One of my favorite reasons for owning an inflatable kayak is the lighter weight in comparison to similar hardshell kayaks.
So, how much does an average inflatable kayak weigh? In short, an average inflatable kayak for solo paddlers weighs around 30 pounds (13.6 kg) and an average tandem inflatable kayak weighs about 40 pounds (18.1 kg). Generally speaking, inflatable kayaks for fishing are heavier while backcountry kayaks can weigh as little as 17.5 pounds (7.9 kg).
Obviously, the weight of an inflatable kayak can vary a lot and much will depend on the length, application and whether the kayak is designed for solo paddlers or as a tandem inflatable kayak.
Here are some features and applications that will most likely result in an heavier inflatable kayak:
- Designed for fishing (accessories like rod holders, trolling motor mounts, etc.)
- Specialized gears for paddling (such as Hobie foot-powered kayaks)
- Additional length
- Internal structures that add rigidity to the shape (such as Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame kayaks)
Below are a few examples of how much inflatable kayaks best for solo paddling weigh:
- Intex Challenger K1 – 25 lbs (11.3 kg)
- Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame – 36 lbs (16.3 kg)
- Sea Eagle SE330 – 26 lbs (11.8 kg)
- Airhead Montana 1 Person Kayak – 27.7 lbs (12.6 kg)
- Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralight – 17.5 lbs (7.9 kg)
- Advanced Elements Straitedge – 34 lbs (15.4 kg)
- Advanced Elements Straitedge Angler – 41 lbs (18.6 kg)
- AIRE Tributary Tomcat Solo – 34 lbs (15.4 kg)
- Hobie Mirage i9S – 41 lbs (18.6 kg)
- Sevylor Quikpak K5 – 28 lbs (12.7 kg)
- Advanced Elements Lagoon 1 – 23 lbs (10.4 kg)
And here are a few examples of how much tandem inflatable kayaks weigh:
- Intex Explorer K2 – 38 lbs (17.2 kg)
- Intex Challenger K2 – 38 lbs (17.2 kg)
- Sea Eagle SE370 – 32 lbs (14.5 kg)
- Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible – 52 lbs (23.6 kg)
- Advanced Elements Island Voyage 2 – 31.5 lbs (14.3 kg)
- Sevylor Coleman Colorado – 41.2 lbs (18.7 kg)
- Airhead Montana 2 Person Kayak – 36.3 lbs (16.5 kg)
- AIRE Tributary Tomcat Tandem – 44 lbs (20 kg)
- Sea Eagle 420x – 44 lbs (20 kg)
- Advanced Elements Lagoon 2 – 37 lbs (16.8 kg)
- Sea Eagle 380x – 38 lbs (17.2 kg)
The reality is that the right weight for an inflatable kayak will vary for each person and application. Knowing more about how you plan on using your kayak can be really helpful to determine how much the weight of your inflatable kayak really matters.
When You Should Opt for a Lighter Inflatable Kayak
Here are some situations in which you should definitely look for an inflatable kayak that is lighter in weight.
You’re Just Looking for Fun
Here’s the deal: not everyone who buys an inflatable kayak needs to be super gung-ho about getting high-end performance on the water. Maybe you’re just out there in a kayak to bop around on a small lake and you’re not in need of a super fancy 12-foot inflatable kayak with advanced aluminum ridging that adds rigidity to the hull. We’ve all been there. Sometimes you’re at the lake and you just want to have some simple fun.
Go for a lighter kayak in this scenario. You’ll have more fun out on the water and you’ll spend less time and effort dragging around a heavier than necessary kayak. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later for it.
You Expect to Bring the Kayak for Backcountry Trips
This one is simply a practical matter. If you’re going to be hauling an inflatable kayak around for use on backcountry trips, you’re going to want to have as light of an inflatable kayak as possible. While some inflatable kayaks like the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralight offer great performance at 17.5 lbs, know that there are super-light options available on the market. There are a few options that weigh only several pounds, as this can be useful if your backpack already weighs a bunch and adding almost twenty pounds doesn’t sound like a good idea.
You Believe That Lugging Around a Heavy Kayak Means Less Kayaking
Here’s a question you should definitely ask yourself: how heavy of an inflatable kayak would make me less likely to want to go kayaking? After all, the goal when buying an inflatable kayak is to spend more time on the water, not less.
Knowing how much weight you would feel comfortable moving around each time you want to go kayaking is important. Remember, inflatable kayaks aren’t like hardshell kayaks that you can leave on the beach of your lake house. You’re most likely going to be storing them somewhere inside and you may be driving to lakes or rivers as well.
So be sure to opt for a lighter inflatable kayak if you think that it would be annoying to do the following things with a 40 pound kayak:
- Put it in the car
- Take it out of the car
- Load it back in the car after drying
- Putting it back into storage at home
When A Heavier Inflatable Kayak is Worth It
On the other hand, there are a few scenarios in which you’ll be more than happy to take on the additional weight. Here are a few:
You Expect to Mostly Fish From Your Kayak
If you’re buying an inflatable kayak mostly to go fishing, then I would strongly consider a kayak that is designed just for fishing. Usually, this will mean that the kayak includes features like multiple rod holders and mounts for trolling motors. While these will add weight to your inflatable kayak, the added performance will be more than worth it.
You’re Looking for Serious Performance
It’s pretty hard to get around this: if you’re looking for top performance from your inflatable kayak then be prepared to buy one that is heavier than average. This is especially true if you’re dealing with kayaks that use some sort of hard structure (such as aluminum ridging) or drop stitching to add extra rigidity to the body of the kayak.
As expected, the additional materials needed to add rigidity and performance will result in an increased weight. But if you’re looking for nothing but the best performance from your inflatable kayak, this may just well be worth it.