The #1 Best Inflatable Canoe & Kayak In 2018 [For All Types Paddling]

Looking to start paddling on a budget? Check out our 3-minute guide to the best inflatable canoes and kayaks, for 1 and 2 people.

Welcome to our 3-minute guide to the best inflatable canoes and kayaks.

If you’re looking for inflatable canoe or kayak, it’s because you’re looking at this as a recreational hobby.

The prices for traditional canoes and kayaks can reach $1,000 and beyond. But, what about us weekend warriors?

All you need to get started is a budget canoe, and that comes in the form of an inflatable.

In this quick guide we’ll recommend the #1:

  • 1-Person Canoe
  • 2-Person Canoe

First of all, we’re not about to recommend canoes that are $1,000. In fact, they’re nowhere near that. The two best inflatable canoes we’ve chosen are both under $200.

And, we’ve picked those that have great online reviews, as well as being suitable for both Whitewater and the Ocean.

Ready to start?

Wait, What’s The Difference Between A Kayak And A Canoe?

There’s a bit of confusion when it comes to the concrete difference between a kayak and a canoe.

Kayaks are typically shorter, more agile, and have a closed top. Paddling techniques are different, and there’s a paddle on both sides of the oar.

So, they’re catered towards those that want to hit Whitewater; hard!

Canoes are usually longer, and open top. The oar only has a paddle on one side.

Typically, they’ll be used in calm Whitewater, environments suitable for fishing like creeks, and the Ocean.

But, as weekend warriors, we want a bit of both, and that’s exactly what’s we’ve got for you below…

The Best 1-Person Inflatable Canoe

Intex K1 Challenger Canoe

The Intex K1 Challenger Canoe
The Intex K1 Challenger Canoe is the best 1-person inflatable canoe in 2018.

The Intex K1 Challenger is by far the most popular inflatable canoe and kayak on the market.

It’s a 1-person canoe that’s going to give you a lot of bang for your buck!

Size & Weight

Let’s face it, the Intex Inflatable canoe is cheap. And, that’s all good…

But, is it big enough? And, is it sturdy enough?

Inflated its 9′ X 2’6″ X 1’1″, so it’s a decent size.

That makes it agile enough on Whitewater rapids, but big enough that it offers enough stability on the open Ocean.

It’s just under 25lb. So, whilst it’s lightweight, it’s still got enough behind it to cut through the surf.

Maximum paddler weight here is 220lbs.

Seat

You’ll get an adjustable and removable seat. So, you can quickly turn the Intex kayak, into a canoe!

The inflatable seat is comfortable as standard, but with minor adjustments and the inclusive inflatable backrest, it’s about as comfy as you’re going to get on the water.

Storage

If you’re a true explorer, you’ll need storage. Whether you’re heading down the creek, or into the surf, you need to stash your gear.

Although there’s plenty of space on the inflatable floor, Intex K1’s have a built in cargo net that keeps your kit secure; especially if you capsize!

Rigidity

OK, so it’s one of the best inflatable kayaks and canoes, but how does that stack up against the real deal? 

Intex knew that making an inflatable kayak rigid, was going to be a challenge.

They’ve used two air chambers, as well as an I-Beam support across the floor.

And, that combined makes this feel rigid enough for both Whitewater and the Ocean, but flexible enough to maneuver too!

Durability

For those heading to Whitewater, there’s one problem with inflatable canoes; rocks and punctures.

The Intex 1-Person Challenger uses a puncture resistant vinyl.

That doesn’t just mean your day trip won’t be cut short, it means it’s going to last the test of time.

For worst case scenarios, there is a patch repair kit included too.

Price

The Intex 1-Person kayak lands in well under $100. It’s regularly on sale, and that means it’s much cheaper than many of the brands it’s fighting it out with.

What Does This Canoe Pack Include?

Like any new sport, canoeing and kayaking can get expensive. You buy one thing, only to realise you need another.

That’s why Intex have tried to bundle everything you need (related to the canoe itself) into their package deal.

Included in the price you’ll get a:

  • Aluminium 84-inch oar
  • Hand pump
  • Vinyl repair patch kit

Online Reviews

The Intex K1 Explorer is ridiculously popular. And no, I’m not making that up.

It’s rated as the best budget inflatable kayak and canoe selling online

It’s got over 1,500 product reviews.

Who Should Buy It?

