Inflatable Kayak Frequently Asked Questions

This is a collection of different questions regarding inflatable kayaks that hopefully will be of help to those who are new to the inflatable kayak world.
Q1. Are they durable?

This is definitely one of the азasked questions. It is a valid question as many people think of inflatables like pool toys. The truth is that quality can very but in general they are extremely durable. In fact they can be so tough that you often see them used by outfitters, water rescue agencies and adventure companies. A good quality model can take a lot of abuse and they are hard to puncture or tear. I have been using them for several years now and I have never personally had a leak or a puncture.

Q2. Are they slow or sluggish when paddling?

The answer to this question will depend on which model you choose. Some of the cheaper models are most definitely slow and can be sluggish. They are still fun to use but you will be too fast. However the performance will depend on the quality of the kayak. There are many that track well and are able to paddle fairly fast. Some of the models I have paddled have definitely outperformed some of the hard shell kayaks I have used over the years. Keep in mind though that they are typically wider and will not reach the speed of a true streamlined plastic or fiberglass kayak. I don’t think it is realistic to expect to be the fastest kayak in the water, but I do find that most people are impressed with the performance of a good inflatable kayak. Companies are continually making improvements to their design and quality so each year they get better.

Q3. Are they stable?

They are VERY stable. Their pontoon-like sides make them nearly impossible to tip. Some models that have a super rigid floor can even be used for stand up paddling. They are known to be very safe and stable, which makes them popular with people of all ages.

Q4. Will I sink if my kayak gets a leak?

They are known to be almost unsinkable. The reason for this is that the majority of them have three separate air chambers, one for each side and one for the floor. If you should get a leak in one of the air chambers, you still have two others that will stay inflated and keep you afloat. Unless you get a large tear, most leaks are extremely small and air is slow to leak out. All inflatable kayaks come with their own repair kit so you can do a quick patch up job for any small leaks when you are out. The bottom line however is that your kayak may not perform as well if you get a leak, but I have never ever heard of anyone sinking.

Q5. Are they safe?

This has basically already been answered when we discussed stability and leaks in the questions above. The answer is that yes they are extremely safe. Good quality inflatable boats are known to be some of the safest in the world. With the advanced technology, innovative designs and strong materials, they have an excellent reputation for safety.

Q6. Are they hard to care for?

Actually they are extremely easy to care for. Simply hose down with fresh water if you have been in salt water, dry off after use in the sun or with a towel (to prevent mold growth), deflate and roll it up into its bag. Then store it in a dry place away from extreme heat or cold. The only other thing I would suggest is to use a 303 UV protectant spray once in awhile in order to protect the material from exposure to the elements.

Q7. What size kayak should I get?

The size you get will depend on what type of kayaking you plan to do as well as how many others you want to bring out with you. Longer and leaner kayaks tend to glide better through the water and are more often used on lakes and for ocean touring. Shorter kayaks are often more suited for rivers and whitewater paddling. A larger model will obviously be more useful if you plan to do overnight trips and have a lot of gear to bring or even for fishing. There are all different sizes available. As a solo paddler, I find the shorter models to be a lot of fun because they don’t take a lot of strength to move and they are very responsive to quick turns and fancy maneuvers. However the longer models are ideal for flat water paddling and can really glide beautifully through the water. Also it is great to have the option of bringing along a friend or your dog as well in a longer tandem kayak.

Q8. What kind of material are they made with?

The materials used today are tough and resilient. A large majority of them are made with a strong plastic called PVC (polyvinyl chloride). PVC is widely used in construction because it is so strong. It is made more flexible by adding plasticizers that make it more effective for inflatable products. PVC can be worn down after repeated exposure to the elements. Therefore it is important to use a 303 protectant spray to keep the material strong. Some inflatable kayak manufacturers are using other types of materials such as Hypalon (such as the AIRE and Tributary kayaks) and Nitrylon (such as the Innova kayaks). Hypalon is a synthetic rubber that is very resistant to chemicals and extreme temperatures as well as ultraviolet light and salt water. It is a lighter, stronger alternative to using PVC. It is known to last for a very long time and consequently is also more expensive. Nitrylon is an environmentally friendly alternative to PVC and Hypalon. It is extremely strong and resistant to punctures and abrasions. Nitrylon material can be heavy so it is normally only used where there will be the most wear and tear.

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