The 5 Best Ducky kayaks Tested and Reviewed by Experts [2021]

Kayak technology has come a long way in the past few years. Inflatable kayaks are no longer a simple pool toy, they into high-tech specialized vessels that can even rival hard-shell kayaks.

Ducky kayaks, also known as whitewater inflatable kayaks or duckies, are a special kind of inflatable kayak that is suited for whitewater rapids. They’re easy to use and considerably more affordable compared to hard-shell kayaks and perfectly suited for fun summer activities.

These kayaks are built to be tougher than a regular inflatable kayak with a streamlined design and high sides, as well as a self-bailing system to make them more durable and protect them from damage.

Ducky kayaks are also popular for their portability as can be deflated and rolled up to fit in a bag which makes them very easy to transport and store.

Since there are many ducky kayaks available on the market with different features that are suitable for different circumstances, it can be tough to choose the best one that fits your needs.

To narrow down your options, here are some recommendations for the top-rated ducky kayaks with a detailed review of what each kayak has to offer.

Comparison Table

KayakMaterialWeightWeight CapacitySize
Driftsun Rover 1201000D reinforced PVC construction22 lbs.300 lbs.8’5″ X 3′
Aquaglide McKenzie 105Duratex fabric-reinforced PVC24 lbs.300 lbs.10’2″ X 2’7″
Advanced Elements StraitEdgePVC, Tarpaulin, aluminum ribs45 lbs.400 lbs.10’6″ X 3’2″
Intex Challenger K1Vinyl, Tarpaulin23.9 lbs.220 lbs.9′ X 2’6″
Sea Eagle 330K-80 Polykrylkar26 lbs.500 lbs.11’2″ X 2’10”

The Best Ducky Kayaks

Best Overall: Driftsun Rover 120

The top recommendation on our list is the Driftsun Rover 120. This heavy-duty ducky kayak is ideal for tackling both whitewater and flatwater conditions.

The Rover 120 is manufactured from a 1000D reinforced PVC material with Tarpaulin-covered bottom and a drop-stitch floor which makes the kayak highly durable, rigid, and puncture-resistant.

It’s designed with a large bow and a curved stern to enhance the kayak’s performance and increase control, maneuverability, and stability in up to class IV whitewater rapids along with a removable tracking skeg for navigating flat water.

The design also features high-pressure valves, 3 separate air chambers, and 5 self-bailing ports for added safety, and an adjustable seat with high back support and EVA foam padding to increase your comfort level.

It’s very light in weight, weighing only 22 pounds, and it has a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds. It comes with tie-down points for storing additional gear and an action camera mount in the front.

It also comes with a paddle with an ergonomic grip and some essential accessories including a pump, a travel bag, and a repair kit.

Pros Vs Cons

Pros
  • It’s made from durable puncture-resistant material
  • It can withstand class IV whitewater rapids
  • It has a skeg for better flat-water navigation
  • It’s designed with 3 separate air chambers and 5 self-bailing drains
  • It’s light in weight and easy to transport
  • It features an adjustable padded seat and a camera mount
  • It comes with a paddle and essential accessories that include a pump, a carry bag, and a repair kit.
Cons
  • It has limited storage options
  • It doesn’t track very well in flat-water conditions

Bottom line

The Driftsun Rover 120 is the best for you if you’re looking for a premium quality whitewater kayak with exceptional control and stability.

Second Runner: Aquaglide McKenzie 105

This ducky inflatable kayak from Aquaglide is named after the McKenzie River’s relentless rapids. It’s a cross between a whitewater kayak and a recreational kayak.

The Mckenzie 105 kayak is manufactured from Duratex fabric-reinforced PVC with EvoBeam floor construction which increases its durability and makes it more rigid and stable enough to withstand class III whitewater currents.

It’s designed with Halkey-Roberts valves for rapid inflation and deflation. It also features four self-bailing mesh drains and a Posi-track fin to improve tracking.

It’s very comfortable as it comes with the Aquaglide Core 2 padded Velcro seat with additional loops, floor clips, and a back strap to ensure you’re properly supported while paddling

It’s light in weight, weighing only 24 pounds, and comes with a carrying backpack which makes it easy to transport. It’s also quite spacious for its size and has a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds.

Pros Vs Cons

Pros
  • It’s constructed from durable reinforced materials
  • It’s designed with four self-bailing mesh drains
  • It’s very stable and can withstand rapid whitewater currents
  • It features a Posi-track fin for better tracking
  • It’s easy to inflate and deflate
  • It comes with a comfortable padded seat
  • It’s light in weight and comes with a carry bag
Cons
  • It doesn’t have extra storage
  • It doesn’t come with a paddle or a pump

Bottom line

The Aquaglide McKenzie 105 is the perfect choice for you if you’re looking for a durable versatile kayak with excellent performance and innovative features.

Best for Fishing: Advanced Elements StraitEdge

The Advanced Elements StraitEdge kayak is one of the best inflatable ducky kayaks on the market. It comes with many features that make it ideal for fishing.

