An Overview of Inflatable Kayaks

Kayaking is one of the oldest forms of watersports, and while the technology involved has moved on considerably, this can still be one of the purest forms of watersport around.  It enables you to access waters that boats couldn’t, it provides exercise and is great fun for the whole family.

Our basic guide covers some things to look for in a kayak, as well as what you might need in order to use it safely. This guide will focus on inflatable kayaks.

The Benefits of an Inflatable Kayak

Inflatable kayaks are a fantastic option for anyone looking to get into kayaking. Here are some reasons why you might want to consider purchasing an inflatable kayak:

Storage & Portability: One of the most significant benefits of inflatable kayaks is their portability. When deflated, they can fit into a small bag that can be easily carried on your back, stored on board your boat or transported in the boot of your car. This making them an excellent option for anyone who doesn't have the space to store a hard-shell kayak at home and makes them a lot easier to transport.

Durability: Modern inflatable kayaks are made from high-quality materials that are puncture-resistant and durable. They can withstand rough surfaces and sharp rocks, within reason. This makes them ideal for exploring rivers and lakes.

Easy to Inflate: With the right inflation pump, inflatable kayaks can be inflated in a matter of minutes. You don't need any special tools or equipment, which makes them easy to set up and use. You can see a great range of manual and electric inflation pumps here.

Comfort: Inflatable kayaks are designed with comfort in mind. They often have padded seats and backrests, which make them more comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. When looking at inflatable kayaks, don’t be afraid to go a bit bigger than you need - a three seater is actually a very comfortable two seater, and a two seater fits one person and fishing gear really well.

Most come complete with all you need to get going: pump, repair kit, bag and paddle. Some models you will need to purchase a paddle separately - see kayak paddle options here.

What Else Do You Need?

Once you’ve chosen a suitable kayak, it’s worth looking at a few accessories to get you out on the water safely. We’ve put together a basic list, but obviously please make sure you do some research to check you’ve got all you need for your chosen activity.


Buoyancy Aid

Even the toughest kayaks can be holed by sharp things such as rocks, and while incredibly stable we must always plan for an unexpected dip.

A buoyancy aid will help you stay afloat should you end up in the water. Check you buy one with good freedom of movement, you will be using your arms to paddle after all, and one that doesn’t ride up into your chin helps with comfort too. Extra features such as a pocket are a bonus and worth looking out for. 

VHF Radios & Waterproof Phone Cases

Kayaking is a very safe sport, but having the ability to call for help if required is still important.

If you are kayaking inland and you have decided to take a mobile phone with you, be sure that it is in suitable waterproof case. Keep this on your person too - it’s no good in a bag should you get separated from the kayak for any reason.

For coastal use it’s worth looking at a handheld VHF radio - these are almost always waterproof, but again make sure it’s securely stowed on your person and fully charged before each outing.

Clothing Options

Be aware of the conditions and dress accordingly.

A wetsuit is recommended for colder waters, especially if you know you will be in and out of the water.

You should also consider your footwear - the beach you launch off may be soft, but the one you visit may be stoney/rocky. Neoprene footwear, such as dinghy boots, will also be more comfortable when wet than standard shoes or trainers.

If you are going out on a bright sunny day then a hat to keep the sun off is vital too. You should also consider looking at somethine like a rash vest. These often have a level of SPF protection in the fabrics and are fast drying.

Inflation Pump

Many of the kayaks we sell come with an air pump, but it is always worth considering the upgrade to an electric pump to make life that little bit easier.

A 12V pump offers great versatility - simply get the kayak out of your car boot and use the 12v socket in your vehicle to pump up the kayak. Some electric pumps now also come with an integral battery that can be charged up, meaning you don't have to rely on having access to a 12v socket.

A pump with a digital cutoff gauge is great - you can get everything else ready while this does all the hard work for you, and you don’t need to worry about it over-inflating the kayak! 

A small hand pump is a great idea to take with you too, just in case the kayak needs topping up for any reason while you’re out and about.  

Dry Bag

Kayaking is a relatively dry sport, but the odd splash is by no means out of the question.

It's a great idea to invest in a waterproof dry-bag to keep your lunch, a towel, valuables and a change of clothes in.

Basic safety items you should also consider taking with you include a whistle, a torch, a small first aid kit and suncream.

Top Tips For Getting Started

  1. Keep your first trips short and close to land while you build your confidence. Stick to well-sheltered water and in good weather.

  2. Check local conditions such as tides and wind, and talk to other kayakers before going out.

  3. Protect yourself from the sun - there’s very little shade out on the water, so make sure you cover up or wear your sunscreen. 

  4. Keep it fun - don’t try and achieve huge distances - sometimes just getting 100m off a beach can make you feel like you are away from the crowds.

  5. Let someone know where you’re going - particularly if you are on your own. 

  6. Go in groups - safety in numbers is a great asset. It is also fun to explore new areas with friends and family.

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