While the art of kayaking evolved from the ancient use of canoes as a necessary form of transportation, recreational kayaking is a relatively easy and inexpensive water sport. It can be enjoyed in solitude or with friends. It’s also an effective calorie burning exercise. Kayaks can navigate a variety of waterways from lakes to rivers to canals. And you don’t need a lot of equipment to get started.
One of the best developments in the sport of kayaking is the introduction of the inflatable kayak. They’re a good choice if you’re new to the sport, because they’re typically wider than the traditional hardshell models, giving them greater stability in the water. Their wider width makes them harder to tip over. Both pros and amateurs alike can appreciate their convenience. Lightweight and easy to take with you, they can be deflated for easy transporting and storage. No roof racks or boathouse needed for these.
Here are some of our favorite choices.
The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is lightweight and compact with a spacious cockpit and designed for ease of paddling. There are two inflatable seats with backrests to keep you comfortable and supported. The bright yellow color makes you highly visible wherever you go, and the grab line and two grab handles on each side allow for easy gripping. Its rugged vinyl construction resists punctures, but it comes with an easy repair patch kit just in case. An inflatable I-beam in the center increases comfort and rigidity to keep you afloat, and two aluminum oars keep you moving. The removable skeg (like a rudder) enhances your directional capability. A Boston valve on each side and high output air pump (included) ensure quick inflating. It even comes with your own US Coast Guard I.D.
Bright and sporty
Get additional mobility on the water with the Intex Challenger kayak that is slightly longer and more narrow than the Explorer. Two separate air chambers add buoyancy. It’s made with the same Intex heavy duty vinyl that is puncture resistant, and the inflatable I-beam floor for rigidity. The bright green color and sporty graphics will make a splash, and this one comes with a handy cargo net on the bow. Two removable adjustable seats with back supports keep you out enjoying your adventure longer. Also comes with two 86-inch aluminum paddles to get you around, high output air pump, and repair patch kit for good measure. Folds down into a convenient carry bag.
Tough and versatile
This sturdy kayak has built-in aluminum ribs in the bow and stern to give you great tracking ability in the water. Adjustable padded seats unfold and attach, and three seat locations make it easy to go tandem or solo. Another perk is the customizable deck – a rip-stop fabric can be attached or detached in a number of seconds to give you open deck or closed deck options for both an individual or two people. Also features a spring valve and pressure relief valve in floor, skeg tracking fin, deck lacing to organize all your gear, and comes with a convenient duffle bag to fold up and carry everything for your new favorite pastime.
You can take up to three people down Class III whitewater in this inflatable kayak, but you don’t have to. Even though it can take on the tough water, it’s surprisingly lightweight and easy to handle even if you’re traveling solo. Its extra-thick rugged Polykrylar hull can withstand paws and claws so you can bring along your canine companion without worry. There’s plenty of cargo space and a convenient self-bailing drain valve that comes in handy if you take on water. Accessories include two asymmetrical blade paddles, foot pump, and carry bag. Sets up in less than 10 minutes so you can spend more time where you want to be – out on the water.
Navigates the serious whitewater
When tranquil lakes and calm canals don’t suit your mood, you can kick it up a notch with the Driftsun Rover that’s fully equipped to take you down the rapids. With reinforced layered PVC side tubes, a heavy duty PVC Tarpaulin bottom, and rigid high pressure drop stitched floor, you can feel secure when you face the waves. Adjustable high-back seats and footrests keep you comfortably in place. A nice extra feature is the adjustable aluminum paddles that can be customized to your best fit. Ample rocker profile delivers strong stability, and corrosion resistant hardware adds longer life to your kayak. Other pluses are seven rapid bailing self drain plugs (because you will take on water), plenty of tie-down points to secure your gear, and even a front action camera mount so you can record all your adventures and become a social media sensation.
Zac Jones is a contributing writer to Florida Travel & Life, an online brand that inspires active, affluent travelers, providing them with insider information on discovering the best of Florida. Informative and engaging, the website showcases travel destinations, arts and cultural venues, vibrant dining scenes, recreational activities, the great outdoors and the revitalized real-estate market. Zac is a former broadcast journalist, TV actor, voiceover artist, and executive producer. As a baseball aficionado, he enjoys rooting for Florida’s Tampa Bay Rays.