Inflatable Kayak Floors – What Are All Of Their Types?

inflatable kayak floors

Photo by Gemma

Quality Makes a Difference!


Inflatable kayak floors are, in my opinion, the most important part of an inflatable kayak. They are also the part that gives some manufacturers the most trouble.

It’s been my experience that the floor is the first part to fail in low quality inflatable kayaks. And when the floor fails, you’ve got real problems. Floors are difficult to repair.

Good qualiity floors usually give you years of worry-free service.

Self-bailing Floors


Most inflatable fishing kayak floors are self-bailing. Water that comes into the boat drains out. This is very important in whitewater. Most inflatable sea kayaks and some inflatable canoes and kayaks are not self-bailing.

Some inflatable sea kayaks use a deck to keep the water out of the boat.

Inflatable canoes ride higher in the water. This makes it harder for water to get into the boat.

An inflatable kayak with lots of water in it is heavy. The water in the boats works against you when you try to steer. This dramatically increases the work needed to move the boat. Lots of water in the boat will wear you out and can create dangerous situations.

Air Floors

Air floors are the most common and the best floors in inflatable kayaks, but they are also the inflatable kayak floors most susceptible to problems. Quality air floors can give you years of great service with no problems. Cheap air floors can give you misery.

Making a good air floor cost the manufacturer, they pass this cost along to you. You are usually not going to get a good air floor in a cheap inflatable kayak.

Quality inflatable kayak air floors use quality materials and use a pressure relief valve. An overinflated air floor has stretched (thus weakened) material and has less give. This makes it much easier to puncture. The pressure relief valvle releases air when the air in the floor exceeds a preset pressure (usually about 2.5 psi).

Foam Floors

A few inflatable kayak manufacturers use foam floors. This is a safe method, but the foam tends to absorb water over time. This adds weight to the boat, decreases performance, and creates moisture problems when the boat is put in storage.

Inflatable Kayak Floors That Are Not Self-Bailing


Floors that are not self-bailing.

Inflatable kayak floors that are not self-bailing use a material similar to that used for the rest of the boat. It’s usually a heavier grade material or special padding is used.

Many inflatable sea kayaks and some inflatable canoes and kayaks use floors that are not self-bailing.

Some inflatable sea kayaks use a deck to keep the water out of the boat.

Inflatable canoes ride higher in the water. This makes it harder for water to get into the boat.

An inflatable kayak with lots of water in it is heavy. The water in the boats works against you when you try to steer. This dramatically increases the work needed to move the boat. Lots of water in the boat will wear you out and can create dangerous situations.

Inflatable Cataraft Floors and Seats

Inflatable catarafts have a raised floor/seat that joins the two tubes. This is a simple, low maintenance solution that works great and causes few problems.

Catarafts are not for everyone and not for every use. But if a cataraft meets yours needs, then you virtually eliminate two of the biggest problem areas of an inflatable kayak: the floor and the seat.

Quality inflatable kayaks have quality floors that usually give you years of worry-free service. Cheap inflatable kayak floors are trouble.

A good floor is the single best reason to spend a little more and get a good quality inflatable kayak.

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