Best Whitewater Kayak: Reviews And Complete Buying Guide

Ready to hit the rivers and the seas? Not really? Well, when it comes to moving water, your regular fishing or touring kayak just won’t do! You need the almighty whitewater kayak by your side to conquer the dangerous seas. Whitewater kayaks are specially made to help you take on the rough and tough waves. Most of these sit-in kayaks, however, there are sit-on-top versions available as well.

Whitewater kayaking tends to be a hard and intense sport. You’ll find that most professionals are trained heavily and they prefer following their instincts. To become a pro, you need unbeatable concentration and a lot of skill. The sport is filled with adrenaline where one wrong move could land you down under.

However, with a trusty whitewater kayak by your side, you are bound to defeat the waves and dethrone your components. Since you’ll be going through a bumpy ride, you need a kayak that is durable and impact resistant. Whitewater kayaks are just that! However, we still recommend that you buy some of the best whitewater kayak helmets as well as kayak accessories.

Finding the perfect whitewater kayak is an adventure in itself today! There are so many varieties in the market that the average beginner is bound to get overwhelmed. Lucky for you. We’ve done all the research for you and found some of the best kayaks for the money! Read ahead to find our kayak reviews:

Best Whitewater Kayak Reviews

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

whitewaterkayak 2
  • BKC UH-TK181
  • Item #: N/A
  • Persons Capacity: 2
  • Dimensions: N/A
  • Weight: N/A
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

whitewaterkayak 3
  • SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Bali
  • Item #: 52270
  • Persons Capacity: 1
  • Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 10 inches
  • Weight: 23 pounds
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

whitewaterkayak 4
  • Ocean Kayak Malibu
  • Item #: N/A
  • Persons Capacity: 2
  • Dimensions: N/A
  • Weight: 61 pounds
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

whitewaterkayak 5
  • Ocean Kayak Malibu
  • Item #: 07.6010.1040
  • Persons Capacity: 2
  • Dimensions: 144 x 34 x 20 inches
  • Weight: 57 pounds
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak Paddle

Best Whitewater KayakThe Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is perhaps one of the most practical whitewater kayaks in the low price range. It is one of the best kayaks under 200 due to the ergonomic design as well as the premium balance the kayak provides.

The 6-inch kayak is quite lightweight, weighing about 18 lbs. However, the overall weight capacity is a little low at 130 lbs. So, it is more suited for children and we would not recommend it to heavier. The high-density polyethylene construction lends durability to the kayak to allow you to face the roughest of waves. Moreover, the material adds impact resistance to the boat so you can easily paddle.

Furthermore, the stable hull design ensures that the boat never flips over. We found the boat to be excellent at tracking. This was due to the twin fin design that ensures the kayak stays in a straight line for a long time. Also included is a reverse chine that allows for better stability.

The cockpit includes a heavily ergonomic influenced design to allow for maximum comfort. This includes multiple footrests that can suit people of all sizes. Also included finger molds on each side of the kayak to help you get a better grip for carrying it.

However, that’s not all! Also included is a swim-up deck that allows you to easily get on board after a long swim without worrying about the boat flipping over. The kayak further includes a whitewater kayak paddle that is longlasting and durable. Not only this, but the kayak also includes molded paddle holders so while you relax, your paddles won’t go overboard.

All in all, the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is perfect for children or shorter individuals who do not weigh much!


  • Ergonomic cockpit design with adjustable footrests.
  • Portable and lightweight.
  • Includes a swim-up deck for easier re-entry.
  • Offers great stability and tracking.
  • Durable and long-lasting construction.
  • Includes paddle holders.


  • Not suited for adults or heavier individuals.
  • Does not have a backrest.

BKC UH-TK181 Sit On Top Tandem

Best Whitewater KayakIf you’re looking for a kayak that can provide you with superior stability, both on rough waves as well as still water, then the BKC two-person tandem is for you! The tandem is perfect for the day out whether you want to go paddling through the behemoth waves or just fishing at a lake.

The BKS is perhaps the best 2-person kayak that offers versatility. The sit-on-top design does tend to be disadvantageous as you are bound to get wet due to the rough waves. However, it allows for more room and is perfect for the summers. The best part is that it comes with multiple waterproof storage hatches. These allow you to store your essentials such as mobile phone, wallet etc. so that while you may get, you can rest assured your essentials will stay dry.

Also included is a cargo area that includes a bungee tie-up system that allows you to secure larger baggage to the kayak. This is quite important as rides on moving water tend to be bumpy and your cargo can easily slide out.

