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The Best Inflatable Kayaks Under $500 Of 2023 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.

☆ Top Pick

☆ Top Pick

☆ Best Value

NIXY Tahoe product image

NIXY Tahoe

Sea Eagle 370 Pro

Sea Eagle 330 Pro

Below is a table of all my recommended pics. Keep reading below for reviews and inflatable kayak guide.

  1. TOP PICK: Sea Eagle 370 Pro
  2. TOP PICK: NIXY Tahoe
  3. BEST VALUE: Sea Eagle 330 Pro
  4. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame
  5. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak
  6. Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak
  7. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
  8. Intex Challenger K2 Kayak
  9. Driftsun Voyager 2

The 9 best inflatable kayaks under $500

Here are the 9 best Inflatable kayaks under $500 to help you find the very best kayak for you this summer. We considered features, price, performance, and user feedback in making our recommendations.

1 – NIXY Tahoe Inflatable Kayak

☆ Top Pick
NIXY Tahoe product image

Specifications

  • Size – 12′ 6″ x 39″
  • Weight – 33 lbs
  • Max Capacity – 2 people (600 lbs)
  • Hull construction – PVC with drop stitch floor

Highlight Features

  • Drop stitch floor for more rigidity and better performance
  • Includes NIXY G4 accessories including carbon paddles, deluxe 3 wheeled bag and triple action pump
  • Great for any adventure

Summary

The NIXY Tahoe Inflatable Kayak is the latest product from one of our favorite brands NIXY. NIXY is run by a couple of water sports enthusiasts. They design paddleboards and kayaks to be what they would want to use themselves to get maximum enjoyment from their time on the water. The Tahoe is priced a bit over $500 but it’s absolutely worth the stretch.

The Tahoe kayak has a drop stitch floor for extra stiffness. The 2 seats have more padding than what typically comes with any cheap kayak. They include a kayak version of their excellent G4 carbon fiber paddle.

The Tahoe has excellent tracking on the water and easily holds 2 adults. They threw in enough accessory mounts so you can use the Tahoe for any kind of adventure.

What we liked
  • 600 lb capacity
  • Drop stitch floor makes it feel more like a rigid kayak
  • Carbon fiber paddles that are light and stuff
  • Heavy duty carrying bag with 3 wheels and lots of pockets and D-Rings
  • Triple action hand pump for faster inflation
  • Lots of Scotty mounts for fishing and accessories
What we didn’t like
  • Priced a bit over $500 but worth it
  • No single version available

2 – Sea Eagle 370 Pro

☆ Top Pick

Specifications

  • Size – 12′ 6″ x 2′ 10″
  • Weight – 32 lbs
  • Max Capacity – 2 people (650 lbs)
  • Hull construction – 38 mil PolyKrylar (K80 PVC)

Highlight Features

  • They are great fun for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. With a lightweight design and efficient hull shape, the Sport Kayaks are swift paddling boats and easy to handle for young or old alike.
  • Sea Eagle Sport Kayaks pack to a fraction of their inflatable size, can be carried almost anywhere there is water and set up in less than 10 minutes!

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. It is a very stable design and made of rugged enough material to withstand bumping into rocks and other obstacles. This inflatable kayak is constructed of 38mil PVC. The hull is made up of 3 air chambers with removable spray skirts and 2 seats. It has a self bailing valve to get the water out. 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.

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

3 – Sea Eagle 330 Pro

☆ Best Value

Specifications

  • Size – 11′ 2″ x 2′ 10″
  • Weight – 26 lbs
  • Max Capacity – 2 people (500 lbs)
  • Hull construction – 33 mil PolyKrylar (K80 PVC)

Highlight Features

  • Our lightest, most portable kayak is America’s most popular, the versatile Sea Eagle 330. It weighs just 26 lbs. and packs down small enough to fit in the smallest car trunk
  • 330 Pro Kayak Package features two movable, super comfortable Deluxe Kayak Seats for improved back support and 2 paddles, foot pump, and carry bag

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. It is smaller and lighter than the Sea Eagle 370 and easier to paddle solo while still being able to work as a tandem. It 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. It comes as a complete package with 2 seats, paddles and pump.

