- Updated Mar 21, 2020
- Writen by Editorial Staff
- Table of Contents
10 Best Kayaks in 2020: Sit-on-top, Recreational, Tandem & More
- Updated Aug 20, 2018
- Writen by Editorial Staff
- Table of Contents
The kayak is a versatile and heavy-duty boat that can be used for both recreational activities as well as for fishing. It is heavy-duty and built from a high-grade material like polyethylene or PVC that makes it durable and long-lasting.
If you are fresh on the market for a kayak, our comprehensive guide below will help you find some of the best kayaks for the money.
Not only that but if you are an absolute kayaking beginner, you will find a lot of information below that will help you kayak more efficiently. Without any further ado, let’s start!
- 10 Best Kayaks – Reviews
- 1. Sea Eagle SE370K-P – Best Inflatable Kayaks
- 2. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 – Best Fishing Kayaks
- 3. Intex Challenger K1 – Best Cheap Kayaks
- 4. Sun Dolphin Camino SS – Best Sit On Top Kayaks
- 5. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame – Best Tandem Kayaks
- 6. Ocean Kayak Malibu – Best Recreational Kayaks
- 7. Sevylor Coleman Colorado – Best Kayaks for Beginners
- 8. Sea Eagle 330 – Best Lightweight Kayaks
- 9. Wilderness System Pungo – Best River Kayaks
- 10. Perception Kayak Pescador Pilot – Best Pedal Kayaks
- Types of Kayaks
- Kayak Brands
- How to Buy the Best Kayaks
10 Best Kayaks – Reviews
1. Sea Eagle SE370K-P Kayak
2. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
3. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
4. Sun Dolphin Camino SS Sit On Top Kayak
5. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak
6. Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Recreational Kayak
375 - 425 lbs
7. Sevylor Coleman Colorado Fishing Kayak
8. Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak With Deluxe Package
9. Wilderness System Pungo Kayak
10. Perception Kayak Pescador Pilot Pedal Kayak
1. Sea Eagle SE370K-P – Best Inflatable Kayaks
- Weight capacity: 650 lbs
- Weight: 26 lbs
The Sea Eagle SE370K-P is a popular inflatable kayak that can be used in tandem. This model comes with 2 seats for 2 people.
But what we really like about this inflatable boat is its high weight capacity of 650 lbs. With such a big weight capacity, this kayak can easily accommodate up to 3 overweight people with ease. Moreover, the cockpit is large and spacious making it easy to move around inside.
Additionally, you get a high-quality and heavy-duty pump that will allow you to quickly and easily inflate this kayak. Since this kayak measures an impressive 144-inch in length, it offers excellent tracking. Moreover, there are 2 skegs that promote efficiency and tracking even further.
All in all, we have no problem recommending the SE370K-P and name it as the best inflatable kayak in this review mostly because of its high weight capacity and excellent tracking.
2. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 – Best Fishing Kayaks
- Weight capacity: 275 lbs
- Weight: 56.5 lbs
For years, the Tamarack Angler has been regarded as one of the best fishing kayaks for the money. This kayak does not have the best weight capacity as it is only rated with a maximum of 275 lbs. However, this is still more than enough for most people.
However, since this is a sit-on-top kayak, the cockpit is large and you can easily move inside. Most of all, what makes this model such a good fishing is its flat bottom that provides it with a lot of stability. Indeed, you can easily stand up on the Tamarack Angler and cast your fishing line.
Additionally, this boat has excellent tracking as well as steering. You will have no problem when it comes to maneuverability with this unit. When it comes to quality, the polyethylene material used in its construction shows that you have a durable and long-lasting kayak.
Best of all, you get a professional grade paddle with this purchase. Comfort is also not lacking in this kayak, as it has a padded seat with an adjustable backrest. We also note the presence of multiple foot wells so that you can get a better position while kayaking.
3. Intex Challenger K1 – Best Cheap Kayaks
- Weight capacity: 220 lbs
- Weight: 27.2 lbs
In general, kayaks tend to be expensive boats. However, this is a problem that the Intex Challenger K1 tries to solve. Indeed, this model is one of the best cheap kayaks for the money. Despite its entry-level price, it does not sacrifice efficiency or quality.
You can purchase this model in different sizes that come at different prices to suit your need and budget. Additionally, the front of this affordable kayak has a cargo net where you can easily store your various accessories.
Of course, since this is an inflatable kayak, you get a heavy-duty pump with this purchase along with a quality paddle that will allow you to get started paddling right away. Comfort is pretty average in this model. Not the best, not the worse either.
