Skip to Content

Best Portable Kayaks For Vanlife & RVs

Bringing kayaks along on a vanlife adventure always sounds fun, till you have to set up the rack either on the roof or back of the vehicle. And the time and hassle it takes to put them on the rack and take them off becomes more of a chore. Not to mention the wind resistance or chance of theft.  Traditional kayaks are heavy and hard to bring from the vehicle to the water. So a portable kayak is the perfect alternative. Portable kayaks are usually easy to carry right to the water source and assemble rather quickly. 

Jake & Emily in Intex Inflatable Kayak

In this ultimate guide for best portable kayaks for vanlife and RVs, we go over the pros and cons of each portable kayak to find the right one for you. 

This post may contain affiliate links. Disclosure policy.

Intex Explorer K2

Best Budget-friendly Portable Kayak For Vanlife

Jake & Emily posing with their hands up in the Intex Explorer K2 on Cascade Lake in WA
Intex Explorer K2 on Cascade Lake in WA

The Intex Explorer K2 is a great budget-friendly portable kayak for vanlife. It packs down decently small and can be fully assembled in under 10 minutes. The material is made out of rugged vinyl construction, so you don’t need to worry about brushing up on a couple rocks (but it’s still suggested to limit the amount of contact with sharp objects). 

This is the kayak Jake and I personally have and it is holding up great after one year! It’s relatively comfy, but it is rather slow on the water. If there is much wind, this baby isn’t moving too fast. But for the price and compact storage design, we really like this portable kayak for vanlife. 

The Intex Challenger is the single-person alternative to the Explorer K2. 

The Intex Explorer K2 kayak is the absolute best budget-friendly option if you just want a way to get out onto the water. But if need something a little more rugged, compact, or fast, the fancier portable kayak options below can offer some better specs.

Weight: 30.6 lbs

Max Capacity: 400 lbs

Packable Size: 16.25 x 13.50 x 23.13 inches

Pros Of The Intex Explorer K2 Portable Kayak

  • Inexpensive
  • Comfortable
  • Quick Set-up time
  • Compact
  • Comes with necessary accessories (paddles, seats, pump, carrying bag & patches)

Cons Of The Intex Explorer K2 Portable Kayak

  • Risk of popping/ not as durable
  • Slow on the water- Doesn’t go nearly as fast as a traditional kayak

Check Price:

Drone shot of us kayaking in our Intex Explorer, which is one of the best portable kayaks for vanlife

Oru Kayak Tandem

Most-Compact Portable Kayak For Vanlife

Oru Kayak Tandem

The Oru Kayak is one of the most compact portable kayaks on the market today. It’s simply the best option if you want to maximize the amount of space your portable kayak takes up. I personally think this is one of the best portable kayaks for vanlife, but it comes with a higher price tag. 

The material is made from 5 mm double-layered, custom-extruded polypropylene so it’s puncture and abrasion resistant. So no problem scraping against some rocks upon landing (although it’s still suggested to keep it to a minimum). 

The tandem style is built for two people and one of the most stable options of the Oru Kayaks line up. But they also have a few different single kayak options if that suits you better. 

The Inlet is the cheapest option and can take as little as 3 minutes to set up. The Beach Lt is the most popular Oru Kayak option and is a sturdier version of the Inlet. It has more storage and can be set up in as little as 5 minutes. 

The next upgrade from the Oru Kayak lineup is the Bay St, which can perform better in choppier water. Set up time takes about 10 minutes and is designed for more intermediate to advanced levels. And last but not least is the Coast Xt. If you plan to get rugged and view kayaking as more of a sport verses leisure activity then this is the right portable kayak for you. 

Do note you will need to purchase the paddles and seat wedge separately. 

Weight: 41 lbs

Max Capacity: 500 lbs

Packable Size: 34 x 17 x 29 inches

Pros Of The Oru Kayak Portable Kayak

  • Most compact portable kayak
  • Won’t deflate
  • Quick Set-up time

Cons Of The Oru Kayak Portable Kayak

  • Expensive
  • Less comfortable
  • Necessary accessories not included
  • Not as fast as a traditional kayak

Check Price: | |


Best Ultra-Tough Foldable & Portable Kayak For Vanlife

Tucktec Foldable Kayak - Super Stable, Lightweight & Maneuverable | 2023 8' Foldable Kayak | Ideal for Youth & Small Adults - Beginners and Experts | 3-Year Warranty

The TuckTec is one of the toughest portable kayaks on the market. It’s built to take a beating and not fall apart as soon as you hit some rough parts of the sea, lake, or drip. You don’t have to worry about brushing up on rocks to land the kayak safely, it’s meant to withstand some tough terrain. The carbon fiber is reinforced and puncture proof. 

The TuckTec is probably one of the quickest and easiest set ups. There are 6 clamps and then you’re out on the water. Set up time can be in as little as 2 minutes. 

Do note the paddle is sold separately. 

