What is the Best Inflatable Canoe?

Choosing the best inflatable canoe can be a daunting task if you’re new to the world of paddling with an inflatable vessel. These boats have come a long way in recent years and are an excellent choice for a mobile, lightweight, and packable option if you have a small car or need to transport your canoe into a remote setting.

Our Top Inflatable Canoes

Product

Weight

Capacity

Dimensions

Price

Our Rating

Coleman Rio

35 lbs

350 lbs

9'10" x 3'1" x 15"

$$

Intex Explorer K2

31 lbs

400 lbs

10'3" x 3' x 1'8"

$

AIRHEAD AHTK-2

36.3 lbs

500 lbs

12' x 20.6" x 11.6"

$$

Sevylor Ogden

27 lbs

355 lbs

10'3" x 2'9" x 12"

$$

Sea Eagle 330

26 lbs

500 lbs

11'2" x 34" x 18"

$$

Scroll down to see full reviews!

How to Choose an Inflatable Canoe

What makes or breaks an inflatable canoe? I’m going to equip you with the information you’ll need to know in order to make the best purchasing decision when looking for your next mobile boat. Let’s take a look at a few key criteria:

Portability

Some inflatable boats can be packed up and carried on your back while others are more suited for carrying in the back of the car. Packing down your canoe into a manageable size for the back of your car means better gas mileage compared to carrying it atop the vehicle, as well as more convenience. You can also pack your canoe in the car and take it to work – there’s no way a roof top carrier will fit in a parking garage.

Weight

Choose a canoe which makes the most sense for your needs. If you’re planning to carry the boat around on your back, you’ll want to spend top dollar for a compact, low weight model. If, however, you just want a boat which can fit in the back of the family car, then weight may not be a concern, and you can shop without this restriction.

Style

Inflatable boats come in all flavors today, and it’s important to consider which style makes the most sense for your needs. Canoe style boats feature high sidewalls, an open top design, and seats for two or more people.

Styles may deviate wildly, however, and often include kayak-type features such as an enclosed top on some models, sit-on-top seating, or a longer and narrower frame. Often, when it comes to inflatable boats, these traditional styles are mixed and matched which blurs the line between canoe and kayak.

Anglers and swimmers may prefer sit on top blow up canoes while those looking to paddle longer distances (such as packrafting) may want a more efficient and kayak inspired design with a closed top. Consider how you will use the boat before making a decision.

Tandem Canoes

Along the same lines as style, you’ll want to look at how large of an inflatable boat you’ll need. If you’re paddling with a partner or lots of gear, you may want a tandem canoe.

If you’re planning on going solo, you may be better off considering a kayak inspired inflatable boat for a single user.

Performance

There are several factors which may impact the overall performance of your inflatable canoe. This YouTube video can help you visualize some of the differences between a higher performance inflatable canoe versus a more budget oriented option.

Now let’s dive in depth on a few of these factors and why they matter when you’re picking out your next boat.

Tracking Fins

Some inflatable kayaks and canoes feature an optional tracking fin which can be installed on the underside of the hull when inflating the boat. This hard plastic or rubber fin acts as a tracking assist to help prevent the side to side sway of shorter boats when adjusting between paddle strokes. This is an excellent feature for those seeking to paddle longer distances.

High Pressure and Low Pressure Models

As inflatable canoe technology moves forward, boats are becoming ever more advanced. One major improvement recently is the adoption of high pressure inflation in some inflatable canoe models. Using improved stitching and fabrics, these boats can be inflated to substantially higher pressures than older models which means a more rigid hull.

Low pressure canoes will be less expensive, employing welded seams and baffles. These boats are subject to less efficient ergonomics when in the water and can sag or flew under the load and pressure of paddling – thus sapping the efficiency of each paddle stroke.

High pressure canoes rely on advanced stitching to reinforce the canoe materials in order to handle much higher pressures. This results in a more firm and efficient body and your inflatable canoe, while more expensive, will also perform much more akin to a traditional canoe.

Inflatable Canoe Reviews

Product

Weight

Capacity

Dimensions

Price

Our Rating

Coleman Rio

35 lbs

350 lbs

9'10" x 3'1" x 15"

$$

Intex Explorer K2

31 lbs

400 lbs

10'3" x 3' x 1'8"

$

AIRHEAD AHTK-2

36.3 lbs

500 lbs

12' x 20.6" x 11.6"

$$

Sevylor Ogden

27 lbs

355 lbs

10'3" x 2'9" x 12"

$$

Sea Eagle 330

26 lbs

500 lbs

11'2" x 34" x 18"

$$

Scroll down to see full reviews!

Coleman Rio Canoe

Coleman Rio Canoe Review

This is a single person inflatable canoe with deep sidewalls and plenty of leg room. Behind the seat is storage space for a moderate amount of gear, though I don’t think you’d want to take this boat on a longer trip with tons of equipment.

