Inflatable Vs Rigid Kayak: Which Model is Best for You?

I have been asked before if my inflatable kayak is really worth it. Well, it is, and if I am asked again, I would say the same. But is an inflatable kayak better than a rigid kayak? That one depends.

Why do I say so? Looking at an inflatable vs rigid kayak, every kayak has its merits and demerits. As such, and depending on your needs, the choice that you make depends on what suits your needs.

On a good day, and in line with where you are kayaking or how you kayak, an inflatable kayak will suit you. Even so, if you choose to go with a rigid kayak, that should again depend on what you are looking for.

Here are some of the similarities and differences between the inflatable and the rigid kayak that you should know of. Please take a look at them to make the best choice.


First, for the inflatable vs rigid kayak, there is a pretty big difference in stability. Most of the inflatable kayaks come with extended or wider bases. This is unlike their rigid counterparts that will have narrower bases.

Due to this type of design, inflatable kayaks are again stable in water compared to rigid kayaks. They won’t easily turn over if you were sitting in them. This isn’t true when it comes to rigid kayaks.

And because of this design, newbies will easily have a great time paddling the inflatable kayaks than choosing to go through with the rigid model.


Because of their hull designs, the rigid kayaks will easily provide the best control compared to the inflatable models. And for any pro paddler who loves high adrenaline areas, going with rigid kayaks will do well when you are looking at the extreme conditions. This is why these kayaks are ideal for both whitewater and ocean kayaking.

These kayaks make this possible since they’ll sit much lower in water and, as such, slice through the waves to track better.  The same cannot be said about the inflatable models since they want you to displace so much water to move to choose the direction that you need.


Inflatable kayaks are lighter. They are easier to carry. This is in comparison to the rigid kayak models. However, they aren’t weak. However, rigid kayaks, because they are made of hard materials with the real weight, are heavier and will weigh more. They are harder to move and require a car.

Even so, inflatable kayaks are strong. Some inflatable kayaks will even have a higher weight limit than regular traditional kayaks. So don’t be deceived into thinking that because they are light, the inflatable kayaks are weak.


Because inflatable kayaks can be deflated and packed in less bulky size, they are easy to transport. They will work better for trips and hardly takes so much space. More importantly, they are easy to set up as some models come with self-inflating inbuilt pumps.

The same cannot be said of the rigid kayak models. When it comes to these models, portability is an issue. They cannot be compressed, and that means carrying them around as they are or possibly towing them. They take space, require a roof rack to transport, and are bulkier than the other model.


For inflatable kayaks, there won’t be so much maintenance that is required as their hard-shell sisters would. Instead, you can only need to seal a leak once in a while. However, when it comes to rigid kayaks, there is much more maintenance, such as painting, waxing, and servicing the hardware.


When it comes down to cost, you don’t want to compare the two. For inflatable vs rigid kayaks, the inflatable kayaks are lower in price. That’s why they have enjoyed more popularity lately than rigid models.

On the other hand, the hard shell kayaks will cost more. This is because the cost of wood or fiberglass from which they are made is often on the higher side when compared to synthetic rubber from which the inflatable models are made of.


Due to their incompressible sizes, rigid kayaks will require more space when you set them up for storage. However, for the inflatable models, the only thing that you need to do is to deflate your kayak and then store them.

As such, the inflatable kayaks will take less space. They will be easy to store and will save you so much hassle.

Water Safety

General water safety will depend on your understanding of the boating rules. Even so, when it comes down to the type of kayak, it comes down to observing the weight limit, manufacturer’s instructions, and, more importantly, your kayaking location.

Make sure that your kayak is well built for your kayaking needs so that you remain safe irrespective of where you are.

Here, there is no much difference between the two kayaks. Today we have inflatable kayaks that can handle rough waters and rapid ride in the same way that the hard shell models can. So choose your kayak and take proper care of it.


When looking for an inflatable vs rigid kayak, your choice should rely more on what your kayaking needs are. Where do you kayak, which waters do you, love, how much storage space do you have for your kayak? How often do you travel with your kayak, and how best you transport your kayak?

Whichever designs you are comfortable with; you should choose a kayak that suits your needs. Even so, with poor care, inflatable kayaks will get punctured easily as opposed to their rigid counterparts.

That’s why it is important that when choosing your best option, you must focus more on a kayak model that allows you to save more but, at the same time, have an easy care and maintenance too.

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