From the original boats with a wooden structure covered in sealskin, to the inflatable models that are analyzed and compared here, there is an abyss in both the characteristics and the use that is given.
Without a doubt, the inflatable option is the most popular due to its affordable prices and its ease of storing the boat. That a kayak fits in a backpack was something unthinkable years ago.
They do not reach the levels of the rigid ones, but, at present, their evolution and variety makes them a highly valued aquatic environment for fun and sports. So let’s not ask for elm pears. They are designed for short trips and to have a good time on the water without competitive desire.
What material are they made of?
Mostly the option in PVC for being a material characterized by being light and resistant in addition to folding easily. In some models, nylon is added to give the boat greater durability.
Thus, the most durable ones are manufactured with two layers of different materials: an internal nylon (it can also be polyester) and an external polyvinyl chloride or PVC.
What characterizes its design?
They are wide and long. Obviously, they are also lighter than the rigid ones, although this may seem like an advantage is not so much since controlling them can be more complicated. Therefore, it should not be forgotten that they are oriented to navigate calm waters.
What can be done with them?
They are not intended for great adventures on the water, but, to their credit, they can be used by people of all ages. Calm water rides constitute their main work.
That said, the advances are so many and so fast that there are specific whitewater inflatable models on the market since, being light, they are well suited to this discipline.
Advantages and disadvantages
We have already been shelving some advantages, its price and its easy transport, and disadvantages, short journeys and little adventure. We point out more.
Among the advantages:
- They behave very well in calm waters and are therefore especially suitable for initiation into practice.
- Its repairs are very easy to solve. Its no puncture, a patch and continue browsing.
- Due to their design, it is difficult for them to tip over, unless they are used in areas where they are not recommended.
- Basic maintenance based on cleaning and drying after sailing.
- It is not overwhelming to be inside because, being open, that feeling is avoided and it also comes out without problems in case of overturning.
Among the drawbacks:
- Incompatible or, at the very least, you have to be very careful in case of wind.
- It admits a significantly lower load on the rigid ones.
- It is true that they are easily repaired, but that implies that they can be punctured.
- The fact that they are open facilitates the exit, but also the possible entry of water into the canoe.
- To get around you need more physical wear.
What to keep in mind
- The pump: As already said, without inflating the kayak there is no kayak. They don’t always come with the canoe. It is important to choose the most suitable for the chosen model. As requirements, it must carry a pressure gauge to measure pressure and be able to expel a lot of air at low pressure.
- Valves: Closely related to the function of the pump. The most advisable ones are known as Boston valves because of their width (they resemble a gas cap). In addition, they have a safety mechanism so that air does not escape even if it is closed incorrectly.
- The oars: In the case of the inflatable models, they are longer than the rigid ones since, being larger, the distance to the water increases. As a recommendation, they should be around five centimeters longer.
- Orza: It is a fin-shaped piece whose purpose is to help stabilize the boat. If it does not have it incorporated, its handling is very complicated.
- Rope or lifeline: It is the rope that runs along the edge and has a safety function. It serves to hold if you fall into the water. In the case that it does not come standard, it is convenient to carry an elastic cord similar to the one used by surfers to avoid losing the board in case of mishap.
The use of the kayak requires basic navigation equipment:
- Life jacket: Required whether or not you know how to swim. There are different types. As a general rule, you have to choose the one that allows the most manageability according to each user.
- Paddles: There are certain models depending on the waters. Thus, in river they are shorter and wider blades and in sea longer and narrower.
- Gloves: If the temperature is low, it is advisable that they be made of neoprene to insulate the hands from the cold outside.
- Inflator: Obviously, the most necessary complement in an inflatable kayak. There is a great variety on the market, either electric or manual.
- Footwear: Essential with non-slip sole to safely transport the boat.
- Emergency kit: It is important to carry first aid material in case something unforeseen arises.
- Watertight container: Important for carrying personal items and technological devices without risk of getting wet.
- Repair kit: It should include patches, liquid neoprene for emergency repairs and other elements or tools that may be useful.
Intex 68307NP: Good option to enjoy in company
An excellent alternative to also enjoy in company since it is two-seater. In its natural habitat, calm waters and without looking for complications, the benefits are highly satisfactory as well as its price.
It is clear that it is not intended for two people of much above average weight or for exciting adventures.
Made of a material of good thickness and resistance, it is easy to maneuver. Good finishes in general with hard plastic protectors on the bow and stern.
With the necessary skill, it is quite stable and even comfortable to take placid walks of a limited route and with favorable weather conditions. With moderate wind or waves if it is the sea, better wait for another day.
As a positive aspect to highlight, the product comes from the factory quite complete since it includes the oars, the inflator and a puncture repair kit.
All these ‘pros’ allude to a kayak that is intended for people who are just starting out, who have a house without much storage space and with a limited budget. With those parameters, it is a totally competitive canoe.
Obviously, there are also objections that go, for example, by an improvable sealing of the side floats that are provided, of course, with the excellent Boston valves already mentioned.
Structurally, perhaps the weakest part is the base of the boat designed as a mat, as well as the seats.
This fact makes the consistency of the plastic on the sides, fore and aft less.
Bestway Hydro-Force Ventura: Stability as a hallmark
An alternative that provides safety in the water at a somewhat higher price. Quite stable with two people on board and manageable thanks to the two fins it incorporates.
It comes equipped with three air chambers distributed between the base and the sides and with a standard inflator that does the job without further ado. In other words, if over time you opt for another more powerful and solid inflator, the better. In about ten minutes you are ready to sail.
Its adjustable seats are also comfortable within the limits of this activity. They are firm, padded and come with integrated pockets.
Due to its greater stability, it can undertake somewhat longer routes, better if only one occupies it, and even drive on somewhat rough water without excesses.
In calm waters, the most suitable, its smoothness of movement is excellent.
Among the less favorable aspects, the blades can be heavy and their quality has room for improvement and a bag for transport is missing.
In the case of valves, lime and sand. The sides are suitable for the boat while the bottom of the base is weaker.
Advanced Elements AE1012-R: Hybrid and expensive, but another level
A different option both in concept and in user. It is a foldable and inflatable hybrid that fits into a large sports bag. It transports well, but is heavy. It is already aimed at fans of advanced level and more to sports than leisure.
It incorporates some aluminum arrow-shaped pieces on the front and back that open the water with great ease.
That design makes it keep the course at the same or similar level that a rigid boat can do. Stable and robust.
Its previous assembly requires around a quarter of an hour including an inflation that is carried out through different and reliable valves distributed around it (it does not include a series inflator).
Among the drawbacks, in addition to its price, one is linked to the flexibility of the user. Going out can be difficult if you lack skill or the right physical conditions.
Sevylor Riviera: Spacious and very holiday
Spacious to enjoy calm waters and take a walk without too intensive use. Very suitable to start. And very cheap.
To gain benefits you have to resort to two extra purchases such as a keel that guarantees the direction and an additional blade and, if it can be, of greater solidity.
As a complement to the holidays it meets expectations. It is light, packs in a small space and guarantees fun in the waters.
Closer to the inflatable boat than to the kayak even if it is included in this category.
Am Aqua Marina BETTA HM-K0: Design and color
Because of its color and design it will not go unnoticed. A more sporty design model for benefits closer to leisure.
Includes the complete kit with bag and a basic pump. Very light and dynamic on the water, easy inflation and subsequent folding.
As a majority critic, the most convenient thing is to buy some separate blades to get the most out of it.