6 Reasons To Buy An Inflatable Kayak | Kayak Angler Magazine | Rapid Media
A person casting a fly rod from an inflatable kayak Photo by Lisa Ballard

Reach backcountry hotspots without breaking your back.

On a whim, my husband and I decided to drive from Montana to Colorado to check out several no-wake lakes rumored to hold cooperative fish. With a 10-hour drive on either side of the trip, we could only budget two days for fishing. To jump from one lake to another, we left our plastic kayaks and grabbed the inflatables. Easy to transport, simple set-up, rugged construction and smart rigging make modern inflatable fishing boats and boards popular for off-the-grid adventures.


On the Colorado trip, we could drive to the lakes but needed to carry our boats hundreds of yards across rough terrain to reach the best water. The primary advantage of inflatable kayaks is portability. For backcountry, hike-in excursions, there are super light models that weigh under 10 pounds and inflate in seconds.

For shorter trips, many inflatable models weigh less than a comparably sized polyethylene kayak and they pack into a trunk. Most inflatables come in a backpack or rolling duffle bag that is easy to walk or wheel to the water.

Be sure that the storage bag will also hold your paddle, PFD and pump. Ideally, the entire package should weigh less than 50 pounds so it can be carried by a single person or checked on an airplane.


Most inflatables come with a pump, but check how well the system works before hitting the trail. Multichamber hand pumps will move the most air. A foot pump can be easier to store but tougher to use.

If you’d rather fish more and sweat less and you’re not backpacking in, pick up an electric pump that is powered by your car battery. Use the pump to deflate the boat or board, too. It’s a good idea to take a hand pump on the water. Cold air or water can cause the air inside to contract and soften the boat.


Inflatable boards may have a hard keel, skeg, rudder or reinforced bow to improve performance. Use a longer 240-centimeter paddle to reach the blades past wide gunwales. Pedal- and motor-powered models are capable of covering more water with less effort, but they’re harder to pack and transport.


Inflatables tend to be exceptionally stable because they have wider beams. A low seating position further improves stability. Several models include a hard, rigid floor to make standup fishing easier.

The stiffest boats and boards use a drop stitch technology, which is made up of thin threads inside the air chamber creating a rock-hard internal structure. Multiple air chambers also improve stiffness and stability by condensing air into a smaller space.


Just like plastic kayaks and hard board SUPs, there are inflatables designed for fishing. Some have a metal or plastic frame to mount accessories. Others use glued-on accessory bases to accept rod holders and other gadgets.

I’ve seen inflatables with crates, anchors and electronics. Since the beauty of inflatables is ease of use, many anglers try to keep rigging to a minimum.


Watch your hooks! Just kidding. The best inflatables are made of almost indestructible PVC material that takes hundreds of pounds of pressure to puncture. Fish hooks and fish spines won’t do damage.

To prevent abrasion and tearing, high-impact areas are reinforced with additional layers of material. Inflatables are so tough, they are often the choice of anglers on rocky rivers with rapids. And you can take an inflatable kayak and SUP places you would never take a hard boat or board.

Inflatables used to be for paddlers who couldn't manage a plastic kayak. Now, new, more-capable boats are allowing anglers to take fishing to new places.

Check out these awesome inflatable paddlecrafts. 


Hobie i11s MirageDrive

Both board and kayak, this hybrid functions as a SUP or a sit-down open boat. Add the MirageDrive for extra range or stuff the i11s into a duffel for easy transport. Takes an electric motor, too.


BOTE Drift Classic

This is the first inflatable with a wood-inlay deck that looks chic and improves stiffness. BOTE added mounts for tackle racks

and coolers and a special sleeve that holds the paddle blade.

straight edge

Advanced Elements Straight Edge Angler

An aluminum frame improves stiffness making it easy to stand and providing a convenient place to mount accessories. Elevated, frame seat makes it easy to sit, too.



The lightest inflatable kayak in this lineup at just over seven pounds, this unique two-chamber design puts tougher fabric on the outside and lighter material inside. To save weight, the storage bag doubles as an inflation device.

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