Best Kayak Overall- Comprehensive Review & Buying Guide

Want to take a relaxing fishing trip by your local lake? Or perhaps you’re looking to camp underneath the stars? Whatever the case, kayaks are just what you need! These water-crafts are quite popular among adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts. So, which one is the best kayak in the market? Read our kayak reviews and judge for yourself!

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  • Intex Explorer K2
  • Item #: 68307EP
  • Persons Capacity: 2
  • Dimensions: 123 x 36 x 20 inches
  • Weight: 35 pounds
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

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  • Lifetime Youth Wave
  • Item #: N/A
  • Persons Capacity: 1
  • Dimensions: N/A
  • Weight: N/A
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

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  • SUNDOLPHIN Boss SS
  • Item #: 52535
  • Persons Capacity: 1
  • Dimensions: 147.5 x 33 x 13 inches
  • Weight: 78 pounds
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

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  • Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-TK181
  • Item #: N/A
  • Persons Capacity: 2
  • Dimensions: N/A
  • Weight: N/A
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

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  • Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu
  • Item #: 07.6010.1073
  • Persons Capacity: 2/3
  • Dimensions: 144 x 34 x 20 inches
  • Weight: 57 pounds
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

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  • Lifetime Tamarack Angler
  • Item #: 90237
  • Persons Capacity: 1
  • Dimensions: 120 x 31 x 14 inches
  • Weight: 52 pounds
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

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If you’re looking for a lightweight and easy-to-paddle kayak for outdoor adventures, then the Intex Explorer K2 might suit your fancy. The Explorer K2 is an inflatable kayak that comes with a bright yellow color. The bright graphics help increase visibility in rescue situations so you can always be found.

It is perfect for two adults as it includes a maximum weight capacity of about 400 pounds. One of the biggest complaints customers have about inflatable kayaks is that they are hard to assemble. On the contrary, the Intex Explorer is extremely easy to assemble, taking only a few minutes to inflate. So, you can go kayaking almost instantly.

A Boston valve on each side of the boat further help speed up the assembly. In fact, it is as easy to disassemble as it is to assemble. Also included is a rugged vinyl construction that grants durability so that the kayak doesn’t puncture on your trips.

Apart from that, an inflatable I-beam floor helps add sturdiness to the kayak. This way you get an inflatable kayak without any of the regular hassles. To help grant superior stability to the kayak, it comes with a removable skeg so you can orient it in the direction you want.

The kayak is as comfortable as it is durable. It comes with two inflatable seats with backrests so you can enjoy your ride comfortably. The cockpit is long and is sufficient for two adults. Moreover, the kayak is quite compact and lightweight. It includes two handles on either side as well as grab lines. These make it easier for you to carry the kayak.

Furthermore, the boat includes a few kayak accessories such as two aluminum oars, an inflation pump as well as a repair patch kit. Out of all our inflatable kayak reviews, the Intex Explorer K2 deserves the number one spot. It is undoubtedly the best inflatable kayak in terms of durability and comfort.

Pros

  • Large weight capacity
  • Easy to assemble and disassemble
  • Durable and sturdy vinyl construction
  • Comfortable backrests and cockpit space
  • Lightweight and compact, making it easy to carry

Cons

  • The vinyl material can get hot under the sun
  • Kayak Paddles are too short

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak

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The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is perfect for kids who need a more manageable option by their side. The kayak comes highly recommended for kids aged 5 and up. It comes jam-packed with multiple features that make it easier for kids to row the kayak.

One such feature is the swim up deck located at the back of the boat. This makes it easier for you to re-enter the kayak after taking a dip into the lake. The kids’ kayak also caters to the ultimate comfort of most children. It includes multiple footrests so that kids of all ages and sizes can easily find a strong footing on the kayak.

Furthermore, the kayak is quite lightweight, weighing merely 18 lbs. However, this does not mean that it compromises on the weight capacity. In fact, it can easily hold up to 130 lbs of weight which is quite sufficient for most kids.

To help add durability, the kayak features a high-density polyethylene construction which is bound to last for years. Not only that but the kayak is impact resistant so you can bump it on the hardest of rocks, and it will never fail you.

The lightweight and compact design make it easier to carry, even for the kids. Moreover, the kayak includes ergonomic molded finger handles which make it easier to hold the kayak and drag it out to the lake. A T-handle at the front can also help perform the same function.

In addition, the kids’ kayak comes with a kayak paddle as well as a molded section in the front to hold the paddle. As a result, you won’t have to worry about the paddle falling overboard while you rest. This is the best kayak paddle for beginners due to its small size and light weight.

The reverse chine design of the boat further adds to the stability so you can rest assured that the kayak will not flip over with your kids in it. All in all, the Lifetime Wave Youth Kayak is truly for the youth who are just starting out on their journey. It can help them use their kayak to explore the wonders of nature.

