Inflatable Vs Hardshell Kayak Complete Comparison + Guide 2023

Are you also stuck in the same conflict of which kayak is better? Which kayak is more suitable for you and which one is not. Well, it can be estimated in two ways, the first is that you buy both types of kayaks and see which one is the best. But this process can be time-consuming and expensive. So why don’t you choose the second one? In the second method you just need to read a review on inflatable vs hardshell kayaks.

After testing many hardshell and inflatable kayaks, we have arrived at some important points that will help everyone who wants to choose one of them. We compare some essential points such as performance, durability, stability, storage, set up and budget. 


The most important point that confused people was durability and they thought that hardshell kayaks are better than inflatables. In terms of durability there is a great difference between inflatable and hard shell kayaks.

In hard shell kayaks durability depends on material but if you want to buy inflatable you definitely review the purpose and price. For example if you want an inflatable fishing kayak you definitely choose a kayak that handles fins, knives and hooks. 

If you don’t have a budget problem, you can buy a good kayak that is durable enough for any kind of kayaking.


Portability makes an inflatable kayak one step better than a hardshell kayak. First of all you do not need to buy or install a roof rack for inflatable kayaks because they can easily fold and be packed into your car or vehicle. End even you do not need to be concerned about theft on top of it as they are safely packed into your vehicles.

The other important factor is that hardshell kayaks are not only difficult to take on an airplane but also you need to spend extra money as oversized baggage. but inflatable kayaks give you a good allowance on your budget. So if you want a budget friendly option you can check inflatable kayaks.


Inflatable kayaks are best for comforts. You can paddle for hours on the soft seats of inflatable kayaks, without feeling tired, even your legs won’t feel tired. If you are paddling in a hardshell kayak, you get tired in a few hours due to hard backrest. In inflatable kayaks there is a clip built in seats that is very helpful to support your back. 

You can relax while paddling on an inflatable seat like you are sitting on a lounge chair. When paddling you definitely like to swim. If you are paddling on an inflatable kayak, this is easy to get back as it offers soft and comfortable edges. But getting back on a hardshell kayak can be irritating because of the hard edges. 

Performance On The Water 

performance depends on the budget which you pay for a kayak in both cases. I had enjoyed a great experience with inflatable kayaks but some terrible experiences with hard shell kayaks. However cheap inflatable kayaks and hard shell kayaks both offer a terrible experience on the water.


Well inflatable kayaks are a pretty perfect choice for those who are living in an apartment. You can store it in your home with very little space and you don’t need to set any separate shed or garage. You can easily and very comfortably pack it into a bag.

Set Up

Well everything is not perfect, there is something that may not be suitable for. similar to that both kayaks have advantages and disadvantages. The set up process takes time and effort just from getting up in the morning and deciding to go kayaking to being out of the water. 

We can load the inflatable kayak very easily and quickly by simply picking up the bag and putting it in the car, whereas the hardshell kayak will need to first install the roof rack and then strap the hardshell into it. Well it is difficult to tell which one takes more time to set up. However inflatable kayaks are inflated in a very short time, it’s about 5 to 10 minutes. 

The other main benefit of inflatable kayaks is that they are not weighted as much as hardshell kayaks. You can easily pull it on your vehicle and there is no need to install any roof racks.


Inflatable kayaks are budget friendly even with a good quality. Hardshell kayaks are more expensive than inflatable boats. Our first priority is quality, it doesn’t matter what’s the price. I recommend you to go for a good quality of material.


Inflatable kayaks are more portable, easy to store, and can be inflated quickly, making them an ideal option for beginners and those who want a hassle-free kayaking experience. On the other hand, hardshell kayaks are more durable, offer better performance, and are better suited for rougher waters. We hope our guide has helped you make an informed decision on which type of kayak is right for you.

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