Best Kayaks of 2017

 Best Kayaks

The Best Kayaks :The Ultimate Guide for Those who Love Paddling

Chances are if you are here you are in the market of a kayak, but you may be stuck. I mean mulling over all the options that you see is a downright tedious task that you can spend days upon days trying to research what are the best kayaks out there. Well we are here to break it down for you. In an easy to understand matter.

So What are the Best Kayaks?

Don’t have a lot of time to read? No Problem! Here are the Best Kayaks of each Category, Click the Best Titles to Go to the Section.

Best Fishing Kayak
Hobie Pro Angler 12
(Read Updated Rankings Below)

best fishing kayak, best kayaks

Best Inflatable Kayak
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible
(Read Updated Ranking Below)

Best Inflatable Kayaks, best kayaks

Best Touring Kayak
Necky Chatham 16 Composite

Best Recreational Kayak
Daggar Axis 12.0

Best Sit On Top Kayak
Malibu Stealth 12 Fish and Dive

Best Tandem Kayak
Perception Pescador 13.0 T

 

If you are on a Budget take a look at out Guide on the Best Budget Kayaks Here.

In my mind kayaking is one of the best ways to spend time in the great outdoors. Not only does the concept of floating on water completely rock but kayaking actually has a lot of physical and mental benefits as well physical benefits . It is a sport/ Hobby that can reward you and take you places that you could never go before. It is also one of the best ways to see an area because of your new found access to the water life. Best of all you can explore a wide array of different waterways with one simple kayak.

I should caution you though, certain kayaks are better in certain environments than others so we will help you understand what and how to choose for each different scenario

best kayaks

 

I have kayaked since I was just 11 years old and have had the fortune of having experience with a wide variety of different kayaks in different conditions and terrains. It is important that you choose a kayak for what it is intended for and what your skill level is. If you were a beginner kayaker and you bought say an expensive ocean/touring kayak, you will have a harder time manoeuvring and may even flip a time or 2! How would you get back on after you just flipped? Sure sit on top kayaks and many beginner Kayaks are easy enough to simply flip over and climb back on but touring kayaks can fill with water and if you are unsure what you are doing it could be quite difficult and potentially dangerous getting righted especially if you are in cold water for a time.

It is important that you recognise your skill level and what you will be using the kayak for. Thankfully we are here to help you make an informed decision! So Enjoy reading about the Best Kayaks!

If You want a in depth Criteria and Explanations on how to pick a Kayak Check out Our Ultimate Kayak Buying Guide Below

kayak buying guide, best kayaks

 

Best Fishing Kayaks of 2017

Tired of standing by the shore trolling for fish when realistically they could be anywhere? Think about it for a second. You are casting off and covering a fraction of the distance that you could be if you were on a fishing kayak. What does that mean for you? Well in simple terms more fish being caught, meaning you can actually show off pictures of your picture prize instead of the typical fisherman’s tale of “I swear it was thiiis big!” (arms stretching out as wide as possible).

Some considerations before we dive right in:

best kayaks

Length, Width and Weight:

One of the first considerations you should have when looking to purchase a fishing kayak is what size of a kayak you are looking for? For fishing it is generally favourable to get a bit of a wider kayak but it all comes down to your experience level.

If you are starting out and just learning how to fish in a kayak it is recommended that you get a kayak that is wide and stable so you can learn casting techniques both standing up and sitting down.  Another thing to consider is the length.

How tall are you and how manoeuvrable would you like your kayak to be? Shorter kayaks are generally more manoeuvrable and are generally better fitted to smaller people while longer kayaks usually track better and are a bit quicker. Another thing to consider is what the weight capacity of the kayak will be. If you carry a lot of gear and are are bigger person you should choose a kayak that has good maximum capacity. If you are a minimalist or relatively small and lightweight than you can get away with a kayak that has less weight capacity.

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Photo by Fogh Marine Instagram

Sit on Top and Sit in Kayaks

This comes down to preference for some people but generally many experienced and beginner anglers prefer sit on top kayaks because they are generally more stable which means you can stand on them when you are sight fishing and casting.

Sit on top kayaks typically have more room and access to gear which is one thing that many anglers appreciate. While there are some good sit in kayaks out there for fishing it is generally harder to stand in them. However sit on top kayaks are generally lighter which can be favourable to carrying around to different fishing locations.

 

Location and Body of water

What conditions and where will you be fishing in? I live near Vancouver, British Columbia where there are tides and days where the water is a bit rougher. For those conditions I would look for a longer kayak that is quicker to combat the tide as opposed to calmer lakes and tight rivers in Ontario where I would look for a shorter, more stable boat to stand on and manoeuvre with ease.

It is good to keep in mind the more you use the kayak the more you get used to it. Which means it becomes more stable as you get more acquainted with the kayak. I will be publishing a more detailed fishing kayak review later on as well as a cost effective list.

 

Here are the best kayaks for fishing:

KayakTypeDimensions (L X W)Weight and Maximum CapacityRating
Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Kayak 2017 - 12ft/Ivory Dune 12' X 36" 105 Lbs and 500 Lbs 10/10
Hobie Mirage Outback Camo Kayak 2017 12'1" X 33" 81 Lbs and 400 Lbs 9.5/10
Malibu Kayaks Stealth 12 Fish and Dive Sand 14' 4" X 33" 62 Lbs and 550 Lbs 9/10
Malibu Kayaks X-Factor Fish and Dive , Sand 14' 4" X 33" 62 Lbs and 550 Lbs 9/10
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 130X Kayak 13' X 32" 72 Lbs and 375 Lbs 8/10

 

1. Hobie Pro Angler 12

 

Features

  • Mirage Drive with Glide technology
  • Vangate Seating System
  • Two rod holders
  • H Rail Mounting system for accessories
  • Lowrance Ready Installation system for fish finders
  • Drillable Mounting Plates
  • Two Dry Hatches (one large one in front of the seat and one on the bow of the kayak)
  • Adjustable Skeg
  • Two tackle boxes that pop out of the large cockpit dry hatch
  • -Re-tractable rudder

 

I’m sure many of you have been canoe fishing and hey I have too! In fact I have spent a good portion of my fishing life in a canoe. The thing is that canoes really are not what they once were in terms of being the best vessel for fishing, they have uncomfortable seats most of the time, which means that often times your fishing experience is cut short due to a sore butt or back. While Canoes do provide plenty of room it is often hard to access because you have bars in your way or you have to try to awkwardly grab gear from behind you. The Hobie Pro Angler 12 Changes all of this in an instant.

Everything is within reach including it’s H Rail System, which allows the user to place customised gear such as rod holders, and mounting boards….

One of the Best and perhaps undervalued things about the Hobie Pro Angler 12 is the fact that it has a fully adjustable Vantage ST seat. Believe me when I say, Hobie has one of the best kayak seats in the industry. Made out of a combination of High strength, lightweight, aircraft aluminium frame construction and Hammock Mesh, The Vantage ST seat gives you a wide array of different support options. This includes 4 way adjust ability, two seating positions and of course lumbar support. So what does this mean for you? A more comfortable ride which can keep you yakin for over 8 hours. This is good news as it’s more time you can experience in nature as well as more time to catch fish!

best fishing kayak, hobie pro angler 12, best inflatable kayaks

The most unique thing about the Hobie Pro Angler 12 as well as just about any other Hobie Kayak is the fact that it has a pedal system. The Mirage Drive Glide technology to be exact, it utilises the biggest muscles in your body, your legs! This allows you to have a hands free fishing experience each time you are on the water. The Mirage Drive is also quite quick, much quicker on the water than if you were to paddle that’s for sure.

How does one steer this kayak? You may be asking? The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 uses and Auxiliary rudder control knob and lever to engage the Rudder and allow you to steer right and left at a flick of a knob. There are a ton of more things that I can tell you about the Hobie Pro Angler 12 on it’s own review page.

 

Pros:

  • Supreme Adjustability
  • Comfortable Seat that will have you fishing for hours
  • Can be Pedaled or Paddled
  • Is Very Fast in the Water 
  • Supreme Stability
  • Come with Rudder
  • Many Storage Hatches
  • Has a lot of Customisability

 

Cons:

  • Has a Pretty Hefty Price Tag
  • Is Very Heavy even without Mirage Drive

 

Bodies of water:

Lakes, Rivers Coastal waters. Can handle some rougher waters than it’s cousin but I still wouldn’t recommend taking it out in full blown surf.

 

See The Full Review on Pro Angler 12!

 

 

 

 

2. Hobie Mirage Outback

 

Features

  • Carry Handles
  • Fully adjustable Vantage CT Seat
  • Hobie’s Glide technology pedals
  • Adjustable Pedal Drive Train
  • Two dry hatches (1 in the cock pit 1 on the bow)
  • One storage hatch on the stern
  • Open Storage towards the rear complete with bungee tie downs
  • Four Rod holders with rubber caps
  • -Rudder

Hobie is considered one of the finest if not the finest Pedal kayak makes on the market. Hobie’s Glide technology is improved for 2016 allowing for a faster more efficient glide through the water with a fully adjustable pedal drive train. If you prefer just simply paddling you can take the drive train out but it is highly recommended especially for hand free fishing.

What makes this a special kayak for fishing is the fact that you can actually stand on various different points of the kayak without worrying about tipping. Often Times when you are casting you are bound to be shifting around. This is very hard to do in a canoe so as a result you are forced to restricted movements. In movements such as fly fishing where it is beneficial to stand, the Hobie Mirage Outback excels in stability giving you a worry free experience.

With a maximum capacity for around 400lbs many Anglers have the Hobie loaded up with gear, coolers and many other gadgets which is a testament to just how stable this kayak is along with two 8” twist and seal hatches located in the cockpit and bow of the boat.

This is a fantastic fish all day type of kayak because of it’s fully adjustable Vantage CT Seat. The seat has 4 adjustable tilt settings with the chair being able to be adjusted up or down along with an adjustment knob for lumbar support to make this a very comfortable ride.Comes with a high quality twist and stow rudder which can be engaged or disengaged, operated by fingertip steering.

It is even possible to mount a sail to the Hobie if you get tired for pedal or paddling! A safety feature that is featured in the Hobie Mirage Outback is that there are foam blocks in the inside of the kayak to keep it a float in the very off chance that a significant amount of water goes into it.

 

Pros:

  • Drive Train,
  • storage room,
  • Fully adjustable seat,
  • Twist and stow rudder
  • The Hobie is fully customizable with many different accessories that you can purchase separately such as live wells, H bar and H Rail installations, sail kits.
  • If money is not an issue this about as good as you will get for a fishing kayak.

