The Bestway Hydro-Force Ventura is a very frequently sold inflatable kayak on the Internet. It is the best equipped and most robust kayak of the manufacturer. We have received many inquiries from our readers what we think of the kayak. Now we ordered it ourselves and took a closer look at it. Read this test article to find out what our opinion is about this inflatable kayak and how it performs on the water.
330 cm | 10’8”
94 cm | 3’1”
200 kg | 441 lbs
75 x 65 x 25 cm |
2’5” x 2’1” x 8”
PVC (floor and chambers),
15 kg | 33.1 lbs
0.06 bar | 0.87 PSI
Which model has been reviewed?
Bestway Hydro-Force Ventura from 2020.
How did we organize the review?
We have purchased the Bestway Hydro-Force Ventura ourselves.
How intensively has the product been tested?
2 bars = min. 1 day/ 2 half-day tours
3 bars = min. 4 tours
4 bars = min. 8 tours
5 bars = min. 12 tours (very intense)
Where have we tested the product?
Product update of the Bestway kayak
Since 2021, the Bestway Hydro-Force Ventura is available in turquoise blue. Material, workmanship and construction look identical at first glance. Apart from the color, the new model has become narrower by 8 cm (3”). There are also other seats in the boat, but they hardly differ from the previous model. The new seats also have only a flat seat cushion and a thin backrest. Paddle and air pump are the same as those of the orange previous model.
First Impressions and assembly
The kayak comes in a complete set, which means that two double-bladed paddles, an air pump, a manometer (to measure the air pressure) and repair patches are already included. However, there is no bag included, which you need for transport to the water or for storage at home. For this purpose we recommend for example the Sevylor Quickpak.
Considering the materials used and the price, the kayak looks high quality and solid. The black-orange design looks appealing on the one hand and on the other hand you are clearly visible on the water with the orange side color.
Before inflating the air chambers, the two fins needs to be attached to the bottom of the kayak. They give the inflatable kayak a better directional stability and make paddling easier.
There are also two safety lines that are attached to the bow and stern. These can be handy for gripping the boat better and pulling it to shore.
The actual PVC air chambers are covered by a nylon layer. Thus the air chambers are additionally protected from possible damage and the probability of a hole in the air chamber is considerably reduced.
The three air chambers are each inflated via a Boston valve. A Boston valve is a 2-way screw valve. It therefore has two screw caps lying on top of each other. To inflate, unscrew the top cap. A non-return cap prevents the air from flowing out of the chamber as soon as you remove the pump tube. The inflation sequence is noted on the nylon cover. First inflate the side walls and then the floor. The included air pump has a volume of 2.8 L and a double stroke function. A double stroke function means that you pump air into the air chamber both when pulling and pushing the handle. The air pump is quite small, so you have to bend your knees a lot.
The recommended air pressure of the air chambers is 0.06 bar (0.87 PSI). This is very little for a inflatable kayak. Check the correct air pressure with the manometer. The manometer works well, but reading the small scale is a bit difficult. A red marking at 0.06 bar would have been very practical.
You can even screw the manometer onto the pump hose and check the air pressure during inflation. To avoid any damages on the air chambers, you should stick to the recommended air pressure of the manufacturer. In addition, you can also use the manometer separately if you want to check the air pressure during a tour while taking a break on shore.
When the boat is fully inflated, attach the seat straps to the side chmabers with the buckles. The very long straps and the continuous Velcro strip on the floor of the kayak allow you to place the seat in the boat in a very variable way.
The bottom of the floor is made of thick PVC, which is much thicker than, for example, the boat skin of an Intex Challenger K2. The actual air chmabers are inside of the nylon cover and are also made of thick PVC. If they are damaged, they can be patched with the included repair patches or replaced with a new air chamber.
The repair patches remind us of waterproof adhesive tape, which can only be used for a small hole in the air chamber. For larger damages as well as holes or cracks in the outer shell the enclosed patches are not suitable. Therefore you should handle the boat with care.
The Bestway Hydro-Force Ventura has a total of four carrying handles. One carry handle each on the left and right side chamber in the middle of the boat. This allows you to carry the boat to the water by yourself when you are paddling alone.In addition, there is one handle each on the bow and stern, which are attached to the outermost point of the kayak, which makes it very easy for two people to carry the kayak.
Compared to many other inflatable kayaks, the Bestway Hydro-Force Ventura does not have small spraycovers at the bow and hood to protect against spray water. In addition, the spraycovers of most inflatable kayaks are equipped with luggage nets, so that a backpack or dry bag can be attached.
Instead, a net bag is attached to the bow of the Bestway kayak. This net bag serves as a storage bag for small items. It is a nice extra, but we would have preferred a transport bag for the kayak. If you want the items in the net bag to stay dry, you need a waterproof bag.
The double-bladed paddles included are 218 cm (7’2”) long and made of three parts, which are connected to each other with two connectors. Since the paddles can be disassembled, they are also very easy to transport. The connecting pieces also serve as handles. The paddles look small and cheap at first sight. We are curious how they perform on the water.
Review of the Bestway Hydro-Force Ventura on the water
Thanks to the four carrying handles, you can carry and put the inflatable kayak into the water by yourself. Due to the open construction and the wide side tubes, getting into the kayak is very easy and safe without the feeling of capsizing.
The multi-part double-bladed paddle does not wobble, which is unusual for such a cheap paddle (which is included with some cheap inflatable kayaks). The reason for the stability is that the rods of the paddle are not inserted but screwed into the connecting piece. What we cannot say is whether they will wobble after frequent use,. The connecting piece also serves as paddle handle. The paddle handle has a bad feel and is too uncomfortable for long paddling tours.
