Best Inflatable Kayaks and Canoes for Families


Paddling / Friday, May 29th, 2020

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As life changes so do our choices in kayaks and canoes. We now have a four-month-old baby girl! I’m not ready to take her out in a kayak or canoe but the day will be here before I know it.

I want an inflatable kayak or canoe for the family and with my little girl in mind, I want the best and safest available.

Are you in the same boat as me and my wife? If so, you might want to check out the inflatable kayak that I’ve picked as the winner.

However, your style of kayaking may be different from ours so I’m going to share the two best family-friendly inflatable kayaks. One of the two should cover your style of family kayaking and canoeing.

If you’re not sure about inflatable kayaks, there are many benefits of buying an inflatable kayak that are worth consideration.

The Best Inflatable Kayaks for Families

  1. Sea Eagle 465ft FastTrack Inflatable Kayak
  2. Sea Eagle 420x Explorer Inflatable Kayak

There are only two kayaks that met our criteria for family-friendly inflatable kayak, the 465ft FastTrack and the 420x Explorer from Sea Eagle Boats, a family-owned company that’s been making high-quality inflatable boats since 1968.

Both the 465ft FastTrack and the 420x Explorer are certified by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) confirming that these models have been manufactured to meet the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) standards for safety, design, and construction.

Our two main criteria in picking these family-friendly inflatable kayaks are three-person seating and safety. After all, we need seats for me, my wife, and our girl, and it’s my duty as Dad to do what I can to keep them safe.

Yes, our girl won’t be using the 3rd seat for a few years but these are incredibly durable kayaks. I won’t be replacing this kayak anytime soon.

Two paddlers carrying a three person Sea Eagle 465ft FastTrack inflatable kayak.

Criteria Used in Choosing the Best Inflatable Kayaks and Canoes for Families:

  • 3-Person Inflatable Kayak
  • Safety – NMMA Certified
  • Overall Comfort
  • Leg Room (My wife and I are tall.)
  • Quality Construction
  • Durability
  • Boat Rigidity
  • Performance
  • Lightweight inflatable kayak (Inflatable kayaks are often half the weight of their hardshell counterpart.)
  • Maximum Load Capacity
  • Storability
  • Portability

Want to know more? We have a full list of inflatable kayak design features that to consider when choosing your boat.

Best Family-Friendly Inflatable Kayak for Flatwater

Multiple views of the Sea Eagle 465ft FastTrack Inflatable Kayak.

The Sea Eagle 465ft FastTrack Inflatable Kayak is our first choice for a family-friendly inflatable kayak. This sleek, three-seat, touring kayak provides the performance capabilities of a hardshell kayak with the benefits of an inflatable kayak, and best of all, the FastTrack is designed to be extremely safe and stable.

Thanks to a drop-stitch, high-pressure keel built into the bow of the hull and a large, removable, skeg at the rear, the FastTrack tracks straight and true. These features prevent the side-to-side movements so common in other kayaks. It’s easy and pleasurable to paddle this kayak.

Our top concern in choosing any kayak is the safety of our daughter. If you have a young child, the stability of this boat will provide peace of mind. Thanks to its rigid drop stitch floor it’s even stable enough to stand up in.

Figure depicting the Sea Eagle drop stitch floor. A design feature that creates rigidity in their inflatable kayaks.

The Sea Eagle 465ft FastTrack Inflatable Kayak is Best Used For:

  • Flatwater Rivers
  • Lakes
  • Bays
  • Fishing
  • Camping

We will be kayaking with our little girl so we had no interest in an inflatable kayak that’s capable of whitewater or ocean use. Whitewater was definitely and interest if mine in the past but that’s on hold for a while.

If we were interested in a family-friendly inflatable kayak capable of whitewater or ocean adventures, we would go with the next kayak on our list, the Sea Eagle 420x Explorer Inflatable Kayak. Out of the two kayaks, the FastTrack offers better stability and tracking so we’re sticking with it.