 

Cons:

  • Heavy 
  • Very Expensive
  • Not as Customisable as the Pro Angler 12

 

Bodies of Water

 While this is a pretty stable kayak I would recommend, calm lakes, rivers and coastal waters for this boat. You can take it out in the surf but I have seen videos of people tipping them in rough waters  and losing all of their gear! 🙁

 

See The Full Review Hobie Mirage Outback

 

 

3. Malibu Stealth 12

 

Features

  • Centre Bait Tank
  • Gator Hatch at the Stern
  • 4 rod holders
  • Adjustable Foot pedals
  • Side compartments
  • Handles for the front and read as well as the sides

 

So you have caught the fish but now what? Sure you can put it out of its misery but then you will have blood all over you and your kayak. You can keep it alive but it will be flip flopping everywhere and that surely won’t be a good advertisement to his fishy friends underwater.

The Malibu Stealth 12 is the ultimate kayak in storage capacity for fishing. If you are a fisherman who tends to bring a lot of gear with them it’s a great kayak to stash gear such as tackle, backpacks, fishing crates, multiple Rods as well as a ton more accessories. What is unique about the Malibu Stealth 12 is the fact that it has the capability of having a Live Well to keep either your captured fish or live bait.

This kayak has a lot of compartment room for a fishing kayak  with it’s built in bait tank, side compartments next to the bait tank, front large gator hatch (which can also sit a small child or dog seated on it) and read bungee storage.

It’s 4 rod holders have ideal placement to not get in the way of paddling and also features a paddle holder for when you decide to troll the waters or simply need a break. At 12 feet this is a more manoeuvrable  kayak which would be ideal for trolling lakes and rivers.

 

Pros:

  • This is probably one of the most stable 12’ kayaks 
  • You can easily stand on it and troll with ease
  • If you are a fisherman who likes to use bait, the bait tank will come in real handy!
  • The seating system (sold separately) is also very comfortable
  • The Price is pretty reasonable for the quality you get!

 

Cons:

  • There are not very many cons for this kayak as its is great quality but because it is a 12′ it is not as quick as the 14
  • Does not feature a rudder system
  • X-Seat and Paddle is sold separately unfortunately.

 

Bodies of water:

Great all round kayak because of its sturdiness that can handle calm waters to relatively rough waters. Because of it’s size it is a good kayak to have to battle tidal pulls near coastal waters.

 

 

4. Malibu X Factor

 

Features:

  • Two live tankwells
  • Front and rear child seating areas
  • Gator Hatch
  • Center Hatch
  • Four Fishing Rod Holders
  • Capable of inserting trolling motor
  •  Adjustable foot tracking system
  • Front/Rear/Side Paddle handles
  • Side Paddle Holders
  • Drain Plug in back

 

Want a Stable Fishing Kayak that can handle all that the Ocean can throw at her?

The Malibu X Factor is about as well equipped as they come. In Fact the Malibu X actually makes for a fantastic Scuba Diving Kayak.

One of the more roomy kayaks at 14 feet 4 inches and a maximum capacity of 625 lbs this is a great family fishing kayak that can fit 3 people (preferably 2 of them being children).  This kayak has the most storage room of any of our fishing kayaks with a front rectangular hatch, Center Rectangular hatch, Rear rectangular hatch and the gator hatch! This is a great excursion fishing kayak for long trips that can hold a lot of supplies!

This kayak also has optimum drainage options with 8 scupper holes in the main compartment. This has been called the big man’s kayak because of it’s maximum stability and room.

Because of the stability and size it is the kayak that I would recommend for rougher waters that can handle to chop with relative ease. Within the 3 hatches are 3 dry baskets which can easily be taken out for more room. This kayak is also relatively easily customisable with holes drilled in the back for a rudder system, room for a transducer in the back of the kayak and a pump to transform the front rectangular hatch into a live-well kit. Because of this kayak’s size it is ideal for fishing big ocean game!

 

Pros:

  • Lots of room and weight capacity at 625 lbs.  
  • The 4 large compartments are ideal for storing lots of different items that you would need on fishing trips.
  • This is a great kayak for bigger guys and families as the kayak can hold one adult and 2 children.
  • There are mount inserts for trolling motors if you choose to buy one.
  • Lots of room to stand and troll which is key especially when you are reeling in larger game fish.
  • Great tracking as well.  
  • One of the most stable fishing kayaks out there.

 

Cons:

  • Similar to the Malibu Stealth 14 does not come with an X-Seat and Paddle is sold separately.
  • At 14’ 4 inches it is not the most maneuverable kayak and seems a bit excessive for small rivers.
  • Because of all its built in compartments it is heavier at about 62 lbs.

 

Bodies of Water:

Take this kayak out to sea! I don’t mean paddle to the middle of the ocean but it can handle what the coastal waters throw at it as it tracks well and is very stable. You can take it to calm lakes and rivers as well but I would not use this a navigating kayak through tight zig zaggy river terrain.

 

 

5. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 130x

 

Features

  • Flexpod for electronics
  • Rubber nets on the sides for tackle
  • Carrying Handles
  • Insert that allows for Helix Motor
  • Large dry hatch in the front
  • Smaller round dry hatch in the center
  • Adjustable foot pedals
  • Sturdy built in handles that stay attached to kayak
  • Rear storage with deck lacing
  • Front Slide Trax Accessory system  to allow for customization

 

Need a quick kayak that can handle all that can be thrown at it? The Tarpon 130x is a good candidate for that with quick glide and exceptional stability. It is especially suited to hooking bigger ocean fish as it maintains its stability through your on Seas battle. Some customers even reported that this kayak can battle 30 MPH winds!

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 130x is a good all around fishing kayak that features a good amount of stability, manoeuvrability, speed as well as storage space. Speaking of storage space the Tarpon 130x features a front hatch that has a good amount of storage, as well as a centre compartment for smaller items like tackle and tools.

This Kayak is versatile in that it has the capability to install a fishfinder and a Helix motor at the same time as well as a front and rear slideTrax accessory system along the side to hold the display of you fish finder or any other devices which many anglers alike appreciate. It also can have a rudder installed to it if you choose to go that route.

What is nice about the Tarpon 130x is that it comes with a seat already installed which is vented and comfortable enough for long excursions but cannot be adjusted front and back. Like many fishing kayaks it also features adjustable foot pedals, as well as side and front paddle storage.

 

Pros:

  • The Tarpon 130x is kind of like a jack of all trades of the kayaks which in my mind is a good thing because it does not compromise manoeuvrability, stability or speed.
  • It has more customization than both the Malibu Kayaks with its front and rear slide trax as well as it’s transducer scupper and flex pod removable console for the Helix motor.

 

Cons:

  • Down on speed compared to the Malibu’s,
  • you can stand on the kayak but it is not the easiest thing to do with the center console being rounded and kind of in the way.
  • The boat is also pretty heavy at 72 lbs which is actually heavier than the stealth and X factor and its maximum capacity is at 375 which does not give you as much forgivability like the Hobie’s and Malibu’s.
  • For that matter there is not a lot of Storage room compared to the other 4 boats.

 

Bodies of water:

Good all around kayak good for coastal oceans, Lakes, rivers, pretty maneuverable to you can do smaller river ways as well.

 

 

Best Inflatable Kayaks

One of the biggest drawbacks of having a kayak in the “good old days” or in this case the “not so good old days” was that you needed a place to store your kayak meaning it would just be sitting outside or in the garage for all of the winter months. Worse yet if you lived in an apartment or had no space for a kayak you would have to rack up your credit card “renting” one. Sure $40-$60 a pop is not exactly a monumental expense but if you really enjoyed kayaking you could end up spending close to $1000 a summer just to experience your new loved hobby.

To quote Bob Dylan, “The Times they are a Changin”  it is time to think about getting yourself an inflatable kayak! I see your eyes roll and hey, I get it! Twenty years ago the notion of getting an inflatable kayak meant that you would be paddling an over glorified air mattress that would only last the summer. Well things have changed and inflatable kayaks have taken leaps and bounds over the past 10 plus years.

bets kayaks

The biggest attraction with inflatable kayaks is the fact that they are highly portable and can be stored in any trunk or closet space. But often times people feel that the paddling performance compared to a hardshell will be way off. This is not true as all in fact the best kayak on this list actually uses a lot of principles true to hardshell kayaks but puts it in an inflatable form!

Another big plus with inflatable kayaks is that often times they cost almost Two times less than these hardshell kayak brands which allows you to buy a good quality inflatable kayak for less than $500. Interested? Let’s read on!

If you want to see our updated Guide on just strictly inflatable kayaks you can find it here.

 

Some Inflatable Kayak Considerations.

 

Best Kayaks

 

Portability and weight:
Not all Inflatable Kayaks are created equal as many have different sizes and weights. Meaning some even folded up are bigger and heavier than other types. Usually if you want a longer inflatable kayak that handles like a hard shell it will be heavier and a bit bigger, however if you want something more for leisure there are lots of light weight options for you to choose from.

Speed and Maneuverability:
Some of these kayaks are faster than the others so you really have to ask yourself, what purpose am I using this kayak for? Equally some are also quicker and take after their hard shelled cousins. Similar to hard shelled kayaks shorter kayaks are more manoeuvrable and turn easier while longer ones pick up more speed with good tracking at the cost of manoeuvrability. For beginner paddlers it is generally recommended to get a sturdy more manoeuvrable boat to get used to the way an inflatable kayak handles.

 

How many people do you want in your kayak?:
The last question is how many do you want to fit inside the kayak? Many of these models serves as a multi use purpose for 1 to up to 3 people. As a rule of thumb one person kayaks are generally more manoeuvrable while multi passenger kayaks track better and are quicker.

 

Here are the Best Kayaks that are inflatable

KayakTypeSize (L X W)Weight and Maximum Weight CapacityRating
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak 15' X 32" 52 Lbs and 550 Lbs 9/10
Advanced Elements AE1012-R AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak 10' 5" X 32" 36 Lbs and 300 Lbs 9/10
Sea Eagle Razorlite 393rl Inflatable Kayak with Pro Package 12'10" X 27" 33.5 Lbs and 500 Lbs 9/10
Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Kayak with Deluxe Package 12'5'' X 33.9'' 32 Lbs and 650 Lbs 8/10
AIRHEAD AHTK-2 Montana Performance 2 Person Kayak 12' X Unkown 36.3 Lbs and 500 Lbs 7.5/10

1. Advanced Elements AE 1007-R Advanced Frame Convertible Kayak

 

 

Features

  • Built in bow and stern aluminium rib frame
  • Skeg
  • Carrying bag with maintenance kit pump adaptor and instructions
  • D Rings
  • Velcro paddle holders
  • 2 Seats with re designed higher back for lumbar support
  • Storage behind cockpit
  • High quality military style air valves
  • Rubber handles
  • Made of 600 Denier Polyester Laminate and diamond ripstop material
  • Front deck lacing

Looking for a great quality kayak that does not paddle like an air mattress but can also be a good family vessel? Look no further than the Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Convertible Kayak. Advanced Elements have a unique was of producing kayaks. Almost all of their kayaks feature a built in Aluminum Rib bow and stern frame that makes the kayak look just like a hardshell. As a result this aluminium frame also allows the kayak to paddle like a hardshell kayak. In fact a few customers state that it is faster than many recreational hard shelled kayaks.

