I just bought an inflatable kayak(?)… It’s a Sea Eagle 420E. I would like any info on inflatables, your experiences, etc… Thank you…

I had this doll once.My wife made
me get rid of her, so I used her for a sponson. Hit a rock and psssst.

Fill 'em up with air…?

I like them. Are you going to use yours for river or flatwater paddling?

I am looking at
buying the seaeagle 380. it is the little brother to yours. Tell me how you are doing with yours so far. The look really cool and everything I can find about them say that they are a quality boat.

Glad you got a boat.
I always thought about getting an inflatable. That was until a friend showed up one day with a really good one. I don’t remember the type except it was one of the higher priced and quality models.

I will NEVER buy one unless I have no room in the micro plane I paid to take me to some remote lake in Alaska or Canada or the like. That thing was heavy, slow, a pain to set up and take down.

No way, never, not for me.

But another friend has one he cherrishes for it’s comfort. We can be at camp and all set up before he gets his comfortable azz anywhere in sight.

But, if this is your boat, then hey, you got a boat!! Good for you. Sure beats standing on the shore like an idiot.

you asked for resources: check out paddlesheep’s blog - ,, and (has a forum category devoted to inflatables).

The bad, as previously noted:

  • you have to set them up.
  • they are slow on the water (compared to touring kayaks).
  • difficult, or impossible to learn advanced paddling skills.

    The good:
  • most set up fast (10-15 minutes)
  • not that heavy (find me a 12’ plastic boat that is 35 lbs.)
  • stores in a backpack and goes anywhere (bus, plane, bike, etc.)
  • not that slow, compared to plastic rec boats.
  • you don’t need advanced paddling skills to use safely and have a good time. They are virtually unsinkable.

    If whitewater’s your thing, disregard the comments about speed. IK’s are great whitewater boats for a lot of the same reasons that they are limited on flatwater.

speed is nice but
it isnt everything. when you are plowing through you miss a lot of what is going on. Did you see that huge turtle ? what turtle I was too busy paddling . Slow down and enjoy the sights.

an inflatable is a dowdy water pig.

You will appreciate speed
when you’ve paddled all day, and have 2 miles of open water paddling into 15 knot winds and 2-foot chop to get back to camp.

I have paddled IKs for a while, and am a strong advocate for them. But they have limits. Stay within the limits and you’ll be a happy paddler.

PT, the 420 is a fine craft…
you can haul a ton of gear, take on some serious water, surf/tour large lakes/ocean, and while slower than sit inside or sit on top kayaks, you won’t need a vehicle rack and they are safe when conditions get bad.

Ignore the comment in the above post…consider the name.

good points
Very well put JT. Actually I agree with both points. I enjoy going slow and taking in the scenery. I’m lucky enough to live in a place that has lots of it.

But on the other hand, I’m looking to take a 2-3 night trip in the next few weeks and keep rejecting options because of distance involved. I don’t like to have to paddle more than 15 km on the return leg. A faster kayak would open up more trip options.

I agree. Ignore the naysayers.
I’ve got a 380X and have ran that

bad boy down more bigger and technical

water than many Aholes here have ever

seen. Word of caution though in swift

ww/ocean surf: The 420 is an even bigger

bear to pilot down rough stuff all alone.

Open the sb valves all the way. Buy two

extra D rings, glue 'em on and set your

seat slightly back of center. Also get

a pair of SE thigh straps. Closet the

heavy metal girders that Sea Eagle calls

paddles and buy a high quality 230 cm.

On long leisurely float trips, you’ll really

appreciate the 420’s room and gear

carrying capacity.

My Take
My first kayak was an inflatable, an Innova Sunny. As compared to other SOTs ie OK Scrambler, it is a bit slower, but not much. However, it is much more stable than hardshell SOTs and handled ocean swells and chop very well. As far as I am concerned, it is a real kayak and using it was a real kayak experience. Ultimately,I just got tired of blowing it up whenever I wanted to use it and went out and bought a hardshell. I find cartopping less of a hassle than blowing up an inflatable.

They’re great for fishing.

Everyone Should Have At Least One

– Last Updated: Sep-09-08 1:55 PM EST –

I have several rubber duckies. The original was a Sterns Mad Dog. The idea behind that one was packing into remote lakes in the Sierras. Often you don't have to paddle very far to get away from the rest of the landlocked world. I also did some limited whitewater in it.

The next was a Sevylor SX100. I did some bigger whitewater in it, including the Rogue in Oregon, and some Sierra creeking.

I am thinking about another because these days we like to take the van because its got a queen sized bed. The only boat that fits in the van is my 9' OK Frenzy. There are inflatables that can outperform that boat.

One caution, I would not paddle an inflatable on the open ocean. They get blown around too much in really high winds.

OTOH, the inflatable Zodiac has ruled the world of ocean going special operations since WWII. The US Navy SEALs are very fond of it.

You Paddle a Canoe?
You paddle a canoe, and you make judgements about other people’s boats?

I know some extreme whitewater IK guys who would beg to differ


– Last Updated: Sep-09-08 3:39 PM EST –

Interesting that you ask about inflatables after you've already bought one! :)

Earlier this year I decided I wanted to get into kayaking. My budget was limited and I have a soft top Jeep Wrangler and a weak back so loading a hardshell kayak on a roof is out. Kayak trailers are pricey and money was short so I decided to go with an inflatable. I went with the Advanced Elements Advanced Frame. They have a full line of inflatable kayaks.

