Activities, Gear, Kayaking/Canoeing, Reviews, Tips

Best Inflatable kayaks in the UK

best-inflatable-kayaks-in-the-uk

Paddlesports became really popular in recent years.  The UK has many different water types (rivers, canals, sea and lakes), that provide a scenic setting for kayaking. We’ve done some of the best kayak trips in the UK and we still have a lot more places on our list. If you want full flexibility about the location and timing of your kayaking adventures, then buying a kayak is your best option. Whether to buy an inflatable kayak vs hardshell will depend on your circumstances. Many people choose to go with an inflatable one, as they can pack up small, they are easy to transport and much cheaper than hardshell kayaks. There is a huge selection to choose from and my guide is here to help you find the best inflatable kayak in the UK market for your needs and budget.

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Table of Contents

Are inflatable kayaks any good?

Many people have the assumption that inflatable kayaks are not safe and they don’t stand up to hardshell kayaks. However thanks to modern technology and materials it shouldn’t be too hard to find a good inflatable kayak. They are in fact very durable, stable and rigid. They are built to withstand tough conditions and are suitable to take them on flat water, rivers and even the sea or ocean. A skeg for inflatable kayak is important to to track well, so make you you buy one with it.

Keep in mind, that while inflatable kayaks can be very reliable, they are not invincible! Kayaking safety is important. Always be careful and use common sense. Don’t take out an inflatable kayak in harsh conditions and rough water. Punctures can happen if you hit a sharp rock or branch at the wrong angle. With a full drop stitch kayak, these situations are uncommon but still possible. So always use extra caution. 

If the main reason for you to get an inflatable kayak over a rigid one is to save space, then you could also consider foldable kayaks. They pack up small, but at the same time act and feel like a rigid kayak. They can be quite pricey, but worth the money if you are a regular paddler. Oru Kayak is an excellent brand for them.

Types of Inflatable Kayaks

Drop stitch inflatable kayak

These are undoubtedly the best inflatable kayaks you can get in terms of quality. This also means they are quite expensive. However, if you want to go paddling regularly then they are worth the price. Many people even use them for multi-day trips, as they can take a beating. The material used is a strengthened PVC. Drop-stitch weaving technique allows for a high internal air pressure inflation, which means these kayaks feel a lot like traditional kayaks. They are very durable and efficient on the water. 

Single-skin kayaks

These kayaks are ideal if you are on a low budget and just want it for casual recreation: something fun to do in good weather. Most suited for relaxed, short paddles. A good option if you are after a cheap inflatable kayak. Their advantage is that they pack up small and wipe dry quickly. However single-skin kayaks tend to be quite slow and don’t track very well, meaning it is hard to keep them straight. You can often end up rotating the boat with every paddle stroke, which can be annoying. Many of these kayaks have inflatable seats, which tend to be quite uncomfortable. 

Best 1 man inflatable kayak Comparison Chart

  • Intex Challenger Kayak
  • Sevylor Quikpak K1
  • Sevylor Quikpak K5
  • AQUATEC Ottawa Kayak
Intex Challenger KayakSevylor Quikpak K1Sevylor Quikpak K5AQUATEC Ottawa Kayak
£
£
££
£££
Weight11.8 kg8.2 kg11.5 kg18 kg
Weight Capacity100 kg180 kg113 kg160 kg
Kayak Size‎274 x 76 cm‎262 x 91 cm304 x 85 cm385 x 83 cm
MaterialRugged vinyl PVC construction and rugged tarpaulin bottom Heavy duty polyetster bottom, 24-gauge laminated PVCHigh Pressure Drop Stich + Military Grade PVC + EVA Non-Slip Deck Pad
Best UsesLakes, mild riversLakes, mild riversLakes, riversSea, lakes & rivers
See PriceSee PriceSee PriceSee Price

