Whitewater kayaking is an exciting activity for people who love to be in the outdoors and enjoy being active. With so many inflatable kayaks on the market, it can be difficult to find the one that’s right for you.

Buying an inflatable kayak is a great way to get out on the water without having to worry about capsizing. Inflatables are stable and easy to use, making them a great option for beginners. These best inflatable kayaks for whitewater are some of the top options available right now.

Popular Choice

Tributary Tomcat AIRE


AIRE Tributary Tomcat Solo Inflatable Kayak

Top PickMost Popular

Rover 120 Kayak DRIFTSUN


Driftsun Rover 120 Inflatable Kayak - 1 Person Adult White Water Single Rider Foldable Kayak Canoe Set with Padded Seat

Best Value

370 Inflatable Kayak SEA EAGLE


Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Pro Sports Kayak


DRIFTSUN Rover 120 Kayak


Driftsun Rover 120 Inflatable Kayak - 1 Person Adult White Water Single Rider Foldable Kayak Canoe Set with Padded Seat

General Impression

Out of all the best inflatable kayaks for whitewater, the Driftsun Rover 120 gets the top spot on our list. This solo kayak is built to compete with the best of the hard plastic kayaks that take on some of the most difficult rapids rivers have to offer. It’s rated up to class III and class IV rapids, with a high-pressure drop stitch floor to keep the boat intact while grazing the roughest of river bottoms. 

This kayak is built with incorporated self-bailing plugs that stay open to allow whitewater overflow to drain easily and keep you afloat. Plug these up, throw on the rear tracking skeg, and the Rover cruises over flat water with ease and high tracking performance. 

This boat is only 22 pounds, making it one of the lightest choices out there for inflatable kayaks. It is easy to transport by yourself and comes in a larger size for people wanting to bring a partner along with them. Even if no one comes along, the action cam mount will help to capture every moment to show off later at home. 


BRAND: Driftsun
PADDLERS: 1 person
INFLATION: Sides: 3 psi Floor: 6 psi, 6 minutes
DIMENSIONS: Inflated Size: 8.5 ft (L) X 36 in (W) X 13 in (H) Folded Size: 28 in (L) x 21 in (W) x 9 in (H)
FEATURES AND ACCESSORIES: Dropstitch Floor, 3 chamber-construction, Camera mount


  • Halkey Roberts / self-bailing drain plugs keep you floating
  • High-pressure drop stitch floor adds great stability
  • 1000D Reinforced and Layered PVC is best for puncture resistance
  • Lightweight construction makes it easy to transport
  • Built for faster and rougher waters


  • The skeg is difficult to install and remove
  • The owner’s manual is difficult to follow without pictures

SEA EAGLE 370 Inflatable Kayak


Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Pro Sports Kayak

General Impression

Whitewater inflatable kayaks can bring a shockingly high price with them, and the ones that don’t often aren’t worth buying. The Sea Eagle 370 meets us in the middle, providing an affordable yet quality inflatable kayak that can handle up to class III rapids with you, your partner, and your dog on board. The 38 mil PolyKrylar construction guarantees that your puppy’s paws are going to pop the boat, and neither will the bottom of the river. 

This is the most affordable and highest value whitewater inflatable kayak suitable for whitewater that we can find on the market today. Inflatable spray skirts and the self-bailing drain valve do the work to keep the boat as dry as possible when cruising through whitewater. Two different skegs work to keep you tracking efficiently, increasing the overall speed. 

The I-beam floor design helps to keep the boat rigid and stable when you are shuffling around. The boat’s overall design is not reflected in its price, and you come out on top in the end, especially for whitewater inflatable kayaks. 


BRAND: Sea Eagle
PADDLERS: 2 or 3 person
INFLATION: About 8 minutes
DIMENSIONS: Inflated Size: 12.5 ft (L) x 34 in (W) Folded Size: 31 in x 19 in x 8 in
FEATURES AND ACCESSORIES: 2 skegs for tracking, bow and stern grab line, I-beam construction on floor


  • Perfect balance between quality and price
  • Rigid floor design with the I-beam construction
  • Handles up to class III rapids
  • Two skegs increase tracking capability


  • Difficult to fit the deflated kayak in the supplied bag
  • Valves secured with hard plastic that needs to be stretched and can break

AIRE Tributary Tomcat Kayak

General Impression

The AIRE Tributary Tomcat inflatable kayaks are some of the best-engineered boats available today. This company focuses on making the best quality products to stand up against whitewater conditions, and didn’t hold back when designing this one. The Tomcat is worthy of a top spot in any list of the best inflatable kayaks for whitewater.

Tomcat inflatable kayaks use a vinyl bladder with a PVC outer shell that makes for a high level of durability to be taken on the roughest of waters. All seams are welded in order to bring the need for repair to a minimum, but every part of the Tomcat is easily repaired or replaced.

