Top 5 Inflatable Kayaks

These are the inflatable kayaks chosen to be in the top five group. They were chosen for quality, stability, value, popularity, warranty and performance.

Click on the kayak names below to read the full detailed reviews…

Sea Eagle FastTrack

The FastTrack came on the market in April 2010 and quickly became extremely popular. It is simliar in size to the Sea Eagle 380X except just slightly slimmer. However it has the added advantages of only weighing 31 lbs. and has a unique design that offers much more speed.

The FastTrack is my personal inflatable kayak of choice and I personally use it all year round for lake kayaking as well as ocean paddling. It can also handle some mild whitewater. The FastTrack has several packages to choose from including a solo model, a 2-seater, a sailing package, an electric motor package, and a great fishing package.

There is also a larger family sized 3 person model now available too (the 465 FastTrack) which is great for families and long expeditions. Both the tandem and 3 person models have the ability to adjust the seats to be paddled solo if desired. It also comes with a great three year warranty. Read full review.


Aire Lynx

If you are looking for an all day river adventure inflatable kayak, the Lynx is a phenomenal option. Weighing only thirty-two pounds and backed by a ten year warranty, it is quality through and through.

It can handle up to class IV rapids beautifully and comes with the option of a closed-cell floor for higher performance or an air-cell floor for lighter weight.

The Lynx has gained huge popularity for good reason, it not only performs but is solid and rugged. It comes in a solo version as well as a tandem version. Read full review.


Innova Helios

I believe the Innova Helios is one of the best models out there for paddling on open water such as sea kayaking. There are many reasons the Helios is so popular including the fact that it only weighs 24 lbs. and rolls up really small into a backpack that is included in the purchase of the kayak.

It offers decent storage room and tracks along nicely. It will hold its own in wind and waves while ocean paddling.

It is ideal for someone that wants a kayak that is easy to manage, can be brought anywhere and is versatile enough to paddle well on the ocean as well as on a lake. There is a solo and tandem version available and they both come with a 2 year warranty. Read full review.


Sea Eagle 380X

The 380X was chosen because of its sheer versatility. It is unbelievably rugged and highly versatile as it can handle flat water paddling, ocean surf and heavy whitewater rapids. You can literally take this kayak into any type of water, and it is ideal for fishing trips and multi-day adventures.

It may not be the fastest inflatable kayak because of its wider width but it makes up for that in every other way including comfort and space.

It has the option of two different sizes to choose from depending on your needs and comes with a 180 day risk free trial and a great three year warranty. The 380X was the first inflatable kayak I ever purchased and I still love it. Read full review.


NRS Outlaw

The Outlaw isn’t necessarily the best whitewater inflatable kayak out there but we believe it gives you a lot for your money and would suit a large variety of people.

For this reason the Outlaw really stands out. It’s affordable, it’s comfortable and stable and the design makes it an excellent performer.

This is the kayak that replaced the popular NRS Bandit that was discontinued in 2012. Although similar in size and shape, it has a few important differences worth exploring.

The Outlaw comes with a 3-year warranty, is able to easily handle up to class IV rapids (especially if you add thigh straps and a foot brace) and comes in a solo or tandem version.

Comments

  1. Dick Parker says:

    What do you know about the Airis inflatable kayak by Walker Bay. I don’t see it discussed on your website.
    Thanks, Dick

    • Hi Dick, I’m going to be reviewing them in the next couple of weeks, I’ll get back to you on this. Allison

    • I have one and LOVE it. I have 6 kayaks and it is my ‘go to’! Took it out today.!! I go out several times a week. I go to lakes, rivers. Light and super easy to manage by myself. Rigid as a board floor. Doesn’t take on water. My husband loves it too-’fast’!
      Tracks well. Quick to inflate. I can leave it blown up and toss in the back of truck or SUV. Travels easy. I pack it suitcase and check bag. And, I prefer the included paddles to my Werners. I have 2 Ocean Kayaks and I feel just as secure on this.
      Hope this helps,
      Enjoy!
      Toni

      • Dick Parker says:

        Toni,
        Your info is very helpful. Thanks for sharing it.
        Dick

        Allison, Have you had a chance to review Airis? If you concur with Toni, I’m ready to place my order.

        • Hi Dick, Yes I totally agree with Toni. I’m sorry these reviews have taken me so long. I just posted the reviews, here’s the link… http://www.inflatablekayakworld.com/ik-reviews/airis/
          I was really impressed with just about all aspects of the Airis kayaks. They are compact, light weight, extremely well made and super rigid. The Airis Sport in particular was my favorite and paddled extremely well. I hope my reviews will be helpful. Cheers.