For when you want to take a break, the kayak includes twin paddle rests that allow you and your partner to store the paddles securely. This allows you to free your hands without running the risk of losing the paddles. Not to mention it comes with the kayak paddles as well as the kayak seats.

The kayak is quite long, measuring about 12 feet 5 inches. This makes it a little heavyweight, however, the larger weight capacity of 440 lbs almost makes up for it. To make it easier to carry, the manufacturers have added multiple carrying handles that allow you to transport the kayak from one place to the other.


  • Includes multiple storage options including waterproof hatches.
  • Longer dimensions that can hold two adults easily.
  • Superior primary and secondary stability.
  • Multiple paddle holders.
  • Easy to transport despite the heavyweight.


  • Heavyweight.
  • Too long and heavy for a single person to paddle it.

SUNDOLPHIN Bali Sit-on-top Kayak

Best Whitewater KayakThe SunDolphin is one of the best kayak brands so it should come as no surprise when we say that the Bali 6-foot kayak is one of the bets whitewater kayaks out there. This 6-foot beast, when paired with whitewater kayaking gear, is sure to help you become the reigning champion of the waves.

The first thing you’ll notice is the small and lightweight design of the kayak. This makes it much easier to carry around. Moreover, it includes an elastic T-handle at the front which will help you drag it into the water. Also included is a paddle holder so you can easily relax without worrying about the paddles.

However, the smaller size tends to have its disadvantages as well. Larger folks might feel too cramped in this as they would in the Lifetime Youth Kayak. So, we recommend this for children or shorter individuals.

The open cockpit allows you easier reentry. So, you can go out for a swim and then come back to the kayak without worrying about any flips. The kayak’s construction includes a highly rugged Fortiflex High-Density Polyethylene to impart durability to the kayak. Furthermore, the material is UV stabilized so the color won’t fade away even after hours under the sun.

Due to the small size of the kayak, it is quite easy to handle and you can easily paddle it. It tracks great and provides maximum stability. In addition to this, the cockpit is quite large and includes multiple footrest positions to allow folks of all sizes to find a comfortable position. However, there are no seats and no backrest. So, you can either invest a little more and buy one or make use of the not-too-comfortable molded seat that comes with the kayak.


  • Lightweight and very easy to carry around.
  • Easy to paddle and handle.
  • Multiple footrest positions for better comfort.
  • Durable and rugged construction.
  • Easy re-entry through the back.
  • UV stabilized fade-resistant colors.


  • Too cramped for larger individuals.
  • No storage hatches or wells.

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Angler Kayak

Best Whitewater KayakWhen it comes to the best kayak 2018, we’d be crazy not to include the Ocean Kayak Malibu kayak. The kayak is placed in the higher price range, however, the features are definitely worth it. The kayak is a sit-on-top angler that allows you to fully enjoy a hot summer’s day! Of course, most whitewater kayak users might be a little hesitant due to the rough waves. However, we recommend you give it a try nevertheless.

The best part about the kayak is that it can be paddled by two people or you can use it solo. The seats are easily adjustable to face each other. Moreover, the seats are quite comfortable as they include the trademarked Comfort Plus seat backs. This allows you to adjust the seat according to your comfort.

This kayak is one of the best whitewater kayaks due to the numerous storage options. The center hatch is the biggest hatch and includes an open Cross Lock system that allows you to securely close it. Apart from that, the kayak has two separate hatches for each paddler to store their essentials.

Lastly, there is a deck bungee system where you can store bigger equipment such as a backpack or a bucket. To allow for maximum comfort, the kayak comes with multiple foot wells. This way you and your paddling partner can easily enjoy the experience without feeling cramped.

The kayak also includes paddle holders that are located on both sides of the boat. This allows you to easily store the paddles when not in use. A pull tab allows you to easily release and attach the bungee to the bungee well.

The drain plug ensures that no matter how wet you get, you can always drain the boat and dry it! With over 450 lbs of weight capacity, you can take the whole family for whitewater kayaking.


  • Large space and weight capacity.
  • Can be used as a tandem or solo.
  • Various storage options including a bungee well.
  • Paddle storage is also available.
  • Drain plug allows for dryer rides.
  • Adjustable seats and footrests for maximum comfort.


  • Too large for individual kayaking.
  • Heavyweight.

Ocean Kayak Malibu Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

Best Whitewater KayakAnother best kayak for the money is the Ocean 12-feet kayak that lies in the mid-range price. The Malibu kayak actually has a large weight capacity at about 425 pounds. The spacious cockpit allows folks of all sizes to comfortably fit inside the kayak without worrying about being too cramped. The kayak offers about three different seating positions. These include solo, tandem as well as a tandem with a child or pet. This makes it quite versatile as you can take your whole family for a kayaking adventure or just find peace of mind by yourself.