Weight: 28lbs

Max Capacity: 300lbs

Packable Size: 48 x 15 inches

Pros Of The TuckTec Portable Kayak

  • Inexpensive
  • Super-durable
  • Won’t deflate
  • Compact
  • Different colors to choose from

Cons Of The TuckTec Portable Kayak

  • No two person model
  • Paddle not included
  • Not as comfortable
  • Not as fast as a traditional kayak

Check Price:

Pakayak Bluefin 142

Closest Portable Kayak To A Traditional Kayak

 Pakayak Bluefin 14 Ft Kayak, The Only Hardshell Packable Kayak - Packs Down into Included Rolling Bag That Fits Inside of Your Trunk! Nests into Itself for Ultimate Portability and Storage!

The Pakayak is a patented design to pack down small for portability without losing the high-performance of a traditional kayak. It’s as close as you will get to a hard shell kayak. The kayak breaks down into 6 different pieces and snaps together using super-strong clamps. Each piece is lined with a silicone gasket and wedged together via tongue and groove to ensure a watertight design. 

This is one of the best portable kayaks for vanlife to get as close to a traditional hard shell kayak. But I’d say this design isn’t necessarily a great option for full time vanlifers because it doesn’t pack down as small. If you decide to go with this option you will need to sacrifice a decent amount of storage space in your camper van or RV. 

Pakayak is a bit on the heavier side of portable kayaks, so it is suggested to stow it away in the wheeled bag to easier transport it to your location. 

Note the paddle is not included. 

Weight: 59 lbs

Max Capacity: 300 lbs

Packable Size: 42 x 24 x 16 inches

Pros Of The Pakayak Portable Kayak

  • The closest model to a traditional hard shell kayak
  • Super durable
  • Quick Set-up time
  • Fast on the water

Cons Of The Pakayak Portable Kayak 

  • Expensive
  • Large, not very compact when stowed away
  • Paddle not included
  • No two-person model
  • Heavy
  • Not as comfortable

Check Price:

Advanced Elements Convertible Elite Inflatable Kayak

Best Inflatable Portable Kayak

 ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame Convertible Kayak

If budget is less of an issue, then the Advanced Elements Convertible Elite Inflatable Kayak is a big upgrade for inflatable kayaks. This kayak will perform much better in rougher conditions than the budget-friendly option listed above. 

The main difference is the drop-stitch technology which ultimately helps the kayak move smoother throughout the water. The design is very rigid so the kayak can be blown up to a much higher pressure than other inflatable kayaks. Which ultimately helps it go faster on the water with less drag. 

Advanced Elements has a few different styles of portable kayaks to choose from. They even have a super helpful resource on their website where you can pick the activity you are aiming for when using the best portable kayak. For example if you want to get extreme and go white water kayaking or you want to go out for a fishing expedition, this will help you choose the best portable kayak option for you. 

Note, the paddle and pump is not included with the purchase of a kayak.

Weight:  52 lbs

Max Capacity: 3550 lbs

Packable Size: 35 x 21 x 12 inches

Pros Of The Advanced Elements Portable Kayak

  • Comfortable
  • Quick Set-up time
  • Fast on the water

Cons Of The Advanced ElementsPortable Kayak

  • Expensive
  • Heavy
  • Risk of popping/ not as durable
  • Paddle & pump not included

Check Price: | |

Don’t forget to pack along an RTIC double insulated cooler to keep everything nice and cold on your next kayaking adventure. 

Takeaway | Best Portable Kayaks For Vanlife & RVs

Kayaking on the Colorado River in Moab, Utah. Best portable kayaks for vanlife

Having a way to get out on the water in vanlife and when RVing really opens up another whole world of exploration. The freedom to explore the water versus just swimming near the shore is liberating. So next time you see a tantalizing body of water, you wont be left wondering what’s out there.  Pack a couple cold beverages, picnic lunch, maybe some sunscreen and you are set for a fun adventure out on the lake, river, ocean, etc. We think these 5 best portable kayaks for vanlife and RVs will change the game of vanlife, we hope you enjoy. 

Help Us Share Best Portable Kayaks For Vanlife & RVs On Pinterest:

Epic Things To Do In Bend, Oregon | 1-Week Itinerary - tworoamingsouls

Thursday 6th of April 2023

[…] explore. But do note there is a speed limit minimum of 10mph on Paulina Lake. Check out some of our favorite portable kayaks that are perfect for […]

12 Best Free Campsites In The Western U.S. - tworoamingsouls

Monday 6th of December 2021

[…] if you have a portable kayak! We spent a few days here just enjoying the lake life. We have the Intex K2 Inflatable Kayak that […]

25 Of The Best Camper Van Accessories - tworoamingsouls

Friday 8th of October 2021

[…] it does require a little extra room in your camper van, but is so worth it! Here are a few other great portable kayaks for vanlife to choose […]

Top Things To Do In Yachats, Oregon - tworoamingsouls

Monday 12th of July 2021

[…] find yourself renting we suggest buying the Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak or one of these Best Portable Kayaks for road trips.  We keep our inflatable kayak in our campervan so it’s ready for any chance […]

Intex Explorer K2 Review | Best Inflatable Kayak - tworoamingsouls

Tuesday 8th of June 2021

[…] The Intex Explorer K2 kayak is the absolute best budget-friendly option if you just want a way to get out onto the water. But if you need something a little more rugged, compact, or fast, then you might want to consider one of these other Best Portable Kayaks.  […]