Furthermore we find the double-bladed paddles with a length of 218 cm (7’2”) too short. For an inflatable kayak with a full width of 94 cm (3’1”) and the flat seats we constantly touch the tubes with the short paddles. We adapted our paddling technique so that when we inserted the paddle blade into the water we held the paddle a little more to the left or right. If the paddles were long enough (at least 230 cm / 7’5”, better 240 cm / 7’9”) it would not be necessary and the paddling would be more comfortable.
Another weakness of the inflatable, which we immediately notice on the water, are the seats. The seat cushions are very flat so that we sit too deep in the boat. This makes paddling more difficult, especially with the short paddles. Also you sit faster in the wet if splash water accumulates or a wave comes into the boat.
As long as there is no puddle in the boat, you will usually stay dry. However, as we think it is a fair weather boat, it should not be a big problem in summer, as most people will paddle in swimming trunks then. We like the fact that the seat is attached to the ground with Velcro and does not slip when paddling. Because of the low air pressure of the floor chamber, you sit soft and comfortable on the ground.
What is more disturbing are the backrests. The backrests are very thin and we quickly get the feeling that the backrest consists of only one strap. On the backrests of the seats there is a small zippered pocket, which is quite practical for storing your mobile phone, for example, because you can quickly have it at hand.
When paddling the kayak with two persons, a speed of up to 4 – 4.5 km/h (2.5 – 2.8 mph). The straight run is okay with the two fins as long as there is no wind. For short distances the space for two persons is acceptable, on long distances the interior is clearly too small.
Due to the splash water during paddling (caused by the short paddles, among other things) and getting in and out of the kayak, the interior of the kayak looks like this after a while (see picture below). The nylon has become soaked with wetness. If you get a wave into the boat, there is of course more water in the boat. If there is a lot of water in the boat, you can open the small drain valve at the back of the stern to let the water flow out.
After some time the low air pressure of 0.06 bar (0.87 PSI) becomes noticeable. If the difference between air and water temperature is large, the drop in temperature makes the air chambers softer, which is normal for inflatable boatsHowever, the effect is much more noticeable for inflatable boats with very low air pressure, such as this boat, than for inflatable kayaks with a higher air pressure. After over an hour the air chambers were much softer than at the beginning, so we landed and pumped up. The manometer confirmed that the air pressure was only about half of the pressure with what we started our paddling tour.
Dismantling the kayak
The dismantling of the kayak is very simple. You unscrew the Boston valve completely out of the thread so that the air can escape. If you have time, you can dry the boat in the sun with the valves open. Otherwise you can wipe it a little bit dry and unfold and dry it again at home. If you store the boat wet for a longer period of time, mildew will form on the nylon. Drying the boat in the cellar took longer than one night. We had to lay the boat down again in a different position so that all wet spots could dry. Otherwise we could not really dry the boat. For a short paddling fun on the water the effort of drying the boat is quite big in the end.
You fold the boat once in length and then you fold it several times. Fold it from the bow so that the valves are exposed and the remaining air can escape without problem. The Bestway kayak fits perfectly into our Itiwit boat backpack with the air pump, seats and mesh bag. The double-bladed paddles are stored in the outer pockets of the backpack. In that way, the boat can be easily transported to the train or to the car.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Depending on the offer, Bestway offers with its model Hydro-Force Ventura an inexpensive boat in a complete set, which has a robust outer shell and is solidly manufactured. There were no unclean seams or gluings. Nevertheless, the Bestway Hydro-Force Ventura has numerous weaknesses, which you should be aware of before buying. Due to the uncomfortable backrests, the low air pressure and the bad double-bladed paddles, paddling is hardly fun in the long run (over 1 km without a break). Personally we find the performance on the water of the cheaper inflatable kayaks Intex Challenger K2 and Explorer K2 better. But the Intex inflatable kayaks have a more sensitive boat skin.
+ solid workmanship regarding the materials used + easy assembly and dismantling (easy to pack up) + very stable + 2 paddles and air pump included + bow bag + complete protection of the air tubes by nylon cover + very flexible positioning of the seats
very low air pressure – very long drying time – poor kayak paddles (too short, uncomfortable handles, small paddle blades) – uncomfortable backrest – more fun boat than kayak (only for short distances) – no transport or storage bag – moderate driving characteristics – no splash protection – difficult repair in case of damage of the cover
Conclusion on the Bestway Hydro-Force Ventura
On the product photos the Bestway Hydro-Force Ventura makes a good impression. You get the impression that you can get a full-fledged kayak for a good price. We have to admit that the kayak has a nice design. The air chambers are protected by the nylon cover and make the kayak look like a fixed hull kayak.
Moreover, the kayak comes in a complete kit, so that you can start paddling immediately. Depending on the waters and conditions, only the purchase of life jackets is necessary. In short: the offer is quite attractive. The workmanship is good. Everything works and the boat skin makes a robust impression.
From our point of view the Bestway Hydro-Force Ventura is a higher quality bathing or fair weather boat, which can be paddled as a kayak for short distances. For small calm rivers and lakes the Bestway Hydro-Force Ventura is an option, as long as there are tours with a low paddle percentage. When you fold down the backrests, you can lean on the bow or stern chamber and relax really well on the water. Those who really want to kayak and paddle tours of more than 1 mile should not buy the Bestway Hydro-Force Ventura.
Other entry-level inftlable kayaks
Intex and Sevylor are two other brands that offer entry-level inflatable kayaks. Intex offers one of the cheapest kayaks on the market, for example the Intex Explorer K2. The boat skin is quite thin and sensetive. Sevylor has also pretty cheap kayaks but also some more solid ones, like the Sevylor Adventure Plus, which can be paddled with up to 3 persons. It also has a nylon cover that protects the tubes from damage.