We've put together the list of the best lightweight canoes that will let you relax during long wilderness journeys and gentle cruises across open lakes.
If history shows us anything, canoes will always be one of the most significant forms of open water travel.
But canoes are bulky. They tend to be fifteen feet long or more. This means you have to find space in your garage or yard. You also need a car that can safely carry a canoe.
What if you could have all the benefits of a canoe without the difficulty of transport and storage? Enter inflatable canoes. They can be stowed easily in the trunk of a car and stored quickly in a closet or a corner of your garage.
We have put together this list of the best inflatable canoes to help you make the right choice.
Best Inflatable Canoes At A Glance
How to Choose Your Inflatable Canoe
Here’s our list of things to consider before buying your inflatable canoe.
Inflatable Canoe vs Hard Shell Canoes
The first decision you need to make is whether you’re best off buying an inflatable canoe at all, or whether a hard shell would be better for you.
Inflatable canoes are best suited to recreational paddlers. Some of the models on our list inflate to a high enough pressure that they feel similar to a hard-shelled canoe, but they lack the finite control and strength of a plastic boat. If you’re planning white water trips, long backcountry journeys through rough terrain, or need a canoe more suited to dealing with strong winds, our list of lightweight hard shell canoes will have a boat for you.
The key benefit to inflatable canoes is how easy they are to store and transport. The ability to deflate a canoe and stow it in the trunk of your car, rather than having to load it onto the roof, is going to make it far easier to get to the water. The easier it is for you to get to the water, the more often you’re going to be able to get out and make full use of your day.
Inflated Size and Capacity
If you’re looking at inflatable canoes, space is going to be one of your primary considerations. It’s important not to forget that the most important features of your canoe are how it performs once its inflated.
You should make sure that your canoe is large enough to comfortably fit your desired number of passengers. This means finding a canoe that not only has enough seats, but a high enough capacity that you won’t overload it.
Longer canoes also tend to be a little faster over the water, while shorter canoes may be easier to handle and control. Choosing your style of inflatable canoe will depend on whether you’re heading out for a relaxed day on the water, or a long journey across the lake.
Packed Size and Weight
There’s a good chance that you already have an idea of where you want to store your canoe. You also probably know the size of your car’s trunk or the bed of the truck you want to use to transport your canoe. Check the pack size of your chosen canoe to make sure that you don’t buy something that won’t fit into your chosen space.
Remember weight, too. Just because a canoe packs into a small size doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to haul it solo into the trunk of your car. If you’re canoeing, there’s a good chance that someone else will be there to help you move your boat, but you may need to collect it from the cupboard yourself.
Don’t forget about paddles, pumps, and PFDs when you’re looking for a space to store your canoe.
Inflating your canoe to the recommended pressure is key if you want it to perform as it should. Most inflatable canoes come with a pump, but these vary in quality and speed. If your pump is inefficient, there’s every chance you’re going to be exhausted by the time you get on the water.
Learn how long it takes you to inflate your canoe and factor that time into your day. Most canoes now can be inflated to full pressure in under ten minutes. The less time you have to spend pumping up your inflatable canoe, the more time you can spend out on the water enjoying it.
What do you want your canoe for?
Different styles of canoes are useful in different types of water. There are canoes for long trips, gentle rivers, fishing adventures, and floating around on the lake on a sunny day. Think about what you want out of your canoe and make sure that your chosen model is suitable. Specialist canoes often come with a higher price tag, but if you need their features then they are worth the money.
Best Inflatable Canoes
Best Overall – Sea Eagle TC16
Inflated Length: 16 ft. (4.88 m)
Inflated Width: 38 in. (97 cm)
Weight: 64 lbs. (29 kg)
Capacity: 915 lbs. (415 kg)
When it comes to inflatables, few companies can compete with Sea Eagle. The Sea Eagle TC16 was one of the first canoes on the market featuring full drop stitch technology, allowing you to inflate it up to 15 PSI. This high-pressure design gives you the feel and stability of a rigid canoe in an easy-to-transport package.
The Sea Eagle TC16 features a molded plastic bow and stern which enhance the directional abilities and tracking. Along with the rear removable skeg, these give you maximum control over the water. Thanks to these features, the hull can be kept as a flatter, planing surface which allows you to comfortably get the TC16 up to 5 mph.
