Are expensive inflatable canoes worth it?

December 10, 2013

When families are strapped for cash, is it really worth spending extra on an inflatable canoe?

Sevylor Hudson Inflatable Canoe

Unfortunately canoes can be expensive, especially if you have to buy more than one.

Price, as well as easy 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 then we would have done.

However, the price for inflatable canoes vary 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 there were many that 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 a number of 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 add further protection to 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 has given piece 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 very 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 do 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.

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Gav Grayston
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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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  1. Sevylor has to do something for there after sale service .

  2. Very useful, Thank you. We have Hudson as our first boat and love it. Especially the freedom to put it in the car and go places.

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