My son & I belong to a small rowing club (great place) that offers use of its kayaks . The problem is, we are paddling the same waters week in and week out.We would like to venture out

I own two small cars which greatly limit my transportation options for two kayaks, that and two kids in college limit the budget.

We are fortunate to be within easy driving distance of bay water,large lakes & rivers…Some of the rivers & creeks have allot of debris ( fallen trees ,rocks,sand bars)

The million dollar question…Are inflatables a true option? or should I be patient, wait and get a bigger vehicle to rack or trailer the kayaks?


If you are considering inflatables because of transportation difficulties, then re-consider. Trying to inflate one of those types of boats at the waters edge will take a long, long time.

If money is the issue, well, most good quality inflatables will cost as much if not more than a hard-shelled boat.

Small car

– Last Updated: Oct-13-07 9:22 AM EST –

How small? You can tow a light kayak on a light trailer behind a pretty small car. Storage at home may be an issue of course, and there is some expense involved.

I went through this same thought process years ago, quickly ruled out an inflatable, wound up with a folder. That worked ok though quickly tired of assembly/disassembly every time I wanted to use it, and wound up cartopping (had a bigger car at the time) and then trailering. Last few years I've trailered a hardshell behind my smallish (VW GTI) car and that's the best solution by far.


I inflate my Innova in 10 minutes with a bellows foot pump.

But it’s true that one can spend a lot of money on a quality inflatable. ($800.00 to $3000.00 for a quality inflatable)

Inflatables are good boats. Innova and Incept are good ones. And Advanced Elements are not bad for the price. They are more slow than hardshells, but they handle rough water well. And thay can be very stable and comfortable.

Folding kayaks are great too.

Racks and cradles
I’ve travelled thousands of km in a Nissan Micra with an 18ft seakayak on top without any problems. How small is your car? A set of good racks and cradles and most cars are fine.

My first boat was an inflatable. If I
were you I would wait until I could get a hardshell kayak and whatever it takes to carry it. I can’t imagine that it would take getting a different car. Kayak trailers can be so light that any car could pull them.

Having considered several good points
in this thread, just some thoughts.

Hard shells are preferable in most instances. I think that is undisputed. I can see advantages in some water, possibly ww, but I have no experience there.

Cost is comparable for a good inflatable vs. good hard shell.

BUT: add in the cost of a good rack or trailer, and the hard shell costs more, or one could put more into a better inflatable.

Assuming 10-15 minutes inflate/deflate time, that’s comparable to loading a hard shell on a rack and properly tying it down.

NOTE: I own three hard shell yaks, after considering inflatable for my first purchase and going the other way. I’d still like to have one though, and probably will get one eventually for occasions when the convenience is preferable.

Just get a rack
The size of the car doesn’t matter! I have a Chevy Aveo and cars don’t get a lot smaller.

Even if you got and infaltable you would probley put it on the rack to dry on the way home.

The thing I hated most about my inflatable was the need to rinse it with fresh water and dry it before I went home.

Plastic boats are pretty inexpensive when you consider all their advantages.

perhaps storage is an issue,
but the size of your car shouldn’t be.

I travelled thousands of miles with a 19 1/2’ and 17’ kayak on the roof of my 84’ Honda Civic when I had it.

It was a far better hauler than my 97’ Taurus. I never trusted the Yakima clips on that car to hold much of anything to the car.

Thanks all
Thanks all for the impute…its going to be another good day on the water

Love inflatables…
and the second person to post does not have a clue with his statement about “trying to inflate at waters edge will take a long, long time”. Absolutely not true. I have 2 Advanced Elements boats, the AdvanceFrame (10.5’solo) and the StraitEdge2 (13’tandem) and have them ready to go in less then 10-15 minutes tops. I just paddled a Pakboat Puffin 12’ and total time (my first assembly) took me 20 minutes. All three of these boats are very stable, the tracking is very good for the AdvancedFrame and Pakboat, and the tandem needs about 30lbs. up front if paddled solo (keeps the front bow down in the water). I have taken both AE boats on the ocean, Class III water, and love the portability. The inflatable/portable/packable kayaks have given me more padding time when I cannot take my hard kayak. BTW, I paddled a Pakboat Swift kayak, a 14’ boat that is absolutely quick, stable, easy to assemble, and made very well with quality materials. I see where AdvancedElements came out with their 13’solo, the Expedition…now that looks tempting. AE and Pakboat make excellent products with fine customer service too.