But one of the best things about this model is definitely portability. The K1 can easily be deflated and stored or transported. It will easily fit the both of a small car. Since it lacks features of expensive models, we recommend the Intex Challenger K1 as a recreational kayak, especially for a solo kayaking experience on a budget.
4. Sun Dolphin Camino SS – Best Sit On Top Kayaks
- Weight capacity: 225 lbs
- Weight: 40 lbs
The sit-on-top kayak is reputed for its large cockpit and ease-of-use. If you have never owned this type of kayak before, the Sun Dolphin Camino is an excellent model to consider. Especially if you’re looking for a solo experience as this model comes with only one seat.
At 96 in, the Camino is quite small and compact. However, its compact form factor makes it very maneuverable, especially when kayaking in tight areas like rivers. Additionally, you can purchase this model in no less than 3 different colors to fit your preference.
When it comes to weight capacity, it’s rating of 225 lbs is satisfactory. This model will be able to carry most people, but not everyone since it is not made for oversized and overweight people. There is also no rubber seat for comfort on this model. Only the presence of an adjustable backrest.
However, we find 3 footwells on both sides so that you can get a more comfortable paddling position. In addition, there is a small storage compartment in the middle where you can keep your sensitive items like smartphones. This compartment is quite small and not intended to store big accessories.
5. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame – Best Tandem Kayaks
- Weight capacity: 550 lbs
- Weight: 56 lbs
This Advanced Elements tandem kayak is probably one of the longest we have seen. Indeed, at 180 in it is quite long. However, this long length gives it excellent tracking and if you had to move in a straight line, this model is one of the best kayaks for the money.
Since this is a tandem kayak, it comes equipped with 2 comfortable and padded seats with fully adjustable backrest. Moreover, inside the kayak cockpit, you will find multiple foot wells so that you get a better positioning while kayaking.
One of the best things about this model is that it is inflatable. When not in use, you can deflate, fold, and store this kayak without it consuming a lot of space. Another thing that we like is its weight capacity of 550 lbs which means that it can easily accommodate up to 2 overweight people with ease.
The build construction is also superb as this model is made from a high-grade PVC that will not puncture easily. It is also very durable and long-lasting. All in all, if you are looking for a tandem kayak then this model from Advanced Elements is definitely one of the best 2-seater kayaks currently on the market.
6. Ocean Kayak Malibu – Best Recreational Kayaks
- Weight capacity: 375 lbs - 425 lbs
- Weight: 57 lbs
The Ocean Kayak Malibu is a two-seater kayak that has been regarded for years as being one of the best recreational kayaks on the market. This is mostly explained by the fact that this model has a wide cockpit and is very stable on the water.
Most of its ability is explained by its flat bottom which provides it with a large surface area that can come into contact with water. Additionally, this model has 2 big storage compartments where you can store all your valuables in all safety. Since it has 2 seats, both users have multiple foot wells for a better paddling position.
Furthermore, this model comes in 3 different colors based on your preference. At 144-inch in length, you can expect that this recreational kayak has excellent tracking.
All in all, if you’re looking for a fun and easy to use kayak that can accommodate up to 3 people, 2 adults, and a child, then the Ocean Kayak Malibu is an excellent model to consider.
7. Sevylor Coleman Colorado – Best Kayaks for Beginners
- Weight capacity: 470 lbs
- Weight: N/A
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty inflatable kayak at a reasonable price, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado is a good model to consider. This kayak is made from a thick 18-gauge PVC that is heavy-duty. It will not puncture easily and offers good resistance to UV light. Therefore, it will last a long time without degradation.
Additionally, this model comes with 2 seats so it can accommodate 2 people. However, the cockpit is still large enough so that you can put an extra person in it so technically, this model will be able to carry up to 3 people with ease. Especially considering that it has a decent weight capacity of 470 lbs which is more than enough.
We also note the presence of multiple fishing accessories like rod holders in this kayak. Clearly, this model was made for recreational activities like fishing. But what we like the most about this model is its ease of use.
Indeed, if you are an absolute beginner, you will have no difficulty maneuvering this kayak. The Sevylor Coleman is definitely one of the best kayaks for beginners on the market due to its ease of use, affordable price, and large cockpit.
8. Sea Eagle 330 – Best Lightweight Kayaks
- Weight capacity: 500 lbs
- Weight: 26 lbs
One of the downsides of kayaks is generally their weight. They are not easy to carry around, especially if you are the only one doing the lifting. This is where models like the Sea Eagle 330 comes in handy. This model is regarded by many who have used it as the best lightweight kayak on the market.