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight and compact
  • Quite easy to carry due to ergonomic handles
  • Durable polyethylene construction
  • Great at tracking and stability
  • Includes a swim-up deck for easier re-entry

Cons

  • No backrests
  • Cheap paddles

SUNDOLPHIN Boss SS Sit-On-Top 12.3 ft Angler Kayak

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Sundolphin is one of the best kayak brands. Period. Their Sit-on-top angler kayak is specifically designed with fishermen in mind. It includes various features that make it easy for you to fish on the kayak. The catamaran hull design includes a stable platform, stand-up strap, and non-slip pads. As a result, you can stand up on the deck without worrying about the boat tipping over.

Moreover, it features a rugged high-density polyethylene construction which is UV stabilized. So, you can spend hours fishing under the sun without worrying about the material decomposing. This sit-on kayak also features a dual position seating system. To allow for the ultimate comfort, you can position the seat in a lower position or a higher seating position. In fact, you can even fold it down to make more room for standing up.

Apart from that, the 1 person fishing kayak includes adjustable footrests so folks of all sizes can easily find their perfect match. Also included are waterproof hatches at the bow and stern so you can store any important gadgets or your wallet without worrying about them getting wet.

Storage wells on either side of the boat further allow you to store bigger equipment with the help of bungee straps. Coolers, backpacks, buckets etc. are easier to store this way. Tired of rowing? You can easily rest your arms as the kayak paddle holders conveniently store the handles securely in place.

What makes the Sundolphin Sit-on-top kayak perfect for fishing are perhaps the adjustable and various fixed rod holders. These allow you to reel in multiple fishing lines at the same time. Lastly, the boat has a large weight capacity of about 500 pounds and multiple handles which make it easier to carry. Overall, it is the best kayak for fishing.

Pros

  • Includes multiple fishing rod holders
  • Durable, rugged and UV stabilized construction
  • Multiple storage options including waterproof hatches
  • Great stability, allowing you to stand up on deck
  • The dual comfort seating system, as well as adjustable footrests

Cons

  • Heavyweight
  • The seat tends to lean a little to the left

BKC UH-TK181 Sit On Top Tandem

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The BKC UH-TK181 is the best tandem kayak for 2 persons. It comes adventure-ready with all features you need to either go on a solo trip or a fishing trip with your best buddy. With a maximum weight capacity of about 440 pounds as well as a length fo 12 foot 5 inches, the kayak can easily support two persons at the same time.

This tandem fishing kayak includes 3 articulated and 4 flush-mounted rod holders so you can reel out multiple fishing lines at the same time. A 34-inch beam helps grant it the stability it needs. Thus, you will find that the BKC tandem kayak is perfect at tracking and stays on course no matter what.

Not only does the 2 person fishing kayak easily hold you and your buddy’s weight, but it also includes plenty of storage space to help store your gear. Two waterproof storage hatches ensure you can store your essentials while a huge cargo area allows you to store larger pieces of your fishing gear.

If you wish to free up your hands after a long day of paddling, you can easily do so with the help of the kayak paddle holders. They hold your paddles securely so they don’t go overboard. Furthermore, kayak comes with 4 carrying handles that make it easy to transport it across the land.

What’s unique about the BKC tandem kayak is its amazing flexibility. It is sturdy and rugged enough to hold two persons whilst still being easy for a single person to handle. Also included are 8 scupper holes that allow easier drainage of any water that enters the kayak.

If that wasn’t enough, the tandem fishing kayak comes with two high-quality aluminum kayak paddles. The kayak paddle length is about 86 inches. Two deluxe kayak seats that are easily adjustable seal the deal.

Pros

  • Multiple storage options
  • Nimble enough for solo trips but sturdy enough to hold two persons
  • Easy to carry due to multiple carrying handles
  • Includes various fishing rod holders
  • Stable and great at tracking

Cons

  • Takes a lot of water
  • Might be too big for solo kayaker´s

Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

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A compact, lightweight and functional option for all kinds of ocean adventures, the ocean Kayak 12-feet Malibu Two Kayak is perfect for adventurers of all skill levels. It is a true family kayak as it can hold 2 adults as well as a small child or a pet dog. However, if you wish to use it solo, the kayak’s lightweight will ensure you can do so with the utmost ease.

Its tri hull construction grants the kayak with stability and durability. As a result, you can battle the rough ocean waves or relax on the calm lake surface without worry. This sit-on-top kayak offers the perfect balance between primary and secondary stabilities. This means entering or exiting the kayak is a snap.

Furthermore, the sit-on-top 2-person kayak features an open cockpit, which is quite suitable for those who do not enjoy the claustrophobic closed designs. To ensure your comfort, the kayak includes two Comfort Plus seats with padded backrests. These are adjustable so you can modify them according to your liking.

Also included are overlapping foot wells that allow folks of all sizes to brace their feet. The Ocean 2-person fishing kayak also comes with side carrying handles and two handles at the rear and the front. This makes it easier to transport the boat from one place to the next. The boat is surprisingly lightweight, weighing merely 57 lbs.

