How to Choose the Best Inflatable Kayak

How to Choose the Best Inflatable Kayak

Once a vital mode of water transportation, kayaking has transformed dramatically over millennia. It's not just a means to traverse water bodies but has grown into a cherished recreational activity for countless enthusiasts. The kayak's journey from being an ancient vessel to a modern favorite is steeped in rich history.

As with many sports, kayaking has seen numerous innovations. However, the rise of inflatable kayaks is arguably the most significant. These kayaks have ushered in a new era, blending the age-old thrill of kayaking with modern-day convenience.

What makes inflatable kayaks stand out from hard-shell kayaks? It's their unique combination of functionality and convenience. Unlike the traditional hard-shell kayaks, their inflatable counterparts can be easily deflated, stashed into a compact bag, and carried around without a fuss. This revolutionary design has made kayaking accessible to a much wider audience - from urbanites constrained by storage space to adventurers eager to explore distant and untouched waterways.

inflatable kayaks vs hardshell kayaks

Speaking of waterways, Australia's diverse aquatic landscapes present a dream come true for kayaking aficionados. With its sprawling coastlines, peaceful lakes, and adrenaline-pumping rapids, Australia offers varied experiences for every type of kayaker. Be it the calm embrace of Lake Eacham in Queensland or the heart-pounding thrill of Franklin River in Tasmania, there's a kayaking story waiting to be written on every Australian water body.

This guide is your compass in the vast sea of inflatable kayaking. We'll navigate through the intricacies of these kayaks, shedding light on their construction, benefits, and the myriad of brands and models available. Notably, we'll spotlight brands that have gained prominence in the Australian tandem inflatable kayak market.

spots for inflatable kayaking

Whether you're a seasoned paddler considering a switch to an inflatable kayak model or a novice eager to start your kayaking journey in the majestic Australian waters, we've got you covered. Armed with insights and knowledge, you're all set to embrace the world of inflatable kayaking.

So, as the horizon of inflatable kayaking beckons, let us embark on this enlightening voyage, hand in paddle.

side-by-side-comparison-of-traditional-kayak-storage-and an-inflatable-kayak-packed-in-its-bag



Traditional Hard-Shell Kayak

Inflatable Kayak

Storage Size

Bulky; requires large space

Compact; fits in a bag


Typically heavier

Generally lighter

Setup Time

Immediate; no setup needed

Inflation required


Very durable; resistant to impacts

Durable, but can be punctured


Often faster & more stable

Slightly less rigid; can be slower


Requires racks or trailers

Easily portable; can be carried in a bag

Price Range

Typically more expensive

Generally more affordable

Storage Considerations

Requires garage or outdoor rack

Can be stored in a closet or car trunk


Why Inflatable Kayaks?

As more outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers discover the unique benefits of these kayaks, the question arises: what makes them so special?

Unmatched Portability

The biggest draw for many is the sheer portability of an inflatable kayak:

  • Compactness: Traditional hardshell kayaks require ample storage space and can be cumbersome to transport. In stark contrast, inflatable kayaks, when deflated, can be packed into a carry bag. This compactness is a game-changer for those living in apartments or homes without large storage solutions.
  • Ease of Transportation: Imagine the freedom of carrying your kayak on your back, in the boot of your car, or even as check-in luggage on a flight. No need for specialized kayak carriers or roof racks. The world becomes your oyster, and remote kayaking spots are now within reach.

Versatility in Water Conditions

Inflatable kayaks are not just about convenience; they are adept performers too.

  • Adaptable Design: Whether it's the calm waters of a lake, the gentle flow of a river, or the more challenging white rapids, inflatable kayaks are designed to handle various water conditions. Their buoyancy and design make them stable, ensuring an enjoyable paddling experience.
  • Fishing and Exploration: With the right model, even fishing enthusiasts or those looking to explore coastal caves and hidden nooks can rely on their inflatable kayak for a memorable adventure.

