Back in the day, inflatable kayaks were essentially pool toys. They weren’t built to be durable or to handle well. Luckily, the industry has recognized that the market for such kayaks isn’t people lacking the money or knowledge to get a better boat, but rather those who need the portability and easy storage that comes with an inflatable. These kayaks fit in a backpack, and can be taken around the world on a plane – something that’s only possible with the inflatable, or the more expensive and more difficult to set-up folding kayak.
The Sevylor Quikpack K5 will surprise anyone who thinks inflatables are just pool toys by delivering a mix of portability, durability, and ease of handling.
What to Consider with an Inflatable Kayak?
First ask yourself why you want an inflatable. Is it because you don’t have the space to store a hard-shell kayak in your apartment, or because you like to hike put-in points on remote lake and rivers? Or is the low price and ease of use their main appeal?
Now to choose the inflatable that’s right for you. What’s the most critical aspect of an inflatable kayak? Keeping it inflated, of course! In this respect, the air valves are incredibly important. In the absence of a puncture, this is where the air will be leaking out. So-called “military valves” use a spring-loaded mechanism that automatically seals shut when air is not being pumped in. Other models have twist valves that must be turned after filling to lock the air in. Sevylor uses a variation on the simple valve commonly seen on beach balls, but it has an additional flap behind the valve that self-seals from internal pressure when air is not being pumped in. What’s important in air valves is that they keep working over time, so the simpler they can be, the better.
A secondary consideration in keeping the kayak inflated is its hull material; most inflatables use a combination of abrasion-resistant PVC and polyester. A few higher end models make use of Hypalon or nitrylon (think white water raft material), but unless you’re venturing out into serious rapids where you’ll be getting pummeled against the rocks, these tougher fabrics aren’t necessary, and PVC will do just fine.
The number one reason people choose an inflatable kayak is their portability. But consider how portable you need it to be, because inflatables come in different sizes. Is it good enough that it fit in the trunk of a car, rather than a roof rack like a hard-shell? Or do you want one that packs down to fit in a backpack, so you can easily take it to the backcountry or on public transportation?
The other reason inflatables are so popular is that they’re easy to paddle, though this does come with a trade off in performance. Because inflatables are typically wider than hard-shells, they’re slower but also have them greater stability. This can be a big benefit for an inexperienced kayaker.
Sevylor Quikpak K5 Review
The Quickpak K5 package includes the boat, paddle, a hand pump for inflation, and a backpack to carry the boat when it’s folded up. Setting up the kayak is fairly easy: just unroll the boat at the put-in point and inflate, which should only take five minutes. That’s probably less time than you would spend getting a hard-shell off the roof rack of your car.
The biggest advantage of an inflatable is the portability, and the Quikpack K5 has that it spades. It folds up into a backpack (that also fits the oars and pump) small enough that you wouldn’t even feel weird taking it on a bus or subway. If you’re thinking about taking a vacation, you can easily bring your kayak as a checked bag –kayak rentals are notoriously expensive anyway.
When you’re on the water, the backpack that carries the kayak even becomes a seat. While that sounds really innovative, don’t expect it to be the most comfortable experience after a few hours. Given that inflatables aren’t typically used for long trips though, this shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Unlike very inexpensive inflatables, the Quickpak K5 is made with multiple air chambers, so if something does pierce the thick, 24-gauge PVC hull, you’ll be able to paddle to shore and make the necessary repairs. While this means you can’t drag the boat across sharp rocks, as could be done with a hard-shell kayak, it’s durable enough that you won’t be scared to take it to all your regular paddling spots.
The K5 does cost a little bit more than other inflatables, due to being made of higher quality materials and being less susceptible to punctures. But at a couple hundred dollars, it costs less than most hard-shell boats. However, the paddle included with the boat is not of the highest quality, and seems to be one place where they skimped on manufacturing costs.
This Quickpak K5 review demonstrates why this is an excellent choice for anyone in the market for an inflatable kayak. Its packability and easy setup make it a great boat for after-work trips or adventures in the backcountry that would not be possible with a heavy hard-shell. This is a boat that will definitely change the minds of anyone who has previously sneered at the idea of paddling an inflatable.