6 Best Inflatable Kayaks For Whitewater of 2020

Last update: Feb 27, 2020

Getting the best inflatable kayak for whitewater isn’t a hard task, we promise.

The key to simplifying this process is setting your realistic expectations because these rafts probably break down faster than the hard-shell and they’re harder to maneuver.

Here are the best inflatable kayaks for whitewater you can buy in 2020:

  • Best Overall: Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak
  • Best For Smaller-Framed People: Intex Challenger K1
  • Best All-Around: Intex Challenger K
  • Best For Irregular Waves: Sea Eagle 330 Pro
  • Highest Capacity: Sea Eagle 370
  • Most Durable: Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
Top 6 Best Inflatable Kayaks For Whitewater
Best Overall
Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak
    Read Our Review
    Best For Smaller-Framed People
    Intex Challenger K1
      Read Our Review
      Best All-Around
      Intex Challenger K
        Read Our Review
        Best For Irregular Waves
        Sea Eagle 330 Pro
          Read Our Review
          Highest Capacity
          Sea Eagle 370
            Read Our Review
            Most Durable
            Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
              Read Our Review

              Solo

              Best Overall: Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak

              Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak
              Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak
              9.6Outstanding
              Pros
              • Made of high-quality, puncture-protective materials to keep it stay intact against rough abuse
              • Can withstand whitewater rafting of class III and IV rapids easily
              • The bottom is solid enough that you can stand on it
              Cons
              • Wish the instructions included photos
              • The air pump isn’t the standard so you can’t use small batteries

              The highest scoring solo inflatable kayak is this Driftsun Rover 220.

              The unit has some major things going for it, namely its awesome puncture protection with its incredible stability. No matter it is on flat or rough water, or even class III and IV rapids of whitewater rafting, just count on this.

              You can even stand on this kayak because its floor is made of high-pressure drop stitch to feel extremely solid. For comfort and extra convenience, the seats, aside from being adjustable, can be easily converted from two to one-seater.

              Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak Specifications

              Length

              8.5’

              Deck Size

              36”

              Max Capacity

              300 pounds

              Inflation Time

              9 minutes

              Highlight Features

              A double layer of protection

              Capacity: 300 Lbs. / Inflation Time: 9 Mins. / Inflation Pressure: 3 PSI Side Tubes & 6 PSI Floor

              Verdict

              Thanks to the excellent workmanship and high-quality materials, the Driftsun Rover 220 is perfect for casual paddlers alike and thrill-seekers, no matter it’s on open flat water or rough white water.

              Best For Smaller-Framed People: Intex Challenger K1

              Intex Challenger K1
              Intex Challenger K1
              9.2Outstanding
              Pros
              • Streamlined design, smaller size, and low-profile deck – it’s perfect for smaller kayakers
              • Added with cargo net so you can store more gears
              • Comfortable backrest for extra comfort, especially if your back is prone to feel pain during hours of sitting
              • Get certification by the National Marine Manufacturers Association using ABYC standards so it ensures the quality and safety
              Cons
              • Get wet more easily because the water splashing on the bow channels is directly right into the kayak
              • The seat is a bit high

              Next, we’ve got this Intex Challenger K1.

              Because of its smaller dimensions and lighter weight capacity, it would be great for one small adult or kid. That said, the kayak is very durable and nimble. It is crafted from welded heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl with inflatable I-beam floor and two separate air chambers.

              The shining point is its streamline design that you can easily pedal and a low-profile deck that you can easily climb onto the kayak from the water. The inflation/deflation, on the other hand, can be done by one person.

              Generally, it’s a great solo inflatable kayak.

              And if you prefer some technical information, it is certificated by the National Marine Manufacturers Association using ABYC standards.

              Intex Challenger K1 Specifications

              Length

              108 inches

              Deck Size

              30 inches

              Max Capacity

              220 pounds

              Inflation Time

              5 minutes

              Highlight Features

              220-pound maximum capacity

              Durable welded material with eye-catching graphics

              Verdict

              Measured by 108 x 30 x 15 inches with a streamlined design and a low-profile deck, the Intext Challenger K1 is a perfect choice for smaller kayakers, especially mild rivers and experiencing lakes solo.

              2-Person Kayak

              Best All-Around: Intex Challenger K

              Intex Challenger K
              Intex Challenger K
              9Outstanding
              Pros
              • It can resist to UV damage and puncture for decent durability, longevity, and longer-lasting graphics
              • Built with Hard plastic skegs to go decently fast and track better
              Cons
              • The vinyl materials will get hotter in the sun, you should bring towels
              • A bit time-taking to inflate it -> you should equip an extra electric air pump

              If you’re too tall for the K1, this version would be what you are after.

