to give at this price, and the construction is not as robust as more expensive competitors.
The Challenger will cope well with exploring lakes and slow-flowing rivers, but don’t try taking this boat out in rough weather.
A removable skeg gives you straight-line stability and allows you to get into shallow water without getting snagged.
Overall, the Challenger is perfect for the beginner taking their first steps in the world of inflatable kayaks.
2. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak
- Performance to rival high-end hard-shell kayaks
- Seven separate air chambers
- Robust construction
The Advanced Elements is firmly at the top end of the market of inflatable kayaks and suits the expert paddler looking for an extremely competent boat.
The AdvancedFrame is a hybrid kayak, combining folding frame and inflatable technologies to get the best of both worlds. Aluminum ribs in the bow and stern give exceptional rigidity and performance that rivals the best hard-shell kayaks. Despite this, the kayak can still fit in the trunk of your car.
With a weight capacity of 300 pounds and plenty of storage space, this is perfect for long trips exploring the great outdoors. The outer material is 1000 denier PVC, using a layered design for extra strength, making it puncture-proof.
Expert paddlers looking for a long term kayak will find the AdvancedFrame is ideal.
3. Advanced Elements FireFly Inflatable Kayak
- Very lightweight
- Compact design for easy storage
- Less than eight feet long
- Low maximum weight capacity
The Firefly is another excellent design from Advanced Elements, aiming to reduce the kayak’s size and weight. At just 16 pounds, the Firefly is undoubtedly very light, but the compromise here is that it’s under 8 feet long, making it cramped for taller paddlers. This also reduces the storage capacity, of course.
Despite the compromises, the Firefly makes an excellent kayak for shorter trips, and it’s strong enough to tackle challenging waters. Both the bow and stern feature rigid sections to improve both straight-line tracking and the ease of cutting through the water.
Underneath, there is a landing plate to protect the skin of the kayak and a skeg to further aid tracking.
The Firefly is one of the more expensive kayaks here but justifies its price with robust features.
4. Airhead Montana TK-1 Kayak
- Good weight capacity of 300 pounds
- Reinforced bow and stern
- Not great for challenging water conditions
Airhead’s Montana K-1 kayak has been designed to cope with anything from gentle lakes up to mild white-water conditions. Constructed from 840 denier PVC, using three separate air chambers and a reinforced bottom, the Montana is built to last. Underneath, you’ll also find four skegs to give improved tracking.
There is a drain hole in the kayak base, although it is not of the self-bailing type, unfortunately.
At nine feet long, there is plenty of storage space to take advantage of the 900-pound weight limit. In the bow is a bungee cord storage area to secure your gear safely. You’ll also find stainless steel D-rings for attaching your gear fore and aft.
5. Advanced Elements Strait Edge Inflatable Kayak
- Built-in aluminum ribs for strength
- Self-bailing drain hole
The bow and stern of the Strait Edge kayak have built-in aluminum ribs for improved open water performance. Advanced Elements concentrated on making the hull shape as close as possible to a hard-shell kayak, giving excellent performance but with much less weight.
The excellent design means the Strait Edge can be used in class III white-water conditions with confidence. Heavy-duty tarpaulin covers the air chambers, giving exceptional protection from punctures. Despite the robust construction, the boat can be deflated quickly and stored in the supplied carry bag.
Anglers will appreciate the two built-in rod holders, allowing them to fish hands-free, and the maximum useful weight capacity of 300 pounds.
The only real downside to the Strait Edge is the price, but it’s not a kayak you’ll need to replace very often.
6. Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
- Quick five minute inflation time
- The seat forms a backpack for storage and carrying
- Limited storage space
The Sevylor K1 is ideal for single paddlers that want to travel light or hike to an out of the way lake to explore. Weighing just 18 pounds and complete with a backpack system that unfolds to form the seat, it is ideal for investigating that inaccessible lake you’ve found.