These boats can handle up to class IV rapids and will handle well when in difficult terrain. When pushing into even more difficult waters, purchasing thigh straps and foot pegs will be necessary to get the right amount of control. While this doesn’t come with a pump, we do find that the highest quality products often focus solely on the boat itself.


PADDLERS: 1 person
INFLATION: Unavailable
DIMENSIONS: Inflated Size: 10 ft 10 in (L) x 36 in (W)
DESIGN AND MATERIALS: Vinyl Bladder and PVC Outer Shell
FEATURES AND ACCESSORIES: Welded seams, AIREcell internal bladder system, raft lace in floors


  • Incredibly durable construction
  • Handles well in up to class IV rapids
  • Welded Seams
  • Everything is easily repaired or replaced


  • Need to buy pump separately
  • No skeg for tracking on flatwater


General Impression

For a solo-kayaker that is looking to take on some more aggressive whitewater, the Attack Pro catches our eye. This boat is equipped with the essentials that a whitewater kayaker will need in a boat that finds its way into the best sit on top whitewater kayak reviews. The thigh straps and wide base make this one of the more stable kayaks out there and give you the control you need when going through difficult waters.

The Attack Pro has a 12 inch rocker, meaning it will respond quickly when you need it to. Don’t expect to stay dry with such a low rocker, but it is one of the best self-bailing inflatable kayaks out there and will take care of the water dumping in. This also means the boat isn’t going to track well, but it was made with whitewater in mind so tracking isn’t much of an obstacle.

Advanced Elements put their drop-stitch tech from SUPs into this boat, making it durable and rigid without the huge weight of hard plastic. Overall this is a high quality boat that is definitely one of the best out there, especially as it comes with a great price tag to quality ratio. We just don’t understand the lack of an included pump for this boat, so be sure to buy that separately.


BRAND: Advanced Elements
PADDLERS: 1 person
INFLATION: Unavailable
DIMENSIONS: Inflated Size: 9 ft 9 in (L) x 35 in (W)
DESIGN AND MATERIALS: Rugged PVC and tarpaulin
FEATURES AND ACCESSORIES: Adjustable thigh straps and foot pegs, drop-stitch floor


  • Built for whitewater with thigh straps, foot pegs, and low rocker
  • Attractive price tag
  • Drop-stitch floor for rigidity
  • Self-bailing ports


  • Pump sold separately
  • Low weight capacity


General Impression

For an inflatable river kayak, the Star Raven II makes it seem like this one wasn’t inflated at all. The high rigidity comes from the maximum 10 psi inflation rating and its welded seams to keep everything in. This makes it feel as durable as a hard shell kayak, but with all the benefits of a whitewater inflatable kayak.

The durability isn’t the only highlight of the Star Raven II. The seats that come in this boat are mesh-backed with a padded suspension system that is fully adjustable and removable. That means this goes from being a tandem whitewater kayak to a solo boat in an instant. It’s guaranteed to keep you comfortable while crashing through class III rapids.

This boat comes along with all the typical accessories such as a repair kit, a hand pump, and a carrying bag. These aren’t what makes it one of the best though. We see this kayak as outstanding for its rigid durability and closest feel to a hard shell boat, which is what we are all looking for today.


BRAND: Star Inflatables
PADDLERS: 1 or 2 person
INFLATION: 8-10 psi, about 8 minutes
DIMENSIONS: Inflated Size: 12 ft 2 in (L) x 38 in (W)
FEATURES AND ACCESSORIES: Welded seams, Leafield C7 valves, removable padded seats


  • Inflates to 10 psi for maximum rigidity
  • Leafield C7 valves make setup quick and easy
  • High comfort rating with removable padded seats
  • Bow and stern have carry handles for easy transport


  • Tracks poorly on flatwater
  • Expensive price decreases its value

DRIFTSUN Voyager 2

General Impression

While this may not be the best whitewater sit on top kayak, it performs well in most of our categories and is worthy of a spot on the list. For starters, the Driftsun Voyager 2 is a great kayak for those looking to not tackle anything too difficult and mostly want a 2-person whitewater kayak to learn in. It tracks well and will help beginners get a good grip on paddling and steering effectively.

Another point worth mentioning is the Voyager’s quick and easy setup and packup. The pump helps bring the boat to a fully inflated 2 psi quickly and the double threaded Boston valves help to deflate it just as quickly. We see this getting rid of the time spent figuring out inflatable whitewater kayaks and getting you on the water faster.

The drawback is the durability and the overall build quality of the Voyager. Driftsun is a more reputable name, but this kayak doesn’t have everything it could to make it the best. The materials used only allow it to inflate to a low 2 psi, meaning you’re going to feel anything underneath you really easily. While this works well for lakes, it isn’t the most fit for rivers or difficult whitewater.


