The 10 Best Kayaks of 2018: Great for Lakes, Fishing, & Beginners

Sitting on the water and hearing the sounds of gentle water lapping against the side of a Kayak can be one of the most serene experiences you will ever have. Kayaking is a sport that allows you to have intense moments of exercise and extreme moments of relaxation. This is one of the best parts about kayaking because in our modern world we are always in such a rush that we rarely take the time to enjoy the world around us.

Being able to combine your sports activities with your relaxation is the ultimate enjoyment. The wonderful part about a kayak is you can get into places on the water that no other boat will allow you to go. Kayaks are designed to get into narrow waterways, shallow pools and areas with water hazards that would normally destroy another boat. This opportunity lets you see some of nature’s most astounding sights up close and personal.

Top Kayak Comparison Chart

 

Kayak Buying Guide

The other elements of kayaking is an extreme upper body workout and core workout. New kayakers often find that they are sorer than they’ve expected to be because of the enjoyment of being on the water that outweighs all of the work that they’re doing paddling their kayaks. Kayaking is a great way to burn calories without feeling like you are trying to work out.

If you’ve decided to take the leap and buy your own Kayak so that you can enjoy this outdoor sport on a more regular basis, you may be wondering how to choose the best kayak for you. There are a couple of things that you need to know before you spend your money on your first yak.

Know Before You Buy

So you’ve decided to buy your kayak, and that’s fantastic. But what are the things that you need to look for when purchasing a kayak?

When renting a kayak, you don’t really have to pay attention to the construction, material, or features of a kayak because it’s a rental and you don’t get any choice. Now that you’re going to buy, here are some important things that you’re going to need to consider before purchasing your first Kayak.

Types of Kayaks

There are two types of Kayak that you can consider for purchase, a sit on top (SOT) or a sit inside (SIS). Each of these kayaks has their own advantages and disadvantages, and your preference may highly depend on what you will be using your Kayak for. Let’s take a look at the advantages of each as well as the disadvantages for the SOT and SIS kayaks.

Sit On Top

A SOT Kayak is going to offer you an amazing ability to get in and out of the water. It’s easy to slip off your Kayak and go for a swim and then hop right back on. With a sit on top Kayak, you don’t have to worry about your hull filling up with water because you don’t have one.

Generally, sit on top kayaks don’t have any dry storage space. They may have one small dry storage hatch for keys or a cell phone, but usually, the only storage they have is netting to hold backpacks in place. If you need something to keep your goods dry on a long kayaking trip is that on top Kayak is not going to have anything you’re looking for.These are the two main areas that you’re going to see where sit on top kayaks differ from the sit inside Kayak.

There are some other functionality features where sit on top is different from a sit inside. The way you sit on top of a kayak is a little bit different than the way you sit when you sit inside a kayak. Also, safety considerations are a little different on a SOT Kayak because you do not have to worry about bailing out your Kayak full of water if you tip. Reentry onto your Kayak is easier on a SOT then a SIS, and that may make this Kayak a better choice for new kayakers.

 

Sit Inside

SIS kayaks have their own set of benefits, the primary one being the ability to stay dry. If you Kayak in colder water, it is imperative that you’re not getting a lot of splashes back from your paddle so that you can enjoy your kayaking trip. SIS kayaks also have bibs that can zip up all around you so that you don’t get any water on you at all. They also have more dry storage and will generally have a watertight storage compartment.

Unfortunately, SIS kayaks can be problematic when it comes to reentry. This is especially true if you have tipped your Kayak. Learning how to empty the water out of your Kayak while swimming takes practice and skill. If you don’t have the required skill or strength to be able to do this, then you may want to consider getting a SOT Kayak instead.

 

Purpose of Kayak

As with any other purchase of sporting good equipment, you really want to consider what you’ll be using the kayak for. If you plan on whitewater kayaking, then a fishing kayak probably isn’t going to be your best purchase. There are four main types of kayaking that people do:

·      Recreation
·      Fishing
·      Whitewater
·      Wilderness Lake Tripping

 

Consider the purpose of your kayaking trip before you purchase your Kayak, it will greatly enhance your enjoyment of your Kayak in the future.