  2. Allison, I’m so glad I’ve found your blog! Thanks so much. So far I’ve only rented hard-shell kayaks, but I definitely am going to get an inflatable now. I have a few questions. 1) Could you please say something about the SEA EAGLE 330 PRO, and how it compares to the SEA EAGLE FAST TRACK? (I know it is cheaper.) 2) I also notice your photo of the Sea Eagle Fast Track above shows the kind of seat that come with the Sea Eagle 380X. Is this an option, and is that seat preferable? 3) I’ll mostly be going solo – but just in case I wanted to take someone with me – can one take out the second seat and reposition the other for solo paddling? Otherwise I’d buy the solo version. (I’ll mostly be paddling along the coasts of harbors and on easy rivers.) Thank you! Jud

    • Hi Jud,
      There is actually quite a big difference between the SE 330 Pro and the SE FastTrack. Both good kayaks but the 330 is a much cheaper version… by that I mean the material is not as strong, it does not track as well. it is not as fast and overall when you see them side by side, the FastTrack is just a much more solid high performance kayak. The 330 is still good just not in the same class as the FastTrack.

      The high back seats I have in my FastTrack are available in one of the package options. You have the choice between the inflatable seats or the tall-back seats. It’s really personal preference. I find the black tall-back seats are more supportive for my back and I like the feel of sitting lower in the kayak. However some people prefer the inflatable seats as they like sitting up higher for various reasons. Both are comfy.

      The seats in both the 330 and the FastTrack can be removed and adjusted. So you can take one out and move the other to the middle to paddle solo. Both very versatile.
      Hope that helps!!

  3. Michael Chidiac says:

    Allison,

    Do you have a review on the Maxxon Cayman, 3 passenger or the Saturn Wiitewater 13 foot tamdem?

    • Hi Michael, No unfortunately I have not reviewed the Maxxon Cayman III. It looks like a great kayak. I will see if I can somehow get a hold of one to review in the near future. Sorry I couldn’t help you more.
      Cheers.

  4. Allison, your answers are a big help. I too would prefer sitting lower in the kayak, so as to have as much a hard-shell kayak experience as possible in an inflatable. In fact that relates to my other questions. I’ve always preferred the feeling of being a kind of ‘pod’ on the water, and till now have been avoiding the open design. Any thoughts on this? Also: 1) to what extent does the Fasttrack 385 tend to swamp, since it is open? Do the two ‘self-bailing’ valves or whatever they are work well? 2) Do you have to order the footrest as an extra cost? Finally 3) Also I’ve noticed a website offering discounts on Sea Eagles. Will I get better attention and service from Sea Eagle itself? Thank you so much for your thoughts! Jud

    • Hi Jud, I know exactly what you mean by being a ‘pod’ in the water, it’s a great feeling. You definitely lose a bit of that feeling with the open design inflatable kayaks. The new Innova Swing solo and tandem models are pretty good for this. They have a closed deck and a bit more of a traditional kayak feel. They are great kayaks but I feel the FastTrack handles better in the water.

      I’ve never had the FastTrack swamp at all. I do get some water dripping in off my paddles but even in waves water does not tend to get in. You would have to be in some pretty rough water for this to happen. I always have a bilge pump with me when in the ocean in case I need to get any water out but have actually never had to use it.

      The drain valves work ‘ok’. When they are open water does drain out but also gets in. So I can’t say they are a perfect solution but they do the trick in a pinch. I prefer to have them closed.

      The footrest is an extra cost. Sea Eagle sells it for $39. However to be honest you could use anything… a dry bag with some clothes in it works just as well if it is long enough to wedge between the pontoon sides of the kayak.

      I have always bought directly through Sea Eagle and been happy with them. I believe that if you buy from another retailer you do not get to take advantage of their 180-day guarantee… if anything is wrong or you are not happy you can return the kayak within 180 days no problem.
      Cheers, Allison

  5. I would appreciate some help in selecting a solo inflatable kayak. The primary use would be lakes, so tracking is important. However I would also run the occasional river with Class II & III rapids. And at times I’d like to bring my dog (50#) on the lake paddles. Any suggestions on a particular brand and model would be great. Thanks.

    • Hi Larry, the Sea Eagle FastTrack has a solo version that would probably be your best option. It tracks great on flat water, could handle your dog no problem and could handle up to class II rapids easily (not recommended for class III… it’s doable but not ideal). It’s not easy to find a kayak that tracks great but can also handle class III rapids. The Advanced Elements Strait Edge is great in class III rapids and decent in flat water but isn’t going to have superb tracking. The Aire Lynx is another one to consider. It would work well for both types of water and is a great kayak. One more thought is the Airis Tandem kayak. It can be converted for solo use, tracks well, has room for your dog and can handle up to class II rapids.

