You are here probably because you are looking for the best recreational kayaks on the market right now, right?
Thus, I will list out some of the best selling kayaks here so you can check them out immediately first. Then, you can scroll down and read more details about recreational kayaks and our in-depth reviews of the kayaks in the table below.
Kayaking is a marine adventure that all sporty people adore. It is also equally appealing to health-conscious people who like a cool upper body workout while enjoying the escape into the flowing water.
Almost all aquatic adventurers would agree that nothing can compare to a kayak when it comes to maximizing fun on the water.
It is perhaps an ideal way to spend some fun time with family or friends while getting some workout.
Well, if you are looking to have a kayak, it is time to go for the best recreational kayaks.
Why Recreational Kayaks?
A recreational kayak is specially designed for a casual or an occasional paddler as well as for paddling on flat water surfaces such as a slow flowing river or a lake.
As the name suggests, it is mainly for recreation purposes such as sightseeing and exercising.
It may not necessarily be for rafting or fishing.
Recreational kayaks set themselves apart due to the additional stability across its craft. This stability makes it great for naïve people or individuals with little experience in using such narrow boats.
Rather than being good only a single kind of environment or activity, a recreational kayak performs many activities as well. Its long body can take in some wake on most marine surfaces except for coarse sea waves.
These kayaks are usually for leisure and are unbelievably rewarding when it comes to exploring sights that were never seen before. They are usually plastic ABS boats available at stores. They are inexpensive and perform acceptably on any flat water surface.
They are certainly not for camping, white water boating or rafting, or angling. They also cannot hold the weight of gear gathered for long trips. So, go for recreational kayaks if you need an affordable boat for short, occasional trips.
An excellent recreational kayak is easy to paddle, tough to tip over, and track well. However, the best recreational kayak is the one that facilitates its usage in several other ways. It can take you through the still streams and rough rivers.
All Types of Recreational Kayaks
Before you go ahead and look for recreational kayaks, it is essential to know their few aspects.
To be a smart buyer, you need to know about their types, features, and other factors that affect your choice.
When it comes to recreational kayaks, there are some styles (types) to consider. Each one of them has its own pros and cons.
So, if you comprehend and analyze them through comparison, it becomes easier to decide which style is the most suitable one for you. Following are the styles to consider:
Sit-on-top Recreational Kayak
This is the latest style to consider. It is also quite popular because its design and comfort.
With a flat and open deck, this style is ideal for swimming in the middle of a pond or lake.
The rigs hold themselves for days on the water but cannot face the big oceanic waves.
It is impossible to fill such a kayak with water due to scupper holes that drain out the splashed water. Thus, it is simple to exit and enter, and even maintain this kind of kayak.
Paddling is flexible and comfortable due to more space for the same.
There is also more storage space although it is open air.
Do not expect any adventurous performance with it. Consider them only smooth trips for days around the backwaters, lakes, or rivers. While water cannot be filled, the probability of you getting wet is more.
In addition, it is less stable if the water is stormy due to the high gravity in the middle.
Such a style features seats and a pedal flexible enough to adjust as per the remaining area of your feet for maximizing comfort for the user and offering support to the paddle.
However, this is not a sit inside kayak, as it is enclosed. This is the major difference between a sit inside kayak and a sit in kayak.
This enclosed design provides you with maximum protection. It is technically termed as the cockpit.
In case of bad weather, a spray skirt can help to hinder wind up to some extent and keep the water out.
Such a style is, however, more stable than the sit on style due to lower center of gravity.
This style allows you to sit inside.
It is exactly what most kayak lovers would think of when they hear the word, ‘kayak’.
Its shape is such that it keeps you warm while passing through water. Thus, you can consider it for late season or early season tours and white water trips on which sit on top and other styles are unsuitable.
These kayaks are also ideal for beginners and come with storage areas.
They have a lower center of gravity. However, it is tough to enter and exit, looks heavier than normal kayaks, and offers less storage space.
Inflatable Recreational Kayaks
This style is usually seen in sit-on-top kayaks. It provides the advantages of a firm design, durability, and additional movability.
It is quite quick to inflate them. In fact, it is quicker to do so than its conventional counterpart.
You can easily carry such a kayak out of a small room and put it in your car without using a rack or straps.
It is also convenient to carry an inflatable kayak on treks and put it to use only when a quiet lake comes by your way.
However, you need to take a pump with you to inflate them. Further, it would need some time to get ready.
A sit-on-top recreational kayak gives some perks to the beginners such as an overall hike in stability although it does make you wet. A few who are in the water can come back without tipping.
On the other hand, a sit-in kayak provides a drier experience and extra storage space.
Based your requirements and priorities, you can decide which one is ideal.
Important Features/Factors to Consider before Buying Recreational Kayaks
For choosing the best recreational kayak, it is essential to ask some questions to yourself first:
Once you know these answers, you should proceed to consider the other features or factors such as parts, build material, physical dimensions, and seats.
There are a few parts for you to comprehend while choosing the most suitable recreational kayak. Let’s take a look at them.