The AdvancedFrame Convertible has many add on features that you can buy to customise it to your experience.You can make the Advancedframe Convertible kayak’s performance even better by adding a Drop Stitch Floor or a Backbone to it. The drop stitch floor adds to the kayaks rigidity which makes the kayak more stable while the backbone gives the kayak a keel which is added when you sit in the kayak. This adaptation allows the kayak to track better in the water giving you a better speed. The AE 1007-R also can come in a custom configuration where you can get custom deck lining for expeditions for one or two people.

On top of being performance oriented the AE 1007-R is very tough and can take on many different types of environments including arctic expeditions! This is thanks to it’s 600 Denier Polyester protected with diamond ripstop material. Thats double protection that allows the kayak to take what nature can throw at it including scrapped logs, rocks and other surprises underneath the water. Many people have used this kayak in a wide array of different elements.

A couple of the downsides to the AdvancedFrame Convertible is that a few people complained about the seats being uncomfortable after a certain period of time. A few others complained about the drying time of the AdvancedFrame Convertible being too long compared to other hardshell and inflatable kayaks.

This is a great multi use kayak that is different than many other inflatable kayak manufacturers because of it’s built in aluminium bow and stern. This allows the AE 1007-R to handle more like a hard shell kayak. In fact it can be used as a touring kayak rated for Expedition (Multiple days) or Day touring thanks to it’s high quality build and extra room to comfortably fit two people. At 15 feet and a maximum capacity of 550 lbs it has 3 different seating positions for if you are going solo or tandem.

This kayak is also extremely durable thanks to its 600 Denier Polyester laminate make and protected with diamond ripstop material allowing it to take a beating from rocks and other obstacles. It’s skeg is also extremely durable and can take a beating in shallow waters. The folded size of this kayak is 35” X 21” x 12” that comes in a duffel bag. The set up time once you get the hang of it takes less than 10 minutes.

Many people are often skeptical about getting inflatable kayaks because they picture a kayak that tracks like a pool toy but this kayak is far from it! It tracks extremely well and goes in a straight line, especially when there are 2 people in it. On top of the standard package you can add accessories to this kayak such as a single or double spray deck for more security and to stop water from getting inside. To further improve performance you can add an optional back bone to your kayak.

 

Pros:

  • This Kayak is no toy, it tracks just as well as normal hard shelled kayaks
  • You can use this as a multi day expedition kayak, day kayak or just strictly an expedition kayak.
  • It is extremely durable
  • Tracks well thanks to its stern and it’s aluminium ribs in the bow and stern.
  • The advanced design and 15 foot length make it a great budget touring kayak.

 

Cons:

  • At 52 lbs it is one of the heavier inflatable kayaks a
  • First time setup was a bit tricky but if you follow the instruction manuals it should not be too complicated.
  • Because it is 15 feet it is less manoeuvrable than other inflatable kayaks.
  • Does not include pump.

 

Bodies of Water:

Great all round for lakes, coastal waters (can take some rougher waters) and gliding rivers.

 

 

 

2. Advanced Elements AE1012 Advanced Frame Inflatable Kayak

 

 

Features:

  • Folding Seat
  • Built in Aluminum rib steen and bow
  • Repair Kit
  • Duffel bag
  • D ring tie downs
  • Storage compartment
  • Skeg
  • Front Deck lacing
  • Made of 600 Denier Polyester Laminate and diamond ripstop material
  • High quality military air valves
  • Rubber handles

For people that do not like the AdvancedFrame’s Convertible’s size there is the more compact AdvancedFrame AE1012.
But wait didn’t we already do this kayak? Technically we did! But this is the solo version!

The AE1012 is the perfect size for those who just want to get a solo Day paddle in. Unlike the AdvancedFrame Convertible this is more of a day touring kayak than an actually expedition kayak. This is down the the kayaks limited size. While there is some room to fit gear behind the seat and on the bow deck attached to the deck lacing, there is still not enough for a significant expedition of any sort. It should also be noted that this kayak will feel a bit cramped if you are over 6’0 tall.

Unlike it’s cousin the AE1007 this is a single person kayak that is meant for leisure paddling or day trips. It’s smooth streamline design is great for calmer waters such as lakes bays and calm coastal waters. Like it’s cousin it features many of the same features such as the 600 Denier Polyester, PBC Laminate, electronically welded seams as well as a tracking fin and seat.

This kayak can comfortably fit taller people although not for a long period of time like an expedition journey. This is more of a leisure day trip type of kayak.  There are 3 different air bladders and valves located in this kayak, 2 on the sides and on the floor.

Once you get used to setting it up it can take less than 10 minutes before you are in the water! This kayak is more manoeuvrable and does tighter turns thanks to its shorter frame it can go into smaller waterways like tight rivers or ravines.

It’s protruded skeg helps with tracking which allows it to handle like a smaller hard shelled kayak. It’s length is 10’5 inches, so similar to many kayaks though the longer the length the quicker it goes, the shorter the length the more manoeuvrable it is! Similar to the AE 1007 you can add accessories such as  and added backbone to even further performance, you can add a sail as well as many other features that it’s cousin features.

 

Pros:

  • Tracks and handles just like many hard shelled kayaks it’s size.
  • Great leisure kayak for the day,
  • has a balanced stern 
  • Under 10 minutes to set up.
  • It is light weight at 36 lbs almost anyone can carry it!
  • The seat is very comfortable and comes with a mesh compartment in the back!

 

Cons:

  • Does not have the most space for gear, if that is what you are looking for get the AE 1007.
  • While it does track well it is not as fast as a longer touring kayak.

 

Bodies of water:
Lakes, rivers, winding rivers and calmer coastal waters

See The Full Review Advanced Frame AE1012!

 

 

3. Sea Eagle 393RL Razorlite Inflatable Kayak

 

 

Features

  • Comes with Paddle, Repair Kit, pump and backpack
  • Stainless steel D Rings
  • Large removable skeg to help with tracking
  • Dual enclosed drain valves
  • Three year warranty, 180 day risk free trial
  • Made of decatax reinforced material
  • Foot rest
  • Two carrying handles
  • High Quality Air Valves

If you are looking to travel long distances or get a speedy inflatable kayak this is the one for you. The 393 is a favourite among many inflatable paddlers due to the above fact and the fact it has a great brand name behind it.

The Sea Eagle Razorlite 393rl Inflatable Kayak is of the best kayaks that are inflatable on the market and are made specifically with the intermediate/ Advanced paddler in mind. It is backed by Sea Eagle which is a company that has been making inflatable kayaks since 1968.

They have survived so long because of the durability and high quality of their kayaks. Some examples of this are their high quality decatax material which can withhold scraping pressure and really anything you can throw at it. It can also withhold a higher PSI than other inflatable kayaks that helps with rigidity and the form the the kayak.

Sea Eagle holds a 3 year warranty as well as a 180 day risk free trial with almost all of their products. Let’s get back to the performance of this kayak though. It tracks supremely well through the water!

It cuts through waves brilliantly and can keep up to many hard shelled kayaks in the water making this a good touring kayak to boot. Whats helps the tracking of this boat is the skeg that goes down through is quite large and the double concave shape at the bottom of the kayak which helps it glide through the water with ease!

 

Pros:

  • Tracks very well,
  • Made of high quality decatax, takes around 7 minutes to inflate.
  • Unlike many inflatable kayaks this one actually comes with a paddle! Along with a repair kit, pump and backpack as well.
  • Can keep up with many hard shelled kayaks out there.
  • This kayak’s seat is extremely comfortable and is optimum for long touring trips.

 

Cons:

  • Not the easiest kayak to manoeuver if you are a beginner,
  • It is a Open so you will get wet!
  • Manoeuvrability will be slightly compromised since it is more of a faster touring kayak.

 

Bodies of water:
Lakes, Long wide rivers, Coastal waters, can handle rougher waters as well.

 

See The Full Review on the 393rl 

 

4. Sea Eagles SE 370 Inflatable Kayak

 

 

Features

  • Comes with 2 AB30 Paddles,-2 deluxe inflatable seats, carrying bag,A 41 Foot Pump, inflatable kayak repair kit
  • Five valve uplifted floor construction
  • Two Extremely durable skegs for tracking
  •  Outerskin made of heavy duty k80 pbc material
  • Self bailing drain valve
  • Inflatable spray skirts
The Sea Eagle Deluxe Package

The Starter Package of the Sea Eagle Family, the 370 Deluxe is ideal for folks that are just getting started in their inflatable kayak journey. The Starter Package comes with paddles, inflatable spray skirts,the pump, carry bag and repair kit.

The Sea Eagle Pro Package

The Sea Eagle 370 Pro Package comes with two Deluxe upgraded seats, two paddles, a foot pump, carry bag and repair kit. This is an ideal package for the paddler that wants more seat time for day cruising.

Sea Eagle Sport Fishing Kayak

A one person Fishing kayak, the Sea Eagle 370 Sport Fishing inflatable kayak features a multi purpose storage box that can hold two rods, tackle and minimal fishing gear. Other accessories include one paddle, one seat, a foot pump, carry bag and repair kit. It goes without saying that this kayak is great for the solo fisherman who is on a budget. The Pro and Deluxe Packages would be better equipped to fit two people fishing.

Sea Eagle QuikSail

If you are not enthusiastic about paddling the entire time and letting mother nature take over there is the Sea Eagle Quiksail! The bundle comes with a sail, two paddles, deluxe seats, foot pump, carry bag as well as a small repair kit!

In terms of storage room these are some of the best kayaks to get, they can hold up to 650 lbs of weight with the two person set up. Realistically you can put two adults and a child or dog in the kayak and still have room for a backpack. For those of you wondering why this kayak only made 4th place on this list it’s because of it’s on water performance. While is is a pretty maneuverable kayak it’s I beam floor sits you up higher than normal making it easier to get pushed around by wind.

Not just that but it’s tracking even with the two built in skegs has a lot to be desired truthfully. It is built to be very durable and is even approved for class III waters which few inflatable kayaks would dare tackle.

 

Pros:

  • Very versatile and manoeuvrable and high quality for it’s price.
  • Great recreation kayak comes with 3 different configurations (Pro kayak set up, Sport Fishing Set Up and Quick Sail set up).
  • Comes with Paddles, 2 inflatable seats as well as an air pump and repair kit.
  • Very Stable
  • Durable

 

Cons:

  • Not the best tracking or speed for an inflatable kayak, this is more for day trip type of paddle.
  • Because of it’s 5 valve uplifted tube construction it is a pain to paddle and manoeuvre in really windy conditions because you are high up meaning the wind will push you around a bit.

