Choosing the right kayak that will best suit your needs will require you to ask yourself a few questions.
There are several different types of kayaks to choose from. The questions you will need to ask yourself when buying an inflatable kayak are not that different from when buying a hard-shell kayak.
5 Questions to Ask
1. What type of water will you kayak on?
This is the best starting point. The type of water you plan to paddle on most will determine the type of kayak you need. Although it is possible to get a boat that paddles well on several types of water, the majority of them will cater to one specific type.
For example, will you paddle mostly on flat-water lakes, calm rivers, whitewater rapids, ocean bays, or open water sea kayaking? Knowing which type of water you will predominantly be on will determine what category to begin your search.
2. Will you paddle solo or tandem or like the option of doing both?
There are solo, tandem, convertible and family sized inflatable kayaks to choose from.
The solo models tend to be shorter, lighter and easier for one person to transport. The tandem models will seat two people and typically have more room for gear. The convertibles offer the convenience of moving the seats around to suit one or two people. The family sized models provide far more space for kids, dogs, and gear.
There is truly a choice to suit every persons needs and the lighter materials that are being used these days in the construction of the kayaks means that you don’t always have to be burdened with a really heavy boat if you want a bigger size.
3. Will you be doing day trips or long hauls?
Determining how long your paddle trips will be will help to figure out how much weight you need the kayak to hold as well as how much storage space is necessary.
Those who want to do longer hauls may need more storage space and a higher weight capacity. However those who plan to do shorter day trips may not need the extra space or weight.
Think about how much gear you will need to bring with you as well as if you plan to do any fishing, camping or even bring your dog along with you for the ride. All these considerations will factor into the type of model you choose.
4. What is your skill level?
Inflatable kayaks can differ greatly in performance. In general inflatables tend to be extremely stable and therefore are ideal for beginner to novice kayakers. However there are definitely models that are geared for the experienced paddler as well.
Your skill level will determine how much stability you want, how responsive you would like the kayak to be as well as how much you are likely willing to spend.
If you are a beginner but plan to make kayaking a regular part of your life then I would suggest looking at a model that provides stability but still paddles quite well. Some of the real cheaper models are easy to grow out of pretty fast.
5. Do you plan to travel with your inflatable kayak?
If you plan to travel with your kayak then weight will be one of the most important factors to consider. The lighter the model the easier it will be to bring with you anywhere.
A good number of IK’s are easily light enough to check on an airplane without having to pay any extra fees. Some are so light that they can be carried in a backpack. Sometimes you have to compromise size in order to get a really lightweight model. Take that into consideration as you are doing your research.
If you can answer these five questions then you will be able to narrow down your search results and zone in on the models best suited for your needs.
When doing your research look at the size, weight, load capacity, warranty and of course the price.
Check out our detailed comparison charts. They are a great reference for easily comparing the important specs of the different inflatable kayak models.