Updated: May 29, 2015

Inflatable Boat/Kayak/Raft/Canoe Reviews:

Growing up I used to take out our families inflatable raft to a nearby lake but it always was a hassle to blow up and leaks were very common. Today, inflatable boats, rafts, kayaks and canoes are made with more durable materials so they don't puncture so easily and overall construction is better than ever. Inflatable kayaks and canoes are fun to take out on slow running rivers and streams and rafts are great on lakes. Recreational inflatable kayaks and rafts are more popular than ever since pricing has come down considerable in the last 10-15 years with better production methods and efficiency. Zodiac inflatables and Sevylor are some of the most popular brand names in inflatables since their prices are low and they offer a quality product. We have seen Sevylor inflatable kayaks, canoes, and boats in our local sporting goods stores and they are affordable and get good customer reviews. Which type of inflatable boat is best for you? What features should you look at when buying one? Keep reading below to see what we found.
inflatable boats


You first need to determine what you will be using your inflatable boat for. Some people need smaller inflatable boats to get from their yacht to the shoreline (called tenders or dinghies) and others just want to paddle down the local river in an inexpensive kayak. Try to find a reputable dealer in your area and then check out what type of inventory they carry. The Rigid inflatable boats (RIB) are the most durable inflatable boats on the market with outboard motors. Zodiac and SeaEagle make some of the best RIBs so start with those manufacturers when you are looking. The obvious features you want to find are boats/kayaks that are stable on the water, maneuverable, comfortable, have double hull construction for a rugged and durable finish. Inflatables that inflate quickly and are easy to carry and put into vehicles are the ones you will use more often. We read lots of reviews on inflatable kayaks and canoes by people who never use them due to poor portable and setup issues. Some inflatables are geared towards beginners while others are for seasoned veterans. Ask the salesperson at the shop you buy from what they recommend in terms of your boating experience. It's ok to research inflatables online, but don't purchase anything online unless you have already talked with a professional about what type of inflatable boat best fits your needs. Pricing is all across the board, but a decent Sevylor kayak might be $150 while the 2-person canoes are more like $350. The Zodiac Cadet 310S which is a nice inflatable boat will run about $1500. Families are better off with one boat (easier to keep track of everyone) than each person having an individual kayak. If members of the family are experienced on the water, then perhaps individual kayaks is something to consider as your children get older. A good 2-person canoe is a fun way for kids to get used to paddling while still being safe with mom or dad as the main oarsman. Some fisherman use inflatable kayaks for traditional fishing or fly fishing on calmer rivers, streams, and lakes. Inflatable boats are very portable and they maneuver quite well with V shaped hulls. We found some excellent reviews of inflatable rafts/canoes/kayaks/boats on sites like Flyfishinggear.info, Amazon.com, Paddling.net, and Sit-on-topkayaking.com. We have tried to list some of the more popular products in each category below with pricing, descriptions, and websites where you can find out more on the manufacturers. You can browse the top selling inflatable kayaks and boats online here.

Best Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB):

Rigid inflatable boats are often referred to as rigid hull inflatable boats and you may see the acronym RHIB (or RIB) in articles online and in boating magazines. RIBs are powerboats fitted with inflatable tubes or collars. Rigid inflatable boats are not only versatile but they are almost unsinkable. They have many uses from being used as rescue boats to being relegated to yachts as their tenders. Zodiac and Sea Eagle are two of the leading names in this category. The Zodiac Pro RIB is an all purpose boat that comes in options for carrying 7, 9, 12, 15, and 20 passengers. The long shaft outboard motors can put out 50 HP or more on some of the models. The smaller Zodiac Zoom SR, Yachtline Deluxe, Yachtline RIB are other options. A Zodiac Pro 9 Man with Yamaha 50 HP 4-Stroke sells for around $20,000. You can find out details on all the Zodiac inflatable boats online HERE.

