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  • Kayaks – Inflatable Or Not?
  • Premier Icon DaveyBoyWonder
    Free Member

    Morning all. Thinking ahead to Christmas and for a family present me and the wife are thinking about getting a kayak – something we can take on local rivers on a weekend, take with us camping to the Lakes etc. But I’m a total novice and haven’t been in a canoe/kayak since I was a teenage in Sea Scouts.

    So I’ve got a few questions:

    – inflatable or not? The ability to pack down an inflatable appeals massively both for travelling with it and storing at home but I guess they’re not as durable as a “proper” kayak. Although I guess inflatables are/can be cheaper?

    – what should I look out for? Don’t want something you’d buy at a beach shop for £20 but want something thats not mega expensive.

    – should I look at used options? Guess used hard bodied kayaks are more sensible than a used inflatable?


    Premier Icon kayak23
    Full Member

    Inflatable ones are undoubtedly handy for packing down etc. If you’re only an occasional user and you paddle lakes and gentle rivers and are not planning on taking it down the Tsangpo gorge, then I’d say an inflatable will be fine.

    For flat water, a Canadian canoe is great as you can take more picnic, dogs etc but obviously that comes with transportation hassles.

    A friend has an inflatable and paddles alongside us in our Canadian. She keeps up fine. It’s a little trickier getting in and out of but hey, nothing wrong with it. It’s a cool little boat.

    Decathlon do them I think, otherwise I’d just go off reviews.

    Why not?. 😊 🚣

    Factor decent buoyancy aids into your budget too.

    Premier Icon alaric
    Free Member

    I’ve been kayaking for more than 30 years, having started, like you, in Scouts.

    I’ve had my own fibre glass or plastic boats for most of that time, and recently bought an inflatable from Decathlon.

    Inflatable pros:
    Easy storage and transport
    Can be configured for 1, 2 or 3 paddlers
    Very stable and has a high freeboard – my partner is a swimmer and can get in and out of the boat in deep water without flooding it

    Inflatable cons:
    The high sides and flat bottom mean that it catches the wind something rotten, I wouldn’t want to be out in high winds – and I’ve paddled in high winds regularly on the Medway Estuary in rigid boats without issue.
    It’s very wide, so developing good paddling technique is difficult.
    The construction on mine is rubber bladders inside heavy duty fabric, with 2 main pieces – the sides and a single skin bottom, then an inflatable base insert. These multiple layers make it a bit of a sod to get properly dry.

    If you’re buying an inflatable the Decathlon ones seem pretty good for value / function / longevity.

    Finally, if you’re both looking to learn / improve skills, a tandem isn’t necessarily the best way to do this.

    I’d suggest going to a few taster or training sessions to learn the basics / build on what skills you have and go from there.

    Equate this to what you’d say when a colleague who’s not ridden a bike for years asks what sort of MTB he should buy to get back in to it…Do you recommend DH, XC, Trail, Enduro, Trials or Gravel…

    Premier Icon TiRed
    Full Member

    We bought a pair of used Piranha Fusion rigids (£400 ea) (think XC/Trail). These are do-it-all boats and have been excellent on the Thames and I could tour overnight in one. We’ve previously used inflatables, but as said, they are rather wide and catch the wind. We live within walking distance of the water, which really helps. Son1 has a more extreme whitewater boat (think DH) – he keeps up, but I wouldn’t want to go far in it!

    So I’d say buy used rigid. There is also now a Fusion Sit on Top. Lower skills entry but as much fun. You’ll want a wetsuit though.

    Premier Icon DaveyBoyWonder
    Free Member

    Cheers – keep the suggestions coming. It’d not be used for anything crazy – paddling down the Yorkshire Ouse which is a slow moving, wide river and the odd lake but we’d never be far from the shore.

    Option of dog carrying ability might be good! I’ll check out the Decathlon ones as I’d heard a few good things about those.

    Premier Icon giant_scum
    Free Member

    I’ve had the Decathlon one for 5 years now.
    It’s excellent, though never thought about the width factor.

    As long as you have a garden you can disassemble it to dry it out.

    It is a heavy beast to lug about wouldn’t like to carry it too far, inflated or not!

