In the past, inflatable kayaks were nothing more than mere toys to use in a swimming pool. This is no longer the case. Because of technological advances, modern inflatables are high-tech boats notable for their robust construction and durable materials. Other notable qualities include being lightweight, portable, and easy to use.
These qualities make inflatable kayaks not only practical but also, and more importantly, a lot of fun. As a result, they now rival their traditional hard-shell counterparts in popularity. However, despite their benefits, skeptics and traditionalists remain firm in their belief that hard-shells are superior. So, to find out whether this claim is true, let us weigh the pros and cons of inflatable kayaks.
Pros of Inflatable Kayaks
1) Storage is Never an Issue
Finding enough storage space for your hard-shell is always a challenge, especially if you live in a small apartment or have a small garage. For this reason, many people would rather rent than own one. But with an inflatable, the size of your apartment is not a problem.
After deflating the kayak, you first fold it before fitting it into a backpack. You then throw the backpack into a closet until the next time you need to go kayaking. Storing an inflatable is that easy.
2) Easy to Transport
Besides the difficulties of storing your hard-shell, you will also face a problem when transporting it. Roping it to the roof of your car – a tiring and difficult thing to do – will be the only way to get it from one place to another. Inflatables, on the other hand, pose no such problem. As mentioned earlier, they fit into backpacks, which in turn fit in the trunk of your car. And to get the kayak from your car to a kayaking spot, you simply carry the backpack there.
3) Durable and Robust Construction
The greatest criticism leveled against inflatable kayaks is that they are not as rugged as hard-shells. While this may be true, they are also not as fragile as you might think. In fact, top quality inflatables withstand plenty of abuse, wear, and tear.
And with recent advances in technology, this robustness will only increase with time. As a result, you can expect a long service life from any inflatable, even when pushed to its limits.
Inflatable kayaks cost way less than hard-shells for two reasons. One, they are mass produced. And two, they are made of cheap rubber and plastic materials. For this reason, owning a kayak is now within your reach, especially if you want to use it only during the holidays or at a later date.
5) Stellar Performance
Another criticism usually leveled against inflatable kayaks regards their performance. Skeptics laugh at the thought of an inflatable competing toe-to-toe with a hard-shell. They are both right and wrong. Granted, poor quality inflatables are poor performers, but high-quality ones not only perform well but also reach high speeds.
Even so, their best performance still falls short of that of hard-shells by a slight margin. However, considering that inflatables are made of lighter materials, their performance is still impressive, and will only improve in the future.
6) Low Weight
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of inflatable kayaks is their low weight. Yet despite it, they can still bear heavy loads. This feature makes them portable with the lightest ones fitting in a backpack. In addition, there are heavier versions that have thicker materials for greater wear-and-tear resistance. But even they are portable, although you cannot carry them alone. Better still, you do not need to rope them to your roof rack. Instead, you can carry them in your vehicle or boat to wherever you choose.
Kayaking has a great following because it is fun, and inflatable kayaks have made this fun aspect available to everyone. They are stable, reliable, durable, safe, easy to use, and affordable. Also, there are many types of inflatables for you to choose from.
Cons of Inflatable Kayaks
1) Too Wide
For a kayak to be fast and nimble, it must be both long and narrow. And because the traditional hard-shell meets these two criteria, it gains and maintains speed fast. It is also easy to maneuver. Unfortunately, its narrow width makes it less stable, which makes it unsuitable for novices.
Inflatables, on the other hand, are, by necessity, wide. Their materials, manufacturing processes, and inflatable nature ensure this. But although being wider increases their stability, and attractiveness to novices, it also reduces the speed they can attain.
2) Likelihood of Popping
When an inflatable kayak hits a sharp object, it will most likely pop. Although the chances of this happening are higher if your kayak is light and has a thin material, heavier and thicker ones are not as vulnerable. This vulnerability makes inflatables unsuitable for kayaking in rivers with jagged rocks.
Fortunately, manufacturers foresaw this inherent weakness, so they provide a repair kit with each inflatable. Using the kit, you can quickly patch the punctured section and continue with your kayaking. But do not let the possibility of popping deter you from buying an inflatable. Despite its faults, it is still cheaper to maintain than a hard-shell.
Because inflatables are wider than hard-shells, they are also slower. This may not matter to novices, but it may put off experienced kayakers who value speed. That said, many hard-shells of poor quality are just as slow. So, in the end, getting an inflatable may not be such a bad idea after all.
Inflatables have many benefits. For instance, they are easy to store and transport. Also, they are durable and robust despite their fragile look. Furthermore, they are affordable and give a stellar performance. They are also light-weight, making them portable. If that was enough to convince you to go for an inflatable kayak, you can view inflatable kayaks here. Make sure that you weigh the pros and cons of each model and don’t skimp on budget if you don’t want to compromise on performance.