We all want to adventure on the water with ease, taking in all that nature has to offer us in breath-taking ways, and one of the best ways to do that is via inflatable kayak. There are a plethora of amazing benefits when it comes to an inflatable kayak, which is why we’ll be talking about what it is, how it works, and everything you need to know on why you should get an inflatable kayak.
What Is An Inflatable Kayak?
A recreational inflatable kayak, often referred to as a "blow-up kayak", is a kayak that is stable and easy to paddle, and can be inflated in minutes and deflated for convenient transportation. There are numerous styles of inflatable kayaks, but most fall into the categories of sit-on-top kayaks, sit-inside kayaks, and decked kayaks. From here, there are more hybrid types, often referred to as stand-up kayaks, kayak paddle boards, SUP kayaks, hybrid kayaks, or hybrid paddle boards, like our very own Switch model.
When it comes to inflatable kayaks, there are a wide range of price and construction options. From “pool toy” style inflatables that can be as cheap as $200, to high-quality inflatables that cost $2,000 and beyond, there’s an abundance of choices you can choose from.
More so, if you’re familiar with kayaking, you know that feeling confident and in control when paddling out is a key factor to a successful kayaking trip. So, you may be wondering: is it harder to paddle an inflatable kayak than a hard-shell kayak? Not at all! In fact, they can be easier to paddle as they are softer and more comfortable than rigid kayaks. They’re also more forgiving to the user, or anyone nearby who happens to bump into the boat!
Do Inflatable Kayaks Hold Up?
When it comes to inflatable kayaks or inflatable paddle board hybrids, one of the top features to look for is long-term durability. Obviously, you’ll want a watercraft that will hold up on multiple bodies of water, and that will last as you repeatedly inflate and deflate it for easy travel and storage, which is one of the greatest advantages to having a kayak that’s inflatable.
However, there is a wide range of inflatable constructions, and the quality of that construction is what will end up determining just how long your inflatable kayak will hold up. Some are quite thin and made for light use, and won’t take much abuse without risk of puncture. On the other hand, you have kayaks that are durable enough to be taken down whitewater rapids and can even bounce off rocks! In order to make sure you end up choosing the best inflatable kayak, you'll want to take a closer look at the material.
Durable materials are what make the difference between a cheaper inflatable kayak and a quality model. Try to look for thicker PVC or TPU material, at least 0.7mm thick for a kayak that will last years without any worry of it puncturing during every use. Drop-stitch kayaks add additional rigidity and are very durable. ISLE Switch models feature a rugged drop-stitch construction that is also extremely lightweight for added convenience.
For high-pressure models featuring a drop-stitch construction, you’ll need a high-pressure pump with a gauge that goes upwards of 15psi. Lower pressure models can use a simple pump and inflate to around 3psi.
Inflatable kayaks are typically very stable, especially recreational models designed for ease of use. Stability depends primarily on width, as well as length to some degree depending on how many paddlers are using the vessel. If you're specifically looking for a tandem kayak, you'll want to make sure you choose one that can hold a weight capacity for multiple people, without having to sacrifice stability or durability.
What Are The Advantages Of An Inflatable Kayak?
The one big advantage for all inflatable kayaks over hard shell kayaks (rigid kayaks), is that they are very portable and can be stored away in a small space. Other advantages depend on the style and type of inflatable. The ISLE Switch for example, is very lightweight, making it extremely easy to carry and load. As a plus, there's no need for a roof rack to transport your kayak, as it can easily fit in a storage bag, trunk, back seat, closet, and more.
There are a wide variety of inflatable kayaks for all types of activities. Most are designed for use in calm bodies of water for recreational use, but depending on the material and design, inflatable kayaks can also be used for fishing, whitewater, touring, and open ocean paddling. In comparison to a hardshell kayak, inflatable kayaks offer the advantage of being a lot more lightweight, so you can travel to your preferred body of water with the intention of doing any of these activities with ease.
Another advantage to having an inflatable kayak, is that it can also be a hybrid paddle board and kayak! Hybrid inflatable kayaks that convert into a paddle board are very versatile and let you choose your adventure depending on the water conditions around you and what you’re in the mood for. However, be sure to look for key features that optimize both the kayak and paddle board use. Just because it’s a “hybrid” doesn’t mean it does both (or either activity) very well.
Our Best Recommendation For An Inflatable Kayak
When it comes to the best inflatable kayak out there, we can't help but to recommend our very own Switch, a paddle board and kayak hybrid. This inflatable, 2-in-1 stand up kayak, is the perfect hybrid to help you carry all your gear on board, while offering optimum space and comfort for a multitude of uses.
Unlike a rigid kayak, the Switch is unique in that it is extremely lightweight at just 19 pounds, yet still made with a rugged and rigid drop-stitch material. It also can be easily converted from a single person kayak to a tandem kayak (two-person kayak). The seats and foot brace can be attached anywhere on the deck using the ISLE-LINK patent-pending attachment system, so you can customize the space for comfort and performance depending on paddler size. Finally, the Switch is more than just a kayak, it’s a great inflatable paddle board for yoga, pets, kids, fishing, and everyday cruising. It comes with a hybrid kayak paddle that converts to a SUP paddle in only seconds.
One of the great benefits to this hybrid inflatable board is that it's perfect for both beginners and seasoned paddle boarders looking to dip their toes into the world of kayaking, and vice versa! Whether you want to go flat water paddling one second, want to clear the deck for a relaxing SUP yoga session, or want to go tandem kayaking later in the day, the versatility of this board makes this the best inflatable kayak you can get under your feet.
The ISLE Switch features our proprietary drop-stitch construction, Air-Tech Fusion Lite, making it extremely lightweight, yet still very rigid and durable. As seen in this kayak review by DiveIn, the Switch also boasts a comfortable seating system that can be fully customizable depending on your needs.
If you're hungry for adventure and looking to give a modern inflatable kayak a try, know that the ease of portability and high-performance offering are just a couple reasons why you should get an inflatable kayak.