Kayaks are a popular water sport and can be used for a variety of activities. But which one is better for you? An inflatable kayak is perfect for children who are just starting out and are not experienced in the water. They are easy to use and can be inflated in minutes. On the other hand, the solid kayak is perfect for experienced kayakers and can take a bit more time to inflate. It is heavier and has a harder hull. Kayakers who use a solid kayak should be familiar with the different types of fishing that can be done in a kayak, as well as the different types of kayaks that are available.
If you are interested in more about kayaking, we suggest you read our article on River Kayak vs Sea Kayak.
Before we get started on the main details, let us take a look at a brief comparison between solid and inflatable kayak so that we get a general idea about them.
A quick comparison between inflatable vs solid kayak
|Difference||Solid Kayak||Inflatable Kayak|
|Other names||A solid kayak can also be referenced as a hard shell kayak||It has no other names|
|Size||Their length can kick off from 12ft and can extend all the way to 24ft long in length||Their length begins from 10ft and can end at 16ft long in length|
|Speed||A solid kayak can go really fast at a maximum speed of 5 miles per hour||An inflatable kayak can go as faster at a rate of 6 miles per hour|
|Mass||The mass of a solid kayak can start from 20 pounds and weigh all the way to 100 pounds||The mass of an inflatable kayak is roughly around 30 pounds|
|Structure||A solid kayak’s width can start from 25 inches and expand to 32 inches in width.||An inflatable kayak is wider as it’s width can start from 28 inches and go all the way till 40 inches in width|
|Purpose||You can use a solid kayak for camping, exploring, water type sports, and sightseeing in general||You can use an inflatable kayak for sightseeing, practicing, and traveling|
|Level||People of all ages can use a solid kayak as it isn’t that hard to use and maneuver||Almost people of all ages can use it but they need experience as it isn’t easy to use an inflatable kayak|
|Location for usage||You can use your solid kayak on almost every kind of water spots such as lakes, rivers, seas, and the ocean||You should use your inflatable kayak on calm waters such as rivers, big sized ponds, and places with calm water only|
|Cost||The price of a solid kayak can start from $100 and rise up all the way to around $2000, and you might find some exclusive ones for $3000 to $5000||The price of an inflatable kayak can start from $90 and go up all the way to $2000|
Now that we have seen a brief comparison between the two teams, let us now get into the details about both the teams and see what they are capable of to start off with, we will begin with solid kayaks and then move onto inflatable kayaks.
What is the key difference between a solid kayak and an inflatable kayak?
There are a lot of people who think that the two kayaks that are the most popular are the inflatable kayaks and the solid kayaks. But there is a big difference between them. The inflatable kayaks are often used for recreational kayaking and can be filled with air in a matter of minutes. On the other hand, solid kayaks are designed for more serious kayaking and take a bit longer to fill. They usually have a heavier hull and are built to last. Another important difference between the two kayaks is their size. The inflatable kayaks are often too small for people who want to kayak for a long time, while the solid kayaks are usually too large for people who want to kayak for a short amount of time.
To start off with, what are solid kayaks? Well, solid kayak is a type of kayak that is made up of completely solid and hard materials to make sure that it works properly on water and doesn’t face any problems while paddling. Since a solid kayak is made up of solid materials, it is bound to weigh a lot and that is true because the lightest kayak you will find online or in the market will weigh at least 20 pounds which is around 9 kilograms. If you start looking for a stronger and more durable solid kayak, then you will notice that their mass will keep increasing and increasing all the way to a maximum of 100 pounds which is around 45 kilograms, so that’s kind of heavier than expected. Next up we have on the list is the length of a solid kayak, how long do you think a solid kayak is?
A solid kayak is pretty big when compared to an inflatable kayak as the length of a solid kayak can start from 12 feet and expand as much as 24 feet in length, which means that the shortest solid kayak would be around 3.6 meter long in length and the longest solid kayak would be around 7.3 meters long. Now that we have covered both mass and length, we are now only left with the width of the solid kayak as people usually wonder that, as that is one of the factors to determine what you can take with you or how many people can fit on one solid kayak.
Well, a solid kayak is not that wide as their width is usually between 25 inches to 32 inches, which is like around 64 centimeters to around 81 centimeters in width so there isn’t a lot of space in between, but there’s sufficient space for one person to fit in and paddle comfortably. The average width of a solid kayak is 28 inches wide.
Now, let’s get into the practical details and we will be starting with how fast can a solid kayak go on water? A solid kayak is actually really fast on water as you can go to a maximum of 5 miles per hour with it on water which is like around 8 kilometers per hour and that should tell you how fast it is. Next up, we will be talking about where you can use your solid kayak as not everything can be used everywhere.
A solid kayak is very strong, so it means that it is capable of handling strong winds and waves without any problem and this means that you can use your solid kayak practically everywhere that has a sizeable body of water such as rivers, lakes, seas and even the ocean. However, what can you actually do with a solid kayak? You can do a lot of different types of activities such as camping, racing, fishing, sightseeing and various other little activities that you can only do with a solid kayak.
