The most common considerations when choosing an inflatable kayak include the type of kayaking you plan to do (including solo vs. tandem), ease of transportation, and cost.
Type of Kayaking
Inflatable kayaks are available in a very wide range of designs, from recreational sit-on-top kayaks to performance oriented sit-in kayaks, so the first thing you should determine is the type of paddling you expect to do. If you plan to paddle in places with much wind, waves or current, then you would be wise to spend a little extra for a performance oriented inflatable kayak. If you just plan to paddle flat water on your local lakes and rivers, then almost any inflatable kayak will be fine.
Solo, Tandem or Convertible
If you plan to have a partner for most of your outings and like the idea of sharing one kayak, a tandem inflatable kayak may be perfect. However, sometimes it’s nice to have your own boat so you can explore that little cove that your partner would rather skip. 😉 While you can paddle a tandem by yourself, it can be somewhat of a challenge to maneuver because you’re not sitting in the middle of the boat. A tandem-solo convertible is a kayak designed specifically to address this issue by allowing you to adjust the position of the seats.
Any inflatable kayak is easy to transport, at least relative to any rigid kayak, but the size and weight of the deflated kayak can vary considerably. So if you want to be able to carry your inflatable kayak in a backpack, or on an airplane, then the packed size and weight will need to be taken into consideration. Weight can also be an issue if you plan to paddle alone because you’ll need to get the kayak into and out of your vehicle by yourself.
Since inflatable kayaks vary greatly in design and intended use, they also vary greatly in price. While cost is usually an important factor for most of us, it should definitely take a back seat to the other considerations discussed above. If the kayak you want isn’t in your budget right now, consider getting a less expensive inflatable kayak to start with even it means you may have to stick to less exciting waters. It’s better to paddle any kayak than to not paddle at all.