 

Bodies of water
Calm lakes, rivers and coastal waters, for the day. Go out on a day that is not too windy!

 

 

5. Air Head AHTK-2

 

Montana Inflatable Kayak

 

Features

  • Three valves
  • Three bladder system
  • Seat
  • Skeg-6 D rings
  • Doubles walled to resist punctures
  • Four Carrying handles
  • Footrest

If you are looking to tackle some rapids and rougher river conditions this is a great kayak to get.

It features a tough exterior that can handle most of what natures throws at it including rocks, sunken logs and even cats. The great thing about the Airhead Ahtk-2 is that it has a relatively short setup time of up to a couple of minutes. This makes it the easiest inflatable kayak in this list to set up compared to some of the more complicated models at the top of out list. Still don’t expect any miracles coming out of this kayak in flat water as it will be nowhere close compares to an advanced Elements kayak. It also gets a bit of nose wobble as you continue paddling it.

The Airhead AHTK-2 is a solid stable inflatable kayak that can handle class 2 waters and lakes including rougher waters. It is extremely stable and has low side walls which are handy if you happen to be swimming or diving. You can use this boat for day excursion paddling trips and can comfortably fit 2 people. The seat that comes with the kayak is actually quite comfortable compared to some hard shelled kayaks.

 

Pros:

  • Good one or 2 person kayak,
  • Can handle some white water conditions,
  • Pretty durable as well.
  • This kayak is pretty manoeuvrable to boot!

 

Cons:

  • There have been reports of the skeg being bent when packed into shipping box making it track to one side.
  • Tracking is ok but there are better Inflatable kayaks for tracking.
  • Some reports of water leaking in the floor bladders on long journeys.

 

Bodies of water:
Lakes, surging and tighter rivers. Coastal waters.

 

 

Best Touring Kayaks (or sea kayaks)

Do you know what the worst thing about kayaking is?

The fact that you have to eventually pack up and leave! Who would want to do that honestly! Well, Touring Kayaks are the next best thing! The fact is you will have to leave your perfect water filled oasis at some point but getting a touring kayak gives you the freedom to be able to paddle for days at a time!

best pfd for kayaking. best kayaks
photo by worldwaits

While Touring Kayaks are considerably more expensive than their recreational cousins they are the best way to travel greater distances and see more of your world! Simply put these kayaks are a way to not just a hobby but a lifestyle.

Some Considerations before getting started

best kayaks

 

Now we are getting into the more serious kayaking territory. These kayaks are mostly for people who take this sport seriously and plan to do one day to multiple day trips along the  waters of the coast or bigger bodies of water. These kayaks are typically thinner, less stable and not as manoeuvrable as the kayaks mentioned above but what they lack in stability and manoeuvrability they make up for in speed and cutting through the water like an arrow.

All of the best touring kayaks reviewed in this section are Sit inside kayaks but they range in sizes. Generally if you are looking for a more manoeuvrable kayak, you go shorter but if you are looking for more speed and tracking ability you go for a longer touring kayak. Here are some factors to consider when thinking about what the best touring kayak is for you.

 

Composite or Plastic?
Most touring kayaks are made of either plastic or composite material. Both have advantages and disadvantages that depend mostly on what you value most. If Price point is not a big issue for you and you are a seasoned Paddler who values performance than I would point to the Composite kayaks as they are more lightweight, as well as create less drag meaning a quicker boat.

That being said they are less forgiving, meaning they are much harder to repair because of the material (think of bumping composite material against something hard versus plastic).  Because plastic is more of a flexible material it might bump or scathe but even if it is dented with a hole it is easier to repair. If you are looking for something a bit more cost effective and that you don’t mind sacrificing that small bit of speed for more durability than plastic is most definitely for you.

 

Rudder or Retractable Skeg?
Because Touring kayaks are typically longer than many other types of kayaks they sacrifice manoeuvrability. However there is a way around that and that is get a rudder installed! A rudder helps improve the steering of your kayak by simply using foot pedals or in some cases strings on the side so that you can just focus on paddling while your feet do the steering. The rudder is placed at the very end of the stern and is often retractable for when you just need to go straight.

Retractable skegs are preferable if you are wanting more tracking ability and do not need to do any sudden turns. A real life example of this would be where I live in British Columbia. If you are paddling along the coast in deeper waters you would want to use the skeg as there are no sudden turns but if you going through the Nicklemeckle River and have to dodge parked boats you would use the rudder to manoeuvre around them.

Best Kayaks for Touring

KayakTypeSize (L X W)Weight and Max Capacity
Chatham 16 Composite 16'5" X 22" 46 Lbs and Unknown 9.5/10
Wilderness System Tempest 170 Kayak - Sonar (lime/grey) 17' X 22" 57 Lbs and 325 Lbs 9/10
Necky Eliza Kayak with Rudder Storm, One Size 15' 3'' X 22' 49 Lbs and 225- 275 Lbs 9/10
Riot Kayaks Brittany 16.5 Flatwater Touring Kayak with Skeg and Rudder (Yellow/Orange, 16.5-Feet) 15' 10'' X 21.65" 63.1 Lbs and 250 Lbs 8/10
Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak (Yellow/Orange, 14.5-Feet) 14'16" X 21.6" 60.9 Lbs and 325 Lbs 7.5/10

1. Necky Chatham 16

 

 

Features

  • Made of Carbon Composite material
  • Bow hatch,
  • Stern hatch
  • Mid day hatch
  • Reflective perimeter lines
  • Deck Bungees
  • Grab loop
  • Retractable skeg
  • Seat
  • Three bulkheads

The Necky Chatham 16is the best kayak for rough waters of the sea and coastal areas and can handles most of what nature throws at it. Every detail of this kayak is built to handle rough waters including the upward curved bow which is meant to to sail through waves and prevent it from being submerged.

It’s cockpit is also tight similar to white water kayaks to help with edging in the waters for greater responsiveness in surf and choppy conditions. Because this kayak is so to speak aerodynamic there is little wind resistance which comes hand in hand  usually when there are choppy waters wind follows.

The Kayak features a retractable skeg to help it track in a straight line if there is wind resistance. The skeg is very durable and is made from carbon in case any rocks do happen to get in the way. Some of the other features include the Carbon Composite material it is made of which makes it relatively light weight for a Touring kayak weighing in at about 46 lbs.

The lightweight design also helps with it’s buoyancy. In short this is a great rough water kayak for an advanced paddler! This kayak features 3 dry hatches Including the bow hatch, Stern hatch and mid day hatch for easy accessibility

 

Pros:

  • One of the best if not the best for rough choppy waters and surf.
  • Made of lightweight Carbon material and aerodynamic build allow for maximum buoyancy and little drag from the wind.
  • More manoeuvrable because it is 16’ as opposed to longer 17 and 18 foot kayaks.

 

Cons:

  • Because of its aerodynamic shape there is less room for gear.
  • Yes there are 3 hatches but if the kayak is shallower there will be less room.
  • Not the best kayak to get for beginners as it is build more for advanced paddlers.

 

Bodies of water:
Choppy Coastal waters and surf. This is a great multi day touring kayak that can handle most of the elements thrown at it

 

 

2. Wilderness Systems Tempest 170

 

Features

  • Phase Air Pro XP Seat
  • Adjustable padded thigh braces
  • Bow Hatch
  • Stern Hatch
  • Accessible midday hatch
  • SideLock XL Foot Brace system
  • Bungee Deck lacing
  • Tru Trak Skeg
  • Bow compass Recess accessibility

The Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 is a great all round touring kayak that caters to a bigger audience. This Kayak has good stability without retracting too much performance capabilities making it a great kayak for intermediate paddlers while still holding it’s own in performance that caters to the Advanced paddlers as well.

This make and the Necky are the big two in terms of high quality touring kayaks but they do have their differences. Because the Tempest caters to a wider audience it is more made for all round conditions and does not excel in a particular one like the Necky Chatham. Some of the main differences is that the bow and stern are more prominent when in the water giving this model more storage. When you create more storage room you have to retract a bit of performance in terms of wind drag.

A lot of these details would be relatively insignificant to an intermediate paddler but advanced paddler can tell the difference in terms of handling. The part that really stands out with this kayak are it’s features. It has one of the most comfortable seats that you can buy in a touring kayak which is a huge benefactor when you are going on long touring trips, especially those like myself that sometimes have sore backs because of cheaper seats.

It also features adjustable padded thigh braces that really helps with long trips as sometimes your legs can get a bit bashed up for kayaking long periods of time. Because it is a 17 foot kayak it tracks very well and the drop skeg also helps in windier conditions.

 

Pros:

  • The best comfort kayak of the bunch with its adjustable thigh braces and very comfortable Phase Air Pro XP Seat.
  • It’s edging is forgiving and is pretty stable for a narrow 17 foot boat.
  • It has a fair bit of storage space because of it’s depth which is great if you are bringing a good amount of gear.
  • Great for intermediate to Advanced paddlers who like their comfort.

 

Cons:

  • Because it is more prominent on the surface of the water it creates more wind drag than the Necky Chatham 16.
  • If the water is choppy you will probably get a little wet because of it’s wider cock pit and the fact that the bow cuts through the water rather than staying perfectly on top.

 

Bodies of water:
Bigger Lakes and Rivers, calm to rougher Coastal water with some wind resistance.

 

 

3. Necky Eliza Kayak

 

Features

  • Made of Super Linear (polyethylene)
  • Drop down rudder
  • Bow Dry hatch
  • Stern Dry Hatch
  • Composite baulk heads
  • Bungee Decklines
  • Reflective deck rigging

The Necky Eliza kayak is one of the first of it’s kind. It is a kayak specifically designed for women in mind! With the growing number of female touring paddlers coming out women need something designed more for them as many touring kayaks are designed for average to taller men!

The Necky Eliza is a great touring kayak from a respectable company that has been around the industry for a while who are one of the first to discover this niche. What makes the Necky Eliza better for female paddlers is it’s shorter Length and cock pit designed to stay snug for women ideally 150 lbs and under. The cockpit features a wide hip area and a lower back support system ideally fitted to women. It’s snug cock pit is also easier for them to get in a out of the kayak as opposed to a wider brim that is more designed for men in mind.

The good news for women is that this kayak handles like a true Necky Kayak. It is great for rougher water conditions and even has a drop down rudder to help with manoeuvrability! This Necky is also more forgiving than its composite cousin the Chatham 16 in that it is more durable because of its Polyethylene material allowing it to absorb impact from rocks and other hard things that might try to scrape your kayak.

While it may not be as fast it does handle better than the Chatham 16 because of its rudder and the fact that i is about a foot shorter. Necky has some of the best kayaks and this one is definitely great for women who are serious about their touring kayaks.

 

Pros: Finally a kayak specifically designed for women! Very manoeuvrable and just like any Necky Kayak can handle it’s fair share of rough water! Is also quite durable and the little details such as the rudder and exotic wire cable for the rudder are well made!

