Are Inflatable Kayaks Safe? [Must Knows!]

Understandably, most newbies want to know if inflatable kayaks are safe. It’s a valid question to ask, especially if you are trying something for the first time. In short, Inflatable kayaks are safe and remarkably durable.

If you are a professional, the first time someone asked the question, “are inflatable kayaks safe?” What were your responses? Of course, people will provide several answers. However, inflatable kayaks are designed to withstand harsh conditions because of the material and manufacturing process involved.

Interestingly, you can use these kayaks on lakes or rivers without fear of sinking or popping them. If you have issues concerning inflatable kayaks, this article will provide everything you need, in order to determine whether they are well safe for your adventure.

Woman in an inflatable kayak

What are inflatable kayaks?

Inflatable kayaks are like your regular kayaking boats but can be folded. They are more versatile compared to the traditional kayaks you might know. Unlike your typical hardshell kayaks, which you can’t carry when traveling, inflatable kayaks are lightweight, making them easier to transport.

You can carry these inflatable kayaks on long-distance since they are lighter. They can even get more light if some protection features are removed. However, you need these protective features to protect the boat from scratching or splitting. Furthermore, they also provide a smooth and comfortable ride. Because of this feature, most people tend to prefer inflatable kayaks even though the safety concern is a top priority.

Items required to use inflatable kayaks

You would need a paddle, electric pump, and flotation device for beginners. Depending on where you purchase your inflatable kayaks, these items can be sold together. However, you can purchase them separately if it doesn’t come together.

Are inflatable Kayaks safe for water activities?

You can safely do all water activities with an inflatable kayak. If you are a kayaking enthusiast, inflatable kayaks are the perfect option as they enable you to explore lakes and rivers. Interestingly, you can ride with friends and family to see beautiful natural spots you have always longed for.

There is nothing much to worry about when it comes to using inflatable kayaks. They are multipurpose as you can use them for fishing. Hardly will you find an inflatable kayak sinking or flipping over. Overall, you can use an inflatable kayak or boat for any water activity of your choice.

Types of Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are available in several types, and knowing the particular type can go a long way. You don’t have to invest in one type of inflatable kayak as they are designed for several purposes. Remember, you can use a particular inflatable kayak for all water activities. However, some inflatable kayaks are designed with unique features for particular activities. Let’s look at some of the types of inflatable kayaks.

Whitewater Kayaks

If you want to kayak in extreme whitewater conditions, the whitewater kayak is the best option. It comes with a closed cockpit with the paddler wearing a spray skirt to protect against the water splashing into the boat. Besides this, some whitewater kayaks come with an attached spray deck that stops water from entering the boat. However, the paddler can remove the spray deck when they feel safe.

Fishing Kayak

These kayaks are designed for use in flat water. It’s the best option for people that love fishing. You can also use them in whitewater conditions. The fishing kayak features a sit-on-top open cockpit design. Today, most of these boats come with a skirt that ensures water doesn’t splash into the boat. In addition, you can easily roll the skirt when you are in safe water.

Touring Kayaks

Like the fishing kayaks, the touring kayaks can also occasionally be used in flat water and whitewater. They also come with a sit-on-top- open cockpit design and with a skirt feature. The skirt also serves the same purpose for the fishing kayak.

Dagger Kayaks

Another inflatable boat that is best suited for whitewater is the dagger kayak. These are modern design kayaks that are manufactured using nylon with aluminum or stainless steel ribs. Unlike other types of inflatable kayaks, these offer consistency because of the nylon used to mold the boat. The paddles are strong, making them useful when driving along dangerous whitewater. Overall, it has sturdy paddles that provide flexibility while kayaking.

Sea kayak

The last inflatable kayak you can get for your water activity is the sea kayak. They are designed to be used for open water conditions, especially for a long time. Most riders prefer the sea kayak because of its high speed. Besides this, they are manufactured using rotomolded plastics. Sea kayaks are more expensive and challenging to transport than other inflatable kayaks.

Hard Kayaks vs. Inflatable Kayaks

While we have several types of inflatable kayaks, there are also hardshell kayaks, which are the opposite of an inflatable kayak. The hardshell kayaks offer a traditional option that is manufactured using kevlar, fiberglass, and roto-molding. Nevertheless, hardshell kayaks are strongly built and are watertight. Because of this, it allows the kayak to sustain its shape compared to an inflatable kayak.