However, the capacity of the boat is about 425 lbs, which is perfect for a full family. The kayak measures about 12 feet which some might consider insufficient for 3 persons. However, the open hull design makes up for it by providing more space for people.

Lastly, it includes waterproof storage hatches as well as deep wells with straps to keep your gear secure. So, go ahead and look for as many fishing kayaks for sale as you can. You’ll find that this one is the best 2-person kayak.

Pros

  • Multiple storage options including storage wells
  • Extremely lightweight, yet it has a large weight capacity
  • Comfortable seating and foot bracing system
  • Can hold 2 or 3 persons easily
  • Drains all water efficiently without plugs
  • Easy to enter and exit

Cons

  • The storage wells only include a buckled strap which may not be secure
  • Tracks poorly

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

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Another amazing kayak from Lifetime, the Tamarack Angler 100 fishing kayak is the best fishing kayak in terms of features. This 10-foot boat is perfect for solo kayak fishing trips where you need to relax and escape away to an amazing outdoor adventure.

The boat includes a High-density polyethylene construction. It is UV protected as well which enables you to use it for hours on end under the scorching sun. You can rest assured that the color will not fade away and the material will not decompose.

The material is also impact resistant which is a valuable feature on any boat at risk of crashing. Apart from that the stable flat bottom, as well as the chine rails, grant the kayak stability so any pulls from stubborn fishes won’t mess up the boat.

Moreover, the 1 person fishing kayak includes two flush-mounted and one top mounted rod holders. This way you can put in multiple lines at the same time to get more bites. To help you store your larger gear such as buckets or coolers, the Lifetime Angler 100 features 2 bungeed storage wells. Also included are two waterproof storage hatches to ensure your essentials remain fry.

A kayak paddle leash helps keep your kayak paddle secure while you are busy fishing. In addition, the kayak has a seat with an adjustable back. The seat is padded so you can use the kayak for hours before you fall victim to a sore back. Also included are multiple footrest positions to help fishers of different sizes.

Furthermore, the boat is quite lightweight and includes front and rear T-handles to make it easier to carry. It has a weight capacity of about 275 lbs which might be a bit less in most users’ opinion. To top it all off, the fishing kayak comes with a 5-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Includes multiple rod holders
  • Comes with a 5-year limited warrant
  • Highly durable and UV stabilized construction
  • Padded and adjustable seats for ultimate comfort
  • Lightweight and includes multiple storage options

Cons

  • Low weight capacity
  • Not suitable for standing up

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-Foot Sit-in Kayak

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Most folks might not enjoy the sit-on-top kayaks as they can get wet quite easily. If you’re one of those folks, then the Sundolphin Aruba Sit-in Kayak is perfect for you. The Aruba is catered towards more adventurous folks who want to face waves head-on. These sit-in kayaks are perfect for kayaking in the river as they keep you dry. This is undoubtedly one of the best whitewater kayaks in the market due to its reliability and high-quality.

Unlike other closed cockpit kayaks, the Aruba features a large open cockpit so you can easily enter and exit the kayak. Also included is a spray deflector at the collar that prevents any water from entering the cockpit. So, whether it’s the freezing winters or the cool autumn, the kayak ensures you never have to worry about getting wet.

The Aruba is a 10-foot kayak that features a high-density polyethylene construction. This added durability ensures you can face the toughest of waves without a scratch in sight. What’s more is that the material is invulnerable to UV rays so it won’t decompose or fade due to the sun.

A comfortable backrest and a padded seat ensure you remain comfortable during your adventurous trips. In fact, the seat is adjustable so you can modify it to your liking. Also, the foot braces are adjustable to ensure folks of all sizes can easily fit inside the kayak.

What’s best about the Aruba is that it includes a separate gear storage compartment where you can store all your essentials away from water. A water bottle holder helps you keep hydrated during hot summers.
Another remarkable feature of the sit-in kayak is that it is extremely lightweight, weighing merely 40 lbs. That and the carrying handles make it easier to carry it on land. All in all, it is the best kayak for the money in the sit-in kayak section.

Pros

  • Adjustable seat and footrests make it perfect for folks of all sizes
  • Durable and quite lightweight
  • Large and water resistant cockpit
  • Allows you to store various accessories as well as a water bottle
  • Keeps you dry

Cons

  • Attached hook at the paddle position can hurt you
  • Not suitable for extremely tall individuals

Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 100 10 Foot Angler Sit On Top Kayak

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Vibe is yet another popular brand, known for its reliable and affordable kayaks in the market. The Yellowfin 100 Angler Sit-on-top kayak is no exception to this rule. It features exceptional craftsmanship and construction to ensure that the kayak lasts you for ages.

Intended for a single person, this sit-on kayak is about 10 feet in length. Moreover, it weighs merely 57 pounds while having a weight capacity of about 375 pounds. The short length and the light weight makes it easy for a single person to easily maneuver the kayak.