Cost-Effectiveness for All

For many beginners, the initial investment can be a deterrent. This is where inflatable kayaks shine:

  • Budget-Friendly Options: Quality inflatable kayaks often come at a fraction of the cost of their hard shell counterparts. This price advantage makes kayaking accessible to a broader audience.
  • Low Maintenance Costs: Aside from the initial purchase, the maintenance costs for inflatable kayaks are generally low. Simple care routines and occasional patch-ups are all they need.

Simplified Storage Solutions

Gone are the days when owning a kayak meant dedicating significant storage space:

  • Space-Efficient: Once deflated, most inflatable kayaks can fit into storage spaces like closets, garages, or even under beds.
  • No Special Equipment: Traditional kayaks often require wall mounts or dedicated stands for storage. With inflatable kayaks, all you need is the duffel bag or storage bag they come with.

In-depth Look at Inflatable Kayaks

Kayaking is more than just a sport; it's an experience. And with inflatable kayaks gaining immense popularity, the experience has become even more versatile and accessible. Here, we take a detailed look at the best inflatable kayaks, exploring their features, advantages, and the top brands leading the charge.

In-depth look at inflatable kayaks

Weight and Carrying Capacity

Weight isn't just about the kayak's heft; it's about portability and how it impacts the user's experience.

Lightweight Designs:

  • Easy Transportation: The beauty of inflatable kayaks lies in their lightweight nature. This makes them perfect for those spontaneous adventures.
  • Comparison with Traditional Models: In many cases, the lightest inflatable kayak can weigh significantly less than traditional hardshell kayaks, making transportation and storage a breeze.
  • Impressive Carrying Capacities:
    • Safety: A high weight capacity ensures that the kayak remains stable, even in challenging conditions.
    • Flexibility: Most inflatable kayaks boast substantial weight capacities. This means they can easily accommodate gear, making them ideal for camping trips or long-day expeditions. Furthermore, they can comfortably seat multiple paddlers, from solo adventurers to families.

Seating Arrangements

The seating configuration in a kayak can significantly impact the paddling experience.

  • Single-seaters:
    • Tailored for those who cherish solitude, the best single-person inflatable kayak allows paddlers to venture out at their own pace and rhythm.
  • Tandem or Multi-seaters:
    • Shared Adventures: Tandem inflatable kayaks or 2 person inflatable kayaks are crafted for shared experiences, perfect for couples, friends, or family.
    • Versatility: Some advanced models can seat up to three paddlers, ensuring that family outings are inclusive and fun-filled.

Material and Durability

The heart of an inflatable kayak lies in its material and construction.

  • Drop Stitch Technology:
    • A revolutionary technique, drop stitch technology has transformed the rigidity and feel of inflatable kayaks. By connecting the top and bottom layers with thousands of threads, kayaks can maintain shape and firmness, rivaling the performance of hardshell counterparts.
  • Durable Materials:
    • Puncture Resistance: Materials like PVC tarpaulin not only ensure longevity but also make these kayaks incredibly resilient against punctures and abrasions.

Special Features and Accessories

Beyond the basic structure of tandem kayaks, it's the features and accessories that enhance the kayaking experience.

  • Fishing Tools:
    • For anglers, features like rod holders and fishing rod holders transform the kayak into a fishing vessel, opening up a world of possibilities.
  • Storage Solutions:
    • Organized storage is crucial, especially for long trips. Bungee cords, cargo nets, and D-rings ensure gear remains accessible and secure.
  • Safety Mechanisms:
    • Safety is paramount. Features like multiple air chambers add an extra layer of security, ensuring the kayak remains buoyant even if one chamber is compromised.

Maintenance and Care for Inflatable Kayaks

Owning an inflatable kayak is a thrilling experience, offering both adventure and convenience. However, to ensure that your durable inflatable kayak remains in prime condition and serves you well for years to come, regular maintenance and care are essential. Here, we delve into comprehensive care tips that can help prolong the life of your inflatable kayak.

