Best Inflatable Kayaks for Whitewater

Best Inflatable Kayaks for WhiteWater

Kayaking in whitewater can be an exciting experience. And there are many different types of kayaks made for whitewater paddling. Inflatable whitewater kayaks are very popular due to their natural buoyancy and manueverability in heavy currents. There are several brands that offer excellent whitewater kayaks, but today we’re going to focus on five of our favorites.

So, what’s the best inflatable kayak for whitewater? The best inflatable whitewater kayak is the AIRE Tributary Tomcat Solo. It’s made using vinyl bladders and rugged PVC straps which make it durable and strong. This whitewater inflatable kayak is a stable platform for whitewater kayakers, and it will grow with you as your skills improve.

A good inflatable kayak is an investment. Having one that’s top of the line will make all your trips much more enjoyable. An experienced whitewater kayaker will tell you that the difference between a good and a bad model can be the difference between a great day kayaking and a dangerous one.

So we’ve selected the best inflatable whitewater kayaks we could find, and you can read about them in this article.

Amazon and Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means we will earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) on the products or services you purchase using the links.

Finding the Best Inflatable Kayaks for Whitewater

To make sure you don’t waste your time and money, we’ve made a list of features to look for when choosing a good inflatable whitewater kayak:

  • Durability – The first thing to look for is whether an inflatable kayak is durable enough for the rapids you plan to paddle. I always choose well-known brands that produce long-lasting products, since they’ll maintain their quality over time.
  • Stability – The best inflatable whitewater kayaks must be very stable, so you don’t capsize easily. It’s important to have a balanced inflatable kayak so you can feel confident while paddling.
  • Maneuverability – Make sure that your inflatable kayak is very efficient, look for models with good maneuverability. If you’re encountering rough rapids and fast water, it’s better to choose a product that can turn quickly. The more maneuverable your kayak has, the better.
  • Comfort – If you’re planning on a long day of kayaking, you’ll want to be as comfortable as possible. Look for models with extra padding on the seat, this will be especially valuable on longer paddling trips.
  • Weight Limit – Before buying your kayak, check the weight limit, especially if you plan on taking other people with you. Usually, an inflatable whitewater kayak can only accommodate one person, but remember to add the weight of any gear you might take along in your calculations.
  • Self-Bailing – When riding on rough whitewater, your inflatable kayak will take on water. Make sure it’s equipped with self-bailing holes, making the water flow out rather than spilling inside.

Once you know the features you want in your kayak, you’re ready to go. Keep these in mind when shopping, this will help you determine the best model for your needs.

5 Best Inflatable Whitewater Kayaks

Here’s our list of top inflatable whitewater kayaks, including the AIRE Tributary Tomcat Solo Inflatable Kayak we mentioned above.

Based on our research, the market today has a lot of inflatable kayaks from different brands to choose from. But these are the best inflatable kayak brands that we can recommend:

1. AIRE Tributary Tomcat Solo Inflatable Kayak

The AIRE Tributary Tomcat Solo Inflatable Kayak is our top choice. It has a weight capacity of 375 pounds, being able to accommodate larger kayakers. This inflatable kayak for whitewater is extremely versatile. As a bonus, you can use it for other purposes, like flatwater lake and even some sea kayaking.

Aire has been a popular brand of inflatable kayaks for several years. They are known to use high-grade PVC material that is durable and stable. Their inflatable kayaks are made with military-grade nylon which makes it very easy to patch holes in the kayak as needed.

Thanks to its compact size, the AIRE Tributary is lightweight. It weighs only 40 lbs, making it easy to carry around in your car, truck, or in a backpack. You can effortlessly transport it while traveling to far-off kayaking destinations. 

The AIRE Tributary Tomcat Solo is very stable, even in rough whitewater conditions.

It’s  durable and easy to use. Its only downside is capacity limit.  Even with a heavier weight capacity, this inflatable kayak can only fit one  person inside.

Bottom Line: The AIRE Tributary Tomcat Solo Inflatable Kayak is a durable and stable kayak that you can use for many fun activities. And given that it’s so well-built, this inflatable kayak will give you years of service and fun as your skills improve. 

2. Driftsun Rover Inflatable White Water Kayak

You’ll love this kayak! Easy to inflate, set up, deflate, and pack. It comes in two different colors, blue and orange. This kayak has a weight capacity of 300 pounds and is a very stable kayak, even in rough conditions. It’s also a relatively affordable kayak, making it a great choice if you’re on a budget or plan on kayaking occasionally.

Driftsun inflatable kayaks are known for their colorful designs.They  also stand out because of their  lightweight design, making them easy to bring to the water.

This kayak’s lightweight, yet durable enough to resist class II to III  rapids. The overall weight of this kayak is only 34 lbs, but it can hold up to 225 lbs. Available in only one color, this inflatable kayak for whitewater is very versatile. You’ll find this kayak remains stable even when going through rough water.

The Driftsun Rover Inflatable White Water Kayak has a very sleek design, and its overall weight is just 22 lbs. That makes this inflatable kayak lightweight and easy to carry around. You can take it anywhere you want without worrying about getting tired packing it to and from your car or down to the launch site.

The Driftsun is a very compact kayak, not taking up much space when you’re storing it.

It is a bit pricier than other inflatable whitewater kayaks.

Bottom Line: The Driftsun Rover Inflatable White-Water Kayak is a high-quality kayak that you can use for many purposes. It may be a bit more expensive, but its durability makes it worth the money.

