|Inflatable Kayak and Boat Shops
Getting an inflatable boat was one of the best recreational investments I have ever made. I needed a boat that would work as well as a hard shell kayak, but it needed to be easier to transport and store.
As you can imagine, two of the greatest benefits about having an inflatable is that you can easily carry it around and store it when you're done with it. They usually fit into two bags that you can just throw over your shoulder to get to the water. I wouldn't want to carry them for miles, but a short walk isn't bad at all.
And when you store them, they just fit into either one large box or two medium ones. I have two kayaks in the garage right now, and yet they pack up so small that during the winter months I couldn't tell you exactly where they are. They're in a couple of the boxes out there, but I couldn't say exactly which ones.
Many people worry about inflatables not being tough enough to take collisions with rocks and river bottoms. But after you've had one for a while, you pretty much stop worrying about it, because you realize that these boats are heavy duty and durable.
As far as set-up time goes, leisurely putting together my larger two seater and inflating it with a foot pump takes me about 15 minutes. (It takes a few minutes longer if the kids help.)
You can get a dependable entry-level model for as low as about $300, or you can spend up to a little over $2,000. The last time I purchased one, I spent about $900 which was for a package containing the kayak, paddles, seats, air pump, dry bags and a carrying/storage tote.
Here are five of the top online outfitters:
Sea Eagle have been shipping inflatable boats directly to customers for over 30 years. They have a variety of models, from kayaks to fishing boats as well as boats equipped with small motors or sails.
Outdoorplay.com is a paddle sport specialty shop that offers free shipping and one of the biggest selections of paddlesports gear online.
Altrec is a great outdoor sports store. I started shopping there in 2000. Besides their kayaks, they also offer about half-a-dozen Aire rafts.
Backcountry is another terrific outdoors outfitter. Other than their inflatables, they also carry one of the biggest selections of hardshell kayaks online.
REI — don't forget about REI, the well-known recreation retailer. REI is also the only store on this short list that stocks Sevylor.
There you go. Good luck with your search. You really can't go wrong with any of the five shops listed above. Have fun on the water!
Outdoorplay.com online watersports offers outdoor equipment such as touring kayaks, boats, canoes, paddles, helmets, air pumps and other products from manufacturers such as including Aire and NRS.
Sea Eagle has water sports gear including single and 2-person kayaks, boats, fishing rafts, boating packages and accessories.
Altrec web outfitter carries recreation supplies, single whitewater kayak, boats, rafts, oars, head protection, pumps and other gear from manufacturers such as including Aire, Innova and NRS.
Backcountry water sports retailer sells paddle sports equipment such as two person touring, whitewater and sea kayaks, boats, canoes, oars, helmets, flotation devices and accessories from manufacturers such as including Aire, NRS and Tributary.
REI paddle sport outfitter stocks watersport gear including 2 man inflatable sea kayak, boat, paddles, PFDs and more from makers such as including Innova, Sevylor and Advanced Elements.
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Top manufacturers include Aire, Sevylor, Innova and NRS.
Aire can be found at Outdoorplay, Altrec and Backcountry.
Innova can be found at Altrec and REI.
Sevylor can be found at REI.
NRS can be located at Outdoorplay, Altrec and Backcountry.
Popular options include these two Sea Eagle models (top) and the Sevylor model (bottom).