This boat is a short hull design at 9’10”, with raised bow and stern which means it’ll be a great choice for tight areas and high manoeuvrability.

420D nylon is rugged and durable – I’m sure you’ll find the material will perform for years with proper use. Holding up to 350 lbs, you’ll be able to carry just about anything without worrying about weight capacity.

Pros

  • Short and agile for tight spaces and manoeuvrability
  • Lightweight ~30lbs

Cons

  • Low pressure inflation may cause sagging in center of boat
  • Lack of removable tracking fin (skeg)

Intex Explorer K2

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak Review

Another double hull, raised bow and stern design this time measuring just a bit over 10’ to accommodate the tandem design. With a 400lbs weight rating, you’ll want to make sure that you, your partner, and all of your gear are well within the weight limits of this boat.

Again, this boat features a low pressure floor although the boat will hold its shape reasonably well with two people in it to balance out the weight distribution. The boat comes with a repair kit and two Boston valves for quick inflation and deflations. One cool feature of this boat is that it comes with two 3-piece paddles and an optional skeg for better tracking when paddling.

Pros

  • Included skeg for improved straight line traveling
  • Lightweight tandem design is just over 31lbs for two people
  • High-back seats are supportive and comfortable for long durations

Cons

  • Paddles are low quality, and any serious kayaker will want to replace them
  • Low overall weight capacity for two people plus gear

Airhead AHTK-2 Montana

AIRHEAD AHTK-2 Montana Review

This boat is a 12’ beast made for two people and a pile of gear. With dedicated shock cord equipped space in both the front and the back, you’ll be able to carry plenty of supplies for a long day or even an overnight trip. Having enough room to take all the gear you need for an extended trip into the wilderness is an awesome bonus that makes all sorts of fun adventures possible.

Overall, the boat comes in at a reasonable 36lbs for two people and a maximum 500lbs capacity, which should be able to accommodate just about anyone’s needs.

I really like the tube I-beam floor and the extra reinforced bow and stern which allow this boat to stand up to a few knocks and scrapes. Airhead state that the AHTK-2 Montana is rated for moderate whitewater, which is believable when you take a close look at its tough construction.

This boat even features a robust set of 4 skeg fins for superior tracking!

Pros

  • Longer boat with 4 skegs means great tracking over long distances
  • Drain holes for removing water
  • 840-D nylon is ultra-rugged

Cons

  • Low pressure baffled floor won’t hold shape quite as well as a high-pressure boat
  • Multiple bladder design makes drying and maintenance difficult in some situations

Sevylor Ogden 2-Person

Sevylor Ogden 2 Person Canoe Review

With a more traditional canoe design, these boats have dedicated seats with generous ergonomics and plenty of storage space. While you won’t have room for a multi-day expedition, you’ll certainly have plenty for an afternoon on the river with your partner.

One of my personal favorite features about this boat is the adjustable, elevated seats which can be dialed in for a perfect fit and comfort. It’s like a sleep number bed on the water! The entire boat is covered with a polyester shell which helps to protect and maintain the interior inflatable chambers. The double-chamber design will remain inflated even if one chamber is punctured, giving peace of mind.

Pros

  • Redundant systems mean that in case of emergency one chamber will continue to be inflated
  • Adjustable seats are more comfortable than many models
  • Dedicated dual storage areas

Cons

  • Back rests on seats have a tendency to lack adjustability despite good design
  • Lack of skeg means poor long distance tracking

Sea Eagle 330

Sea Eagle 330 Review

Ultralight design means that this two-person inflatable boat tips the scales at a meager 26lbs yet features a 500lbs carrying capacity. I love that Sea Eagle managed to get the weight of this boat down so low while still delivering a functional two-person inflatable boat. Unfortunately, the low weight comes at a price: storage space can be found on the boat, but there are no built-in straps or D-rings for lashing down gear.

Front and rear spray skirts, and each seat are individually inflatable allowing you to tailor the setup of the boat to your needs. Sea Eagle also included two skegs on this boat for great tracking.

Pros

  • 3-year warranty from manufacturer
  • White water rated
  • Ultralight weight

Cons

  • Low quality paddles included with purchase
  • Lack of well-designed storage space

Conclusion

Without a doubt, I’d prefer paddling the Airhead Montana for any general canoeing trip. Why? Because the boat is built to carry gear! With reinforcements on the bow and stern it’s also durable and dependable – qualities I want to see in a boat I’m going to rely on.

While many of the boats we’ve reviewed may have something different to offer, the Airhead Montana brings in some of the most critical features of a canoe – dedicated storage and comfortable seats. My one complaint? Lack of skegs.

However, I still think the AHTK-2 Montana is the best inflatable canoe on the market given its high-quality build, spacious leg room, and large carrying capacity.

But, as always, remember to carefully assess your needs when choosing your inflatable canoe and look for a boat with all the features and traits you’ll need to be successful on your next trip.

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