would you buy an inflatable recreational

hi guys im a kayak dealer and wanted to ask the users a question.

you are living in an apartment and you dont have much space to buy hard kayak.

consdering the lack of storage space would you guys invest in an inflatabe kayak like the aire or advanced-element?

thanks in advance.im just trying to understand the demand for inflatable kayaks.


– Last Updated: Feb-22-12 10:52 AM EST –

We bought an Advanced Elements for our first kayak. We actually had the space for a hard shell but just wanted to "test out" how we liked kayaking without having to commit to car topping racks, storage in the garage etc.

Once we got hooked we did move on to a hard shell rec kayak, car roof racks, etc. We sold the inflatable to friends of ours who just wanted something to float around a town lake a few times a year.

Some reasons I can think of why person might want an IK:
1) storage/space issues at home (apartment etc.)
2) first kayak, just dipping toes in
3) just go out few times a year (not hard core hobby)
4) camping

see recent thread

– Last Updated: Feb-22-12 10:31 AM EST –

called "IK or Rigid" just a short ways down the list. For customer service reasons (and sales), it seems you would want to figure out which type of IK is best for your area. Most (not all) Aire IKs for example are whitewater boats, not designed for lakes/bays. These are also self-bailing and you sit in some water which could limit the season of use (depending on location and the customer and their motivation). I know there are IKs made for flat water, but I have not familiarized myself with those as I have garage space and love my rigid boats for that kind of water. I guess my general point is that not all IKs are designed for the same water, so be sure you carry the ones that work for your area and customers.

I buy boats based upon performance the 99% of the time I’m using them (on the water), not with hauling and storage being the determining factor. I would sooner rent space for a hard shell and enjoy the better performance traits than go with a less efficient design that goes in the storage unit.

I can see demand for an IKs among those who take them along when traveling (like by air) or who feel uncomfortable with a hard shell in whitewater situations.

Who are your main customers?
Inland lakes and ponds, ocean or mild WW? Very hard to answer without knowing who you are selling hard shells to.

other reasons
Speaking from my own experience, other reasons are:

I can have the total blast of running big class III whitewater w/o either learning to row (and deal with) a raft or drift boat or learning to safely paddle a closed cockpit hardshell whitewater boat.

The other (which I guess was covered under “camping”)is that I can tag along on multi-day river trips with raft support and have the fun of a smaller boat – rather than being a “passenger” on a raft. (There are also self-support tripping possibilities, but I personally have not done that.)

have a pair of Advanced Element’s
My girlfriend and I picked up low end Advanced Elements (non-frame versions) back a few years ago when the gas was first over $4 a gallon. We were doing a 2 week road trip to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks and Sun Valley. Figured I could save over $100 in gas if I could take the roof rack off the Subaru, so we couldn’t take hard shells. But we wanted to get on the water. So bought a pair of closeout AEs (Lagoons, I think). Put them to a decent amount of use - mostly flat water, but also some class 2).

We do still use them when we are on trips where we are primarily doing something else (usually mountain biking) but also want to be able to do some paddling.

I do live in a condo in San Francisco, and have had to get a space in a public storage area to keep the boats. Did consider inflatables back when we first got into boating, but pretty much decided there were too many trade offs for the type of paddling we wanted to do. I do now have a Trak folding boat also, and that stays here at home with me for when I want to do a paddle and can’t make it to the storage area.

People forget “Drying Space”

– Last Updated: Feb-22-12 2:02 PM EST –

You simply can't put a wet folded inflatable away.
It has to dry "somewhere" for a day or two.
It takes up just as much space as a hard kayak.

An inflatable "generally" isn't fast on flat water
and it will difficult to keep up with friends
while attempting to cover any mileage.

Duckies can be a blast on moving water but
they aren't exactly cheap as an intro rec boat.

Easy To Dry

– Last Updated: Feb-22-12 2:11 PM EST –

I own a couple of inflatables and have never had an issue with just wiping the boats down and setting them in the sun for 5-10 minutes before deflating.

On rainy days I bring the boats home wet and simply re-inflate and dry them later. Even my monster Soar 16 tandem can be inflated in my tiny 700ft2 house’s front room, and is dry within 15-20 minutes ..... I’ve never had to wait days.

No, I’d buy a sectional kayak
Second choice would be a Feathercraft Wisper, the small-person version.

Inflatables would not even be on my radar.

Probably not
I’ve owned two inflatables. Observations:

  1. My first inflatable was almost as expensive as a plastic kayak and had rather poor performance. I had fun with it though.

  2. Second was an Advanced Elements. It had been stored inflated and stank to high heaven. It is VERY laborious to dry these kayaks. Again, rather poor performance.

    I think of this type of inflatable as a toy. A fun toy, but a toy nonetheless. I travel a lot and would never consider getting an inflatable “to save space in the car.” The labor involved in inflating, deflating, drying, and repacking is extensive. Would much rather put a real kayak on the roof rack.

    But if I lived in an apartment and I were desperate to get on the water, maybe yes.

The problem
… with inflatable small kayaks is that a small hard shell rec kayak takes so little space unlike many years ago when a kayak was always long. Apartment people can easily hide a small hard shell unless you live in a tent. A hard shell makes kayaking a lot more instantaneously available as well.

Want to go kayaking? great… I’ll see you in 20 minutes.

