best inflatable kayak for van life


Best Inflatable Kayak for Van Life – Top Picks for Fun Water Adventures

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best inflatable kayak for van life

We NomadAdventurers are always in need of the most compact version of the things we love! If you love kayaking you might want to explore your options for an inflatable kayak. I personally am in love with my blow-up paddle board, read my post about iSUPs here. They actually even make a 2 personal paddleboard with kayak seats, we will look at that a little bit later, if you are looking for a more conventional style there are many many options for iKayaks these days. What a great time to be getting into Van Life, am I right!?

Whether you’re exploring calm lakes or tackling whitewater rapids, there is an inflatable kayak out there that can meet your needs. Some kayaks are designed for solo use, while others can accommodate multiple passengers. Additionally, different kayaks offer varying levels of stability, speed, and maneuverability. By considering your individual needs and preferences, you can find the perfect inflatable kayak to enhance your van life adventures, hopefully I can help you make an informed decision.

Benefits of Inflatable Kayaks for Van Life

Inflatable kayaks have become increasingly popular among van lifers due to their convenience and portability. Here are some of the benefits of using an inflatable kayak for van life:

Easy to Transport: One of the biggest advantages of using an inflatable kayak is that it is easy to transport. Unlike traditional kayaks, inflatable kayaks can be deflated and packed into a small bag, making them easy to transport in a van or car trunk or even your e-bike, read our recommended ebike post here. This means that you can take your kayak with you wherever you go, without having to worry about how to transport it.

Lightweight: Inflatable kayaks are also lightweight, which makes them easy to carry and maneuver. This is especially important if you plan on kayaking in remote areas where you may have to carry your kayak for long distances. With an inflatable kayak, you can easily carry it on your back and hike or ride to your destination.

Durable: Despite being lightweight and easy to transport, inflatable kayaks are also incredibly durable. They are made from high-quality materials that are resistant to punctures and abrasions, which means that they can withstand the wear and tear of regular use. They aren’t as durable as the conventional plastic kayaks, but the pros very much outweigh that factor.

Easy to Store: Inflatable kayaks are also easy to store when not in use. Unlike traditional kayaks that take up a lot of space, inflatable kayaks can be deflated and stored in a small bag or container. This means that you can easily store your kayak in your van or car trunk without taking up too much space.

Cost-Effective: Inflatable kayaks are also more cost-effective than traditional kayaks. They are generally less expensive to purchase and maintain, which makes them a great option for van lifers who are on a budget. When looking for the best inflatable kayak for van life it’s all about space, weight, and cost.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Inflatable Kayak for Van Life

When it comes to choosing an inflatable kayak for van life, there are several factors to consider. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind:

  • Size: The size of the kayak is an important consideration, especially if you have limited space in your van. Make sure the kayak is small enough to fit in your van when deflated, but also large enough to accommodate your needs when inflated. Keep in mind if you want a single rider or a tandem unit. Or get one small enough that you can carry 2 in case you meet up with a buddy.
  • Weight: Since you will be carrying the kayak in your van, it’s important to choose a lightweight model. Look for kayaks that are made from lightweight materials, such as PVC or nylon.
  • Durability: Inflatable kayaks are typically less durable than hard-shell kayaks, so it’s important to choose a model that is designed to withstand the rigors of van life. Look for kayaks that are made from high-quality materials and have reinforced seams. It’s important to keep in mind your kayak destination, lakes and rivers, versus the ocean, will there be rocks?
  • Stability: Stability is important when it comes to kayaking, especially if you are a beginner. Look for kayaks that are designed to be stable, with a wide base and low center of gravity.
  • Price: Inflatable kayaks we looked at range in price from under $2350USD to over $1,300. Consider your budget when choosing a kayak, but also keep in mind that you get what you pay for.

Overall, when choosing an inflatable kayak for van life, it’s important to consider your specific needs and preferences. By taking the time to research and compare different models, you can find the perfect kayak for your van life adventures.

Top 5 Best Inflatable Kayak for Van Life

When it comes to kayaking during your van life adventures, having an inflatable kayak can be a game-changer. They’re lightweight, easy to pack, and take up minimal space in your van. Here are the top 5 best inflatable kayaks for van life:

KayakWeight CapacityKayak WeightDimensionsPrice
Intex Challenger K2400 lbs38.24lbs11′ x 2’6″$250
Bote Deus Aero 11″300 lbs50lbs8’7″ x 3′$1,199
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible550 lbs52lbs15′ x 2’8″$980
Sea Eagle 370 Pro650 lbs12’6″ x 2’10”$570
Aire Lynx II450 lbs43lbs12’1″ x 3’1″$2,700

Intex Challenger K2

The Intex Challenger K2 is an affordable option that’s perfect for beginners. Made with a rugged vinyl construction that is built for performance. It has a low-profile deck and high-buoyancy side chambers for more stability and function. It has a streamlined design for easy paddling. What’s included: cargo net, repair patch kit, 2 paddles, High output pump, removable skeg, inflatable seat and backrest.

Bote Deus Aero 11′

This is a sit-on-top kayak. This Kayak takes just minutes to set up and hit the water, it’s at a mid range price point and can be used as a kayak or a stand-up paddle board. We do love the versatility of the Bote Deus, it comes with a magnetic cupholder, a repair kit, hand pump, removable foot bar, pair of aero rac receivers for your fishing poles, and a travel bag. At the time of posting this Kayak was not available on Folded size 36″× 17″× 13″.

