Together, you and your dog have braved camping, hiking, and paddleboarding. You might be wondering what comes next. Well, how about kayaking? But which ones are the best inflatable kayaks for dogs?
Kayaking is a fun and simple way to spend some time out on the water with your dog. Once you have the proper equipment, it’s a breeze to get started! All you really need is a dog-friendly kayak and some basic safety equipment.
But what exactly makes a kayak dog friendly? Let’s take a look at what you need to know, and the three best inflatable kayaks for dogs.
Are Inflatable Kayaks Dog Friendly?
There are hundreds of kayaks on the market. Since each comes with its own features and glossy marketing terms, it can be difficult to know where to start! The first major decision you will need to make is on the material of your kayak.
Choosing between an inflatable kayak and a hardshell kayak ultimately comes down to personal preference, but I will always prefer an inflatable when kayaking with dogs.
That may sound crazy, but bear with me! While the term ‘inflatable’ is not something you immediately equate with ‘durable’, you will be surprised about how tough a modern inflatable kayak can be. They also come with several other benefits that make them an ideal choice for dog owners.
The biggest benefit of an inflatable kayak over a hardshell is the ease of transportation.
On average, inflatable kayaks are far lighter to carry than their hardshell counterparts. This makes them a great choice for multi-day trips, where you will need to move in and out of the water frequently. It also means that they are easily packed down to create more room in the car or to store away when at home.
Some are so compact when deflated that they can even be stored away in a suitcase or backpack. If you like to travel frequently, this makes them an ideal choice.
Another perk is that you are able to inflate and deflate the kayak right by the water. This makes them far easier to handle with a dog by your side, rather than having to carry a hardshell from the car to your launch point while also keeping your four-legged friend under control in such an exciting environment.
One concern often raised about inflatable kayaks, especially amongst dog owners, is about how durable they really are. Rest assured – modern inflatable kayaks have advanced leaps and bounds from those sold in the past.
For the most part, inflatable kayaks are now considered to be just as stable as hardshell kayaks. While some on the lower end of the scale may be more like glamorized pool toys than real watercraft (although this doesn’t mean you should discount them – they can still be great for beginners who are only tackling small lakes and still waters!) this is far from the average standard of an inflatable.
There are a number of things to look for in a durable inflatable kayak. They will often be made of either a double or triple-layered fabric, which will protect them from stray sticks and rocks in the water, preventing any punctures.
Even if one layer is punctured, this won’t be an issue in a high-quality kayak. As a preventative measure, the majority of inflatable kayaks are designed with separate inflation chambers within them. This means that any damage will be confined to the affected chamber, and you’ll have plenty of time to pull ashore and repair the damage.
Keep in mind also that different designs have different purposes. We’ll touch more on this later, but think carefully about the type of kayaking you want to do with your dog.
While there is of course still a range of price points on the market, inflatable kayaks generally come in at a much more affordable number than hardshell kayaks.
This makes them a great initial purchase for beginners, or those who are a bit unsure about what features they are looking for in a vessel.
Choosing A Dog-Friendly Kayak
Next, you will need to think about the sort of kayaking you’ll be hoping to do with your dog. Are you looking to embark on multi-day trips, tackle fast-flowing water, or just head out every so often for a leisurely paddle? The style of kayak you choose will need to be one suitable for this type of activity.
Perfect for beginners and small day trips, a recreational kayak is a great initial investment. They are affordable, simple, and practical. They also come in a variety of styles.
Touring kayaks are built for long periods of use. They are often designed to be sleeker and longer than recreational kayaks, meaning that they are faster in the water and are able to better hold a straight line. If you’re looking at completing multi-day kayaking trips, these are your best option.
Tandem kayaks provide premium space and are great for bringing along both human and doggy companions alike. If you have a larger dog, a tandem kayak is an ideal choice for you.
Sit-in kayaks have a closed style of seating, where the seat and legs slot inside of the hull of the craft.
This depth gives them a greater degree of stability on rough waters. However, they often lack the extra space of a sit-on-top kayak. This makes them far less dog-friendly than their open counterparts.
Any four-legged friends will have to be willing to curl up alongside your legs, without the ability to move around or enjoy the view.
Sit-on-top kayaks have the seat positioned at a higher level, with an ‘open’ top. The legs are exposed to the air rather than being covered by the hull of the craft.
They tend to have more space than a sit-in kayak and are more comfortable to use for an extended period. This also makes them far better equipped to fit a dog. Their open design means you can stop to let your dog off for a swim, and everybody can see and participate in what is going on.
White Water Kayaks
White water kayaks are usually not suitable for dogs. Because they are designed to handle rough waters, moving quickly and efficiently, they are often too thin and short to fit both a person and their companion.
You’ll also need to consider aspects like size, weight capacity, and structure to ensure that your kayak is dog-friendly.