Material

The next thing that you should consider when purchasing a kayak is the material that you want your kayak to be made from. There are many kayaks that are made from flexible materials and are designed to be inflatable. While others are made from rigid plastics and metals and designed to withstand even the worst water hazards.

Your level of comfort in the water along with the type of water you will be kayaking in may be the deciding factor in what material you choose for your Kayak. If you know, you will be taking your Kayak in an area that frequently has a lot of sharp rock or stick water hazards, an inflatable kayak may not be your best choice. Considering your material and your destination should be done in tandem.

Weight Capacity

All kayaks have a maximum weight capacity. Many new kayakers do not pay attention to this very valuable number. It’s important to check out the maximum weight capacity for your Kayak because you do not want to risk sinking or damaging your Kayak while out in the middle of a lake or while doing some whitewater kayaking.

Remember, your weight capacity is not just how much you weigh, but also includes any gear that you may be bringing with you. If you plan to use your Kayak to get to a remote camping area, you are going to require a lot more storage and weight capacity than if you just plan on kayaking around your local river for fun. No matter what you’re going to do in your Kayak; the weight capacity is an important consideration that you need to make before purchasing.

 

Best Kayak Reviews

If you’re not sure where to start when looking for a kayak that’s okay! We’ve got a list of this year’s 10 best kayaks. Whether you’re looking for a tandem kayak, inflatable kayak, or fishing Kayak we’ve got something that’s going to work for you. Let’s check out what this year has to offer the kayaking community.

BKC UH-TK181 12.5 foot Sit On Top Tandem Fishing Kayak

This is a very well constructed tandem fishing kayak. The best part about this fishing kayak is that the weight capacity is 450 pounds. You can tell that this Kayak was designed to fit two full grown men plus their fishing tackle. Many times other fishing kayaks simply don’t have the weight capacity to support two men and their fishing gear, but this one does, making it a diamond in the rough.

The seats come with padded backrest and each seat features dry storage for the paddler there is one front rod holder and to aft Rod holders. The only issue with the rod holders is that they can be cumbersome when paddling the kayak and can require some getting used too before they don’t get in the way of your paddling down the river.

This fishing kayak features plenty of storage which is a big plus. Making sure that you have all of your gear is very important when spending the day fishing. This Kayak ensures you can do that. Altogether, this is a wonderful tandem fishing kayak, designed with a high weight capacity, and good for full grown adults.

Pros

  • 450 Pound Weight Capacity
  • Tandem Kayak
  • Plenty of Storage

Cons

  • Rod Holders Can Get in the Way
  • Sacrifices Speed for Stability

 

Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher Kayak 

The Lifetime 10-foot Sport Fisher kayak is designed to seat two people or can be used as a single person kayak. Setting up this tandem kayak for single use is ideal for the extra tall kayakers who need added space. Keep in mind that when using this tandem kayak as a single person kayak some of the handling is compromised.

Since this Kayak is designed to be an efficient kayak it favors stability over maneuverability and depending on your preference, this is good or bad. If you plan on using the standing platforms while fishing, the stability is perfect. However, if you are trying to keep up with canoes and other kayakers on the water you will find that you are lagging behind.

The seats that come with the lifetime fishing kayak is a very poor quality seat so you may find yourself investing in an additional seat before the end of your first season with this Kayak. If you favor comfort than a new seat is going to be a definite purchase for you. The standing platform can also be a little bit uncomfortable if you’re not used to it.

Overall this Kayak functions very well as a beginning fishing kayak.

