Summer Fun with Inflatable Kayaks

Looking for a unique way to experience your next summer destination? Why not get on the water this summer with inflatable kayaks!

With temperatures on the rise, summer is the season for getting outdoors to experience the natural spaces around us; RVing allows us to break away and embrace this lifestyle.

As RVers we explore land by car, foot, and bike... but what about water? Some of our favorite RV locations have had water nearby, and while we love sitting by the water's edge watching the sunset, we began to ask ourselves, "why not take to the water?" What we found was that inflatable kayaks are not only a fun alternative to our usual outdoor means of exploration, but they also allowed us to see new places that we fell in love with along the way!

Why We Invested in Inflatable Kayaks

A large part of why we decided to invest in inflatable kayaks is in the name itself, inflatable! When the kayaks aren't being used, they take up very little space and can be tucked away in our outside storage since they go down to the size of a large duffel bag. No need to invest in a roof rack or any other storage equipment required for a hard-shell kayak. This leaves you with one less thing to worry about strapping down before hitting the road!

Price was also a key factor in our decision; Inflatable kayaks can be a third of the price of conventional kayaks. Ours arrived with a collapsible paddle, seat cushion, and attachable fin. We were on the water within thirty minutes of unboxing!

Young man paddling inflatable kayak on a lake

What we learned quickly after our first outing was that inflatable kayaks are low maintenance and very easy to use. If we're parked on the water, we can decide where we want to launch from and be out kayaking within minutes. It's a matter of pulling the bag from our outside storage, using the electric outlet in our car or RV to inflate them with air, slide the fin on, and walk it to the water. Because it is made with rubber and filled with air, inflatable kayaks are also light - making it easy to handle.

Kayaking from Coast to Coast

Our first experience with inflatable kayaks was in Acadia National Park in Maine. We were parked on the water in Mt. Desert Narrows RV Resort with spectacular views! It was our first big trip with our RV and we were trying to decide which 'toys' were best to travel the country with. After doing our research, and learning that inflatable kayaks are not only easily transported but also durable and user-friendly, we placed our order!

When they came in the mail, the hardest part was waiting for high tide. Maine's coast tends to be rocky, but since the kayaks are so light it was hardly a problem balancing them while walking to the water's edge. The first lesson learned was that the removable back skeg (aka fin) has a purpose - for stability and steering! In our rush to get on the water, this piece didn't make it on! This meant a lot of spinning in circles at first, but with a little adaptation to paddling we were able to make it out to a little island, which we had to ourselves. It made us feel like Lewis and Clark getting to explore this unknown territory, at least to us.

However, Oregon is where we had our most spontaneous and thrilling inflatable kayak experience. We were boondocked just outside of Crater Lake National Park by a glacier-fed creek. At that time, Crater Lake had a forest fire north of the park that led to zero visibility and park closure. This left us searching for new ways to experience the general area in a safe manner. We waded in the creek, swung in hammocks, and walked the nearby forest service roads. Then we began to wonder where our creek led and if we could take our kayaks out in a deeper area.

Young couple poses for picture with their inflatable kayaks on the shore of a lake

Tossing our kayaks in the back seat of the car, we drove the forest service road, keeping our eyes on the creek to our right. The water got wider and soon through a clearing we saw a deep turquoise blue section of water perfect for kayaking! The road led us to Jackson F. Kimball State Park where there were spots for picnicking by the water, camping, and hiking trails. Within thirty minutes we were on the water! At the time, we had a friend visiting, so we took turns between kayaking, hammocking, and swimming in ice cold water. It turned into a perfect summer afternoon tucked away in the Oregon wilderness.

Where to Kayak

The simplest answer for "where should I kayak?" is that you really only need a body of water that allows watercrafts! Signs, or local park service representatives, will be sure to let you know if you are permitted to be on the water.

Just to be safe, you should research the area and use your best judgment. For example, kayaking in the ocean or high-current bodies of water is not advisable, unless you're experienced and equipped. On the California coast, we wanted to take our kayaks out, but the waves alone made us decide to seek different forms of fun for the day. Remember, inflatable kayaking is meant to bring a new perspective to a place and allow for relaxed adventuring. Find water that meets your needs!

Inflatable kayak cruising down the river

Useful Tips for RVers Using Inflatable Kayakers

Below are a few useful tips for all inflatable kayaking RVers:

  • Pack a snack, water, and sunblock. In this way, kayaking is like other forms of exploring and you want to be prepared to be in different weather and hydrated.
  • Use full alternating strokes with your paddle.
  • Remember to put your back skeg/fin on, or you'll be spinning!
  • Most places require that you either wear a life vest or have it packed on with you. We keep ours tucked in the mesh on the front of the kayak, so it's easy to see and access.
  • If you plan to do a sunset kayak, make sure to pack lighting for your return trip. This could be a headlamp or flashlight. You want to be seen at night and the best way to do this is with proper lights.
  • If applicable, consider the current and where you will enter and exit the water.
  • Be considerate of where you dock your kayak (land conservation areas or private property). When kayaking in Maine, we planned to break at an island, but signs told us that it was closed for the month due to bird mating season.
  • If possible, let your kayaks dry out before stowing them away so no mold or bacteria grows. On a sunny day, this could mean deflating and placing your kayak on the grass or a picnic table to dry out.
  • We pack a spare trash bag in case we find trash along the way. This is good "leave it better than you found it" practice.

Kayakers using inflatable kayaks paddle down a body of water

Get out and get your kayak on! (Want more fun water toys for your RV adventures - check out this guide to inflatable stand up paddleboards).