Best Materials for Inflatable Kayaks: Finding the Kayak That’s Right for You

There are 3 main materials inflatable kayaks are made from today that makes them more durable and long-lasting than versions produced a decade ago. Modern inflatables are made from Nitrylon, Hypalon or PVC, each with unique advantages. Some people prefer one material over the other, but all are very tough.

PVC Kayaks

Of the three, PVC kayaks are probably the most common. PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride, a vinyl polymer that is flexible and durable. PVC inflatables have many advantages. They are much cheaper than other materials, thus they make a great kayak for a beginner. These kayaks are also very portable, convenient and known to last a long time. Unlike some other materials, PVC can also come in a huge variety of colors. It’s also very easy to patch with repair kits and can be welded for a very solid construction. Other materials may only be assembled with glue, which slowly breaks down over time.

Unfortunately, PVC inflatable kayaks have a couple of disadvantages. They aren’t incredibly resistant to extreme temperatures, sunlight and chemicals. They may also be damaged by UV rays from the sun unless they’re treated with a protectant spray.

Hypalon Kayaks

Hypalon is a patented synthetic rubber that’s resistant to chemicals, sunlight and temperature. Hypalon kayaks are probably the most long-lasting styles available today with the ability to stand up to environmental conditions like mildew. Hypalon boats are actually used by the United States military and Coast Guard due to their reliability.

Downsides to the hypalon inflatables include their high cost and the need to use glue to assemble the boat.

Nitrylon Inflatable Kayaks

These kayaks are newer on the market and came about after the controversy surrounding PVC. Nitrylon is seen as a more eco-friendly material for kayaks and is actually a lamination of natural and synthetic rubber over 1200-denier polyester fabric. Advantages to this material include its ability to easily withstand punctures and cuts and the way it can perform in even the coldest environments. It’s also very easy to patch. Because this material is so heavy, it’s usually reserved for very cold use or in environments that require a very tough kayak.

If you’re thinking about buying a new inflatable kayak, it can help to consider the different materials available to choose the right kayak for your needs. If you’re going to very cold environments like Alaska or want something ultra-durable, Nitrylon is the best bet. PVC is a good choice for most people, however, due to its affordability and durability.