  6. Do you plan to review the new asymmetric version of the Sea Eagle FastTrack?

    • From what I hear the older and newer version are very similar with just a few upgrades. I’m not sure at this point when I will be able to fully test and compare them but I am sure at some point in the near future I will. I’ll definitely keep you updated.

  7. I am a big fan of Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayaks, but also think Sea Eagle makes a good one. Thanks for posting these other brands that I have not heard much about. Cheers!

  8. Hi Allison,

    I am looking at inflatables and considering the Advanced Elements sport and wanted to see if you had tested it? I also read your review of the Airis Sport and was considering it but the price is a bit more than I was planning on spending. Could possible justify if it is a really head and shoulders above the rest; and does it really double as a SUP? FYI I typically paddle on intracoastal, a little on the beach and usually not more than a few hours at a shot. Need something that tracks well and comfortable. Thanks, Mark

    • Hi Mark, The AE Sport is great in a lot of ways… it’s comfortable, easy to paddle and of course has the covered deck which is nice. However the Airis Sport really does paddle better. It tracks much straighter than the AE Sport and in my opinion the quality is far superior. Either would work well for the type of paddling you will be doing. I don’t think you would be disappointed with the Advanced Elements Sport but I do definitely prefer the performance of the Airis Sport. I wouldn’t say the Airis Sport doubles as a SUP but it can definitely be paddled standing up no problem. However it is not as efficient paddling it standing up compared to an actual stand up paddle board… but it is fun to do. Hope that helps.

  9. Hi Allison, some great info on this site. Im torn between two tandem kayaks at the moment: the sea eagle fasttrack 380 and the advanced elements convertible. I love the idea of the spray deck on the advanced convertible to keep out the elements so it is kind of in the lead at the moment.
    However I’m looking for a tandem kayak that would hold gear for maybe a couple of days camping expedition with two paddlers. In terms of the weight they can carry they are all fine but there doesn’t seem to be too much room in the convertible once you have two people in it. With the sea eagle there’s always the 460 version for more room to pile gear in.
    What would you recommend as an expedition tandam kayak? Thanks!

    • Hi Kim, There’s not a huge difference in storage space between the SE FastTrack and the AE Convertible unless you go for the longer 465 FT as you mentioned. I think the 465Ft is the better expedition kayak. However if you are really leaning towards the AE Convertilbe, I think it is doable with a little planning. There is storage room up front under the deck and you can tie gear down on the top of the front deck as well. The only issue is that you end up having quite a bit of weight up front instead of being able to even it out like you could with the FastTrack which could affect the performance of the kayak. So personally I feel the longer FastTrack is a better option but I do think you can make it work with the Convertible, it just might not be quite as comfortable… depending on how much gear you are bringing with you. I have actually seen people secure gear on the back of the Convertible as well, you will just need some extra tie down cords.

  10. Nhi nguyen says:

    Thanks Allison for the informative website. Have you reviewed Soar ? I have a sevylor IK with a thick PVC hull and a much thinner bladder and not very happy with the quality. I’m guessing Sea eagle and some others are of the similar design?

    That’s why I was checking out Hyperlon IK, and ran across Soar’s.

    I’ve also noticed NRS’s as well, which is also made by hyperlon.

    I mostly paddle in flat/calm waters, up to class 2 rapids the most. In about 2 years or so when my kids get a bit older, I’ll start going more in class iii/iv (but probably 1-2 times a year the most). We’re family of 4, but very small built (total about 400-450 lbs in near future :) – right now we’re only 350, hehe).

    Please advice.

    Thank you.

    • Unfortunately I haven’t had an opportunity to review the Soar kayaks but I’ve only heard good things about them. I’m not a big fan of the Sevylor kayaks personally, I’ve never found the quality to be that great. The quality and design of the Sea Eagle IK’s are far better in my opinion. However no doubt about it the Hypalon kayaks are built tough. NRS has some good one’s although I find the majority of their kayaks better suited for rivers. I can’t comment on the performance of the Soar IK but I have heard that many outfitters use them because of how strong they are.

  11. Camilla Labine says:

    I am torn between two inflatables the sea eagle ft 385 and the airis tandem but I am wondering which would be better for two adults and two small mini weiner dogs> I cant find interior dimensions for the airis tandem. which would you pick regarding quality tracking etc. we are 55 and in decent shape 5’8″ and 5’1″ tall.