CLEANING: simply wash off what mud/sand you can before packing, and when home, I use a damp towel to wipe down and follow with a dry towel and finally just let them air dry for a day…pretty simple. Good luck and many happy paddling trips!

I’ve had an Innova Sunny

– Last Updated: Oct-15-07 12:44 AM EST –

for 3 years now without a single problem.
Takes about 10 minutes to air it up with a dual action hand pump.
I paddle it mostly on Great Plains rivers here in Oklahoma, which often have a great deal of tree snags, broken bottles, rebar, busted concrete and asphalt, old car bodies, etc., and it barely shows any scratches as a result. Works great as a tandem or solo, which is probably what I like most about it. Least favorite thing would be that it's REALLY difficult to paddle straight without the tracking fin attached.
I also own an Ocean Kayak Prowler sit on top, and I'll pick the inflatable over it any day.
I only keep the Prowler so my friends will have something to paddle.

Maybe Not…

– Last Updated: Oct-15-07 1:00 PM EST –

I have a few inflatables in my fleet and I enjoyed them over the years. My reason for inflatables was to pack them into places in the Sierras where there was no vehicle access.

Another good reason for an inflatable is no place to store it, or no place to store an another boat.

Money is not necessarily a good reason. I feel for you with two kids in college. I have one and it hurts!

A good inflatable costs about as much as a hardshell. I know the rack expense puts you off, but you can offset that cost by buying a used hardshell. Where I would be reluctant to buy a used inflatable.

The problems with most inflatables is they are susceptible to high winds.

Wet butt
I concur with everyone here- my first boat was a Stearns inflatable tandem. It was packable, quick to inflate with either a foot or electic pump and fairly economical. The downsides were that it had to be reinflated at home to dry, It was heavy when wet, was very susceptible to wind because of the high aspect and wherever my butt landed was the low point of the boat. Maybe other boats are different but I got tired of always having a wet butt…

used plastic boats!
Consider getting a couple of used rotomolded or fiberglass kayaks. They’ll fit just fine on top of your car with a decent rack. I carry two 17’ kayaks often on my prius–not exactly a huge car.

Consider folding boats
There is a wide range of prices and quality. My Folbot Cooper packs into a bag about the size of a large suitcase. It can be assembled in about 15 minutes with practice (first time was about 45 minutes). It is a very responsive boat and very rugged. It was more expensive than a plastic boat, but less expensive than a fiberglass boat. I won’t punch a hole in it unless I paddle it onto a submerged knife.

I’ll be honest and admit that I am completely biased. I love kayaking hardshells and will own one someday, but for now, too much hassles storing and transporting them.

In the meantime, I am completely sold on inflatables as an alternative. I paddle two models of the Stearns (spree and cordova) and will likely move up to an Innova next year. Not all inflatables are made equally, but the current generation of Stearns, Advanced Elements, Innova and even the new Sevylors are capable and fun recreational boats. Easy to paddle, easy to inflate, easy to store.

The model will determine ease of use.

– Last Updated: Nov-13-07 2:54 PM EST –

Most inflatables run between $200 and $800. Really, only Innova's Seaker will run you around $2000. You can get a top quality kayak like Advanced Elements for around $400 for a single or $600 for a double. These can be inflated in five minutes. I have done so many times and beaten many times kayakers unloading hardshells from the tops of their cars. They are very portable and easy to use. They compare to hardshells of the same size and shape. As I stated, Advanced Elements is a good choice. Check out their website and compare their models online.