The kayak is a popular flirtation boat used by many people for recreational purposes as well as fishing.

However, when trying to purchase a kayak, you are often faced with the problem of whether to choose an inflatable kayak or a hardshell kayak. It can be confusing to many, especially if you are an absolute beginner and have never purchased a kayak before.

In order to help you find the perfect type of kayak for your need, we made this comprehensive kayak comparisons guide which will show you the advantages and disadvantages of the inflatable kayak and the hardshell kayak.

Without any further ado, let’s get to it!

The inflatable kayak is the most popular type of kayak to use for recreational activities. This is because the inflatable kayak is very easy to use and is also significantly more affordable than the hardshell kayak.

Inflatable Kayak

This type of kayak is generally made out of a thick PVC material that will inflate and deflate quite easily on demand. Moreover, PVC is a tough and durable material that can be used in both freshwater and saltwater, no problem.

In addition, PVC offers excellent resistance to UV rays from sunlight. Best of all, when you purchase the inflatable kayak, you also get a paddle as well as a pump to quickly and easily inflate the kayak.


Very cost-effective: Since the inflatable kayak is generally made from PVC, it does not cost much.

Indeed, PVC is a very cost-effective and affordable material that also happens to be very durable. If you are an absolute beginner and on a budget, the inflatable kayak makes a lot of sense because of its low price.

Easy to use: The inflatable kayak is popular for a reason. This is because it is extremely easy to use, even for absolute beginners. If you have never owned or used a kayak before, then you will have no problem maneuvering an inflatable kayak.

Even a child can use it. In fact, there are many inflatable kayaks that are specifically intended for children.

Multiple layers for safety: One good thing about the inflatable kayak is that it uses advanced technologies that will prevent it from deflating like a balloon.

Indeed, in case of a puncture, you will rarely find yourself sinking with the inflatable kayak because most inflatable kayak models use a multi-layer technology that will prevent it from sinking in case one part of the kayak gets a puncture.

This is a safety feature that makes the inflatable kayak very beginner friendly and forgiving to mistakes made by beginners.


Not as durable and long-lasting: Even if the inflatable kayak is still durable, it is not as durable when compared to a hardshell kayak which is normally made from polyethylene.

Lacks performance and efficiency: When compared to a true hardshell kayak, the inflatable kayak will most of the time perform like the toy. Indeed, it lacks the efficiency and therefore lacks the performance that you will get from a true hardshell kayak.

Therefore, the inflatable kayak is best used for activities like recreation rather than sports or fishing where performance and efficiency are vital.


The hardshell kayak is a heavy duty and highly durable kayak that can be used for a wide range of activities, from recreation, sightseeing to fishing.

One of the best things about the hardshell kayak is that it normally has a large storage compartment that is 100% waterproof and thus, you can safely store your sensitive materials or pieces of electronics without the fear of it getting wet.

Most of all, the hard-shell kayak has an efficient design that gives it a lot of performance over the water. Best of all, the hard shell kayak comes in different models and sizes to suit your need and purpose.


Multiple types of the hardshell kayak: There is a lot of choices when it comes to hardshell kayaks. There are hardshell kayak models that are suited for specific activities like sightseeing, fishing and everything in between.

Durable and long-lasting: The hardshell kayak is normally made from a heavy-duty and high-density material like polyethylene that is extremely durable and long-lasting. Moreover, polyethylene has good shock absorption during impacts thus making it a safer kayak to paddle in rough waters like whitewater.

Efficient and performing: Due to the design of the hardshell kayak, it is an efficient kayak that delivers a lot of performance. One of the characteristics of the hardshell kayak that makes it such a performing kayak is its low profile which brings the paddler closer to the water thus allowing him or her to paddle more efficiently.

Large and waterproof storage compartment: A distinguishing factor of the hardshell kayak is the presence of multiple storage compartments that are also waterproof. This will allow you to store your various gears as well as sensitive items like electronics in all safety, away from water.

Stable due to the flat bottom: The hardshell kayak is reputed for its stability. One of the main reasons why this type of kayak is so stable is because of its flat bottom.

Indeed, the flat bottom offers the hardshell kayak with a large surface area that in turn, makes it very stable on the water.

This stability is ideal for those who are planning to use the hardshell kayak for activities like fishing where you normally need a stable platform for casting your fishing line.


More expensive: Due to a high-grade material used in its build construction, the hardshell kayak is generally more expensive than the inflatable kayak.

More maintenance necessary: In order to keep your hardshell kayak in tiptop condition, it will require more frequent maintenance.


As we have seen, choosing between the inflatable kayak and the hardshell kayak is not very difficult. It will all boil down to preference, budget, and purpose.

If you need a highly maneuverable, stable, and a very durable kayak for activities like whitewater kayaking, fishing or even sports, then the hardshell kayak is an excellent choice. It is extremely durable as it is made from a high-density polyethylene and due to its flat bottom is very stable on the water.

On the other hand, if you are on a tight budget and need a kayak for recreational activities, the inflatable kayak is the perfect type of kayak for your need.