Inflatable kayaks are great fun, but they also pose some serious safety concerns. They are very popular with children and adults alike, but many aren’t designed for children under 12 years old. And some are constructed in a way which may have more risk associated with them.
We’ll take a look at some of the safety benefits as well and some problems associated with these popular kayaks to help you choose the best inflatable kayak for your adventure.
- Inflatable Kayaks Vs. Hard-shell Kayaks
- Safety Precautions for Inflatable Kayaks
- Using an Inflatable Kayak
- Inflatable Kayak Maintenance Tips
- Which Inflatable Kayak is Best?
- Wrapping it up
Inflatable Kayaks Vs. Hard-shell Kayaks
There are two types of kayak: inflatable and hard-shell. Both types offer similar benefits and drawbacks, but there are some important differences between them.
The main difference between inflatable and hard-shelled kayak is whether you need to carry extra equipment for the kayak itself. A hard-shell kayak doesn’t require additional gear because it doesn’t need to be inflated when used. However, a hard-shell kayak does require extra gear because it needs to be inflated prior to paddling.
How Durable Are They?
Another major difference between inflatable and harder-shell kayaks is durability. While inflatable kayaks are relatively inexpensive and lightweight, they tend to wear out quickly. On the other hand, hard-shell kayak is durable and long lasting.
What about punctures?
Punctures in an inflatable boat are not only dangerous, but they’re also very common. So how can you avoid them? Here are some tips for avoiding punctures when paddling in an inflatable kayaking boat.
First, never paddle in rough water. Paddlers should always be prepared for sudden waves, currents, and wind gusts. Second, use a waterproof cover for your kayak which can help block debris from falling into the kayak. Third, keep your kayak inflated at least 10 psi above sea level or whatever the manufacturer suggests for your water condition. Fourth, carry extra air bladders and repair kits. Fifth, wear a life jacket and helmet. You can also take your time and paddle slowly and carefully to avoid punctures.
Inflatable kayaks are a more affordable option
If you’re looking for a cheap alternative to traditional kayaks, consider buying an inflatable kayak. They’re cheaper than traditional kayaks, and they’re great for beginners because they’re stable and easy to maneuver.
However, there are some safety concerns when using inflatable kayaks which we’ll address in this article. Many of them are not designed to be used in rough water, so you should avoid taking them out in strong currents or waves. They are also not recommended for use in cold weather or sub-freezing waters, since they won’t keep you warm.
That said, inflatable kayaks are still a great option for beginners who want a safe, inexpensive, and portable kayaking experience. So if you’re thinking about getting an inflatable kayak, then weigh all the safety concerns first.
Are Inflatable Kayaks More Stable?
The question of whether inflatable kayaks are safer than traditional hard-shell kayaks remains unanswered and debated by many in the kayaking forums and social media. However, there are many reasons to believe that inflatable kayaks are more stable than hard-shell kayaks simply based on their construction.
First, when paddling the kayak, the weight of the boat is distributed across the entire surface area of the hull. This means that the center of gravity (CG) is lower than in a traditional hard-shell kayak. And, because the CG is lower, the kayak tends to be more stable and easier to maneuver.
The buoyancy of the air bladder makes the kayak lighter than hardshell kayaks as well so there is not as much combined weight to keep afloat. The softness of the material allows the kayak to flex and bend more easily too. This can help distribute the weight better as well which can help the kayak remain more stable. The problem with rigidity however is when the air pressure is too low the kayak can seem to fold in the water making a very uncomfortable situation.
The lack of rigid parts makes the kayak more flexible and maneuverable however. The fact that the kayak doesn’t need to be inflated every time it’s used makes it easier to transport and store as well. You can store many of the inflatable kayaks sold today with air in them although they may take up more space.
Sharp edges are also not advised on an inflatable kayak. And the construction of an inflatable kayak usually doesn’t include any sharp objects which can help to reduce injuries. You’ll also need to be on the lookout for sharp rocks when using any type of inflatable boat including a kayak.
To sum up, inflatable kayaks are not necessarily safer than hard-shell kayaks, but they tend to be more stable and easier to use. They’re also more flexible and maneuverable, making them ideal for beginners who may otherwise find themselves struggling to paddle a hard-shell kayak due to the difficulty of learning to balance and control the craft.
Safety Precautions for Inflatable Kayaks
Inflatable kayaks are great for paddling in lakes, rivers and oceans. They’re safe, portable and affordable. But there are some things you should keep in mind when using them.
Are inflatable kayaks better for kids?
There are many reasons why parents should consider buying inflatable kayaks for children. They’re safer than traditional boats because they’re lighter and easier to control. Plus, they’re great for exploring lakes, rivers, ponds, and oceans.