Since we have learnt all about it’s structural and practical details, let us now see what their perks and downfalls are in the following section.
Advantages of using a solid kayak:
Stabler than an inflatable kayak:
An inflatable kayak is filled up with air to a maximum limit so that it can be used on water. Since an inflatable kayak has air in it, this can cause discomfort for the kayak rider, as the filled up air inside the kayak will move here and there which can make several parts of the kayak occupied with more air and some parts with less air depending on where the pressure is applied thus making it unstable.
A solid kayak, on the other hand, is made up of solid parts, which will keep the kayak stable as everything is distributed in proper portions and won’t cause discomfort for the kayak rider nor will it make the kayak unstable.
More Durable :
A solid kayak is made up of plastic, wood, fiberglass, or even composite substances such as Kevlar. This shows how strong and durable a solid kayak is. If it gets hit by anything, it will probably just form a dent and that is all. However, when an inflatable kayak gets hit, it has a very high chance of bursting as its interior is all hollow and filled with nothing but air, whereas a solid kayak’s interior is completely filled with solid materials that can handle a hit or two.
No setup required :
When you buy a solid kayak, it comes in fully assembled and whole self as all you need to do is just store it and when the time comes, you can just put it on your car and head out where there’s water and use your kayak just like that. It’s such a simple process that requires zero assemblies nor does it need any kind of effort at all.
Solid kayaks are more expensive but they are worth the money:
Solid kayaks are more expensive but they are worth the money. A solid kayak is made from heavy-duty materials that are durable and resistant to water damage. They are also much more expensive than inflatable kayaks. The main reason solid kayaks are more expensive is that they offer a more reliable and durable experience. A solid kayak is also heavier and can take a bit more punishment than an inflatable kayak. Inflatable kayaks are often easy to use and can be taken on any type of water. However, inflatable kayaks can often be expensive to buy and use. They also tend to be more unstable and can be more difficult to control than a solid kayak.
Disadvantages of using a solid kayak:
Pricier than an inflatable kayak:
A solid kayak’s cost price will start from $100 and goes all the way up to $5000 depending on the model, size, materials that were used to create it and everything about it. On the other hand, an inflatable kayak’s cost price starts from $90 and could go all the way up to $2000 which is very less when compared to the most expensive solid kayak. The same situation goes for the cheapest kayak as an inflatable kayak will cost you $90 and a solid kayak one will cost you ten more dollars rounding it up to $100
A solid kayak is made up of completely solid object meaning that it will be very heavy and will be big in size. This means that you need to make a specific spot for storing your solid kayak to make sure it doesn’t get harmed by anything or anyone while also making sure that rats or any other kinds of insects colonize it and make it their permanent house.
A solid kayak is big in size that cannot be compressed like an inflatable kayak, which might be a problem in the future. Due to their massive structure, it won’t be easy to put the whole boat in your car, as sometimes you will need to pick it all the way to the roof and put it there since it won’t fit inside your car. This isn’t an easy task as a solid kayak is heavy so you will need around two to three people to pick it up but if you are clever, then there are some tricks that you can do to put a kayak on the rooftop of your car but we will discuss that some other day.
Now that we have covered everything about solid kayaks, let us jump into the next section and that is the inflatable kayaks, what are they made of, what are they capable of and their benefits & downfalls.
Let us begin with: what is an inflatable kayak? Well, they are a type of kayak that isn’t like the usual type as instead of being made up of completely solid objects; they are instead filled with air completely, which helps them float on water. It’s almost like an inflatable ring or a life jacket but this time, it comes in the shape of a kayak. This can be an excellent addition if you aren’t a daily or professional kayak user but instead, want to use it a few times for having fun. You can use your inflatable kayak almost everywhere such as a river or a lake or even a sea, but you need to make sure the area you will be using has calm water or the water waves aren’t very strong since inflatable kayaks are not built to handle strong water waves.
However, recently there have been some new inflatable kayaks that are built to handle somewhat strong water waves but not very strong ones. What can you use your inflatable kayak for? Well, you can do many activities with it such as traveling, sightseeing, and practicing how to become an even better kayak rider. If you want to travel at a fast rate, you can do that easily as an inflatable kayak can go really fast at a speed rate of 6 miles per hour which is almost 10 kilometers per hour and that’s swift for a kayak.
An inflatable kayak’s specialty doesn’t only come from what it can do but also from what and how it’s made up of. First up, we have the mass and since an inflatable kayak is basically completely filled up with air, it doesn’t weigh much. An inflatable kayak will have a mass of roughly 30 pounds which is equal to 13 kilograms and that shows how to light an inflatable kayak is. However, you might find that some of the inflatable kayaks that are much stronger and more durable than normal ones will weigh a bit more like around 50 pounds, which is around 22 kilograms and still that heavy.
Next up, let us talk about how long an inflatable kayak is since they are filled with air, just exactly how much can they grow. An inflatable kayak comes in many different sizes as their range starts from 10 feet long all the way to 16 feet long. The size of an average inflatable is 12 feet long. Last but not least, we have to talk about the width of an inflatable kayak and you will see that inflatable kayaks have a lot of space in them since their width starts from 28 inches and can go all the way to 40 inches, which is like 0.7 meters wide to around 1 meter wide.
