Best Recreational Kayaks Reviews and Guide

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If you do not have a lot of time to spare, the best recreational kayak is the Pelican Premium Sprint Kayak

Whether you’re just beginning to start kayaking with your friends or you’ve been kayaking on the water countless times before, making sure that you have the right kind of kayak is an important aspect that can affect the whole entirety of your kayaking trip. There are so many different types of kayaks on the market, including recreational kayaks, touring kayaks, inflatable ones, pedaling ones, or even sit-on-top kayaks.

If you’re planning on only using kayaking as a recreational activity, then you still have a variety of different factors that you may want to consider regarding the buying process that goes into choosing the right kind of recreational kayak for your specific purposes. Overall, regardless of how experienced you are, you’ll want to consider how and when you’ll be using your kayak the most when browsing the market for them.

But that’s not the only factor you should be considering. Because of the diversity of the kayaking market as well as the lengthy process that’s required of choosing the right kind of kayak, this complete guide may help you throughout your buying process.

More specifically, this complete guide contains information that’s vital for you to keep in mind when shopping for recreational kayaks. Not only that but it also contains five of the best recreational kayaks that you can find on the market, which each contain reviews for your convenience.

The Best Recreation Kayaks goes as Follows:

  1. Pelican Premium Sprint Kayak
  2. Sea Eagle 370 Inflatable Kayak
  3. Ocean Kayak Malibu 9.5 Kayak 
  4. Old Town Dirigo Recreational Kayak
  5. Pelican Boats Maxim Sit-in Recreational Kayak

Recreational Kayak Reviews

When choosing this list of kayaks I made sure that they all had good all around on-water perfomance. Meaning they are are just as capable paddling in slightly choppy water as they are in still lakes. Water conditions constantly change as you are paddling so getting a kayak that can keep up with these conditions is crucial. I also made sure that they had great customer ratings, good durability and anything else that can be useful when paddling a recreational kayak.


1. Pelican Premium Sprint Kayak

You should check out this Pelican Premium Sprint Kayak because it features a deep V chine hull, which is able to offer the extra stability that you need while you’re traveling through choppy water currents. This V chine hull is specifically beneficial because it responds to your shifts in body weight as well as your specific position. This ultimately gives you more control and maneuverability through the kayak. I personally own a Pelican Kayak and I must say that it is nice to have the V shaped hull that allows you to track in a straight line.

Additionally, this Pelican kayak is constructed with a polyurethane that even features a top layer of resin that can offer even more durability. More specifically, this polyurethane material is classified as a high-molecular-weight material, so it’s able to withstand a large amount of wear and tear without showing much damage.

In the case that you capsize in any body of water, this kayak is able to accommodate for your situation, since it comes with a rear bulkhead. This bulkhead is able to offer extra flotation, which helps you stay afloat and get back into the kayak more easily. Not only that, but this kayak is able to be easily transported, since it’s lightweight and comes with handles that you can use to easily carry the kayak. It’s even equipped with pre-installed bungee cords to ensure that your gear is securely strapped down in the kayak during use.

Lastly, this kayak is suitable for various different individuals, since it’s easily maneuverable and features an Ergoflex G2 searing system. This seating system is comfortable and allows you to travel for hours without getting uncomfortable.


  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Easily portable, since it features ergonomic carrying handles
  • Features an Ergonomic G2 seating system for comfort
  • Includes a V chine hull for extra stability in poor water conditions
  • Constructed with a durable polyurethane material


  • Measures 12 feet long, so it may be difficult to simply fit in the back of a truck bed


2. Sea Eagle 370 Inflatable Kayak

The Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak is highly recommended for you to consider purchasing because it’s able to be the most easily transported product on the list, since it can easily be inflated and deflated in order to fit inside of your backpack. Because of that, this kayak is most beneficial for individuals that are hiking or camping and simply want to enjoy the water without having to transport a large kayak with them.

>>What Customers Think<<

Moreover, this Inflatable Kayak can easily fit two adults, since it’s long enough and stable enough to hold up to 650 pounds of cargo. This kayak is equipped with superior one-way valves as well as a thick and durable material. Lastly, given this kayak’s lightweight material, it has the ability to travel faster through the water.


