by Libby Bliss
first appeared in Ocotober 2006
Canoe and Kayak.

The answer is viable kayak option, and here's why. First, inflatable kayaks are incredibly versatile traveling companions. Generally weighing from 25 to 48 pounds, most inflatables fold into duffel bags the size of a large suitcase, making them easy to carry onto a plane, load in a car, or even strap to a pack mule. Second, should you have a shortage of space at home, they can be stored in a closet or under a bed. Third, they're inherently buoyant, more so than their hardshell counterparts. They're also easier to climb back into if you need to execute a self-rescue.

The earliest known examples of the craft were inflated animal skins used to float goods across the water. Records of this have been found as far back as 880 BC Assyria, and from the Sung and Ming dynasties in China.

In modern times, the ancient kayak forms once made of animal skins, bones, and wood have been re-created using fiberglass, plastic, and PVC. The five inflatable kayaks reviewed illustrate a variety of contemporary styles.