Inflatable Kayak that tracks well

For my first kayak I want an inflatable. I do like the Sea Eagle 393 since it seems to behave like a hardshell kayak and is reasonably priced. I’m also interested in the 373 (the convertible 1-2 person version). But it is not available before September. I’m open to solos, but also wouldn’t mind the option to convert to 2-seater. it seems a full drop-stitch boat is best. this one seems to be the narrowest (fastest?) available.

First option: Good boat (even if not available now)
I found The airvolution AE3030 and 3029, they are bit more pricy. A cheaper option is the Advanced AE1007-E (only bottom is drop-stitch)

Good boat that is available now:
I’m also entertaining the idea to buy a lesser inflatable that is available NOW so I can get started.
Some that may be OK are the Sea Eagle 370 Pro, the Advanced AE1012 (10’only), or the Advanced AE1007. Chinook 120 also seems to be an option. These may be boats I have for the beginning and sell later or keep as a spare.

what I prefer:

  • good seats (I’m 5’11", 175#)
  • good foot rest
  • good tracking
  • relatively good speed or behavior close to a hard shell

Besides over-priced pool toys, there is not much used available around here.


  • other recommended options for my two options (available later vs now)?
  • which ones would meet my needs best (seat, foot rest etc.). I can compromise when it is a cheaper interim boat, but don’t want to hate it.
  • Is a drop-stitch bottom useful if the sides are regular (like the Advanced AE 1007-E)?
  • would a 10’ with skeg (like the Advanced AE1012) ride well (straight) at all?

Water will be calm (Madison WI lakes and not on stormy days)

I don’t own any of these, nor have I paddled any, so can only make a general comment.

In theory, a skeg should help with tracking, if it is a decent model. It should be better than paddling one without it, especially for beam on winds/seas, and/or quartering ones.

If possible, I recommend trying before you buy, if you can find someone who has the one(s) you are looking at, or if your local store has them for sale and will let you do that.

Best of luck in your search and decision.

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Not happening.

Trying isn’t an option. Even places that are physically local have NOTHING good in stock. The little stuff they have is what no one else wanted and over-priced. And it looks like many of the options are online only anyway. I also doubt a local dealer lets people take a kayak to water and paddle around before buying (like a bicycle dealer would, and they only let you ride in the parking lot)

I realize an inflatable won’t track as well as a hard shell, but sure there are differences and some are better than others. It looks like the Sea Eagle 393 is pretty good and at least comes close to a hard boat. Doesn’t matter anyway, since inflating is the only option and a foldable like the Oru may be less stable anyway.

My gut tells me to just buy the Sea Eagle 370 pro for $360 and I can probably sell it well next year or it serves its purpose as a second boat, once I upgrade. Main con seems to be lack of foot rest and I may be able to rig something to have better foot support. The 330 solo is just a tad shorter, but cost $319. At that point it seems better to just pay $360 and have the option for rare duo-operation and a slightly longer boat. Probably also better resale.

Just curious if the Advanced kayaks would be significantly better and I could be happier with them for more years than the 370.

Still think you’d be better served buying a used hard shell. This is a good all-purpose boat, people like it, very stable:


Way better and last for years with good resale.

Buy the first one you can get and go paddling.

That would be perfect. Can’t ask for a better setup for that price.

Just buy one for $360 and my bet is next spring you can sell it for $200. So for 160 bucks you will have a summer of fun and learn more in doing than you ever will in studying the topic. You will meet people and see what others have and likely even find people that will trade with you to let you try what they are paddling for a half hour. If you were around here I would have you try my canoe or her rec kayak and it will give you knowledge you will never get any other way.

I just watched a few demo vids of the sea eagle. It will get you started and you won’t need flotation because it is all flotation.

Like Nike says, “Just do it!”

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Or buy the used Tsunami with paddle and PFD, then if you don’t like it, sell the next season for the same price you paid.


I agree 100% but we just went thru a very long thread ending that the OP decided he wanted to go inflatable for many different reasons eventually not wanting to car-top a boat. At least not for now.

I used to tell guys that worked for me when they couldn’t find a way to move forward with a project, That sometimes you have to do something even if it is wrong. At least then you will know what you like and don’t like and that knowledge will guide you down the path to what is right. :upside_down_face:

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Can’t argue with that, just want to go on the record saying we all think the Tsunami (or a similar used boat) is a better way to go for the OP. But hey, we can only give advice, not make people take it. :upside_down_face:

Good points. I just found a 370 Pro (better seats) as a used on ebay and ordered for under $240. It is supposed to only have cosmetic defect (demo model or return)

I doubt a hard shell will have good resale value after I folded it to fit into my trunk.

As for Cl ads, IME sellers don’t bother deleting them after selling. So whatever good deal you find, isn’t real before you at least arranged a meeting time. And even then it can be a dud with flaws not shown in the ad. I just went through that with some used inflatables around here.

Some inflatable kayaks have strap on skegs that can withstand beach landings.

We have a two person Innova that tracks very well with a skew. Highly recommend.

I had some wonderful experiences in calm water in Europe using a Grabner. They are fantastic boats but very expensive. Yes it tracked well but the general rule of thumb is this only holds in calm water without wind or waves.

Inflatables are some of the lightest, ariest (is “airy” a word?), highest riding, most stable boats out there. Especially the higher end ones that are very stiff feel like they are sailing above water in a way that maybe only some of the better composites feel; they are lighter than carbon boats of the same size. There is a lot going for inflatables but the one area where they totally fall apart is when any kind of weather shows up. Then you get tossed and carried away a lot more than with a rigid boat. The difference, even in a high end inflatable like the Grabner is striking.

I have gone out with wind speeds in the 15-20mph+ range with rigid kayaks. The doubles have a seaworthiness akin to a battleship. The singles can get a bit tippy but with some skill will make it. My skill level has grown that I have to care less and less about weather especially on flat water like lakes and rivers where I do most of my paddling. Anything more than a perfectly still day in even a top end inflatable like the Grabner which is way better and more expensive than what OP is proposing is a massive challenge to say the least. The Grabner does come with a rudder though!

Congrats on the purchase. Now paddle it like you stole it. To paraphrase the bike forum.

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At a club outing a member showed up with a Sea Eagle 393r…
I was very impressed with it.
The owner had installed thigh straps, which gave her more control and stability.
I didn’t get to paddle it, but it seemed very rigid and the material looked strong. Construction quality was also very good.
If I were buying an inflatable to be my only boat, this would be a top choice.

Many of the what I think were un-paid reviews seem to agree. i think most of the “inflatables are not good” comments are based on regular inflatables and not this full drop-stitch 373/393. I’m a “cry once” guy and would prefer to just buy the 393… but since despite it not being available before September, I decided to be the “I want to kayak now” guy.

I realize the 4-piece paddles the 370 comes with are fun-destroyers and a paddle is my next purchase and may cost more than the boat. Since the 370 is 34" wide, and the 393 is 28", does it make sense to get a fixed paddle? Or is an adjustable better so I can move it to the next narrower boat? From manufacturer tables it would be a difference from 230-240cm between he 2 boat widths. but I’m not sure if kayak paddle manufacturers actually account for inflatables higher sidewalls. There is not much used nearby. Yes, I can just measure and try the OEM paddles and go from there, but ideally I’m closer to buying then since everything is so far out these days.

Inflatable, kayak, tracking. Pick two.