Indeed, it weighs only 26 lbs. This is quite an achievement considering that this kayak has a big weight capacity of 500 lbs and a large cockpit that can accommodate 2 people. Even better, the build construction of this kayak is superb.
It is made from a heavy-duty k-80 polykrylar that will not puncture easily. This material also offers good shock resistance against impacts. To help you get started right away, you get a heavy-duty foot pump, a carry bag as well as 2 paddles with this purchase.
9. Wilderness System Pungo – Best River Kayaks
- Weight capacity: 325 lbs
- Weight: 49 lbs
The Wilderness System Pungo was designed to be an efficient, fast and highly maneuverable kayak that can be used in tight areas like rivers.
One of the best things about this model is definitely its 3-level AirPro seating system that makes it very comfortable to kayak with for an extended period. Moreover, despite being quite long at 144 inches, it offers excellent tracking as well as superb maneuverability.
In addition, its weight capacity of 325 lbs is more than enough for most people. There are also multiple feet well inside the cockpit that makes it easier to paddle with. All in all, if you are planning to kayak mostly in rivers, this System Pungo kayak is definitely the best river kayak in this review.
10. Perception Kayak Pescador Pilot – Best Pedal Kayaks
- Weight capacity: 475 lbs
- Weight: 95 lbs
The Pescador Pilot by Perception is regarded by many as being one of the most stable kayaks on the market. This is explained by the fact that this kayak has a very smooth and flat bottom that gives it decent stability when it comes in contact with the water.
Moreover, this kayak is powered by a pedal drive system that is smooth and efficient. The seat is fully adjustable as is the backrest. Indeed, one word that could resume this pedal Kayak is definitely “comfort”. It is an extremely comfortable kayak.
The only downside to this model is its steep price. However, if you can afford it, this kayak is definitely one of the best kayaks on the market especially considering that it is exceptionally well-built and durable.
Types of Kayaks
1. Sit-On-Top Kayaks
The sit-on-top kayak remains one of the most popular types of kayaks on the market. This kayak has a large cockpit that gives full maneuverability inside the cockpit as well as possesses a long length that gives it excellent tracking. The sit-on-top kayak remains one of the best general-purpose kayaks that you can buy and most people generally use it for recreational purposes or fishing activities.
- Easy to get in and out
- Very maneuverable due to their large cockpit
- Presence of scupper holes to easily drain water out of the cockpit
- Long and streamlined form factor. Excellent tracking on the water
- More difficult to steer
- Water can easily get inside the cockpit
- They are heavier than other types of kayaks
2. Sit-In Kayaks
The sit-in kayak is a smaller and more maneuverable type of kayak than the sit-on-top. Consequently, the cockpit is also small but is large enough so as you are comfortable inside. One of the best things about the sit-in kayak is that you can wear a spray skirt that will keep you nice and warm, as well as prevent water from entering the cockpit.
- Smaller and more maneuverable than other types of kayaks
- You have the ability to wear a spray skirt. This will keep yourself warm and prevent water from entering the cockpit
- There are more foot wells inside the cockpit in a sit-in kayak. Paddling is more comfortable
- Since the cockpit is closer to the water, paddling is more efficient and less tiring
- Due to the smaller size of the sit-in kayak, tracking is not as good
- The storage compartment is usually small. Cannot be used to carry a lot of accessories
3. Recreational Kayaks
As the name suggests, the recreational kayak is made for recreation purposes. It usually has a large cockpit that will give you a clear view of your surroundings and comes equipped with a comfortable seat with an adjustable backrest. Clearly, the recreational kayak was designed with comfort in mind.
- Comfortable padded seat with fully adjustable backrest
- Affordable and value for money
- Stable on the water with good stability due to the smooth and flat bottom
- Not as efficient and performing as other types of kayaks
- Small storage compartment
4. Touring Kayaks
The touring kayak is pretty much an enhanced version of the recreational kayak. This type of kayak is usually smaller but has a more streamlined form factor that makes it more efficient and maneuverable than the recreational kayak. This type of kayak also tracks better despite its small size.
Additionally, the touring kayak is lighter and can easily be carried by one person, no problem. On the downside, the touring kayak is usually more expensive than other types of kayaks on the market.
