Aqua Marina Kayak Review: Inflatable Kayak Review

Interested in purchasing a kayak, but not sure if you want a hard shell kayak, inflatable kayak or foldable kayak? In this review I’ll discuss the pros and cons of a quality, inflatable kayak. After reading my Aqua Marina kayak review, I hope you’ll walk away with a clearer understanding of what this inflatable kayak has to offer. I should mention that I am not a professional kayaker.

Aqua Marina inflatable kayak on picnic table with Suttle Lake in Central Oregon in the background
Aqua Marina Steam Kayak

Why select an Aqua Marina inflatable kayak?

Since 1991, Aqua Marina has been producing kayaks, SUPs and inflatable boats. In fact, they are one of the top selling inflatable kayak brands in Europe. I met the North American Aqua Marina distributor at AdventureElevate, an adventure travel trade show held in Eugene, Oregon. He was kind enough to let me test out the Aqua Marina Steam-312, as well as the Aqua Marina SUP Coral. We’ll review the Stand Up Paddle in another post.

Aqua Marina specializes in inflatable kayaks. With their state-of-the-art technology and heavy-duty reinforced PVC, the Steam is a versatile kayak. Capable of navigating class III white water rapids, as well as calm lakes, the Aqua Marina inflatable kayak is my husband’s go to kayak. Aqua Marina produces two sizes of kayaks in this category. For this kayak review we will focus on the solo kayak, measuring 10′ 3″ and weighing 25 pounds.

Cory Brown in the Aqua Marina inflatable kayak. He is holding the kayak paddle while wearing a personal flotation device. He is on Sparks Lake in Central Oregon.
Cory Brown with the Aqua Marina kayak in Central Oregon

Why does my husband prefer the Aqua Marina inflatable kayak instead of a foldable kayak? My husband is a big guy. Weighing over 200 pounds, he prefers the inflatable kayak over an origami-style kayak. Max capacity is 242 pounds. We have rafted the Rogue River in Southern Oregon with my husband tackling the rapids in a solo inflatable kayak. He likes the stability and ease of set-up of the Aqua Marina Steam.

Aqua Marina kayak review

What’s included with the Aqua Marina Steam kayak?

In this kayak review I have outlined all the components that come with the Aqua Marina inflatable kayak. The Steam-312 includes the recreational kayak, including a foot rest and foldable seat; both are adjustable. The high-backrest seat includes 2 storage pockets for your water bottle and more.

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The kayak has rubber nose, v-cone protection, on stem and stern in case you bump up against anything during your paddles. There are bungee cords on back of the kayak to hold the 10 liter dry bag that is included with your purchase. There is a drop-stitch durable floor panel, 2 fins, a 16″ hand pump with built-in barometer and a backpack carrying case with shoulder straps to make your kayak truly portable.

Aqua Marina kayak review includes portable seat, 10 liter dry bag, 2 keels, manual pump, floor panel, inflatable kayak and carrying case.
Aqua Marina kayak contents including portable pump, dry bag, keels, seat and carrying case

How long does the inflatable kayak take to set up?

If you have the opportunity, we prefer to set up and inflate the portable kayak on a picnic table or the tailgate of our truck. With the assistance of the manual pump you’ll be able to set up your inflatable kayak in less than 10 minutes. It should be noted that the portable pump includes a built-in barometer. Read the manual on your maiden voyage. One of the most common rookie mistakes is to over-inflate the kayak. Not only is this not helpful, it will put undue pressure on the kayak seams. Do not over-inflate your kayak!

Portable manual kayak pump with build-in barometer is necessary in setting up your boat.
Portable kayak pump with barometer

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There are two essential kayaking components that are not included in the Aqua Marina kayak. The kayak does not include a kayak paddle or a personal flotation device (pfd.) I tested the inflatable kayak with the Oru carbon paddle. My husband used the regular Oru paddle and a pfd.

Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown reviews the Aqua Marina kayak at Suttle Lake in Central Oregon. She is in an inflatable kayak, wearing a personal flotation device, sun hat and is holding a kayak paddle. Suttle Lake, trees and forest beyond the lake.
Nancy D. Brown paddling Aqua Marina kayak, Suttle Lake, Oregon

It takes us about 20 minutes to deflate and put away the inflatable kayak. We like to use a microfiber towel to wipe down our kayak and paddles. This prevents cross-contamination if you are traveling to different bodies of water.

Oru foldable kayak bow pointed at Aqua Marina kayak with Cory Brown in the inflatable kayak. Sparks Lake in Central Oregon with trees and mountains in the background
Kayak review at Sparks Lake, Central Oregon

How does the Aqua Marina handle in the water?

We tested the inflatable kayak on flat water on a calm day in the high mountain lakes of Central Oregon. We launched from the beach so we did not install the two keels. The kayak was easy to enter, especially for me, with two hip replacements, and my husband with a bad knee. Next time we will add the keels for better tracking. We didn’t want to bend the keels when we launched from the shore, but we could simply enter in deeper water.

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We look forward to testing the inflatable kayak in white water rapids or a sea kayaking adventure. Our other kayak is an origami foldable kayak that is only designed for flat water. We hope you found this Aqua Marina Kayak review helpful. Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for more travel adventures.


Disclaimer: Aqua Marina Kayak review, video and all photography by active adventure travel writer Nancy D. Brown. Aqua Marina supplied me with this inflatable kayak for test review purposes; however all opinions are my own.