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Inflatable kayaks are the perfect solution for those who want to enjoy the thrill of kayaking in the sea or ocean, but don’t have the storage space for a traditional hard-shell kayak.
To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the best inflatable kayaks for the sea and ocean, taking into consideration factors such as stability, durability, and ease of use
Too busy to check out the full list? The best one is the Sea Eagle Razorlite 393. It’s fast, spacious and features all-drop-stitch construction for maximum stability and rigidity.
- Sea Eagle Razorlite 393RL (Best Overall)
- Advanced Elements AirFusion Evo Inflatable Kayak (Runner-Up)
- Sea Eagle 385 FastTrack Angler (Best For Fishing)
- Sea Eagle 420X Explorer (Best Tandem)
- Aquaglide Deschutes 130 (Best Budget)
- Length: 12 foot 10 inches
- Width: 28 inches
- Weight: 33.5 inches
- Weight capacity: 500 pounds
The Sea Eagle Razorlite 393 is one of the best inflatable kayaks on the market. It can excel on the ocean as it’s designed for performance on open water. This is the first inflatable kayak in the world to be made entirely from drop-stitch technology.
The drop-stitch construction helps to optimize speed and tracking, as well as helping to maximize the amount of space on deck.
An excellent feature of this kayak is that it is NMMA certified. This means it meets the safety and quality standards set by the National Marine Manufacturers Association for use in the ocean.
Another great feature of this inflatable sea kayak is the narrow and straight hull with rigid bow and stern molds. This helps to cut through wind and waves, meaning it is more efficient to paddle in open water. The large rear skeg also helps with tracking.
This is a durable kayak that can be ideal for touring and kayak camping, with plenty of space to store gear on the deck. There’s a comfortable seat with a high backrest for support. The seat also has added storage.
You’ll find FlexBrace footrests that can be adjusted easily on a track. However, these can be tricky to install.
This is a fast kayak that can reach speeds of up to 6 mph. But it’s not for beginners. While being stable in the ocean, it might feel a little unstable if you’re new to kayaking. It’s aimed at intermediate and higher level paddlers looking for a high-performance inflatable kayak.
- All drop-stitch construction
- High capacity
- NMMA certified
- Not the best for beginners
- Footrests can be difficult to install
- Length: 13 foot
- Width: 24 inches
- Weight: 32 pounds
- Weight capacity: 235 pounds
The Advanced Elements AirFusion Evo is a high-quality inflatable kayak with a sit-inside hull. This is designed to provide additional protection from the elements when you’re sea kayaking.
A great feature of this kayak is the coaming on the cockpit rim. This lets you attach a spray skirt (sold separately) to keep water out of your cockpit.
It also benefits from having a V-shaped hull and an aluminum rib frame with drop-stitch technology. These features are designed to improve performance on open water, making the hull more efficient at cutting through waves and tracking in a straight line.
This is a narrow and relatively long kayak, so it’s quick to paddle. But the design of this kayak makes it better suited to more advanced paddlers. If you’re a beginner, you might find the AirFusion Evo a little unstable on flatwater because of the V-shaped hull.
You’ll find some storage space, including a small roll-top hatch at the stern and some bungee rigging at the bow. But it’s probably not the best kayak if you plan to take a lot of gear with you.
The cockpit is not the largest, so it’s not the best choice if you’re particularly tall. In fact, it has a maximum recommended paddler height of 6-foot, 2-inches. But it can be ideal for small to medium paddlers.
- Compatible with spray skirts
- Aluminum rib frame
- Drop-stitch construction
- V-shaped hull
- Limited storage space
- Not for large or tall paddlers
- Length: 12 foot 6 inches
- Width: 36 inches
- Weight: 44 pounds
- Weight capacity: 635 pounds
The Sea Eagle 385 FastTrack Angler is an inflatable fishing kayak that is built to be tough and durable. It features a high-pressure drop-stitch floor for increased rigidity and performance. This is an incredibly stable vessel that can handle both calm and rough water – it’s rated to handle up to Class II whitewater.
This is a NMMA-certified inflatable kayak so it is ideal for fishing in ocean conditions. It can also be a good choice for kayak camping as it has a very high load capacity, along with a spacious deck for storing gear.
However, this is a heavy boat for an inflatable, so it might not be the best option if you’re looking for something that’s easy to carry into backcountry spots. On the other hand, this is obviously going to be lighter to carry than most hardshell fishing kayaks – especially ones that are a similar length.
This has a non-slip EVA foam deck for traction when standing. This padded deck is also suitable if you want to bring your dog along for the ride.
The patented NeedleKnife keel is designed to cut through waves and currents. The narrow, tapered bow also helps to improve speed and tracking performance on open water.
