Inflatable kayaks have become significantly more stable and durable in recent years. They’re great for traveling and for those that don’t necessarily have a ton of storage space at home for a rigid kayak.
As your family grows, it becomes more fun to get everyone out on the water together. This requires a kayak that has enough space for everyone and for any gear that you want to bring along.
You’ll also need a kayak that can remain stable with more than 300 to 400 pounds of ‘people weight’ inside. This is a really important factor unless you (and your family) really want to swim more than you want to paddle.
In this article, we’ll highlight the 10 best 3-person inflatable kayaks. We’ll also provide definitions for some common kayaking terms and a buying guide to help you choose a 3-person inflatable kayak that fits your unique needs!
Table of Contents
- 1 Jargon Buster
- 2 Buying Guide
- 3 3 Person Inflatable Kayak Reviews
- 4 Our Pick – Sea Eagle 420x
Expert kayakers can often throw out kayaking terms that otherwise aren’t used in everyday life. In this section, we’ll provide brief definitions of important kayaking terms and terms that are unique to inflatable kayaks.
This term is used somewhat interchangeably amongst kayak manufacturers. Whatever you call it, the purpose and function are essentially the same.
A skeg is a fin that extends down into the water below the hull of your kayak. It gives you better ability to keep your kayak straight when you’re paddling in windy conditions, or when battling ocean currents.
When it comes to kayaks, many manufacturers refer to ‘drop-stitch’ as a type of material. But it really refers to a knitting technique that (in kayaks and paddleboards) produces an extremely strong weave between two pieces of fabric.
Drop-stitching has become the commonplace technique for the highest-performing inflatable paddle craft on the market today. In some cases, drop-stitch kayaks and paddleboards can be inflated to pressures up to 20 PSI.
PVC is a type of material used in the design of many inflatable kayaks. It stands for polyvinyl chloride and it is a synthetic thermoplastic material that can come in rigid and flexible forms.
PVC is a great material for inflatable kayaks because it is relatively inexpensive and resistant to the build-up of rust or mold. It is also tear-resistant and soft enough to remain comfortable for a full day of paddling.
Denier is a unit of textile measurement that denotes the fiber thickness of the individual threads used in a fabric. A higher denier count equates to a thicker, stronger, and more durable fabric.
When purchasing a 3 person inflatable kayak, there are a lot of features that can distract from what you really need. In this Buying Guide, we’ll offer some of the most important factors that dictate an inflatable kayak’s performance.
We’re going to start here because you’ll probably want to start by making sure there’ll be enough room to fit your three most-likely paddlers in the inflatable kayak you choose. Length, width, and cockpit depth are the three most important measurements to consider when it comes to kayak size.
A longer kayak is obviously preferable for taller paddlers. When you consider a kayak that can fit three people comfortably, a ten-foot length is probably the bare minimum you should be comfortable with.
When you consider width, you should also take into account any additional gear that you usually bring with you on a paddle adventure. Inflatable kayaks always have large tubes on either side that reduce the size of the cockpit, so you’ll want to look at the manufacturer specs on ‘cockpit size’, as well as overall width.
The depth of the cockpit is also important when it comes to the stability of your inflatable kayak. In most cases, deeper is going to be better, especially when you consider three people (and their likelihood to move on their own accord) sitting inside of it!
Skeg or No Skeg
If an inflatable kayak doesn’t come with a skeg or tracking fin, it’s a pretty safe bet that it won’t perform that well when conditions aren’t optimal. Unless you’re only going to paddle on days that have absolutely ZERO wind, you’ll want a retractable, removable, or permanent skeg.
A retractable skeg will stay attached to your kayak but can be raised or lowered depending on conditions. This is uncommon with inflatable kayaks, but not entirely non-existent.
Removable skegs are more common. These typically snap into place in the hull of your kayak and you’ll typically want to choose whether or not to install it BEFORE you hit the water.
A permanent skeg can be great if you’re pretty frequently paddling windy conditions or in heavy currents. However, the downside of a permanent skeg is that it will prevent you from paddling in very shallow water, as it will hit the ground and impede your progress.
The materials used in the construction of an inflatable kayak will dictate its overall durability. In general, thicker material is going to be more resistant to punctures or tears.
Denier count is one of the terms you’ll see a lot when looking at inflatable kayaks. A higher denier count means a thicker material that will provide extra resistance when your kayak bumps against rocks.
Many of the best inflatable kayaks also boast a reinforced cover made of a thick tarp-style material. This is a really important feature if you want your inflatable kayak to last because it will reduce damage from extended sunlight exposure and scratching against dirt or sand on the shore.
Hand Pump Versus Foot Pump
Most of the best 3-person inflatable kayaks come with some form of pump to aid in the inflation process. While it might not be the first factor you consider, the design of that pump can play a large role in your experience.