    • Hi Camilla, I don’t think you could go wrong either way but personally I would choose the Sea Eagle ft385. I actually own both the SE 385 and the Airis Tandem. They are both great quality but I find that the 385ft always ends up being my go-to kayak. I think it tracks a little better, can definitely go faster and seems to have more room inside. You sit a little lower in the SE 385ft so I find it a little more ideal for dogs. You’d have no problem fitting two adults and two small dogs in it and still be comfortable.

  12. Hello Alison,
    Great round-up of IK’s. I’m based in the UK and looking to buy an inflatable kayak for 2 adults + dog. Can you recommend any that are available over here that will be primarily used on flat rivers with occasional lake use. Must be light enough to be carried up to 1mile and comfortable and roomy for day trips.
    Thanks
    Matt

    • Hi Matt, I’m not totally familiar with all of the IK’s in the UK but a few that I know of over there are the Advanced Elements kayaks, the Sevylor kayaks, Sea Eagle (I think) and Gumotex (which is the UK Innova kayaks). The AE kayaks are nice but a little on the heavy side. I’m not a huge fan of the Sevylor kayaks but their price is usually quite good. If you are able to get your hands on a Sea Eagle FastTrack or Explorer kayak, they would work well… fairly light weight, versatile and can fit everyone plus the dog and be very comfortable. Or I would seriously consider the Gumotex kayaks. They are known to be very lightweight and excellent quality. Any of their 2-person models would probably work. Hope that helps, good luck with your search!

  13. Hi Allison,
    Do you plan on reviewing the Aquaglide kayaks?

    • Hi Brian, yes I do! In fact I just tried my first Aquaglide kayak in the last couple of weeks (the Chinook Tandem) and I’m working on a review now. It will be posted soon.

  14. Mike Secrest says:

    Is the Hobie Cat mirage drive a real advantage over paddling only, or is it simply a gimmick? I am new to kayaking, still doing preliminary research, so I value the info on this site. Thanks.

    • I like the Hobie Cat Mirage and the idea of using your legs to pedal instead of paddling. However it’s a totally different kayaking experience and although I think it’s fun to try and maybe do once in awhile, it wouldn’t be my choice for regular kayaking. I find the kayak goes slower using the pedals as well.

      • I’ve got the Hobie 12′ angler with the ‘turbo fins’ and it’s hands down (pun intended) faster than any paddle propelled kayak!

  15. Maui Diver says:

    Hello could you please tell me your opinion about BIC Sport Nomad HP 1 Inflatable Kayak. I want to use it for diving in Lake Michigan, Maui offshore, and California 2-3 miles from the beach. Thank you

    • I’ve never been a huge fan of Bic but their Nomad HP 1 kayak looks pretty cool. Unfortunately I have not had an opportunity to review it yet but from reading about it, it sounds decent and most likely just fine for your needs. One thing that I noticed is that it is extremely heavy for a solo inflatable kayak. If that doesn’t bother you, the design and features look good. Sorry I couldn’t help you more. Hopefully I’ll get to review it one day soon.

  16. Tom Monty says:

    Can you recommend the best inflatable kayak for use on the Bay of Banderas in Puerto Vallarta? We are novices but want to take advantage of the beautiful bay. We have been looking at the SeaEagle FastTrack or the catamaran kayaks with a small trolling motor….. Suggestions ?

    • The FastTrack actually has a motor package that I think is excellent value for the money. It would be ideal for paddling the bays in Puerto Vallarta – I googled Bay of Banderas… gorgeous!! The catamaran kayaks are good too and definitely have their advantages but I find them a little more difficult to paddle plus they tend to be heavier. The FastTrack would be my choice, hope that helps.

  17. Hello,
    Just wondering about which one would keep out the water the best. We hope to go out even in colder water and don’t want to get too much exposure. Maybe the Airis Sport Tandem for two of us?
    Thanks!

    • You sit up higher in the Airis Tandem and the side tubes are a little lower than some other IK’s so I actually find that you can sometimes get more water in there. I find the Sea Eagle 380X keeps you fairly dry… the tubes are a little bigger and you sit a little lower. Also if exposure is a big concern you could take a look at the closed-deck inflatable kayaks such as the Innova Swing II or the Advanced Elements Convertible. Both have optional spray skirts that can be added.