- Offers excellent tracking as well as superior maneuverability
- Small and compact. Also lightweight. Can easily be carried
- Solid build construction. Normally made out of a molded polyethylene for durability
- The touring kayak is generally more expensive than other types of kayaks
5. Folding Kayaks
The folding kayak is an alternative type of kayak and also a new invention. As the name suggests, the folding kayak can be folded and stored in a small space. If you travel a lot and need to carry your kayak along with you, the folding kayak is an excellent choice as it is generally lightweight as well as does not consume a lot of space for storage.
On the downside, the folding kayak is not as solidly built as a hard-shell kayak and cannot be used for heavy-duty kayaking.
- Affordable and value for money
- Can be folded and easily stored
- Compact and lightweight
- Not as heavy duty as a hard-shell kayak
- Lacks efficiency and maneuverability, especially in rough waters
6. Inflatable Kayaks
The inflatable kayak is one of the most versatile types of kayaks on the market. This kayak can quickly and easily be inflated and deflated based on your need. You also generally get a heavy-duty pump with the purchase of an inflatable kayak.
In addition, since the inflatable kayak can be easily deflated, this means that it can also be stored in a smaller space for transportation. For example, you can easily fit an inflatable kayak inside the booth of a small car.
- Usually contains a decent storage compartment for storing many accessories
- Quite sturdy and durable since they are made from a high-grade PVC
- Most of the time, the inflatable kayak comes with accessories like a pump and paddle that will allow you to start kayaking right away
- Not as efficient or performing as a hard-shell kayak
- Stability is not the best in an inflatable kayak. Cannot be used as a stand-up kayak
7. Tandem Kayaks
Tandem kayaks contain 2 seats and can accommodate 2 people with ease. Since there is more “muscle-power” involved in a tandem kayak, it can go faster in the water. Moreover, the tandem kayak can still be used as a single kayak when operated by one person, although it will be more difficult to maneuver.
In addition, most tandem kayaks are around 144-inch in length. This long length gives it excellent tracking on the water.
- Fights boredom. Kayaking does not have to be a solo experience
- Excellent tracking on the water due to its long length
- The long cockpit provides you with a lot of space
- More stable than other types of kayaks. Can be used as a stand-up kayak
- The price. Tandem kayaks are more expensive
- Due to their long length, they are more difficult to steer
There are several kayak brands on the market. It can quickly become confusing especially if you have never owned a kayak before and do not have a brand loyalty.
In order to help you find the best kayak brands based on your need and purpose, we made this comprehensive guide about a few popular kayak brands that you should keep an eye out when purchasing a kayak.
Perception is one of the most popular kayak brands in North America. This company makes a wide range of kayak accessories as well as boating accessories on the different brand names like Mad River and Dagger.
One of the hallmarks of Perception is its attention to detail and efficient design. Indeed, most of their kayaks are very efficient and offer an excellent user experience. They make all types of kayaks ranging from sit-in kayaks to wide cockpit sit-on-top kayaks.
Some of the most popular models are the Pescador which is a user-friendly and highly maneuverable kayak that comes in different sizes and shapes.
Moreover, what we like about Perception is that they usually incorporate a large storage compartment that is also 100% waterproof in most of their kayak models. Additionally, this brand is known for making very comfortable and efficient pedal kayaks. The Pescador Pilot 12.0 is just one example.
If you have never owned a kayak before, the Perception is probably not the best kayak brand for you. This is because most Perception kayaks are usually more expensive and designed for a more experienced crowd.
However, if you have some rudimentary kayak skills and looking for a high-quality and efficient kayak, you should seriously consider this brand as they make some of the best kayaks for the money.
Lifetime is a watersports brand that has one of the most impressive and diversified portfolios we have seen. This brand started as a small family business in Utah but has so far diversified nationwide and is today one of the leading suppliers and manufacturer of kayaks and kayak accessories.
Indeed, this brand makes almost everything, from kayak paddles to lawn accessories. When it comes to kayaks, Lifetime specializes in those types of kayaks:
- Sit-on-top kayaks
- Sit-in kayaks
- Fishing Kayaks
- Paddle boards
Most of their kayaks are high-quality and they put emphasis on the build construction. Lifetime is a company that specializes in making polyethylene kayaks rather than inflatable ones. Most of the kayaks are heavy-duty and will last a long time.
Moreover, based on the type of kayak you choose from this brand, you can expect that it will offer a superior feature-set as well as an overall better build construction.
One of the best things about this brand is that they make kayaks for everyone, from absolute beginners to professionals. Models like the Lifetime Wave 60 are known for their high maneuverability and ease-of-use. Even if you have never used a kayak before, you will have no problem operating a Lifetime kayak.
