Inflatable Kayaks

I am looking for a inflatable Kayak or Canoe. I have looked at two brands, Stearns and Seyvlor. I dont want to spend too much. I just need to know who makes a better inflatable, stearns or seyvlor

What for?
Stearns are better quality, but if price is a big issue and you don’t need a rugged boat for whitewater, the Sevylors are a great bargain. I own four Sevylors—the oldest is a 16-year-old Tahiti made of PVC which is flimsy compared to the tough, expensive inflatable kayaks made today, but it is still in great shape, with only four small patches on it. But I only use it on mild rivers.

Inflatable Kayaks
I suppose this could be an option for my question referred to in “Return to Kayaking.” So could I have your views on inflatables vs small kayaks please.

I Have Both

– Last Updated: Mar-08-04 1:40 PM EST –

I have a Stearns Mad Dog and a single Sevylor River X. They are pretty much top of the line for both makers, and they cost has much or more than a hardshell rec boat or SOT.

The River X is hands down the more durable boat and much better suited for whitewater, but the Stearns is much better for flatwater. It is more comfortable, faster, and tracks much better. Mine has had a lot of use over the past few years with no problems.

I quit using the River X when I quit whitewater, but I still use the Stearns for trips on small lakes in the Sierras when I do not feel like racking a hardshell boat. I have 6-7 kayaks now from 18' down, and the Stearns still gets play time every summer. I think I got more use out of it for the money than any boat I ever had.

If you are thinking of spending less than $200, do not underestimate the Sevylor Tahiti type boats. They may look like pool toys, but I have seen them run pretty outrageous stuff. A really great value, and it is way better to be out in an $80 IK than to be sitting on the shore.

Still, for less than $200 I would still go with the stearns. The nylon cover make it much more rigid. That means it is faster and will last longer. They are also more comfortable because they have more back support.

I also have a 9' SOT. A 9' hardshell SOT or Rec kayak will always out perform a 9' IK on flatwater, and they cost the same or less. BUT, you may quickly outgrow the hardshell rec boat and will no longer have any use for it. The IK will still be handy to have even if you someday own your own fleet...

Some folks do not have storage or transport for a hardshell, and an IK is the only way to go. Believe me, it is still a lot of fun.

Just one note of caution. IKs are very suspectible to wind. I would not take any of the above mentioned boats out on the ocean, except for the SOT.

Funny you mention it really. I made a 14 mile trip on Saturday in my 16'6" sea going SOT, but yesterday I took my wife and step son shore fishing on the closest local lake. My wife keep saying she wished we had brought the old $50 sevylor 3 man raft....Man, we had some good times in that thing, and it still holds air...

As a rule…
with outdoor equipment, I have always found that it costs money not to go first class. If you can afford it, I’d go up a notch for better durability and performance. I realize it’s a matter of opinion, but that’s my two cents. And, I also realize that it can be quite a leap to some of the “name” companies. I know some whitewater paddlers who have had very good experience with a heavy duty product (Custom) that has its roots in West Virginia whitewater country. You can check them out at I think you’ll find a better boat without paying for the marketing cost of mass market company.