Inflatable Whitewater Kayaks
Inflatable whitewater kayaks are uniquely designed to handle absurd amounts of adversity. Rough, rebellious rivers are not a problem anymore. More and more, kayakers are finding inflatable kayaks to be just what they need.
Check out our page on The Best Inflatable Whitewater Kayaks
Inflatable Whitewater Kayak Prices
You’ll find inflatable whitewater kayaks cost more than those for other uses. This is because the design must be more durable and resilient. Prices can range from around $100 to over $2,000. As with most things, quality increases with price.
Can Inflatable Kayaks Really Handle Whitewater?
You may be wondering if an inflatable kayak is really tough enough to handle rapids. The truth is they can. Providing you buy the right one!
The top-rated inflatable kayaks will employ rubber coatings and reinforced, low stretch fabrics. This design is similar to that used for whitewater rafts and also the Zodiac-type inflatables the military uses. It’s actually better than a rigid construction for handling rocks and other demanding uses.
At the lower-end, you could end up with fabric that isn’t reinforced and frankly not much better than a shower curtain.
Inflatable Whitewater Kayak Brands
There are a good number of reputable brands out there. Actually there are very few bad brands available. No retailer wants to be responsible for sending you down “Death River” in a piece of junk.
Here are some of the more-popular brands and some of their best models.
Hyside inflatable kayaks are at the high-end of the market but come with all accessories you’ll need. The Hyside Stinger is a formidable whitewater inflatable. It has a reinforced 2,520 dernier hypalon chafer hull and 1,680 on the tubes so it can take a fair amount of punishment. Unfortunately, at over $1,500 so will your wallet!
Sotar inflatable kayaks are high quality and are also priced at the higher end of the market. Expect to pay the better part of $2,000 for one of their classy designs, such as the Sotar Liquid SL. Why’s it so expensive? Well, on of the reasons is the reinforced hull. It features 3,000 dernier fabric when most infalatables have just 1,000. It’s also made from heavy-duty 40 oz urethane.
The company will custom build a kayak for you if so desired, though.
Both the Aire Lynx and Force IK kayaks perform well, even in the most demanding conditions. Paddlers especially love the Lynx 11 as it’s incredibly durable can can handle up to Class IV rapids.
Expect to pay around $1,000 for both of these models. Another favorite among whitewater kayakers that costs around half-the-price is the Aire Tributary Tomcat.
Sea-Eagles Kayaks are targeted more at the “budget” end of the market and are great entry-level kayaks. Still, many paddlers rate the Sea Eagle 330 as the best whitewater inflatable for the price. If you shop around you can get one for under $250 and it’s rated for up to Class III rapids.
The Sea Eagle 370 is around $50 more expensive, adding more capacity and the option of three people compared to the 330 which carries two.
Northwest River Supply (NRS) are one of the few manufacturers that make inflatable kayaks tough enough to handle Class IV rapids. Their “Outlaw” models have proved a big hit with whitewater enthusiasts. They feature a reinforced hull, five (and the not the standard 3) air chambers and a 38″ width for added-stability. Expect to pay around $700 for the Outlaw 1 and $900 for the Outlaw 2.
NRS also make a great whitewater inflatable kayak for kids, the “Rascal”. Unfortunately, it’s priced in the same ballpark as the Outlaws.
If you check out the Innova website, you’ll find some great stories on kayakers taking their inflatables and putting them through lots of punishment. Stand-out models are the Innova K1 / K2 which are Class IV self-balers and the versatile Innova Safari. The Safari (which is also self-bailing) can go on all types of water and class III rapids.
Advanced Elements have produced the “Attack” series of inflatable kayaks which are specifically for class I – III rapids. They’re self-bailers with included thigh straps which you really should need, but many manufacturer’s make you pay extra for. If you can get a good deal, a new Attack whitewater kayak should cost a little north of $500.
Always Do Your Research!
Always thoroughly research the river you intend to conquer. Some rivers aren’t meant for beginners. Others have stretches that must be portaged. There are sections of rivers that even experts don’t consider worth the risk. Keep a healthy and balanced idea of risk and safety in mind before heading out. You can find some great information on the website “American Whitewater”.
Once you’ve made your decision and purchase you’ll virtually be able to hear the rushing water in the background. Adventure is calling. Will you answer?