The boat further offers you amazing speed and stability. This way you won’t have to worry about tipping the boat while fishing. A toe-controlled rubber system allows you to control the tracking and turning of the toes. All in all, the kayak allows you complete control of the boat at the tip of your toes.

Moreover, the 1 person fishing kayak includes multiple storage options. This includes a large storage hatch at the center and one at the front of the boat. These are waterproof so you can store all your gear here. The sit-on kayak also features a large bungeed storage well at the rear where you can store larger gear.

In addition, the sit-on kayak is great for fishers as it includes 4 flush-mounted holders. Not only that, but there are various mounting points where you can mount Scotty, RAM, and Vibe accessories. Lastly, the kayak includes 4 carrying handles located at convenient locations to allow easier carrying.

Pros

  • Multiple rod holders and accessories mounts
  • Various safe and secure storage options
  • Comfortable and adjustable padded seats
  • Includes a toe-controlled system for tracking
  • Easy to carry and transport

Cons

  • Sharp edges
  • Tends to drift when not paddling

Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 130T 13 – Foot Tandem Sit On Top Kayak

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If you want the excellent quality of the Yellowfin on your adventures, but want to take it a ride with a friend, then the 130T is the best. This 2-person kayak is 13 foot in length and weighs about 80 lbs. As a result, it has a weight capacity of about 500 lbs. As a result, 2 or 3 persons can easily maneuver the boat together.

However, the boat may be a bit too long and too heavy for solo kayaking. So, we only recommend that you use it with another partner. Although if you think you can handle it, the kayak offers a center paddle position so you can use it solo.

The sit-on-top kayak includes two storage hatches as well as two storage wells. These wells include a bungeed tie-down system to help you secure your gear. For avid fishers, the kayak offers two flush mount rod holders which ensure you can drop in multiple fishing lines at once. However, that’s not all! The Vibe Kayaks also includes 4 different mounting points for various rod holders and accessories.

This 2 person fishing kayak is also big on comfort and Two seats also come with the entire package. Their backs are adjustable so you can be comfortable while you ride. Adjustable footrests make it easy to paddle by bracing your feet against the kayak.

Furthermore, the package includes two kayak paddles which are high-quality and durable. The handles on either side of the kayak and the two T-handles make it easier for you to carry the kayak around. All in all, the Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 130 T is the best touring kayak that allows you to enjoy and bask in the sun with its sit-on-top kayak design.

Pros

  • Can be used for 2, 3 persons or solo
  • Seats and adjustable footrests make it extremely comfortable
  • Various rod holders and mounting points
  • Easy entry and exit
  • Carrying it is quite easy

Cons

  • Too long and heavy for solo use
  • Expensive

Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 9-Foot Angler Sit On Top Fishing Kayak

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Another one from the Vibe is the smaller Skipjack 9-foot kayak. This fishing kayak is perfect for solo fishing trips out on the lake. The open cockpit style is perfect for enjoying a hot summer day under the sun and splashing with the waves. The kayak weighs merely 46 lbs which is easy for a single person to maneuver.

For kayak fishing, the boat comes with 5 capped flush mount holders that allow you to draw in more than one fishing line. This helps you save on time and increases your chances of getting a bite. Apart from that, there are various mounting points that allow you to mount Scotty or Vibe accessories.

Two kayak paddle leashes are also included on the kayak which allows you to secure your paddles while you rest your arms or fish. This way you won’t have to worry about your paddles falling overboard. The kayak also offers 3 sealed hatches with bag inserts. These are waterproof and ensure that all your essentials remain dry.

Apart from the hatches, the fishing kayak features a large bungeed rear tank well that secures larger gear such as backpacks and buckets. What makes the kayak easy to carry is the light weight as well as the easy grip handles. There are a total of 5 easy-grip handles available for transportation and portability.

The seat has a high back that allows you to remain comfortable. Also, the seat is quite adjustable, which allows you to easily modify the position. The multiple footrests allow you to find a position that is the most comfortable for you to brace your feet.

All in all, the Vibe Kayaks Skipjack is the best fishing kayak for a solo trip!

Pros

  • Various and secure storage options
  • Multiple footrests and adjustable seat ensure comfort
  • Includes multiple rod holders and mounts
  • Paddle rests allow you to fish in peace
  • Lightweight and compact

Cons

  • The storage well is small and does not fit a crate.
  • Poor tracking

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Kayak?

What is a Kayak

A kayak is basically a small and narrow boat or water vessel that mostly fits one person at a time. However, there are various kayaks available that cater to more than a single person. Folks can use them for fishing, touring, rowing or just having fun. Mostly, they include one paddle which you can use to row the boat.

What type of kayak is best for lakes?

What type of kayak is best for lakes

For local lakes that are small in size, any recreational or touring kayak is perfect. Lakes generally do not generate rough waves, especially if the weather is fair. Going with a standard sit-on-top kayak would fit well with a lake. However, there are various features you need to consider here as well.