Pros

  • Tandem Kayak
  • Can Be Used for One Large Paddler
  • Very Stable

Cons

  • Standing Platform Can Be Uncomfortable
  • Very Slow
  • Poor Quality Seat

 

Ocean Kayak Frenzy Kayak

One of the best parts of the ocean Kayak frenzy is that it has a high weight capacity and it’s specifically meant for larger waves rougher water than some other models made only for small lakes and quiet water. Many sit on top kayaks don’t feature a weight capacity over 250 pounds. This is on top kayak features a weight capacity of 325 pounds. This gives larger people or those who like to pack a lot of gear plenty of opportunity to use this sit on top kayak.

A caution when purchasing this kayak the mold for the seat is 18 inches wide so even though the capacity for weight is high the seat may be a little snug if you are on the larger side. The entire kayak is 31 inches wide but the seat is only 18 inches. So you may find yourself not quite fitting in the molded seat which may cause some discomfort.

Other than the seat being small there is plenty of legroom on the sit on top kayak even for those who are over 6 feet tall. It seems like this Kayak was really designed for the taller and bigger people in the world rather than the tiny kayakers.

The kayak tracks well and has a greater stability than the majority of kayaks on the market (due to its “big water” construction features). It is not the fastest kayak in the world, and if you are looking for a fast boat, you may be disappointed with the ocean frenzy kayak. If you’re looking for a kayak that will accommodate extra gear or a larger person this Kayak is going to be great for you.  It’s even been used very successfully in a rescue operation by a homeowner who was able to escape in a hurricane with a dog in the Ocean Kayak Frenzy.

Pros

  • Maximum Weight Capacity Is 325 Pounds
  • Lightweight
  • Forward and Aft Storage

Cons

  • narrow seat

 

Riot Kayaks Edge

The riot kayaks edge is an all-around high-performance kayak designed for very efficient flatwater lake touring. It’s a great example of a purpose-built craft that is exceedingly efficient for a purpose (track straight, travel very fast and efficiently on relatively calm water with minimal waves).  The kayak is made of a hard polyethylene allowing it to withstand hard impacts. There are bulkhead sealed front and rear compartments as well as forward and aft shot cord storage.

This is a sit inside Kayak that is 14 ½ feet long and has its own rudder giving it excellent steering and stability. The slim profile of the riot kayaks edge gives it a sleek look and design not featured in many other kayaks. The 325-pound weight capacity allows larger kayakers or those who enjoy taking a lot of equipment with them the ability to travel far with this Kayak.

The kayak itself weighs 60 pounds and may present some problems for smaller people to get to the water a kayak dolly may be necessary if you have difficulty lifting over 50 pounds.

This touring kayak will give you everything you’re looking for in a performance kayak with exceptional durability. It provides plenty of safety features for the seafaring kayaker with reflective lifelines and high visibility paint. If you’re looking for an amazing flatwater kayak that can fit plenty of gear or you’re 6’3” frame this is your kayak.  If you’re thinking of whitewater, keep looking!  The Dagger Katana is an excellent option for those that need an adrenaline rush more often than once in a lifetime!

Pros

  • dual dry storage compartments
  • Pilot Rudder System
  • comfort fit seating

Cons

  • small foot clearance

 

Lifetime Tamarack Sit Top Kayak

The lifetime Tamarack is another Kayak designed for fishing. This sit on top Kayak features both forward and aft storage, multiple rod holders, and two dry storage compartments. This volume of storage makes it ideal for any fisherman looking to be able to take out multiple rods as well as plenty of tackle. The front rod holder on the lifetime Tamarack can potentially get in the way of paddling which makes it a little cumbersome. The back Rod holders face inward a little bit so be prepared to cast out from your kayak.

The hard plastic composition of this Kayak can stand river and easy lake conditions since it is high-density polyethylene and has a five-year warranty which is pretty darn good since most kayaks don’t feature such a long warranty on their construction.

One of the downsides to this Kayak is that it has a 275-pound weight capacity, meaning that larger kayakers or those who like to carry a lot of equipment are going to need to look elsewhere for a kayak that meets their needs.  Another downside to the Lifetime Tamarack is that seat quality is poor and often the rivets rip out of the seat. You may end up purchasing replacement parts or a different seat attachment altogether.