On the other hand, a hard shell kayak is expensive and isn’t easy to transport. You can see a single hardshell kayak costing more than $500. Besides this, you also have to transport it, which incur additional expenses. For long distances, it’s almost impossible to transport.

Inflatable kayaks are flexible and affordable, making them the best option for people looking to invest in a kayaking boat. You can easier carry them along when deflated and help you save money. Nevertheless, the issue of punctures tends to discourage people as they can sink. It might be hard to reach a safety point when you find your inflatable kayak punctured.

Advantages of Inflatable Kayaks

When you hear things like are inflatable kayaks safe, it means a lot of people have considered the importance. If you see have doubts about an inflatable kayak, here are a few benefits to enable you to reconsider your option. These benefits are not limited to what you can see here. We only pick the top benefits of using an inflatable kayak.

  • Stability – One concern for many people that makes them reluctant about using an inflatable kayak is the fear of rolling over or falling in deep waters. However, that is just a myth because you can hardly fall when using an inflatable kayak. You can also stand on the kayak while riding, showing how stable the boat can be.
  • Portable – Inflatable kayaks are extremely portable such that you can easily carry them around. Most modern inflatable kayaks are designed so that they can fit into a backpack or bag when deflated. While you might be contemplating the space they occupy, they don’t take much space. Whether you are traveling a long or short distance, you can take them along.
  • Versatility – Buying one inflatable kayak gives you the leverage to use it for other water activities. An inflatable kayak is up to the challenge, even in turbulent water, whatever the activity might be.
  • Short learning curve – You don’t have to spend weeks to understand how to use an inflatable kayak. It doesn’t require that much skill to navigate your way. Take your inflatable kayak to the river, push it off the shore, and enjoy your ride. It is highly stable, so you don’t have to fear anything, even if it’s your first time kayaking with an inflatable kayak.

How to get air into your inflatable kayak

The proper technique to inflate your inflatable kayak is essential, especially if you want to stay safe while riding. If you have any holes or tears on your inflatable kayak, it will be deflated and might cost you your life. Therefore, it is critical to always check if your kayak is in its perfect condition before inflating. Here is the best way to inflate your kayak if you have a foot or electric pump.

  • Ensure the valves between your pump and kayak are well connected. If it is not connected correctly, it will release air when inflating the kayak.
  • Tighten the valves before starting the pumping process. If you observe any loose valves, fix them up because they will deflate your kayak.
  • Pump adequate air into the kayak to ensure it becomes firm. It is easy to know when to stop pumping air. When you observe the kayak is firm as you press it, you can stop the pumping.
  • Attach all the screws on whatever accessories you want to add and enjoy your ride.

Best way to use an inflatable Kayak

An inflatable kayak isn’t something that is complicated to use. After usage, you can deflate it and pack it into a bag or backpack to everywhere you want. Since they are portable, it is easier to keep in a tight area.

Once you reach your destination, you can inflate the boat and use it. However, you would need a pump to inflate the kayak. After finishing your ride, you can deflate and pack again. There is no magical way to use an inflatable kayak for your adventure. You are good to go as long as you can inflate and deflate it after use.

Nevertheless, it is critical to wear a life jacket when kayaking with an inflatable kayak. Furthermore, you need to know how to swim since you might be under harsh weather conditions and anything can happen. You can opt for swimming classes and ensure you have the flotation devices when kayaking, for starters. With these options, you can get the best out of your kayaking.

Inflating your inflatable Kayak

Man inflating a kayak

Most people don’t know that pumping an inflatable kayak requires some form of technique. Although it is a straightforward process, you need to be careful because you can over pump it and damage the valves. Besides this, you can also damage the septum (internal bulkheads) if you do it incorrectly. Therefore, keep the following things into consideration when inflating your inflatable kayak.