1 person inflatable kayak Reviews

Intex Challenger Kayak

This is a cheap one man kayak for easy recreational paddles. A fantastic value for money. It is fast to inflate with the provided pump. The paddle also clips together nicely. There is a large cargo net at the front, which offers good storage for water bottles, towels, etc. A very stable kayak with a skeg, that helps to keep it straight in the water. The inflatable seat sits quite high if you inflate the bottom as well. So you might want to keep that portion deflated, to provide a better seating position. A great inexpensive choice for a beginner kayaker and they also have a tandem inflatable kayak version

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Comes with repair kit, pump, seat and paddle.
  • Cargo net for storage

Cons:

  • Not well suited for faster water

Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak

The biggest advantage of this sit on top inflatable kayak is its innovative backpack system, which makes it very compact and portable. The backpack becomes part of the seat, so you don’t have to worry about where to leave the bag while you are out paddling. This kayak also comes at a very affordable price and the hand pump and paddle are all included. The multi air chamber design is great to keep the kayak from sinking in case of a puncture.
There are two small fixed skegs, but these, unfortunately, don’t work great and the kayak tracks poorly. This can be annoying, especially to more experienced paddlers. 

Pros:

  • The backpack makes the kayak easy to transport and store
  • Storage at the front
  • Easy to inflate and deflate
  • Cheap

Cons:

  • Uncomfortable seat
  • It doesn’t track well

Sevylor Quikpak K5

A more rugged version of the K1 model. This one is better suited for longer trips and is able to tackle waves due to its design and spray skirt. It also has the clever backpack system, meaning the entire backpack becomes part of the kayak. The paddle that comes with the kayak is not of great quality, but that is the case for many of these kayaks. Often it is worth investing in a new paddle. 

Pros:

  • Easy backpack carry
  • Multiple air chambers
  • Spray skirt

Cons:

  • Difficult to drain
  •  Flimsy paddle

AQUATEC Ottawa Kayak

The AQUATEC Ottawa is built for experienced paddlers. It features a drop-stitch construction, so feels a lot like a hard shell kayak. It tracks well and it might be the best inflatable kayak for ocean and sea on the UK market. Also suitable for multi-day adventures. Dries quite quickly as well at the end of your paddle. A great choice if you want to go kayaking regularly. You can decide to buy the single inflatable kayak or the tandem version.

Pros:

  • Drop stitch kayak
  • Cargo webbing straps
  • Comfortable seat

Cons:

  • Comes with a bag instead of a backpack, so awkward to carry

Best 2 man Inflatable Kayak​ Comparison Chart

  • Intex Explorer K2
  • AM AQUA MARINA Laxo
  • Shipwreck ArrowStream
  • Aqua Marina Tomahawk
Intex Explorer K2AM AQUA MARINA LaxoShipwreck ArrowStreamAqua Marina Tomahawk
£
££
£££
£££
Weight‎16.7 kg15 kg18.3 kg16.6 kg
Weight Capacity180 kg155 kg340 kg210 kg
Kayak Size314 x 91 cm320 x 95 cm440 x 85 cm440 x 78 cm
MaterialRugged vinyl Floor cover and top hull of side chambers constructed of premium polyester hull cover for long-lasting UV protectionHigh quality PVC 100% drop stitch. Strong overlapping bonded seams, with a multi layered reinforced underside.Premium Heavy Duty Drop-Stitch PVC with Molded V-shape form under bow and stern.
Best UsesLakes, mild riversLakes, rivers, calm seaLakes, rivers, calm seaCalm sea, lakes & rivers
See PriceSee PriceSee PriceSee Price

2 person inflatable kayak Reviews

Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak

A good option for beginners, who don’t want to splash out on a high-tech kayak. Despite its cheap price, it is surprisingly durable. It can take two adults without any issues. The boat is easy to inflate and deflate due to the 2 Boston valves. It also dries quickly. The kayak comes with a skeg but doesn’t track super well, so more ideal for shorter distances and on calm water. The seats are adjustable and fairly comfortable.

Pros:

  • Good value for money
  • Highly visible in water

Cons:

  • Doesn’t track very well
  • Not ideal for tall people

AM AQUA MARINA Laxo

Ideal for beginners or intermediate paddlers. The kayak tracks quite well and you can even take it out to the sea if the conditions aren’t too rough. It is a double kayak, but thanks to the adjustable seats, velcro and buckles you can position it to suit a solo kayaker. The high-back seats have a spongy cushion and they are very comfortable. 
 

