Inflatable Canoe/Kayak recommendations
June 4, 2009 6:55 AM   Subscribe

Inflatable kayak/canoe recommendations & tips?

I want to do some placid river-running along the Haw (near Chapel Hill, NC). I think there is some mild white-water but it's mostly pretty calm.

I like the idea of an inflatable kayak or canoe, but given the prices I'm seeing I'd like some advice.

Are these things worth the money? I don't have a truck or a roof-rack, nor anyplace to store a rigid canoe/kayak. Also, what sort of inflator is best?

I've been in canoes on lakes and have tubed down rivers but that's the extent of my experience. And I'm really anxious to get out on the water ASAP. Thanks for any helpful hints.
posted by jjsonp to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have a Sea Eagle inflatable kayak and it works well. I've only used it a few times on a lake near my house which is not very deep and doesn't move so keep that in mind. I also dont have much kayaking experience so not much to compare it to. The main problem I've had with it is ist always seems to get water in it when i get in no matter how hard I try but that might be more my issue than the kayak. As far as inflating it they send you a foot pump that is actually easy and fairly quick to use (10 mins to inflate). Once inflated it is very easy to carry around. Uninflated it can easlit fit into the trunk of a car. To be honest though I have seen other people on the lake in regualr kayaks and I'm condsidering getting one of those.
posted by Busmick at 7:04 AM on June 4, 2009

Sorry one other thing...with the inflatable kayak i notice you can feel alot of what is going on under you (if you hit a shallow spot etc) so im not sure how this would work out in rocky situations...
posted by Busmick at 7:06 AM on June 4, 2009

You don't need a truck or a roof rack for a small recreactional kayak, although there's still the issue of storing it. You haven't got anywhere to put a 9' boat at all?

I very seriously considered an inflatable kayak (they were on sale at REI) but in the end I got a 9' Dagger Zydeco. I take it out to the lake on top of my Honda Civic with these handy dandy foam blocks. It's not a fast boat, but it can handle light whitewater and it's a lot of fun.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:37 AM on June 4, 2009

Best answer: Oh and check out the buyer's guide on If you see one that catches your eye, head over to their reviews section and see what other people think. I ultimately ended up choosing the Zydeco because it got such great reviews there.

Oh! The inflatable I almost bought is really highly rated and definitely affordable. It's the AdvancedFrame by Advanced Elements. Reviews here.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:47 AM on June 4, 2009

Seconding Busmick's comment: if there are any rocky areas, I suspect you are going to get pretty bruised in an inflatable kayak. If the whole stretch is calm (and, preferably, deep enough that a kayak would never be scraping bottom), the inflatable should be fine.

That said, I think the inflatables can actually be more comfortable than hard kayaks for casual floating-around-in-the-water style boating, and I've had an inflatable kayak for years. The foot pump that came with mine was woefully inadequate, but a battery powered air pump (like you'd have for an air mattress) works out great.

On preview, the folding frame kayak elsietheeel linked to would probably solve the banged-up-by-rocks issues I mentioned.
posted by pemberkins at 8:02 AM on June 4, 2009

If you are just doing rivers, everyone else has covered the basics. If you ever go out across a lake, recognize that the inflatable will have a higher profile than a regular kayak, and will catch the wind accordingly.

Even with a pump, inflating and deflating the boat for every trip can be annoyingly time consuming, and messy depending on the load/unload area you have available. Here in Seattle, the geese do a good job of fertilizing every horizontal surface within walking distance of a body of water.
posted by nomisxid at 8:11 AM on June 4, 2009

I have an advanced element inflatable that i have had on lakes, in the ocean and on a class II river in deepest darkest alaska. it takes 5 minutes to inflate. it's not the best boat for any of these apps, but it is one of the few for all of these apps.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:10 AM on June 4, 2009

I have an Aire WW inflatable and i love it. it' s a lot of fun, very stable and easy enough to learn how to paddle. The Aires cost more than the Stearns Sea Eagle but are faster and you won't fell any rocks through the bottom even if you scrape right over them.
posted by fshgrl at 10:47 PM on June 4, 2009

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