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    All you need to know on here – https://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/index.php

    Premier Icon woffle
    Free Member

    We’ve got an old Advanced Elements tandem (Firefly?) in the loft somewhere. Haven’t used it for a good few years but it used to be grand for messing about in the mouth of the estuary on holidays. Packs down small which is a necessity when camping with kids, but as mentioned ^^, does rather catch the wind…

    Premier Icon jimfrandisco
    Free Member

    If you do have space to store a rigid kayak and the means of transporting it then I’d take that over an inflatable every time.
    Unlike a paddle board you’re unlikely to walk very far with it un-inflated so other than getting it on the roof there’s little difference in transport.
    We had a long loan of a high end inflatable double kayak and it was ok in the water but in the end we didn’t use it much as it was a faff inflating, deflating, drying out for storage etc.
    That and being on loan we were a bit paranoid about puncturing it!

    Since then we’ve had rigid double kayaks, single kayak and a Canadian canoe – If i had to choose just one it would be the canadian canoe by a mile. Heavy but just practical for a family and more fun to use in the winter.

    Premier Icon geomickb
    Free Member

    Doesn’t matter what your first boat is, you will soon end up with a fleet.

    I would say not an inflatable kayak, they catch the wind and you look too low to be comfortable or paddle effectively.

    We started with a secondhand canoe, great for family paddles, lakes and canals. There is a lot of technique you can learn which makes it interesting.

    iSUPs may also be an option, we just bought two and are loving them.

    Maybe kayaks, I would look at touring/crossover ones, not WW.

    Eventually you will end up with 1 canoe, 2 kayaks and 2 SUPs. 🙂


    Premier Icon poly
    Free Member

    Family present – How big are the family? one kayak may not be enough to be useful (I say this as the current owner of one kayak and a family!). For family paddling fun, its hard to beat a canadian canoe. The only issues are storage and transport (and to some extent cost!).

    Premier Icon the00
    Free Member

    We bought a Sevylor inflatable from Go Outdoors about 5 years ago. Use it maximum 10 times a year on flat water inland and at sea, 2 adults with small dog 83+70+15kg. It’s great for that. Can be paddled ok, very stable and surprisingly unaffected by strong breeze. Only drawback is sat very low, and the wide sides aren’t an ideal paddling position, but for just fun as a family it’s fine.

    Premier Icon the00
    Free Member

    Oh, just to add:
    dog has a buoyancy vest, and some neoprene socks to stops his claws damaging the inflatable base, which doesn’t have a fabric cover like the rest of the boat. It’s pretty high maintenance, a less excitable dog might be encouraged to sit on something.
    We use buoyancy belts.

    Premier Icon DaveyBoyWonder
    Free Member

    Sounds like an inflatable might be a good option still – like I said, its going to be for nothing serious or even that regular.

    Premier Icon winston
    Free Member

    A Gumotex Scout is a very good compromise for river and lake use, not so good on the sea though.

    Its a proper Canoe (single blade) and zooms along very nicely. No bladders, just a nitrilon skin so it dries out quickly and you don’t get the sandpaper effect of 2 layers rubbing on each other.

    4.4m long and big enough for 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 smaller children (one of the few infltables that is)

    Proper wooden seats and if you get the Standard version there are seat braces and a self draining floor for a bit of white water action.

    Packs down to a 80L rucksack – weighs around 25kg but thats a lot less than a massive plastic open on your roof.

    Used one loads and they are a fantastic bit of equipment – far away from the normal perception of an infltable

    Only problame is getting hold of one(or any kayak right now) as there is a real shortage. Will be plenty around nearer Christmas though.


    Premier Icon tall_martin
    Full Member

    We bought a double with space for a sprog in the middle from Decathalon last year. It was ~£700 for the boat, paddles, pumps, life jackets and bits.

    We’ve only used it a couple of times due to having a wee one, both times have been ace 🙂

    Premier Icon andydt82
    Full Member

    If it’s a factor, also worth noting that some places (like Cotswold Water Park) don’t allow inflatable canoes/kayaks

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Doesn’t matter what your first boat is, you will soon end up with a fleet.

