Best Inflatable Kayaks For Whitewater

by Ben Jackson

It seems you’re searching for the best inflatable kayaks for whitewater kayaking. Fortunately for you, we’ve already set down these same rapids before, and when we did, we picked out five of the best options and went as far as to include why we think they’re the best.

So, whether you’re a newcomer to inflatable kayaks or just looking for an upgrade, take a peek at our choices below.

We also included a buyer’s guide and FAQ so that you can get informed on not just what makes the best inflatable whitewater kayaks but the best kayaks in general.

If you’re new to the world of kayaking then there may be some misconceptions you hold about inflatables, so we wanted to dispel them.

This way you can make an informed decision so that you’re not left without a paddle when trying to make your purchases.

In a hurry?This is our Winner!

Our Pick

Driftsun Rover Inflatable Tandem Kayak - Driftsun Inflatable White Water Kayak - Inflatable 2 Person Kayak for Adults with High Pressure Floor, Padded Seats, Action Cam Mount, Aluminum Paddles, Pump

Driftsun Rover 220

Our rating

Why it’s Our Top Pick

If the rapids can’t wait, then we have the best inflatable kayak for whitewater right here.

We chose the Driftsun Rover 220 for not compromising comfort for safety and looking good while doing it. See in detail why we chose this product below:

  • Very thick 1000D reinforced layered PVC side tubes with durable PVC tarpaulin bottom makes for a fortress of a kayak that can withstand whitewater up to Class III and IV rapids.

  • Rocker profile allows the kayak to achieve maximum stability and makes sure that you stay in control.

  • Safety and comfort are covered thanks to tie down areas for your equipment and adjustable aluminum seating with back support to eliminate cramping and bad posture when in use.