BRAND: Driftsun
PADDLERS: 2 person
WHITEWATER RATING: Best for Recreational Use
INFLATION: 2 psi, under 5 minutes
DIMENSIONS: Inflated Size: 10 ft (L) x 35 in (W) x 16 in (H) Folded Size: 26 in (L) x 16 in (W) x 8 in (H)
DESIGN AND MATERIALS: 840D Nylon Oxford tube covers and PVC Tarpaulin floor
FEATURES AND ACCESSORIES: Removable skeg, padded high back seats


  • Great for beginners to get the hang of everything
  • Quick inflation and packup
  • Skeg for increased tracking performance
  • Lightweight at 27 pounds


  • Not very rigid or durable
  • Low build quality


General Impression

Out of all our inflatable kayaks on the list, this is the choice for those wanting to go out with a trio of paddlers in the best inflatable kayak for whitewater. The Big Basin is made to be a party boat, or to carry two parents and their kid to start getting them into paddling. It’s a great starter boat, and comes at an incredibly affordable price to play around with.

The rugged PVC construction is paired with a tarpaulin bottom to give a respectable amount of durability, although not the top tier. It’s rated to hold up to 490 pounds which is normally enough for two adults and a child, or two people and all their gear. That being said, this isn’t rated highly for bigger rapids and is recommended to stay on calmer waters.

There’s not a lot of outstanding features on this boat, but it brings all of the necessary ones to the table. It has multiple air chambers that will keep you afloat if something goes wrong, and a spray cover helps to keep you dry when testing it on the whitewater. If you’re wanting something that is fun for the family to play in, this is a great choice. If you want to tackle difficult rapids, it is worth looking elsewhere on the list.


BRAND: Sevylor
PADDLERS: 3 person
WHITEWATER RATING: Best for Recreational Use
INFLATION: Unavailable
DIMENSIONS: Inflated Size: 12 ft 3 in (L) x 37 in (W) Folded Size: 18 in x 10 in x 24 in
DESIGN AND MATERIALS: Rugged PVC and tarpaulin bottom
FEATURES AND ACCESSORIES: 3 seats, multiple air chambers, tarpaulin bottom


  • Incredibly affordable price
  • Boston valves make for easy inflation and deflation
  • Three-person capacity
  • Adjustable seats for comfort


  • Not made to carry a lot of gear
  • Not rated for difficult whitewater

AQUAGLIDE McKenzie 105

General Impression

The McKenzie 105 is a great middle ground for those looking to play around on easier whitewater as well as get out on lakes to do some touring. It features a high rocker that keeps you dry when hitting waves as well as helps improve the tracking. With that, you can cruise around on lakes but also enjoy the benefits when on whitewater. The 4 mesh drains work to keep you dry whenever you are taking on water from the waves that manage to get in.

This boat comes along with a backpack style carrier that makes long hauls a breeze as it only weighs 24 pounds. This one is meant to be incredibly portable and will go the distance with you. The only issue is there is no included pump or paddle, meaning you need to buy these both separately. On top of that, the Halkey Roberts valves require an adapter, but that is included, just easy to lose.

We think this is a good quality kayak for those looking to get into solo paddling. It isn’t going to take you on the roughest rivers, but it will stand up to some rocks and sharper edges you’re sure to run into on some class II rapids. The McKenzie 125 is a good option to get all the same features, but be able to bring someone else along with you.


BRAND: Aquaglide
PADDLERS: 1 person
WHITEWATER RATING: Recreational Use or Low Class Whitewater
INFLATION: Unavailable
DIMENSIONS: Inflated Size: 10 ft 2 in (L) x 33.5 in (W)
DESIGN AND MATERIALS: Duratex PVC and EvoBeam Technology Floor
FEATURES AND ACCESSORIES: Halkey-Roberts valves, Tie-down loops every 6-12 inches


  • Hybrid recreational and whitewater kayak
  • 2 year limited warranty
  • Lightweight and portable
  • High rocker improves tracking and protects from waves


  • Pump is sold separately
  • Directions are hard to follow

Buyer's Guide

When looking into buying an inflatable whitewater kayak, there’s a lot that goes into making the best decision possible. It’s a rather large purchase and strongly affects the way you enjoy the river, which means taking the time to get the right boat is important. 

From the durability to the design of the boat, we will quickly cover the important factors to consider when making the big buy. 


Most inflatable kayaks these days are made from a strong PVC material that is resistant to punctures and abrasions. There are other ways to find more durable kayaks however. 

The drop-stitch floor that a lot of brands use in their inflatable kayaks add rigidity to the boat and durability to the floor as well. This technology is found in inflatable SUPs and increases the capacity to stand in the boat without the bottom caving in and you taking a swim. 

Cheaper brands of inflatable coats can be tempting, but are guaranteed to be less durable. This is important to consider, especially if you want to get into whitewater rather than stay on a lake. 