    B+1 does exist.

    I would echo the above about the flexibility and capacity, speed and stability of an Open Canoe outweighing the extra size, weight and storage issues.

    We’ve two – a 15′ and 17′.

    They take us all sorts of fabulous places.
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/vGgNuh]Canoe France[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/d5TGYy]Corriechaorach rapid, River Dochart[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/r7K7pr]Canoe Loch Tay Islands, Killin[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/KSSdSu]Canoe on Loch Venechar[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/pkRw1z]Autumn Canoe on Loch Ard[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/pCo934]Autumn Canoe on Loch Ard[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/2iumq3y]Canoe River Eamont and Eden[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr

    Premier Icon beamers
    Full Member

    +1 for the Canadian Canoe option:

    Premier Icon DaveyBoyWonder
    Free Member

    Cheers matt_outandabout, that looks rubbish. Decided not to bother with one 😉

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    I would say, paddling days take a bit more organising, kit and general faffage. They do however offer an experience that is so different to biking / walking / other activities. Out on the water is just different.

    An important element here though is not the paddling, it’s the ‘accoutrements’. Usually the extra’s involve food….

    [url=https://flic.kr/p/pyLSPA]Loch Ard Canoe December 2014[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/W6iz57]Loch Ard for Ben's 12th[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/MaDaWf]River Spey Canoe Descent[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/Mug3Kc]River Spey Canoe Descent[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/yUnPbu]Royal Dee Canoe[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/zye3P3]Aviemore Overnighter[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/mTEXKR]Lubnaig canoe and walk[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/2iumszT]Canoe River Eamont and Eden[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr

    (Doesn’t everyone paddle with a game-keeper and have fresh rabbit and pheasant for tea?)
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/dp8eom]Canoe river Spey[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr

    S’mores of course.
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/cqVM4o]Smores[/url] by Matt Robinson, on Flickr

    Premier Icon big_scot_nanny
    Full Member

    Jeez-oh, this is another of those terribly dangerous threads.

    Being as how we’ve gone and moved back to Scotland, and got my wife a SUP earlier in the summer, and me with a 2 person packraft, we are spending a heck of a lot of time mucking about on lochs and rivers. Need more ‘vehicles’.

    The price of a big rigid Canadian canoe is mental! but oh so beautiful! Look at those lovely paddles too. gorgeous.

    many thanks to Daveyboy for starting the thread – I can see a Gummotex Scout on the close horizon… 🤦‍♂️

    Premier Icon winston
    Free Member

    Not that close unfortunately. They are completely sold out until November at the earliest.

    Premier Icon hooja
    Free Member

    I have recently bought an Aquaglide Blackfoot inflatable… it is a fishing kayak but I use it for other stuff too.
    I have had various hard kayaks, sit ons etc but I am blown away by how good the modern inflatable options are.
    The Blackfoot is similar construction to a RIB inflatable, rather than a bladder in a fabric outer. It’s very rigid and stable and has so far handled everything perfectly.
    From touring type adventures with the (nearly) 6 year old, to many fishing missions, some ending in a rapidly increasing swell.
    In decent size swell, it actually feels less scary than a specific ocean going sit on top.

    Think I’m an inflatable convert

    Premier Icon supersessions9-2
    Full Member

    There is another option, I built own from plywood.


    Edit, how do I get photos to work from Flickr on a phone?!

    Turning broadside

    Premier Icon dyna-ti
    Free Member

    Great pics of your adventure. God to see the Tunnocks survived the trip, relatively speaking.
    Years ago they use to make a tupperware tunnocks survival box. I’m not sure if they still do it, its not on their site. Had everything, full cake compliment.

    I haven’t seen it mentioned, but with deep water etc etc, inflatable.


    Puncture, it sinks, and hopefully you get to shore, but not always. OK, rigid also puncture, but not easily, and not usually from something inside the boat.
    Im use to boats, and many involve getting out to them stored on a mooring, both rowing and motoring, wooden and inflatable, so I have a fair measure of both.

