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The Best Inflatable Kayaks Under $500 Of 2022 Helpful Guide

best inflatable kayaks under $500

Kayaks have always been a great way to get away and explore new lakes and waterways. Inflatable kayaks are a great way to get on the water without the hassle of storing a large kayak. A good inflatable kayak doesn’t have to cost a fortune. There are many good options available for under $500. If that sounds great to you here are the best inflatable kayaks under $500 you can get today.

Here are our top 3 picks. Keep reading to see our top 10 with more detailed reviews and our inflatable kayak guide and FAQ.

☆ Top Pick

☆ Editor’s Choice

☆ Best Value

Sea Eagle 370 Pro

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame

Intex Excursion Pro

A sturdy tandem kayak that can hold a lot of weight and is good for class III whitewater

An inflatable with the performance of a rigid kayak. Versatility due to optional floors and decks

A good low cost recreational kayak ready for all your fishing adventures

The top 10 best Inflatable kayaks under $500

Below are our top 10 picks for the best affordable inflatable kayaks on the market today. We considered features, performance, price, durability, and customer reviews in our recommendations.

1 – Sea Eagle 370 Pro

Top Pick

Summary

The SeaEagle 370 Pro is an excellent kayak to get out on the water and to explore up to class 3 white water rapids. This makes it our top pick for the best tandem inflatable kayak for white water kayaking. It is a very stable design and made of rugged enough material to withstand bumping into rocks and other obstacles. You can even bring your dog out with you, without any worries of puncturing the hull.

Hull Design and Construction

This inflatable kayak is constructed of 38mil PVC. The hull is made up of 3 air chambers. A left, right side and floor. It claims to be tough enough to handle dog claws. The floor is made from an inflatable I-Beam for extra rigidity. It has removable inflatable spray skirts and 2 removable inflatable seats. For those times when there is too much water coming in, it has a self bailing valve to get the water out. There are 2 molded in skegs to help with directional stability.

Going For A Paddle

The Sea Eagle 370 Pro has plenty of room for 2 adult paddlers. It is very stable feeling and has a tendency to flex over and around waves rather than cutting through them. The tradeoff to the stable feeling is that it’s slower than a rigid tandem kayak to paddle. You will go a few mph slower than your used to in a rigid kayak. The hull construction is sturdy enough to handle bumping into rocks and underwater obstacles. The manufacturer claims it is suitable for up to class III rapids and it seems to do okay.

The inflatable seat feels good enough to sit on for a couple hours. It could use a bit more back support. Some straps holding the back support up would be perfect.

The sturdy construction, white water ability, and high weight capacity make this our top pick for the best under $500 inflatable kayak.

Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 12 ft 6 in
  • Width: 2 ft 10 in
  • Weight: 32 lbs
  • Max capacity: 650 lbs
  • Skegs: 2
  • Stored Dimensions: 31 x 19 x 8 inches
  • Hull Construction: 38 mil PolyKrylar (K80 PVC) – 3 hull chambers

What we liked

  • 650 lb capacity
  • Flatwater up to Class III whitewater usage
  • Rugged 38 mil PVC construction

What we didn’t like

  • Inflatable seats need more back support
  • Takes a long time to inflate and setup

2 – Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak

Editor’s Choice

Summary

The ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak is an innovative touring kayak designed for better on water performance than traditional inflatable kayaks. This kayak has aluminum inserts in the bow and stern to give it better shape and tracking. This is a great inflatable kayak for someone who really wants the performance of a rigid kayak with the portability of an inflatable. This kayaks performance earns it our place as best inflatable kayak under $500.

Note: This kayak does not include a pump or paddles so the actual cost will be higher than the initial kayak purchase price. For suggestions on paddles see our guide to the best kayak paddles under $100. For a great pump see our review of the OutdoorMaster Shark 2 pump.

Hull Design and Construction

The hull features a 3 layer vinyl polyester PVC laminate for toughness and durability. The hull has 3 air chambers, 2 sides, and a floor. The floor is an inflatable I-Beam. There are 2 optional floors available to add more stiffness if that is desired. The bow and sterns feature rigid sections to improve on the water performance. There is an available optional drop-stitch floor that can be zipped in, in place of the I-Beam floor to give it a more rigid floor structure.