 

Cons: Well it’s a great kayak  for women but if you are a taller guy I would steer clear of this as it would be a tight fit! Also lacks a day time storage compartment behind the cockpit that most touring kayaks have..

 

Bodies of water:
Rougher coastal waters as well as windy rivers and lakes.

 

Best Kayaks for Touring Rating: 9/10

 

4. Riot Brittany 16.5 Flatwater touring Kayak

 

Features

  • Tracking skeg
  • Retractable Rudder
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Adjustable thigh braces
  • Bow Dry hatch
  • Stern Dry Hatch
  • Day Touring hatch behind cockpit
  • Bungee deck lacing in the front
  • handles on the bow and deck
  • Interior Gear net
  • Water Bottle Holder

Remember when I said that most touring kayaks either have a retractable rudder or a skeg? Well scrap that sentence for this kayak because it has both! Considered as the best of the rest after Wilderness Systems Tempest and Necky Chatham of the major touring kayak manufacturers the Riot Brittany is still a great option for a great balance for tracking and manoeuvrability.

The Brittany uses the best of best of both worlds with its retractable skeg which gives it great tracking abilities and a rudder which helps the paddler with manoeuvrability to make this a great all conditions type of kayak. Similar to the Wilderness Systems Tempest it comes with adjust ability features such as adjustable foot braces, thigh braces and adjustable seating.

With all this being said it falls short in quality issues as there have been several customer complaints about this kayaks quality such as the rudder being positioned too high which is a problem for steering in choppier waters, The quality of the rudder and cables as well as bulk heads leaking.  The manufacturer offers replacement parts which is good but many of these quality control complaints are not as common with the Necky and Wilderness systems Tempest Kayaks.

 

Pros:

  • Offers the best of both worlds with good tracking with the skeg and good manoeuvrability in calm water with the rudder down.
  • Lots of adjustability features on this kayak including adjustable foot braces and thigh braces as well as an adjustable seat.

 

Cons:

  • Quality control is a bit suspect for certain areas such as the rudder mechanism and and dry hatches.
  • Having said this Riot is under new management so it seems there have been strides of improvement in these areas.
  • Falls a bit short of Necky and Wilderness Systems Tempest kayaks.

 

Bodies of water:
Calm to rougher coastal waters, can also be used in winder rivers and lakes.

 

 

5. Riot Edge 14.5 Flatwater day Touring Kayak

 

Features

  • Deckline bungees
  • Retractable Rudder
  • Custom Seating system
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Drainplug
  • Thigh Braces
  • Bow hatch
  • Stern hatch

The most affordable of our best touring kayaks the Riot Edge is also the shortest at 14.5 feet in length. This is the ideal kayak to use if you are just getting into touring kayaks and want to make the jump from a beginner paddler to an intermediate! Similar to it’s cousin the Brittany it features a retractable rudder, as well as an adjustable seat and adjustable thigh braces. It differs in that this kayak is about 2 feet shorter and therefore is the slowest of the 4 other touring kayaks we have reviewed.

It features a drain plug on the side and stern of the kayak which is handy in that you don’t always have to stand the kayak up to drain. For a smaller kayak it is actually quite roomy and is good for tall thinner people as there is a good amount of ample leg room available.

Unlike it’s cousin it does not feature a Skeg although it’s hard chined hull does give it some tracking ability. This is one of the more stable kayaks which also allows you to lean for better manoeuvrability. Riot states on its website that this is a perfect hybrid of of a touring kayak and a recreational kayak and we couldn’t agree more.

 

Pros:

  • Great Value for it’s price.
  • It is a good middle ground kayak that you can take out to the ocean with somewhat choppy waters to a calm lake.
  • Because of it’s stability it is a great training kayak to go from Beginner to intermediate!
  • More manoeuvrable because of its length.

 

Cons:

  • Because this kayak is a hybrid between recreational and touring kayak it takes a little more effort to keep up to the bigger 16’ and 17’ touring kayaks.
  • It is good for some chop but I would not chance it in really wavy conditions.
  • Ideally this is a good bigger lake kayaks.

 

Bodies of water:

Calm to smaller waved coastal waters, lakes. Because if it’s smaller length and it’s rudder it can be used in winding rivers, not white water conditions though.

 

Best Recreational Kayaks

So you want to get into the water but have barely any kayaking experience? Sure you can rent but you are then restricted to lakes and bays that have rental stations! There is a better solution..

 

Grab yourself a recreational kayak and you are ready to go! Recreational kayaks are designed for people who are just starting out and have little experience kayaking. They are designed for the casual floater in mind and are geared more towards stability and user friendliness than other kayaks such as touring/ sea kayaks. These kayaks often feature drink holders, ample room for cargo and some can even give you enough room to bring coolers, bags and other accessories. If any of these fall under a category that sounds like you then a Recreational Kayak is what you are looking for.

Some Considerations for Recreational Kayaks

Best Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are usually kayaks that are made for people who are just getting into kayaking or want some of the creature comforts such as drinks snacks or even a companion or two to go along with you.

While not the fastest kayaks these boats are built to be steadier and wider than a lot of other kayaks so that it is completely hassle free to get in and out. These are usually some of the best kayaks for beginners to start in. In this section I have included a wide range of different kayaks because really “recreational” is a pretty broad term and different people might be using these for different purposes in mind. Below are some criteria to keep in mind when you are choosing a recreational kayak

 

Sit on top or sit in?

best kayaks
Both have different advantages although typically sit on top kayaks are more stable. Sit on Top kayaks are great for for summer like conditions where you don’t mind getting wet.

The sit in kayaks are better for coastal conditions where the water is cold and it keeps you mostly dry. Typically Sit on top kayaks have more room to store stuff such as coolers, food, back packs ect. Infact because of this many fisherman both professional and casual alike prefer sit on top kayaks because of the variety of options they can do one an open deck.

 

What are you using it for?
The term “Recreational” is a pretty broad term so you have to ask yourself what uses are you going to be using this kayak for? To answer this question you first have to ask yourself how much gear will you be bringing along? If you are planning to have a long casual day on the lake and you intend to bring a cooler of beers to share with friends(Who doesn’t like a nice beer on the lake!) or other beverages and snacks you are best to go with a sit on top kayak just because there is more room and less confinement to that of a sit in.

If you plan to do say a day trip with a back pack and want to stay sheltered from the elements and want to keep yourself and your gear dry it is wise to get a sit inside.

A growing trend is to paddle with your 4 legged friend! If you are both new to this get a sit on top kayak that is stable until both of you start getting the hang of paddling. Another key issue you have to ask yourself is how are you getting it to the water? If you have a small car and don’t want to invest in a roof rack then it is likely that you will be purchasing an inflatable kayak. However if you have a roof rack and you are just planning on going by yourself it is smart to get a lighter weight kayak to ease the burden of carrying it.

Best Kayaks for Recreation of 2017

KayakTypeSize (L X W)Weight and Weight CapacityRating
Dagger Kayaks Axis 12.0 Kayak, Blue 12' X 27.5" 55 Lbs and 350 Lbs 9/10
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak 15' x 32" 52 Lbs and 550 Lbs 9/10
Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak, Cloud 10' X 28.5" 47Lbs and 275-325 Lbs 8/10
Point 65 N Martini GTX Tandem Modular Kayak-Red 13.6' X 27.5" (Tandem Set up) 77 Lbs and 530 Lbs 8/10
Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top 8 Foot Kayak, Red 8' X 31.5' 39 Lbs and 240 Lbs 7.5/10

 

1. Dagger Axis 12.0 Kayak

 

Features

  • Deck rigging bungees
  • Carrying handles on each side
  • Contour CFS-R Seating system
  • Contour thigh/ knee pad
  • Stern bulkhead
  • Trutrak adjustable skeg system
  • Stern hatch for dry storage

The Dagger Axis 12.0 is one of the best kayaks for recreational use that is a bit of a hybrid of a touring kayak. This kayak provides the best of both worlds with its narrower frame and it’s stability. This hybrid recreational kayak is great for people who want to travel greater distances but want the options of a sportier kayak at a decent price. It has the best tracking of any of our Recreational kayaks in this section with it’s Trutrak adjustable skeg which is found in many high quality touring kayaks.

What also makes this a good hybrid is the features found within the kayak. It is a very comfortable ride with it’s featured CFS-R Seating system and its contour thigh and knee pads that allows you to get good edging out of the kayak.

This is definitely a one person kayak for minimal gear such as a backpack and maybe a few snacks for the road. I would recommend this kayak for people who are starting to get serious about travelling long distances but do not fully want to commit the space constraints of a touring kayak.

 

Pros:

  • Great performance kayak, the best touring/ Recreation hybrid on our list.
  • There are many positive reviews by people who own this kayak because of it’s quality.
  • Trutrak skeg makes this the best tracking recreational kayak on our list.
  • Can handle a variety of different conditions including some white water conditions

 

Cons:

  • Not the most manoeuvrable recreational kayak because it is a touring hybrid,
  • Not the best kayak for bringing a lot of gear or your dog.
  • After long periods of use the footpegs have been known to break but are easily repairable.
  • Not the easiest kayak to carry by yourself as it weighs 65 lbs.

 

Bodies of Water:

An all round conditions kayaks. Because it is partially enclosed it can handles rougher coastal waters but is also at home on calm to rough lakes and rivers.

 

 

2. Advanced Elements AE 1007 -R Advanced Frame Convertable Kayak

 

Features

  • Built in bow and stern aluminium rib frame
  • Skeg
  • Carrying bag with maintenance kit pump adaptor and instructions
  • D Rings
  • Velcro paddle holders
  • Two Seats with re designed higher back for lumbar support
  • Storage behind cockpit
  • High quality military style air valves
  • Rubber handles
  • Made of 600 Denier Polyester Laminate and diamond ripstop material
  • Front deck lacing

If you are reading this guide you will surely recognise the name of this kayak. That’s because it’s featured in our best inflatable kayaks list! Because Recreational kayaks can mean a lot of different things I decided to put this one on the list because it handles like many hard shelled kayaks but can be deflated and stuffed in a bag! This is a great selling feature for those who have limited space like the growing number of us downsizing. Just because you live in an apartment or townhouse does not mean you should be excluded from the joys of paddling a good quality kayak!

This kayak offers a variety of different options to the paddler including 3 person paddling capabilities( Preferably 2 adults one child) or you can simply transform it into a single person touring kayak. You can even add a sail to it if you get tired for paddling with the wind! One of the biggest deterrents for people buying an inflatable kayak is its tracking abilities but this one is an exception! With its 15 foot length frame and it`s tracking fin landing plate as well as the aluminium ribbing to help this kayak keep it’s shape.

