Home > Kayak Types > Inflatable Kayaks > Can You Use An Inflatable Kayak For Camping Or Backpacking?

Can You Use An Inflatable Kayak For Camping Or Backpacking?

Nicola Burridge
Updated on:
- If you buy via a link on this page, we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you. Learn more
- Read our review guidelines

Inflatable kayaks are portable, lightweight, and easy to travel with. They are also pretty versatile. They can be used on a wide range of waters for a variety of activities, including camping.

If you want to take your inflatable kayak camping or backpacking, you should make sure the kayak can handle the trip and that you can handle the kayak (if you’re carrying it).

Can You Use An Inflatable Kayak For Camping Or Backpacking? - Pinterest ImagePin

So, Can You Go Camping Or Backpacking With An Inflatable Kayak?

The good news is, yes. You can go camping or backpacking with an inflatable kayak.

But you might want to think about the durability of your inflatable kayak, as not all kayaks are made the same. Most high-quality kayaks should be durable and tough enough to withstand an extended kayak camping trip.

Kayak Camping With An Inflatable Kayak

Inflatable kayaks and tent on campsitePin

Inflatable kayaks can make excellent boats for a kayak camping trip. This is because they generally have a higher capacity than the hardshell equivalents.

And with a higher capacity, it means you can load the kayak with additional or heavier gear without affecting the performance of the kayak.

Not all inflatable kayaks will be suitable for kayak camping. Not all of them will have enough space for your gear. You might find an inflatable touring kayak is the best option in terms of space and speed on flatwater.

Inflatable kayaks that have drop-stitch construction may offer more space than those with traditional inflatable construction, particularly in kayaks that have all drop-stitch construction. Some kayaks will just have a drop-stitch floor, so you should take into account the wider side walls that could limit your storage space on the deck.

Both solo and tandem inflatable kayaks can be used for kayak camping, with tandem kayaks offering increased space if you’re a solo paddler with a lot of gear for an extended expedition.

> Solo inflatable kayaks reviewed

Longer tandem inflatable kayaks can be better for two paddlers than a shorter tandem, as inflatable kayaks tend to be shorter in general compared to the hardshell equivalents.

Inflatable fishing kayaks can often be used for kayak camping, as these tend to have a high capacity and plenty of deck space for storage.

Backpacking With An Inflatable Kayak

If you plan to backpack with an inflatable kayak, you might want to make sure the kayak you choose is very lightweight. Not all inflatable kayaks are lightweight and easy to carry over a long distance.

The size of the kayak when deflated and packed should also be something to take into consideration. This is particularly important if you plan to backpack on your own, as you will need to think about the camping equipment and other gear you need to carry in addition to the inflatable kayak.

Backpacking with an inflatable kayak might be better if you plan to paddle for most of your adventure and are only planning to hike to the initial launch site.

Remember To Bring Your Kayak Pump

Remember, you will need to bring a good kayak pump with you on your trip. A manual hand pump can be a better option for backpacking and camping than an electric one, as you might not have access to electricity while you’re on the go.

Hand pumps will also usually take up less room than electric ones, which can be important if you want to store the pump in a small space in your backpack.

You should always have a patch repair kit with you as well, in case you get a puncture on your journey.

Should I Use A Packraft Instead?

Orange packraft with backpack on riverPin

A packraft can be a great idea for both camping and backpacking. Packrafts are small, lightweight inflatable boats. These are designed to be packed down to a compact size and carried in a backpack.

One of the main differences between an inflatable kayak and a packraft is that a packraft is designed to be carried over land for long distances and used for water crossings when required.

An inflatable kayak, on the other hand, is designed more for water use from the outset rather than for also crossing land. Because of this, packrafts can be significantly lighter than inflatable kayaks, making them more convenient to use while backpacking.

While some packrafts are designed to carry a lot of cargo, not all of them have a high capacity (just like inflatable kayaks). So it can be important to find one that has sufficient capacity and space to carry you plus all your gear.

And just like kayaks, there are packrafts designed to handle different types of water. So if you plan to take on whitewater rivers, it’s best to make sure your packraft is suitable for rapids.

In terms of durability, you might find an inflatable kayak is more durable than a packraft. So if you plan to be paddling frequently (and paddle more than you plan to hike) then an inflatable kayak might be the better option for you.

How To Pack An Inflatable Kayak For Camping

Packing an inflatable kayak for a camping trip can be a little different from packing a traditional hardshell kayak. Unlike hardshell touring kayaks, most inflatable kayaks will not have any dry storage hatches.

This means you will usually have to store all your gear inside dry bags to keep your belongings protected from splashes, rain, or an unfortunate capsize.

Make sure you keep any essential items within easy reach of your seat. This way, if you need to access your essentials while you’re on the water, you can reach them without too much trouble.

You should also make sure that the kayak is balanced with the weight distributed evenly, with heavier items nearer the center. You don’t want to have anything too heavy at one end or on the side, as this could cause your kayak to become unbalanced.

An unbalanced kayak could also be more likely to tip over in rough waters.

Wrapping Up

An inflatable kayak can be an ideal option for a kayak camping trip and can be just as good for backpacking. If you’re backpacking, remember to consider the overall weight of the kayak plus all your gear that you need to carry.

For kayak camping, you might want to consider the length of the trip and the amount of gear you’ll need to haul to make sure your inflatable kayak has sufficient room.

If you plan to hike more than paddle, perhaps a packraft might suit you better.

Whatever you choose, remember to pack a hand pump and a repair kit to keep your inflatable in tip top shape.

Leave a Comment