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Folding Kayak vs Inflatable: Which 1 is the Best?

Whether you opt for the regular kayak or the portable one, we always end up choosing what’s the best from their different types. Selecting a kayak is actually a challenge as it may depend on the consideration of various factors. Folding kayak and inflatable kayak are two of the most popular types of kayak in the market. But, before getting one, you must have to determine which from the folding kayak vs inflatable one is the best type?

In this blog post, we will unravel the difference between the folding kayak and the inflatable type of kayak. So, if you are torn between these two, you are on the right track!

Defining Portable Kayak: Folding vs Inflatable

Before we jump into defining the difference between folding kayak vs inflatable, let us first try to identify what is a portable kayak. Doing so will help us to clearly point out the distinct features between the two and which one tends to be the best.

folding kayak vs inflatable

Basically, all kayaks are categorized as being portable. And, there are some types of kayak that are ultimately more portable compared to the others. To make things clearer, below are the key features of a portable kayak:

*Easy to carry alone

One of the characteristics of a portable kayak is its being lightweight. Having enough of it would make the portable kayak easily carried by an individual person. However, it should also possess a shape and size that is highly convenient for a person to deal with. This simply means that one can conveniently carry the kayak a little bit further from the parking area. 

Another thing is that it must also be able to fit inside the backpack or a shoulder bag with a strap. Through that, the paddlers can walk a far distance carrying it and take it to secluded areas.

*Convenient to transport

Now, here’s the catch, if this kayak is easily carried, then transferring it into the car could never be that hard. All kayaks have the ability to be strapped within the car’s roof. Yet, in terms of errorless portable kayaking, doing so is not really necessary.

Keep in mind that a real portable kayak fits perfectly even inside a small car. Moreover, city dwellers may not experience any problem in carrying the portable kayak on public transport.

*Don’t require spacious storage area

Storage space is not actually an issue when it comes to portable kayaks. That’s why lots of people who do not have a garage or backyard may have the ability to store the kayak. You can even tuck the portable kayak at the back of the sofa or underneath the stairs flatly.


Definitely, in order for you to weigh down if a portable kayak is really worth-buying, you must have an idea of its benefits and possible drawbacks. 


The following reasons may tell you why you should grab a portable kayak – folding kayak vs inflatable:

  • Easy to access remote water areas

Actually, if you already experience kayaking for more than hundred meters through a regular kayak, you know how it feels to reach the water’s edges. Meaning to say, exploring the water through a regular kayak tends to be highly limited. When you use a portable kayak, your water exploration is really endless. You may paddle up even on remote water areas like alpine lakes, remote sea coves, or hidden rivers.

  • Easier to get to the bodies of water

Regardless whether folding kayak vs inflatable, a portable kayak turns the ordinary water launches more straightforward. For instance, there are beaches that feature steep dunes or slipways directly going up a hill. Due to that, most kayakers usually get a trailer in order to transport the vessel to the water’s edge. Using a portable kayak may not require you to do this.

  • Ability to camp far from the water’s edge

Multiple day kayaking is actually challenging for some time so it may be difficult to look for camping spots on the waterside. Go your way more inland and there are plenty of options to discover. Regular kayak lets you leave the vessel at the edge of the water, place it near the water, or park it around the camping spot. Unlike the portable kayak, the folding kayak vs inflatable one can be packed up and brought to your desired camping area. You don’t need to worry about it because you can have it with you with just a minimal effort.


Aside from the portable kayak that will give you the folding kayak vs inflatable, there are also various types of kayaks available in the market. Each type may suit different styles, conditions, locations, and types of paddling. If you are opting for a recreational kayak, the following drawbacks may hinder you from getting a portable kayak:

  • Performance

Performance wise, the portable kayaks do not have the ability to compete with other particular kayak types. For instance, whitewater kayaking, playboating, sea kayaking, or water racing demand for boats that have particular shapes, specific materials and sizes, and certain features.