The TC16 has space for up to three removable seats and a high enough capacity for three adults as well as all of their equipment. The inflatable chambers are safe and prevent the canoe from sinking if it floods with water, making it easy to reenter if you do capsize. The TC16 is suitable for open water trips and up to class IV white water.
- Versatile inflatable canoe
- High-pressure design
- Rigid bow and stern to enhance tracking
- Heavy to move solo
Best on a Budget – Sevylor Adventure Plus Inflatable Canoe
Inflated Length: 12 ft. (3.68 m)
Inflated Width: 34 in. (86 cm)
Weight: 33 lbs. (15 kg)
Capacity: 441 lbs. (200 kg)
The Sevylor Adventure Plus is a recreational inflatable canoe that is perfect for the whole family. This PVC canoe features multiple chambers which not only add to the rigidity and performance but keep you safer on the water. Boston valves make it quick and easy to inflate, so you can spend more time on the water.
Sevylor knows a thing or two about making comfortable inflatables. Their polyester-covered seats are fully adjustable and designed to keep you out on the water all day. The top capacity of this canoe is designed for two adults and one child, making it the ideal family canoe. For full days out, there is space at the bow and stern for a small amount of equipment that can be stowed under the shock cord.
The Sevylor Adventure Plus inflates to a lower PSI than canoes using drop stitch technology. Although this means it’s not quite as responsive, the high sides keep you stable on the water and the softer chambers are more comfortable and less likely to burst against rocks. If you do find you have a puncture, the chambers are all fully replaceable, so you don’t need to completely overhaul your canoe.
- Budget friendly
- Replaceable I-beam construction
- Comfortable design
- Lower pressure means a less responsive performance
- Heavily affected by wind
- Low capacity
Best for Hunting and Fishing – Aire Traveler
Inflated Length: 15 ft. 1 in. (4.6 m)
Inflated Width: 47 in. (119 cm)
Weight: 72 lbs. (33 kg)
Capacity: 800 lbs. (363 kg)
The Aire Traveler is a low-profile touring canoe designed to be highly stable and easy to paddle. A 15 ft. 1 in. long keel line and shaped hull profile give this canoe reasonable tracking across the water and a high top speed. This canoe is designed to be equally capable on flat water and white water rivers, with the heavy-duty chambers designed to withstand rough conditions and rocks.
The Aire Traveler’s low profile, stable design coupled with the high load capacity make this a popular inflatable with anglers and hunters. There’s plenty of onboard space for all of your equipment and you can comfortably haul your catch over the sides of this canoe without worrying about the chambers, too.
If paddling isn’t your thing, you can set the Aire Traveler up for rowing or attach a trolling motor to the back on the fixed transom. The seating can be moved around easily, depending on your paddling or power setup, as well as the number of paddlers and the gear you plan to carry.
- Low profile and highly stable
- Easy to paddle
- Great for hunting or fishing
- Versatile design
- High price
Best for Travel – ITIWIT X500
Inflated Length: 16 ft. 9 in. (5.1 m)
Inflated Width: 39.4 in. (100 cm)
Weight: 70 lbs. (32 kg)
Capacity: 550 lbs. (250 kg)
The ITIWIT X500 canoe is a drop stitch design that can be loaded up with the whole family for adventures. This canoe is suited to flatwater touring and white water up to class II. The whole canoe can easily be packaged into the wheelie suitcase, making it easy to take with you on holiday.
The high-pressure design can be inflated up to 10 PSI in under ten minutes, so you can get on the water even faster. The wooden seats are fitted at the front and rear, while a central inflatable seat can be added for children. A capacity of 550 lbs. (250 kg) isn’t enormous but gives you plenty of room for the whole family.
A defined keel line at the bow and stern of the ITIWIT X500 gives this canoe enhanced grip, especially in windy conditions. The hull flattens in the center to raise the speed over the water and to make it easier to make tight turns on the river. High sides and a stable base keep this a dry and secure ride, even with younger passengers exploring the boundaries of the canoe.
- Defined keel and long waterline for speed and tracking
- Drop stitch design for higher pressure
- Designed with the whole family in mind
- Wheeled bag for easy travel
- Heavy for checking onto a flight
- Low top end capacity