3. Airhead Montana White Water Kayak

If you plan to go kayaking with another person, this Airhead Montana whitewater kayak can hold two people. It has a weight capacity of 500 pounds, making it suitable for tandem kayaking, or big kayakers with larger body frames.

You can also adjust it to a single-seater by removing the secondary seat.

This inflatable whitewater kayak is very stable, even when going through rougher and faster water. It can handle up to class III rapids, which is great news for kayakers who want to test their limits. It is also very easy to set up and take down, which makes it a great choice for beginners.

It is also very affordable for those of us on a limited budget. But it’s still sturdy and with proper care, you’ll be enjoying this kayak for several years to come. 

The only drawback to the Airhead Montana is that it doesn’t have a self-bailing mechanism. This means you’ll be removing water from the inside before packing the kayak away.

Bottom Line: The Airhead Montana White Water Kayak is more versatile than any other inflatable kayak for whitewater. It is durable, stable, and easy to use even for beginners. It may not have a self-bailing mechanism, but it’s still a great option if you want an affordable kayak that’s very stable, comfortable, and easy to use.

4. Advanced Elements Attack Whitewater Kayak

Launched in 1989, Advanced Elements designs and produces inflatable kayaks and gear that are designed for outdoor enthusiasts. Their inflatable kayaks are made with high-grade PVC Tarpaulin material that is very durable and stable in the water.

One of the best features of the Advanced Elements Attack Whitewater Kayak, is a built-in storage compartment where you can store your supplies. The next time you go out in an inflatable kayak for whitewater there is no need to bring extra bags with you.

Cons? None. This kayak is worth every penny.

Bottom Line: The Advanced Elements Attack Whitewater Kayak is one of the few blow-up whitewater kayaks that comes with a built-in storage compartment. It’s versatile, easy to use, and holds up well even when going through rough rapids.

5. Astral Whitewater Kayak

Astral inflatable kayaks are made with high-quality materials and are known to be used by industry professionals. Astral inflatable kayaks are very popular due to their durability and performance for whitewater, surfing, and long river trips.

Are Inflatable Kayaks Good For Whitewater?

Inflatable kayaks come in different designs and purposes. Many recreational inflatable kayaks can handle whitewater, river rapids, and flat water. However, this type of kayak is not made for extreme whitewater conditions or open sea kayaking.

If you do want to take your inflatable kayak through whitewater rapids, just make sure the kayak is rated for up to class III rapids first. 

Can Inflatable Kayaks Handle Rapids?

Whitewater is rated at several different levels or classes of rapids. Inflatable kayaks are able to withstand rapids that are class I , II and III. Class I  rapids have a fast current and relatively small waves. Class II  rapids have faster current as well as bigger waves. Class III  rapids have a very fast current with large waves and rocks, as well as hazards requiring extreme care and caution. 

When  inflatable kayaks were first introduced, people were doubtful if they could handle harsh conditions. However, over time, inflatable kayaks have proven their strength and durability. Many experienced kayakers will now take an inflatable kayak through class III without hesitation.  

Make sure to choose between light to moderate rapids if you are a beginner kayaker. It’s also best to start with class I or II  rapids.

Are Inflatable Kayaks Worth The Money?

Inflatable kayaks are indeed worth your money. However, you should still make sure that they’ll be suitable for your needs. You have to take into consideration that inflatable kayaks can handle rapids, but they are not made for open sea kayaking. In fact, they are not built to handle big waves at all.

It is also important for you to know if the inflatable kayak that you have is intended for whitewater. Be sure to read the product description and requirements to know what your kayak can handle and if it is worth it for your money.

Inflatable kayaks are very versatile and can handle a lot of water; they are just not made to withstand open sea kayaking and big waves.

If you are a beginner, recreational inflatable kayaks can be the best thing for you. They can handle up to class III rapids and are very stable in the water.

What Are The Pros and Cons Of An Inflatable Kayak?

Inflatable kayaks have a lot of positives. They can be a great alternative for people who don’t have the resources to buy full-size kayaks, or those who don’t have enough space to store and transport their kayaks.

Inflatable kayaks are an excellent choice for those who do not want a hard-body kayak. They are also great for testing a kayak first before buying a permanent one.

However, inflatable kayaks also come with a lot of cons. The biggest one being that if not taken care of properly, inflatable kayaks can get holes and go flat easily. Another is inflatable kayaks can’t handle extreme and advanced conditions.

How Long Do Inflatable Kayaks Last?

Inflatable kayaks can last between five to ten years, depending on use. If your kayak stops inflating, check for holes and get them fixed right away.

Like other kayaks, inflatables need to be properly maintained in order to last. If your kayak’s not properly maintained, it may be difficult to fix and might go flat earlier than expected.

Inflatable Whitewater Kayak Wrap Up

Whitewater kayaking is a thrilling way to explore nature. If you enjoy whitewater paddling and don’t have a way to store or transport a full-size hard-body kayak, an inflatable whitewater kayak may be just what you need. Choose a quality brand that’s durable, manueverable, and has a weight limit that will support you and all your gear.


I'm Steve, the research and technology workhorse behind Paddle Camp. I do tons of research on all our family's paddling gear before I buy or recommend anything. I grew up canoeing with my dad and brother. A few years ago I bought paddle boards for my daughters, myself, and my wife. Ever since then, we plan most of our vacations around kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding.

Related Articles