I am looking for advice about buying an inflatable kayak. I appreciated the info from this article Everything I've Learned from 40 Inflatable Kayaks | Paddling.com as well as reviews and this forums, but I still have a few questions.
A bit about me and what I’m looking for: I am 5ft tall, about 115lbs. I use my bike and my camping backpack for both daytrips and multi-day long camping overnights and would most likely do the same with a kayak. I would consider myself a beginning/intermediate kayaker: I’ve rented boats for one day and multi-day camping trips on flat water (or up to the very occasional mini section of class II) and took a supported half day outing on a sea kayak but certainly don’t know any of the ins and outs of wet exit rescues or anything like that. I currently do not own a car so have determined that an inflatable is the best option as I’ll always need to be borrowing a car or carpooling. I don’t live near a store that sells inflatables so I’ll need to buy online and therefore cannot test out anything in advance. I presume most of what I’ll be doing is flat water or lakes. I do have plans to visit a friend on the coast who does bay/coastline kayaking and it would be great if the boat was able to handle that but I’m fine renting if not. Finally, I would love a boat that is convertible between solo and tandem. I prefer solo kayaking but because I don’t have a lot of friends with boats and I imagine if I want to go with someone the easiest way would be to set up the boat as a tandem. The other option would be to buy a second boat but depending on the brand that is a very expensive option. Oh and obviously good tracking, handling, etc…
so I know I’m basically looking for a unicorn here, but the question is, what’s my best option knowing I’m not going to find the perfect thing.
- The convertibles that I’ve seen have said 2 people or 1 larger person—could I even use a convertible as a solo at my size? Those are 15 foot boats which are a good 5 feet longer than any solo I’ve been in before.
- I have only found two convertibles (or any inflatables really) that seem to have the option of adding a deck so that the boat can work better for touring. That’s the Aquaglide Navarro 145 and the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible. Am I missing any solo or convertibles that have the optional deck? (I am also happy with just a closed deck system but the convertibles all seem to come standard with open).
- I appreciate the above advice article dividing inflatables into “classes.” I am looking for a class 3 under his system (all double stitch) or a class 2 with options for extra rigidity (like a double stitch floor). I don’t have a sense of how hard the drying issue is going to be but I have plenty of room to do it, so I’m not as worried as that author is about drying out class 2 boats, but perhaps I am just naive. Is there a list of these “class 3” and “class 2” boats anywhere so I can see what other options I might have? Otherwise I am having to decode hundreds of different advertisers posts.
- What other thoughts or advice do folks have about inflatables that I should be considering that is not addressed above?