It’s constructed from a multi-layer PVC and Vinyl material with abrasion pads and a drop-stitch floor which makes it extremely durable and puncture-resistant.

It’s very stable and can withstand class III whitewater rapids due to the aluminum rib frame construction which increases its rigidity.

It also features five air chambers to increase safety, a removable Deep Fin to enhance tracking, and a high-backed Airframe Pro seat for added comfort and support while fishing.

It weighs 45 pounds because of the aluminum frame; however, it has a high weight capacity of 400 pounds. It has bungee cords to secure gear with stainless steel d-rings.

What really makes it perfect for fishing is that it comes with rod holders and an accessory mount for additional fishing gear. It also comes with paddle holders, a duffel bag to facilitate transport as well as a repair kit.

Pros Vs Cons

Pros
  • It’s durable, puncture-resistant, and abrasion-resistant
  • It’s designed with 5 separate air chambers
  • It comes with a comfortable seat and a removable fin
  • It has bungee cords to secure additional gear
  • It has a very high weight capacity
  • It features paddle holders, rod holders, and accessory mounts
  • It comes with a duffel bag and a repairing kit
Cons
  • It’s heavier compared to other inflatable kayaks
  • It doesn’t come with a paddle or a pump

Bottom line

The Advanced Elements StraitEdge is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a tough inflatable kayak with many features and accessories to improve your fishing experience.

For more fishing options, check out my guide on the best fishing kayaks under $400 here.

Best Tandem: Sea Eagle 330

The Sea Eagle 330 tandem inflatable kayak is one of the best inflatable ducky kayaks. It’s also one of the safest kayaks as it’s NMMA certified.

The material used to construct the hull is thick K-80 polykrylkar, which makes it puncture-resistant and very durable.

The kayak is designed with grab lines on the bow and stern, 2 skegs on the bottom to improve tracking and speed, as well as with two adjustable inflatable seats for added comfort.

It also features 3 deluxe one-way valves, 9-inch tubes, I-beam floor construction, and high-frequency welded seams which all increase its rigidity

It’s light in weight, weighing only 26 pounds, and comes with a nylon carrying bag for easy transport. It also has a high weight capacity of 500 pounds which allows you to carry all the gear you need.

What makes the Sea Eagle 330 really stand out is that it comes with a deluxe package of accessories including two paddles, inflatable spray skirts, a repair kit, and a foot pump.

Pros Vs Cons

Pros
  • It’s durable and puncture-resistant
  • It’s very stable, fast, and tracks well
  • It comes with a high-quality carrying bag or easy transport
  • It has a very high weight capacity
  • It comes with a full package of accessories
Cons
  • It doesn’t come with extra storage space

Bottom line

The Sea Eagle 330 would be the best option for you if you’re looking for a high-quality inflatable kayak that comes with all the essential accessories at an affordable price.

Best on A Budget: Intex Challenger Kayak

This solo inflatable sit-inside kayak from Intex. This kayak combines many great features at a very cheap price.

The Intex Challenger K1 kayak is constructed from a heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl material with a tarpaulin bottom which enhances the durability of the kayak. It’s also decorated with bold graphics which improves the kayak’s visibility.

It’s compact and very light in weight which makes it easy to transport. It even comes with its own carry bag.

The process of inflating and deflating the kayak is fast and simple as the kayak comes with Boston Cap valves and a high output hand pump.

This kayak has a maximum weight capacity of 220 pounds. It has extra storage with a cargo net for securing any gear.

It’s designed with grab lines on both ends as well as a detachable skeg to add more balance and stability. It also has two separate air chambers to increase safety.

It comes with a removable adjustable seat for added comfort. Along with some accessories such as a repair patch kit and 84-inch collapsible aluminum paddles.

Pros Vs Cons

Pros
  • It’s durable and puncture-resistant
  • It’s designed with two air chambers
  • It comes with two grab lines and a detachable skeg
  • It comes with extra storage
  • It comes with a paddle, a hand pump, a carry bag, and a repair kit
  • It light and easy to carry
  • It’s decorated with eye-catching graphics
Cons
  • It has a low weight capacity
  • It’s difficult to dry the kayak completely after use

Bottom line

The Intex Challenger Kayak K1 kayak is perfect for you if you’re a beginner looking for a simple one-person inflatable kayak to get you started with kayaking.

Everything You Need to Know About Ducky kayaks

man on one of the best ducky kayaks

What are Ducky Kayaks?

Ducky kayaks or duckies is the more popular name for inflatable sit-on-top kayaks. They gained their name because of the curved rocker profile which makes them look duck-like and just like ducks, these kayaks can move effortlessly through the water.

They are a combination between a raft and a traditional kayak when it comes to maneuverability and stability, and unlike the average poor-quality inflatable kayaks; ducky kayaks are much tougher as they’re designed with whitewater in mind.

How Are Ducky Kayaks Manufactured?

Generally speaking, most inflatable kayaks are manufactured using the same construction method. This method essentially includes using a fabric core to gives the kayak shape and a synthetic rubber layer to provides the kayak airtightness, abrasion protection, and UV resistance.