Pros:

  • Detachable comfort seats
  • Water splash guard and cargo bungees on both stem and stern

Cons:

  • Low weight capacity 

Shipwreck ArrowStream 

This inflatable sea kayak is fantastic for touring or day trips. It has plenty of legroom and storage space. Also has a large weight capacity (340 kg) , so you can carry extra gear. The seat can be placed in the centre, so you can use it as a single kayak. The Shipwreck ArrowStream is very quick to set up and fits comfortably in its carrier bag. You can also get a bag with wheels, which can make it easier to transport. The PVC material is very rugged, so this kayak can take a beating. 

Pros:

  • Drop stitch kayak
  • Huge weight capacity
  • Comfortable seat
  • Fast on the water

Cons:

  • Quite heavy to carry

Aqua Marina Tomahawk

This kayak is best suited to intermediate to advanced paddlers. Beginners might find it unstable and hard to manoeuvre. This kayak tracks well and it is ideal for long paddles, as it can be quite fast. The drop-stitch construction makes it very rigid and durable, so it will likely last many years. The high sides make it a bit unstable in windy conditions. 

Pros:

  • Drop stitch kayak
  • Detachable comfort seats
  • Cargo webbing straps
  • Water splash guard bow on both bow and stern

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • High sides make it difficult to manoeuvre in windy conditions

Best 3 person inflatable kayak Comparison Chart

  • Sevylor Tahiti Plus
  • Sevylor Hudson
  • Sevylor Adventure Plus
  • Sevylor Alameda
Sevylor Tahiti PlusSevylor HudsonSevylor Adventure PlusSevylor Alameda
£
££
££
£££
Weight11.7 kg17.7 kg14.5 kg20 kg
Weight Capacity200 kg210 kg200 kg210 kg
Kayak Size361 x 90 cm 374 x 89 cm368 x 86 cm375 x 93 cm
MaterialDurable PVC hull, two PVC side chambers, floor chamber with i-beam constructionDurable polyester cover, replaceable PVC side & floor chambers and PVC coated, fabric reinforced bottom shellDurable polyester cover, replaceable PVC side & floor chambers and PVC coated, fabric reinforced bottom shellDurable polyester hull, two PVC side chambers and an ultra-durable tarpaulin shell
Best UsesLakes, mild riversLakes, mild riversLakes, riversSea, lakes & rivers
See PriceSee PriceSee PriceSee Price

3 seat Inflatable Kayak Reviews

Sevylor Tahiti Plus

An entry-level kayak, that is great for families. It is suitable for two adults and one child. Don’t expect to go on big kayak trips in this, but it will provide a few hours of fun on the lake on a nice, sunny day. The boat is quite cheap, but you will have to purchase an inflatable kayak pump, paddles and skeg separately. It has a carry system, however, converting the kayak into the backpack is really tricky and time-consuming. I would suggest getting a big IKEA bag and just keeping it in there. 

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Seat is fiddly
  • Doesn’t track well

Sevylor Hudson

This kayak comes with a carrier bag and removable fin (skeg), but you will need to purchase paddles and pump separately. The boat works great for families and there is even some space for a picnic and towels under the spray decks. It tracks surprisingly well, but don’t expect it to glide as fast on the water as some other kayaks. But that is to be expected with any 3-person kayak.

Pros:

  • Easy to inflate/deflate/pack up
  • Stable

Cons:

  • Not great quality

Sevylor Adventure Plus 

A great well-made kayak for two adults and a child or 2 people and some gear. You could even do an overnight trip with it if the conditions were right. It is easy to set up and then pack it away at the end of your trip. No pump or paddle is included, so you will have to purchase these separately. It resembles a canoe a bit, so paddling either with a single- or double-blade paddle is fine.