  • Durability

Polypropylene and plastic fabric are the materials mostly used for the production of folding kayaks and inflatable kayaks respectively. These materials tend to be less robust and less tough compared to the materials of the regular kayaks. Well, depending on the condition and the way of using and caring a portable kayak, this water vessel is not directly comparable to the other types.

  • Ease of going to all water edges
  • Easier to navigate into the water
  • Has the ability to camp far from the water’s edge
  • Limited performance
  • Less durable

Types of Portable Kayak: Folding Kayak vs Inflatable

Folding kayak vs inflatable

To make things clear, the folding kayak and the inflatable one are under the same umbrella. They are both types of a portable kayak. Now that we already have a brief understanding about the portable kayak, it is time to move forward in differentiating folding kayak vs inflatable.

Folding Kayak

The folding kayak is generally known as the origami kayak and is gaining its popularity too quickly. Normally, the material of the folding kayak is a double layer polypropylene. This material is actually a type of corrugated plastic. Folding kayaks usually accommodates at least one to two people at a time.

Inflatable Kayak

Comparing folding kayak vs inflatable, the latter tends to be the most popular type of the portable kayak. This should be highly credited to its low price. Made with sturdy and extremely tough hypalon, this portable kayak has one up to three seats. The other materials that made up this type of kayak are the PVC or the nytriton.

Nesting or Modular Kayak

Although not a popular and common type, the nesting kayak is the third type of portable kayak. Just to complete our list of portable kayaks, this type is still more portable than the regular kayaks out there.

Detailed Comparison of Folding Kayak vs Inflatable

The comparative result of folding kayak and inflatable type of portable kayak below highly depends on paddling on both calm and choppy water conditions. Let’s see which one soars to the top!

1-Setting Up

In terms of effort in setting up, the folding kayak wins the crown. Well, setting it up tends to be a little quicker and more direct to the point. This is more likely to be experienced when you already performed the setting up process once or twice already.

Although setting up the inflatable kayak also allows an easy process especially when you already figured out the whole thing, there are still some challenges to face here. It is very tricky to get the fin on and off. Aside from that, you also have to deal with inflating and securing the seats. You also need to place some elbow grease over it.

In general, the folding kayak gets one point here. It has a speedy and direct setting up process plus the bonus of less physical effort.

2-Drying Time

When it comes to the drying process, the inflatable kayak takes some few hours to dry them out. Letting them barely dry under the sun for some hours may make it look like it’s completely dried. The problem is there are some bits in the middle of the folds that are still saturated by some water. Using a towel to dry some water in it may be of big help but it really needs more time to totally dry it out.

Meanwhile, the folding kayak dries out too quickly. Just let it sit under the sun and it will dry after a couple of hours. In addition to that, this type of portable kayak is also easy to towel dry. Doing so will not leave any marks leaving the kayak out of ages.

So, another point for the folding kayak in this category as it dries out pretty quicker than its inflatable counterpart.


Prior to getting wet you will notice that numbers of inflatable kayaks seem heavier compared to the folding type. And as soon as it gets into the water, the fabric material of the inflatable kayak holds more weight of water. For that reason, the inflatable kayak has a slow drying time which eventually leads to harder carrying ability. 

Aside from that, you should also consider that an inflatable kayak also comes with a pump. This basically means that wherever you carry an inflatable kayak, the pump also goes too. That will generally incorporate additional weight and bulk to the whole package.

Because of those drawbacks of inflatable kayaks, another point goes to folding kayaks here.


Well, if you consider the proper caring, use, and maintenance of both the folding and inflatable kayaks, there’s no surprise that they can last longer. Some folding kayaks in the market last for about 20,000 folds. Moreover, there are models that feature puncture resistant properties that can be repaired out easily.

On the contrary, the inflatable kayak has all the probability to get punctured on its initial launch. Yet, punctures may be rare and can be easily repaired. You also need to be very careful not to drag it over rocks and rough surfaces. Aside from that, when you are in the water using an inflatable kayak, you will bounce off a rock for some time. 

Having that said, a folding kayak still holds the crown.