Going For A Paddle

This kayak is very spacious really tracks well. Its performance on flat water is very similar to a rigid kayak even without the optional floors. It is not meant for white water use which is another factor contributing to its ability to glide and track straight. It has stability on par with most rigid kayaks. The performance with the base floor is really good so it would be outstanding with the optional drop-stitch floor.

The adjustable padded seat is comfortable enough for a few hours paddling. The side straps let you adjust the seat back angle. It is a more comfortable seat than found on the average inflatable kayak.

The on water performance and versatility from different floor and bottom options make this my top pick for best inflatable kayak under $500.

Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 10 ft 5 in
  • Width: 2 ft 8 in
  • Weight: 36 lbs
  • Max capacity: 300 lbs
  • Skegs: 1
  • Stored Dimensions: 30 x 17 x 10 inches
  • Hull Construction: PVC Tarpaulin laminate material – 3 air chambers

What we liked

  • Excellent flat water speed and tracking
  • Versatility with optional floors
  • Rigid bow and stern sections for better performance
  • Made by an American company with local American customer support

What we didn’t like

  • Could use more leg room for taller paddlers
  • Need to use the optional backbone for paddlers over 225 lbs

3 – Intex Excursion Pro Kayak

Best Value

Summary

The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is a great option for those wanting to get out do kayak fishing. It offers many fishing friendly options such as rod holders, gear tie-downs, and a bracket for mounting things such as a GPS. The laminate PVC hull makes it puncture resistant. These features make it our pick for fishing best inflatable tandem kayak.

Hull Design and Construction

The hull is a 3 chamber design made of a 3 ply PVC laminate to make it more puncture resistant. The hull uses 1 way valves for fast easy inflation and deflation. The floor chamber features an inflatable I-Beam for added rigidity. This kayak has removable adjustable footrests which is a feature not found on many 3 chamber hull inflatable tandem kayaks. It has a built in fishing rod holder on each side and a mounting bracket where you can mount GPS’s and other fishing gear and accessories.

The 2 seats are inflatable and an extra inflatable booster cushion is included as well. There are 2 skegs included. One longer one for deep water and 1 short one for use in shallow water.

Going For A Paddle

There was plenty of space for 2 adults in this kayak. This kayak is very stable feeling and tends to float over and flex across waves. It is a very stable platform from fishing from. It feels more stable then many rigid kayaks people have tried fishing from. Directional stability is good with the included skegs. It was noticeably better with the deep water skeg. If you aren’t planning on going somewhere with only a few inches of water you should use it.

This kayak comes well equipped for fishing with PVC construction at a low price. This makes it our best value pick for under $500 inflatable kayaks.

Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 12 ft 7 in
  • Width: 3 ft 1 in
  • Weight: 39 lbs
  • Max capacity: 400 lbs
  • Skegs: 1 (2 included deep and shallow water skegs)
  • Stored Dimensions: 30 x 20 x 16 inches
  • Hull Construction: 3 ply PVC laminate – 3 air chambers

What we liked

  • Mounting bracket for fishing accessories and 2 rod holders
  • 2 included skegs. 1 for deep and 1 for shallow water
  • Adjustable foot rests

What we didn’t like

  • Included paddles are short
  • Long term durability

4 – ADVANCED ELEMENTS StraitEdge Angler Inflatable Kayak

Best inflatable fishing kayak

Summary

The ADVANCED ELEMThe ADVANCED ELEMENTS StraitEdge Angler Inflatable Fishing Kayak has many great features making it the perfect budget fishing kayak for the kayak angler. It is one person kayak with a 1 inch aluminum rail for mounting accessories, paddle holders, and a comfortable seat with an inflatable lumbar cushion. This kayak does not come with a pump or paddle. This kayak is produced by an American company and their customer support is based in the USA if you have problems

Hull Design and Construction

The hull is made from PVC Tarpaulin laminate material that is tough and durable. The hull has 3 main air chambers and built in aluminum sections in the bow and stern to give extra rigidity and a better hull shape for moving through the water. There is no skeg on this kayak due to the aluminum hull inserts. There is a bow and stern bouyancy bag as well for extra flotation if water gets inside the kayak.