Deflating those things is worse than inflating them too.

id hang em from the ceilings if need be, may consider a smaller crosover type yak.but always a hardshell with a sprayskirt.

Most of you guys are missing the point
The OP asked to know what the rationale is behind someone buying an inflatable kayak, particularly someone who lives in a apartment or otherwise has storage concerns. I’ve owned inflatables and short hardshells. If someone lives in an apartment then storage is a real concern. Where I live (apartment), I either pay $55 extra a month for a storage space in the building which is only big enough for a 9’ yak at the most, or I pay $20 a month for outdoor unprotected storage at a remote location nearly 15 miles from where I live. Neither of those two options is worth it for me, financially speaking.

Lack of space is going to be the major reason any apartment dweller buys a kayak if you ask me. I’d rather have an IK than no kayak at all. Well designed IKs like the Advanced Elements boats and some of the nicer Seylor and Bic boats will perform almost as well as a lot of basic hardshell rec kayaks. Most of the group paddles I know of are pretty leisurely affairs where a good IK will be able to keep up with hardshells pretty well. Sure most IKs are slow but unless you’re paddling with sea kayakers they’re not THAT slow.

As to the drying issue - some kayaks will need to be dried out after paddling. I had an AE Expedition kayak and with the partial fabric covering I’d either have to let it sit in the sun for a while after paddling to dry the fabric or I’d need to stretch it out after I got back to the apartment so it could dry. It could be especially problematic if you got a lot of water inside the boat. However, all PVC or hypalon boats can simply be toweled off after use and thus stored dry.

Also, having owned hardshells and IKs I can say that setting up an IK really doesn’t take a whole lot longer than it takes to get a hardshell off a car and into the water. Something else that hasn’t been mentioned here is the fishing crowd. A lot of fishermen like IKs because their stability is way better than most all hardshell boats. In addition to the stability, a handful of IKs with really high pressure floors will actually let anglers stand up to cast.

So, you have a few things that make IKs attractive to apartment dwellers or for that matter anyone who wants a boat that won’t take up a lot of space or can be carried as check-on baggage on a flight. The best boats I’ve seen are those by Advanced Elements in their Advanced Frame line-up, boats by Innova, the more expensive boats by Sevylor (still bottom of the barrel with the rest of this line up though), as well as boats by Sea Eagle, Aire, and Bic Sport.

On this forum as well as most other kayak/canoe forums most posters have an ingrained image of inflatable boats of almost any type as some kind of kid’s pool toy. There may be plenty of crappy kiddie toy boats out there but all of the manufacturers I listed above make serious boats that are not toys. Just like there are high performance whitewater boats and sea kayaks and recreational kayaks, all those boats have a purpose and inflatable kayaks have a purpose too. They may not be as fast as a lot of hardshell boats but they fill a lot of niches that can only be filled by a boat with the versatility of inflatable kayaks.

The stability thing
A large bottom surface doesn’t take waves well.

Getting buzzed by powerboats can really be an issue.

Wind swept waves hitting broadside can cause grief.

Stability is a double-edged sword that can cut deep.


Yeah, and round bottom kayak
is no more safe than a flat bottom boat if you don’t have a good high brace and low brace or know wet exiting and self rescue or have a good eskimo roll. A round bottom kayak is going to get tossed on the waves just as easily as a flat-bottomed boat. And, for the record, I’ve owned several inflatable kayaks and can tell you that you really have to lean and force yourself over in such an exaggerated manner in order to actually flip one over. If you want to further split hairs how about all the SOT kayaks that are favored by fishermen and people who like to play in heavy surf? You don’t hear about a lot of those folks griping about how every time the wind blows hard or a wave hits them it flips their boat over. Also, your argument doesn’t acknowledge that the nicer inflatables often don’t have a completely flat bottom but instead, like the Advanced Elements Advance Frame boats, have accessories that change the shape of the hull giving them more keel so that their tracking is improved even more and they have stability far more like hardshell kayaks. And while we’re talking about stability, let’s not forget all of those Class III and Class IV + whitewater kayaks that are flat bottomed and yet are favored by lots of whitewater folks the world over.

Yeah, because everyone
has $4000 to spend on a boat.

The worst it ever was for me
was when I practiced wet self rescues with my AE Expedition kayak. I had the entire boat soaked inside and out and so I had to bring it home and lay it out in my apartment to dry, but still it only took a day to dry out. Also, that was far more water than would ever get into a kayak under most typical situations. Most of the time, a quick wipe down and a few minutes in the sunshine is all it takes to dry an inflatable off, and that’s just the ones with partial fabric covers. Boats like the Sea Eagle line and Innova boats are all PVC and can simply be wiped down before storage.

The small hardshell kayak
I owned had worse performance than my 13’ AE Expedition kayak. The hardshell was slower, not as stable, took longer to secure and take off the roof rack, and even though I could stand it up in one corner of my apartment it was extremely difficult getting out the back door and down the steps to the car. The inflatable packed into a bag the size of a large suitcase which I could easily carry out to my car in less than half the time spent wrestling a hardshell around.

Tub toys?
I met Audrey Sutherland once in SE Alaska. She was on a dock by my friends’ sailboat loading her inflatable. I don’t remember the model, but her kayak was patched with duct tape and covered with names of places it’d travelled, like the outer hebrides. I stood there gaping, while my friend said “You’re paddling in THAT?”. After reading about her journeys I know the glare we got was well deserved, and that inflatables are not tub toys.