The design of a folding kayak generally comes in consideration of certain water conditions. For instance, there are folding kayaks that may be highly suitable to paddle over calm water in low wind. Meanwhile, there are some that have the ability to deal with rough conditions in a much better manner. 

In terms of weight capacity, folding kayaks have lower maximum limits compared to inflatable kayaks. Because of that, folding kayaks may not be able to carry plenty of gears or heavy weight humans. But, this may actually vary based on the model of the kayak.

For the inflatable kayaks, they can generally handle different kinds of water conditions over a recreational level. Despite having struggles over relative whitewater rivers, numbers of mid-range inflatable kayaks traverse over grade 2 rapids. 

Low impact crashes within the rocks and boulders can also be dealt upon easily with lesser drama compared to the folding type of portable kayak. Inflatable kayaks can also accommodate a decent number of gears and weight on overnight trips even in breezy conditions.

With all that, most recreational paddlers experience more versatility in using the inflatable kayak.


Under the right water conditions, folding kayaks are built with high performance that is taken into account. Having the inflatable kayaks as their competitor in this category, the folding kayaks’ performance is highly incomparable. This is all because of their extreme design, properly outlined shape, and lightweight.

Well, in dealing with windy conditions, the inflatable kayaks seem to be better than that of their counterpart. The higher weight and the high loading capacity of the inflatable kayaks are highly accountable for that. But, in terms of speed and efficiency, the inflatable kayaks can be left behind by the folding kayaks.

Again, the folding kayak gets the win.

The Verdict – Folding Kayak vs Inflatable Kayak

The outcome of the comparative analysis of the features of folding kayak and inflatable kayak shows that most of the category is in favor of the folding kayak. This type of portable kayak leaps higher than that of the inflatable type especially in terms of the portability feature. Keep in mind that portability tends to be the most important aspect to take into account when you will have to get a portable kayak.

However, another important feature that is also in great consideration here is the versatility of this kind of water vessel. You probably do not opt to have more than one piece of kayak that you can use in various water conditions, right? So, with that in mind, an inflatable kayak is highly worth considering. But, if you don’t have much space to dry out the inflatable type of portable kayak, you should better opt for the folding type.

Frequently Asked Questions


A: Compared to the regular kayak, folding kayak is the best choice to enjoy your hobby most likely if you do not have enough space to store the previous. Folding kayaks feature convenience in folding them down into smaller sizes so that they can be easily stored. Aside from that, you have the choice to easily get out of the water whenever you want.


A: Well, using an inflatable kayak needs a little bit of modification to offer better comfort. You can actually incorporate some height to the seat of the kayak such as the canoe. However, doing so cannot make you feel the kayak experience. Aside from that, you may also lose a backrest and have the possibility to throw the balance and stability while on an inflatable kayak.


A: If you opt for a faster and straighter kayak experience then better opt for a longer and narrower kayak. However, a more stable kayak that will let you turn easily has a wider and shorter appearance. But, with this, the speed may be highly compromised. For beginners, a wider kayak is a great choice. This will help you to get accustomed to being on the water.


A: Basically, a tandem kayak is the best type for those new in kayaking and plan to be with a kayaking partner. This type of kayak is highly suitable on calm and contained waters like the smaller lakes and quiet ponds for instance. But, if you would be paddling solo or learning over rough waters, tandem kayak is not a good choice.


A: Many might probably think that kayaking is hard, but learning it is not as hard as what you might think. In order for you to successfully paddle, you must equip yourself with some basic skills. Aside from that, ask for the assistance of a good guide or instructor. They may generally help you a lot in learning the proper way of entering and exiting a kayak. Moreover, they will also teach you the correct methods on doing the different kinds of strokes in paddling and some lessons on boat safety. 

Final Words

The portable type of kayak is greatly designed to offer extreme portability to paddlers. When it comes to its type, the folding kayak and the inflatable one are known to popularly rise within the industry. Although under the same umbrella, these two portable kayak types have features that make one outshine the other. But, for sure, both of them will provide you extreme happiness in paddling!