Regular Cleaning

After every kayaking adventure, it's vital to give your inflatable kayak a thorough cleaning:

  • Freshwater Rinse: Always rinse your kayak with fresh water after each use. This is especially crucial if you've been kayaking in salt water, as salt can be corrosive over time.
  • Deep Cleaning: Periodically, consider using a mild detergent solution to clean the kayak's surface, ensuring the removal of any dirt, grime, or residues.

Check for Debris: Ensure that no sand, pebbles, or other debris are lodged in any part of the kayak, as these can cause wear and tear over time.


Proper Storage

How and where you store your inflatable kayak can significantly impact its lifespan:

  • Dry Before Storing: Before packing away your kayak, make sure it is fully dry. Storing a damp kayak can lead to mold or mildew, compromising the material's integrity.
  • Cool, Dry Place: Exposure to direct sunlight or heat can weaken the kayak's material over time. It's best to store your kayak in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.
  • Loosely Folded: Instead of tightly folding the kayak, consider rolling it or folding it loosely. This prevents creases that can turn into weak spots over time.

Patching and Repairs

Accidents happen, and your inflatable kayak might get a puncture. Being prepared can make all the difference:

  • Patch Kits: Always keep a patch kit on hand. These kits usually contain adhesive patches and glue that can seal small punctures or leaks effectively.
  • Regular Inspection: Periodically inspect your kayak for any signs of wear, tear, or potential leaks. Early detection can prevent minor issues from becoming major problems.
  • Professional Repairs: For significant damages or if you're unsure about a DIY repair, consider seeking professional assistance to ensure the kayak is safely and effectively repaired.

Additional Care Tips

  • Avoid Dragging: Instead of dragging your kayak on rough terrains, consider carrying it or using a kayak cart. This prevents unnecessary abrasions.
  • UV Protectant: Using a UV protectant spray can shield the kayak from harmful UV rays, preventing the material from becoming brittle.
  • Inflation Levels: Always ensure that your kayak is inflated to the recommended PSI. Over-inflation can strain the kayak's seams, while under-inflation can affect the kayak's performance and stability.

Your inflatable kayak is more than just a vessel; it's a ticket to countless adventures. By following these maintenance and care tips, you ensure that your inflatable kayak review remains a reliable companion on all your future escapades.

Safety First: Navigating Waters with Caution

Kayaking offers an exhilarating blend of adventure and tranquility. But like all water activities, it comes with inherent risks. Whether you're paddling the calm waters of a serene lake or navigating challenging rapids, prioritizing safety is non-negotiable. Let's delve into the essential safety guidelines every kayaker should adhere to.


Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs)

Your first line of defense against potential accidents in water is a good-quality life jacket or PFD.

  • Always Wear a Life Jacket: No matter how calm the waters seem, never compromise on this safety measure. Unexpected situations can arise, and a life jacket can be a lifesaver.
  • Choose the Right Fit: A life jacket that's too loose might not offer optimal buoyancy, while one that's too tight can restrict movement. Ensure it fits snugly and comfortably.
  • Suitability for Water Conditions: Not all life jackets are made equal. Some are designed for calm waters, while others are meant for rougher conditions. Ensure your PFD is suitable for your kayaking environment.

Stay Updated

Information is a powerful tool that can help you make informed decisions:

  • Weather Check: Before setting out, always check the weather forecast. Avoid kayaking during storms, heavy winds, or other unfavorable conditions.
  • Water Conditions: Familiarize yourself with the water currents, tides (if kayaking in coastal areas), and any potential hazards in the area you plan to kayak.
  • Local Regulations: Some areas might have specific rules or guidelines for kayakers. Stay informed and adhere to them.

Group Kayaking

There's truth to the adage that there's safety in numbers, especially in water sports:

  • Beginner's Buddy System: If you're new to kayaking, always paddle with a group or at least one experienced kayaker. They can offer guidance, assist in tricky situations, and make the experience more enjoyable.
  • Stay Close: Even in groups, ensure that everyone remains within a visible distance from each other. This makes it easier to signal for help or assist someone if needed.
  • Designated Meeting Points: In larger water bodies or winding rivers, set designated meeting points to regroup. This ensures no one gets left behind or lost.