The kayak includes two Comfort Plus seats that allow you to adjust it in about 4 different ways. This allows you to get a custom fit for better comfort. The material is quite soft and yet at the same time it has great traction so that you do not slip, unlike the molded seats.

Furthermore, the overlapping foot wells allow you maximum comfort by bracing your feet in a more convenient manner. What’s more is that the open hull design allows you to easily enter and exit the kayak. To allow for better portability, the handles are molded in. Apart from these, the T-handles at the bow and the stern allow you to drag the kayak around easily.

Not only this, the kayak comes with multiple storage options including two waterproof hatches which are perfect for storing all your electronics and other essentials. The front of the kayak has a well where you can store larger equipment including backpacks, coolers as well as buckets. Since whitewater kayaking involves a choppy ride, the kayak comes with a belt over the storage well. This will help you secure the equipment so it doesn’t fall overboard.


  • Multiple storage options for secure storing.
  • Portable and easy to carry.
  • Comfortable seating with footrests.
  • High weight capacity.
  • Easy to enter and exit the kayak.
  • Versatile in use.


  • Does not keep you dry.
  • Too long to handle for a single person.

What Whitewater Kayak Fits You?

Best Whitewater KayakWhen looking for whitewater kayaks, you might be confused as to which one you should buy. Luckily, we have compiled a full buying guide to help you out. Here is what you should look for when buying a whitewater kayak:

Type of Water

The first thing to consider is the type of water boat you’re looking to tackle! If you’re looking for very steep and rough water, your usual fishing or touring kayak just won’t do. So, we recommend you first decide what you will use the kayak for. This way you can easily decide the type of whitewater kayak you might need.

Type of Whitewater Kayak

Best Whitewater KayakOnce you have decided the kind of water you’ll face, you should decide the type of kayak. There are about 3 types of whitewater boats:


As their name suggests, these are not really for braving the choppy waves. Instead, you can use them to ride out to a single spot and staying there. These are normally short and end at about 6 inches. These are quite uncomfortable so they are mostly used by kids and teens due to their short sizes. However, they also find their uses with bodybuilders as these boats can help build resistance and are perfect for those who don’t feel like hitting the gym.

River runners

Best Whitewater KayakRiver runners, on the other hand, are used to traveling down the rivers and face the choppy waves head-on. They are long at about 7 to 10 feet. Usually, they have the perfect balance between tracking and turning as well as between primary and secondary stability. They are comfortable and usually include various storage options.

Creek boats

Creek boats are the ultimate whitewater boats as they provide you with maximum stability as well as durability. You can use them for low volume rivers and traveling along steep rapids. They are normally rugged and are usually sit-in types.


Best Whitewater KayakSince you will be riding through some rough waves, you will need to be as comfortable as possible. Otherwise, you could end up hurting your back or neck. The main feature to look for here is the cockpit space. It should be large enough to easily accommodate you.

Also, consider whether the kayak comes with a molded seat or a separate one. Molded seats are usually more uncomfortable as you cannot usually adjust them. So, we recommend looking for one that has a separate seat. Adjustable footrests also allow for better foot support as well as height adjustment so the whole family can use a single kayak!


For whitewater kayaks, excellent durability is a must! Since they usually face a lot of bumps, they need to be impact resistant. The hull rigidity plays a crucial role in determining the overall longevity of the kayak.


Best Whitewater KayakNext, you should consider the size of the boat. This is crucial as a larger size might give you more space, but it will be harder to handle. As we already mentioned, each different type of whitewater kayak comes at specific sizes. However, ensure that the size is something you can easily handle. A larger boat size will also add to the weight capacity so taller or heavier individuals should go for boats that are bigger.


So, in conclusion, whitewater kayaks can help you master this exciting yet deadly sport! With the right whitewater boat by your side, you can easily conquer the highest of waves and the deadliest of rivers. Our top 6 choices are all durable, comfortable and long lasting. From creek boats to even inflatable whitewater kayaks, the market is brimming with extensive variety. It’s your choice now! Our buying guide can help you make an informed decision!

However, you should note that as a beginner you won’t be using a single boat for a long time. As you get better and better at paddling, you could want to upgrade your boat in the future. If you’re buying a tandem for whitewater kayaking, we would recommend you to ensure that your partner is at the same skill level as you are. This is because most advanced professionals do not like sharing a boat with an amateur. They are fast thinkers and follow their instincts without fear. Beginners on the other hand tend to be quite sluggish and a splash of water can often break their concentration.

All the water is your playground with the best whitewater kayak! Get yours now!

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