Need advice on inflatable kayaks

Need some advice on inflatables. Plan to be traveling to southeast Asia later this year. I’m thinking the quality of the rental kayaks available will be low, and I’d rather not be confined to the schedule of the renter. Somone has suggested inflatables as an option.
Would appreciate any advice, both on choosing an inflatable and traveling with one.

Depends on what kind of waters you plan to paddle upon. Inflatables tend not to be so great for coastal or windy waters.

I prefer to travel with folding kayaks. Are often lighter and pack more compactly than inflatables and can be paddled in more challenging conditions. Take a little longer to set up but can be roof racked on a rental car and are quicker to pack up once done than inflatables because they are easier to dry off inside and out.

Look at Pakboats models, especially the Puffins and Quests. These photos are of my 12’ Puffin solo, packed in a standard rolling duffel that also contains a 4 piece paddle, an inflatable Malone roof rack kit for the rental car and all my safety gear and paddling clothes in a bag that weighs 48 pounds and can be checked without oversized penalties.

Also a link to a YouTube video of a guy in Hong Kong paddling a Pakboat Quest 150.




Thanks so much. Looks like a good alternative. I’ll investigate.
I briefly had a folding travel kayak. It was a marvel of engineering, but really complicated to assemble and too large to check on a plane without incurring fees

sea eagle razor lite I own one paddle fits in bag also

paddle fits in bag also

Thanks, Crowfeather, Can you check it on a plane without incurring oversize charges?

Any oversize bag fees, while annoying, would probably be equal to or even less than any rental fees you would pay on a trip. The more you use the boat you bring, the better you make out. Just something to consider.

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The solo Puffin only weighs 24 pounds. As you can see by my photo that I took after I unpacked the bag I took to the UK, it breaks down small enough that there is room in the bag for the 4 piece carbon shaft Cannon paddle, a PFD, all my paddling clothing, flotation bags, a spray skirt and even the inflatable roof rack kit for the rental car. The bag I used I bought at a TJ Maxx store and is a standard rolling duffel with a paddled outer pocket that fits the paddle. Dimensions are 32" tall, 16" wide and 14" deep so it fits the “unified measurements” of 62" that get it under the cut off above which oversized charges incur. Total weight is 48 pounds, 2 under the maximum standard baggage weight.

And you can see from my shot of my cousin Cecelia paddling on Lake Erie that this is a well-proportioned kayak that can handle open water. There are some YouTube videos that people have posted using Pakboat Puffins in various rivers, lakes and coastal areas.

For me, the inflatable kayak’s only significant advantage is it’s ease of portability. I carry a Feathercraft Aironaut with me to Florida for three winter months of paddling simply because I refuse to carry a hardshell kayak on a roof rack at highway road speeds for more than 1200 miles. The Aironaut is a surprisingly good performer in light winds but something of a beast in a breeze but, then, so are all inflatables. Before I return to New Jersey in the spring, I’ll likely put the Aironaut up for sale and order an Innova inflatable. I need a completely open boat into which I can fall and out of which I can roll this old body of mine. Can’t do that with a decked boat.

I don’t think I would consider an inflatable kayak without a drop-stitch constructed floor. I have an Aquaglide Chelan 120 with a drop-stitch floor, and it is remarkably stiff. It does a have a fair bit of hull rocker but still glides well. I believe there are other similar constructed inflatables with a longer waterline and they may be faster to paddle. The Sea Eagle Razorlite 393rl is entirely drop-stitch construction. I would like to try one.

I just noticed there is a seller in the classifieds here with a Pakboat XT17 which can be converted from tandem to solo. I owned the smaller XT15 for a few years – nice kayak and great for camping and distance touring with a lot of cargo room under the deck. Seller has it with both the tandem and the solo deck for $750 which is less than half what it was new.

Thanks Willowleaf. Sounds like a good deal, but 17 feet is more kayak than I want to wrestle with.
Right now I’m leaning toward the Sea Eagle RazorLite, though its open deck gives me pause.

L:et us know how the razorlite works out. Plan on keeping distances short until you see what is reasonable. I myself would probably go the rental route and if it is a SOT I would go with a tandem to get a little more length for glide. I often use rentals here in the U.S. but always take my own paddle and pfd. It would probably cost a fortune to check my pakayak on an airline and then I would have to haul it around. It does work well with the rv and would work on a ferry. You will want a good hand pump. You won’t get enough pressure to top off with a battery or electric blower.

I’ve been paddling a Feathercraft Aironaut here on Florida’s Gulf Coast for the past couple of winters. It replaced my Feathercraft Kurrent simply because the Kurrent was a hassle getting it put together otherwise a wonderful folding kayak. I might be selling the Aironaut before heading back to New Jersey in April only because it’s a decked kayak and I now need a boat that I can literally fall into and roll out of. To that end, the Razorlite might work though I’ve heard there could be some quality issues with that boat. With a Feathercraft Kayak, one does not expect nor does one experience “quality issues”. Another alternative might be the Pakboat Saco. Because the Saco is an entirely open boat, essentially a little pack canoe, it should be easier to assemble than most other folders. Another important factor is weight: my Aironaut weighs a scant 20 pounds as does the Saco.

By the way, I recently entered my 82nd year on this lovely planet and I’ve been messing about with little boats since I was thirteen and it’s as much fun today as it was back then. Maybe even more so😊. Good luck!

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Thanks. On this trip, as I may have mentioned, I’m going sans kayak. But as you advise, I’m taking a paddle and my well-worn PFD.
Some of the reviews of the RazorLite refer to quality issues. Hoping the company will/has make those corrections.

Thanks, jmyers. Will look at the Pakboat Saco. As we age, weight becomes a paramount issue.

During one of my phone conversations with one of the folks at Pakboat in their New Hampshire HQ, they told me about a local woman in her 80’s who had owned a Pakboat Puffin 12 (the predecessor to the Saco) for many years. As she got older and her arthritic hands made assembly uncomfortable she would bring the packed boat to their shop in the Spring and they would set it up for her, then break it down for her in the Fall. At 20 pounds she could still easily lift it onto the roof of her car and tie it down.

The Pakboats are much easier to set up than the Feathercrafts I have owned because you assemble the frame inside an open deck with clear access to all the fittings. Then you put the deck (if you are using one – it is optional in the current Saco model and the Quest 150) onto the fully assembled boat with the sponsons all inflated. In fact a picnic table is a perfect place to put one together.

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What a charming story, Willowleaf. A testiment to the kindness and generosity so common in the paddling community.

Hello jmyers, I wrote you a personal message. I´m interested in the Aironaut. Thanks and best wishes!