Additional Safety Precautions

  • Safety Gear: Apart from life jackets, consider carrying a whistle (to signal for help), a bilge pump (to remove water from the kayak), and a first-aid kit.
  • Avoid Alcohol: While it might be tempting, avoid consuming alcohol before or during kayaking. It can impair judgment, balance, and reaction times.
  • Know Your Limits: Challenge is a part of growth, but it's essential to recognize your limits. Avoid extremely challenging routes or conditions unless you're adequately experienced and prepared.

Kayaking is a beautiful blend of thrill and serenity, but it's vital to approach it with respect and caution. Remember, no adventure is worth compromising safety.

Kokopelli Moki II R-Deck Inflatable Kayak (Removable Spraydeck)

Kokopelli Moki II R-Deck Inflatable Kayak


  1. Versatile Configuration: Easily converts from a one-person to a two-person kayak by simply adjusting the seats, offering flexibility based on user needs.
  2. Comprehensive Package: Comes with a wide array of included items, such as the Alpine Lake Paddle, Nano Barrel Pump, EVA seats, and more, providing value for money.
  3. High-Quality Construction: Features a high-pressure rigid drop-stitch floor, ensuring durability and stability during paddling sessions.
  4. User-Friendly Design: The push-push valves are intuitive, making inflation and deflation a breeze.
  5. Enhanced Tracking: The 9” removable tracking fin helps in better navigation, especially in open waters.
  6. Compact & Portable: Despite its robust features, the kayak packs down seamlessly into the provided premium carry bag, facilitating easy transportation.
  7. Diverse Applications: Ideal for a variety of activities, from overland adventures and fishing trips to marine explorations and e-powered journeys.


  1. Weight: Weighing 53lbs, it's on the heavier side for inflatable kayaks, which might be a concern for some users.
  2. Sprayskirt Not Included: Despite being mentioned in the product description, the sprayskirt is an additional accessory and isn't part of the package.


  1. Ideal for Enthusiasts: Given its versatility and comprehensive feature set, the Kokopelli Moki II R-Deck is highly recommended for kayaking enthusiasts, whether they're embarking on calm lake journeys or marine adventures.
  2. Purchase the Sprayskirt: If you're considering ocean paddling or touring, it might be worth investing in the Sprayskirt for added protection against splashes.
  3. Consider Transportation: Given its weight, users should have a plan for transporting the kayak, especially if they intend to trek to more remote launch points.

The Kokopelli Moki II R-Deck Inflatable Kayak offers a harmonious blend of flexibility, durability, and convenience, making it a top pick double kayak, for both solo and duo paddling adventures.

Kokopelli Moki I R-Deck Inflatable Kayak (Removable Spraydeck)

Kokopelli Moki I R-Deck Inflatable Kayak


  1. Compact & Portable: The Moki I R-Deck is designed for easy stowage and transportation, eliminating the need for cumbersome roof racks.
  2. Advanced Features: The kayak boasts a high-pressure rigid drop-stitch floor for unparalleled stability and a 9in removable tracking fin for precise navigation.
  3. Versatile Use: Ideal for a plethora of activities including overland journeys, marine explorations, and e-powered rides. Its design caters to both flat water paddling and ocean adventures.
  4. Comprehensive Kit: The kayak comes as a complete package, including an Alpine Lake Paddle, Nano Barrel Pump, comfortable EVA seat, and more, offering great value for money.
  5. Safety First: The multi-chamber inflation system provides an added layer of security on the water.
  6. E-Motor Compatibility: The American Standard Fin Box accommodates most e-motors, providing versatility for those who wish to cover larger distances or seek a relaxed paddling experience.
  7. Lightweight Design: Weighing just 34.6 lb, it's considerably lighter than many inflatable kayaks on the market, making it easier to carry and handle.


  1. Sprayskirt Not Included: The sprayskirt, vital for protection against water splashes, especially in rougher conditions, is an additional accessory and is not part of the standard package.


