I’M new to kayaking, bought a used rec. dagger last year. since then I have had several try out

my boat and fell in love with it. Now all of them

are going to get a kayak this year, But they have all been considering inflatable one’s.

Can anyone tell me about the pro’s & con’s of owning a inflatable?. I have never been in one neither have they. I just can’t see how they could be as durable as my plastic

Check out as well as At the latter web site Tom has done a good write-up on inflatables.
Lots of good information on their site.

I haven’t used an IK in any significant way. They have a reputation (if you pay for a good one) for being very durable. You don’t want to spear them on iron rod, of course, but they can handle whitewater and long trips.

– Mark

IK Distinctions.
Just as with hardshells, there is a vast difference in quality in inflatable yaks. You/your friends really will get what you pay for (I know, aside from hard boats, I also own three IKs of different brands, ranging in price from $300 to $1300).

For whitewater, stick with high-end (and pricier)name brand boats that are self-bailing, like Aire, Innova, NRS or Sea Eagle. (Don’t expect any of these boats to track really well. WW IK’s are made to pivot quickly to get around obstacles in fast flowing current.)

For rec-lite touring, Advanced Elements or Stearns make very durable products. Cheaper priced “pool toy” inflatables, are not welded all that great at the seams, lack the material strength of their higher priced counterparts, and will come apart after a limited time of use (as in, sooner, rather than later). IK’s are great to carry on vacation, and very forgiving

in challenging conditions.

Wet butt?
I had a Stearns tandem IK and wherever I sat became the low point of the boat. If I didn’t wear waterproof pants, I’d have a wet butt. Also, it really caught the wind- so was probably a better candidate for rivers than lakes.

Inflatable Kayaks
I Have an Advanced Elements. Not good in the wind & be very careful of what you go over. I went in some backwater off of Galveston Bay, drug bottom & found it sliced like from a razor blade.(shells) it didn’t go all the way through.I repaired with a product called “tear aid”.

I now wish I had gotten a plastic yak…lessoned learned … Know your float and know your equipment

comfort of a blow up yak
My buddy has several hard plastics and a blow up yak. He always prefers the air yak for comfort on small ponds and lakes.

I would NEVER buy one knowing my habits. You paddle that thing down the Allegheny, you will rip it a new blow hole. I cannot think of a river around this part of PA that does not contain centuries of junk in the form of buildings, bedsprings and washed away garbage dumps that would allow me to paddle confidently. Give me something to mosh with. I don’t have the time nor inclination to avoid all the puncture obsatcles that would damage other than bomb proof plastic yaks. Now if your friends are into swimming, then by all means, a blow up yak is their calling.

Barring man-made industrial junk

– Last Updated: Mar-17-08 9:26 PM EST –

there are a handful of high-quality duckies
out there(usually made of PVC/hypalon)that
more readily go over, or bounce off things
that many a plastic yak will scratch,
oil can, or gash on. One IK I own has
never seen a patch in 6 years of very
hard use.

An example is this "Sally" K30X:

My first yak was an inflatable. I bought one because I was afraid to cartop a hardshell. It was an Innova Sunny. A few yearrs ago I got over my fear of cartopping and got a 12’ SOT. The Sunny is a good boat. It is about 80% percent as fast as most SOT hardshells that I’ve paddled over the years. It is much more stable and tracks pretty well with the skeg in. I ultimately got tired of blowing it up. It would take 20-30 minuted with a handpump to inflate all the chambers and seat cushion. I actually find cartopping easier than inflating a kayak. However, if space is an issue, inflatables are fine…just get a good one like the Sunny. Stay away from cheaper models. I tried a few before I bought the Sunny and found them to be very slow and to track poorly.

I have owned a gold Stearns 1K-116 for about 4 years. I have loved having it so much that I have recently bought another one on eBay. I paid $250 for the first one when it was a new model. I have a couple other inflatables that I would not recommend. One is an older Stearns that has an outer nylon cover that doen not totally enclose the vinyl boat. Therefore, I’m always afraid to totally inflate it for fear of leaks. Another is a Sevylor that is all vinyl. I don’t like anything about it, but I see many still listed on eBay. The thing I love about the 1K-116 is that the nylon cover totally covers the tube. You inflate it so that it is quite firm. Therefore, it doesn’t sag and tracks better. I have had it on the Au Sable R. in MI. I’ve been on Lake Huron when it was a bit rough and various inland lakes with no problems. The other models I’ve seen recently that I thought might be as good are the Stearns Cordova (kinda expensive) and a couple comparable Advanced Elements models. The price of inflatables has come up a lot since I was first looking.

Of course, a hard kayak does perform better; but if you don’t have the means of transporting or just want to keep it in your trunk for anytime use, an inflatable could do the trick. I’ve looked at MANY kayak ads over the years, and you can’t be cheap or you won’t be happy.

wet butt
I have seen your kayak so I have an idea what you mean. I have the same model in a single. Is it possible you should inflate the kayak a bit more? Maybe when you are paddling alone, it is unavoidable. I put a folded towel under my butt so water I bring in on my feet or splashing over the sides in rougher water is absorbed. It helps.

Good luck.

My stearns inflatable is durable
but man is it saggy and poorly tracking compared even to my 9’ SOT.

YES, TheBoatPeople are a great resource
… very nice folks with great knowledge and experience.

If you buy inflatable and want it to last, get something from them or like they carry and not one of the cheapo brands (some of which are overpriced, anyhow):

I have 2 AdvancedElements kayaks
and have been down some nasty rivers with sharp rocks…no damage and barely any scrapes. Not a fan of anything Sevylor as they still use cheesy cheap Boston valves where AE uses spring loaded well made valves with sealed caps. BTW, if you ever have a problem with a AE kayak, they really stand behind their products. Years ago I had a Sea Eagle 330…thin pvc crap. I have not heard good things about Sevylor customer service, especially after the buyout.

I have a Stearns Cordova and have paddled an Advanced Elements. Between the two of them I think the AE is a better, straighter tracking boat. I usually recommend the AE over the Stearns when people ask.

I still love my Cordova though!