But there are some risks associated with inflatable kayaks. Parents need to be aware of these dangers and take proper precautions when outfitting their child with an inflatable kayak. And always have adults nearby ready to intervene if things go wrong.
The most common danger is drowning. Children who use inflatable kayaks can fall off them and into the water. This happens because they lack balance and coordination or simply don’t understand the dangers. Having a life jacket on during any kayaking trip is a must for everyone but especially for children. Make sure your kids have proper PFD before taking them on the water.
There’s also a risk of capsizing the kayak. An inflatable kayak can capsize if the user loses control of the boat. This usually occurs when the user falls off the kayak or hits another object.
To avoid these dangers, parents must teach their children how to properly operate an inflatable kayak and keep them away from dangerous areas. Parents should also ensure that their children wear life jackets (PFD) at all times when kayaking. Life jackets are required by law for anyone under 16 years old in most states.
If you decide to outfit your children with an inflatable kayak, you should also equip them with a helmet for safety. Helmets protect their heads from injury during accidents. Helmets are especially important for children because they’re small and light and may not be aware of underwater dangers such as rocks or tree stumps. Kids are also prone to falling off inflatable kayaks. Therefore, helmets are essential for protecting their heads from injury.
Lastly, you should never leave children unattended in an inflatable kayak, no matter how safe they appear to be. Even though inflatable kayaks are lightweight, they’re still heavy enough to cause serious injuries if they tip over.
Bringing your dog along in an inflatable kayak
If you’re bringing your dog along in an inflated kayak, there are some things you should be aware of. First, make sure your dogs nails aren’t long because they may puncture the kayak. A dog may also move about in a kayak as well and make it less stable. This can also happen in a hard-shell kayak as well.
Can an Inflatable Kayak Sink?
Many watercraft today have foam and other materials inserted into the hull to keep them afloat even when they are filled with water. For inflatable kayaks it is not the case however. There is no foam or other floatation material in the kayak. The only way the kayak floats is because of the water displaced by the air bladders on the kayak. If there is no air in these bladders it will sink.
Higher quality inflatable kayaks have multiple air bladders and sections so even if an area on the kayak is punctured it will still float. If you are considering buying an inflatable kayak be sure it has multiple air bladders for increased safety.
Tipping over in an inflatable kayak
If you’ve ever been in an inflatable kayak, you know that tipping over is not only possible, but very common especially for beginners. Tipping over happens when the boat tips too far left or right, causing water to spill into or out of the kayak. This causes the kayaker to lose balance and most times fall overboard. While this is more common on hard-shell kayaks it’s still a possibility in an inflatable kayak as well.
The most important safety concern when paddling in an inflatable kayaks is keeping your head above water at all times. To avoid tipping over, keep your paddle blade perpendicular to the direction of travel. Also, be aware of where the center of gravity (CG) of the kayak is located. CG is the point where the weight of the kayak is evenly distributed between its front and back halves. Keep the CG close to the stern of the kayak, away from the bow.
To avoid tipping over, make sure your kayak is properly inflated to manufacturer specifications and that you stay upright at all times with proper safety equipment on board.
Using an Inflatable Kayak
An inflatable kayak is a great alternative to traditional hard-shell kayaks because it’s cheaper, lighter, and safer. Here are some tips for safe use of inflatable kayaks and how to get the most from your inflatable kayak:
Are there limitations with an inflatable kayak? (Storage on a Kayak)
One of the biggest limitations on any kayak but especially an inflatable kayak is space. There simply isn’t a lot of space on any kayak but for an inflatable kayak the space is even less because of the air bladders on each side of the kayak. There also may not be space available on top of the kayak like some hard-shell kayaks.
The wind & inflatable kayaks
Wind affects inflatable kayaks differently than traditional boats or other kayaks. While a traditional hard-shell kayak may be able to withstand winds of 20 mph or more, an inflatable kayak can only handle winds of about half that when kayak fishing or simply paddling about. The reason is the large air bladders on the kayak which act much like a large sail that can push the kayak. Turning the kayak into the wind can help to reduce this problem but may not be an option depending on where you are.
So when planning your trip, consider the wind speed and direction along with the overall weather conditions for the area. Also, keep in mind that wind conditions change rapidly, so plan ahead and adjust your trip accordingly.
Do you still get wet in an inflatable kayak?
If you’re planning to go out on the water in an inflatable kayaking boat, you should be aware of some safety concerns. Just like in a hard-shell kayak there’s the issue of getting wet when using the kayak. Even though most inflatable kayaks are made of waterproof material, you still may get wet from splashing water and paddling in the kayak.