Best Inflatable Boat:

If you are just looking for an easy going inflatable boat that will get you to shore from your yacht or want something for smooth going on the open water, take a look at the SeaEagle inflatable boats. The SeaEagle 9.2SR ($1300) is a great "value buy" as noted by many customer testomonials on this model. The SeaEagle takes 4 passengers with a maximum payload of 1000 lbs. The 9.2 Sport Runabout can carry up to a 10 HP engine and it will go about 18 MPH with 1 to 2 passengers. Standard features include plastic floorboards (good durability and strength), 6" inflatable keel, rounded rear pontoons for excellent buoyancy, splash guards on the transom, and it's made with 1000 Denier reinforced. Reviews say it's easy to assemble, very portable, offers good performance, is quite stable, gives you responsive handling, and has superior durability. Several experts said the SeaEagle 9.2 SR is a well designed and very affordable inflatable boat that should be considered. The SeaEagle collection of inflatable boats is on the web for you to see HERE.

Top Rated Recreational Inflatable Kayak:

Firstly, inflatable kayaks are often referred to as inflatable canoes. An inflatable kayak is not the same as a traditional kayak where you get strapped in and run down rapids and do tricks. A more recent use of inflatable kayaks has been for fishing purposes - both fly fishing and regular fishing. In this section, we wanted to list both a top inflatable fishing kayak and a river running or lake paddling kayak (inflatable). For recreational use, the Stearns Spree 2-Person Inflatable Kayak ($498) is a great choice since it's designed for flat water use. It's lightweight, portable, easy to inflate and deflate, and very maneuverable even for beginners. The 3 chamber design has a tarpaulin hull, mesh zippered pocket, elastic cord, D-rings, rolled backed spray deck and improved bow & stern which track quite well in calm water. The Stearns inflatable kayaks received excellent reviews in kayaking forums.

Best All-Around Inflatable Kayak (Fly Fishing and Recreational):

For a top selling fly fishing inflatable kayak, the Sea Eagle 340 Inflatable Kayak ($800) is your best choice. It not only offers the perfect fly fishing platform but you can take it in whitewater rapids rated up to Class IV. The 340X Explorer is versatile, durable and inexpensive compared to the competition. Anglers will love the portability of this inflatable kayak and it's overall stability on the water. It can handle up to 2 passengers and 600 lbs. Set up time is about 10 to 15 minutes with a manual air pump and the fabric is made with 1000 denier hull material for a tough finish. Owners say it tracks well on lakes and open water and paddling is a breeze.


Budget Inflatable Raft:

If you just want a basic inflatable raft to take out on your local lakes and streams, take a look at what Sevylor offers. Their products are sold in major sporting goods stores across the country and their quality is still good considering the cheap prices on their products. The Sevylor Super Caravelle Inflatable Boats range in price from $30 to $130 and make for great recreational fun. These family rafts can handle 2 to 5 people and they inflate easily so there is no wasting time. Some models come with pump and oars. For basic rafting, Sevylor has set the industry standard for affordable boats that will last. We found Sevylor boats/rafts at GI Joes, the local sporting goods store. If you go online HERE, you can find all the current models of Sevylor inflatable boats, rafts, canoes, and kayaks. See all the Sevylor inflatable boats here.

Inflatable Canoe:

In reviews, the Stearns Back Country Inflatable Canoe beats out the Rio by Sevylor and their Colorado 2-Person canoe as well. The Stearns inflatable canoe sells for about $330 (same price as the Sevylor Colorado) but reviewers say the design and overall comfort of the Stearns is superior to others on the market. Made with 600 Denier polyester and heavy-duty tarpaulin, the Back Country is solid and durable. Comes with a carrying bag and it inflates/deflates quickly. Owners say it works great on family camping trips where lakes are and the padded backrests make for a comfortable and enjoyable ride on the water. Amazon.com carries this model online and retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, The Sports Authority, and REI carry their brand. RECOMMENDED - We suggest looking into the Advanced Elements inflatable canoes and kayaks here. Owner reviews rate this brand higher than most others for quality and reliability.