Usually, lake kayaks are much longer and narrower than regular kayaks. This is because shorter and wider boats provide buoyancy on choppy waters which you will rarely find on a lake. A longer and narrower kayak tends to track better which is important in lakes.

What type of kayak is best for beginners?

What type of kayak is best for beginners

The best kayak for beginners is the sit-on-top kayak. These sit-on kayaks have a deck area that is open to the elements. It makes it easier to enter and exit the kayak since these are quite stable. Furthermore, they are self-bailing which means they drain out all the water themselves through scupper holes.

In terms of length, beginners should choose a boat that goes with their height. For example, a 9-foot kayak might not be sufficient more someone over 6 foot. Another factor to consider is your purpose. If you wish to use the kayak on rivers and seas, then a shorter boat that responds well to control will be perfect.

However, for lakes, a boat that is longer and narrower is more suitable as it will track straight. For an average size of 6 foot, we recommend a kayak that is at least 10 foot in length.

When you look at materials, we highly recommend that you go with polyethylene construction. While ABS is more durable and lighter, it is also more expensive. If you’re a beginner, chances are you might not be dealing with situations that are too harsh on the boat. Simply ensure that the polyethylene construction is invulnerable to UV rays. Otherwise, you might end up with a boat that decomposes or fades away easily.

Another feature that you might benefit from is a rudder or a skeg. It grants the ultimate control in your hand. This might be quite attractive for beginners who struggle with paddling.

What is the best kayak to buy?

What is the best kayak to buy

The best kayak is somewhat subjective to each individual. While all the best kayaks are durable, comfortable and stable, the term may be defined by how you intend to use it. For example, you may need it to go fishing on a lake, or you might want to go on a tour in the ocean or simply compete with your friends on the rough rapids of your local river.

You can try looking for the best fishing kayak under 500 or the best kayak under 300. However, to ensure the best value for money, we recommend that you look for the best kayak brands. Some of these might not be the cheapest, but you can rest assured that your investment is completely safe as you get high-quality.

The best kayak for the money is durable and includes an impact resistant hull. Furthermore, it should be lightweight and easier to control. Another aspect you need to consider is the number of storage options. Usually, you would want at least one waterproof hatch and one storage well where you can store larger gear.

Apart from this, it should include seats with backrests for the utmost comfort. Adjustable footwells or pads are also a necessity as they help you brace your feet while you paddle.

What is a sit-on kayak (Sit-On-Top)?

What is a sit-on kayak (Sit-On-Top)

A sit-on-top kayak is a very popular and beginner friendly kayak style. Unlike the traditional kayaks, these are open at the top. They are usually intended for warm and calm waters such as lakes and slow-moving rivers.

If you feel claustrophobic or bound by the sit-in type, then these are perfect. They also tend to provide you with open space for fishing and other activities. They are perfect for the summers and for those who do not mind a few splashes. However, they tend to be heavier than the sit-in kind.

What is a sit-in (Sit-Inside) Kayak?

What is a sit-in (Sit-Inside) Kayak?

The Sit-in style kayak is much more efficient and streamlined. They are usually drier as they cover your entire body. Furthermore, they allow you to store gear and electronic essentials inside of them as they remain dry from the inside. If the cockpit is properly fitted for you, then you can easily control the kayak not just with your paddles, but with the weight of your entire body.

These are generally intended for use in seas and fast flowing rivers where there are higher chances of you getting extremely wet. If you’re worried about the cockpit being too claustrophobic, then there are a few options that are relatively more open than a traditional cockpit.

Which is better sit-in or sit-on kayak?

Which is better sit-in or sit-on kayak

The two types of kayaks are often debated upon. Most users prefer one while others prefer the second. However, each comes with its own pros and cons. These are:

Sit-On Kayak

Pros

  • They are quite user-friendly and beginner friendly
  • Entering and exiting these kayaks is quite easy as they have an open hull
  • You can easily slip on or off them for a swimming session
  • They include a self-bailing feature which means they drain the water out of the kayak easily
  • Furthermore, they are very stable which makes them perfect for fishing

Cons

  • They are heavier than their sit-inside counterparts
  • You are bound to get wetter so they are not suitable for winters
  • They tend to be wider and slower
  • Lastly, they are quite hard to handle

Sit-in Kayak

Pros

  • These kayaks help shelter your body from the wind and the water. Thus, they are warmer and drier
  • Paddlers can use the entire weight of their body to control the kayak which grants them greater flexibility
  • Some even include large cockpits so you don’t feel confined
  • They include more storage options for dry and secure storing
  • Also, they tend to be much more efficient to paddle

Cons

  • Water can easily get inside them. You need a separate gadget such as a scoop or a pump to drain all the water out
  • They tend to be harder to exit and enter
  • In addition, they don’t allow you to swim in the water
  • They can be claustrophobic
  • In the end, you can decide which is better for you based on the purpose of use

Do I need a life jacket?