              It is measured by 138 x 30 x 15 inches with wider cargo storage and two seats. But don’t worry, they are all adjustable and removable so you can convert from two to one seater if wanted.

              Besides, the max loading weight has been upgraded – up to 400 pounds and its materials are more durable, namely, its super-tough vinyl is now not only puncture-protection but also UV damage resistant.

              Regardless, its eye-catching appearance and streamlined design are kept the same, which is great.

              Intex Challenger K Specifications

              Length

              138 inches

              Deck Size

              30 inches

              Max Capacity

              400 pounds

              Inflation Time

              15 minutes

              Highlight Features

              Streamlined design

              Two 86 inch aluminum paddles and an Intex high output pump

              400-pound maximum weight limit

              Verdict

              If you’re looking for a reliable 2-person kayak designed with style, safety, and comfort in mind, this Intex Challenger K2 is an excellent choice.

              Best For Irregular Waves: Sea Eagle 330 Pro

              Sea Eagle 330 Pro
              Sea Eagle 330 Pro
              8.8Great
              Pros
              • Provide heavier weight capacity and sturdier construction to carry 2 tall & heavy kayakers better
              • It’s much more durable than the K2 to hold up well in rugged conditions, irregular waves, or Class III whitewater
              • Give no navigation problems, it’s full of control
              Cons
              • Not as fast as hard-sided kayaks

              Featuring 500 pounds of max load with solid durable construction, we assure you that this is a great selection for heavy kayakers.

              It is supposed to be more dependable and durable with the material strengths and design than the Intex K2, which means it can handle rugged use and irregular waves easily, especially in Class III whitewater.

              Many customers also praise for its super-sturdy material, which can hold up well even in saltwater.

              Our most favorite is you’re able to control better the kayak in open seas. That is proved through our testing that none of our testers complained about navigation problems in fast-moving water over tree trunks or rocks.

              Sea Eagle 330 Pro Specifications

              Length

              7’

              Deck Size

              30 inches

              Max Capacity

              500 pounds

              Inflation Time

              6 minutes

              Highlight Features

              2 person/500-pound capacity

              Weighs 26 pounds

              Features two movable

              Super comfortable Deluxe Kayak Seats

              Verdict

              Constructed with unbeatable strength, durability, and stability, the Sea Eagle 330 Pro is out top pick for rugged conditions, especially in irregular waves.

              3-Person Kayak

              Highest Capacity: Sea Eagle 370

              Sea Eagle 370
              Sea Eagle 370
              9.2Outstanding
              Pros
              • Can bear 650 pounds of max weight to carry 3 big people with their gear like a dream
              • Very lightweight and compact to be transported and used by one person
              • It gives better tracking capability with less effort than a hard-shell kayak
              Cons
              • The long pedals tend to brush against the boat’s sides – be careful
              • It’s a bit noisy when pedaling

              Not only in this category but the Sea Eagle 370 kayak also features the highest capacity in the market.

              With 650 pounds of max loading weight in addition to roomy seats and cargo storage, it is extremely ideal for 3 big guys with their gears but can be transported and used by one adult solo. All thanks to its ultra-lightweight construction.

              No surprise about how heavy-duty of this kayak as it’s like the signature point of all Sea Eagle products. It can handle rugged environments like Class III whitewater.

              And with 2 molded skegs, you can track it into 10 MPH gusting or 14 MPH breezes on board without much more effort than a hard-shell kayak.

              Priced around $300 for such wonderful performance, what else to ask?

              Sea Eagle 370 Specifications

              Length

              12’

              Deck Size

              30 inches

              Max Capacity

              650 pounds

              Inflation Time

              8 minutes

              Highlight Features

              650 lb capacity

              Weighs 32 lbs

              Suitable for up to Class III whitewater

              Verdict

              Are you big kayakers? No problem! The Sea Eagle 370 with highlights on 650 pounds of max weight (even provide you with roomy cargo storage) is a shining contender to take you anywhere.

              Most Durable: Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak

              Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
              Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
              9Outstanding
              Pros
              • It doesn’t deflate when one chamber is punctured
              • No leakage. It can hold up well in any rough waters
              • Block splashes efficiently to keep you dry
              Cons
              • Limited room – if you’re big guys, it might feel a bit uncomfortable

              To be more durable than Sea Eagle kayaks, it’s only the Sevylor Big Basin.