  • NMMA certified
  • Contains an open and close drain valve
  • Comes with a spray skirt
  • Equipped with 2 skegs on the bottom of the kayak for better tracking and speed
  • Affordable
  • Portable, since it can deflate to fit into your backpack


  • Not able to offer the most durability, since it’s inflatable


3. Ocean Kayak Malibu 9.5 Kayak

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The Ocean Kayak Malibu Kayak is suggested for you because it’s able to offer maximized comfort for long kayaking trips. More specifically, this kayak features an AirGo molded-in seat that comes with a seat pad to provide your body with the support and comfort that you need. Not only that, but this kayak also features a backrest that can be easily adjusted in order to fir to your body in particular.

Moreover, this Ocean Kayak product comes with molded-in foot wells and calf rests that can not only provide comfort for your legs, but also the ability to easily maneuver through the water. Additionally, this kayak features molded-in paddle rests, bow and stern handle grips, and molded side handles. This helps to ensure that you have comfort while you’re holding the paddle and operating the kayak.

>>What Customers Think<<

Lastly, this kayak is able to safely secure your gear with its tank-well-retention bungees cords. The locking bar in general is able to offer the stability and protect that your gear likely requires while on the water.


  • Features the most factors for accommodating comfort
  • Short, so it can be easily transported
  • Comes with tank-well-retention bungee cords for security
  • Available in a variety of colors


  • Wide, so it may travel slower than other types of recreational kayaks


4. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Dirigo Recreational Kayak

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You are highly recommended to check out this recreational kayak from Old Town Canoes & Kayaks because it’s shorter than other kayaks and can be transported more easily. Not only is its short size great for transporting, but this Old Town kayak is also able to offer great maneuverability. Given that, this kayak is great for individuals of all skill-levels, including beginners.

In addition to those benefits, this kayak contains a click seal stern hatch that is able to offer maximized storage, and it can even keep your belongings dry when you’re using the kayak. This kayak also features a contoured Poly cushioned seat as well as a Glide Track foot brace system, which gives you the ability to more easily control your kayak personally. Not only that, but this brake system gives the kayak more stability while you’re using it, since you can easily stop it without having to place your paddle in the water and worry about how imbalanced your kayak is.

Aside from giving your feet the ability to control the kayak with the brake system, but this Old Town kayak also features thigh pads that have an easy-grip technology. These thigh pads give you the ability to have more control over the kayak, giving the kayak more maneuverability. This is especially beneficial for maneuvering in more calm waters, like in lakes and ponds, since you have a wider area of water to navigate through.

>>What Customers Think<<

Furthermore, this recreational kayak is highly recommended for you because it offers convenient features for you to use while you’re kayaking. For instance, this kayak contains a molded cup holder that gives you the ability to conveniently hold your drink while you’re using the boat. There’s also a waterproof glove box hatch that can provide your belongings with the protection that they need from the water. Because of that, you can confidently bring your phone, keys, or wallet with you on your kayaking trip.


  • Portable, since it’s shorter than most other boats
  • Features a click seal stern hatch for storing gear
  • Contains easy-grip thigh pads that provide for more maneuverability
  • Molded cup holder
  • Waterproof glove box
  • Suitable for beginners, since it offers easy maneuverability


  • More expensive than most other recreational kayaks on the market


5. Pelican Boats Maxim Sit-in Recreational Kayak

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You’re advised to check out this kayak because it can be easily transported, since it’s lightweight and features front and rear handles. Not only that, but this kayak includes a storage hatch as well as a bungee cord and storage platform that gives the kayak the ability to easily fit securely into your transposition vehicle.

>>What Customers Think<<

Furthermore, this Pelican kayak features a shallow V chine hull that provides for easy maneuverability. Because of that, this kayak is suitable for various different types of individuals that have a range of skill levels. Lastly, this kayak features an Ergoform Seating system that includes an adjustable seat cushion for maximized comfort if you’re using the kayak for longer trips.