The great thing with this kayak is that it can have a lot of different optional accessories added to it including single or double spray deck, added back bone to increase its rigidity as well as foot pegs and a kayak dolly. To find out more details about this kayak see our best inflatable kayaks section. This is the one of the best kayaks in this section in terms of storage space.

 

Pros:

  • This Kayak is no toy, it tracks just as well as normal hard shelled kayaks,
  • You can use this as a multi day expedition kayak, day kayak or just strictly an expedition kayak.
  • It is extremely durable and tracks well thanks to its stern and it’s aluminium ribs in the bow and stern.
  • The advanced design and 15 foot length make it a great budget touring kayak.

 

Cons:

  • At 52 lbs it is one of the heavier inflatable kayaks
  • First time setup was a bit tricky but if you follow the instruction manuals it should not be too complicated.
  • Because it is 15 feet it is less manoeuvrable than other inflatable kayaks.
  • Does not include pump.

 

Bodies of Water: Great all round for lakes, coastal waters (can take some rougher waters) and gliding rivers.

 

 

3. Old Town Vapor 10 Recreational

 

Features

  • Adjustable Comfort Flex seat
  • Glide track foot brace system
  •  Stern day well
  •  Molded in Cockpit tray with cup holder
  • Carry handles
  • Molded in paddle rest
  • Thigh pads
  • Drain plug
  • Skid Plate

The Old Town Vapor 10 is what you would picture when people utter the words “Recreation Kayak” however there is a model similar to this called the Vapor 10 Angler which is specifically meant for fishing. Old Town is a reputable brand that has been around for a while and the vapor 10 is one of their best sellers.

This is a stable little kayak which is a great little boat for first time paddlers. This is a kayak that you can kind of fool around with in the sense that it has room for a small cooler for those who like their lake beers or beverages in the day well located at the stern.

Because of it’s 10’ frame the Old Town Vapor 10 maneuvers pretty well  which would make it a good choice for winding rivers or bodies of water that would need some manoeuvrability. The tracking on this kayak is ok. Definitely not the best tracking in our recreational kayaks list because of it’s hull design. Despite not having any hatches there is a lot of room in the cockpit which can be a bit of a blessing and a curse.

The open cockpit design is great if you want to paddle with a small child or want to fit something like a backpack inside however if you do not like getting wet I would consider a spray skirt or perhaps another kayak as you will get wet. In short this is a great summertime recreational paddling kayak for people just getting into kayaking.

 

Pros:

  • Very stable,
  • lots of open room within the cockpit to fit a small child or dog.
  • Very light at 47 lbs meaning this would be a good kayak to purchase if you were just going out alone on the water.
  • This kayak is also very manoeuvrable and turns very well!
  • If you are a beginner to kayaking I would consider this boat.
  • Affordable for it’s quality.

 

Cons:

  • No dry storage,
  • complaints about the seat being a bit uncomfortable.
  • The kayak tracks okay but this is not the model to get if you are looking for speed.

 

Bodies of water:
Winding rivers, Bays, lakes and calmer coastal waters where the tide is settled.

 

 

4. Point 65 Martini GTX Modular Kayak

 

 

 

Features

  • Two Seat Pads
  • Front middle and rear pieces of the kayak
  • Integrated rudder
  • Padded thigh braces
  • Front and Rear Hatches
  • Adjustable foot pedals

If you are not crazy about the inflatable kayak idea but still want a fully versatile kayak that can seat one or two people without compromising a lot performance look no further! To explain a little bit a modular kayak is a kayak that comes apart into 3 pieces to allow it to transform into a solo or tandem set up by simply using a snap tap system where the tabs slide into the ratchets on either side of the hull of the kayak. There is a small amount of play when on the water but it does not seem to affect performance in any such way.

It can be assembled either on land or in the water as all 3 pieces are self floating. It features an adjustable seating back that can be inflated with a little side pump to help with lumbar support and can be adjusted up or down depending on the paddlers size. This modular kayak also features a built in rudder system which is controlled by adjustable foot pedals to adjust to the paddlers size.

Ok we have talked about what the kayak`s features now let’s talk about performance. The Point 65 Martini is a very stable kayak that tracks fairly well for a flat bottomed kayak. Because of its built in rudder it is fairly manoeuvrable. The kayak also comes with a fair sized stern dry hatch and a smaller bow dry hatch for smaller items. This is a great kayak to own if you you have a hatchback, SUV or pickup truck and want the the benefits of a hard shell kayak.

 

Pros:

  • Quick assembly, Comfortable seating,
  • Great in terms of storage.
  • One of its strengths is the stability of the kayak.
  • This would be a great beginner kayak.

 

Cons:

  • There are better recreation kayaks in terms of tracking and performance because of the flat hull of this kayak.
  • Not a ton of room in the front storage hatch.
  • The snap tap system can get a bit of getting used to for assembly and disassembly.

 

Bodies of Water
Clear lakes, Rivers , calmer coastal waters.

 

 

5. Emotion Spitfire 8

 

Features

  • CRS Padded backrest
  • Rear Tankwell with bungee lacing
  • Molded in paddle inserts and side handles
  • Front and Rear carrying handles
  • Molded in footwells
  • Scupperholes

This is the shortest recreational kayak in this section at 8 feet which also means it is the most manoeuvrable. The emotion Spitfire 8 is great at manoeuvring in tight places and is the ideal kayak to go through windy rivers and shallower waters.

It is also very stable for people under 200 lbs weight limit. I have read complaints about people being over 250 lbs and the kayak being unstable and submerging. Therefore I would stick with about 200 lbs for this little boat.

This is a good kayak for people just getting into the sport and want to work on paddling ability. Because it is an 8 foot kayak it’s tracking abilities are not the best but that is to be expected out of an 8 foot boat. So don’t expect to keep up with your friends that have longer and narrower kayaks! This is the most affordable kayak on the Best Recreational kayaks list.

It has decent storage space for an 8 foot kayak with a decent seized tankwell at the stern of the boat that can hold life jackets backpacks or perhaps even a small cooler (try not to load it to much).

It’s small 8 foot frame can be stored into a hatchback car or SUV if the seats go down. This is a good kayak for beginner kayakers learning to paddle at a very affordable price. One of the best kayaks for manoeuvrability

 

Pros:

  • Very manoeuvrable and can operate in shallower water with relative ease.
  • Very affordable price point.
  • Great beginner kayak to help sharpen your paddling skills.
  • Good stability if you are under 200 lbs with gear.

 

Cons:

  • This is definitely a kayak not for the larger fellows .
  • It’s tracking is not the greatest but that is to be expected out of most 8 foot kayaks.
  • Not a kayak to take out in the big waves of the coastal ocean.

 

Bodies of water:

Tight rivers, shallow bays, lakes sheltered coastal waters. Anywhere with calm waters.

 

 

Best Sit On Top Kayaks

 

Looking for a good recreational boat that is easy to get in and out of the water? A Sit On Top Kayak would be your best choice. As a rule of thumb Sit on Top Kayaks are generally built to be more stable which makes them a great kayak for beginners who do not have the feel of kayak stability on the water. Often times SIt On Top Kayaks make the best fishing kayaks because of their stability and in some models you can even stand without much of a problem.
One of the best things about Sit On Top Kayaks is the fact that they are very adaptable to a wide variety of different environments. Sit on Top Kayaks can easily be as home in a river as they can be on the ocean. When looking at where you want your SIt On Top Kayak to go it is best to look at what type of Hull it has. If the Bow and Stern are pointed it usually indicates that the kayak has some good tracking capabilities. Rounder Hulls will make the kayak more maneuverable but less tracking making them less than Ideal for environments that require a lot of paddling such as oceans.

Some Considerations

Best Kayaks

We have already reviewed some sit on top kayaks in the various best kayak categories but now we will be going into what are the best all around sit on top kayaks to consider.

Sit on Top Kayaks come in a wide range of sizes, weights and designs each with different purposes in mind. Generally you pick these types of kayaks if you have a good amount of gear and also easy accessibility to grab your gear. These are also the kayaks you generally choose if you want to go fishing or diving. Below we have a set of criteria to help you decide what is the best Sit On Top kayak to fit your needs.

best kayaks

What type of paddling will you be doing?

If you are planning on fishing (see our fishing category for specialised kayaks) you would like something more stable. If you plan on doing some longer distance travelling it would be wise to get a longer kayak with good tracking!

If you are just visiting a smaller body of water or windy rivers you would want something more manoeuvrable and therefore shorter. If you are planning on tackling some rougher waters try to shoot for a stable kayak.

 

What type of Gear if any are you bringing along?

If you want certain things such as back packs and food in a bag to be dry you would look for dry hatches that are water proof. If you are a minimalist that is paddling for a few hours you wouldn’t really need such a feature and can just have a live well that would fit life jackets. Many people like to rig their kayaks with features such as coolers rod holders, navigation or even a small motor! Sit on tops are usually more versatile in terms of options you can do with you and your gear and some companies have specialised rigs that help with this.

Best Kayaks to Sit On Top of 2017

KayakTypeSize (L X W)Weight and Maximum CapacityRating
Malibu Kayaks Stealth 12 Fish and Dive Package Sit on Top Kayak, Sand 12' 4" X 33" 55Lb and 450 Lbs 9/10
Pelican The Catch 120 Kayak 11' 8" X 34" 69 Lbs and 400 Lbs 8.5/10
Malibu Kayaks Mini-X Standard Package Sit on Top Kayak, Mango, 9' 3" X 33.5" 40 Lbs and 325 Lbs 8.5/10
Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak, Sunrise 9' X 31" 44 Lbs and 275-325 Lbs 8.5/`0
Lifetime Tamarack Sit-On-Top Kayak, Tan 10' X 31" 52 Lbs and 275 Lbs 8/10

1. Malibu Stealth 12

 

Features

  • Bow and Stern Handles
  • Bow Gator Hatch
  • Front Rod Holders
  • Rear Rod Holders
  • Center Bait tank
  • Drain Plug
  • Rudder Mount
  • Trolling motor mount inserts
  • Side hatches

The Malibu Stealth 12 is a great fish and dive kayak, in fact we feature it’s cousin The Malibu 14 in our best kayaks for fishing section! The Malibu 12 is a great all round kayak too which is why I decided to put it in the best sit on top kayaks section. It is an extremely sturdy kayak with grippy material on the centre bait tank that is meant to be stood on. It also has a enough room to fit a small child or dog sitting on the gator hatch!

Lets talk about these storage compartments. There is giant gator hatch storage compartment that is secured by 4 handles and has 4 bungees are on the top to hold the paddle. There is, as mentioned before a centre bait tank that can be used for a variety of different uses other than bait. If you do choose to put bait in it there is a plug that connects to the scupper hole that would allow for a small amount of water to get inside, however you would have to buy a separate pump to turn it into an effective bait tank.

There are also 2 extra side compartments next to the bait tank where you can put smaller accessories in. It also has an open storage compartment in the back for something like a cooler or a backpack that is laced with bungees.