Despite its flaws, this is a good quality fishing kayak that would work well for any casual angler or water enthusiast.

Pros

  • Plenty of Storage Space
  • Rod Holder
  • Two Dry Storage Compartments Will

Cons

  • Poor Quality Seat
  • Front Rod Holder Can Interfere with Paddling

 

Sevylor Quikpak K5 Single Person Kayak

The QuickPak K5 is designed to be used as a remote kayak that can be packed into remote waters that a normal kayak would never reach. This lightweight kayak fits into a backpack that you can wear and fits everything including the paddles .  Weighing just under 26 pounds, the entire boat is easy to hike in and out making it great for backpackers who to be able to hit the water from the road less traveled.

This Kayak features a tarpaulin bottom with the polyester cover designed to prevent punctures. It does a good job of preventing punctures making the inflatable kayak good for use over rougher waters and faster moving rivers. Even if you do suffer a puncture there are multiple air chambers to help keep you afloat until you can reach safety.

This kayak has a weight capacity of 250 pounds. If you’re a larger person this Kayak is not going to support your weight as well as the weight of any gear you may bring. That may make it only suitable for short day trips or as a toy to play with rather than a recreational water vehicle.

The QuickPak K5 can be difficult to set up. And because of the inflatable design, it does suffer some tracking difficulty making it an extremely slow kayak. If you’re looking for a speedy kayak this is not exactly your first choice! On a moving waterway where you have some current working for you this Kayak is a lot more fun.

Pros

  • Easy to Pack into Remote Kayak Situations
  • Tarpaulin and Polyester Cover Prevent Punctures
  • Multiple Air Chambers

Cons

  • Difficult Directions and Set up
  • Hard Tracking
  • Slow

 

Sun Dolphin Aruba Kayak

The Sun Dolphin Aruba Kayak features a spacious interior for a sit inside Kayak and a padded backrest. This sit inside Kayak is made of UV stabilized high-density polyethylene and is designed to withstand some impact. This would make it good for rougher waters or those with known water hazards like rocks and large branches.

There is a convenient storage on the back of the Sun Dolphin Aruba that allows you to keep items dry as well as space in the front to attach any extra gear you may have. There are adjustable foot braces & the cockpit making it ideal for those who may want this boat for multiple uses. Though those on the taller and of the height spectrum may find this cockpit to be a little cramped

This Kayak does feature some rough seam, but because of its durability, it would make a great kayak for the first time user or someone just looking to have fun out on the water.

Pros

  • Large Open Cockpit
  • Padded Seat
  • Dry Storage

Cons

  • Not Designed for taller People
  • Low Weight Capacity 

 

Old Town Vapor 10 Kayak 

The old town vapor 10 is a wonderful recreational kayak featuring a huge cockpit. This recreational kayak would be ideal for those looking to bring four-legged companions along with them. There’s plenty of room to fit a dog or extra gear inside the cockpit without worrying about not having enough room. The padded seat is adjustable, and there are by, and knee pads and glide tracks foot brace that allow you to adjust for your comfort to paddle.

The plastic that this Kayak is made out of can withstand some slow-moving rivers and of course lakes and ponds. It’s not designed for high impact that could be experienced under Whitewater conditions, but anything you may run over in a lake or pond should be no problem for this old town kayak.

One of the really weird things about this Kayak was where the drain plug was located. It’s not in the traditional place at the end of the kayak which makes draining the kayak at the end of the trip a little bit difficult. In unless you have plans to magically shake out the water, be prepared to spend a little bit more time draining your kayak at the end of your trip.