Additionally, you will find a model with this brand regardless of your need and purpose. Indeed, this kayak brand makes all types of kayaks, ranging from single kayaks to tandem kayaks, and everything in between.
3. Sun Dolphin
Sun Dolphin is a fairly new kayak manufacturer from Michigan, North America. This company specializes in single kayaks, but they are known to make high-quality tandem kayaks like the Bali SS tandem. One of the trademark signs of Sun Dolphin is the simplicity and yet effectiveness of their kayak.
Their kayaks are not the most comfortable ones, as many models, they make like the Bali 6, without a padded seat. However, they all have an efficient design that allows them to glide very easily over water as well as offer the user with excellent maneuverability due to their streamlined form factor.
This brand is also known for their highly competitive and cost-effective pricing. Indeed, if you are on a short budget, then kayaks from Sun Dolphin should make a lot of sense to you.
Through a more refined manufacturing process, this kayak manufacturer is able to make feature-rich and highly durable kayaks at more competitive prices than other manufacturers.
Their most successful products are the Aruba SS when it comes to sit-in kayaks and the Bali SS for sit-on-top kayaks. If you choose to go with a Sun Dolphin kayak, you will not be disappointed as this brand is highly reputable and one of the most popular kayak brands in North America, and possibly the world as well.
5. Old Town
Old Town is a British company that originally made canoes only. However, following their plan to diversify their product line, today they make kayaks and other fishing accessories as well.
One of the most distinctive signs of the Old Town brand is their detailed finish and efficient design. They make several types of kayaks, ranging from single kayaks to tandem pedal kayaks.
Kayaks from Old Town are not the cheapest. Indeed, this brand does not target beginners on a budget but rather semi-professional and professional kayakers looking for a quality kayak that is both highly maneuverable and durable.
The most popular models are the Feelfree sit-on-top kayaks that are known for their comfort, large cockpit, and superior maneuverability. If you already own a few kayaks from lesser brands but looking for a go-to kayak model, chances are that you will find it with Old Town. They have a wide range of kayaks and even if they are a little bit on the expensive side, their kayaks still remain cost-effective.
How to Buy the Best Kayaks
The material using the construction of the kayak will dictate the durability. The most common type of material used in the construction of the kayak is polyethylene. Polyethylene is a heavy-duty form of plastic that has excellent shock resistance against impacts, is highly durable and long-lasting.
Moreover, polyethylene has good UV light resistance and will not degrade over time. Therefore, you can safely use your kayak in strong sunlight and not worry about it breaking over.
Additionally, some kayaks are inflatable and made from a PVC material. PVC offers good elasticity and will not degrade over an extended period of use where the kayak is inflated and deflated multiple times.
Ensure that the PVC material is high-grade and look for terms like “military grade” to get the highest quality build construction material possible in your inflatable kayak.
2. Storage Compartment
The storage compartment of the kayak is an important part that you must not omit. Most people who use a kayak will eventually have a need to store something, whether it is your smartphone or other types of accessories. If you’re planning to use your kayak for activities like fishing, then the storage compartment will play an even bigger role as you can use it to store your catch and fishing accessories as well.
Additionally, to get the best bang for the buck, ensure that the storage compartment is protected and watertight so that you can store your accessories without worrying about them getting water damage. To make sure your storage compartment is watertight, you will need a 100% waterproof lid that will prevent water from getting inside the compartment.
The seat is where you will be spending most of your time on a kayak. Therefore, you must make sure that it is sufficiently comfortable and not cause back fatigue when used for an extended period of time. To get the comfort that you deserve from your kayak seat, make sure that it is padded.
Additionally, most kayaks come with a backrest to protect and provide support for your back and vertebral column. Ensure that the seat backrest of your kayak is adjustable to your liking.
The stability of the kayak is definitely one of the most important factors. Especially if you are planning to use the kayak for activities like recreation or fishing where you need a good level of stability. Moreover, when it comes to fishing, stability is extremely important because it will allow you to stand up on your kayak and perform complex maneuvers like casting the fishing line over great distances with better maneuverability.
There are several types of kayaks, each suited for a different budget, need, and purpose. Indeed, we have seen that the kayak is a versatile and heavy-duty boat that can be used in a wide range of situations and for different types of activities.
Some people use the kayak as a recreational boat, others for competitive sports and then we find people who use the storage flexibility and stability of the kayak for fishing.
So far, we have covered a lot of details about the kayak and gave a few recommendations on the best kayaks on the market in our review section. If you have still not found a decent kayak yet, we recommend that you read our review again.