For starters, it should be relatively obvious that a dual-action (or double-action) pump is preferable to a single-action pump. This style of pump pushes air into your kayak as you move it in both directions, which greatly reduces the amount of time it takes to inflate your kayak to full pressure.
Although you might not worry about it too much, we think that foot pumps are preferable to hand pumps. Our leg muscles are (generally!) much stronger than our arm muscles, after all!
And don’t forget that you’ll be working out your arm muscles as you paddle throughout the day. So you don’t want to wear yourself out in the process of simply inflating your kayak.
A foot pump allows you to double-up and get a full-body workout for the day. Switch between legs as you inflate your kayak and keep your arms fresh for a full day of paddling out on the water!
While inflatable kayaks have a distinct advantage over their rigid brethren when it comes to weight, there can still be significant weight variation amongst inflatable kayaks. Weight plays a large role in transporting your kayak.
If you’re working out of a vehicle, for example, you’ll most likely want to inflate your kayak near your vehicle before heading down to the water. This allows you to store the pump and any other gear before picking up your kayak and setting out for the day.
You’ll need to be sure that you feel comfortable carrying the specified weight of the kayak you choose. Depending on how far you have to go, there can be a big difference between 25 and 45 pounds, so make sure you’re comfortable with the weight of the kayak you choose before you finalize your purchase!
3 Person Inflatable Kayak Reviews
The Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe is a true three-person kayak with a total weight capacity of 650 pounds. It’s also one of the lightest inflatable kayaks out there at just 26 pounds.
This inflatable kayak is rated for Class III whitewater and comes with two four-part aluminum kayak paddles. It inflates up to 1.1 PSI and comes with a foot pump to help you inflate it faster.
It features two inflatable seats that can be adjusted to provide the perfect amount of back support for your preference. There’s plenty of room to fit additional gear in the bow and stern of this kayak.
The seats in the Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe can move around to accommodate paddlers of many sizes. This kayak also comes with two skegs on the bottom that help it track straighter and achieve higher top speeds.
The Sevylor Big Basin is twelve feet, three inches long and boasts a maximum weight capacity of 490 pounds. It has three dedicated seats that can adjust to keep you comfortable.
The body of this kayak features heavy-duty PVC construction and it’s reinforced with a tarpaulin bottom to provide extra durability against punctures. It’s a great inflatable kayak for use on flat water, whether that’s a calm lake or slow-moving river.
The interior design of the Big Basin includes three separate air chambers. This design allows the kayak to retain enough air to stay afloat if one chamber is accidentally compromised.
This kayak also features a spray cover that gives you dry areas for gear in the bow and stern. It also boasts an airtight valve system that makes inflation easy and deflation possible only when you actually want it.
The Sea Eagle 420x is a mammoth inflatable kayak that’s rated for Class IV whitewater! It is fourteen feet long and offers a maximum weight capacity of a whopping 855 pounds.
This kayak comes with a foot pump that will help you inflate it fully in less than 10 minutes. It comes with two adjustable tall-back seats that will help you maintain a comfortable paddling position all day.
It’s made with 1000-denier reinforced material and the seams are quadruple-overlapped for added durability. The floor is also drop-stitched together to provide additional rigidity and better response to your paddle strokes.
Because it’s made to handle large whitewater, the Sea Eagle 420x features a total of 16 self-bailing drain valves that can be quickly and easily opened and closed. This allows you to drain water out of the cockpit before you make your next rapid run.
The Driftsun Rover 220 is a great inflatable for two adults and a child. It is 12 feet, six inches in length and has a maximum weight capacity of 600 pounds.
With multiple handles on the bow, stern, and gunwales of this kayak, it’s easy to transport and portage around rapids. It weighs just 28 pounds and is rated for Class IV whitewater.
This inflatable kayak boasts 1000-denier reinforced PVC side tubes and a heavy-duty tarpaulin bottom that adds resistance against punctures and tears. It also comes with a deluxe, double-action hand pump and inflates fully in less than 10 minutes.
The Driftsun Rover 220 is ready for running rapids with a total of 8 self-bailing drain ports and a camera mount on the bow for capturing the action. It also comes with two adjustable padded seats, two aluminum kayak paddles, a tracking fin that mounts on the bottom, and a compact travel bag.
The Rover 220’s cousin is the Driftsun Almanor. This inflatable kayak is more suited for the family that’s looking for a comfortable ride for recreational paddles on flat water, but it also performs very well on long-distance paddle trips.
It is a thirteen-foot kayak with a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds. The side tubes of this kayak will inflate to a maximum of 1 PSI and the floor inflates to a max of 2 PSI.
The increased pressure on the kayak’s floor increases rigidity and improves performance. The hull of this kayak is reinforced with 600-denier polyester for added puncture-resistance and UV protection.
The Driftsun Almanor comes with two EVA foam adjustable seats that will help you find a comfortable position on longer paddles. This kayak also comes with a quick-release fin that mounts on the hull, footrests, two dual-blade kayak paddles, and a travel bag.