There are a lot of different accessories and options that you can mount onto this kayak including a trolling motor, fish finders, rod holders as well as rudder installation! Because this is a fishing kayak it has 4 built in rod holders, 2 in the front and 2 in the back! The Malibu Stealth 12 also has a bit of performance to her as the front skeg is a deep V hull which allows it to track straighter than a lot of sit on top kayaks.

 

Pros:

  • Tracks well for a 12 foot kayak,
  • Lots of storage capabilities,
  • Lots of different accessories that can be added to this kayak.
  • Very stable and it is encouraged to stand on top of it.
  • Makes a great fishing or destination kayak.
  • Especially great for divers.

 

Cons:

  • Does not come with the fully adjustable X seat,
  • Capacity is only 450 lbs so room for you and a small child or dog.

 

Bodies of Water:
This Kayak can handle a lot of different conditions such as coastal surf (You will get wet!), calmer coastal inlets, bays, lakes and rivers!

 

 

2. The Pelican Catch 120

 

Features

  • Adjustable foot rests
  • Ergocast seating system
  • Tankwell with bungees
  • Two rod holders
  • Four scupper plugs included
  • Decent sized quick lock hatch
  • Two accessory eyelets
  • Stand assist strap
  • Bow and stern handles
  • Two paddle tie downs

Another great all purpose recreational and fishing kayak the Pelican Catch 120 is a wider kayak that allows for great stability even when standing up, in fact you can even stand and paddle this boat! It features a big front hatch that has enough room to store rods, bags or anything else you would like to bring on your excursion.

Unlike the Malibu Stealth 12 this kayak features a wide hull which is ideal for calmer lake conditions. Despite its wide hull tracks fairly well and manoeuvres decently.If you are looking for a kayak that you can take your dog out in this would be a good one because of its stability.

It’s also a good kayak for taller people with the help of it’s adjustable foot pegs and adjustable seating system. The seat can be adjusted to 2 seating positions (high and low) by loosening it’s strap and dropping it down.This kayak features some storage space in the stern of the kayak for a backpack or even cooler if you remove the bungees.

Some additional features of this kayak include a paddle holder on either side of the boat just in front of the seat, it also features bungee holders on each side of the kayak to hold rods or your paddle as well. Comes with a stand up strap to help with stability.

 

Pros:

  • For a wide hulled kayak it keeps up pretty well with other narrower kayaks.
  • It’s a smaller price point than a lot of other fishing kayaks that has it’s features.
  • Comes with comfortable Ergocast Seating system which can adjust high and low.
  • It’s stability is great as well!

 

Cons:

  • Does not come with the option to install a rudder.
  • Because of the wide hull it’s tracking can use a bit of improvement.
  • There are sit on top kayaks that have more storage space readily available.

 

Bodies of water:
Calmer waters or bays, lakes, Calmer coastal bays. Can handle some wind resistance and waves but would not use this boat to take out in the surf.

 

 

 

3. Malibu Mini X Fish and Dive

 

 

Features

  • Drain Plug
  • Bow and Stern handles
  • Side handles
  • Rear Bungee Storage
  • Cup holder
  • Adjustable foot pedals
  • Eight scupper holes (4 in front 2 in rear)

 

This is a great quality kayak that was made for manoeuvrability! While the standard package does offer less in terms of dry storage capabilities to it’s cousin the Stealth 12 and 14(unless you customise it to be) it still has the same amount of quality in terms of actual performance with it’s stable platform and it’s V hull shape that cuts through the water.

Usually smaller kayaks shy away from choppier water conditions but the Malibu Mini X exceeds in it making it a fun little kayak to play in the surf! This kayak can also handle a surprising amount of weight for it’s 9’ 3’’’ length with a maximum capacity of 325 lbs. If you are a bigger or taller person but want a high quality manoeuvrable kayak this is the one for you.

This sit on top kayak is classified as more of a recreation kayak because it is made for shorter paddling distances. That and the fact that it is 9 feet long would mean you would have to spend more energy paddling than those folks in longer kayaks  but that is a pretty standard rule. While the Mini X standard does not have too many features it can be customised to have dry hatches or even have a fishing set up although if you are going to buy a kayak for purely fishing reasons I would spend the extra money and get a Stealth 12 or 14.

As stated in the beginning an area where this kayak shines is manoeuvrability! It can turn better than most kayaks out there and thanks to its V shaped Hull it can effectively deflect chop from wavy waters. This kayak is a real light weight (in the good kind of way!) and only weighs 40 lbs! It’s short length also makes it easy to throw this kayak in the back of a pickup truck or van! One of the best kayaks for Manoeuvrability.

 

Pros:

  • One of the most manoeuvrable kayaks on this whole list.
  • It takes on waves better than most kayaks it’s size because of its V shaped hull which cuts through the chop.
  • Lightweight and compact meaning you can throw it in a pickup truck back of a station wagon or van.
  • It’s 325 maximum capacity is great for taller or bigger people that want a manoeuvrable kayak.

 

Cons:

  • Does not have the hatches that it’s Stealth 12 and 14 cousins have included.
  • Also does not include a seat.
  • The tracking is not the greatest but that is simply because of the size of this little kayak.  
  • Because you are seated up relatively high in the kayak the wind will push you a bit.

 

Bodies of Water:

Can handle choppy waters and surf quite well. Windy Coastal waters , lakes, windy tight rivers.

 

 

4. Ocean Kayak Frenzy

 

 

Features

  • Comfort Plus Seat back
  • Front and Rear Tankwells
  • Cup holder
  • Front and rear carrying handles
  • Side carrying handles
  • Skid plate
  • Threaded hull drain plug
  • Molded in footwells
  • Four scupper holes

Similar the the Mini X this kayak is only 9’ long and is a great kayak for rougher waters, specifically ocean and coastal conditions for small to medium surf. It’s stability is excellent with it’s featured specialised tri-form hull which gives it a great blend of tracking speed and manoeuvrability that is very impressive for a smaller kayak. Despite it’s suggested 275-325 maximum capacity it is more comfortable for skinnier people because of it’s narrow insert in the middle.

It features 2 tank wells at the hull and stern and has a comfortable seat that is included. The Ocean Kayak frenzy weighs about 4 lbs more than the mini X but is around $200 cheaper!

This is a good all round model for both beginner and experienced paddlers who want a solid combination of stability and manoeuvrability at an affordable price point. One of the surprising things about this kayak is that the tracking was great for a kayak of it’s size. Thanks to its full length keel design. It must be said that the hull of the kayak was very well designed.

 

Pros:

  • Great for rougher waters such as coastal areas,
  • Can take waves well,
  • Has great tracking for a smaller boat,
  • Solid stability (read some reviews).
  • Very manoeuvrable

 

Cons:

  • It’s an okay kayak for calmer waters but there are better because it requires more effort to paddle a smaller kayak.
  •  No dry storage room which would be an asset for a kayak meant for rougher waters.

 

Bodies of water:

Rougher coastal waters, windy conditions. Can be used in stiller waters but requires more effort to paddle.

 

 

5. LifeTime Tamarack 120’’ Kayak

 

Features

  • Folding Seatback
  • Front, rear Open well bungee storage
  • Paddle cradle
  • Multiple molded in footrest positions
  • Stern storage hatch
  • Cup holder
  • Front and rear carrying handles

This is a good kayak for the beginner to occasional recreational paddler as seen by the cup holder in front of the seat! It is a lightweight kayak at 50 lbs which means that it can simply be carried by one person for easy transportation. Because it is built with the beginner to occasional paddler in mind it is very stable but has a unique kind of W hull design that allows it to be sleek while keeping stable.

The kayak is constructed with high density double walled polyethylene plastic construction which is durable and it’s bright color is UV protected to fight against fading.

This kayak has some storage capabilities with a small dry hatch towards the back of the seat and cargo wells in the bow and stern of the boat. For it’s price this kayak tracks pretty well thanks to it’s deep hull channels. This kayak is also equipped with 6 well placed scupper holes and plugs that allows for water to drain out.

 

Pros:

  • Well constructed kayak at an affordable price.
  • Has a 5 year limited warranty.
  • Tracks well and has pretty responsive manoeuvring.
  • Has a good amount of open storage room on the front and rear of boat.
  • Light weight which is perfect if you are heading out on the water by yourself.
  • Stability is great which makes this a good beginner or recreational boat.

 

Cons:

  • Not a lot of area for dry storage, the maximum capacity is 275 lbs so I would not recommend this kayak to heavier or bigger people.

 

Bodies of water:

Coastal bays that have calmer waters, lakes and windy rivers.

 

 

Best Tandem Kayaks

To Consider one of these kayaks you must first consider how well both of you work together. If there are frequent arguments between you two then don’t get a tandem kayak. Tandem Kayaks are affectionately known as “divorce boats” because if you and your friend/ partner cannot work together then you will have a tough time starting out on the water, especially if you have never kayaked before.

There are many different types of tandem kayaks so we highlighted the different kinds there are. We will tackle the whole subject of tandem kayaks on it’s own later on but for now here what to look for.

Some Factors to Consider

best kayaks

Tandem Kayaks or 2 person kayaks are a great way to get out on the water with a significant other or a friend without having to worry about getting an extra kayak. Tandems can be a bit tricky to get used to at first but once you paddle in unison and have good communication as to where to go and what route to take it almost becomes second nature after a bit of practice! Before you decide to get into tandem kayaking it is important to consider these issues first.

best kayaks

Maximum Capacity of the Kayak
One of the first things to consider with tandems along with any other type of kayak is who and what are going to be in the kayak? First you have to figure out what both of your combined weight is and then consider how much gear you will be bringing along. You also have to consider storage space on the kayak if you do plan to bring a lot of gear. Some of these kayaks feature dry hatches which is perfect if you do not want things such as cameras or other valuables to get soaked.  Make sure before purchasing any kayak you consider these things.

 

Where and what are you using the kayak for?
I made sure when making this to list kayaks that range in paddling abilities. If you are new to tandem kayaking or just kayaking in general it is wise to invest in a stable boat that is more forgiving. If you are more experienced you would like a boat that has more performance and manoeuvrability to go with your skill. Another thing to consider is where are you paddling and what will the conditions of the water? Generally sit on top kayaks are great for warmer, calmer and casual conditions (unless you plan to hit some coastal surf and don’t mind getting a bit wet!) Sit in Kayaks generally are for more experienced paddlers in tougher conditions because you have to learn how to get in and out of Eskimo rolls. Sit in kayaks are generally a bit less stable as well and unison work is a key skill to develop when riding in these kayaks.

