Are Inflatable Kayaks Safer for White Water Rafting?

If you are new to white water rafting or new to inflatable kayaks, these two things might not seem as if they go together. How could a kayak made of a lighter, more flexible material possibly be better than a hardshell kayak?

For many years hardshell kayaks were, in fact, the preferred option to take on white water rafting. However as inflatable kayak construction has improved and more durable materials are used, inflatables are now considered as safe if not safer than a hardshell. 

Inflatable kayaks are typically also more convenient and affordable. Here we will look at the advantages of inflatable kayaks for white water rafting, including their safety features.

What Makes Inflatable Rafts a Safe Option?

If you are planning to take on white water rafting, safety must be at the heart of all you do. When proper safety equipment and precautions are used, white water rafting can be one of the most incredible and exhilarating experiences an outdoor adventurer can have. When these precautions are not taken, the results can obviously be much different. 

Inflatable rafts fulfill these safety requirements in a few important ways:

Puncture Resistant Material

Modern inflatable kayaks are made with a variety of materials but those that are rated safe for white water conditions are especially rugged. They include composite materials, kevlar, hypalon, and high density PVC. 

Each of these materials enable a boat to bounce off of rocks instead of being punctured by them. Inflatable kayaks like the ones available from Perun Outdoors are also constructed with welded seams. Welded seams offer superior protection against leaks compared to the glued seams of other inflatables. 

Redundant Air Chambers

New inflatable kayaks also include redundant air chambers. This means that there are air chambers that are not absolutely required for the kayak to stay afloat. If you do get a puncture, the extra air chambers will help ensure you can continue kayaking until you are able to safely repair the leak. 

Easy Repair

Inflatable kayaks come with an easy repair kit that can even be used while you are out on the water. While your redundant air chambers should keep you afloat until you can reach land in most situations, a repair kit comes in handy when you are unable to reach land quickly.

Why Hardshell Kayaks May Not Be as Safe 

Hardshell kayaks have several disadvantages including being more expensive and harder to transport. However, they also may prove less safe in white water if you do sustain damage.

While hardshell kayaks may be harder to puncture, once they are damaged they are much more difficult to repair. In fact, a repair while you are out on the water is nearly impossible in most cases. You may be able to put in a plug but this is not as reliable as an inflatable kayak’s patch repair options.  

Other Advantages of Inflatable Kayaks

Easy Storage and Transportability

On average, inflatable kayaks are lighter than traditional kayaks. Some can be as light as 30 lbs though some can be over 50 lbs. 

However, even the heaviest inflatable kayaks are easier to transport and store once they are deflated. Once deflated, inflatables can be easily stored in the trunk of your car, garage, or even in your home without taking up significant space. 

This also makes it easier to take your kayak on both long and short trips without worry for storage space. Keep the kayak and the air pump in the trunk of your car for spontaneous days out on the water.  

Weight Capacity

Surprisingly, though inflatable kayaks are much lighter than hardshell kayaks, they can actually support more weight. While the typical recreational hardshell kayak may only be able to support around 300 lbs, many inflatable kayaks can support upwards of 500 lbs.

Some tandem kayaks like the Perun 450 Sport can even support over 800 lbs. This makes it possible to not only support two kayakers but also plenty of supplies like fishing gear, food, water, and more. 


Typically, inflatable kayaks require less of an upfront investment though some can be similar to hardshell kayaks.

However, they also save you money in a few other key ways:

  • First, because they are easy to store, you will not have to worry about paying for additional storage in most cases.
  • Repairs are also much cheaper and do not require as many special tools. Both wood and plastic kayaks require a much more laborious repair process.
  • Maintenance is also easier and cheaper for an inflatable kayak.

Find the Perfect White Water Inflatable Kayak for You 

Finding a safe, reliable kayak is a key part of having the best white water rafting experience. As avid kayakers ourselves, Perun Outdoors’ kayaks reflect the importance we put on safety and reliability. 

To learn more about our white water ready kayaks Contact us here or start shopping for Perun inflatable kayaks now.

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