  • Sit-in kayak for dry and comfortable rise
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Includes a storage hatch and storage platform for additional gear
  • Features a bottle holder


  • Limited weight capacity

Different Types of Kayaks

There are several different types of kayaks that you can choose from, since the kayaking market is diverse. Each of the different kayaks is able to offer various features, and these features can help accommodate for the different uses that each of the boats is best used for. For instance, there are certain types of kayaks that are best for using for fishing purposes, camping, diving, racing, or for recreational uses with your family.

Not only that, but each of the different types of kayaks are able to work best in certain types of bodies of water. For instance, some kayaks are able to provide the best features for using in rivers, lakes, oceans, and small ponds. So depending on what type of conditions that you’re specifically interested in engaging with, you have the ability to choose between different types of kayaks to make your experience more effective. Out of all the different types of kayaks, there are five main types classified as Flat Water Kayaks, such as Sit-on-tops, Recreational, Touring, Inflatable, and Pedaling kayaks.

Sit-on-top kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks are designed just like the name suggests, in that they allow you to sit on top of the kayak while you’re using it. They don’t particularly have a cockpit that you can sit inside of, like most of the other types of kayaks. Given that you can sit on top of these kayaks, you have the ability to easily get in and out of them as well, which is beneficial for when your kayak capsizes.

Furthermore, Sit-on-top kayaks are highly recommended for fishing purposes, since you can easily use fishing equipment in these boats. You’re sitting above the inside of the boat, so you don’t have to worry about your fishing pole or other equipment getting caught on the inside of the boat.

On the downside, you’re most likely to get wet in these types of boats, since your body is fully exposed. Given that you’re not inside of a cockpit and don’t have the ability to attach a spray skirt, you’ll likely get wet from the splashes that occur while you’re using the kayak.

Recreational kayakswoman in beginner kayak looking ta mountains

Recreational kayaks are classified as the most common types, since they provide you with the most basic features of kayaks in general. Practically any type of kayak can be used for recreational purposes, but there are kayaks that are particularly designed in order to offer features specific to recreational use. More specifically, recreational kayaks have larger cockpits, they’re cheaper, and they’re more portable.

Recreational kayaks have a larger cockpit in order to allow for more space for a smaller child to fit inside with you. Not only that, but they offer a deeper cockpit storage, so you have the ability to attach a spray skirt onto the outer rim of the cockpit’s opening, preventing any water from getting inside. Not only that, but recreational kayaks are available for a cheaper price than other types of kayaks, so they’re more user-friendly and affordable for a wider range of people to purchase them.

Lastly, recreational kayaks are more portable, since they’re shorter than most other types. Given their short measurements, recreational kayaks can easily fit inside the back of trucks or on trailers. On the downside, recreational kayaks aren’t able to go as fast as other types. Shorter kayaks don’t usually have the ability to go as fast as others, and they’re more difficult to track in the water, meaning that they aren’t able to travel as straight as as other types.

Not only that, but recreational kayaks are also wider than other types, further making the kayak difficult to move faster. Overall, practically any type of kayak can be used for recreational purposes, but the kayaks that offer the most basic and user-friendly features are designed to make recreationally-purposed trips more interactive and fun.

Pedaling kayaks

best pedal kayak
photo by @beardedgloryoutdoors

If you’re planning on kayaking for longer distances and on water that’s typically calmer than others, then you may want to consider purchasing a Pedaling kayak. These types of kayaks are able to move by a pedaling system that’s located in the front-portion of the kayak. By having the ability to pedal your way around in kayaks, you can more easily travel for longer distances because of the higher amount of duration that your legs have over your arms.

Regarding Pedaling kayaks, there are different types of kayaks within this category that contain varying pedaling systems. For instance, there are pedaling systems that have a propeller and function similarly to bicycle pedals, and there are also pedaling systems that have a flipper system that functions similarly to a fish.