Although the storage space is limited, there is a bungee cord area on the bow and a generous 400-pound weight limit.
Constructed from 21-gauge PVC, the K1’s outer surface is tough, with a reinforced tarpaulin bottom. Discovering the shallow areas of a lake won’t be a problem in the K1.
7. Sea Eagle SE330 Inflatable Sports Kayak Pro Solo Package
- Five chamber I-frame floor
- Twin skegs for enhanced tracking
- 500 pounds load capacity
- Not the quickest kayak in the water
Supplied as a kit with everything you need, the Sea Eagle SE330 is excellent value. The package includes the 11-foot kayak, a paddle, foot pump, carry bag, and a puncture repair kit.
For a single person kayak, the SE330 has a very useful carrying capacity of 500 pounds, so you’ll have no trouble at all taking all your camping gear on extended trips.
The SE330 is constructed from durable 33 mm PVC, with a five-chamber I-frame floor giving both rigidity and improved tracking. At the rear of the floor are twin skegs to further enhance straight-line stability.
Although built as a single-seat kayak, there is space for two if the second person is relatively small or a child.
Overall, a great package to get you on the water.
8. Bestway Hydro-Force Koracle Inflatable Kayak Set
- Plenty of features
- Complete with paddles and a hand pump
- Cheap, lightweight construction
- Poor seat backrest
The Bestway Koracle is an inflatable sit-on kayak that sits at the bottom of the price range, but it offers some notable features.
But first, it has to be said that the PVC material used is lighter than most of the kayaks in this article. This makes the Koracle easy to carry around but may be reflected in its longevity.
So, to the features. You’ll find a built-in rod holder, perfect for a little fishing, paddle clips on the side, and two bungee storage areas. A grab rope wraps around the whole of the kayak, making it easy to handle in the water, and four built-in skegs help improve the straight-line tracking.
Overall, the Koracle delivers what you’d expect at this price, and it’s not a bad kayak for beginners.
9. Driftsun Rover 120/220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak
- Plenty of features
- Complete with paddles and a hand pump
- Cheap, lightweight construction
- Poor seat backrest
Located firmly in the mid-priced area, the Driftsun Rover 120 packs plenty of features found on more expensive models. It is built from 1000 denier PVC, with a heavy-duty tarpaulin PVC bottom cover, almost eliminating the possibility of punctures completely.
Aiding the strength and stability is a high-pressure floor, while a removable rear tracking fin improves tracking. Thanks to the kayak strength, it is rated as suitable for up to class IV white water, making this a go-anywhere boat.
Storage is well catered for with covered areas fore and aft and plenty of tiedown points. Combined with the ample 300-pound weight capacity and its strength, the Rover is capable of taking you almost anywhere.
10. ADVANCED ELEMENTS AirFusion Evo Inflatable Kayak
- Aluminum inner keel
- Five chambers
- A spray skirt can be attached
- Paddle and pump sold separately
We left the most expensive single person inflatable kayak until last. The Advanced Elements AirFusion Evo sells at around $2000, but this a kayak that will last you a lifetime.
The Evo features a hybrid design, with an aluminum frame inside the inflatable shell for strength and a V-hull shape. There are also thwarts fore and aft to help keep the shape of the kayak. A drop stitch main chamber gives rigidity and the classic kayak shape.
The sturdy frame, heavy-duty PVC shell, and streamlined shape mean the Evo can hold its own against similar hard-shell kayaks.
For serious paddlers that don’t want the inconvenience of a hard-shell, the Evo may be a perfect choice.
Advantages of an inflatable kayak
Compared to their hard-shell cousins, inflatable kayaks offer considerable weight saving. This helps get the kayak in and out of the water but is also less tiring while paddling.
Gone are the days of poorly constructed inflatable kayaks from cheap materials. Even the most inexpensive in this article will give you years of reliable service with little problem. You do need to bear in mind, of course, that the cheaper models are not designed for anything more than lakes and slow-flowing rivers. Taking them out on white-water is asking for trouble.