Best Inflatable Kayaks For Whitewater – Reviews

Bestseller No. 1
INTEX 68305EP Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak Set: includes Deluxe 86in Kayak Paddles and High-Output Pump – Adjustable Seat with Backrest – Removable Skeg – 1-Person – 220lb Weight Capacity
  • SUPER-STRONG – SuperStrong enhanced molecular formulation PVC provides superior strength and durability, ensuring high impact and abrasion resistance
  • LOW PROFILE DESIGN – The Challenger K1 has a streamlined low-profile design that is perfect for easy paddling in lakes and mild rivers
  • COCKPIT SEATS – Built with removable and adjustable seats, the cockpit design is spacious and comfortable, providing plenty of room for your legs and gear
  • REMOVABLE SKEG – Attached to the underside of the kayak, the removable skeg provides directional stability, making it easier to maintain a straight and steady course while paddling
  • 1-PERSON CAPACITY – Inflated size is 9 feet x 2.6 feet x 1.1 feet with a weight capacity of 220 pounds and easily foldable to be put in the carry bag that allows for easy transportation
Bestseller No. 2
INTEX 68307EP Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak Set: includes Deluxe 86in Kayak Paddles and High-Output Pump – Adjustable Seats with Backrest – Removable Skeg – 2-Person – 400lb Weight Capacity
  • EASY TRANSPORT – Lightweight and compact, this kayak is easy to assemble and, with the Boston valve, it inflates and deflates in minutes; paddles come apart and the pieces can be conveniently stored...
  • READY FOR ADVENTURE – Explorer K2 Kayak is great for experiencing lakes and mild rivers with a friend, this kayak is sporty and fun with a streamlined design for easy paddling, with the bright...
  • STABILITY – Made with rugged vinyl construction and built for performance, this sturdy kayak has an inflatable I-beam floor, a low-profile deck, and high-buoyancy side chambers for stability,...
  • 2-PERSON CAPACITY – The Explorer K2 is a two person capacity kayak with a 400 pound maximum weight capacity. When fully inflated the kayak measures at 10.3 feet X 3 feet X 1.8 feet
  • ADVENTURE ACCESSORIES – Includes two 86 inch kayak paddles, two inflatable seats with backrests, heavy-duty grab handles with grab lines, two quick-fill Bonston valves, high-output pump and one...
Bestseller No. 3
INTEX 68309EP Excursion Pro K2 Inflatable Kayak Set: includes Deluxe 86in Kayak Paddles and High-Output Pump – SuperTough PVC – Adjustable Bucket Seat – 2-Person – 400lb Weight Capacity
  • SUPER-TOUGH – 3-ply laminate construction combined with SuperStrong enhanced molecular formulation PVC provides superior structural strength and unmatched resistance to damage from abrasion, impact...
  • STABILITY and MANEUVERABILITY – High-pressure inflation provides extra rigidity and stability, with spring-loaded valves for easy inflation and fast deflation; the two removable skegs included...
  • STORAGE – Extra space in the bow and stern allows for storing any necessities for your adventure; stainless steel D-rings also allow the safety and ease of tying down dry bags and gear
  • 2-PERSON CAPACITY – Inflated size is 12.7 feet x 3.1 feet x 1.6 feet with a weight capacity of 400 pounds which can be used solo or tandem; easily foldable to be put in the carry bag that allows for...
  • ADVENTURE ACCESSORIES – Includes two 86 inch kayak paddles, two detachable fishing rod holders, one adjustable GoPro camera and mobile phone mount, high-output pump and one repair patch
Bestseller No. 4
Intex Dakota K2 2 Person Inflatable Vinyl Kayak and Accessory Kit with 86 Inch Oars, Air Pump, and Carry Bag for Lakes and Rivers, Gray and Red
  • Inflatable 2-person kayak is 10.25 feet long and comes with a pair of included 86-inch long oars, along with a quick-inflating air pump; Designed to comfortably hold up to 400 pounds
  • Designed for speed and agility in the water, this kayak features a dual-skeg system; Long skeg excels in maintaining straight-line tracking while the short skeg allows for quick and easy turns
  • Heavy-duty vinyl material is engineered to resist punctures, ensuring durability in challenging environments; Three separate air chambers and an inflatable I-beam floor provide added rigidity
  • Kayak is easy to handle in and out of the water, thanks to its thoughtful design; Features a convenient grab line and sturdy carry handles on the front and back, ensuring easy transport when inflated
  • Includes inflatable seats with backrests that are removable and adjustable; WIth 2 dry bags and a carry bag for carrying the kayak and accessories; Dimensions (L x W x H): 10.25 x 3 x 1.6 feet
Bestseller No. 5
Sevylor QuickPak K1 1-Person Inflatable Kayak, Kayak Folds into Backpack with 5-Minute Setup, 21-Gauge PVC Construction; Hand Pump & Paddle Included
  • 5-minute setup lets you spend more time on the water
  • Easy-to-carry backpack system turns into the seat
  • 21-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use
  • Tarpaulin bottom provides durable protection from punctures
  • Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated if one is punctured

Best Inflatable Kayaks For Whitewater – Buyers Guide

How to choose the best inflatable whitewater kayaks

When planning which kayak to use on your next excursion, you want to pick the most dependable one that will brave the worst whitewater you’ll come across. You can find inflatable kayaks that will fulfil these requirements.

There are so many possible options involved in choosing a kayak that it can get confusing for the average consumer who doesn’t know the specifics of the kayak market.

This guide exists to go over some commonalities in kayak specs so that you can make a more informed purchase about which kayak will be best for you. As always, when ordering online make sure that you’re either getting straight from a reputable supplier or at least check out the supplier first so that you don’t get a raw deal.

First, we should tackle the hull shape, something obvious that laymen can tell the difference between. Inflatable kayaks tend towards short and wide designs in order to perform on whitewater.

This is because most of the weight is then centered, allowing for quick turns and maneuverability. The more people any kayak seats, the longer it gets, so this can get difficult to maintain such a compact weight distribution to have this maneuverability.

This is why most of the products above are one or two person models, and we would only suggest a higher capacity one under the assumption that everyone riding it knows what they are doing.

With traditional kayaks, the hull is either flattened or rounded to achieve stability or speed respectively by cutting through or holding onto water friction.

Inflatables are often somewhere in between by virtue of their constructions but tend towards planing-hulled kayaks in terms of how they interact with water friction. This is because they have flatter bottoms and aim to be wider for much more stability, as previously mentioned.

A big factor in your choosing of inflatable kayaks will also be the portability. Hard-shelled kayaks simply can’t compete with a lightweight and portable inflatable.

