Inflatable kayaks--pros and cons

Reply

Jun 23rd, 2010, 03:09 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 690
Inflatable kayaks--pros and cons

I guess this could be seen as a lounge topic, but since I'd want to buy and use it in a few places in the Northeast U.S, I'll try here first.

I've seen people putter around in those inflatable kayaks. I wonder if anyone here has one or has used one.
Is it a waste of $300-400 to buy what could be basically be a very expensive pool toy?
A regular kayak is out of my price range, and I'd have no place to store it. But an inflatable one that I could just throw in the trunk of a car and hop into when I pass some small lake or pond sounds really good to me.

Pros and cons? If you can recommend specific brands and models, or know things to look for or avoid that would be really great.
janie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 23rd, 2010, 05:16 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 824
Inflatable kayaks are great. Just don't buy a cheap one like a sea eagle - they puncture real easily. Walmart has some more expensive ones like the Coleman which might be a good choice if you only use it once in a while.

But, for more serious paddling, a well-constructed inflatable will give you years of use. Many of the whitewater raft companies manufacture high quality inflatables that come with extended warranties. One that I'm most familiar with is Aire. Check them out:

http://www.aire.com/aire/products/?type=33
Otis_B_Driftwood is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 23rd, 2010, 05:31 PM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 690
Thanks Otis_B_Driftwood . The Aire kayaks look great though the least expensive ones are $500-700, still a little high for the amount of use I'd give it,probably 10 times a year at most. I'll have to look at the Coleman ones and see if they'd work.

The Sea Eagle is one I saw advertised and I had that feeling that it was too good to be true for the price
janie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 23rd, 2010, 05:52 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 6,030
I believe I have read that the inflatables don't track as well as the hardshell - although I am not 100% sure of that - so ask your salesperson

Kayaking is such fun!!
sunbum1944 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jun 23rd, 2010, 07:23 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 6,935
My suggestion would be to take a kayak introductory lesson or tour at one of your destinations and see how you like it. Then, you might consider renting one on your own for an easy paddle or two. This way you'll learn what the sport is all about and a benchmark to judge the inflatables against. Kayaks are relatively simple boats and you can save a lot of money buying used.

At any rate, I'd also suggest you look at this website, http://www.paddling.net/. Under "Community" you'll find a couple of very active forums where you can get some good advice. There is also a review section where you might find more information on inflatables.
Fra_Diavolo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 23rd, 2010, 07:41 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 4,259
Hi Janie,
We have a Sea Eagle and love it. My husband and I take it camping all the time. Deflated it fits into one of those Rubbermaid type (4'x2'x2') containers that we put either on the roof or in the trunk.

We inflate it at camp and go fishing for hours on end in it. We made a PVC carrier for it after we saw someone with one. It works great, especially if the body of water is a little bit of a walking distance from camp.

I am not familiar with the Coleman so I cannot comment on it, but I wouldn't hesitate to get another Sea Eagle again. I am glad we upgraded the seats though. They have higher backs than the standard seats.

Michele
michele_d is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 24th, 2010, 09:33 AM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 690
This has been really helpful.

I have been kayaking before, and I have no illusions about an inflatable replacing something sturdier. I will definitely continue to rent those. But the idea of just plopping a portable kayak into the water on the spur of the moment sounds really appealing, yet I don't want to invest too much cash in it. I wish there were someplace I could really try out or rent one of the inflatables and if anyone knows someplace close to NYC, let me know.
I'll look at reviews on Paddling.net too

Thanks for your perspective Michele_D. I saw an ad for one of the dual Sea Eagles with paddles, seats etc for about $350 and it's so tempting. Do you feel confident enough in yours that it won't just hit an rock and spring a leak?
janie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 24th, 2010, 10:54 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 4,259
Hi janie,
I feel very confident in ours. I have not compared the thickness to any other kayaks but it doesn't seem to be thin at all.

Remember, you have to lug it down to the water, and if you are by yourself and it is made out of really thick material then it will be heavier and most likely unmanageable by yourself. Even carrying ours with two people is heavy. We take many breaks on the walk down to the lake.

We drag ours up onto the beaches, as you will too. And on to many rocks bigger than my hand. Never so much as a scratch to give us doubts. It maneuvers easily and drops anchor well.

You can't fit a ton of stuff in it but we bungee a small inflatable ice chest onto the front (stern/bow???) and then we can paddle to wherever, have a nice picnic, fish, paddle some more and so on. We have really enjoyed it.

Michele
michele_d is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 28th, 2010, 11:11 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 1
Think of inflatable kayak construction as just another way of making a boat. There are good designs and poor ones, just like there are with rigid kayaks.

The better inflatable boats use rubber coatings over low-stretch fabrics. You will see this construction in whitewater rafts and commercial Zodiac-type inflatables. It's actually tougher than rigid construction for demanding applications and banging off of rocks. The cheapest inflatable boats, on the other hand, use essentially shower curtain material without fabric reinforcement and don't hold up. You get what you pay for.

Rubber coated fabrics are more abrasion-resistant than PVC (vinyl) coated fabrics. Rubber coated fabrics are also environmentally friendlier than the ubiquitous PVC boat fabrics, which off-gases dioxins, but are cheap to make in Asia.