A useful advantage of this inflatable sea kayak is that it’s compatible with an electric trolling motor (motor and mount are included with the Pro Motor Fishing Rig package). It also benefits from having bow and stern spray covers that have built-in rod and tackle holders.
- Generous capacity
- Very stable
- Good performance in open water
- Fishing features
- Not the easiest to carry when deflated
- Length: 14 foot
- Width: 39 inches
- Weight: 44 pounds
- Weight capacity: 855 pounds
The Sea Eagle 420X Explorer is an inflatable tandem kayak that has room for a third person. This is designed to handle almost any type of water, from calm lakes and rivers to open oceans. It can even handle whitewater running on up to Class IV rapids. So it can be a versatile inflatable kayak for two people.
With a rigid drop-stitch floor, this is a stable and durable kayak with improved glide for efficient paddling. It features 16 self-bailing drain valves that can be ideal for paddling in ocean conditions (or whitewater rivers).
The large removable skeg helps to deliver improved tracking on oceans and large lakes.
It has three air chambers for added safety. It is made from tough 1100 Decitex Reinforced fabric and features glued quadruple overlapped seams for durability.
This can be an ideal craft for kayak camping, with a huge load capacity and plenty of space on deck to store camping equipment. You’ll find 26 D-rings to tie gear down. These D-rings are also used to secure the seats.
The front and rear spray skirts have bungee rigging to secure gear. This can also be paddled solo if you want to head off on a multi-day expedition. However, it’s not particularly fast to paddle. It’s also not the lightest inflatable kayak if you plan to carry it any distance on your own.
- Removable tracking skeg
- Can handle rough waters
- High maximum capacity
- Not built for speed
- Pretty heavy
- Length: 13 foot
- Width: 37.5 inches
- Depth: 10.5 inches
- Weight: 22 pounds
- Weight capacity: 400 pounds
The Aquaglide Deschutes 130 is a lightweight inflatable kayak that offers excellent features at a more affordable price tag. This is a durable kayak that is designed for day-touring.
It has a long and narrow tube design which helps to improve glide and tracking performance in open water conditions.
Another great feature is the Feather Frame Inflatable Crossbeam. This provides rigidity to the hull while keeping weight to a minimum. The floor features a solid EVA covering for added durability.
This can be an ideal kayak for beginners and intermediate paddlers. It is stable, with a relatively wide hull. It’s designed mostly for efficient paddling on flatwater. But it can handle the occasional wave thanks to the added rocker at the bow and stern.
There are spray covers at the front and back, offering storage space. And you’ll find a comfortable padded seat with a high backrest for support on long trips. However, the footrest is not adjustable, which may be difficult to comfortably reach if you’re on the shorter side.
The kayak comes with a tracking fin and a backpack-style carrying case for easy traveling. A downside for the budget side of things is that it doesn’t include a pump.
- High-back seat
- Backpack carrying case
- Footrest is not adjustable
- Pump not included
- Length: 12 foot 6 inches
- Width: 39 inches
- Depth: 11.5 inches
- Weight: 43 pounds
- Weight capacity: 475 pounds
The Aire Lynx II is a whitewater kayak that can handle just about any type of water, making it a versatile option. This is a tandem inflatable kayak that can be paddled solo if required.
This is a high-quality kayak made from durable materials but it’s expensive. It has three air chambers for buoyancy and safety. It also benefits from having a 10-year no-fault warranty.
This is a stable vessel that has increased rocker at the bow and stern for tackling waves and navigating fast-moving water. It also has low-profile side tubes for easier paddling and it is self-bailing for convenience.
This is not the fastest kayak for ocean paddling but it can offer the stability to contend with ocean conditions. It can be great for extended expeditions if you’re a solo paddler, with sufficient room and capacity for several days’ worth of gear.
There’s also a decent amount of storage space if you’re paddling with a partner, with room behind the back seat. Legroom might be limited for the front paddler if you use the bow to store gear. There are cargo loops to make it easier to tie-down belongings.
- Great on waves and surf
- 10-year warranty
- Solo or tandem
- Versatile kayak
- Not built for speed
- Length: 13 foot 6 inches
- Width: 36 inches
- Depth: 10 inches
- Weight: 48 pounds
- Weight capacity: 350 pounds
The Star Paragon XL is designed primarily for flatwater touring. It is built for efficient paddling on open water, with improved speed and tracking.
It has rigid keel inserts at the bow and stern to help cut through water and it features a removable tracking fin.
This is a durable kayak with a high-pressure drop-stitch floor for added rigidity and glide. It can be ideal for kayaking with a dog, with plenty of room for your dog to spread out.