There is a 1 inch aluminum rail that can be used for mounting accessories such as a GPS or rod holders. There are 2 rod holders built into the back of the seat. The hull sides have some built in holders for paddles. Always a welcome feature. There is also a paddle holder on each side.

Going For A Paddle

The Advanced Element StraitEdge is a very stable feeling kayak with excellent tracking despite not having a skeg. The aluminum bow and stern sections really give it good tracking through the water. Users found the seat very comfortable for an afternoon out on the water.  The drain valves due a really good job of self bailing for this kayak if you get a lot of water inside it. We would feel good about taking this kayak on any fishing trip.

Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 9 ft 8 in
  • Width: 2 ft 11 in
  • Weight: 41 lbs
  • Max capacity: 300 lbs
  • Stored Dimensions: 30 x 17 x 10 inches
  • Hull Construction: PVC Tarpaulin laminate material – 3 hull air chambers and 2 buoyancy chambers in the bow and stern

What we liked

  • Made by an American company with local American customer support
  • Aluminum rail for mounting accessories
  • Molded foam seat with inflatable lumbar cushion
  • Aluminum inserts in bow and stern for better hull shape

What we didn’t like

  • Heavy for a 1 person kayak
  • Difficult to dry out after use

5 – Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak

Best tandem inflatable kayak

Summary

The ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak is an innovative touring kayak designed for better on water performance than traditional inflatable kayaks and options to allow it to be both an open or covered deck single or tandem kayak. Optional more rigid floors allow it to perform even better.

This is a great inflatable tandem kayak for someone who really wants the performance of a rigid kayak with the portability of an inflatable. This great versatility and performance make it our choice for the best inflatable tandem kayak.

Note: This kayak does not include a pump or paddles so the actual cost will be higher than the initial kayak purchase price. For suggestions on paddles see our guide to the best kayak paddles under $100. For a great pump see our review of the OutdoorMaster Shark 2 pump.

Hull Design and Construction

The hull features a 3 layer vinyl polyester PVC laminate for toughness and durability. The hull has 3 air chambers, 2 sides and a floor. If you are using it as a tandem there is a 4 inflatable bulkhead that goes behind the front seat for added stiffness. The floor is an inflatable I-Beam. There are 2 optional floors available to add more stiffness if that is desired. The bow and sterns feature rigid sections to improve on water performance.

There are 2 optional deck covers that allow this kayak to function as a covered deck single or tandem in addition to to being an open deck tandem or single as delivered.

Going For A Paddle

This kayak is very spacious for 2 people and really tracks well. It’s performance on flat water is very similar to a rigid kayak even without the optional floors. It is not meant for white water use which is another factor contributing to it’s ability to glide and track straight. It has stability on par with most rigid tandem kayaks.

Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 15 ft 0 in
  • Width: 2 ft 8 in
  • Weight: 52 lbs
  • Max capacity: 550 lbs
  • Skegs: 1
  • Stored Dimensions: 35 x 21 x 12 inches
  • Hull Construction: PVC Tarpaulin laminate material – 3 air chambers + 1 bulkhead chamber

What we liked

  • Excellent flat water speed and tracking
  • Versatility with optional deck covers and floors
  • High quality molded foam seats
  • PVC nylon polyester laminate hull material

What we didn’t like

  • Air valves don’t have a stop valve to hold air after removing inflation hose until the top is screwed on
  • Difficult to clean and get completely dry

6 – Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak

Most portable inflatable kayak

Summary

The Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak is an innovative inflatable one person kayak that includes a backpack that also functions as the carrying bag. The whole package including kayak, pump, paddle are all designed to fit into the carrying backpack to make this kayak really easy to carry around. At 19 lbs it is very light.

This is a great kayak for someone without much storage space and who needs to use a bus or other public transportation to get to the water or if you want a kayak that is easy to take along on a trip.