Pedaling kayaks are able to work best in water that’s calmer than fast rivers and lakes with large waves, so you’re recommended to refrain from regions that have those types of conditions. These kayaks are capable of offering the best types of features for fishing, since you have the ability to move your kayak with your legs and feet, leaving your hands and arms free in order to operate your fishing pole and other fishing equipment.

Inflatable kayaksinflatable kayak

Flat Water kayaks have a specific type of Inflatable kayak that’s able to offer a more lightweight and simply convenient option. Inflatable Flat Water kayaks don’t have the ability to track very easily, which is problematic for a sense of direction. Not only that, but they aren’t able to offer durable features either, since they’re filled with air and can easily pop.

Lastly, Inflatable Flat Water kayaks are also known to capsize very easily, since they have the same amount of air and weight throughout the whole boat. This is problematic because when you sit on top of them, the top of the boat now has more weight than the lower-portion, increasing the likelihood of the kayak flipping.

Inflatable kayaks create more of a chance of you getting wet as well, since they sink closer to the water once you sit on top of them. You also get more wet while using these kayaks because they don’t offer any features to prevent you from getting wet. The only upside to them is that they are lightweight and extremely portable, since they can be deflated and fit into your backpack while you’re hiking. Because of their ability to float and their lightweight features, they can be used for more recreational purposes, like swimming or tubing in water.

Touring kayaks

These types of kayaks are more recommended for racing purposes, since their features allow them to travel faster than other types. For instance, Touring kayaks are long and narrow, they have smaller cockpits, and they offer more comfortable features. More specifically, Touring kayaks are longer in length, usually measuring more than 12 feet long. Because of that, this not only help them travel faster, but it also gives them more direction control, so they’re capable of traveling straighter than others.

Additionally, touring kayaks have a smaller cockpit, so they’re more tightly fit around your body for support. Unfortunately, they’re difficult to transport because of their long size, so you may have to purchase additional straps or use a trailer to transport the kayak instead.

Benefits of Recreational Kayaks


Since recreational kayaks are designed in order to offer more relaxed and playful features, they tend to be more user-friendly than other types. More specifically, recreational kayaks offer more basic features, like wide cockpits, comfortable seating, and smaller sizes for easy portability. Given these basic features, recreational kayaks are suitable for various different types of interested individuals, since they don’t usually require any skill while using them on the water.

Promotes health

Kayaking in general is able to provide your body with various benefits, including the ability to promote weight loss, reduce your stress, increase the health condition of your heart, and provide your body with a good source of vitamin D. For instance, the activity of kayaking can promote weight loss because it helps you burn more calories without even knowing it, since you’re given the task of working to get from one place to another on the water.

Additionally, recreational kayaking reducing the amount of stress that you experience because it helps to clear your mind by engaging you with nature. The simple act of kayaking in general can help relax your emotions and limit the amount of stressfulness that you feel while on the water.

Furthermore, recreational kayaking is great for your overall heart health because it’s classified as an aerobic sport, meaning that it gets your heart working while you’re engaging in the activity. Your heart is constantly working while you’re kayaking, so it increases your heart rate, thus improving your cardiovascular health.

Lastly, recreational kayaking is able to provide your body with a good source of vitamin D, since it requires that you spend time outside. Vitamin D is able to offer your body positive effects, including an increase in health for your bones and teeth, a supported immune system and brain health as well as an improvement in insulin levels and lung function. Vitamin D is largely provided by the types of food that you consume, but when you’re outside in the sun, then the sun’s rays are also able to provide you with the many benefits that vitamin D is able to offer.

Improves well-beingMental Health Kayak Exercise

Not only does the act of kayaking provide your body with many physical benefits, but it’s also able to increase your body’s well-being and offer many mental benefits as well. More specifically, kayaking is an activity that is largely participated by a multiple people at a time, so it helps to make individuals more interactive with their social community. Kayaking is practically accessible to everyone, so anyone that has a kayak or is willing to borrow one or rent one from another person is able to engage with the activity.

Social interaction and engagement has a large influence on your mental health, so by having the ability to interact with others around you by doing something fun with nature, you can benefit your mental health as well as your physical health.

