So you have finally decided to invest in your kayak, but you are struggling on whether to buy an inflatable or a traditional hard shell kayak. Don’t worry! Even the expert kayakers are still battling on which kayak is the best between the two.
Both inflatable and traditional hard shell kayaks have advantages and disadvantages, but I am a firm believer in inflatable kayaks. They are good options for beginners due to their affordability, stability, storage, and portability.
That’s not all; below, I give you the top 8 reasons why buying an inflatable kayak is better than buying a traditional hard shell. I hope the list will help you make an informed decision.
8 Reasons why buying an inflatable kayak is better than buying a traditional hard shell
Most inflatable kayaks are more affordable compared to their hard shell counterparts. And while a top-of-the-line inflatable doesn’t come cheap, it is always priced less than a quality traditional hard shell kayak.
Again, you will get what you pay for. If you go hard on your budget, you might end up with cheap inflatables that will disappoint you. Always go for good inflatables, even if it means spending more. Therefore, be sure you have done your research when looking for say an inflatable kayak under $500.
2. Ease of storage and portability
You don’t have to worry about storage and transport with inflatable kayaks. Even if you don’t have a large storage room such as a shed or garage or live in an apartment, you can still comfortably own and keep an inflatable boat. You can easily deflate, fold up and store in your closet or under the bed.
Transporting inflatables is also very convenient. While you require an expensive roof rack or a trailer to carry a traditional hard shell, you can fold an inflatable kayak right up and toss it onto your trunk or backseat.
Again, loading a hard shell kayak to the vehicle’s rooftop and dragging it to the shore is stressful. This is not the case with the inflatables you can easily transport and inflate right at the shore.
3. A high degree of water stability
You can easily capsize when paddling a traditional hard shell kayak if you are a beginner. They easily lose stability when you hit rocks or in case of strong currents or storms.
On the other hand, inflatable kayaks have a higher degree of water stability. They have wider beams combined with multiple air-filled chambers that make them buoyant and harder to flip. When hit by hard surfaces such as rocks, inflatables can bounce off, making them the best for river paddling, whitewater kayaking, and beginners.
4. More durable
While the traditional hard shell kayaks are known for durability, better-built inflatables can outlive them. The quality inflatable kayaks are made with high-pressure ‘drop-stitch technology,’ which creates a tough surface when the boat is inflated. Besides, the outer layers are made of durable rubber and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). The materials are abrasion-resistant and bounce off obstacles to minimize punctures.
Don’t go cheap on inflatable kayaks if you want to enjoy the durability. Depending on the purpose, spend more to get quality vessels. You can go for inflatable fishing kayaks designed to handle knives, fins, and hooks, or even whitewater kayaks that can take the beating.
When using rigid kayaks, you’d be sitting on hard surfaces that can leave you numb and uncomfortable after a few hours of paddling. Inflatables offer a soft sitting floor that lets you paddle for hours without losing the feeling in your legs.
Your comfort in a kayak also depends on the backrest. Rigid kayaks often have short backrests, which can be so uncomfortable. On the other hand, quality inflatables have a clip-in seat that supports your back when paddling. Besides, you can always recline the chair for a bit of relaxation when having a leisurely paddle.
It is also comfortable to haul yourself back into an inflatable kayak after jumping out for a swim. The nice and soft edges are easy on your body. Conversely, the hard edges connecting the torsos and shins on rigid kayaks can cause aches as you toss back to the boat.
6. Lighter thus suitable for travel and best choice for women and children
On average, inflatable kayaks weigh between 25 and 30 pounds which is light enough to carry around. You can easily travel with it since all you need is to fold it up and throw it in a checked bag. Traveling with your kayak will further save you rental and storage costs.
Children, women, and people with back issues can also enjoy kayaking with little hassle. Thanks to its lightweight, inflatables are easy to carry around with little or no help. Even hikers can take advantage of the inflatables to access awesome paddling places not otherwise accessible with standard hard shells.
7. Super easy to repair
If by any chance, you get a puncture while paddling an inflatable kayak, all you need is to take out your repair kit and fix it. But, for a traditional hard shell, you will need professional help to fix any damage. Even for the rigid fiberglass boats that rarely require repairs, you will pay expensively for repairs if damaged.
8. High load capacity
Don’t be fooled by the lightweight of an inflatable kayak; it can carry the same or even higher weight than the traditional hard shell yaks. Its weight limit is between 400-750 pounds, meaning it can accommodate big-bodied kayakers and their gears without compromising stability.
Due to their buoyancy and wider beams, the inflatables beat traditional hard shell kayaks in load capacity.
Can you store inflatable kayaks in a garage?
Yes, you can always keep an inflatable kayak in a garage. In fact, having space in your garage allows you to keep the kayak inflated which is recommended if you are not keeping it for long. Storing an inflatable kayak inflated has the following advantages:
- Less prone to damage by rodents. Deflated rubber is much easier to nibble than an inflated one.
- Protects the attachments and seams as the air inside lets it hold better.
- Protect the tubing against punctures by sharp objects. Deflated tubes can easily get punctures.
If intending to keep the kayak for long, it is best to deflate, clean, dry, and put it in a storage bag before putting it away. It will take less space in the garage, and you can put it in any dry and cool place away from the sun.
Can you kneel in an inflatable kayak?
Like in a traditional hard shell boat, you can paddle inflatables while kneeling and sitting. It is much more comfortable to paddle the inflatable kayak while kneeling than hard-shell types. The air-filled bottom is gentle in the knees and insulates well against cold water.
Key Insights & Takeaway
Inflatable kayaks are slowly taking over the market thanks to the incredible perks they offer. Their lightweight makes it easy to store, transport, and use by women, children, and people with back difficulties. Besides, you do not have to spend a fortune to enjoy comfortable kayaking without worrying about durability, stability, and load capacity. Also, don’t worry about bringing your dog on your inflatable kayak as they are quite durable. But if you want to ensure that your dog nails won’t puncture the kayak, then check out some reviews of inflatable kayaks for dogs.
However, do not go cheap to get the best out of inflatable kayakers; be ready to spend extra for quality and an unmatched experience in the waters!
About the author:
Name: Ally Mash
Bio: A world traveler and outdoor enthusiast, Ally has spent most of his free time backpacking through South America, Iceland, Vietnam, and Europe. His mission is to get more people in the mindset of protecting our planet by sharing its beauty with fellow adventurers like him on Adventures Pursuit!