From hearing the name alone, inflatable kayaks sound like unstable and unreliable vessels to explore rivers and oceans in. The first thought you probably have is them flipping over as soon as you take them in the water. However, this is not the case.
Inflatable kayaks can be very stable and durable vessels. To convince you that they’re reliable and last longer than you would expect, we have outlined the construction of inflatable kayaks. We’ll help you find out how long your inflatable kayak will last.
The Common Materials Used in Inflatable Kayaks
Inflatable kayaks have recently become very popular, owing to their user-friendliness and convenience. This popularity has prompted manufacturers to improve the durability of these inflatable vessels.
Durability directly translates into a longer lifetime and more reliable usage. Any product’s lifetime depends on its construction and the materials used, apart from the time and type of usage you subject it to.
Regarding the materials used in inflatable kayaks, there are mainly several types, but we will discuss them as per general category.
High-performance inflatable kayaks are made of high-pressure fabrics. They are built to last and characterize more excellent durability than traditional inflatable kayaks.
They also get tested using denier, which is the thickness of the fibers that form the threads of the fabric. Materials used in modern inflatable kayaks usually have a 1000 to 1100 denier thickness, designed to withstand high pressure, such as whitewater conditions.
Additionally, manufacturers usually use a PVC coating to waterproof the fabric. It acts as an airtight seal to keep water from infiltrating the vessel.
Undoubtedly, inflatable kayaks get subjected to harsh waters, especially those used for touring, fishing, and whitewater exploration. Thus, the fabrics used in high-performance inflatable kayaks are also puncture-resistant and tear-resistant.
Special chemicals are also used to protect the kayak’s fabric from direct exposure to UV rays and gasoline.
“CSM” or Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene Rubber
CSM is perhaps the best fabric used in inflatable kayaks, as it ensures durability and longevity. It’s a synthetic type of rubber that resists UV, chemicals, and extreme temperatures. However, it can’t hold air well, so it’s mostly mixed with another material, usually, neoprene.
Low-Quality, Affordable Fabrics
Of course, you can also find some lower quality and low-performance inflatable kayaks. These vessels are not intended for rough and frequent usage.
They are constructed with cheaper and low-quality fabrics, thereby having a shorter lifespan. Low-quality and cheaper inflatable kayaks usually last from two to eight years.
Inflatable Kayak Maintenance and Storage
Construction and materials are not the only determinants when it comes to the lifespan of an inflatable kayak. One of the main factors that dictate how long an inflatable kayak will last is maintaining and storing it properly. Always remember that you can not enjoy your inflatable kayak for long if you do not clean it after every single use. When you take your kayak for a spin in the ocean, all the contaminants, like gasoline, chemicals, debris, and oil in the water, get stuck on your kayak.
If you leave these contaminants on, they will build up over time. This build-up will then slowly eat away at your kayak, damaging the fabric and reducing its durability.
So, how do you clean and store your inflatable kayak the right way?
Ensure you wash your inflatable kayak immediately after use. Close all the valves before you start washing the kayak to keep water out of the tubes. The water can potentially cause mold and other build-ups.
Also, be sure you use the right products to clean the vessel because using solvents like toluene and bleach will cause the fabric to burn, weaken, and discolor. You can find detergents specially made for cleaning inflatable kayaks. Once you have washed the kayak, you can dry, deflate, and store it.
The best way to save your inflatable kayak from giving up on you prematurely is to keep it out of direct sunlight when not in use, so store it in a dry and dark closet.
So, How Long Will an Inflatable Kayak Last?
High-performance and good quality inflatable kayaks have a lifetime of approximately 15 to 20 years if you factor in wear and tear. However, if you take good care of your inflatable kayak, it can last for up to 25 or more years.
Even though inflatable kayaks are built to withstand harsh weather and extreme sunlight, constant sun exposure can weaken and damage the materials of your inflatable kayak. Thus, store it properly.
Another thing that experts emphasize is keeping your inflatable kayaks clean to prevent debris and build-up-induced damage. So, make sure you are cleaning inflatable kayaks after every use and doing it the right way.Here are some of the best inflatable kayaks you can buy that will last you a lifetime.