Hull Design and Construction

The hull is made from PVC and has 5 air chambers. 2 main hull chambers, 2 small floor air chambers and a seat back air chamber. The hull has quick fill air valves making inflation easy and quick. This is a sit on design kayak and there are multi-position footrests in the floor air chambers. The carrying backpack functions as an adjustable molded foam seat. There are 2 skegs built into the bottom to help with tracking.

Going For A Paddle

The Sevylor Quikpak K1 kayak paddles okay. Tracking is not great since skegs are small and the kayak is not that stiff. The kayak is not very rigid so it will feel like it is bending over and around every wave. The kayak claims a 400 lb weight limit. If you are on the heavier end of the weight scale the kayak will flex and bend quite a bit lifting the bow and stern out of the water making the tracking worse. The highlight of this kayak is portability and for that it is great. It won’t paddle as well as a hardshell kayak or an inflatable kayak that has more structure to it or removable skegs.

Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 8 ft 7 in
  • Width: 3 ft 0 in
  • Weight: 19 lbs
  • Max capacity: 400 lbs
  • Stored Dimensions: Fits in included backpack
  • Hull Construction: 21-gauge PVC construction – 5 air chambers – 2 hull, 2 floor, 1 seat

What we liked

  • Carrying backpack that doubles as the kayak seat
  • Complete package including kayak, seat, paddle and pump
  • Molded foam seat that is part of the carrying back
  • Compact lightweight design

What we didn’t like

  • Doesn’t track as well as other kayaks
  • Paddle could be more rigid

7 – Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Best Cheap Inflatable kayak

Summary

The Intex Explorer K2 kayak represents a really good value for an inflatable tandem kayak. It has a 3 chambered vinyl hull with inflatable seats. It is really good for paddling around in sheltered waters like small lakes, bays and streams. It is a great low cost way to get out on the water.

Hull Design and Construction

The hull is a 3 chambered design made of heavy duty vinyl. It has an inflatable I-Beam in the floor similar to other 3 chambered inflatable kayaks. It has one removable skeg to help with directional stability and gliding. The seats are inflatable.

Going For A Paddle

The Intex Explorer K2 has enough room for 2 adults. It has a weight limit of 400 lbs but many users say it works well for them even though they exceed that weight by quite a bit. The kayak feels stable and has a tendency to flex and float over waves. It has good directional stability while paddling. It can tend to drift and spin a bit when coasting even with the skeg because of it’s short length.

Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 10 ft 3 in
  • Width: 3 ft 10 in
  • Weight: 35 lbs
  • Max capacity: 400 lbs
  • Skegs: 1 removeable
  • Stored Dimensions: 22 x 15 x 11 inches
  • Hull Construction: Heavy Duty Vinyl – 3 air chambers

What we liked

  • Low cost
  • Stable on the water
  • Heavy Duty Vinyl construction
  • Self bailing design

What we didn’t like

  • Only good for sheltered water like small lakes and bays
  • Intex customer service is not great if you have issues

8 – Intex Challenger K2 Kayak

Summary

The Intex Challenger K2 kayak is a great value for getting out on the water and having fun for a low cost. The Challenger has an innovative 2 chamber hull design of vinyl construction. Thanks to it’s skeg and adequate length it has good paddling and gliding ability.

Hull Design and Construction

The hull is a 2 chambered design made of heavy duty vinyl. It has one large hull side chamber and a separate floor chamber. The floor chamber features an I-Beam for rigidity. There is one removable skeg to help with stability. The seats are an inflatable design.

Going For A Paddle

The Intex K2 can be a bit cramped for a larger adult paddler which goes along with it’s 400 lb weight limit. Once on the water it paddles and glides very well thanks to its length and skeg. It has the typical characteristics of most inflatable kayaks such as floating and flexing over waves.

This kayak is also available in a 1 person version, the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak. It is great for those looking for a good cheap 1 person kayak.

Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 11 ft 6 in
  • Width: 2 ft 6 in
  • Weight: 33 lbs
  • Max capacity: 400 lbs
  • Skegs: 1 removeable
  • Stored Dimensions: 27 x 18 x 11 inches
  • Hull Construction: Heavy Duty Vinyl – 2 air chambers

What we liked

  • Very Low cost, High value
  • Stable easy to paddle design with decent glide
  • Single Chamber Hull with Inflatable I-Beam floor

What we didn’t like

  • Good for calm flat water only
  • Durability of vinyl material

9 – Sea Eagle 330

Summary

The SeaEagle 330 SE is an excellent value inflatable tandem kayak to get out on the water and to explore up to class 3 white water rapids. It is a very stable design and made of rugged enough material to withstand light bumps into rocks and other obstacles.

Hull Design and Construction

This inflatable kayak is constructed of 33mil PVC. The hull is made up of 3 air chambers. A left, right side and floor. It claims to be tough enough to handle dog claws. The floor is made from an inflatable I-Beam for extra rigidity. It has removable inflatable spray skirts and 2 removable inflatable seats. It has a drain valve but it is not self bailing.

Going For A Paddle

The Sea Eagle 330SE has room for 2 adult paddlers. It’s weight limit is 500 lbs so if you are a couple of large people you may be better suited to the Sea Eagle 370. This hull has a tendency to ride over waves and flex rather than pushing through anything. This makes it feel a bit slower than a traditional rigid kayak. This is also gives it a stable feel for even novice paddlers to feel comfortable with going through rapids. Going through rapids up to class 3 feels like a breeze due to the stable nature of this kayak.

Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 11 ft 2 in
  • Width: 2 ft 10 in
  • Weight: 26 lbs
  • Max capacity: 500 lbs
  • Skegs: 2
  • Stored Dimensions: 31 x 19 x 8 inches
  • Hull Construction: 33 mil PolyKrylar (K80 PVC) – 3 hull chambers

What we liked

  • Rugged PVC construction
  • Flatwater up to Class III whitewater usage
  • 500 lb capacity

What we didn’t like

  • Cramped for 2 large adults
  • No foot rests

10 – Driftsun Voyager 2

Summary

The Driftsun Voyager 2 inflatable tandem kayak is an great way to enjoy being out on the water. It is a durable kayak built from quality materials with very comfortable foam seats. It has a high enough weight limit to hold 2 adults comfortably with some extra gear. It is an excellent all around tandem inflatable kayak.

Hull Design and Construction

The hull is made from PVC material with a Nylon cover on the top. It is a 3 chamber hull (2 sides and 1 bottom) with I-Beam channels on the bottom for extra rigidity. The seats are high quality EVA foam and are adjustable for different sized paddlers. There is a single removable skeg to help with tracking and paddling stability.

Going For A Paddle

This kayak is big enough to be comfortable for a couple 225 pound adults without a lot of extra room. It is stable and tracks well with the quick release skeg attached. It is a very enjoyable kayak to use for a couple hours paddling around a lake or relaxing down a stream.

Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 10 ft 0 in
  • Width: 2 ft 11 in
  • Weight: 27 lbs
  • Max capacity: 450 lbs
  • Skegs: 1
  • Stored Dimensions: 26 x 16 x 8 inches
  • Hull Construction: Heavy-duty PVC Tarpaulin Bottom, 840D coated nylon oxford fabric top cover – 3 air chambers

What we liked

  • Lightweight, easy for 1 person to carry
  • Stable kayak that tracks well
  • Comfortable EVA foam adjustable seats
  • Easy inflation and setup

What we didn’t like

  • Questionable durability
  • 2 larger adults using it together may find it cramped

Inflatable Kayak Guide

There are several things to consider when choosing an inflatable kayak. Where do you plan on using it? What kind of water do you want to use it in? Do you want to fish with it? How much weight do you need it to carry? I’ve answered all of these questions for you in the section below.

Materials

Inflatable tandem kayaks can be made out of several different materials. PVC is the most common. PVC is a lightweight durable plastic material that is commonly used in many marine inflatables.  PVC is a good choice for inflatable SUP construction because it can be easily thermobonded into the hull shape and the core.  PVC is typically used in the form of a laminate for extra strength and abbrasion resistance compared to a single layer.