Do I need a life jacket

Life jackets are most commonly referred to as Personal Floatation Devices or PFDs as they do not claim to actually save your life. However, they do help you in keeping safe from drowning until help arrives. Even if you’re taking a short kayaking trip in shallow waters, we still highly recommend that you wear a life jacket.

Most states in the US require you to wear a life jacket. Otherwise, you may be fined for not using one. In fact, Coast Guard goes as far as to review and certify various life jackets so you can know which ones are safe and which ones are useless. Some states require you to wear them while some just require you to have one on board.

In case, you fall out of a kayak, the PFD provides you with sufficient buoyancy to keep your head above the water at all times. They can make it easier for rescuers to save you from drowning by exerting extra force to your body. Moreover, these jackets come equipped with a whistle to help you call for help.

We highly recommend wearing one at all times in all sorts of situation. The best ones are high-backed ones as they provide you with extra buoyancy.

Do I need paddles?

Do I need paddles

The quick answer to the question is yes, you do need paddles. These paddles are of the utmost importance as they help you propel the kayak forward. There are other kayak accessories which you can use to control the kayak including a skeg or a foot pedal system. However, the paddle is still a must.

Usually, you should go for the best kayak paddles that are lightweight and ergonomic as well. ABS plastic paddles are a big no-no. Instead, we heavily recommend an aluminum kayak paddle that is long enough so you can easily hit the water.

To find the perfect kayak paddle length, we recommend that you check out a kayak paddle size chart. Most manufacturers include their own size charts on their kayak paddle amazon site.

Another factor to consider is the surface area of the paddle. Once again, it all depends on the type of use.

Of course, you can always say goodbye to paddles with a hefty investment in trolling motors and lithium trolling motor batteries.

Do I need trolling motors?

Do I need trolling motors

While paddling can be fun, if you’re heading out to a long journey, it can get tiresome. Of course, you can always install a gasoline-powered motor on the boat. However, they make too much noise and spook the fish away from your spot.

This is where the trolling motors come in. These are electric powered motors that work silently so you can fish in peace. They basically use a trolling motor battery for the energy. You can decide on the best trolling motor battery on the basis of the weight of the kayak and the rating of your motor. We highly recommend going with dry cell batteries as they won’t spill the contents when the boat rocks.

You can almost find a trolling motor battery from Walmart. Our top choice for the best battery for trolling motor is the Optima battery. Other than that, the Mighty Max battery is great too.

Popular brands of Kayaks

Popular brands of Kayaks

There are various brands of kayaks in the market. From cheap and affordable ones to high-end options, the variety of brands ensure that you can pick a kayak that is perfectly suitable for you. It is almost always reliable to buy from a popular brand as they have made a name for a reason.

You know that these kayaks will last long and that the manufacturer is sure to provide you with the best customer service. Also, some of these brands offer warranties on their products which is great when you’re investing hundreds of dollars on a product.

Some of the best kayak brands are:

Ocean Kayaks

Ocean Kayaks is a brand that has been around for several decades. Their motto is ‘You’re always on Top’ which is quite representative of their high-quality sit-on-top kayaks. They manufacture a wide variety of different kayaks including fishing kayaks, tandems, and even pedal kayaks.

Moreover, their most popular series is the Malibu Kayak series which are perhaps the best kayaks for beginners.

Vibe Kayaks

Vibe Kayaks is yet another best kayak brand with many high-quality and reliable kayaks under their belt. They mainly specialize in recreational and fishing kayaks. Their kayaks are specifically catered towards paddlers of all skill levels.

Sea Ghost, Yellowfin and Skipjack happen to be their most popular products. These kayaks are also available in a number of sizes so you can choose the one that fits you perfectly. Their wide variety of products are available at different prices from as low as $100 to as high as $700. Thus, you can say that their products are the most affordable in the market.

Lifetime

Lifetime is a versatile brand offering you a wide range of products from sit-on-top kayaks to sit-in kayaks and even kayak paddles etc. Mostly, they are built from high-density polyethylene plastic material that grants them durability and lighter weight.

What’s unique about the Lifetime brand is that it has kayaks catering towards kids as well. Their Lifetime Youth Kayaks are perfect for kids who are just starting out on their paddling journey.

Brooklyn Kayak Company

The Brooklyn Kayak Company or as it is more commonly known, the BKC is a great kayak brand that specializes in fishing kayaks. Their kayaks are specifically designed for fishermen and families. The most common features include rod holders, fade-resistant colors, bungee tie system and hatches.

Also, they include various products including tandems, sit-in kayaks, inflatable kayaks and even pedal-driven kayaks. They do include some affordable ones.

SunDolphin

SunDolphin is quite popular not only for their kayaks but for their boats as well. However, their kayaks are the ones that have put them on the map. They mostly deal with fishing and recreational kayaks. What’s unique about the SunDolphin is that they have designed their sit-in boats to cater towards fishing as well.

Intex

The Intex Corp is actually a manufacturer who deals with air mattresses and other inflatable products. However, their inflatable kayaks are what made them popular amongst paddlers. Their Challenger and Explorer series are quite popular amongst kayakers.

