Best Inflatable Canoe (Blow Up, Up and Away!)

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When you’re looking for the best inflatable canoe you’re probably hoping for a good combination of durability, buoyancy, and performance all wrapped into a lightweight, compact package.

Convenience can be one of the most important reasons for choosing an inflatable. To give you an idea of some of the features you might want to look for, we’ve put together this short guide to help you find your next boat.

Best Inflatable Canoe

Sea Eagle TC 16 Travel Canoe

  • Length: 16 foot
  • Width: 38 inches
  • Weight: 64 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 915 pounds

The Sea Eagle TC16 is a 16-foot inflatable canoe that has room for up to three people, so it can be ideal for family trips on rivers and lakes. It’s even rated for use on up to Class IV whitewater, but it’s recommended that you have some whitewater skills before you attempt to run Class IV rapids.

When packed down, this lightweight boat measures just 40 by 24 by 16 inches, so you can easily fit it into the trunk of your car.

One of the main features of this boat is that it has full drop stitch construction with 1100 Decitex reinforced material for increased durability. The drop-stitch construction helps to boost its rigidity and can improve performance on the water, particularly with speed and tracking.

The hull is also designed for stability and performance, being stable enough to stand up in, as well as benefiting from a removable skeg.

There are three air chambers for added safety and can be set up for use on the water in less than 10 minutes.

Features

  • Stable - a combination of primary and secondary stability for all water conditions
  • Compact - 16-foot canoe can pack down to fit in the trunk of a small car
  • Drop stitch construction - increases durability, rigidity, and performance

Why Use An Inflatable Canoe?

Portability

One of the main reasons to opt for an inflatable canoe is that you can pack it down and load it into the back of your car, even the trunk of a small car - something you can’t do with a hard shell canoe.

This means you can travel with your boat more easily, for example, take it with you on vacation to explore new and more remote areas.

Carrying a hardshell canoe can be difficult, especially if you’re on your own. An inflatable can be much easier because it can be a lot lighter than a hardshell equivalent so you could get it from your car to the water more easily. This can also make portaging a little easier.

Easy To Store

Unlike a large and cumbersome hardshell canoe, an inflatable can be convenient to store at home. Many of them can be packed down into compact bags or containers that can be stored easily inside a closet or even sometimes under your bed.

Inflatable Canoe Vs. Kayak

Canoe

An inflatable canoe can be a good vessel if you’re looking to explore flatwater lakes and rivers. It can be ideal for family camping trips and multi-day paddling adventures because of the increased space compared to kayaks, as canoes tend to be longer and larger overall.

Canoes are generally paddled using a single-bladed paddle and are often designed to be paddled by more than one person. 

Advantages

  • Capacity - ideal for lots of gear and a second or third person
  • Stable - great for flatwater trips
  • Easy to get in and out - ideal for all ages

Disadvantages

  • Can be heavy
  • Not as easy to paddle solo

Kayak

Inflatable kayaks come in a range of sizes and types, each designed for certain conditions. Some can be ideal for whitewater, others can be best suited for flatwater touring.

An inflatable kayak will often be shorter and usually narrower than a canoe and can generally be paddled by one person. However, you can get tandems if you want to paddle with a buddy.

Kayaks can be both sit-on-top and sit-inside, even inflatables, which can give you more versatility when it comes to paddling conditions. Sometimes, however, the storage space may be limited on inflatables, but they will generally have a higher weight capacity than a hardshell equivalent.

Advantages

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Easy to maneuver - ideal for solo paddlers
  • Different types for different conditions

Disadvantages

  • Reduced storage capacity

What To Look Out For On A Blow Up Canoe

Capacity

The maximum weight capacity of a canoe can be important, especially if you plan to load it up with gear for a family camping trip. Overloading a canoe can affect its performance, causing it to sit lower in the water, which can slow it down and make it more difficult to control. Overloaded canoes can also sink.

Video: Oh Dear....

As well as the maximum capacity, you may want to think about the physical space that’s available on board for you plus anyone who’s joining you and any equipment you plan to bring along.

Some inflatables can have restricted interior space compared to standard hardshell canoes because the hull and gunwales tend to be wider.

Weight

While inflatables are usually much lighter than their hardshell counterparts, some of them can still be heavy if you plan to carry them for a significant length of time. For example, some canoes may not be suitable for hiking into remote locations but they might be ideal for carrying from your car to the lake by yourself. 

Construction

Most good quality inflatables will usually be constructed with multiple air chambers. This means that if one chamber happens to suffer a puncture the rest should be unaffected, so you can remain afloat until you reach the shore to repair it.

Inflatable canoes will often be made out of PVC, with various coatings to increase strength and durability.

Drop stitch construction can be a good feature to look for. This helps to provide a more rigid surface, like the one you’d find on a stand up paddle board. This can help to improve tracking and speed, compared to a standard inflatable, which may be more appealing if you’re an experienced paddler looking for better performance.

Drop stitch canoes also tend to have narrower gunwales and floors than standard inflatables because the technology can deliver higher strength in a smaller footprint, maintaining a flat surface.

Inflatable Canoes: FAQs

How Do You Repair An Inflatable Canoe?
Many repairs can be done using a patch kit, which is sometimes included with your boat. Find the hole, deflate your boat and use the patch kit to cover the hole (following the included instructions). After 24 hours you can re-inflate your boat.

Video: How To Repair An Inflatable Boat Or Inflatable Kayak

Can You Use A Trolling Motor With An Inflatable Canoe?
You can use a trolling motor with some inflatables but you should make sure you have a suitable mount that’s designed for your boat, as you won’t want to drill into an inflatable boat for obvious reasons. Adding a motor may require you to register your canoe, as it will then become a motorized vessel.

Should I Use A Hardshell Canoe Instead?
If you plan to use your canoe frequently and you have no problems with storage or transportation, you may find a hardshell canoe is more suitable as you don’t need to inflate/deflate it or wait for it to dry before traveling home.


Wrapping Up

We think the best inflatable canoe is the Sea Eagle TC16 because of its high performance level. Its rigid drop stitch construction makes it quick over the water and easy to paddle, making it ideal for long trips.

It also has a generous capacity, with room for up to three people and space for overnight gear.

Portability is a key benefit of an inflatable vessel and the Sea Eagle TC16 can be easily transported in your trunk and stored in a closet at home. Remember to think about where you want to paddle and who you plan to paddle with so that you can find a canoe that’s a suitable weight and size for your adventures.

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