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Inflatable kayaks are still a relatively new concept for many folks, but for me, it's old news. I've had my Intex 2-person inflatable kayak for several years now and I've taken it on a wide variety of adventures, from beaches to mangroves, to springs, rivers and most waterways in between! I actually just had my kayak out last weekend at Weeki Wachee, and still, many years later it continues to serve me well with little signs of wear and tear.
That said, I am no stranger to standard kayaks either. I had a fiberglass kayak many years ago and quickly decided that it was more work than it was worth (and anyone who's had one of these knows what I mean!) Due to the cost and cumbersome inconveniences of most standard kayaks, I took a chance on trying the alternative: an inflatable one.
Prior to having purchased the Intex, the only experience I've ever had with inflatable water vessels was intertubes. But with a price for a double-seater at more than half the cost of a standard 2-person kayak, I figured it couldn't hurt to try. I have to admit, my biggest motivating factor to purchase this particular water vessel was the price, and looking back on it, it was 100% worth the investment considering it has saved me from renting kayaks for an outrageous price on an hourly basis and planning around launch schedules.
I bought the $189.99 kayak through Amazon Prime and shipping was free, taking only two short days to arrive. The setup came complete with paddles, air pump, and a tote bag to easy store it all in, so the only extras that I needed to get were a couple of life jackets.
I know that the blowing-it-up aspect is a turn off for many people, but I do have to admit, in my opinion, it's a lot quicker and overall less work to blow up the Intex than to mount and unmount a regular kayak from a vehicle. The only way you'd ever get out of doing some set up and put-away work with a kayak is by renting one, but that has its own host of problems too as stated above.
It didn't take any time at all for me to understand why inflatable kayaks are often touted for being very easy to store, transport, and lift, and if you're anything like me --meaning you don't live with direct water access, don't have a truck, or don't always have help with transporting/lifting-- you'll probably appreciate these aspects too.
In my few short years of Intex inflatable kayak ownership, I have learned that they're a great option for someone of my size and stature (even as a two-seater) since they're light enough to easily transport, set up, and paddle around without needing the assistance of another person. It truly amazes me how small these vessels become once they're deflated, but then I remember it's basically all air! These are all aspects I personally love and can attest to.
The kayak itself is roomy and very comfortable almost like paddling around an air mattress, offering plenty of space for not only you and your passenger's legs but also for any small objects you may bring along for the ride. Sometimes I pack a small cooler and bring my dogs along for family picnic on the water!
Alternatively, there are some slight downsides to being so light and airy.
While the vessel is made to withstand hard wear, you do have to be mindful of areas with a lot of jagged objects such as oyster beds. Stupidly, I have taken mine to some such areas around the mangroves during low tide, which is the worst possible time, and it was a stressful adventure --to say the least. However, it survived without incident due to careful maneuvering, but I learned quickly that this type of kayak isn't so great for those sorts of coastal regions. Large waves are another sketchy thing to expose this kayak to as it bends and takes on water very easily.
One more thing that I would consider a potential negative is all the pieces you have to remember to bring for the kayak to be properly set up. If you forget to pack or put away any pieces of it (and you do have to take it out of the bag when you get home to let it dry or else it will get moldy), you're going to have a hard time using it. Recently, I lost the back fin that helps steer the kayak on my last trip to Weeki Wachee and it was surprisingly very difficult to paddle in a straight line without turning in circles. That was not a fun adventure and now I have to order a new fin, which isn't the end of the world, but it's an extra $14 that I don't want to have to spend.
Overall, I don't have many complaints and I think the benefits greatly outweigh the negatives. I wouldn't recommend this particular type of kayak to someone who plans on visiting rocky areas or areas with high waves, but if you just want to float along a calm Florida spring, it can't get much better than a comfy, airy inflatable kayak.
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