  18. You mentioned doing a review on the Aquaglide Chinook back in June. I am looking into the Aquaglide Columbia series but cannot find any independent reviews as to quality of materials or how they would compare to the Sea Eagles you mentioned in other reviews. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Jim, I got to paddle the Aquaglide Chinook briefly. It was a decent kayak, comfortable and stable. I wasn’t overly impressed with the performance though. It wasn’t bad, just kind of mediocre. t have not tried the Columbia model. It looks interesting but I don’t know of anyone who has paddled it yet. Just from my quick experience with the Chinook, I thought the materials were good but didn’t seem as strong to me as the Sea Eagle kayaks. It definitely had a different feel. Sorry I couldn’t help you more.

  19. Nigel Farmer says:

    Hi Alison, I’m hoping that you can help as I am in a bit of a quandary. I am 64, 5’10″ and about 150lbs. My wife and I have a Sea Eagle 385FT (one of the old models) and really enjoy it; I sometimes use it as a single as well, although for those occasions I also have an Elie Strait 120 hard shell, which is good but this is getting more problematic as my knees get stiffer, so I am looking for a single seat IK to replace it,
    White water has never been on the agenda but lakes, rivers and the near coast most certainly are. The 385 FastTrack is great on lakes but less clever on narrow streams and frankly, being the old model, is getting a bit heavier than I would ideally like.

    I’ve been mulling over another Sea Eagle to replace the Elie, but this time the single seat Explorer 300X – the length looks good, a bit wide perhaps, but great for the coast; maybe less so for flat water tracking and performance. The three year warranty and our positive experience with Sea Eagle is definitely comforting though.

    I then came across the Aquaglides, in particular the Klickitat 1 HB. Looks quite good on paper, although there is not a great deal of detail regarding the material and it looks as though it has similarities to some of the Sevlors, which isn’t necessarily the greatest recommendation, especially as the warranty appears to be the minimum and the UK importer is conspicuous by their apparently covert presence on the web (the main UK retailer stresses that they are not the importer and can only handle warranty claims for the ones they sell – which I guess is fair!)

    I don’t know if you are in a position to offer any guidance, but any thoughts as to which might be the better option for me would be most gratefully received. Being retired, I’m hoping to get a few years out of what ever I end up with, so it would be good to make the right choice.

    • Hi Nigel, Unfortunately I don’t have any experience with the Aquaglide kayaks. The Klickitat 1 HB looks interesting but I’m not sure about the performance or quality. I like the solo 300X from Sea Eagle however. It’s not a very big kayak but is highly responsive, turns and maneuvers really well. The width does slow it down some but it is stable and overall paddles well. I think it would work well for your needs. Sorry I couldn’t help you more. I hope to be able to review the Aquaglide kayaks one day soon.

      • Nigel Farmer says:

        Thank you so much for coming back. I do like the 300X, the size is fine, I just wish it was a little bit slimmer (ditto me….).
        It looks like the Airis Sport is going to be imported into the UK, it’s being exhibited at the Southampton Boat Show next week – trouble is we are still in France for the next month so I won’t be able to go. I think the 300x will have to be the next purchase, unless you think the Sport would make any more sense? Sorry for yet more questions!

        • I like the Sport as well, paddles nicely, good quality. However I think you get more for your money with the 300X plus you sit a little lower in the 300X which I like. You can’t go wrong either way though.

  20. I purchased the Aquaglide Columbia 1 HB a few months ago for my girlfriend to use in the Tampa Bay area and couldn’t be happier. The materials are top notch and I feel it’s the best bang for the buck in an inflatable model. The only issue I have with it is it’s a little hard to get the bladder points at the ends to come together under the canvass so it looks sleek and smooth.
    I’m thinking it’ll get easier as time goes on.

    • Nigel Farmer says:

      Thank you both for the feedback. I’ll hopefully be in a position to commit when I get back to the UK, although I’ll bet the weather won’t be as good as it is here at present – beautiful weather for a kayak and so unlike the UK!
      Again, thanks for all the help.

    • Brian,

      I am trying to decide between the SEFT or the Columbia 2. So my questions are:
      Does the C1 track well? And how do you like the inflatable seat and the adjustable foot rest?

      Thanks. And thank you Allison for the review of the Chinook

      Jim

      • Oops Jim I missed your comment, sorry my reply is so late. The inflatable seat in the Aquaglide kayak is fairly comfortable but you sit up quite high which feels different than what I’m used to. The adjustable foot rest is okay. I’ve yet to try a foot rest on any inflatable kayak that is perfect but it’s handy to have for sure. Tracking was decent but not as good as the FastTrack. I wouldn’t choose it over the FastTrack personally but overall I’d say it’s a good kayak.

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