The 5 Best Inflatable Kayaks For Whitewater: For 1/2 Persons

by Jason | Last Updated:   November 22nd, 2021
The 5 Best Inflatable Kayaks For Whitewater: For 1/2 Persons


You’ve been thinking about getting out onto whitewater, but you don’t have the money to splash out on a hardshell kayak.

In which case, you may be looking for the best inflatable ‘yak for whitewater. Inflatable kayaks for whitewater are a lot cheaper than their hardshell counterpart. 

But…

You might be thinking inflatable kayaks aren’t strong enough to handle whitewater rapids, but I’m here today to tell you that isn’t true. 

The best inflatable kayaks have come a long way since people first introduced them to the world. And nowadays, inflatable whitewater kayaks are more robust than they ever have been.

In this article, I’m going to introduce you to five of the best inflatable kayaks for whitewater. If this sounds like what you’ve been looking for, don’t go anywhere.

So, let’s take a look at the best inflatable kayaks for whitewater:

IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS…

Reviewing The 5 Best Inflatable Kayaks For Whitewater

Driftsun Rover 120/220 Inflatable Tandem Whitewater Kayak

The Driftsun Rover is a solid inflatable whitewater kayak that comes in two different sizes. You have a choice of a K1 or a K2 kayak if you want to take people with you. Of course, which one you choose will depend on the price.

Both kayaks were built with a robust layered PVC; thanks to the dual layers, it offers enough protection for the kayaks to bounce off rocks. On top of that, the tarpaulin bottom provides even more protection from abrasions.

It also comes with a removable rear tracking skeg which helps keep you in a straight line without overcompensating with the paddle. The great thing about it being removable is you don’t have to worry about obstructions when you’re in whitewater.

And last, of all, the Driftsun Rover comes with self-bailing drain plugs which help drain the water when you’re in whitewater. And if you’re on calm water, you can leave them closed, so you stay high and dry.

Pros
  • The carry handles are reinforced, which gives you confidence when you’re transporting your whitewater inflatable kayak from place to place.
  • It comes with everything you need to get started, from the pump to paddles to the seats, so you don’t need to buy extra stuff.
  • You can inflate the kayak for whitewater in around 9 minutes with the high-functioning air pump that’s included.
Cons
  • The footrests aren’t very comfortable and make it hard to increase the power of your strokes.

Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe

If you’re looking for a solid inflatable kayak that can hold an extreme amount and up to three people, then the Sea Eagle 370 is a great choice. The kayak can comfortably fit three people and can carry 650 lbs of weight.

And thanks to the robust construction of the inflatable tandem kayak, it’s able to handle class III rapids without the fear of it puncturing when it hits a rock.

To help you stay in a straight line and glide through the water at faster speeds, they include two rear skegs to the kayak. They are also fully removable, which means you don’t have to worry about them getting caught in shallow water.

It also comes with two inflatable seats, which provide back support for you while you’re paddling and increase your paddling abilities.

Pros
  • You have a lot of space in the inflatable whitewater kayak so that you can carry a lot of gear and up to three people comfortably.
  • You have everything you need to get started in the pack, so you don’t have to buy extra equipment.
  • It inflates incredibly quickly, so you can get out on the water very quickly.
Cons
  • Some people found it more challenging to control than other inflatable kayaks they had owned beforehand.

Aquaglide McKenzie 105 Inflatable Kayak

The company built the Aguaglide McKenzie 105 kayak specifically for handling whitewater rapids. It uses a Duratex construction with EvoBeam technology to help hold things together. Thanks to the material, it bounces off rocks without fear of punctures.

Not only does the EvoBeam floor help with protection and add strength, but the V-shape hull also helps to increase the tracking. And to add to the tracking abilities further, you’ll find Posi-track fin.

One of the great things about this kayak is how lightweight it is. It only uses 24 lbs, which makes it incredibly easy to take it out of the water to skip a section if you need to.

But all these great features do come at a price. The pack doesn’t come with a paddle or a pump, which means you’ll have to buy a few extra pieces before you get out on the water (check out some of the best kayak paddles for beginners).

Pros
  • The Aguaglide McKenzie kayak provides excellent control when whitewater kayaking down the rapids.
  • You can pick up some extreme speed due to the kayak’s shape and how lightweight it is.
  • You have covered space to help keep your gear dry when the water starts to get a bit rough.
Cons
  • Due to the narrow design, you don’t have as much room to store your whitewater kayaking gear.
  • It doesn’t come with a paddle or a pump which is quite annoying.

Airhead Montana Kayak

This 9 ft inflatable whitewater kayak was designed to hold one person and transport them down a moderate grade rapid. It’s not made to take on extreme rapids, but it can handle low grades or lakes perfectly.

To help give you confidence in the kayak, they use three enclosed chambers to construct the kayak. Due to the separate chambers, you can feel confident you can make it back to dry land if one of the chambers pops.

Another great feature of the AIRHEAD Montana kayak is how real it tracks through water and how little drag it produces. This is down to the four fins at the kayak’s bottom, all of which are removable.

The major downside to this inflatable whitewater kayak is having to buy a foot pump and a paddle for the kayak. And this adds to the price quite significantly.

Pros
  • The kayak comes with 6 D-rings which works perfectly for attaching gear to the kayak, so nothing falls out.
  • The grab handle on the solo inflatable kayak makes it easy for one person to carry it to remote locations.
  • The drain plugs help to stop the water from pooling in the kayak.
Cons
  • With the purchase, you only get the kayak, which means no paddle, carry sack, or pump.

Intex Explorer K2

If you’ve been looking for a budget two-person inflatable whitewater kayak that can handle rapids, this could be the answer you’ve been looking for. 

