I wanted to see the real-paddlers’ opinions on inflatable kayaks. I know they have their pros and cons that any beginner can see, but I’d like a more in-depth opinion.
see page 5
thread title is “IK or Rigid.” Of course, if you still have questions, come on back to this thread and follow up. Just a suggestion.
My only criticism is their hullforms
are quite suboptimal. For example, someone posted video of one of the best inflatables being tried for side-surfing in a ledge hole on a river, and it was obvious that the inflatable (Aire Force, I think) was being grabbed extra hard by the backwash, and it flipped. The hardshell kayaks, with their chines, edges, and flattish bottoms, were clearly much more controllable, and escaped easier. The best hardshells will also ferry and negotiate eddies better. But there are guys who run the most difficult steep creeks in Aire Force inflatables.
For whitewater, inflatables are light, durable, perhaps less likely to get pinned on rocks or logs, and they often can carry extra gear. They save much gas on long trips by not being out in the airstream. I’ve looked at them again and again, but I prefer the handling advantage of hardshell boats.