Tips for Buying a Solo Inflatable Kayak

I have gotten used to using a convertible inflatable kayak for both solo and tandem kayaking.

A convertible is basically a tandem kayak that can be converted for solo use. I like these because they give you the option of paddling with a friend or paddling solo if you choose.

However if you want your boat all to yourself there are some real advantages to owning a true solo inflatable kayak.

Solo Inflatable Kayak Advantages

Lightweight – A solo model will typically weigh less than the tandem models. When kayaking alone or with someone who has their own kayak, it is nice to be able to easily transport and carry your IK all on your own. If your kayak is quite heavy it will seem like more of a burden. A light model that you can easily carry from your vehicle to the water makes the transport and set up process a snap.

Quick Set-Up – I find when paddling on my own I just want to get out on the water fast. A solo model is rarely as long as a tandem and will inflate very fast. There is only one seat to attach and you’re on your way.

More Room – It may seem contradictory that a smaller kayak could offer more room however often you will find that a solo inflatable kayak will provide more room for your legs as well as for extra gear and cargo than a tandem model will – if the tandem model is being paddled by two people. Therefore if you are doing a longer trip with a friend or partner, it is sometimes wise to get two solo IK’s instead of one tandem model.

Traveling – A solo inflatable kayak is ideal for traveling. The fact that they can be so light and roll up so small makes them easy to bring anywhere in the world.

Manoeuvrability – The smaller frame of a solo inflatable kayak makes it extremely easy to manoeuvre in the water. They take less effort to paddle and typically are more responsive to quick turns and fancy tricks – if you are brave enough to try any.

Questions to Ask Before Buying a Solo Inflatable Kayak

When searching for a solo model there are a few questions to ask yourself such as:

1. How much weight are you comfortable lifting on your own?

It is ideal to be able to easily lift the kayak from the trunk of your vehicle without extra strain. If you are concerned about the weight there are options such as rolling bags that can be used as well which make it easy to get the kayak to the water. Also consider if you plan on travelling with your IK and how far you will need to carry it.

2. How much room do you need inside the kayak?

Take leg room as well as comfort into consideration when looking at the different models. Also consider how much cargo you will need to bring with you and if you want your dog to join you on your trips.

3. How much weight does the kayak need to hold?

Certain solo models truly do not hold a lot of weight and are best suited for smaller kayakers. However there are many that can hold a fair amount of weight and still perform at its best. Take your own weight into consideration as well as any cargo you will be bringing along with you.

4. What type of water will you be paddling in most?

This will determine if you should be looking at the whitewater inflatable kayaks or the flatwater inflatable kayaks. Some models are designed to be paddled on all types of water but in my experience they will typically paddle far better on one type of water than the other.

5. What is your price range?

Although solo models usually cost less than a tandem or convertible model, the prices can still greatly vary. Therefore you can look at our solo inflatable kayak comparison chart to get an idea of which models will fit within your budget.

There are lots of solo inflatable kayak models to choose from so it will not be difficult to find one that suits all of your needs.

Comments

  1. Patrick A. says:

    Allison, Thanks for being here!! I own a Wilderness Systems Pamlico. It is a tandem. I’ve owned it for 4 years and still love it. However at 75 lbs. it always has been a challenge to unload and load. Lucky for me I have young strapping sons that I go kayaking with. I am very interested in a inflatable model I can handle by myself.
    After reading all your reviews and exploring your links, I can now make a better decision.
    Thanks a million for all your information. Thanks for your time and effort.
    Patrick A.

    • Thanks Patrick for the nice comment, I am so happy you are finding the site helpful. I know the Pamlico well, it is a great kayak. However I think you will find an inflatable far easier to transport when out paddling alone. Good luck with your search and happy paddling!