You’ll find space for gear, including some covered storage space under the front and rear spray covers, which can be ideal for keeping gear protected in choppy seas. However, this kayak is not self-bailing, so you might want to bring a bilge pump with you if you’re heading into choppy conditions.
The spray covers also benefit from having bungee cords to help keep any items safe and secure.
For comfort during long paddling sessions, there’s a padded seat with an adjustable backrest. The foot braces are also adjustable and can easily slide on a track to suit different leg lengths and paddling styles.
- Efficient hull
- Good tracking in open water
- Room for camping gear
- Not self-bailing
- Length: 13 foot
- Width: 38 inches
- Depth: 13.5 inches
- Weight: 41 pounds
- Weight capacity: 650 pounds
The Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130 is an inflatable fishing kayak that can be perfect for an ocean kayaking adventure. Whether you’re fishing or simply exploring the coastline, this is an incredibly stable vessel that combines durability, comfort, and performance.
The drop-stitch floor features non-slip EVA padding for added grip both for you and your four-legged friend. You’ll also find MOLLE plates and universal accessory mounts for attaching fishing accessories.
A great feature of this inflatable kayak is the framed seat. This lets you sit a little higher off the deck, for improved visibility and a more comfortable position. There is an adjustable foot brace but this has a hook and loop attachment system that may not hold it in place for everyone.
This kayak can handle ocean waves and surf, making it ideal for beach launches. It has a cockpit splash guard to help keep you dry and sheltered from ocean spray. There are also five scupper holes to help drain water from the deck.
This comes with a weedless fin for improved tracking on open water. It also includes a fishing cooler with built-in rod holders. There’s plenty of room for fishing equipment or camping gear, and there’s a massive 650-capacity, so you shouldn’t need to leave anything behind.
Bear in mind, a pump is not included with this kayak.
- Very stable
- Great for ocean fishing
- Generous capacity
- Framed seat
- Foot brace not great
- Pump not included
- Length: 11 foot 3 inches
- Width: 32.5 inches
- Depth: 11.5 inches
- Weight: 28.3 pounds
- Weight capacity: 300 pounds
The Aquaglide Chelan 120 is a lightweight inflatable kayak that can handle oceans and rivers. It offers efficient paddling, with a streamlined hull and a manageable length. This can be an easy-to-use kayak for all skill levels.
One of the best features of the Chelan is the drop-stitch floor which provides a rigid platform for stability as well as optimized performance. This can handle mild waves and moderately choppy water.
There is a tracking skeg to help you paddle in a straight line on open water. But this can be tricky to install and remove.
The ProFormance seat features an inflatable seat cushion for comfort and elevation. It also benefits from having an adjustable backrest for support when paddling in rough or calm water.
There is space to bring along dry bags and a cooler (not included). You’ll find bungee rigging at the bow and stern, with spray covers providing additional protection. There are webbing tie-down loops to secure your gear in the cockpit.
Another handy feature of this inflatable sea kayak is the accessory mount, giving you the option to add your own accessories.
It comes with a backpack-style storage bag so you can hike it to remote launches. It does not come with a pump.
- Easy to maneuver
- Elevated inflatable seat
- Ideal for all skill levels
- Accessory mount
- Doesn’t include a pump
- Skeg is difficult to remove
Yes, inflatable kayaks can be used at sea. However, unless you are a skilled paddler, you should stay close to shore and avoid rough conditions.
If you want to paddle along a coastline, you should make sure your inflatable kayak is suitable for the conditions. This means it should be able to handle wind, waves and currents. It can also be a good idea not to overload your kayak.
One of the key things to consider when looking for an inflatable kayak for the ocean is safety.
Inflatable kayaks made for the sea should ideally have multiple air chambers. This means if your kayak suffers a puncture while on the ocean, it should only affect one air chamber. The rest of the chambers should remain unaffected if the hole is only in one chamber.
If your inflatable kayak only had one air chamber then a puncture could cause the entire kayak to deflate. This is not something you want when you’re out at sea.
As another safety measure, it’s best not to stray too far from the coastline in an inflatable kayak, or indeed any kayak, especially if you’re not equipped with advanced skills.
Oceans can be unpredictable and conditions can change quickly, especially in deep oceans where there may be larger waves.
Remember to always wear a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) when you’re kayaking in the ocean (or anywhere). Coastal waters generally come under the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard so you should follow the USCG regulations.
For ocean kayaking, it can be a good idea to opt for a kayak that has a combination of both primary and secondary stability. This means it has sufficient stability to remain upright in both flatwater and choppy conditions.
