If you’re looking for the best inflatable kayak, The Innova Seawave is in the running. 

Compared to other water vehicles, kayaks are miraculously portable—but it doesn’t always seem that way when you’re trying to shove them in to hall closets or lug them singlehandedly across a beach. 

Inflatable kayaks can be the perfect paddling solution for campers who prioritize water-readiness above all else. Not only are inflatables easier to pack and transport—removing key barriers to spending the day on the water (no more excuses!)—but they’ll take up less space when not in use.

The best inflatable kayak models will defend against the hazards of ‘inflatability’: Extra-tough materials to prevent against popping; multiple air chambers to protect against quickly sinking; and as narrow of a profile as you can find, for aerodynamic performance that limits drag. Just as with stand-up paddle boards, good inflatable models keep up with the solid-bodied competition while offering lighter weight and better durability. 

innova seawave tandem kayak

The Innova Seawave tandem inflatable kayak. (Photo courtesy of Innova)

Czech brand Innova’s Seawave stands out as one of the best inflatable kayak options for its sheer versatility. The handmade tandem Seawave—introduced to the US market last summer after finding popularity in Europe—can adjust to seat up to three people. Its average dimensions give it all-purpose appeal for enthusiasts looking to ford anything flatwater, from creeks to bays; just don’t take it on any rivers rated Class III and above. 

Attaching an optional deck (single or tandem), sprayskirts, and rudder transforms it into a whippier, more-waterproof beast; while the included tracking fin (also known as a skeg) helps with stability. Rudders are maneuverable from side to side, where fins are not.

The Ultimate Kayak Camping Gear List

Reviewers across the ‘net have great things to say about the Seawave. This resilient inflatable is constructed from 1,200-denier Nitrolyn: a rubber-coated laminate/ polyester material that protects against punctures from errant bumps with rocks. Six d-rings, multiple corded loops, and buckles give you plenty of space to tie down gear—including sailers, up to 550 pounds’ worth.

Take the boat anywhere your feet can carry you by toting it in the included 100-liter backpack with padded shoulder straps. As campers, many of us will find short distances with the 41-pound load easy to handle.

Innova Seawave tandem kayak

The Innova Seawave tandem kayak shown with and without a deck. The seatbacks will be shorter when used with the deck. (Photo courtesy of Innova.)

Setting up and taking apart the boat isn’t completely intuitive, we’ve learned; and it does take a minute to inflate and deflate the eight separate compartments. (Invest in a good pump to make setup go faster.) But once you get the hang of it, setup is nearly as smooth (and surprisingly swift) sailing as the Seawave itself.

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