What Brand Of Kayak Is The Best?

What Brand Of Kayak Is The Best?

Personally, we love the Vibe kayaks. They provide you with various options to choose from. With the other brands, you might find one amazing product and the others are just mediocre. However, with the Vibe Kayaks, all of their products are consistent in quality which is evident by the fact that we included about 3 products in our top 10 reviews.

Their prices are a little on the higher side, starting from $800 to $1000. However, you can rest assured that your investment will remain safe. All in all, you’ll hardly ever go wrong when you choose the Vibe kayaks. It definitely deserves its spot as the best kayak brand.

When Is The Best Time To Buy A Kayak?

One question that most beginners are plagued with is ‘When to Buy a Kayak?’ While there is no definite answer, you can still get an idea depending on what you want to use the kayak for.

Seasonal Paddling

Seasonal Paddling

If you want to use your kayak for the paddling season, it is best to get it before that season. This allows you to get prepared for the next season and also accumulate all the necessary gear. The best part is that most retail stores hold ‘End of Season’ sales where items are discounted heavily.

However, the items are obviously out of season, and you’ll only use them next year. For kayakers, this is great as you save a lot of money and can get to kayaking straight away when the season arrives.

Tropical climate areas such as California and Florida are always warm and so are always in paddling season. As a result, it doesn’t matter when you buy it, you can get to paddling right away. So, these kayakers can buy the boat at any time of the year.

Spring And Fall

Spring And Fall

As we mentioned before, most retailers like to get rid of their old stock either after the season is over or before they get new stock. They generally get new stock before the beginning of the season. This is why Spring and Fall are the perfect time to buy a kayak. However, most folks might not want to buy a kayak in the Fall as the season is quite far away at that point.

But this is exactly why prices tend to be much lower in this season. In fact, manufacturers are practically giving their products away with ridiculously low prices. On the other hand, you can still use your kayak for a while in the fall season as well especially if it is a sit-in type. Simply add a spray skirt to it. The sit-in kayak will remain warm anyways.

Simply search for what you want such as; the fishing kayaks for sale near me or the best fishing kayak ideas or simply the best kayak under 200 and you’ll probably find a million results!

What is the Best Kayak for Me?

What is the Best Kayak for Me

With so many different brands and types of kayaks in the market, how do you choose the absolute best one for you? Well, worry not! The first thing you need to look into is the purpose of use. Ask yourself: What am I going to use the kayak for? The way you intend to use it can easily define the features and characteristics of the best kayak for you. So, before you go kayaking, we recommend that you put thought and effort into choosing the best kayak.

Best features

When looking for a kayak, we recommend that you look for the following features:

Material and Durability

Material and Durability

The construction material of the kayak can often determine the durability of the kayak. You want your kayak to be made out of the most durable and sturdy material available in the market. Not only that, but you should ensure that the material is lightweight as well. Lighter kayaks tend to be easier to carry and store. They also tend to be much more agile.

However, lighter materials can often end up costing more. So you should try and find the perfect balance of price and quality.

Most manufacturers commonly use the following materials for their kayaks:

Polyethylene Plastic

This option is quite sturdy and inexpensive. It is also the most common in the market. However, polyethylene tends to degrade faster due to the UV rays. There are a few options available in the market that are UV invulnerable. Still, you should store them in a covered area.

ABS Plastic

This option is slightly more expensive that the first one. However, it offers even more durability and a lighter weight as well as UV resistance. Most often you’ll find that the hull and deck are constructed separately and then bonded together.

Carbon Fiber

It offers a huge leap in performance as it is quite lightweight. However, it is quite expensive.

Fiberglass

This tends to be the most expensive option but also the lightest one.

Fabric

Fabric boats can be easily collapsed for easier storage and transport. However, they are not as durable.

Hatches

kayak hatch

Most sit-on-top kayaks come with hatches. Some of these are waterproof while some are not. We recommend that you go with waterproof hatches as they will protect your essentials if your boat rolls. Food, clothing and other electronic items such as phones need to stay dry. These hatches are perfect for storing such items.

One factor you should consider is the size of the hatch. If you want to store larger items, then you need to ensure that the hatch opening is large enough to easily accommodate it. Another great idea is to use flotation bags. These are waterproof bags that can float on water. They come in handy in case the cover of the hatch blows away or is broken.

For sit-on type boats, these hatches may be located inside the cockpit. In fact, you can use the cockpits themselves to store your gear however, it may not stay dry.

Rudders and Skegs

You’ll find that most kayaks do not need a rudder or a skeg. These are mainly kayak accessories that can help you keep your boat on a straight track. For longer boats that are over 15 feet in length, a rudder can help you go straight. In fact, you can also use your rudder to steer.

Skeg is a drop down fin that helps prevent any cross winds from affecting your course. They do not steer like a rudder however, they are still useful for controlling the boat. The best part is that you can retract it while you’re paddling.

