Top 5 Inflatable Kayaks

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

They are in no particular order as they each have their own unique features, uses, pros and cons.

For more detailed info click on the kayak names below to read our full detailed reviews…

Sea Eagle FastTrack

The FastTrack came on the market in April 2010 and quickly became extremely popular. It is similar 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 was my personal inflatable kayak of choice for several years until Sea Eagle came out with their RazorLite kayak.   Even though I now mainly paddle my RazorLite there are still many times when my FastTrack gets put to good use.

The FastTrack is great on flat water but can also handle some mild whitewater. It 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 our 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 our full review.


Sea Eagle RazorLite

The RazorLite hit the market in 2015 and in my opinion is the best solo inflatable kayak out there for fast flat water touring. It is totally unique from any other IK out there.

It is much sleeker in design with a narrow width of only 28″ (25″ at the waterline) for the solo model and 30″ wide for the tandem model. However what really makes it stand out is the fact that it is constructed with all drop-stitch technology.

What this means is that the RazorLite can hold much more air pressure and be inflated to a much higher PSI level than any other inflatable kayak. It can be inflated up to 10 PSI, whereas other IK’s normally only hold a max of up to 6 PSI and very often even less.

The higher air pressure creates a very rigid kayak. That along with the sleek straight design, the solid bow and stern molds, and the fact that the entire length of the kayak is in the water while paddling makes it a super performer.

It is not quite as stable as other inflatable kayaks but it is truly a pleasure to paddle and definitely my kayak of choice these days.

All of the Sea Eagle kayaks come with a 180-day guarantee and an awesome 3-year warranty.  Read our full review.

Sea Eagle RazorLite


Innova Helios

The Innova Helios EX has been extremely popular over the years for open water paddling and sea kayaking. There are many reasons the Helios is so popular including the fact that it only weighs 29 lbs. and rolls up really small into a backpack that is included in package.

It offers decent storage room and tracks along nicely, especially when using the optional rudder system. It will hold its own in wind and waves while ocean paddling.

It is ideal for someone who 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 lakes. There is a solo and tandem version available and they both come with a 2 year warranty. Read our 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 can suit a large variety of people.

For this reason the Outlaw really stands out. It is affordable, it is 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 is very durable, comes with a 3-year warranty, can 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.  Read our full review.

Comments

  1. Allison,

    I’m SO impressed with your reviews and your insights. I’d like your input on my next-IK decision.

    My wife and I have owned a 385FT for several years, and we love it. BUT – – – we’d like something a little faster, a little sleeker, a little more roomy. We’re looking at the 473RL, the 465FT, and the Aquaglike Chelan HB2. I love the features of the AG like velcro foot-bar strips, spray deck, paddle holders, etc. But I’m scared of the brand and the short warranty. I have only great things to say about SE quality, but they sure don’t pile on the features. No spray deck and none planned it seems.

    We paddle mostly on flat water, but we want to be able to roll occasionally down through some very light class 1 or 2 “rapids”, and I’m worried the RL would just tip over. But the speed and efficiency of the RL are calling me.

    Can you help with this dilemma? I really value your judgments.

    thx
    Greg Illes

    • I think as far as faster and sleeker go, the RL is the way to go. I have actually taken the RL down class I and II rapids and it was no problem. It’s not really designed for that kind of paddling but it handled just fine. The only issue I had was the large fin… I scraped it up a little on rocks and in shallow areas. I would say don’t use the fin in river rapids… it won’t track as straight but if you need to maneuver quickly through the rapids and dodge rocks and debris, it will help to turn quickly and not get caught on anything. Worth noting however that I took the solo RL down the rapids, the longer 473RL might be a little harder to handle.

      The 465FT is more stable of course and does paddle well but not as fast as the RL. The Aquaglide Chelan is a good kayak but I find the performance to be a little more basic. However I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time in that kayak and it’s hard to comment too much without spending more time using it. From the short experience I had with it I remember thinking that I wouldn’t buy it myself. That being said, I haven’t heard anything negative about it.

      Hope that helps! If you decide to go for the RL remember that Sea Eagle does offer their 180 day return policy… you can return it within 180 days if you are not happy with it, as long as it is in good condition. Kind of provides a bit of a safety net 🙂

  2. What about a Tahiti

    • The Sevylor Tahiti? It’s a base kayak that allows you to get on the water for very little money. Fun to paddle, however it is definitely not a top 5.

  3. Hi. I live in Colorado and am wondering what IK would you recommend for lakes and maybe some class III Looking for a tandem but not to spend the 800 an aire cost. Any suggestions

    • Hi Kevin, It’s tough to find a kayak that performs well on flat water lakes but also can handle up to class III rapids. Usually they are designed for one or the other. A couple that come to mind that are priced fairly well are the Advanced Elements StraitEdge or the Tributary Tomcat. Neither are all that fast on flat water but they are both decent kayaks, easy to paddle and very versatile. The solo models are much more affordable. It’s tough to find a tandem under $800.

  4. Lucy Beal says:

    I enjoy your website. I’m interested in an inflatable kayak. I am in my 60s and want something that I can manage on my own primarily on calm lake waters. The razorlite was too long and heavy for me to get to the water, although I loved paddling it. I think the Airis Play or the Innova Twist are the right size and weight for me to handle on my own. I’m leaning towards the Innova Twist since I think I might sit lower then in the Play. I’m only 5’3″ and I don’t know whether I’d be so low that I’d have issues paddling. Do you have any guidance for me?

    • Both the Innova Twist and the Airis Play are great options. Both are super portable and easy to carry. They have a different feel so it just depends what you prefer. I have friends who love the Airis kayaks and prefer the feel of sitting up higher. I don’t find them any easier or harder to paddle personally, they just feel different. If you are used to sitting lower and like that more traditional kayak feel then you will probably like the Twist. I don’t think you would have any issues paddling it. The extra back support is kind of nice with the Play but the Twist is still quite comfortable. One thing I will mention is that the Airis kayaks have a high-pressure rigid floor. I find it helps the kayak to track and perform better. Innova still uses the traditional inflatable floors that tend to be a little softer. They are comfortable to sit on but not as good for performance.

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