Increase muscle growth

Kayaking in general also has the ability to increase the amount of muscle that your body has, thus increasing the strength that you have overall. More specifically, kayaking requires that you use your arms as well as your core muscles in order to move the kayak forward with the paddle. When you constantly use these upper and core muscles, then you’ll essentially experience kayaking as an upper body workout.

Not only does kayaking require upper body muscle, but it’s also able to tone your legs, since you have to apply pressure to the sides of the inner kayak. Not only that, but your legs are also required in order to keep your body balance while you’re operating the kayak. When you’re using the kayak, your leg muscles will tighten and loosen constantly, resulting in a leg workout.

Additionally, pedal kayaks can be used for recreational purposes, resulting in an even more intense leg workout. In order to move a Pedal kayak at all in general, you’re required to move the pedals with your feet, thus working out your legs even more than traditional, recreational kayaking.

Attributes to Consider Before Purchasing


Before buying your next recreational kayak, you’ll want to consider what type of material it’s produced with. More specifically, you’ll want to make sure that the kayak is formulated with a durable and stable material that’s able to withstand a large amount of wear and tear. There are several different types of kayak materials to choose from, including Polyurethane plastic, ABS plastics, and Composites, each of them offering their own beneficial features.

Polyurethane plastic

Polyurethane plastic is classified as the most common type of material for recreational kayaks. This specific type of plastic is more affordable than other types, and it’s also resistant to any abrasion, which is beneficial for use in more active waters. Unfortunately, it is classified as the heaviest type of kayak material, and it’s susceptible to degrade over time when it’s left within the Sun’s UV rays. Because of that, you’ll want to refrain from keeping polyurethane plastic kayaks in the sun when you’re not using them.

ABS plastics

ABS plastic is defined as a more durable type of plastic, which is why this type of kayak material is more expensive. Not only is this type of plastic more durable, but it’s also more lightweight than other types of kayak materials. Lastly, it’s also able to withstand the Sun’s UV rays more easily, since it’s produced with more distinctive two-tone designs. These designs give the material the ability to bond more closely together, creating a more durable and stable material overall.


Lastly, there are recreational kayaks produced with a composite material. Composites are labeled as more of a lightweight fiberglass, and they’re able to offer extremely high quality material. This ultralight carbon-fiber material is able to provide durability against the Sun’s UV rays, so you don’t have to worry about the quality of the material degrading if you leave it in the Sun.



It’s important that you consider how well the recreational kayak is able to perform. Each different type, style, and brand of kayak is able to offer various different features that affect its overall performance. For instance, the specific shape of the kayak affects its speed, since the wider kayaks tend to travel slower than the kayaks that have a more narrow shape.

Additionally, the length is also able to affect a kayak’s tracking abilities. Kayaks that are able to offer strong tracking features are able to travel in straighter paths than other types. Features that accommodate for strong tracking capabilities tend to be narrowed and more lightweight, also resulting in their ability to travel faster than other kayaks with different shapes.

Having a kayak that’s able to offer better performance features are more recommended, produced with a higher quality materials, and are overall more recommended for your benefit. Given that, make sure that the specific recreational kayak that you have is able to offer features that improve stability, tracking, maneuverability, speed, and overall performance.


Considering how each recreational kayak is constructed is also an important factor when it comes to choosing between certain kayaks. How a kayak is constructed is important because ones that are poorly constructed aren’t going to offer you the best benefits. In order to ensure that the kayak is constructed properly, you’ll want to consider the kayak’s comfortability, durability, and weight capacity.

More specifically, you’ll want to make sure that the recreational kayak you choose is comfortable for you to sit in. This is especially important if you’re planning on going for longer kayak trips. Not having a comfortable and stable seat on your kayak can be problematic because it could put strain and stress on your body. Not only is having a comfortable seat important, but you’ll also want to make sure that the kayak accommodates for comfort in its other features, including foot pegs and thigh braces.