              It’s made of heavy-duty PVC materials that are NMMA certificated for strength and safety to use.

              Also, other components are pretty durable, such as the double-threaded Boston valve for easier setup, leak-free airtight system, multiple air chambers, and puncture-resistant Tarpaulin bottom.

              Our team testers particularly like the added spray covers. They help block splashes efficiently so you always feel dry when sitting inside this, unlike the Intex K1.

              Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak Specifications

              Length

              12’

              Deck Size

              39 inches

              Max Capacity

              490 pounds

              Inflation Time

              10 minutes

              Highlight Features

              NMMA certified to hold up to 490lbs.

              Inflated dimensions: 12 ft. 3 in. x 3 ft. 1 in.

              Heavy-duty PVC construction

              Tarpaulin bottom

              Multiple air chamber

              Verdict

              If your kayaker group loves conquering the roughest water, we highly recommend this ultra-durable Sevylor Big Basin.

              How To Choose The Best Inflatable Kayaks For Whitewater?

              Durability

              • As stated above, whitewater inflatable kayaks are weaker than the hard-shell so its durability should be your biggest concern when it comes to choosing this.
              • The materials are key.
              • It should be thicker and more puncture-resistant than normal inflatable models for extra durability as well as to handle harsh surroundings like rocks or other sharp objects. It would be better if the material is UV-protection as well.
              • Besides, look for a model built with multiple chambers so if one is punctured, the whole boat still keeps floating for safety.

              Stability & Maneuverability

              • They are the top requirements for any whitewater inflatable kayak. While faster maneuverability makes the boat move faster in the water, higher stability prevents it from capsizing or leaning to the side.
              • To get a sweet spot between two of these factors, size does matter.
              • If you plan to solo, go for a short and wide boat because its weight and edge will be centered better for quick turns.
              • As a 2- or 3-person kayak is naturally more stable than a solo because there are more people to steer so you just need to pay attention to its maneuverability level. A narrower kayak would be nice in this case because it is easier to control and quicker through the water.
              • But remember that a too narrowboat will be more likely to bottom-up whilst a too wide one makes the kayak slower and harder to control. Find a sweet spot between the length and width would be best.

              Which Brands Make The Best Inflatable Kayaks For Whitewater?

              Intex

              • For those who don’t know, this is part of a global family of companies with over 40 years’ expertise behind it. As it’s a big brand, you will benefit from their rock bottom price ranges but still get high-quality products with excellent customer services.

              Sea Eagle

              • Sea Eagle is our most favorite brand here. It was founded in 1968 specializing in making extremely good inflatable kayaks. This is a dependable address where you can get the most durable inflatable kayaks out there.

              Sevylor

              • The longest-standing brand in this list – Sevylor, which was set up in 1948 and apparently, it is now the market leader. Their products are always top-notch and unbeatable in terms of innovations, quality, and especially, the price.

              FAQs

              Are inflatable kayaks any good?

              Nowadays inflatable kayaks are leveraged in the materials and structure to be stronger, safer, and more durable than they were years ago. In comparison, it’s just as good as the traditional kayaks but way more convenient.

              Are inflatable kayaks more stable?

              Compared to the hard-shell kayaks, the inflatable is much more stable because it is specifically designed to hold up well against bumps and knocks. The best thing is if there’s in the event of a collision with hard surfaces and rocky terrains, it can bounce off.

              How long do inflatable kayaks last?

              7 to 10 years

              How can I make my sit-in kayak more stable?

              Here are some effective tips to help you sit more stably in a kayak:

              • Equip yourself more stroke techniques to work with a sit-on-top kayak will help you calmly handle different situations better, therefore, staying more stable
              • Understand your tipping points
              • ·Adjust the kayak seat, modify your kayak and add some foot pedals or ballast

              How far can you kayak in a day?

              It depends on different factors, such as the kayak types, the water conditions, your endurance, and your kayaking techniques. The furthest kayaked on a river within 24 hours is merely 350kms and on a racing boat, in 10 hours, the furthest distance is 100kms.

              Do inflatable kayaks tip over easily?

              There are three common reasons making an inflatable kayak top over easily:

              • Paddling into waves
              • You drop something into the water and try to pick it before it sinks
              • When trying turning your head and body to look behind you

              Conclusion

              In a nutshell, the best inflatable kayak for whitewater should always meet your demands and needs on fast-moving water.

              This is the end of this article.

              It’s your turn now! Thanks for reading and have a good time on the water!

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