The inflatable kayak is made with a rugged vinyl PVC which can withstand knocks and scrapes while running rapids. Not only is it strong, but it’s straightforward to inflate thanks to the Boston valves found on each side.

It was built with multiple air chambers that speed up inflation and offer protection if one of the chambers pops. And to help increase the speed of the kayak, it comes with a skeg that enhances your tracking ability.

And finally, the two-person inflatable kayak comes with everything you need to get straight in the water. With the purchase, you’ll find the paddles, air pump, and a repair kit.

Pros
  • The package comes with puncture repair kits so you can repair it at home if the worst happens.
  • The bright colors help you stand out, which is very important if you’re paddling in rough water.
  • The whitewater kayak is one of the most affordable good quality kayaks on the market.
Cons
  • Although the kayak is well made, it can get punctured relatively easily, so, luckily, it comes with a repair kit.
  • If you’re a tall paddler, it’s not the best kayak for you.

Our Top Choice

Every one of the best inflatable whitewater kayaks I’ve listed above will perform excellently on whitewater. But let’s be honest, you’ve come here to find out which one I feel performs the best.

And in my opinion, the Driftsun Rover 120/220 has to be one of the best inflatable whitewater kayaks out there. The inflatable kayak has an excellent shape, so it cuts through the rapids with ease. And when water flowers over the top, it’s got five self-bailing ports to let the water out.

Not only does it perform excellently, but the construction materials a very strong and never feel like popping.

And finally, the inflatable whitewater kayak comes with everything you need to get yourself on the water, so you won’t have to purchase any extra equipment.

Things To Consider Before Buying The Best Inflatable Kayak For Whitewater

Whitewater kayaking is an excellent adventurous activity that anyone can take part in. But previously, you’d have to pay thousands for a hardshell kayak to take you down the river.

But know, things have changed:

Inflatable whitewater kayaks have become so much stronger than they previously were. 

Thanks to the upgrade in the materials, it’s enabled people to tackle whitewater rapids without fearing the inflatable kayak will burst. That being said, inflatable kayaks aren’t invincible, so you still need to be careful. 

In this section, I’m going to show you everything I look out for when buying a kayak for whitewater:

Whitewater Classification

Okay, inflatable whitewater kayaks a designed to travel on whitewater, but here’s the thing. Not all of them can handle the same class of rapids.

And that’s why you need to check out the classification before you make a purchase. If your inflatable kayak isn’t strong enough to handle the rapids you paddle down, you are going to get yourself into a pickle. 

Here’s what you can expect from the different whitewater classifications:

  • Class I: The water is moving with a few waves, but you won’t encounter many obstacles on your way down the river, making it great for someone learning to kayak.
  • Class II: The riffles and waves are getting slightly more significant, but they are easy to avoid. You’ll have to have a little bit more knowledge about the route and how to maneuver the kayak.
  • Class III: Rapids have started to become larger and more irregular waves for extended periods. You’ll also find some narrow passageways, so you need precise movements.
  • Class IV: The rapids are long, with extremely narrow passageways requiring advanced movements to get yourself through them. The waves are huge, and you have the chance of a few drops to deal with. 
  • Class V: Super dangerous routes that are very long and complex with violent drops and waves. It would be best if you didn’t attempt them unless you are an experienced whitewater kayaker.
  • Class VI: Perilous routes and on the border of being impossible. These runs require specialized equipment and training.

Make sure you check out what kind of runs your inflatable kayak can handle before you purchase the kayak.

Self-Bailing

When you’re kayaking down whitewater, the chances are you’re going to be covered in water. And the last thing you want is the kayak filling up with water as you’re running down the river.

And this is why self-bailing abilities are so important when you go kayaking down rapids. But how does it work?

Self-bailing kayaks have small holes in the boat that allows the water to drain when a significant amount of water enter’s the boat. 

Drop-Stitch Floor

One of the best features to look out for in your whitewater kayak is a drop-stitch floor. It gives a more rigid bottom than a traditional inflatable floor. Drop-stitch flooring offers more rigidity and distributes the weight evenly across the floor.

Multiple Chambers

When it comes to safety, an important aspect should have multiple air chambers. Your inflatable kayak can puncture at any point, and having a backup chamber can help you get to the shore safely.

Setup And Inflation Time

Due to inflating the kayak before you get on the water, it can take some time to set up, which can be pretty annoying for some people. How long a kayak takes to inflate depends on the type of valves it uses and what pump it comes with.

With the right combination, it can take around 9-10 minutes to inflate your kayak fully. With a lousy combination, it can take approximately 30 minutes to pump the kayak, but of course, this depends on the size of the kayak.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Inflatable Kayaks Good For Whitewater?

Inflatable kayaks can provide an excellent experience on whitewater even when you compare them to traditional hardshell kayaks. The main things you should look out for are stability, durability, and the kayak’s weight capacity.

Can You Use Inflatable Kayaks On Rivers?

Despite what people think about inflatable kayaks, they can actually perform exceptionally well on rivers. They have been built specifically to withstand harsh conditions on the water, so if you get the right one, you’ll have no issues.

Can You Use A Whitewater Kayak On A Lake?

The short answer is a whitewater kayak will perform fine on a lake; if you have no other option. That being said, if you have a self-bailing hole in the kayak, they will have to be covered. If they are not, the water will start filling up the kayak, which is not ideal.

Hey, my name's Jason, and before I was a writer, I worked as an outdoor activity instructor where I took groups kayaking and camping. Now I use my personal experiences to share tips and tricks I've learned over the years. For as long as I can remember, I've been passionate about the outdoors, and now I want to share that passion with my readers.