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

4 – Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak

Specifications

  • Size – 10′ 5″ x 2′ 8″
  • Weight – 36 lbs
  • Max Capacity – 1 person (300 lbs)
  • Hull construction – PVC Tarpaulin laminate material 

Highlight Features

  • High support, adjustable padded seats provides comfort for hours of paddling
  • Built-in aluminum ribs define the bow and stern and improve tracking
  • Durable 3-layer construction for extreme puncture resistance

Summary

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 kayak for someone who wants the performance of a rigid with the portability of an inflatable. The hull features a 3 layer vinyl polyester PVC laminate for toughness and durability. The floor is an inflatable I-Beam. There are 2 optional floors available to add more stiffness if that is desired. This kayak tracks well. Its performance on flat water is very similar to a rigid kayak even without the optional floors.

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
  • Does not include paddles or a pump

5 – Intex Excursion Pro Kayak

Specifications

  • Size – 12′ 7″ x 3′ 1″
  • Weight – 39 lbs
  • Max Capacity – 2 people (400 lbs)
  • Hull construction – 3 ply PVC laminate

Highlight Features

  • Super tough laminate PVC with polyester core: Lightweight and highly resistant to damage from abrasion, impact, and sunlight
  • Includes 2 removable skegs for deep and shallow water, 2 floor mounted footrests, 2 integrated recessed fishing rod holders, 2 adjustable bucket seats
  • Storage space in bow and Stern with stainless steel d rings for tying down Dry bags and gear; Kayak total weight capacity: 400 pounds

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. It has removable footrests which is a feature not found on many inflatable kayaks. 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.

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

6 – Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak

Specifications

  • Size – 8′ 7″ x 3′ 0″
  • Weight – 19 lbs
  • Max Capacity – 1 person (400 lbs)
  • Hull construction – 21-gauge PVC

Highlight Features

  • 5-minute setup lets you spend more time on the water. Innovative easy-to-carry backpack system turns into the kayak seat
  • Multi-position foot rest built into the hull let you easily find your most comfortable stable kayaking position

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 and portable. The kayak paddles okay. Tracking is not great since skegs are small and the kayak is not that stiff. 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.

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

Specifications

  • Size – 10′ 3″ x 3′ 10″
  • Weight – 35 lbs
  • Max Capacity – 2 people (400 lbs)
  • Hull construction – Heavy Duty Vinyl

Highlight Features

  • Comfortable for anyone – Kayak includes an adjustable inflatable seat with backrest; Cockpit designed for comfort and space
  • Increased visibility – In case of emergency, bright yellow color helps visibility
  • Made for smaller bodies of water – Explorer k2 is made for smaller bodies of water including lakes and mild rivers

Summary

The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak represents a really good value for an inflatable tandem kayak. It is one of the most popular and low cost kayaks on Amazon. 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. 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.

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

Specifications

  • Size – 11′ 6″ x 2′ 6″
  • Weight – 33 lbs
  • Max Capacity – 2 people (400 lbs)
  • Hull construction – Heavy Duty Vinyl

Highlight Features

  • The Intex Challenger K2 Kayak is sporty and fun with a streamlined design for easy paddling. The bright green color and sporty graphics make the kayak highly visible in the water.
  • Made with rugged, super tough vinyl that’s puncture and UV damage resistant for long term durability

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. 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 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.

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 – Driftsun Voyager 2

Specifications

  • Size – 10′ 0″ x 2′ 11″
  • Weight – 27 lbs
  • Max Capacity – 2 people (450 lbs)
  • Hull construction – Heavy-duty PVC Tarpaulin

Highlight Features

  • SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE – Rocker profile and pointed nose entry (bow) delivers excellent performance in both calm and choppy waters, Removable deep fin provides responsive tracking, rear drain plug for easy draining/cleaning
  • DURABLE DESIGN – Heavy-duty PVC Tarpaulin bottom provides durable protection from punctures, Double Threaded Boston valves are guaranteed not to leak, and tough 840D coated nylon oxford fabric top cover is rip and tear resistant.

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. The hull is made from PVC material with a Nylon cover on the top. There is a single removable skeg to help with tracking and paddling stability. 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.

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 – What to look for

There are several things to consider when choosing an under $500 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 abrasion 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. Drop stitch is ideal for floors and hulls of touring kayaks where a long rigid kayak is desired.

The downside 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.

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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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