Inflatable tourer or small recreational?

Dearest members of the message boards,

I seek out wisdom and opinions based on my needs on the water as to which kayak to buy. I’m in two minds about buying an inflatable touring kayak, or to stick with a small playboat and I’m looking to see which one you think I should buy next.

  • Storage and transport is an issue. I have a small flat and access due to a bad layout means anything too long I simply couldn’t get it in there (no shed or outside storage).

    *I ultimately want to throw it into the back of my Opel/Vauxhall Meriva 2004 car and not on the roof.

    *it’ll be for day trips of about 15ish miles under fairly calm conditions (river Thames in England)

    *Im to an intermediate level of kayaking -a fair few years under my belt, but I do want something that tracks fairly well.

    I realise that inflatables aren’t going to track amazingly, and of course a short boat that I’ll be able to fit in the car won’t either! But I’m looking for the best I can get under the circumstances.

    I’ve seen the likes of the “Sevylor Pointer K1 Inflatable” which looks like one of the better options for a pump action boat, but I’m not sure how it would compare to a 9ft hard shell rec device. I’m used to play boats with decent seats and ridgity and spray decks, and don’t know how it would match up, but then unsure if a short 9ft play boat would be too hard on a 15 mile tour all the time either

    Your opinions would be great and I look forward to hearing them!



    I’m 5’5 and around 165lbs

    boat recommendations welcome

article on kayaks and small living space
There is an article on kayaks and small living places in California Kayaker Magazine. Can be read online for free at

Issue #9 - Summer 2012

Neither of the options you list are all that attractive, but have the benefit of being cheap. If you go inflatable, look for one that has a frame, likes some of the higher level Advanced Elements ones.

Folding boat or take apart boat may be better options, but are also more pricey.

Out West

They are actually pretty decent although not inexpensive. I have friends that have the smaller earlier versions and they like them for what they are. They store and transport easily (Cynthia has flown with hers - in checked luggage) and they paddle pretty well.

It looks like they have a dealer in England.

Look at the
Innova/Gumotex line. They make nice inflatables and they paddle similar to rec boats of the same length. Folding Kayaks dot Org has an informative forum re inflatables

It might be possible.
I recently saw an ad on a take-apart sectional boat that looked pretty neat. There’s nothing new about this type of boat, but my point is that you might be able to cram the pieces into your smallish vehicle and even find a way to unobtrusively store them in your apartment.

A little web surfing should find a few different makes and models. I think the one I saw the ad on was right here on Paddling Net.

Sea Eagle
All the inflatables mentioned are excellent options. To complete your list, I would advise you to look at Sea Eagle, if for no other reason than that they have a 180 return policy. I got one of their tandems and my wife subsequently decided she did not want to kayak. I returned mine for a full refund, so I can personally attest to their standing behind that trial period. To get the 180 day trial warranty, you must get it directly from them.

I’d add the Advanced Element AirFusion Elite and the Pakboat Puffin Saco as good options to consider.

Other options?

Are there any clubs you can join, or kayaks you can borrow or rent?

I’ve taken my 10’ $200 rec boat on long trips - 10-15 miles with some current and chop, averaging 3 - 3.5 mph. It works, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you plan to do a lot of long trips like that.

Thanks for such a great response so far!

Over the past few days I’ve been burying deep into inflatables, SOF’s and foldables. Looks like there is a lot out there but getting a respectable item in budget it’s the next thing to look at.

The more options the better so please keep them coming!

Agree with Sea Eagle
I agree with one of the above posters that the Sea Eagle is worth looking into.

It’s a light but sturdy inflatable yak that’s easy to transport and easy on the wallet as well. While it does well in most conditions, it does tend to get blown around a bit in windy conditions, so that’s something to consider based on where you’ll be kayaking the most.

I’ve written an article on the best short and lightweight kayaks. You might find some more insight from it that will help in your decision:

Pakboats are made by Scansport of Norway and should be available in the UK. They are lovely boats and reasonably priced, and paddle quite similarly to hard shell kayaks. I’ve owned 3 and currently have an older version of the 12’ Puffin Saco and the recently discontinued Quest 135. you can find YouTube videos of people using them to get a sense of their performance.

I would also recommend seeking advice on the folder forums at There is a wealth of information on all types of collapsible boats and there are several very active posters there who are based in the UK.

Unfortunately, the Brexit may drive prices up for you on most imported boats unless you can find something already in stock locally.

Sea Eagle Razor Lite 393RL is the best performance inflatable available today. I’ve owned a Pakboat Puffin and it’s a very good kayak, but a bit fragile. Paddled the Sea Eagle 330 and it’s a slug on the water and the slightest wind will blow it around. Avoid it. Owned a AE Yukon and its heavy and slow with too many chambers. Avoid. Owned a Aire Sawtooth and its decent, but heavy and slow. Paddled a Our folding kayak and its just OK performance with poor build quality, bad seat, and expensive. Avoid.

My absolute favorite: Razor Lite. Nothing is close in the inflatables as it paddle’s like a 14-15’ length hard shell sit in.

Those look tempting.
My two concerns are the foot brace and the relatively wide beam.

I’d prefer not to use a really long paddle or low angle strokes.

The 10 minute set up, light weight, reported performance and compact storage are very appealing.


– Last Updated: Jun-27-16 10:57 PM EST –

I agree that boat looks interesting, it would be nice to give it a try. It's almost exactly the same length, width and weight as the Air Fusion, the Saco is a lot lighter. But both of those have frames and look a lot more fussy to set up.

The footbrace seems pretty useless, a transverse foam block would probably make more sense.

They're selling the boat with a 4-piece 8 foot paddle (245 cm) which I notice in the website pictures looks way too long. The beam is wide at 28", but the sheer seems pretty low to the water, I think a shorter paddle would work fine.

PS a foot longer and 2 or 3 inches narrower would be very tempting.

230cm is the longest that I tolerate
well. 205cm is my standard for narrow touring boats and 225cm for solo canoes, when not single blading.

it’s a shame…
…that Pakboat stopped production of the two Quest models they came out with a few years ago (allegedly they are redesigning their touring line but no sign yet on their website of when and what that might consist of). I recently acquired a Quest 135 and it is significantly sturdier than the Puffin and at 23" beam by 13’ 9" and 29 lbs it’s a real pleasure to paddle (I use a 210 cm GP and a cinch to transport. I can set it up in 25 minutes, dismantle it in 10.

There is a guy on selling a used but “like new” Quest 135 with rudder assembly for $750. Damned good deal (less than I paid for the one I bought on closeout from Pakboat.)

Some good 393rl Razorlite reviews
in this archived thread

I’m still very tempted to get one of these to keep in the car for paddling after work.

How does it handle without the skeg? Mainly concerned for launching, landing and shallow streams. Also, I often paddle I very shallow water along the shore. I’ve never paddled with a skeg and rarely use a rudder.