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Differences between inflatable and rigid kayaks

man in a rigid kayak

The  kayaks  are a variety of canoes that in their beginnings existed for a single crew member, however, at present you can find up to two or four crew. It is a long and narrow boat that is used to navigate through waters in the form of both recreation and competition.

Types of kayaks

There are several types of kayak and depending on the use that is given, it is better to buy one than another, as is the case of rigid kayaks and inflatable kayaks . The different kayak models are a good example of the hydrodynamic parameters that come into play. The kayaks of speed , of competition in sea and of crossing, are long and extremely narrow . Looking for an optimal hydrodynamic performance. On the other hand, whitewater, surf and polo kayaks are short, rounded and wider in shape.

Rigid kayaks

The rigid kayaks are manufactured with hard and resistant materials that make the kayak, a large and weighty equipment, can be manufactured in wood ; almost always handcrafted by the Kayakista himself from his own design or from existing plans, fiberglass; which provides the lightness of all of them with the wear resistance of the fiberglass , substantially improving the overall resistance of the kayak, polyethylene ; currently the most used material in the manufacture of kayaks, is presented in powder or pellet and is 100% recyclable, mixed with a pigment that gives the final color of the kayak.


Rigid kayaks are the most chosen for competitive sports practices because depending on the size, model and weight can achieve better results in practice.

Inflatable kayaks

These kayaks are made of PVC or vinyl , the manufacturing system is very similar to that of inflatable boats, only that the thickness of PVC , to lighten weights and having to be folded to keep in a backpack or carrying bag, must necessarily be minors Usually, the fabric is usually formed by an outer layer of PVC and a polyester interior. The best quality have two layers, the outer only has the mission to protect the interior that is inflatable. Some of them improve the penetration in the water by adding sheets of ABS plastic between the two layers, on both sides of the keel, providing rigidity.

Differences between inflatable and rigid kayaks

      • Rigid kayaks are much heavier than their rubber and air counterparts, which can weigh only 7 kilos.
      • The inflatable kayaks fold to the size of a canvas bag and fit easily inside the hood of the car and even a motorcycle. Some of the more compact models fit inside a backpack or luggage, which increases the possibilities of kayaking in the country or abroad. Apartment residents will have more facility to store an inflatable kayak at home, where it can fit in a closet, than a rigid kayak.
      • The inflatable kayaks have less capacity available average rigid kayak.
      • The inflatable kayaks cost much less than rigid kayaks. However, you can spend $500 on an inflatable kayak or a rigid kayak, since both types have a wide range of prices that correspond to their wide range of qualities.


      • The kayaks inflatable low end are cheap but not as durable or maneuverable as high – end types. When it comes to rigid kayaks, polyethylene is the cheapest material available.
      • The inflatable kayaks require inflate and deflate every time you use them, and there is always the possibility of a puncture. The purchase of a high-quality inflatable kayak, made of more resistant materials can reduce the chances of a leak. Some models are even punctured resistant thanks to the materials used or to redundant air chambers. A puncture is not a drama, it can be repaired and many of them are served with a repair kit.
      • The rigid kayaks do not require much maintenance, but the wooden kayaks require more care than other types. The only maintenance required for an inflatable kayak is to dry it before storage and if it has been used at sea, wash it with fresh water after use and before storing it.
      • Since inflatable kayaks weigh much less, you have to pay special attention to inflation. An excess of pressure can cause damage to the seams or a blowout and also have an excess of buoyancy which will cause more drift . On the other hand, a swelling defect will cause the kayak to be limp, lose the stiffness that it should have and its buoyancy is lower. With a lower buoyancy the draft increases . of the boat and consequently, move forward with each stroke will cost much more.
      • A well-inflated kayak is a stable and fun kayak. For a correct inflation of the kayak you must put air until it takes all the form and on the surface, the notes that pressing with the finger, does not sink more than 1 or 1.5 cm.
      • Rigid kayaks are faster and more maneuverable, especially during strong winds that will push an inflatable kayak. At first, paddling in a rigid kayak is more difficult as it costs more to carry a straight line and each row unbalanced to the previous one. Once the point is taken, paddling is more efficient and progress is made much more.

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