Now that we have got an idea about an inflatable kayak’s structural and practical details, let us take a look at what makes inflatable kayaks so good and bad at the same time.
Advantages of using an inflatable kayak
Budget friendly :
An inflatable kayak doesn’t cost much as their pricing can start from $90 and rise all the way up to a maximum of $2000 whereas a solid kayak is way more expensive than an inflatable kayak. This makes inflatable kayaks more suitable because not everyone has a passion for kayaking so if you want to just try it out, then you can just buy a cheap one and use it to see what kayaking really is all about and this won’t even cost you a lot of money.
Easier to transport:
Since an inflatable kayak has nothing but mostly air inside of it, you don’t need 2-3 people to pick it up and put it on your car rooftop or need 2-3 people to drag it out all the way to the water. All you can do is just take the deflated kayak in a bag or a suitcase and once you have reached your destination, then you can fill it up with air and then head out to the water with it. This will save you a lot of time and effort on loading and unloading a kayak from your car while going to the beach.
Less Space Required:
The deflated and inflated situation comes really in handy here as when you are not using it, you can just store it somewhere small since it’s deflated at that moment, it won’t take up much space and will be in a safe condition without being scared of being pierced by random objects. However, if you kayak is inflated, then it will take up some space but you need to make sure that there are no sharp objects nearby than can pierce it’s skin.
Disadvantages of an inflatable kayak:
Needs to be setup:
Unlike a solid kayak, which comes completely assembled, an inflatable kayak does not come completely assembled so you need to spend some time and effort to completely set it up before taking it to the water and not to mention that you need to fill it completely with air for it to float properly. Even the oars needs to be assembled.
Takes up drying up:
Since inflatable kayaks are made up of PVC, they take their sweet precious time to dry off once they are out of the water. This could cost you a lot of time and might even cause problems if you are in a hurry to leave.
Can get pierced due to sharp objects lying nearby:
An inflatable kayak is made up of PVC which even though is a strong material might not always be strong since inflatable kayaks are made up of thin layers of PVC. Due to this, there is a high risk of it getting pierced by sharp and pointy objects that are lying nearby on water or even underwater and you will be in a lot of trouble if it gets pierced midway through your kayak trip.
Water will start to gush into the hole and can drown you pretty quickly if you don’t act fast. Some inflatable kayaks are later on wrapped with more durable fabric for extra protection, which honestly sounds like a better option than just having a PVC surface.
How much do you need to spend on a kayak?
There are a lot of kayaks on the market, but which one is the best for you? There are a lot of factors you need to take into account when deciding which kayak is the best for you. For example, you need to consider the size of the kayak. A kayak that is too small will not be able to provide the same amount of water capacity as a kayak that is larger. You also need to consider the type of kayak. A kayak that is inflatable will be less expensive to buy and use, but it may not be as stable. A kayak that is solid will be more stable and can provide more water capacity.
Finally, you need to consider the type of kayak you plan to use. A kayak that is for swimming will be less expensive to buy and use, but it may not be as stable. A kayak that is for fishing will be more stable and can provide more water capacity.
Which type of kayak is best for you:
There are a lot of kayaks available on the market. It can be difficult to know which kayak is the best for you. You should first consider the size of the kayak. A kayak that is too small may not be able to accommodate your needs. A kayak that is too large may not be able to fit in all of your favorite spots. It is important to find a kayak that will fit your needs and your budget. If you are not sure which kayak is the best for you, you can ask a friend or family member for their opinion.
They may be able to help you find a kayak that is the right size for you. You should also consider the type of kayak. A solid kayak is better for those who want to kayak in difficult waters or for those who want a kayak that is durable. An inflatable kayak is better for those who want to kayak in more shallow waters or for those who are not sure how deep they can go. Finally, you should consider the price. The price of a kayak is important to consider. A kayak that is too expensive may not be worth the price
To wrap things up, both solid kayaks and inflatable kayaks have their differences, and we saw what their own benefits and downfalls are. Nonetheless, they are both fantastic types of kayaks that should be tried out at least as the more you experience, the better you will know, feel and understand. For example, you might hear someone say it’s hard to drive a car, but will you know if it really is easy or hard to drive a car without trying to drive a car yourself?
Similar to that, you can either buy or rent both kayaks and take them out for a test drive, and then you can determine which one matches your taste, and you can sell the other one. I hope that this piece of the article was able to help in determining the difference between solid and inflatable kayaks. If you have any other questions about kayaking, then you can refer to our other articles, which might help you.
People of what age limit are allowed to use a solid kayak?
Well, there are no certain age limits for using a kayak but children below the age of 13 shouldn’t use a kayak as they might not understand it completely which can lead to non-proper handling of the boat and cause problems.
Can you race using an inflatable kayak?
It isn’t a safe activity since inflatable kayaks can get unstable at times and you don’t want an unstable kayak in the middle of your race.