Best Kayaks that are Tandem for 2017

KayakTypeSize (L X W)Weight and Weight CapacityRating
Perception Pescador 13.0 T Tandem Kayak, Seaspray 13' X 34" 69 Lbs and 500 Lbs 9/10
Malibu Kayaks Pro 2 Tandem Recreation Package Sit on Top Kayak, Yellow 13' X 33" 57 Lbs and 550 Lbs 9/10
Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak, Sunrise 12' X 34" 57 Lbs and 375-425 Lbs 8.5/10
Aquaglide Columbia XP Two Inflatable Kayak-Blue/White 15' X 36" 42 Lbs and 600 Lbs 8/10
Lifetime Manta Tandem Sit on Top Kayak with Paddles and Backrests, 10 Feet, Yellow 10' X 36" 65 Lbs and 500 Lbs 8/10

 

1. Perception Pescador 13.0 T Tandem Kayak

 

Features

  • Comfort Seating System (2 Seat backs)
  • Molded in Footwells
  • Bow Hatch
  • Stern Hatch
  • Bow Tankwell with Bungees
  • Stern Tankwell with bungees
  • Handles on bow, stern and sides of kayak
  • Three cup holders
  • Six scupper holes

The Perception Pescador 13.0 T is a great transformation kayak that allows you to have the option of doing the paddling for one person or 2! The seats in the Pescador are located towards the stern and the middle of the kayak to make this a great 2 in 1 kayak.

This kayak offers a great mixture of performance and stability that can be found in these types of kayaks. Perception are a brand that are know for making some of the best kayaks in the world (in fact they pioneered the plastic kayak!). They have been around for 40 years so you can bet they have learned a thing or two about many different styles of kayaks.

Back to the performance and stability this kayak tracks well for a 13’ tandem kayak and outperforms many top brands in this category thanks to its v shaped hull.

It is also pretty stable and can take on a maximum capacity of 500 and you can easily stand or lean in this kayak making this a pretty decent fishing kayak as well. The only downside to that being that there are no rod holders to place your fishing rod although you can place it in one of the tank wells. The Perception 13 T has 2 compartments for dry storage in the front/middle and the bow of the boat for smaller items that you would not want to get wet. There are some customizability that you can do as well for this boat. It is easily customizable with Harmony Gear.

 

Pros:

  • Good 2 in 1 kayak allowing for single or double paddling capabilities.
  • Has a great balance of stability and tracking.
  • Proven reputable brand.

 

Cons:

  • Not a lot of dry storage, and does not come with a lot of extras.

 

Bodies of water:

Calm to medium coastal waters, can handle swells well but would not use this as a surfing kayak. Great for lakes or rivers as well.

 

 

2. Malibu Pro 2 Tandem Fish and Dive Kayak

 

 

Features

  • Drain Plug
  • Front Bungee Storage
  • Molded footrests
  • Front Round hatch
  • Six Rod Holders
  • Center Rectangular hatch
  • Bungee holder for paddle
  • Rear Bungee Storage
  • Bow and Stern Handles

As you can tell this website really likes it’s Malibu kayaks because well.. They are just so functional and one of the best kayaks on the market! If you want a good combination of lots of capacity with some performance behind it. It is one of the narrower of the boats featured on our best tandem kayaks list which means it tracks very well.

Of course as many of you know by now the narrower the boat the less stable it is so I would stay clear if you are using this as a first tandem kayak. As you can tell by the title this is a fish and dive package which is great for you guessed it.. Fisherman and divers.

With 6 featured rod holders, 2 round dry hatches and one large rectangular dry hatch in the middle along with a small amount of space in the bow and stern bungees it can carry a lot of gear and along with many other fishing kayaks it can be fully customised with Malibu or do it yourself accessories.

This kayak handles well in a variety of different conditions including all round coastal ocean play, Lakes and rivers. It’s 550 Lb weight capacity is one of it’s advantages as it can fit 2 adults and some gear, or even one person with lots of gear and a child. While you can paddle with rover on here I would not put a first time paddling canine companion on the boat simply because of stability issues. Malibu makes some of the best kayaks in terms of space and functionality.

 

Pros:

  • Great kayak if you want a good blend of performance and room to fit lots of gear along with another person.
  • One of the best tandem fishing kayaks you can get due to storage area and 6 rod holders.
  • Tracks well in a variety of different conditions.
  • You can add a lot of different accessories.

 

Cons:

  • Not the best first time tandem kayak due to lower stability from the other kayaks we have reviewed.
  • Does not come with Seats or paddles.

 

Bodies of Water:
All round conditions Good for coastal oceans, Lakes, rivers, bays and inlets.

 

 

3. Ocean Kayak Malibu Two

 

 

Features

  • Two Comfort Plus seats
  • Three molded in seatwells
  • Gear straps
  • Overlapping footwells
  • Molded in handles
  • Skid plate


The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two is a great kayak for recreational use or beginners getting used to tandem paddling. A lot of people call it the swiss army knife of kayaks because it handled a variety of conditions well.

It can be put in calmer waters or handle swells that come its way. Similar to it’s manufacturer name it can also handle Oceans surprisingly well but just be prepared to get a bit wet! It comes with 2 comfort plus seats that can be rearranged as a tandem for 2 smaller adults, 1 person or one person 1 kid.

If you have 2 smaller adults you place the seats toward the bow and stern. If you are paddling a one person you can hook the one seat towards the middle. If you have a child or dog who is a passenger you can have the seat positioned in the middle and stern of the boat.

When I say 2 smaller adults I mean 2 adults that do not weigh more than 375 lbs combined because that is it’s maximum capacity.

There have been a couple of complaints that it is even less which which drops the boat further into the water making it harder to paddle and steer. So ideally this is a great boat for an adult and a child. This is definitely the minimalists kayak as there is not a lot of room for storage.

Ocean Kayak does allow You the option to install 3 round gaspachi hatches at the bow, stern and center of the boat though. To summarise this is one of the best kayaks for a wide variety of conditions, However does not fully excel in certain conditions.

 

Pros:

  • Multiple differing seating positions possible for this kayak.
  • Great for recreational use and can be used in rougher waters.
  • Decent all round tracking.
  • Good manoeuvrability.
  • It also has an Affordable price tag.

 

Cons:

  • No room for storage or if you did want room you would have to pay extra and get Gaspachi or other types of hatches installed.
  • Would stay away from this kayak if you were thinking of paddling long distances.

 

Bodies of water:
Can handle swells and some Coastal Surf and tracks just as well in calmer lakes, rivers and streams.

 

 

4. AquaGlide Columbia XP Tandem XL Inflatable Kayak

 

Features

  • Three Air chambers (2 side 1 floor)
  • Two Seats and a jumper Seat
  • Foot rests
  • Removable tracking fin
  • Molded rubber handles
  • Front and Rear Splashguards
  • Side handles
  • Bungee Deck Lacing
  • Drain Plug
  • Boston and Military Valves
  • Velcro Paddle Holders

The Columbia XP Tandem XL is the longest tandem kayak that we review at 15 feet. It makes for a good recreational and day touring kayak. It is a hybrid between a sit on top and a sit in kayak that can seat up to  3 people (preferably 2 adults and 1 child) however it can also be used as a 1 person day touring kayak with a lot of extra room for gear rated at a maximum capacity of 600 lbs!

To top it all off it is an inflatable kayak to boot! Inflatable kayaks are becoming more and more popular because of the limited space it takes up! They are also being made for more serious paddlers who want some performance and this kayak is no different.

It features a removable tracking fin that allows it to go straight. Of course the more weight in the kayak the better it will track. Once you get used to the set- up procedure it can take just under 10 minutes to get it into the water and it comes with a lot of different features including the mentioned removable skeg, splash guards, seats as well as velcro paddle holders.

This kayak can be used in a variety of different conditions but I would recommend it for calmer coastal waters. Although it is rated to Class II waters.

 

Pros:

  • Tracks well for an inflatable kayak,
  • Lots of room and a rather large maximum capacity of up to 600 lbs.
  • Comes with lots of added features.
  • Multiple functionalities, can sit one person, 2 people or 2 people with a child or pet.

 

Cons:

  • Would not recommend this kayak on a windy day unless you have more weight in the kayak.
  • Would not recommend it for narrow ravines or areas because it’s 15 foot length does not make it the most manoeuvrable boat.
  • It’s also a good idea to take the skeg off if you are in shallower waters.

 

Bodies of water:
Coastal Waters, Larger lakes or rivers. Good day touring kayak.

 

 

5. LifeTime Manta Tandem Kayak

 

Features

  • Ditty Trays
  • Shock Cord Straps
  • Includes Kayak Paddle
  • Molded Front and Rear carrying handles
  • Multiple foot rests positions
  • Self Bailing Scupper Holes

By far the shortest Tandem Kayak we have reviewed, however what it lacks in length it makes up for in manoeuvrability, stability and affordability. This is one the best kayaks to buy if you are a beginner where you just want to be in the water for an hour or 2.

It’s 10 foot size definitely limits what you can bring with you gear wise. Having said that I have heard time and time again that this is a great quality kayak that can take a beating. Infact I have heard from many people who operate summer kayak and boat rentals and this is the one they often choose.

This kayak sits higher than most sit on top kayaks which makes for a dryer ride for the paddler and with self bailing scupper holes water on top is not much of an issue.

The tracking on this boat is decent for a 10 foot kayak but the others on the list outperform it in that area. What is remarkable is that this 10 foot kayak can even handle carrying 3 passengers at a maximum capacity of 500 lbs. It is definitely a tight fit but this kayak can take a lot of weight!

 

Pros:

  • Great Manoeuvrable kayak that you can paddle around in for a couple of hours.
  • It can hold a lot of weight and hold up to 3 people!
  • Great rental kayak that is very durable and sun resistant.

 

Cons:

  • Tracking is not as good as the above mentioned kayaks.
  • Not a lot of room for gear.

 

Bodies of Water:
Calm Bays, Rivers or Lakes

 

Conclusion

Knowing what kind of kayak you want is just the first step, check our Ultimate Kayak Buying Guide for more information on what to look for when in the market for purchasing a kayak.

kayak buying guide, best kayaks

The purpose of this best kayaks guide is to help steer you into the direction of what I believe are the best buys in terms of performance,usability  and affordability. If you are new to kayaking you may be confused over some of the words that I have used in this article so I decided to create a list of definitions to help you better understand some of the language associated with these kayaks

Bow: Front of the Kayak
Stern: Rear of the kayak
Hull: Shape of the bottom of the kayak
Skeg: The fin underneath the kayak that helps the boat go straight
Tracking: How straight the kayak goes (Good tracking =good straight line)
Bulkheads: A dividing wall between the compartments of the kayak
Chop: Short steep isolated waves that are caused by wind
Class I Water: Moving water with few obstacles
Class II Water: Rapids with wide clear channels, occasional maneuvering required  
Class III Water:  Rapids with moderate to irregular waves which can be difficult to avoid. Complex maneuvers and good boat control required.
Scupper holes: Pre Drilled holes usually located in the kayak footwells, tanks wells or cockpit that allow water to drain out by itself.