PVC can be constructed in what is known as “Drop Stitch” that creates a very rigid thin structure after inflation. Dropstitch is ideal for floors and hulls of touring kayaks where a long rigid kayak is desired.

The downsides to PVC is that it is UV sensitive and will degrade over time if left out in the sun too much. It is less abrasion resistant than other materials.

Vinyl can be used for kayaks. Vinyl is one of the feed components of PVC. Vinyl by itself is a more stretchy, less durable material than PVC. It is only used in very inexpensive kayaks. Vinyl kayaks are still a very good value. They will not last as long as a PVC or Hypalon kayak.

For more information on inflatable kayak materials click here.

Weight

Most inflatable kayaks weigh between 19 and 50 lbs.  There is a lot of variation in kayak lengths and construction. A longer kayak made with dropstich panels will weigh more than a shorter kayak made of open air chambers. One person can easily carry a 25 pound kayak by themselves. A 50-60 lb carry bag will get heavy quickly.    

Length

Common inflatable kayaks tend to be between 9 feet and 16 feet long.  A generic kayak tends to be about 9-12 feet long. Some are a little shorter. Touring tandem kayaks tend to be around 15 feet long. Longer length kayaks glide and track better so are preferred if your going to be kayaking long distances.

Weight Capacity 

Most inflatable kayaks have a weight capacity between 250 to 600 lbs. Some can go higher. You should consider how heavy you and your paddling partner are and how much gear you want to carry when selecting a kayak.

Advantage Of An Inflatable Kayak

Inflatable kayaks offer many advantages over rigid kayaks.  The 2 biggest advantages are that they are easier to transport and store.

Lightweight

At 20 to 60 lbs almost anyone can carry an inflatable kayak.  Most come with a carrying case that make them very easy to carry around.  You don’t need to worry about finding a parking space really close to the water. If you’ve got a heavier touring tandem kayak you might want to think about parking and carrying a bit more.

Storage

A 13 foot long rigid tandem kayak requires some garage space or creativity to store inside an apartment.  An inflatable tandem kayak rolls into a very compact package that can easily fit in a basement, garage or closet.

They Go Anywhere

An inflatable kayak is so easy to transport so you can take it virtually anywhere.  They can go to the beach. Any small lake you want to explore.  The possibilities are endless for where you can go. 

For a more detailed look see our article on rigid vs inflatable kayaks.

inflatable kayaks on a river

Inflatable Kayak FAQ 

Q: How Do I Inflate a kayak?

You hook up a handpump to the kayak and pump it up to the specified pressure.  Most pumps have a pressure meter on them so you can tell how much air to put into it. Dual action pumps (They pump air in on the up and down stroke) make pumping up your kayak a lot faster.  It takes about 10-15 minutes to hand pump most inflatable kayaks.

An electric pump can take the work out of inflating and deflating an inflatable kayak. See our guide to the best inflatable paddleboard pumps for some suggestions.

Q: Do I need To Wear A PFD While Using A Kayak?

That one is up to you and what you are comfortable with. I personally almost always wear one. If it’s really really calm and hot out I might take not where it but I will always have it with me. The laws for PFD’s and kayaks vary from state to state. Many require that you at least have a US Coast Guard approved type 3 PFD with you. To real more about PFD’s and kayaks click here.

See our guide to the best kayak life jackets for some good suggestions.

Q: Are Inflatable Tandem Kayaks Durable?

An inflatable kayak can be more durable than a rigid kayak because they can bump into rocks or branches without getting a permanent dent.  They can be cut if you hit them hard enough with a sharp enough object.  They are much more durable to small impacts.  If properly cared for the PVC or Hypalon material can last for many years. 

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selfie for info block

About the author

My name is Doug Ryan. I am an outdoors enthusiast always looking forward to my next adventure. I spend as much time skiing, biking, and paddleboarding as I can. I decided to start Endless Rush Outdoors as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for all things outdoor adventures and to help other people have as much fun as me.

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