Trying to pick the right inflatable

Hi all.

I recently went kayaking for the first time, a SOT rental on the San Francisco Bay. I was really struck by how “away from it all” I felt just being a few hundred feet from shore. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to store a hardshell of my own, I figured it would only be something I could do now and again by renting. But then I started researching inflatables and found that my initial reluctance to consider one was unwarranted, namely that too much quality/durablity would be sacrificed.

That being said, I’m know trying to find out what type/brand of IK I should be hunting for.

What I’m looking for:

-Something for lakes & light ocean duty

-Will fit me(6’1", 180lb) and carry at least 50lb in cargo.

Aside from that, I’m still an utter newbie and so don’t know enough to say what I really want, other than I want to do more kayaking!I do plan on renting again and getting some instruction in proper safety, self-rescue,etc.

Am looking to buy a quality used inflatable in the $500 range and would probably drop as much as a grand.

Thanks in advance, any guidance is greatly appreciated!

Would you consider a folding kayak?
I know of a used Feathercraft for $800

Would you consider a folding kayak?
Thanks for the reply, but right now I’m in information gathering mode.

For flat water paddling and some ocean use look into Innova kayaks, for around $700 new you could get a helios, sunny or solar II (the later sold only through site).

I own a Solar II and a Sea Eagle 420x and find the Solar II more enjoyable for day trips on flat water, however for camping or any moving water I like the Sea Eagle. Capacity on those three Innova kayaks I mentioned are listed at 396lbs, while the Sea Eagle, the much wider and more comfortable kayak holds 855lbs. All of these boats are tandem models.

I would check out site for general info on inflatables. Aire makes some quality inflatables as well from what I hear, but their boats tend to lean more towards rivers / whitewater than touring / flat water.

Forgot to mention
I noticed you said you paddled in the SF bay area, where I paddle near as well. website that I mentioned in the previous post is based out of San Jose and would be a worthwhile visit to their shop and knowledgeable owner. He helped me out when I was looking for a sleeker, faster inflatable and could do the same for you.

If nothing else you’d get a good look at the quality and variety of inflatables that are out there:)

Innovas -
Sunny and Solar II. Both will do what you want, and be in your price range new. Check out, and then buy from them if you can - they provide a ton of great information and deserve business for their effort.

The used folding kayak is also a good option. It will probably be more challenging to use at first, but if you keep going in the sport, you will develop more skills than you can in an IK. Good luck.

Thanks for the input!

Also wondering how much importance to attach to having a rudder?

Innova Sunny
I’ve owned one for 4 years. Good boat. Very stable, fairly fast and can handle all kinds of water. Well made. The tracking fin or skeg, which comes standard with the boat, is a definite plus. I bought mine from The Boat People, who I found to be very helpful. Good luck

I own an Innova Solar II also.
Great boat. Innovas are pretty durrable.