Advanced Elements

The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible is a high-end option that’s perfect for more experienced kayakers. It’s lightweight, easy to pack, and can hold up to 550 lbs. This is a 15′ kayak that has a open deck or closed deck convertible design. It has a rigid bow and stern rib frame design. It comes with a repair kit, duffel bag, 2 folding seats, NO PUMP included. Folded size of this is 35″ X 21″ X 12″.

The Advanced Elements company also makes an inflatable white water kayak if that’s more up your alley, or creek, haha! Check it out here….

Sea Eagle 370 Pro

The Sea Eagle 370 Pro is a versatile option that’s great for both calm lakes and whitewater rapids. It’s also affordable and can hold up to 650 lbs. This is a tandem inflatable kayak with adjustable and removable seats so you can also use it as a solo rider. Reviewers like that this has comfortable seats but they don’t love it’s small foot pump.

What Other Types of Portable Kayaks Are Available?

Skin on Frame Folding Kayaks

Skin-on-frame Kayaks: These kayaks are constructed with a lightweight wooden frame that is covered with a stretched canvas skin. The skin is typically coated with a waterproof material like polyurethane to make it durable and waterproof. Skin-on-frame kayaks are lightweight and easy to maneuver in the water, making them perfect for exploring small rivers and streams. They are also very affordable compared to other types of kayaks.

Folding Frame Kayaks

Folding Frame Kayaks: These kayaks have a collapsible aluminum frame that can be easily assembled and disassembled. They are typically more durable and longer-lasting than inflatable kayaks, but they can be more expensive. Folding frame kayaks have a streamlined design that makes them ideal for longer trips or more challenging paddling conditions. They are also very versatile and can be used for a variety of activities, from calm lake paddling to sea kayaking.

Overall, both skin-on-frame and folding frame kayaks are great options for van life because of their portability and ease of storage. They can be quickly assembled and disassembled, making them perfect for spontaneous paddling adventures. They also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so there is sure to be a folding kayak that meets your needs and preferences.

Hybrid Stand Up Paddle Board Kayak

When it comes to van life we always seem to be looking for things that are double duty! I know it’s a hat, but is it also a coffee filter? I know it’s a straw, but will it also make coffee? Have you tried the coffee straw? It’s amazing. I seem to really be focused on coffee! Admitting my addiction is the first step I’m told. I digress, Focus!

One of the main benefits of a paddle board kayak hybrid is its versatility. With a simple adjustment of the seat and footrests, you can switch from standing up and paddling to sitting down and kayaking in a matter of seconds. This makes it easy to adapt to changing conditions on the water, whether you’re facing choppy waves or calm, still waters.

Another advantage of paddle board kayak hybrids is their ease of use. Unlike traditional kayaks, which can be difficult to maneuver and balance, these hybrids are designed to be stable and user-friendly. They typically feature wider, flatter bottoms and larger surface areas, which help to keep them steady and prevent tipping.

Of course, one of the biggest draws of paddle board kayak hybrids is the fun factor. Whether you’re looking to explore new waterways, enjoy a leisurely paddle, or even try your hand at fishing, these hybrids offer an exciting and engaging way to experience the great outdoors.

So if you’re looking for a new way to enjoy the water, consider giving a paddle board kayak hybrid a try. With their versatility, ease of use, and sheer fun factor, they just might be the perfect watercraft for your next adventure.

Our favourite hybrid options:

We like the Snifur Fishing 11′ from Fun Water. It’s a really versatile board at a really great price point. It comes with everything you need to either Stand Up Paddle or calm water kayak. It even comes with a fishing rod holder. This is a versatile board that is really great for beginners. Maybe you’re new to water adventures, this board is a little bit of everything rolled into one.

We also like the Breeze Aero from Bote Board. Super affordable and really easy to set up and use. You do have to buy the kayak seat and paddle seperately from this company. Their seat is usable with any of their boards that are set up with the “Travelink” compatible system. This way you can choose the board you want and have a kayak option to simply add on when needed.


After researching and reviewing the best inflatable kayak for van life, it is clear that there are a variety of options available to suit different needs and preferences. Whether you prioritize portability, durability, or ease of use, there is an inflatable kayak out there that can meet your requirements.

For those who value convenience and ease of setup, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is a great option. Its inflatable seats and backrests provide added comfort, while its lightweight design makes it easy to transport and store.

For those who prioritize durability and versatility, the Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe Kayak is an excellent choice. Its high-quality materials and construction make it suitable for a variety of water conditions, while its spacious interior provides ample room for gear and equipment.

Finally, for those who want a top-of-the-line inflatable kayak that can handle any adventure, the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak is a great investment. Its hybrid design combines the benefits of both inflatable and hard-shell kayaks, providing exceptional performance and stability in all conditions.

Ultimately, the best inflatable kayak for van life will depend on your individual needs and preferences. By considering factors such as portability, durability, and performance, you can find the perfect kayak to enhance your van life adventures.
For you safety conscious outdoor enthusiasts we did a blog post about the most compact folding helmets, you can read it here!

Do you have a favorite inflatable kayak? Comment below, I’d love to hear your opinions.

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