    Personally I’ve never been a fan of inflatables as they have associated issues like getting punctures and rotting, or seams leaking. Its just deep water and things that can go from floating to sinking I’ve a kind of aversion to 😆

    Storing a solid is harder, inflatable stores in a cupboard, and will hopefully be ok next time its launched. 😉

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    God to see the Tunnocks survived the trip,


    Premier Icon raleigh impact
    Full Member

    Those adventure photos makes me jealous. I’ve a long term aim, if I have the money, to let my family try canoeing and kayaking and if we all like it getting the kit. I remember trying them on school outward bound weeks, and really enjoying it. Just never took it further. It will be different with my kids. Though maybe not the gutting and cooking the rabbit!

    Premier Icon beamers
    Full Member

    Those adventure photos makes me jealous. I’ve a long term aim, if I have the money, to let my family try canoeing and kayaking and if we all like it getting the kit. I remember trying them on school outward bound weeks, and really enjoying it.

    I had that exact long term aim. It’s taken a looooong time to achieve it (home location / vehicle to carry a canoe / purchase of a canoe) but its finally coming to fruition.

    Premier Icon eskay
    Full Member

    I was on a beach in Cornwall yesterday and watched a couple get blown right across a cove on an inflatable kayak.

    I have a Point 65 North sectional kayak. It is easy to transport and store, they can also be used as a single or twin.


    Premier Icon Greybeard
    Full Member

    Inflatables can be fun on rivers but are very vulnerable to wind on open water; it’s the flat bottom and the high freeboard.

    The ones with separate bladders are a pain to dry.

    The latest generation use dropstitch construction, like a SUP, and typically inflate to 10psi, so are much more rigid. Look at Itiwit x500 for an example.

    Premier Icon kilo
    Full Member

    I have a Point 65 North sectional kayak. It is easy to transport and store, they can also be used as a single or twin.

    When you say easy to transport, is that fits in the back of a normal car easy or is it still estate / small van territory? Thinking of one for our place in Ireland where we mainly use hire cars so no roof racks etc

    Premier Icon cheekymonkey888
    Free Member

    using a seyvlor hudson with the 2 kids. I believe there is a weight limit of 230 kg which is ok for us. Easy to paddle down a river but found the wind and estuary toward the see a bit more hard work. Surprisingly easy to lift out will try portage across the locks next time I go out

    Premier Icon trail_rat
    Free Member


    How is the point 65 ?

    I nearly pulled the trigger on a tandem a couple of years ago

    It was between the model change the original ones were quite flexy as in the sections were a bit crap at being connected. but the newer. Ones better.

    I’d still like one. Interested to hear how you find it real world.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Another crap day out on the Earn here – we even watched otters at play, but no beavers to be seen…

    Premier Icon eskay
    Full Member

    @kilo – I think it would go in the back of a hatchback with the seats folded down. We are away at the moment but could measure the sections when we get home. A have a Vito dualiner and the sections slide in the back if I flip one of the seats.

    @trail_rat – I have the older model, I bought it second hand. I don’t find it flexy, I have been out in some reasonable swell this week in Cornwall and it has always felt solid.
    The criticism with my model (the original tequila) is that is does not track very well, I don’t think it is too bad if your paddling technique is good. The newer gtx model is meant to have a better shape to the hull for improved tracking.

    I think they are great and solve a lot is the issues associated with transporting and storing a single piece kayak.

    Premier Icon eskay
    Full Member

    Image post failure!

    Premier Icon beamers
    Full Member

    Another trip to Loch Achilty:

    Our amily is in agreement that this boat is the best bit of kit we have ever purchased!

    Premier Icon chaos
    Full Member

    I’ve found the Decathlon inflatables clearly were not made with saltwater use in mind.  The zips for the sections holding the bladders are some cheap metal jobs that have managed to corrode in the time between one weekend’s outing and the next to the point they are unusable. Yes, I perhaps ought to have realised and religiously rinsed them out and applied some sort of beeswax / oil like an old drysuit zipper but realistically who is going to do that every outing when you’re knackered and have tired kids to sort out at the end of a weekend.

    Combined with the high wide sides which make them awkward to paddle unless you’re reasonably tall and perch up as high as possible on the seat, I’d say avoid.  Cheap for a reason…

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    love the last picture @beamers

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