Be sure to take weight capacity limits into account when selecting a kayak.
While this may seem obvious, many beginners get caught out in this area! You not only need to factor in the combined weight of you and your dog but also allow wiggle room to account for any supplies you will need to bring along. This includes life jackets, food, water, backpacks, and toys.
Going over the weight limit of your vessel won’t immediately sink you. It can, however, mean an increased risk of capsizing. Trust us when we say that this isn’t a fun experience for anyone involved, especially with precious puppy cargo on board.
Size and Stability
Kayaking with a dog is a very exciting activity! This means it’s reasonable to expect your pooch to approach it in a way that might rock the boat, so to speak.
Even the most well-trained dog can become caught up in the moment or will need to stretch their legs on longer trips. This is what makes stability so crucial when selecting a kayak.
A longer, wider kayak will provide increased stability while out on the water. This will give you and your dog the freedom to adjust when needed and provides you with peace of mind knowing that you are unlikely to tip.
Kayaking is an area where size does matter. To help with comfort and stability, you need to provide your dog with enough space for them to adjust and move around within reason. Having a stiff and restless dog onboard is not a fun experience for anyone, so be sure you select a model (such as a tandem kayak) that capitalizes on legroom.
The Best Inflatable Kayaks for Dogs: Our Top Three Picks To Suit Any Dog Owner
1. Best Dog-Friendly Kayak for Beginners: Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
Budget-friendly, durable, and easy to assemble. The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is the perfect dog-friendly kayak for beginners.
Everything you need to get started on your adventure is already included. Alongside the kayak itself, you will also receive a carry bag, a removable skeg, a high-output pump, and two decently sized paddles.
The Explorer K2 has a weight capacity of 400lb, making it a great choice for big and small dog owners alike. The seats are both removable and adjustable, so you can allow for as much room as you need. They’re also well-padded. What a win!
As an added bonus, the vessel itself weighs in at only 30lbs. It is light, compact, and easy to maneuver both on and off of the water.
Due to its simple design, this kayak is best suited to use on gentle bodies of water. This makes it perfect for lakes, streams, and slow-paced rivers. If you’re looking for something a little more extreme, then this is likely not the kayak for you.
- Vinyl material
- 400lb weight capacity
- 30lbs in weight
- 3 Separate air chambers
- Boston one-way valves
- 1 skeg
2. Best Quality on A Budget: Valwix 2 Person Inflatable Tandem Kayak
The Valwix Tandem Kayak has great additional features such as cargo nets on the bow and stern for extra storage, plus a removable sunshade for added comfort. This is ideal if you have a dog who needs extra protection from the sun or if you live in a warmer area.
It has one of the higher weight limits on this list, with the maximum capacity being 600lbs. This makes it great for couples traveling with small to medium dogs, or solo adventurers with big dogs or even multiple dogs. To top it off, the kayak has been designed with a designated pet cushion in between the two seats.
One downside is that the kayak itself is also on the heavier side, weighing in at 97lbs on its own. In my eyes this doesn’t outweigh all of its added benefits, but it is something to take into consideration if you will need to transport it frequently.
Its two-skeg design makes it equipped to handle flat water paddling and small lakes. The Valwix Tandem Kayak is ideal for casual paddling on the lake or even for use in gentle rivers.
- PVC material
- 600lb weight capacity
- 97lbs in weight
- 3 separate air chambers
- 2 skegs
3. Best All-Rounder: Sea Eagle Inflatable 420X Explorer Kayak
Weight limit will not be an issue if you decide to go with the Sea Eagle Inflatable 420X Explorer Kayak. It has a capacity of up to 855lbs, making it a dream for those with big or multiple dogs. This still leaves plenty of space for gear, supplies, and any human tagalongs you may be hoping to bring along.
If you’re looking to branch out during your adventures, the 420X Explorer has a whitewater rafting level suitable up to class IV. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend white water rafting with a dog for safety reasons, this durability does make it more equipped to handle rough waters than other kayaks on this list.
Pair this ranking with the kayak’s reinforced 1000-denier PVC material and quadruple overlapped seams, and there really isn’t much it can’t handle. Dog claws will be no issue for this sturdy watercraft.
With all of these amazing features, however, comes the price tag to match. The 420X Explorer is by far the most expensive kayak on the list, but I don’t think this is completely unjustifiable given everything it has to offer.
- Reinforced 1000-denier PVC
- Quadruple overlapped seams
- 855lb weight capacity
- 42lbs in weight
- 16 open and close drain valves
Once you know what to look for, it’s easy to figure out which kayaks are dog-friendly and which are less than suitable for pets. Some of the best dog-friendly kayaks aren’t marketed as such, so always keep your eyes peeled.
While you can’t go wrong with any of the three choices above, there are plenty of other options on the market as well! Remember to focus on style, durability, and capacity, to get the most bang for your buck.