Inflatable kayak vs Hardshell kayak

Kayaking has always been a thrilling activity whether you are maneuvering through still lakes, windy rivers, or sea-filled waves. Besides being an adventurous activity, kayaking is an excellent source of physical exercise

The comparison between an inflatable kayak and a hardshell kayak has always been a hot topic for kayaking-lovers. This debate has been going on for ages among both beginner and professional paddlers.

The sole reason behind writing this article is to come up with details addressing this debate. This article covers almost everything about both inflatable kayak and hardshell kayak.

So let’s start with Inflatable kayaks:

Inflatable kayaks

As the name shows, they are supposed to be inflated and deflated before use. These kayaks are modern kayaks that are designed in order to cope up with the modern-day kayaking requirements.

An inflatable kayak is also known as Blow up kayak. These are portable, budget-friendly, and easy-to-transport kayaks. These qualities make this kayak ideal for beginners.

On the account of advancing technology, inflatable kayaks are nearly similar in performance as that of hardshell kayaks.

Inflatable kayak vs Hardshell kayak


It is the most lightweight kayak made of synthetic rubber and plastic polymers. They usually weigh around 25lbs, which is almost half of the weight of a hard shell.

Despite being lightweight and composed of rubber and plastic polymers, the inflatable kayaks offer amazing durability and strength. Puncture resistance, weatherproof, and dual air chambers are some of its top-notch features.

Is it cost-effective?

As mentioned above, inflatable kayaks are made up of rubber and plastic polymers which makes them cheap in price as compared to the hardshell kayaks. So the simple answer is, yes!

Storage and transportation

Just like an air mattress, an inflatable kayak takes a small amount of space to store. You can conveniently deflate it and store it in its carrying bag. This carrying bag can easily fit in the trunk of your car.

Being easy to store, it is easy to transport as well. These kayaks are highly portable and can be moved from one spot to another, easily. It does not require any car roof rack for transportation.


Let’s talk about some worth-mentioning pros of inflatable kayaks:

  • Lightweight and easy to transport
  • Despite being lightweight, they are durable and strong.
  • Designed efficiently to withstand the bumps and knocks. They bounce back in case of collision.
  • They are made up of drop-stitch technology which means there are small-fibers inside the kayak interlock as it is inflated making it tough for rough surfaces.
  • The outer layer is made up of PVC or durable rubber which makes it more durable.


After reading the pros, now it’s time to mention its negligible cons:

  • Inflatable kayaks are a bit expensive
  • It consumes time in inflation and deflation.
  • Its pump needs high-maintenance and extra effort to keep it clean and intact.
  • Being lightweight, on the off chance that it becomes hard to control it in rough water.

Hardshell kayaks

Hardshell kayaks also known as rigid kayaks. These kayaks are conventional types of kayaks. They are composed of wood, fiberglass, composite material, or plastic. As compared to inflatable kayaks, hardshell kayaks perform better in rough waters.

These kayaks normally weigh 55lbs. Generally, hard shells are more expensive than inflatable ones. They are more stable, durable, reliable, and designed to withstand calamities of rough waters.

Furthermore, these kayaks are more suitable for fishing because of their stability and control.

Inflatable kayak vs Hardshell kayak


As the name refers, hardshell kayaks are made of hard materials like wood, plastic, Kevlar, and fiberglass. Consequently, the hard material makes this kayak extremely durable and sturdy. These kayaks can easily put up with any water be it still lakes or rough sea.

Price tag

These kayaks are expensive as compared to inflatable kayaks. On the account of its hard material, these kayaks turn out to be more expensive.

Even wooden kayaks are more costly than plastic-made inflatables. Furthermore, these kayaks require more maintenance as compared to the inflatable ones.

Transportation and storage

Being heavy in weight, hardshell kayaks are difficult to transport. You need to have a roof rack in order to fix it up there and transport it.

Setting up on a roof rack does require effort and time. As far as the storage is concerned, you need to have enough space in your garage to keep your hardshell kayak. Thus, this kayak carries more space and is hard to transport from one place to another.


Following are its worth-noticing positive points:

  • They are more stable in rough water and offers you smooth paddling
  • It saves time as it does not need inflation and deflation
  • It offers you more control and confidence while paddling.


  • Heavy in weight as compared to inflatable kayaks.
  • Carrying them is an arduous task
  • It requires extra space in your garage.
  • They require extra maintenance
  • They are more prone to get damaged
  • They cost more as compared to inflatable kayaks.

Our Final words About Inflatable kayak vs Hardshell kayak

For the most part, it is hard to advise what one to pick. Notwithstanding, for your benefit, I have rattled off all the highlights, professionals, and cons of the two kayaks. Furthermore, in view of that, you can choose which one to pick. Inflatables can be not difficult to convey, transport, and ride and don’t need a lot of exertion.

In addition, they are exceptionally cost-accommodating also. So on the off chance that you are an amateur and needed to clean rowing abilities, at that point this the one to have.

Though, Hardshells are unbending, tough, and give you more control while rowing. Then again, they are weighty, would require some space to store, and exorbitant also. I would prescribe you to pick this in the event that you are in the middle of the road or progressed level.

Also, I will suggest you to read about folding kayak and tandem kayak before buying the right product for your needs.

Leave a Reply