I went with the 10.5' Advanced Frame. At 36lbs I could handle it just fine although I would tend to lean towards the 13' Expedition model if you want more space. For what I wanted to do initially (day tripping) the Advanced Frame worked out fine. I bought a cargo rack for the back of the Jeep and would load the bag on it so it was very easy to transport.

Advanced Elements call their kayaks " inflatable/folding hybrids" because they do have metal frames in the front and rear and you can get a metal "backbone" that runs along the entire length of the boat which helps rigidity and tracking. Their boats are multi chambered and resemble a classic sit-in kayak, which is something that really appealed to me. You can get a spray skirt and dry bags for it too. I found this IK to be very good looking, comfortable and of high quality and their customer service is really good.

It's a very stable boat (with a 32" width how can it not be?) and while it wasn't fast I could indeed keep up with the sea kayaks in my club when we did some casual paddling trips on bays and lakes, although I had to work twice as hard as my fellow kayakers did! I even had it in some chop and it worked quite well. I found that it tracked really well. I paddled it several miles on trips and it worked out just fine.

I got a lot of compliments from club members on how I managed to keep up and on the quality of the boat itself. It's a great boat for poking along streams and narrow rivers like in the NJ Pine Barrens. I took it down there for a 3 day trip and it worked out great, especially when I had to get out of the kayak and pull it over logs and rocks. It held up quite well too.

However, the comments about it being a pain to set up are correct. The actual setting up process was easy enough. The hardest part was being careful to put the optional backbone in straight..Otherwise it took me 10 minutes to blow up with a double action pump. However I began to envy the members of my club who could just pull up, unload and jump into their kayaks and after the trip they could just leave right after they were done without deflating, folding it, etc, etc. Seems I was always the last one on the water and the last to get into my car to leave.

I began to grow weary of constantly having to inflate and deflate the IK, then have to clean and wait for it to dry out so I could put it in the bag. If I wanted to go for a spontaneous paddle I would hesitate because of the hassles involved. I guess it was more mental then anything else but it seemed such a pain. I also wanted to be able to learn advanced kayaking skills (no rolls were possible in the IK) and do some long distance/ocean trips as well.

Plus, I really wanted the increased storage space necessary for kayak camping, something I found impossible in my IK. It was fine for day trips, but not overnights.

In time I started longing for a "real" kayak and began to envy those in my club with longer, faster sea kayaks so when my monetary situation improved I bought a kayak trailer and a P&H Capella 160. I love the Capella. It's soooo fast when I want it to be and I can slow down and enjoy the scenery too...Who says you HAVE to go fast in a longer boat?

There are downsides involved with the trailer (parking for one) but I keep the kayak on the trailer and it's easy to just hook it up to my Jeep and just go, as opposed with dealing with the IK.

However I will say that I am still very impressed with my Advanced Element inflatable and highly recommend it to anyone looking into this type of kayak. I love the fact that it looks like and feels like a kayak, not a smaller version of a raft. Plus, I'll still be using it for small streams, white water and for when I can't bring the trailer and hardshell someplace. It's a great second kayak to have and wonderful to start with as a beginner.

my reply got deleted!!!
So I’ll write it again. Sounds like a happy ending Wavewheeler. You bought an inflatable and it got you on the water. After some experience you decided you liked it and graduated up to a hardshell. Now you have the best of both worlds. A proper kayak for those longer/camping trips, and the inflatable as a guest boat or for those times that hauling along a hardshell isnt’ practical.

I think the advanced elements are fine kayaks. But I prefer Innova, mostly due to weight and maintenance (the AE’s can be difficult to get completely dry).


– Last Updated: Sep-09-08 4:34 PM EST –

I inadvertently made two posts and then combined them into one and deleted the second, thereby deleting your consecutive post. My apologies.

If you are confused so am I. ;)

I agree with what you said about it being the best of both worlds. Seems many people have more than one kayak so I'm glad to have that as well.

I don't regret the purchase of my inflatable at all. I was clueless about kayaks and purchasing the inflatable enabled me to get on the water, meet other kayakers, see what's out there, figure out what it was I wanted and make a good decision in the end.

I paid $350 for the Advanced Elements kayak so if I'd hated that boat it wouldn't have been a problem, as opposed to perhaps making a more expensive mistake if I'd rushed in and bought a 16' sea kayak off the bat.

So now I have a nice primary sea kayak and a wonderful alternate kayak that my friends and family can use as well.

I looked into the Innova. Really nice but at the time I was rather limited in cash and I liked the fact that the Advanced Element was a sit in and half the price. As for drying the AE..Yes, it being a sit in has it's downsides. Basically I'd clean it after using it and leave it outside in the sun for a few days to dry. A bit of a pain though if you want to store it away right after using it. Usually I'd let it sit in the living room rather than fold it up and repack it.

Oh, one thing I did learn is to bypass the cheapo aluminum paddle (except as a spare) that is offered with the AE inflatable and buy a high quality paddle. My paddle cost as much as my inflatable but it's a joy to use. A good paddle is worth it's weight in gold..or carbon fiber. ;)