Kayak inflatable or hard shell


Expedition Leader

^one of the best inflatables out there.

and it is capable if not preferable to a hard shell for certain types of river/white water trips. Such as...

They are tough as can be and easy to fix. Lash points for your gear and self bailing. Pack down to a medium size. You can do up to a week out of them easy if you pack right. Room for the dog and gear. Cost is well under $1,000 brand new.

I have a Wilderness Systems 165 Tsunami hardshell touring kayak.


Great boat for lakes, ocean and big wide slow moving rivers. No good in any whitewater. Plenty of room to pack it for several days but harder to pack it for a week. No room for dog or others. Your hardshell tandem kayaks are going to pretty much be the same with just a bit more room than a single. The hardshell is much faster and easier to turn with the rudder.

hardshell and inflatable are different types of boats for different uses. So a little hard to compare them...


I have an Advanced Element tandem. I love it!! It tracks very well. One thing I like about the inflateables is that every surface is soft. This makes it a very comfortable boat to be in for lond trips. I have done a few river trips in the AE and it did great. It stores in a bag the size of a normal suite case and I can easily move it around. You can set it up for one person when you want to go fishing or time away from the wife. It has done everything I have asked it to and more.


I have the same one. :victory: Easy to set up, paddles along nicely. Paddled around with people on sit on top kayaks and had no trouble keeping up. Haven't done any river trips, but works fine in the ocean and lakes.


I have 2 IKs and have been very happy with the performance of both over the last several years. the first is an Aire Lynx II, a tandem (divorce boat) that I load up and use solo as an expedition boat for overnight trips or add the second seat and use as a tandem. the second is a whitewater boat made by Sotar it's a great ww boat but not designed for flatwater use and has trouble tracking straight because of the rocker (roundness) in the bottom.
For an all around boat the Lynx is a great choice, it's not the fastest boat but it's very stable, dry (I don't sit in a puddle), durable (raccoons love the straps)and it packs down pretty well. they are a little pricey but they do have an unlimited 10 year warranty, just send it back and they will repair it no questions asked.
paddling around the house

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Trinity II

I've been very happy with our Trinity II (it's a private label version of Aire's Sawtooth II) as a kayak in a bag for minimizing space and reducing our footprint when packed up.

For an inflatable boat, it was surprisingly fast. Paddling with our friends, who were in a canoe, we were able to out distance them without much effort. The Trinity II self bailing is great, however, in choppy conditions the bailing holes splash the forward paddler. To minimize this, I put our storage bag in the front of the boat and rested my feet over the bailing holes which worked pretty well. The removable tracking fin provides excellent tracking and minimizes weathercocking. I haven’t had a chance to, but it should be fine solo paddling, too.

The Trinity II is 15’3″ long by 32″ wide. The side tubes are 9″, and with two average size adults you will have about 7″ of free-board above the water surface. The inflatable floor is a full 7″ thick and is keel shaped at each end. There are two comfortable lift handles, and each seat is adjustable and has a large cargo pocket on the back. The boat with two seats and heavy duty fin weighs in at 51.5 pounds.



New member

Check out packrafts from alpacka raft, they are amazing and there are different versions depending on your size, intended use (and budget!)

Folks are running all kinds of water w/ these, including a trip down the grand canyon.


weight:~5 lbs. and they can easily be packed into a backpack too!

I love mine.


Expedition Leader
For those who like a full sized ocean kayak yet want to be able to pack the boat down.

Trak makes an excellent boat! A buddy of mine is stress testing the 1600. This winter he will be paddeling nearly 1500 miles in the boat along the entire length (and then some) of New Zealand.


The boat comes and packs down into a golf bag sized carrying case. This makes it so you can take the kayak on airplanes.

The boat is fast, fairly stable and remarkably durable. It can be set up or broken down in under ten minutes. The first time I paddled this boat I was comfortable with it in about 5 minutes.

So far my buddy has used the boat in Canada (including surfing some decent sized surf in it), used it a season in Norway, paddled around Croatia and used it a bit in the USA. He is very picky about boats and also puts them to the test. He loves his Trak!

If you are looking for a nice collapsible sea kayak I suggest you take a good look at the Trak. It is also one of the most affordable collapsible boats on the market.

Chris S

A Trinity search led me here. Some great boats.
Here are some more ideas for the trunk.

I demo'ed a really nice inflatable on a pond and found that it was very difficult to paddle in a straight line. I suggest one of the sit on top style kayaks.


Well-known member
I have an inflatable. My first kayak. Works very well, feels very stable and though I use it mostly on lakes I would have no problem with some easy river runs. But, it has me wanting a good hard shell kayak. My buddies all go faster, turn easier.

Heck, I even built a rack on the camper for one. But like you I'm on a budget and the inflatable will have to do for now.
My experience matches this and it is with a cheap inflatable. I think it is three or four years old now and still no leaks.



I have had many different canoes and kayaks. I currently have an 18 foot carbon expedition kayak (Easy Rider Eskimo) and 2 advanced elements inflatables.
Since buying the inflatables, my hard kayak has not gotten wet once.
My Advanced elements advanced frame convertible with both deck and drop stitch floor can do anything and I often average 3 knots. It would be VERY hard to tear and doesn't bang my Jeep up when loading and unloading while inflated. It stows easy when deflated (take me maybe 6 minutes to inflate)
Inflatable are not what they used to be, the two that I own are not pool toys.
First time I used this brand was at work in King Salmon Alaska. My use of it started by unstrapping it from the skids of a helicopter and dropping it 30 feet, and then paddling down a remote river and into Bristol Bay.