There are some really expensive inflatable canoes, but are they worth it? What's better than the cheaper ones?
When families are strapped for cash, is it worth spending extra on an inflatable canoe?
Unfortunately, canoes can be expensive, especially if you have to buy more than one.
Price, as well as ease of storage and transport, is why we went with an inflatable canoe. However, if we could afford rigid canoes, store them, and transport them easily, we would have done it.
However, the price for inflatable canoes varies wildly. Some upper models are as expensive as a basic rigid canoe. So what's the difference?
Inflatable Canoes to Avoid
In the early days of inflatable canoes, many were nothing more than an inflatable lilo with sides. Unfortunately, you can still find many of these.
Avoid these. Treat them as you would a pool lilo.
What to look for in a quality inflatable canoe
There are several things to look for in an inflatable canoe.
- The inflatable material should be strong and durable.
- There should be multiple 'chambers'. If one chamber gets punctured, the canoe should not sink to the bottom.
- The hull should be protected with a separate strong covering to further protect the inflatable sections.
- Boston valves will make inflating and deflating a lot easier.
- Look for a rubbing strake to protect the hull when paddling.
- It should have a removable skeg.
- It will be heavy. This is a sign of heavy-duty material.
- There should be a drainage hole with bung.
- Carrying handles.
- And ideally extras like webbing, somewhere for dry bags, and paddle holders.
Our quality inflatable canoe is the Sevylor Hudson (pictured above).
This handles moderately well for a large inflatable (inflatables don't perform in the water as well as rigid hull canoes), and the additional protection gives peace of mind when beaching.
Are there any cheaper inflatable kayaks?
Yes, there are, but at the expense of quality.
We recently purchased two Intex Challenger K1 kayaks for our older children.
These were affordable compared to an expensive inflatable but are not on the same standard as the Sevylor Hudson. And, one was soon punctured (but easily repaired).
Since we like getting on the water, these may only last a season or two, but that's OK for the price.
But despite being entry-level inflatable canoes, they perform quite well (for an inflatable) and certainly feel more like a kayak in the water rather than a canoe.
They are also easy to inflate and deflate.
The lack of features such as a drainage hole doesn't seem that essential then think again. The only way to get the water out was to tip it upside down, and yes, cold river water did run down the back of my neck!
More Expensive vs. Cheaper Inflatable Canoe
Here's a video where I show you some differences between a more expensive inflatable and a cheaper one.