A rudder is simply a fin that drops down from the back of the boat. It does not remain in a fixed position. Instead, you can easily adjust the position and the angle of the fin using foot pedals. You can use them to steer your boat in different directions as well.

Tracking Fin

A tracking fin is yet another device used to track straight on the sea. It is mostly found on inflatable kayaks.

Seats

Seats

A comfortable seat is essential for any kayak, especially if you intend to use it for longer trips. Most kayaks already come with adjustable seats that are padded to provide you with the utmost comfort. Also, ensure that the seat back can easily accommodate a PFD. You should try adjusting the back of the seat while wearing the PFD for the most accurate results.

Some kayaks also include seat-backs that are highly adjustable. Sometimes the seats that your kayak come with may not be the most comfortable. In this case, you have to buy one. However, the experience is not always great and you might end up with seats that do not sit properly on your kayak.

Foot Braces

Foot Braces

When you paddle, you need to have a secure place to push your feet against. This is where foot braces come in. Most kayaks com with adjustable foot braces where you can easily adjust according to your height. On the other hand, some come with molded foot rests which you can choose according to your size.

We highly recommend that you go with the adjustable footrests as you can easily adjust them. The molded ones might give you a perfect fit as you have to choose only from the options available.

If you do not have footrests, you can end up with posture issues and not to mention that the kayak won’t paddle easily either.

Storage Wells or Rigging

Most hatches cannot store larger gear. For that, storage wells are preferred more. Most kayaks come with shock cord rigging where you can store larger gear such as backpacks and buckets.

Paddle Holders

Paddle Holders

Another important feature is the kayak paddle holder. This allows you to stow away your kayak paddle while you fish or just relax. Otherwise, your paddle may just fall overboard. These holders will keep your paddles secure while you take a breather.

Size

Trust us! You do not want to end up with a boat that is too short or too long. Generally, shorter boats are great at turning and tend to be much faster. On the other hand, longer boats are better suited for cruising along the shore as they are great at tracking.

Longer boats are ideal for kayak touring as they have ample storage space. At the same time, they might not be as maneuverable as the shorter boats. You can always take the middle road and go for a medium sized kayak that has the perfect balance of both speed and control.

Another aspect you should look into is the width of the boat. Most faster boats are narrower, granting them with faster speeds. Wider boats are suitable for fishing or kayak touring where you need a lot of space on deck. It also depends on the type of water you’ll be in. If you’re going with an ocean kayak, then a longer boat will be much better while on rivers a shorter boat helps you make the toughest of turns.

Also, look at your own weight before you decide on the size. If the boat is for a child, then going for a shorter boat is better. A longer boat may be too much for him to handle.

Design

Design

The biggest trade-off you’ll see in the design of a kayak is tracking vs turning. Longer boats that can track well will not turn well while shorter boats that are great at turning might not track that great. So, you need to decide which is more important for you. Of course, you can always find a middle road or add a skeg or rudder to ensure proper tracking.

Apart from that, the hull is a major part of the design consideration. It can heavily affect the stability and the tracking ability of the boat. There are 4 types of hulls; rounded, V-shaped, flat and pontoon.

Rounded hulls are shaped like a torpedo. This is why they are the fastest as they show little resistance to water. They are quite stable in the water and easier to maneuver. V-shaped hulls are even faster as they can easily cut through the water like a sharp knife. However, they tend to fall short when it comes to primary stability.

Flat hulls provide great primary stability as they are flat from the bottom. However, they are not as fast as the other boats. Pontoon hulls are a unique type of hull as they tend to be a hybrid between a flat and a rounded hull. Thus, they provide the perfect balance between secondary and primary stability.

Kayak accessories

Kayak accessories

Some essential kayak accessories are:

Personal flotation device

A personal flotation device is essential for keeping you safe in case you fall overboard.

Paddles

These are obviously essential. Without them, you won’t be going anywhere.

Car Rack

Store your kayak on your car when driving to and from the lake with a car rack. The best kayak roof rack should fit your kayak perfectly and ensure that your kayak is tightly secure.

Dry bags

Even if you have waterproof hatches, we recommend you store your essentials in dry bags.

Whistle

A whistle can provide an audio signal to any rescuers that you need help.

Spray Skirt

Another essential accessory is the spray skirt. You can add these around your cockpit to prevent any splashes.

Conclusion

All in all, kayaks are a great way to satisfy the adventurer within you. Whether you use them to compete against friends on the rocky rapids or just for fishing and relaxing, ensure that you choose the correct one. You can either choose to buy one or rent one out. Look for your nearest boating store and find if they allow kayak rentals. It’s a great way to save money and try out the best kayaks in the market at the same time.

Our top 10 kayaks are bound to impress you with their high-quality construction and durability. Our kayak reviews can help you figure out the best kayak for yourself. Compare the pros and cons yourself and find which one suits you better. If you don’t feel like paddling, simply add a boat battery and a kayak trolling motor! Happy Kayaking!