Standard Features of the Sea Eagle 465ft FastTrack Inflatable Kayak

  • Front and rear spray skirts that provide storage underneath and elastic rope lacing on top for securing other gear
  • Separate high-pressure, drop-stitch floor for greater rigidity.
  • Large, removable, swept-back skeg for controlling left and right movements and improving speed
  • Outside drop-stitch, high-pressure NeedleKnife Keel at the bow for increased stability and straight, true tracking
  • 2 open/close drain valves
  • 20 D-rings for securing the seats and gear
  • Grab handles at the bow and stern
  • Sun & saltwater resistant materials make up the hull

Most Versatile Inflatable Kayak for Families

Multiple views of the Sea Eagle 420x Explorer Inflatable Kayak.

The Sea Eagle 420x Explorer Inflatable Kayak is our second choice for a family-friendly inflatable kayak. Had we been interested in whitewater and ocean kayaking in addition to calmer waters, this boat would have been our first choice. We are more interested in flatwater touring due to the age of our daughter.

Will you be doing any whitewater and ocean kayaking? If so, this is the better inflatable family kayak for your style of kayaking.

The Sea Eagle 420x Explorer Inflatable Kayak is Best Used For:

  • Ocean
  • Whitewater Rivers
  • Fishing
  • Bays
  • Lakes
  • Flatwater Rivers
  • Camping

The Sea Eagle 420x Explorer Inflatable Kayak is the most versatile of the two family kayaks. It’s a great wet or dry boat capable of handling up to Class IV rapids and flatwater alike.

On flat, open water, the 420x Explorer Inflatable Kayak is extremely safe and stable. It also uses a removable skeg for improved tracking but lacks the drop-stitch high-pressure keel that’s built into the bow of the FastTrack.

Visit American Whitewater for a better understanding of the whitewater rating system they created to rate the navigation difficulty of river sections.

Standard Features of the Sea Eagle 420x Explorer Inflatable Kayak

  • 16 High-volume, self-bailing drain valves
  • Large, removable, slide skeg for improved tracking on open water
  • Front and rear spray skirts that provide storage underneath and elastic rope lacing on top for securing other gear
  • Grab handles at the bow and stern
  • Separate high-pressure, drop-stitch floor for greater rigidity.
  • 26 D-rings for securing the seats and gear

Family-Friendly Inflatable Kayak Comparison Chart

Boat465ft FastTrack420x Explorer
Person Capacity1-31-3
Hull Weight44 lbs44 lbs
Length15″ 3′14″
Width3″3″ 3′
Interior14’2″ x 18″13′ 4″ x 15″
Maximum Load Capacity795 lbs855 lbs
Deflated30″ x 19″ x 9″31″ x 21″ x 10″
Air Chambers4 (port, starboard, keel, floor)3 (port, starboard, floor)
Tube Diameter9.5″11.5″
Air Valves4 Recessed One Way3 Recessed One Way
Inflation Time8 min9 min
Seam ConstructionQuadruple OverlappedQuadruple Overlapped
Material1000 Denier Reinforced1000 Denier Reinforced
FloorHigh-Pressure, Drop-Stitch, Removable FloorHigh-Pressure, Drop-Stitch, Removable Floor
Inflation Pressure3.2 psi3.2 psi
Motor Capacity34 lbs Thrust (15 lbs max motor weight)34 lbs Thrust (15 lbs max motor weight)
Whitewater RatingUp to Class II RapidsUp to Class IV Rapids
NMMA CertifiedXX
Best Use:
Flatwater RiversXX
Whitewater RiversX
LakesXX
BaysXX
OceanX
FishingXX
CampingXX

Conclusion

Three people in a Sea Eagle 465ft FastTrack inflatable kayak paddling in a bay.

Kayaking can be a fantastic experience for the entire family.

I’m certainly partial to it!!!

I met my wife while kayaking, we’ve since had a little girl who’ll be learning all about kayaking, canoeing, camping, and hiking.

My grandfathers and father taught me about the outdoors and the joy of nature. I plan to pass this love on to my child.

If you’re looking for an extremely stable kayak or canoe for the whole family, the Sea Eagle 465ft FastTrack Inflatable Kayak and 420x Explorer Inflatable Kayak are by far our favorite choices. Check them out and see what you think.

Oh! And a huge bonus! These family-size inflatable kayaks and canoes won’t take up your entire garage or storage area. They deflate to be easily stored away in a closet or other out of the way area.

Have fun on your next family kayaking adventure!

Kayaks and canoes on a scenic blue lake surrounded by trees. The graphic says... Best Inflatable Kayaks and Canoes for Your Family.