 Pros

  • Sit inside Kayak
  • Storage Compartment
  • Foam Seat

Cons

  • Not Very Maneuverable
  • A Bit Heavy
  • Drain Plug Is in a Weird Place

 

Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak

The Sevylor Quikpak K1 is designed to be an ultra-lightweight kayak that can go in and out of most places other kayaks can’t. This Kayak folds up and fits into a backpack where your paddle can fit on either side of the backpack. It’s convenient to use when reaching kayaking spots that you have to hike to.  However, if these kayaking spots feature a lot of water hazards, this Kayak may not be worth the effort to get it down to the water.
The 21gauge PVC construction is designed to resist punctures, but without the additional canvas coating that many other inflatable kayaks feature this inflatable does not resist puncture as well as it could. Luckily there are multiple air chambers featured on this Kayak so that if one is punctured the others remain afloat.  This is a great “fun” craft, but it’s not a serious kayak for any purpose other than pure recreation just off the end of the dock!

Unlike many other inflatable kayaks this one has a high weight capacity of up to 400 pounds, so if you’re a larger person or like to carry a lot of gear with you on the water, this is going to be an ideal inflatable kayak because it’s going to be able to support your weight. It does feature a storage system on the front allows you to store your gear through the bungee system.

Pros

  • Quick Setup
  • 21Gauge PVC Construction
  • Tarpaulin Bottom
  • Multiple Other Chambers

Cons

  • A Lot of Drag When Paddling
  • Not Puncture Resistant
  • Poor Foor Rests
  • Poor water drag efficiency

 

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

The Challenger K1 is a lightweight inflatable kayak. This Kayak weighs in at only 27.2 pounds and would be ideal for anyone wanting to get in and out of the water without a lot of difficulties. The maximum load capacity for this Kayak is only 220 pounds. If you are a larger person or plan on bringing a lot of equipment with you this Kayak is not going to be able to support you. Remember when considering the K1 that it is intended for light use only.  Please don’t consider this model if you’re actually looking to “kayak”.  It’s not meant for lakewater or whitewater tripping and is not meant for anything other than recreation on a sunny afternoon near the dock and the cottage.This Kayak should be seen less as a recreational vehicle and more like a toy.

That said, the rubber bottom of the K-1 is fairly durable and can withstand some abuse.  We’d strongly suggest that you be careful and only use this boat in open, CALM water or slow-moving, peaceful rivers!

 Pros

  • Sit inside Inflatable
  • 220 LB Weight Capacity
  • Fits Back in Case after Deflating

Cons

  • Sharp Seams
  • Poor Tracking
  • Flimsy Paddle

 

Final Thoughts & Recommendations

As we mentioned earlier, your own best kayak is going to be different than the best kayak for someone else simply because you may be using it for a different purpose. This list is full of great kayaks and none of them are poor quality or poor design other than perhaps some of the inflatable versions which have to compromise a lot of essential features to gain portability.

If you are looking for a great fishing kayak, the best one to get is going to be the Useful UH tandem kayak. The weight capacity alone on this Kayak makes it worth the purchase. But that’s not the only thing that’s great about the Useful UH tandem kayak; it has great storage, comfortable seating, Rod holders, and legroom. What more could you ask for in a fishing kayak?

If you need a recreational kayak that can withstand some bumps and bruises the best kayak for you is going to be the Ocean Frenzy kayak. There is plenty of storage in this Kayak at the high weight capacity to support larger peddlers. The best part about this Kayak is that it lightweight making it easy for someone to get into the water on their own.

Finally, if you’re looking to get into a remote area to hit some water that has not been kayak by man before you’re going to want to use one of the backpack kayaks featured in this review. The K1 or the K5 both fold up into the backpack that you can bring with you into the most remote locations. If the water is going to have some sharp rocks or more intense water hazards you’ll definitely want to go with the K5 because it has some additional protection on the bottom to prevent puncture.

No matter which kayak you choose, you’re going to have a great time out on the water, but just remember to be very deliberate and discerning when it comes to determining the exact purpose for your kayak.  One kayak does not fit everyone’s needs all the time! Also remember that kayaking is about exercise and relaxation at the same time. While you have the privilege of getting up close and personal with some of nature’s most beautiful elements, you’ll also get a killer workout for your upper body and your core. Kayaking, if not now, will soon be your favorite water activity if you dare to give it a try!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.