Inflatable kayaks are slow when paddling
Inflatable kayaks may be slow, but they’re safe! They’re not dangerous as other traditional kayaks.
Inflatable kayaks are surprisingly comfortable to use
The inflatable kayak is a great alternative to traditional kayaks because it’s incredibly versatile. You can paddle it just like a regular kayak, but when you’re tired, simply relax in the kayak and float about a bit. Since the kayak is not a hard shell its much like sitting in a comfortable chair. Some inflatable kayaks have inflatable seats that are even more comfortable.
You may be able to change the kayak seat as well to find one more to your liking. Some inflatable kayaks have removable seat which can be changed to traditional kayak seats.
Inflatable Kayak Maintenance Tips
If you’re thinking about buying an inflatable kayak, here are some tips to keep in mind when maintaining your kayak.
First, be careful not to puncture your kayak. This happens easily when inflating your kayak. Always use a pump, never blow air directly into the bladder.
Second, store your kayak properly. Make sure it’s stored upright and away from direct sunlight. Also, avoid storing it near heat sources or areas where there may be moisture.
Third, clean your kayak regularly. Use soap and water to remove dirt and debris. Be especially vigilant during cold weather months.
Finally, inspect your kayak frequently. Look for signs of wear and tear. Check the inflation valve for leaks, cracks, and tears. Inspect the seams and stitching for damage. And check the paddles for sharp edges.
In short, take care of your kayak and it will last longer.
Drying an Inflatable Kayak
If you’re planning to use an inflatable kayak, you need to learn how to properly care for it. Otherwise, you risk ruining your investment.
First, you should clean your inflatable kayak after every use. This includes removing sand, dirt, leaves, grass, and anything else that may be stuck inside. Then, rinse off the boat thoroughly with fresh water. Next, let it air out completely. Finally, store it upside down in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to use it again.
How long should an average kayak last?
Most inflatable kayaks last between 2 – 5 years if they are properly maintained. Some inflatable kayaks last longer than others. Buying a higher quality kayak usually means it will last longer. The level of use will also have an impact on how long the kayak will last but for most people you can expect 2 to 5 years of use out of an average inflatable kayak.
Which Inflatable Kayak is Best?
There are many different types of inflatable kayaks available today. Some are designed for whitewater paddling, others for flat water paddling, and still others for fishing. There are even some inflatables designed specifically for surfing. So which is best for you and what should you look for when choosing an inflatable kayak?
The type of inflatable kayak you choose depends on your needs. So let’s take a closer look at each type of inflatable kayaks.
If you plan to fish from your inflatable kayak, then you need a fishing inflatable kayak. Fishing inflatable kayaks are typically constructed out of nylon mesh fabric and include a rod holder and storage compartment. These kayaks are ideal for fishing because they are light weight and easy to carry.
Single inflatable kayaks are usually made out of PVC plastic and weigh between 20 and 30 pounds. Some will include manual pumps to inflate them while others will have an electric pump to inflate them. Double inflatable kayak models are typically between 40 and 50 pounds and also contain pumps that are manual or electric pumps.
Multiple Main Air Chambers
The main air chamber is where most of the air goes when inflating an inflatable kayak. But there are two main types of main air chambers: single and multiple.
Single main air chambers are typically used in inflatables made for recreational use such as beach floats or pool floats. They’re usually located at the front end of the boat, near the bow (front) and stern (rear). Multiple main air chambers are typically found in inflatable kayaks designed for more active purposes such as fishing. These boats often have a large number of main air chambers spread throughout the entire vessel. The more air chambers the more safety there is in the kayak.
Safety when kayaking on the water
When shopping for an inflatable kayak, keep these things in mind:
• Make sure the kayak is made of durable materials. Look for models made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or polyethylene. Avoid rubberized fabrics because they tend to tear easily.
• Be wary of cheap prices. While there may be bargains to be had, you shouldn’t pay too little for quality equipment.
• Read reviews. Reviews are written by real users who have used the product. They give you insight into how well the product performs and how long it lasts.
• Do your homework. Learn everything you can about inflatable kayaks before making a decision. Visit websites and blogs dedicated to inflatable kayaks. You can learn about the pros and cons of each type of kayak.
• Know your limits. Never paddle alone. Always take along a friend or two. And remember, no matter how experienced you are, always wear a life jacket or PFD.
Our top 5 inflatable kayaks
Wrapping it up
In conclusion, inflatable fishing kayaks have been around since the early 1970s, but their popularity has only recently begun to grow. They’re inexpensive, portable, and offer many advantages over traditional boats even when you consider the safety aspect of the kayak. They offer a great way for the beginner kayaker to get into the sport of kayak fishing relatively inexpensively.