Additionally, you’ll want a recreational kayak that’s constructed with durable and stable materials. Not having a durable kayak can pose problems because you won’t feel as safe in the kayak, and it’s more dangerous to use in water that contains logs, rocks, and other debris. Lastly, you’ll want to consider how stable the kayak is in its weight capacity. Some kayaks are able to offer more weight support than other ones, depending on the certain construction that they have.

You’ll want to make sure that your kayak is able to support not only all of your weight altogether, but also the additional weight of any other passengers or other equipment that you have on the boat with you. You’ll also want to make sure that the weight that you have inside of the kayak is distributed evenly. This will prevent the risk of the kayak tipping over.


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Considering how much a kayak costs is one of the most important factors that you should look for before choosing a certain product. Different kayak types and styles each are available for different prices, so you’ll want to make sure that you don’t overpay for a kayak. Overall, you’ll want a kayak that’s produced with a high quality construction, features, and material that’s also available at an affordable price.

Where you’ll use it

Before you choose a certain recreational kayak, considering where you’re planning on using the kayak is also a helpful factor to think about. You should make sure that the specific kayak you want is able to offer the features adequate to functioning in the specific water conditions.

For instance, you have the option of choosing to use the kayak in lakes, oceans, rivers, or ponds. Each of these specific bodies of water are able to offer different benefits, and they also require certain features and considerations. More specifically, for lakes, you have more leniency when choosing the days where the weather would be nice enough to kayak, since the water conditions of lakes aren’t nearly as drastically affected by the weather as other types of water.

On the other hand, you’ll want to only kayak on days that have nice weather if you’re planning on kayaking in rivers or oceans. The water currents on rivers can get too fast and dangerous, resulting in a heightened risk of you tipping the kayak over. Similarly, the waves of the water currents in oceans can also lead to the same effects when the weather isn’t as nice. You’ll want to make sure that you have the right type of boat as well as the right type of water conditions if you’re planning on kayaking on rivers or oceans.

Aside from the type of water that you’re planning on kayaking on, it’s important that you consider what the weather will be like for your trip. You don’t necessarily have to postpone a trip if the weather is rainy, but you should keep in mind whether the water currents and conditions will be drastically affected. You should also make sure that you bring sunscreen as well as sunglasses or a hat if you’re going to be kayaking in the direct sunlight the whole time.


When deciding on a certain kayak to purchase, you’ll want to consider how portable each kayak can be. You don’t want a kayak that’s going to be difficult to bring to and from the location that you’re using it at. More specifically, you’ll want to consider the weight, length, shape, and overall size of the kayak before you choose on a certain product.

For instance, lightweight kayaks are most recommended, since they’re not only easy to carry from the water to your transportation vehicle, but lightweight kayaks are also able to travel faster through the water, since they don’t have any extra weight preventing them from doing so. The length is also important to consider, since you don’t want a kayak that’s too long to fit inside of your truck bed or on top of your car.

Lastly, the shape and overall size is important to consider regarding transportation, since you don’t want a kayak that’s presented in an awkward or too large of a shape that it can’t easily be transported on your vehicle.


Lastly, you should make sure that the certain recreational kayak you have is able to offer beneficial features for your convenience. More specifically, you’ll want to consider if your certain kayak is able to offer features that can make your using the kayak easier, like Skegs, tracking fins, or even rudders. Overall, make sure that your kayak is able to provide you enough features to use throughout your kayaking trip specifically.


Final Thoughts

Overall, each of these recreational kayaks are able to offer you a wide variety of benefits, making the buying process difficult if you’re not familiar with which benefits are seemingly better than others. Not only that, but it may be difficult to choose the best kayak for your specific purposes. Because of that, you’re most recommended to purchase the Pelican Premium Sprint Kayak, since it offers the most versatile features that can suit any particular circumstances.

More specifically, this Ocean Kayak is most suggested for you because it’s not only affordable, but it offers features that you can utilize whether you’re a beginner or an advanced kayaker. For instance, this kayak is equipped with features that offer maximized comfortability for you during your trip, such as foot wells, calf rests, toggle handle grips, and even an adjustable seat. Given each of these benefits as well as its affordable price, you should purchase the Pelican Premium Sprint Kayak.

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