Like rigid kayaks, inflatable kayaks have a wide range of designs for the kind of paddling you want to do. A good touring design will have a narrower hull for less drag and with lower side tubes to not catch the wind. Many whitewater inflatables are quite wide with high side tubes for buoyancy, and while these can handle rapids, they are dogs to paddle in flatwater lakes.

I have flown to Hawaii with an Innova Helios double kayak in the overhead bin. I used it to paddle Kaneohe Bay and surf Waikiki. With the same boat we entered a 40-mile race in the San Juan Islands north of Seattle. Winds were so strong (gusting to 45 knots) that 1/3 of the rigid kayaks capsized or dropped out of the race, and we won our section averaging 3 knots.

Nowadays you can buy a quality inflatable double kayak for less money than a roto-molded rigid recreational kayak, but the inflatable will weigh half as much and can be carried in your car trunk. But don't expect that you can lowball an inflatable boat purchase and get a good boat, any more than you can buy a cheap plastic rigid kayak and get safe performance.
Tim_R is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 28th, 2010, 11:25 AM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 690
Tim_R , you really have given me a good overview of what to look for.
For this possible purchase, cost is definitely a factor so my goal is to balance what I'm willing to spend ($300-400) with the best quality I can get for that money. I would be using it only for short paddles--30-60 minutes in a lake or pond, relatively close to shore.
In your opinion, and perhaps knowing what's avalable in that price range, do you think that it's even worth buying an inflatable under those terms?
janie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 4th, 2010, 07:37 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 1
I too am looking to purchase an inflatable – the compelling factors being cost, easy to transport and relatively light weight. The idea of spontaneously stopping at a lake and within 15 or so minutes launch your kayak appeals to me. However, my concern is what happens at the end of the paddle. I am looking to purchase an Advancedframe Expedition. Their recommendation is that the kayak should be rinsed off and thoroughly dried before being packed away. So the options are pack a wet kayak into the trunk, unpack it at home, rinse it off and then dry it off, not sure where one would do this if it is raining ( I live in the Pacific North West) – or I guess, carry a bunch of towels in the trunk and dry it off on the shoreline. Seems like a lot of work for an hours paddle. The you tube videos only show how easy it is to unpack and inflate the kayak – nothing about the pack up process. Maybe there are short cuts? I would be interested to hear from you.
Rykmann is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 4th, 2010, 01:22 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 377
im a kayak person,using one to fish in a river for trout.I cant imagine an inflatble taking the abuse on rocks i get, but for just paddling in a pond or lake,itd be fine.I have a Dagger,which are harder to flip (they all flip) because its wider--it cost me $400 weighs 45 pounds.Having an inlatable sounds really neat and avoids all the hernia producing effort of loading the kayak on a roof of a car.Like the idea of buying used,but id look really hard for any cuts/patches etc.If you plan on fishing,would a hook penetrate the inflatable--its easy using treble hooks,even w/o barbs, to get a hook in your clothes
bigbomoho is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 4th, 2010, 05:48 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 4,259
Hi Rykmann,
After we are done kayaking we just wipe out the inside where your dirty feet go. It will always get muddy and wet there as of course you have to step in the water to launch. We always carry old beach towels for this.

After that, if there is time we bring it back to camp to air out a bit, if not we just deflate it and put it along with the paddles, seats, foot pump, anchors and life vests etc into one of those big blue Rubbermaid type containers that we put on our roof or inside the trunk. We go from lake to lake like this for a couple weeks at a time.

When we get home we wash the kayak out, and off, and then dry it. We bring it inside and put it in our sun room or garage to dry for a couple days. Then we pack it up again for the next time.

It does take a little bit of setup and take down time but that is the trade off to not hauling a 'real' kayak with us.

Michele
michele_d is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 28th, 2013, 03:34 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 1
My wife and I use the Sea Eagle on class II/III white water and they do just fine

I do have one issue

We cant keep the seats in place. We have the upgraded highback seats but they are constantly sliding to the back of the craft.

Has anyone come up with a way to keep them in place?
SteveOom is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 28th, 2013, 06:15 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 4,259
We have the upgraded seats also, but ours do not move around, but we also do not go on whitewater, just lakes.
michele_d is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2015, 02:49 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 1
In case anyone is perusing for inflatable answers, I have a hatchback and carry 2 two seater inflatable Sea Eagle Kayaks with me all the time. One is bigger and harder..my lighter 330 holds up to 500lbs (I have the deluxe seats) has been wonderful and I have taken it to Cape Hatteras, Ocracoke Island, and my usual local lakes and Parks, plus Assateague Island and OC...The latest and greatest Sea Eagle Explorer 380 holds up to 750 lbs... I have a sail that works for both of these and a small motor for the explorer. Watch youtube sea eagle durability on the explorer... I feel safe except for sharks and that would be in any kayak.

I can truly say that I have enjoyed life so much more for the last 4 years because of my kayaking. I would not have been able to do it with hard kayaks. I carry monopod, cameras in bag, cooler with fishing rod tubes and fishing tackle bag. I have an ez cart for distance put-ins and a bag trolley for airline use that I use for distance put ins also as it has extended handle and wheels. They both can fit in the kayak after you get to the waterside.

I cannot lift a kayak to the top of a car. These give me the ability to go kayaking whenever and wherever I want. I take 2 two week kayaking trips each summer at the beginning of the season and the end.
Kittykittypurrs is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:37 AM.