Inflatable Canoes Pros and Cons

Inflatable canoes have become much more popular in recent years and they can be a great way to get outside and enjoy the water. However it is sometimes difficult to know whether to go for an inflatable canoe or a hard-shell canoe.

There are several pros and cons to owning and using an inflatable model. After many years of paddling both types I am very aware of both the pros and the cons. Below I will go through each.


No doubt about it an inflatable kayak or canoe is extremely portable. I have owned hard-shell kayaks that I have tied down to racks on top of my car. I found the whole process of transporting a hard-shell boat inconvenient and exhausting. Unless I had a friend to go along with me to help out, it was difficult for me to get my kayak down from the top of my car all on my own.

When my inflatable is deflated and rolled up in its storage bag, I just place it in the trunk of my car along with all my gear and off I go. Weight can vary with inflatable’s depending on which model you choose. However many are easily carried by one person and a few models are so light they can even be carried in a backpack. They are highly portable.

Easy Storage
A hard-shell canoe or kayak needs its own storage space or a rack in your garage. However for people like me who live in a condo this is not always an option. An inflatable canoe can be stored in a closet or in any small space. They are fantastic for those who live in small places.

Easy Care
I think canoes in general are fairly easy to care for. An inflatable just needs to be dried off so that it does not get any mold or mildew and then sprayed every now and again with a UV protectant spray. As long as you store it in a dry and cool space, it will last you many, many years with very little wear and tear.

If your canoe ever gets ripped or has a leak (which does not happen often), you simply patch it up with the repair kit that comes with it.

Although prices can vary greatly depending on the type of canoe you purchase, as a general rule I have found inflatable models to cost less than a hard-shell model. For this reason they are great for family use, traveling, fishing or just plain outdoor recreational fun.

They are extremely stable. Most inflatable canoes have pontoon like sides that make the boat near impossible to tip. They are great for children, families and people of all ages as they are extremely safe.


As a general rule, a hard-shell canoe will paddle faster than an inflatable. Inflatable’s tend to be a little bit wider and consequently do not pick up the same speeds… although some are far better than others.

I have been paddling inflatable kayaks and canoes for many years and have actually never had a puncture. However it can happen if you are paddling over sharp sticks or objects. Therefore it is wise not to paddle an inflatable in very shallow water or in areas where there are known sharp sticks or objects sticking out of the water.

Before you purchase your inflatable canoe be sure to read the reviews as models can vary greatly.