First is the skeg, which is usually removable. This paddle is responsible for stabilizing the boat in case of windy weather or while paddling straight during a long trip.
Second is a rocker that represents the kayak’s shape in the form of an arc. The more this arc is, the simpler it is to move the boat via turns.
Third is the rudder that regulates the kayak’s direction as well as acts as a paddling assistant.
Lastly, you need to know about the spray skirt. It is typically not a part of the kayak but typically of touring or whitewater boats. It prohibits water from entering the cockpit.
A majority of recreational kayaks are made using plastics.
There are three types of such plastics in use. Each one of them has its own unique features. Let’s check them out.
- Polyethylene is the material that most kayaks are made up of. This is because it is the most affordable option. However, it is somewhat bulky. With the passage of time, it is likely to wear and tear due to the ultraviolet contact. If you choose this material, always store it in the shade.
- The second material is ABS, which is a better option than poly. This is because it overcomes the limitation of poly kayaks by showing resistance to UV. However, it is costlier than poly material. Still, this investment can be worth, as it lasts for long and is simpler to maintain as well as repair.
- The third material is actually a blend of some options, also known as composite. A few popular materials used in this blend are fiberglass, Kevlar, and carbon fiber. Kayaks made using such a composite material are perhaps the costliest ones. However, they are lightweight and ensure the best performance. It may take a lot of time to find such a kayak at a reasonable price.
It is sensible to go for a great recreational kayak that can effortlessly adjust to your weight and storage items that you wish to carry.
Otherwise, it would be inefficient to paddle with the sitting level being truly low.
Many kayak users do not live by the lake or river, as they prefer to roam to distant sights. This is when you will need a kayak that is easy to carry.
If this is what you will be doing, you definitely need a portable kayak, perhaps the inflatable recreational kayak.
While looking for a portable kayak, you need to check its weight first. It has to be light enough to raise it from your van or vehicle.
You can even go for buying a roof rack (it is affordable) that can go in your vehicle for holding the kayak.
For those for whom transportation is critical, a folding recreational kayak can also be a great option. However, it is not so strong although it comes with sufficient storage capacity.
An inflatable kayak may not travel quickly with you anywhere. However, it is still ideal for on the shore fun.
More people are going for an inflatable recreational kayak, as it is possible to take it inside a car vehicle without a rack. Still, this would require you to inflate and deflate it and that the performance is not on par with a standard kayak.
Well, these dimensions include length, width, and depth.
A kayak that is longer in length is likely to tour efficiently as well as provide more storage space. On the other hand, a shorter one is beneficial in the sense that it turns relatively more easily.
If you choose a wider model, you will get the benefits of stability. On the other hand, a narrow one gives the benefit of speed (moves speedily).
Go for a deeper kayak than the normal depth if your legs are long. In case of shorter legs, a shallow one is ideal. Shallow kayaks are also not so affected by the wind.
It is obvious for most kayak users to carry stuff for the trip, which can be camping chairs, snack boxes, and bottles for water and beverages. So, you need to find out the amount of storage space required in a recreational kayak.
A few kayaks do come with the additional cockpit for accommodating the stuff and even your beloved pet. For storing a big cooler, a sit on top model is an ideal option.
It is important to keep in mind that more weight can bring down the overall kayaking experience.
As a tip, consider allocating the storage stuff among all paddlers.
A small cockpit is safer, as it offers more control as well as protection in case of rough weather.
On the other hand, a large one is easy to enter and exit.
So, your choice here depends on what is your priority.
If you wish to spend several hours in a kayak, it is rational to go for an adjustable, ergonomic, and padded seat.
Such a quality seat is actually costly but it is also worth it, as it prevents body pain or any kind of discomfort.
A seasoned paddler would always suggest in investing money in maximizing comfort.
Well, this is a rational advice, as you just cannot paddle well for hours if the seat is stiff or the paddle is not conveniently hefty.
Thus, it is vital to look for a kayak that has some basic or even more comfort options. These options include rolling skeg wheels, rolling handles, and adjustable thigh braces and seats.
It is best to do your research and ensure that the kayak does not paddle you but you are paddling it.
A few models come with more bells and whistles such as bottle holders, safety equipment, and dry storage for bags and phones. However, they need more budget.
The best recreational kayaks should provide you a maximum comfort.
Performance is perhaps the major factor in determining the cost of a kayak.
There are paddling compromises, which vary from shape and size to another shape and size.
For instance, a wider model is relatively more stable but more difficult to paddle; whereas, a longer one is quicker to tour but more challenging to drive.
It is recommended not to spend below $350 on a recreational kayak, as you will get at least good quality assurance. Generally, the costly kayaks are of higher quality than the affordable ones and also tend to be more durable.
Other aspects that tend to influence the kayak’s price are comfort level, kayak length, and storage compartments. The longer the kayak, the more the storage compartments and higher is the cost.
Similarly, a more comfortable kayak will have a high price tag.
Even if you are a beginner, consider a budget of $400 to buy the best recreational kayak. Obviously, you do not want to learn the sport on a cheap kayak is not maneuvering satisfactorily.
For an experienced paddler, a longer kayak giving smoother strokes is suitable.