  1. Optimal for Adventure Seekers: The Moki I R-Deck is highly recommended for those who crave versatility from their kayak. Its design caters to a range of activities, from serene lake paddling to more challenging marine adventures.
  2. Consider Adding the Sprayskirt: To maximize the kayak's potential, especially in varying weather conditions or water terrains, investing in the Sprayskirt is advisable.
  3. Ideal for Solo Paddlers: Given its one-person design and comprehensive features, solo adventurers will find the Moki I R-Deck to be a perfect companion on their water journeys.

The Kokopelli Moki I R-Deck Inflatable Kayak stands out as an exceptional blend of functionality, durability, and portability. For those seeking a solo inflatable kayak that doesn't compromise on features or performance, this model is undoubtedly worth considering.

Kokopelli Moki-Lite Inflatable Kayak

Kokopelli Moki-Lite Inflatable Kayak


  1. Lightweight & Compact: With a weight of just 26.7lb, the Moki-Lite is among the lightest inflatable kayaks out there. Plus, it packs down to less than the size of a checked suitcase, maximizing convenience.
  2. High-Performance Features: The high-pressure rigid drop-stitch floor offers exceptional stability. The 9-inch removable tracking fin ensures accurate navigation.
  3. E-Motor Compatibility: The American Standard Fin Box is adaptable to most e-motors, perfect for those long paddling days or when you want to cruise effortlessly.
  4. Comprehensive Package: The kayak comes with a variety of accessories, including the Alpine Lake Paddle, Nano Barrel Pump, and an ultra-comfortable EVA seat, offering great value.
  5. Durable Materials: The kayak's sidewall is made of 420d Nylon + 1000d Reinforced PVC, while the floor boasts 1000d Reinforced PVC, ensuring longevity and resistance to wear and tear.
  6. Versatile Use: Suitable for a myriad of water conditions, from flat open waters and bays to Class I rapids.


  1. Sprayskirt Incompatibility: The Moki-Lite doesn't support sprayskirts, which could be a downside for those seeking added splash protection.
  2. Limited Thigh Support: The kayak isn't thigh-strap compatible, which might affect maneuverability for some paddlers in certain conditions.


  1. Ideal for Casual Paddlers: Given its lightweight design and ease of setup, the Moki-Lite is perfect for those who enjoy spontaneous kayaking trips.
  2. Invest in Key Accessories: To maximize the kayak's potential, consider investing in the recommended key accessories like the Drop-Stitch Floor and the EVA Seat.
  3. Safety First: Given its weight capacity of 400lb, paddlers should be mindful of the gear they bring along to ensure they stay within the limit.

The Kokopelli Moki-Lite Inflatable Kayak stands out as a top-tier choice for those seeking a blend of performance, convenience, and durability. Whether you're a seasoned kayaker or a newbie, this model promises an unmatched paddling experience.

Common Questions Answered

Is an inflatable kayak any good?

Absolutely! With advancements in technology and design, today's inflatable kayaks offer durability, stability, and performance comparable to hard-shell kayaks.

What are the drawbacks of inflatable kayaks?

While they offer numerous advantages, inflatable kayaks can be more susceptible to punctures (though they're made with durable materials) and might not be as streamlined as a hardshell kayak.

What's the best inflatable kayak in Australia?

The best inflatable kayak Australia offers depends on individual needs. However, brands like Aqua Marina and Advanced Elements are often top contenders.

How safe and stable are inflatable canoes?

Modern inflatable kayaks are designed with safety and stability in mind. Features of quality inflatable kayaks like multiple air chambers and wide bases ensure they remain stable even in rougher waters.

What is a drop-stitch inflatable kayak?

Drop stitch technology involves thousands of polyester threads connecting the top and bottom layers of the kayak, allowing it to maintain shape and firmness when inflated.

Conclusion: Ready to Dive In?

Inflatable kayaks have revolutionized the world of kayaking. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a beginner, there's an inflatable kayak out there for you. As you embark on your kayaking journey, always prioritize safety, do thorough research, read inflatable kayak reviews, and most importantly, enjoy the ride!

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