Learning to make repairs will be important with the purchase of an inflatable boat. It’s likely to experience a puncture at some point on your journey, but a repair kit will solve that problem right away. 


The main draw of an inflatable kayak is its portability. Hard shelled kayaks are difficult and bulky to carry or strap on to a car. With inflatables, you can deflate the boat and be on your way within minutes. 

When deciding what to buy, or if you are planning a lot of portages, the overall weight and deflated or folded size is what to consider. This way you can fit your boat into a backpack, or easily carry it through tough terrain. 


All of the inflatable whitewater kayaks on this list have different designs that make them fit for different types of paddling. They can also use different terms that can be pretty confusing to those looking for the first time. 

For example, the rocker refers to the curvature of the kayak. It impacts the way the boat handles in the water. A high rocker means more curve and forms a wall of sorts to protect from waves, and makes tracking easier. 

A low rocker is more likely to be found on a whitewater kayak. True whitewater kayaks don’t take tracking into consideration, as the river moves you along and there are constant steering adjustments required. 

A more stable kayak is going to have a wider base. Typical whitewater kayaks have these wide bases to prevent flipping, and are shorter for quicker turns in fast water. In case you end up taking a swim, be sure to practice getting back into an inflatable kayak before going out. 


How Are Inflatable Kayaks Different from Hard-Shell Kayaks? 

Inflatable kayaks are inherently more portable than hard-shell kayaks due to their ability to deflate and fold up quickly. This is the most attractive part of an inflatable kayak, as lugging around a hard-shell boat can be difficult. 

Another big difference is the durability and ability to make quick repairs. Inflatable kayaks are built to be incredibly durable and can be repaired easily. Hard-shell kayaks are also insanely durable, but are equally difficult to repair. 

Inflatable or not, check out the best kayak cup holders to increase your enjoyment of your time on the water. 

Are Inflatables Good for Whitewater? 

Inflatables these days are great for whitewater. The top brands making inflatable kayaks are putting a massive amount of new technology into the boats that make them as capable as hard-shell kayaks to take on the rough waters of rivers. The inflatables can handle rocks as they have give to them and don’t crack against big rocks you are inevitably going to hit. 

If you look at inflatable whitewater kayak reviews or sit on top whitewater kayak reviews, you’ll see several claims that inflatables aren’t as good for whitewater. These come from reviews of boats before all of this technology was made to make inflatables high-quality. 

Are Inflatables Good for Rivers? 

Again, inflatables are great for rivers as they offer a lot of options for making adjustments to get on a river or get on the lake. With removable skegs and self-bailing valves, an inflatable whitewater kayak will take on a river just as easily as it will cruise on a lake. Rivers often require portages and inflatables bring a lightweight aspect that is unrivaled in hard-shell kayaks. 

What is the Best Beginner Whitewater Kayak? 

The Driftsun Rover 120 and the AIRE Tributary Tomcat both give beginners a good feel of what it’s like to be in one of the best inflatable kayaks for whitewater. They aren’t necessarily made to be paddled on flatwater, but will guide you through easier whitewater flawlessly. If you are looking for a high-quality inflatable kayak for whitewater, any of the boats on our list will help you out. The important part is knowing your skill level and only taking on rivers that you are capable of keeping yourself safe in. 

Are Inflatable Whitewater Kayaks Safe?

Short answer: Yes.

An inflatable kayak suitable for whitewater is debatably safer than hard-shell kayaks as they use multiple compartments that hold air, so if you puncture one area of the boat you will still float. To keep your gear safe, make sure you grab one of the best dry bags for kayaking before heading out. 

The tricky part is that whitewater kayaking isn’t necessarily safe, whether in an inflatable river kayak or hard-shell. Even the best whitewater sit on top kayak reviews say they are going to dump you eventually. There are things you can do to make it more safe, but it will never be “safe”. Getting on a whitewater river in any kayak is taking a risk and the best whitewater inflatable kayak will only reduce that risk slightly.

The best way to keep yourself safe is by knowing your skill level and not taking on anything you are not comfortable with. The best inflatable kayaks for whitewater will help to make a safer experience, but not completely safe. 

Reach Out

As always, we create our content with you, fellow adventurers, in mind. So, how’d we do? Did you find this informative? Did it help you make a decision? Did we miss anything? We’d love to hear from you below. Thanks for reading and we hope your next adventure is a great one!

David Stefanoski

David Stefanoski is an avid outdoorsman who loves to explore the deepest, most exciting crevices of nature and then write about them. From the maximum depth that a scuba suit can go, to the maximum heights that his legs will take him, David enjoys the outdoors in its warmest, sunniest days on the prairie, to the iciest, dampest little spots in Eastern Europe. After 15 years of trudging, his favorite outdoorsman activity is still chopping wood due to his large body size. He says it's like splitting toothpicks!

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