You want a kayak that has this portability but is composed of thick enough material to still have durability. Carrying bags are also a useful feature for your chosen kayak to have since it makes them even more portable in ways other kayaks never could be.

Despite this high level of protection, punctures are always a possibility and it’s always good to know how to fix this problem. It’s also a good idea to look for a kayak that has multiple chambers as this will mean that if one of them is punctured, you’re still going to be able to float to safety.

Kayaking separates what we call Rapid Level into six different levels which, and this may surprise you, are delineated using the roman numbers of one to six, like so – I, II, III, IV, V, and VI.

Class I is stagnant lake waters that pose no challenge to a kayaker whereas V and VI are dangerous waters that should only be attempted with the most rigorous of safety precautions and expertise.

Some areas use a class before I, called Class A, which instead refers to stagnant lake waters and I then refers to still but flowing water. These levels are important to consider when looking at whitewater kayaks, as you should try and match your purchase to your intended excursion waters and any others you may want to attempt in the future.

 A good stopping point to buy for is V since that will qualify your kayak to handle most waterways in the United States.

It’s also good to have a kayak that is comfortable. You may not be overly concerned with kayak comfort in theory, but it’s one of those things where your body would feel it afterwards if your kayak encouraged an uncomfortable posture when you were in it.

Your body will punish you for a poor choice of kayak in this regard, so pick one that is adjustable without molded seats since they exist only to plague the lower backs of paddlers everywhere.

Contoured seating may be best if you have pre-existing back conditions. Adjustable kayaks have extra functionality to them since you can change seating position much easier, which can help maneuverability.

Fortunately for you, inflatable kayaks tend to have more give in them, and so more comfort, than harder-shelled kayak models.

The best safety feature is preparation. As a kayaker you’ll be at peace with the knowledge that you will keel over at some point when facing the rapids, so knowing what to do and what not to do is the best safety feature that you can take anywhere with you.

Having a life jacket to accompany your kayak will certainly not hurt, either. If you’re a beginner not yet adept at paddling, we would definitely recommend kayaks made for newcomers to whitewater sports since they prioritise safety over performance.

As for safety features of the product itself, the overwhelming majority of commercial kayaks should have grab handles as a priority so that it can be steadied if unstable.

An extra paddle will help, we’re sure you’ve heard the saying about being up a certain creek without a paddle, and we’re also sure that no kayaker wants that to literally be the case.

In the event of accidents which may compromise the integrity of your kayak, you’ll want a dewatering device that like a hand pump or even sponge to drain water from the interior.

Your inflatable kayak should absolutely have scupper holes as a dewatering system, since water finds its way inside inflatables much easier than hard-shelled kayak variants. If such accidents are serious enough to cause your kayak to capsize, you could also have throwbags to aid in getting yourself to safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do people kayak whitewater?

Kayaking has a bit of a reputation for being a dangerous activity, but that’s not wholly accurate. Technological advancements and the freedom of a wealth of information available to kayakers everywhere have ensured that the hobby has never been safer.

There’s a lot of reasons, such as the standard adrenaline and endorphin releases during and then after taking part in sporting activity. It also attracts people who love nature and are into other outdoor activities.

What makes an inflatable kayak suitable for whitewater?

With both ordinary and inflatable kayaks the difference between those you’d use on a lake and those you’d use on whitewater are its stability and durability. Whitewater kayaks need to be stable enough, which means wide enough, so that it will resist capsizing.

Width also allows it a great deal of agility in the water, too. The material these kayaks are made of must be as durable as possible since it will get challenged a lot more in whitewater than in other situations.

This is why we’ve vetted our suggested products to have a high level of build quality.

How are inflatables different from hard-shelled kayaks?

All kayaks are extremely similar products in a lot of ways, but the outward construction of the two are very different, with inflatables having higher walls and being higher to get more stability.

With hard-shelled kayaks, the upmarket, higher quality models will always be more durable than inflatables just by virtue of the difference in material. Hard-shelled kayaks also have an advantage as they are heavier, which means that they aren’t pushed around by the water as much.

The inflatables’ lack of such weight is an advantage in and of itself though, since it’s very portable and great for solo adventurers. They can be folded down and stored much easier than hard-shelled kayaks.

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