Lots of Storage
In general, inflatables offer plenty of storage, which is often covered, with plenty of tie-downs. However, a couple of the shorter designs in this review are a little lacking in this department, preferring to offer an ultra-light kayak, sacrificing storage.
Easy to transport
One of the biggest attractions of inflatable kayaks is how easy they are to transport to and from the water. No more need to heave a heavy hard-shell kayak onto a roof rack or tow a trailer behind you; simply deflate your kayak and put it in the trunk.
Easy to launch
The lightweight is the main factor, here again, allowing you to launch and recover your kayak by yourself quickly. Even inflatable kayaks designed for two people can usually be handled easily by a single person.
Easy to maintain
There is very little maintenance to be carried out on an inflatable kayak. So long as you wash the kayak in freshwater after every use and make sure it is completely dry before putting it in storage, you’ll have no trouble at all.
Easy to store
Although they vary in size, once deflated, an inflatable kayak will usually fit in the trunk of your car with no problem, and you can store it in the corner of your garage. So long as the storage area is dry, without extremes of temperature, your kayak will be in perfect condition the next time you want to use it.
Compared to traditional hard-shell kayaks, inflatable boats are very affordable. There is a kayak for all budgets, with the cheapest boat here priced at just over $100 and the most expensive topping $2,000.
Type of inflatable kayaks
Sit on top
A sit-on-top kayak is exactly what it sounds like. The deck is flat without sides. This provides advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, there are no obstructions for your arms when you are paddling, and they are virtually impossible to capsize. On the negative side, they tend to offer less storage, and you are completely exposed to the elements.
Like a traditional kayak or canoe; you sit on a bench or seat with sides of varying height. Because the main area of the kayak is enclosed, there usually is plenty of storage space. You are also protected a little from the water.
If you see the term self-bailing, it refers to the drains in the kayak floor. It may seem odd to the inexperienced to have drain holes in the bottom of the kayak. You might think they would let water in. However, when you are in white water areas, the boat will quickly fill with water if it had nowhere to go. The disadvantage of self-bailing rains is that if you are not moving fast enough, the water can actually come into the boat. For this reason, you will need to seal the holes when using the kayak on lakes or slow-flowing rivers.
A standup paddleboard is a distinct type of boat that is much closer to a surfboard than a kayak. As the name suggests, you stand or sit on the board, and you use a kayak style paddle to propel yourself along.
Are inflatable kayaks safe?
Yes, inflatable kayaks are perfectly safe. You should, of course, take the exact same precautions you would for any water sport. Some people are concerned that the kayak may sink if it gets a puncture. However, even the cheapest kayaks have multiple air chambers, so should one be punctured, you can get back to land with the other chambers inflated.
Are inflatable kayaks easy to paddle?
Yes, very easy. There are differences depending on the design, and generally, the more expensive inflatables will be closer to the performance of a hard-shell kayak.
Can you repair punctures in inflatable kayaks?
Yes, and many of the kayaks listed in the article are supplied with a repair kit. You can only repair small holes with the kit, but some companies can repair larger holes if necessary.
How should I store my inflatable kayak?
This is entirely up to you. If you have space, there is no reason why you cannot store the kayak inflated. We do suggest that you deflate the kayak slightly to remove the pressure from the seams. The best storage is probably deflated in the provided carry bag. This protects the kayak from dust and debris and also shields it from direct sunlight.
We have covered a vast price range of one-person inflatable kayaks in this article, from boats costing just over $100 to one priced at over $2,000. All have their pros and cons, and the right one for you will depend on what you intend to do in the kayak. The cheaper ones will not stand up to white water, of course, but if you just want to paddle around quiet lakes, it will be perfectly adequate.
Whichever inflatable kayak you choose, you’re guaranteed to have a great time on the water.
This article was last updated on August 30, 2021 .
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