The Difference Between A Foldable Canoe Vs. An Inflatable Canoe - MYCANOE

January 26, 2023

A foldable or inflatable canoe has many advantages over its rigid counterparts. They are easy to store and transport while offering a fun day on the water. But when you compare foldable and inflatable canoes, which comes out on top?

In this article, we will highlight the main characteristics of each type of portable kayak and how they perform. This will help you decide whether you'll benefit most from a folding boat or an inflatable.

Crucial Differences Between Foldable And Inflatable Canoes

Fundamentally, an inflatable kayak is a vessel inflated with a pump, while a folding canoe comprises a few components quickly put together to form the shape of a lightweight canoe. Both have pros and cons regarding their usability, durability, and performance, so let's take a closer look at each type to determine which is best for you.

Inflatable Kayak versus Folding Canoe

Tracking And Speed

An inflatable canoe sits on the water while a folding canoe's lower part of the hull is submerged. This means that inflatable canoes don't track or glide quite as well through the water. Therefore, they are slower and require more effort to paddle.

Canoe hull explained

Some inflatable canoe manufacturers equip their vessels with rigid panels, either internally or externally, to help their tracking and performance. However, these panels add weight to an otherwise lightweight canoe. They also significantly increase the cost of buying one.

Foldable kayaks, such as the MyCanoe Origami Kayak, have displacement hulls. This means more of the hull is underwater, allowing you to cut through it more easily, making paddling less tiresome.

Which Is More Maneuverable?

The hull design of a foldable canoe also gives its superior maneuverability over an inflatable version. This is because you have more control, and it is less susceptible to being blown around by the wind. Therefore, it is the best canoe for paddling on open water and on rivers as you can stay on course and adjust your direction much more easily.

Which Has The Best Durability?

A folding boat is rated in terms of durability by how many times you can fold it. This is because each time you fold and unfold it, it gets a little weaker along those folds. However, an origami kayak can be folded and unfolded tens of thousands of times, ensuring a long lifespan. 

People using a folding kayak

A folding kayak also has a robust hull that can withstand impacts with rocks, riverbanks, floating logs, and other watercraft.

In contrast, an inflatable kayak is quite vulnerable to punctures. If you get a puncture while out on the water, you could be in trouble if you don't get to dry land or shallow water quickly. 

Most inflatable canoes are made with durable PVC or a similar material. Therefore, you would be unlucky to get a puncture, but it can happen. The other benefit of an inflatable canoe is that if you hit something, the structure pretty povides a little more shock absorption.

Which Type Of Lightweight Canoe Has The Most Versatility?

When you paddle an inflatable on rough water, you will experience quite a lot of discomfort. This is because they float with water rather than cutting through it like a foldable canoe.

With this in mind, a folding canoe would create a more comfortable experience when you paddle in rough water. But you need to be realistic about its capabilities, as you wouldn't want to take it on anything above Class II rapids.

MyCanoe in whitewater

Folding canoes offer more storage space and versatility, providing convenience for other activities . For example, if you want to camp, go fishing, or take supplies for a day-long paddle, a folding kayak may be the best option.


When you compare these vessels with rigid canoes, you will have a lightweight canoe that fits in a small space, whichever one you choose. But which one is easier to transport?

Walking with MyCanoe foldable kayak

An inflatable canoe or kayak is much heavier than a folding boat. This is especially the case if it has rigid panels to improve its performance in the water. You also must remember that your pump adds weight to your setup, which means more weight when hauling it from your car to the water's edge. In addition, you need to carry a pump while paddling. This is because you may need to re-inflate or add air, especially if you are on an overnight or day-long paddle.

Setting Up And Packing Away

When launching your lightweight canoe, a folding boat takes about five minutes to set up, as all you need to do is unfold it and click it together. In contrast, an inflatable canoe requires more effort before you can put it in the water. Of course, this is made easier with an electric pump, but it still takes longer to set up. You will need to add extra time to your setup if you have additional accessories, such as seats.

walking with a mycanoe origami canoe

How quickly and easily you can pack it away your boat may influence your choice between an inflatable canoe and a folding canoe. It is worth mentioning that an inflatable canoe takes a long time to dry out as it can hold water for hours. 

You can, of course, pack it away while it's wet, but then you'll have to unpack it again at home to sufficiently dry out to prevent it from going moldy.

The smooth non-fabric hull of a folding canoe dries out much more quickly, and it doesn't have nooks and crannies that will hold water. Therefore, it will dry quickly, so you can be back on the road in no time.

Which Is More Expensive And Why?

Inflatable canoes are very popular due to the low price points. The low price is possible because inflatable boats are mass produced in large factories. In contrast, craft like the MyCanoe Origami canoes are handmade with care by experts. This means you will get a more quality product with a foldable boat than an inflatable.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are pros and cons to each type of lightweight canoe. Inflatable boats are affordable and might be a good option, if you simply be on the water. If you are looking for a performance canoe or kayak that are comparable to rigid canoes that track and glide well, you want to check out the MyCanoe.