Most inflatable kayaks do have some secondary stability, even if they are designed for flatwater, thanks to their often more rounded hulls. However, some inflatable kayaks are best suited to flatwater only and may not be able to handle waves and rough water.
Inflatable kayaks that can handle whitewater conditions can be ideal for taking on the ocean. However, not all whitewater kayaks will be suitable for ocean conditions as they may not be designed for efficient paddling on open water.
Kayaks that have drop-stitch floors can generally provide a high level of stability and can often be used on all types of water. The rigid drop-stitch construction helps to improve speed and glide compared to traditional inflatable floors, as the drop-stitch technology can allow the inflatable to perform more like a hardshell kayak.
Generally, the longer the kayak, the faster it can be paddled on open water. Just like with hardshell kayaks, a longer inflatable kayak can be more efficient to paddle than a short one. This means you can cover more water and reach your destination more quickly.
Narrow hulls can also help with performance on open water, as this can improve speed and tracking.
As you might have discovered, inflatable kayaks tend to be wider than their hardshell counterparts. So a narrow inflatable kayak may not be as narrow as you might expect. Inflatable kayaks with wide hulls can still perform well on the ocean but they may not be as fast.
A tracking skeg can be a useful feature to have on an inflatable kayak as it can help you paddle in a straight line, especially in windy conditions.
Most inflatable kayaks that are made for flatwater and open water kayaking will generally come with a removable skeg. Most of the time, this means you’ll need to install it before you hit the water, unlike a hardshell sea kayak that may have a retractable skeg that can be deployed when required.
Inflatable kayaks that have V-shaped hulls can be particularly good for sea kayaking. These types of hulls can be more effective at cutting through water and waves.
Some inflatable kayaks may have rigid bows and sterns that are tapered to help cut through water. Added rocker can also be useful for sea kayaking as this can make it easier to navigate waves and surf, especially during beach launches and landings.
If you’re planning to paddle any great distance or for any length of time, you’ll probably want to be comfortable sitting in your kayak.
A kayak seat with a high backrest can be a good place to start. This can give you some support while you’re paddling. If the seat is adjustable, even better.
Some inflatable kayak seats are slightly elevated off the deck, which can give you a better vantage point for scouting landings and it can offer a more comfortable (and drier) paddling position. If the inflatable kayak is made for ocean fishing, you may even find it has a framed seat for added comfort.
Foot braces can also be a useful feature to look for. These can offer comfort and can help you to stabilize yourself and your kayak in rough conditions.
Most inflatable sea kayaks will usually have some room to store gear. The amount of space you’ll find will generally depend on the size of the kayak. Generally, dry storage and hatches are not found on inflatable kayaks.
However, some inflatable sit-inside kayaks may have a zippered compartment to stow items below deck.
Most of the time, gear can be stored on the deck, either at the bow or stern (or both). You’ll usually find bungee rigging to secure your gear and possibly small spray covers that provide additional storage.
Inflatable kayaks generally have a high maximum capacity compared to hardshell equivalents.
This makes them a good option for kayak camping and for larger or heavier paddlers.
Are Inflatable Kayaks Safe In The Ocean?
Yes, some inflatable kayaks can be safe in the ocean. But not all inflatable kayaks will be suitable for use in the ocean. Make sure the kayak can handle moving water and open water conditions. It can be safer if the kayak has multiple air chambers and is rated for ocean use.
Does Salt Water Damage Inflatable Kayaks?
Most inflatable kayaks that are designed for use in the ocean should be made with saltwater-resistant materials. However, it’s a good idea to rinse inflatable kayaks in clean freshwater after being used in saltwater. Prolonged exposure to salt could weaken the materials.
Do Sharks Attack Inflatable Kayaks?
Sharks probably can’t tell an inflatable kayak from a hardshell kayak. You should be no more likely to be attacked in an inflatable kayak than a hardshell kayak. The only difference would be if your kayak suffered a puncture.
The best inflatable kayak for ocean paddling is the Sea Eagle 393RL. This Razorlite kayak features all drop-stitch construction, making it durable, fast, and stable. It is also certified for marine use.
If you’re looking for an inflatable sit-inside kayak, the Advanced Elements AirFusion Evo is built for speed and portability. This long, narrow kayak is also compatible with spray skirts so you can keep the water out of your cockpit when navigating choppy water.
But if you’d rather paddle with your partner, the Sea Eagle 420X is the best tandem sea kayak on our list. This stable, durable kayak can be ideal for all skill levels and has a capacity to handle all your camping equipment and your four-legged friend.
Remember to check these kayaks out for yourself to make sure they fit your specific requirements. And always remember to wear your PFD for sea kayaking.