Top 5 Best Recreational Kayaks of 2018
- Sun Dolphin Aruba
- Old Town Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak
- Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak
- Ocean Kayak Malibu Tandem
- Sevylor Fiji
Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-Foot Sit-in Kayak
- Length: 10′ (305 cm)
- Width: 30” (76 cm)
- Height: 13” (33 cm)
- Weight: 40 lbs (18 kg)
- Capacity: 250 lbs (113 kg)
- No seat
- Possible dents in case of hitting with rocks
One of the best selling recreational kayaks on the market right now!
This is an ideal recreational kayak for those who need a lightweight model with a well-handling capability and the facility of a water bottle holder at a reasonable price.
The open cockpit style and short length make it easy to enter and exit.
It is easy to carry and maneuver on lakes and rivers due to easy to move pedals and optimal stability.
Even a 6’1″ 220lbs user can stay afloat on this kayak with surprisingly good tracking.
The storage space is also sufficient enough to accommodate a sunscreen, lunch box, selfie stick, and a play ring.
There is also a shock cord deck control.
Old Town Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak
- Hull Design: Sit-In
- Length: 10ft.
- Width: 28.5 in.
- Weight: 47 lbs.
- Weight Capacity: 325 lbs.
- Material: Single Layer Polyethylene
- Easy to carry with a single hand due to short length and lightweight
- Plenty of storage space
- Adjustable seat and foot braces
- Paddle rest, stable in wavy and rougher conditions
- Easy to paddle
- No shock cord or strap
- Lack of satisfactory tracking
Another super popular recreational kayak!
If you are looking for a large cockpit and maximum comfort at some dollars than the Sun Dolphin Aruba, this kayak seems to fulfill this requirement instantly and for years to come.
It is ideal for quiet water paddling.
Made with single layer poly material that is durable, this kayak comes with a padded seat for full day comfort, carry handles, thigh/knee pads, a paddle rest, and easy access to stored items.
here is also a foot brace mechanism that ensures nice fit and control.
The large cockpit paves way for much storage room.
Even a 300-pound user will fit well along with these items on this kayak without feeling restricted.
Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak
- Length: 9 ft’ (2.74)
- Width: 31″ (78.74)
- Weight: 43 lbs (19.5 kg)
- Capacity: 300 lb (136.08 kg)
- Material: Polyethylene
- Number of Paddlers: Single
- Type of Kayak: Sit on Top Recreational Kayak
- Optional Hatches: 1
- More portable than old town
- Great maneuverability and stability
- Nice tracking and safe
- Resistance to scratch
- Not sufficiently waterproof storage areas,
- Narrow seat
Consider this model if you need a stable and a simple to maneuver kayak that is resistant to anything thrown at it while handling flat water and surf.
This Ocean Kayak Frenzy is small but is versatile enough to perform well in any aquatic condition.
It is a compact and trip-friendly model that fits on a rack and slide into an SUV.
It has handles for easy maneuverability and foot-wells for quickly adjusting your position without messing up with buckles.
The kayak is reliable on a coast, lake, river, bay, and a beach even if the weather condition is unfavorable.
The nicely molded body tracks steadily with sufficient maneuverability.
There are shock cords and storage wells even at its rear.
You can easily consider it for different adventures.
Ocean Kayak Malibu Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak
- Length: 12′
- Width: 34″
- Capacity: 375 Lbs
- Weight: 57 Pounds
- Type: Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak
- Hull: Roto Molded
- Material: Polyethylene
- Seat Type: Adjustable Backrest and Bottom and Paddle
- Warranty: Limited Lifetime on Hull
- Seat backs to prevent back problems
- Adjustable seat cushions
- Several foot positions
- Easy to enter and exit
- No storage compartments
- Not self-draining
Consider this kayak if you wish to tour with full family and even with a pet.
This kayak can easily accommodate two adults and a child or up to a total weight of 425 lbs.
You can even use it solo.
Its salient features include three sitting positions with half seat in the middle, overlapping foot wells for restful bracing and carry handles for the paddler in the middle, and gear straps.
Paddling is comfortable for a paddler having any leg length.
Sevylor Fiji Travel Kayak
- Length: 10’4”
- Inflated Dimensions: 10’4” x 2’9”
- Weight capacity: 400 lbs.
- Material: 22-gauge PVC
- Package Includes: 5-piece touring paddle; travel bag.
- Thick build and consumption of less storage space
- Not for rough waters
- Drifting possibility in case of winds
Go for this one if you need an affordable and durable poly and inflatable recreational kayak without any luxury features.
It is ideal for two people on calm waters. It has a compact design, two seats, and a 5-piece paddle.
The lock valves are simple to inflate for enjoying an airtight system.
The model is also stable due to its semi-rigid beam floor.
Similarly, the PVC material ensures resistance to abrasion as well as durability.
The model comes with an aluminum kayak paddle and NMMA certification.
Well, these are our top 5 recreational kayaks to consider at different prices.
As per your requirements and priorities, you are likely to find the kayak you are looking for.
If you have any question, feel free to comment below and we will do the best to help you out!