The way manufacturers implement the synthetic rubber layer can vary from one kayak to another which impacts the price, performance, and maintenance of the inflatable kayak

What Are Ducky Kayaks Made of?

The materials used to manufacture inflatable kayaks include PVC (polyvinyl chloride), Polyethylene, Hypalon, and Nitrylon.

PVC is the most common synthetic material used in inflatable kayaks. It’s a lot cheaper, so it’s frequently used to make entry-level inflatable kayaks for beginners who are just testing out the waters.

PVC material is very sturdy and makes the kayak more resistant to impact. Its main drawback is that it’s prone to degradation from exposure to UV rays.

Materials such as Hypalon and Nitrylon, on the other hand, are more frequently seen used to make high-end inflatable kayaks. They would be an ideal option for experienced kayakers looking for top performance.

These materials are typically more expensive as they are much more resistant to UV ray degradation. Therefore, they can withstand long days in the sun much more effectively

The Key Benefits of Ducky Kayaks

  • Ducky kayaks sit higher on the water compared to traditional hard-shell kayaks which allow you to more of the nature around you.
  • They’re portable and ideal for travelers as they can be deflated making them easy to carry and transport.
  • They don’t require a lot of storage space and can easily fit in a carrying bag, the back seat, or the trunk of your car, or you can even take them onto a plane with your luggage.
  • Duckies are very stable. While they are built with whitewater conditions in mind, duckies can be used in most water conditions.
  • They are very safe and less prone to capsizing. Even, if you do find yourself outside your kayak in the water, you can easily re-enter it, as you would with a traditional raft.
  • They’re relatively cheaper in price which makes them ideal for beginners. They also don’t cost a lot of money or effort to maintain.

Factors You Need to Consider Before Buying a Ducky Kayak

Material

As mentioned before, there are different kinds of material used to manufacture inflatable kayaks and each kind has advantages and disadvantages.

The kayak’s material has a direct effect on its durability, so you need to make sure the kayak you’re buying isn’t made from poor quality as this will make the kayak more prone to wearing out over time.

You can learn about the pros and cons of plastic kayaks here.

Weight Capacity

The weight capacity of a kayak is the total amount of weight the kayak can withstand to carry, including your weight and the weight of any equipment you bring abroad. So, it’s important to take it into consideration to avoid overloading your kayak.

Storage Space

The amount of onboard space and storage options depend mainly on the size and design of the kayaks. To make it simple, the bigger your kayak is; the more room you’ll have to carry more gear.

Performance

The performance of the kayak is mainly affected by its design. Kayaks come in different shapes and sizes, so you need to choose a kayak with the design that best fits your purpose.

Speed depends on the kayak’s length and width. Tracking, on the other hand, depends on the shape of the kayak. Long narrow kayaks are usually faster, while short wide kayaks will be more stable and track better.

If performance is a top priority for you, you should definitely consider motorized kayaks. You can check my guide on motorized kayaks here.

Stability and Safety

The stability of the kayak is also affected by its design, mainly the width.

Inflatable kayaks are usually wider than traditional hard-shell which makes them extremely stable and less likely to capsize.

Comfort

There are many features that contribute to the kayak’s comfort level such as built-in accessory mounts, drink holders, footrests, and pedals.

The most important factor is the seating area of the kayak so, you need to make sure the seat of your kayak is padded and comfortable enough to avoid getting back pains when paddling for a long time

Cost

The price of any kayak mainly depends on several factors including the construction, materials, size, weight capacity, storage space, and any additional comfort features. You should also consider the buying cost as well as the maintenance fee.

Inflatable kayaks are usually cheaper compared to hard-shell kayaks because of the material used to manufacture them and they’re also don’t cost much to maintain or repair.

If you want more options at different budgets, check out the best kayaks under $1,000 here and the best fishing kayaks under $500 here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s The Difference Between Traditional Rigid Kayaks and Ducky Kayaks?

Traditional kayaks are mainly manufactured from materials such as Kevlar, hard plastic, carbon fiber, or fiberglass. They are more expensive than ducky kayaks because they’re highly durable and offer more control. However, they’re heavier, more difficult to transport, and can take up more storage space. Ducky kayaks, on the other hand, are made from inflatable materials. This makes them a lot cheaper and more portable as they are light in weight which and easier to transport.

How Long Do Ducky Kayaks Last?

On average, ducky kayaks can last between 5 to 10 years. This mainly depends on proper storage and maintenance as well as the material used to manufacture the kayak. Ducky kayaks made from more expensive materials like Hypalon and Nitrylon are expected to last longer than kayaks made from PVC. Also, If the seams of your ducky kayak are held together by glue, you can expect the glue to degrade over time.

How To Maintain a Ducky Kayak?

In order to maintain your ducky kayaks, you need to make sure it’s stored properly away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. It is also recommended to wash your after each use with warm water and mild soap and thoroughly dry them to clear any to dirt or debris off the material and prevent damage from mold growth.

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