This is the best inflatable canoe and kayak for those that:

  • Want cheap fun (who doesn’t?)
  • Paddle in Whitewater and the Ocean
  • Have a budget of under $100
  • Don’t have the transport (or cash) for fibreglass kayak
  • Need something durable

If you think you’re going to get a better inflatable canoe for the price than the K1, there’s a good chance you’re about to be disappointed 🙂

 

The Best 2-Person Inflatable Canoe

Intex K-2 Explorer
The Intex K-2 Explorer is the best 2-person inflatable canoe in 2018.

Jumping over to the best 2-person inflatable canoe, we actually have two options here:

So, Intex K2 Explorer, Or The Intex K2 Challenger?

The answer is simple.

If you expect to paddle in more Whitewater than the Ocean; pick the K2 Challenger kayak.

It’s more aggressive and better suited to this environment.

Prefer calmer and more predictable conditions, such as creeks and the Ocean?

You should be heading for the Intex K1 Explorer canoe – and that’s what we’re about to cover below.

Although it’s more suited to calmer conditions, that’s not to say it’s can’t handle Whitewater rapids!

Intex K2 Explorer Canoe

Size & Weight

I know you probably want a fibreglass canoe (even if you don’t have the budget). But, the problem here isn’t budget for the canoe, it’s transport.

The Intex K2 Explorer inflatable is transportable. You don’t need to buy a trailer, or hire a van.

And, once you get to your paddling destination, you can inflate it to a more than adequate 10’3″ X 3′ X 1’8″.

It weighs just under 35lbs. So, it’s heavy enough to offer stability in the water, but light enough to offer manoeuvrability (both in and out of the water).

There are grab handles on the front and rear, as well as a grab line around the boat. That makes it easy to get in and out of the water.

All that converts to a weight capacity of 400lbs.

Seat

Like the K1 Challenger kayak, it’s got an inflatable seat (for both paddlers this time). These are easy to remove, but they offer a tonne of stability in choppy conditions; so I’d leave them put.

Storage

Unlike the K1 Challenger, this isn’t a Canoe/Kayak hybrid; it’s canoe focused. So, Intex have ditched the cargo net. 

There’s more than enough space between your legs to stash a rucksack (or ideally, a dry bag).

Something in the 40L-50L range will fit nicely.

Rigidity

Unlike the K1 Challenger kayak, rigidity isn’t as important on calmer waters.

Anyway, for safe measure, Intex have incorporated the same I-Beam floor plan to offer that extra support.

And, it makes a huge difference. It will save you from capsizing if there’s a sudden transfer of weight from within the boat.

Durability

The inflatable Explorer K2 incorporates a high-quality vinyl and puncture resistant material.

For canoe paddlers, that’s important when dragging your boat out of the water, considering all your kit is probably still inside weighing the boat down.

Price

Naturally, the price for the 2-person canoe, jumps up from the K1.

RRP on the K2 Explorer canoe is around $150. However, it’s regularly on sale and can be purchased for less than $100 on occasion.

And, we think that’s an absolute steal. Especially considering its qualities rival that of some $500-1000 fibreglass canoes on the market.

What Does This Canoe Pack Include?

Grab your PFD (we’ve wrote a guide on the best canoeing PFDs here), and you’re good to go.

Alongside the canoe you’ll get:

  • 2 x 86” aluminium oars
  • A pump for inflating the canoe
  • Patch repair kit

Online Reviews

Like the K1, the Intex K2 stands out as being the best inflatable canoe range on the net.

Right now, there are heading for nearly 1,500 online product reviews.

Who Should Buy It?

Intex have put their stamp on the recreational canoe and kayak market.

If the following applies to you, the K2 Explorer should be at the top of your shortlist:

  • Budget of less than $200
  • Weekend paddling warrior, that wants bang for their buck
  • Don’t have transport for fibreglass canoes (or the budget to buy them)
  • Want to paddle down creeks, use for fishing, on light Whitewater and the Ocean (a true all-rounder)

 

What’s Next?

Thanks for reading our 3-minute guide to the best inflatable canoes and kayaks.

Whether you’re looking for a 1-person kayak, or a 2-person canoe, I hope this covered everything you needed to know.

Like what you’ve read so far? Bookmark our kayaking page and check back soon, as well as jumping on our email list.

Happy paddling!

Written by
Grant Draper

Grant's a motorcycle geek, outdoor enthusiast & confirmed racing nut. He road tests all the gear he buys, and then gives his feedback here on NoobNorm.

He also details any quick fixes he stumbles upon, whether that's to stop brakes on motorcycles sticking, or unusual noises coming from gaming wheels.

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Written by Grant Draper