Pros:

  • Stable
  • Tracks well

Cons:

  • Uncomfortable seats

Sevylor Alameda

A fantastic kayak, that feels very stable and rugged. It tracks well and it is surprisingly fast as well. The seats are very comfortable and can be moved around depending on how many people are using the kayak. It’s a good quality kayak, that will last a long time if looked after properly. 

Pros:

  • Comfortable seats
  • Tracks well and quite fast
  • Bungee chord storage

Cons:

  • Expensive

Inflatable Kayak Care Guide

Just like any other kit, your kayak will also need looking after in order to prolong its life. This section should help you give an idea, about what to expect in terms of caring for your kayak.

How to find a leak in an inflatable kayak?

One of the most annoying things about an inflatable kayak is getting a puncture. However they are generally not that difficult to find or fix, so don’t worry!

1. Inflate the kayak completely.
2. Inspect all areas of the kayak, including the valves and keel by listening out for a hissing sound.
3. Make a mixture of soapy warm water into a plastic spray bottle.
4. Spray the solution onto the kayak one area at a time and observe.
5. Small bubbles will form if there is a leak in the inflatable boat.

How to repair an inflatable kayak?

This is general guidance about how to fix a puncture on an inflatable kayak, but the best practice is to follow the manual instructions for your specific boat.

1. Clean the area with fresh water and wait for it to dry completely.
2. Many boats come with an inflatable kayak repair kit. Ideally use this to fix the puncture. Otherwise, you can buy them separately as well.
3. Cut out a patch that will cover the hole.
4. Apply the adhesive to the kayak and patch.
5. Place the patch firmly over the puncture.
6. Affix the patch with pressure.
7. Leave it to dry completely before inflating the boat.

How to clean an inflatable kayak?

It is important to rinse an inflatable kayak after contact with saltwater. If you are going to store it for a long period of time, then it is suggested to also give it a proper clean. Use a bucket and mildly soapy water. Get rid of any dirt with a sponge. Once clean, dry it out completely. (See below how to do this)

How to dry an inflatable kayak?

Just like with a tent, it is essential to dry a kayak before putting it away for storage. You might pack it up after your paddle and take it home. But always remember to unpack it as soon as you get home to dry it properly. Otherwise, you will end up with mould growing in the folds, which can be quite stinky and unattractive. It can also deteriorate the material.
It takes time to dry a kayak. How long exactly will depend on the material, design and weather conditions. 
Before you put the kayak away for storage for months, make sure it is dried out properly.

1. Start by giving the kayak a rinse, especially if you used it in saltwater. Salt can abrade the fabric.
2. Wipe the whole kayak dry with a towel, ideally while it is still inflated. 
3. Deflate the kayak and wipe away any more water that you notice. Have a few towels available to wipe the kayak dry.
4. Hang the kayak up (or drape over a chair) and leave it to dry completely. will

How to store an inflatable kayak?

Storing an inflatable kayak is so much easier than a rigid one. It takes up less space. But there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to prolong the life of your boat. 

If you fold it the exact same way each time you will crease the same area over and over. This can weaken the material in that area. So try and fold it loosely instead. Ideally, you will need to store the kayak in a cool and dry place.

Do I need a licence for an inflatable kayak?

It depends on the location. In Scotland you have the “right to roam” principle, which means in most cases, you don’t need any special licence to paddle.
However, in England and Wales on most rivers and canals it is compulsory to hold an appropriate waterways licence to paddle. This goes for canoes, paddleboards and kayaks. Even inflatable ones.  A British Canoe Union (BCU) or Canoe Wales (CW) membership will give you a licence to paddle over 4,500km of river navigations and canals. Some lakes and reservoirs require a day permit. Kayaking without a licence can result in a fine. Always check the local rules, before launching your boat.

Kayak Safety Equipment

Kayak Safety knife

Always have a knife to cut through ropes in an emergency.

Personal locator beacon

An emergency gps tracker can save your life in case of an accident.

Buoyancy aid

Always wear a life jacket, no matter how experienced you are!

Kayak Throw Line

Lining your kayak around hazards in the water will keep you safe.

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7 Comments

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