  • Cleaning the valves: Before inflating your kayak, clean the dirt to ensure there is no dirt or sand around it. If you pump without cleaning, you can transfer foreign objects through the valve that can block and rupture them at the end.
  • Air pressure: Assuming your inflatable kayak doesn’t come with a default pump, ensure you buy a pump that comes with an inbuilt air pressure device. Each inflatable kayak you see on the market has the maximum air pressure it can accommodate. Therefore, exceeding the pressure level can damage the boat in an unrepairable manner. Furthermore, it will affect your kayak’s performance, making it not to provide a smooth ride.
  • Ride immediately after inflating: The purpose of inflating your kayak is to ride with it. Therefore, after getting it inflated, ensure you place it on water immediately because if you leave it to direct sunlight, it can expand. Alternatively, if you place it on concrete, it can expand and rupture the septums. Whatever you do, once you pump your inflatable kayak, take it to the water to prolong its lifespan.

How to maintain your inflatable Kayak after use

Because the inflatable kayak is very convenient, most people often neglect its maintenance. They simply fold it and place it inside their bag. However, it can damage your kayak, especially if you finish using it in saltwater.

Once you finish kayaking with an inflatable kayak, some maintenance tips will go a long way to prolong your boat.

  • Remove any debris on the kayak. After you finish riding, ensure you clean the kayak to avoid debris such as dirt, algae, or salt sticking to the boat. These things can remove the UV protection on your boat and increase the likelihood of experiencing a leak.
  • Always rinse your inflatable kayak. After usage, don’t just fold it into your pack. Rinse the kayak to remove any residue on it. Using water to rinse the kayak will help prolong its lifespan. In addition, while cleaning, ensure you close the valves to prevent water from entering them. This will also help prevent mildew and mold growth in your kayak.
  • Dry the inflatable kayak. At times you might be in a hurry to go somewhere. However, it is important to dry the kayak after use. If you don’t do this, you give room for mildew and mold, which degrade your kayak skin. Furthermore, this will lead to your kayak puncture.

How to store your inflatable Kayak

Kayak storage

While it is good to rinse and clean your kayak after it gets dried, it is also important to store it properly. Doing this, you have to be careful not to get it damaged. When packing your inflatable kayak, you can apply some tricks to keep it in its peak condition.

  • Avoid keeping it inflated for an extended period: Keeping your kayak  inflated for a long time destroys the valves. Besides this, it can also put a lot of strain on the skin. Furthermore, temperature changes can cause the air to expand the kayak, thereby splitting the internal septum.
  • Keep in a cool place: It is always advisable to keep your kayak in a cool and dry place. This will help prevent mold growth and mold. Assuming you are storing it under a shed, outhouse, or outside, ensure you use a tarp to shield it. In addition, if you live in an area with animals such as mice or rats, ensure you store them in a sealable container to prevent any damage.
  • Roll the kayak differently: When rolling your inflatable kayak, ensure you don’t do it the same way. Roll differently every time you want to store it. In the same manner, rolling can form weak points that will eventually puncture your kayak.

Check out the Ultimate Kayak Storage Guide which I recently wrote for the best storage solutions and ideas.


Is it safe for children to use an inflatable kayak?

If you want to take your children on a trip using an inflatable kayak, there is no problem. Inflatable kayaks are highly stable since an adult can stand on them. However, you must ensure your child understands the essential safety tips when kayaking.

Are inflatable kayaks highly stable?

Because of their thickness, inflatable kayaks are incredibly stable. Nevertheless, their stability depends on the inflatable kayak types. Therefore, the particular kayak you buy will determine its stability and durability.

Will an inflatable kayak sink when riding?

Unlike hardshell kayaks that you have to struggle to empty the water, inflatable kayaks are different. Because they are filled with air, it is easier to keep them afloat when they capsize. The lightweight contributes to this feature such that you can easier remove any water that gets inside.

What is the lifespan of an inflatable kayak?

Most inflatable kayaks can last 5 to 10 years. However, it will depend on several factors, including pumping, maintenance after use, and how you store the kayak. The better maintenance you give your kayak, the longer it lasts.


Only someone with experience can answer the question, “Are inflatable kayaks safe?” Inflatable kayaks are safe and easy to use without any issue transporting them. While it comes with several benefits, it is essential to note that you might experience uncommon problems such as punctures and leaks.

Nevertheless, if you follow the several maintenance tips in this article, you can stay safe kayaking with an inflatable kayak. It’s time to enjoy your adventure using an inflatable kayak.

Vanessa Hopkins

Hi, I'm Vanessa. Long-time kayaker who's proud to be part of this community. I strive to provide our visitors with insightful guides with the aim to improve their kayaking experience. I've been working with SunshineKayaking for over 5 years, providing world-class services.

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