The Sea Eagle 330 Pro is technically listed as a two-person kayak, but with a 500-pound weight capacity, you’ll definitely be able to fit two adults and one smaller paddler (or furry friend) in this kayak.
This inflatable kayak is rated for Class III whitewater and weighs just 26 pounds. It boasts two spray skirts in the bow and stern where you can store a small selection of dry gear.
This kayak comes with two movable seats that can adjust to a variety of positions. This allows you to create ample space for paddlers of many different sizes.
The 330 Pro also features two skegs that attach to the hull to aid in tracking and improve this kayak’s overall top speed. It also comes with a foot pump, two aluminum kayak paddles, and a compact carry bag.
The Elkton Outdoors Cormorant inflatable kayak is technically a ten-foot tandem fishing kayak. But with a maximum weight capacity of 450 pounds, it’s also a great option for the fishing couple with a young, aspiring angler.
This kayak comes with a number of features designed to make fishing easier. It boasts two articulating fishing rod holders located on either gunwale and an additional four mounted rod holders for trolling.
It’s constructed with 1000-denier PVC material that can withstand punctures and resist tears if you accidentally hook a gunwale with a lure. The bottom is also reinforced with a tough tarpaulin material to resist scratches as you pull this kayak up on shore.
The Cormorant weighs just 27 pounds and boasts a mesh-covered compartment for gear storage in the bow. It also comes with two dual-blade kayak paddles and two adjustable, padded seats.
The Driftsun Voyager is another ten-foot inflatable kayak that’s great for a small family or the paddling couple with an adventure pup. It weighs just 27 pounds and inflates in less than five minutes with the included double-action hand pump.
This kayak is made with heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin and reinforced with an 840-denier coated-nylon oxford fabric top cover. This combination makes it resistant to UV damage and reduces the likelihood of punctures compromising the air chambers.
It also boasts a raised-bow design that makes it perform better in choppy water. This added height in the bow also reduces the amount of water that splashes into the cockpit in windy and wavy conditions.
The Voyager also features a removable tracking fin that helps you steer straighter and maneuver more quickly in tight spaces. This kayak also comes with two adjustable padded seats, two aluminum kayak paddles, and a compact travel bag.
9. Brine Marine
This might be the most stable inflatable kayak on our list. The Brine Marine inflatable kayak is ten feet, six inches long, but it’s also a full 37 inches wide, which makes it more stable as you put more paddlers inside.
This kayak has a maximum weight capacity of 550 pounds and the floor is made of a three-inch-thick layer of drop-stitched, high-pressure marine grade PVC fabric. This is the same design as many standup paddleboards, which makes this kayak extra stable.
It is, however, one of the heavier kayaks on our list as a result, weighing in at 45 pounds. But it does boast enough rigidity to stand up inside the cockpit.
It is also one of the only 3-person inflatable kayaks to offer a one year, no-leak guarantee. The Brine Marine inflatable kayak also comes with two folding seats, two aluminum paddles, a two-stage inflation pump, a repair kit, and a compact storage bag.
Made for the adventurous fishing couple that’s ready to start teaching their little on the ropes, the Elkton Outdoors Steelhead 150 is a 12-foot, six-inch inflatable kayak with a maximum weight capacity of 600 pounds.
It boasts two large storage areas in the bow and stern that are mesh-covered to keep your gear safe. It also comes with multiple self-bailing drain ports in the floor that can easily be opened to remove water from the cockpit.
This kayak is made with 1000-denier reinforced PVC material and the floor is drop-stitched to provide enough rigidity for you to stand up comfortably. It also features multiple attachment points for you to secure your selection of fishing or recreational gear.
The Steelhead 150 is great for both flat and rough water. It comes with two skegs for better tracking, two adjustable padded seats, two break-down kayak paddles, two adjustable footrests, a dual-action hand pump, and a compact travel bag with shoulder straps for easier transport.
Our Pick – Sea Eagle 420x
The Sea Eagle 420x with Pro Package is our top pick for the best 3-person inflatable kayak. It boasts one of the highest weight capacities of any inflatable kayak out there and it’s capable of handling large whitewater rapids.
This kayak is a great choice because of its versatility. You’ll be able to enjoy a calm day of recreational paddling one day and transition to running Class IV rapids the next.
It also comes with two stow bags that have their own dedicated place on board. These bags give you a dry place to store gear if you’re running a multi-day river trip.
The 420x Pro Package also includes a slide-in swept back skeg. This skeg is essential for paddling straight when heavy winds pick up or you find yourself battling strong ocean currents.
This kayak is also extremely durable. This is essential when paddling in heavy whitewater or planning an extended kayak trip, and it’s hard to beat a kayak that can withstand the weight of a Jeep Wrangler.
While the Sea Eagle 420x is one of the more expensive inflatable kayaks on our list, it’s easily the most versatile. There are few other inflatable kayaks out there capable of handling everything from swift whitewater to windy ocean conditions!