Best Kayak of 2019 – Complete Reviews with Comparisons
Whether you are interested in becoming a professional kayaker or you want to have one for your recreational use, investing in a proper kayak is a great idea. Kayaking is an outdoor activity that comes with a number of benefits including getting your cardio exercise in, time spent in nature, as well as socializing and becoming a part of a community.
While professional kayakers enjoy buying expensive and top-quality equipment, an average inflatable kayak is perfect for any beginner. On the other hand, if you have some experience and you are looking to invest in a more complex kayak, there is enough space for you as the market is quite big and finding the perfect product shouldn’t present a problem.
Still, there are a number of points to keep in mind when going through the buying process. The main problem is that not all high-priced kayaks are accompanied by good quality and not all low-priced kayaks have to be of low quality. Bearing this in mind, it is critical to know what a good kayak has to include. With this in mind, we came up with a list of the best kayak options, as well as a buyer’s guide and frequently asked questions section to make your decision a simple one.
Best Kayak Reviews
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
A great recreational kayak manufactured by the well-known Intex Explorer brand, the K2 is one of the best buys for a beginner looking to experience all the beauties of fitness paddling.
The first thing that comes to our mind is that this product is not ideal for professional use. Still, for the price you are buying you shouldn’t expect that either. On the other hand, it is an excellent kayak covering the needs of two people, perfect for beginners or a couple that want to have some fun.
The kayak itself measures in at 10.3 feet in length and 3 feet in width, which makes it perfect for solo or tandem kayaking. It is made out of high-resistance PVC and features a yellow color design which can be of great benefit in conditions of low visibility.
One of the best features about it is the Boston valve system that allows for easy inflation and deflation using the air pump that you get with the product. Along with that, there are two separate air chambers, so in case one is punctured the kayak still remains stable and afloat on the water. Still, it is not as comfortable as other models, and given the fact that it provides a backrest, this kayak has to be more spacious.
Apart from the kayak itself, this offer includes a pair of paddles, an air pump, two adjustable seats, one removable fin as well as a travel bag in which you can fold and fit the kayak and the extra equipment. Overall, it is a great value product that is perfect for beginners.
What's to like about the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
First, this product comes at an extremely affordable price compared to the average price point for an inflatable kayak. Along with that, it is easy to inflate which is mostly due to the effective air pump that it comes with as well as the Boston valve system that supports this product.
What's not to like about the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
This product is not nearly as comfortable as it looks. While it does offer the backrest and a spacious cockpit, it still lacks the essential foot room, and the material it is made out of is not ergonomic. Along with that, using the included paddles can get quite exhausting after a few hours of kayaking. Not to forget, this kayak is not adequate for rough water or sea use.
Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Kayak
Investing in a professional kayak is a great choice for any beginner who wants to start from higher ground, as well as any experienced enthusiast that knows their way around a kayak. The Sea Eagle SE370 stands at great value and is worth a mention.
If you are interested in being a part of an all-round kayaking experience and you want to know how it is to race on the water, the Sea Eagle SE370 is going to be great to accompany you. While it weighs only 26 lbs., this kayak can support up to 650 lbs .of weight which is equal to three people and a dog. Yes, you have heard us right, the material this kayak is made of can withstand your dog’s claws and sharp teeth.
The SE370 is suitable to be used in up to Class III whitewater. Talking about what this offer includes, you are getting a PolyKrylar kayak, two paddles, two adjustable ergonomic seats, an air flat pump, as well as a travel bag in which you can fit your kayak and all the necessary equipment.
The SE370 does come with an open/close valve system which makes the inflation and deflation a process that will not take more than a few minutes. Apart from that, as it has two skegs on the bottom so maneuvering this kayak at a high speed is going to be a piece of cake.
One of the most important features is the NMMA-certified hull which is both UV and salt resistant which means it can withstand harsh weather conditions, allowing you to go ahead and race in different environments.
Whether your idea is to take professional advantage of it or you want to enjoy it for your fishing, hunting, and wildlife exploring trips, the SE370 is a great product that comes at a reasonable price.
What's to like about the Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Kayak
There are a number of cool things about this product, but the number one thing has to be the NMMA-certified hull which ensures that this kayak is a long-term investment and that you will get many years use out of it. Along with that, the easy inflation and deflation system is due to the five deluxe open and drain valves.
What's not to like about the Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Kayak
While we didn't expect a carbon fiber- or fiberglass-quality kayak, we still expected more from the SE370 when it comes to stability. Along with that, the spray skirts are not as sturdy which can be a problem if you are in for a long and exhausting ride.
Lifetime Tamarack Angler
If you are interested in investing in kayaks for fishing purposes, the market has more than a few high quality offers for you. The Lifetime Tamarack Angler is a trusted product that is among the best sellers on the Amazon site.
When it comes to fishing kayaks, the first thing you want to look at is the material and how well it is constructed.
This Tamarack Angler is made out of UV-resistant polyethylene and comes in an earthy color which is perfect for keeping the fish with you. Along with that, it features a stable flat bottom as well as stability rails which ensure that this kayak is protected from flipping.
At 10 feet in length and 31 inches in width, this kayak has a 5-year limited warranty for all built-in and material defects. While it doesn’t look like that, it is a lightweight product weighing 52 lbs. with a maximum capacity of 275 lbs., which makes it perfect for a fishing trip.
It also has a number of comfort features including multiple footrest positions as well as a backrest and front/rear shock straps. It has three fishing rod holders with two being flush mounted and the third being a top-mounted holder.
Apart from that, there are two six-inch storage compartments in which you can fit any fishing equipment or valuables as it is sealed and water resistant.
Overall, a great tracking angler kayak that is good for an experienced fisherman as well as anyone just starting in the kayaking world.
What's to like about the Lifetime Tamarack Angler
It has great stability and tracking performance which plays a critical role on any intensive fishing trip. Along with that, it comes with three fishing rod mounts and two storage compartments that prove to be quite handy, especially if your trip lasts for more than a day.
What's not to like about the Lifetime Tamarack Angler
There are a few visible disadvantages that this sit-on-top kayak holds. Firstly, there are no paddles included which means that you will have to buy a pair separately. Along with that, while the brand is quite reputable, the customer service doesn’t seem to be on point.
SUN DOLPHIN Aruba 10-Foot Sit-In Kayak
If you are interested in recreational fitness paddling or you want to go for a solo paddle down a river or across a lake, the SUN DOLPHIN Aruba 10-foot Kayak is a great choice for you.
With an innovative design and a sturdy structure, the Aruba 10 is sure to last you for quite a few solo adventures. This great kayak is made out of Fortiflex polyethylene material that is UV and salt resistant.
While there is nothing complicated about the design, it is still a comfortable kayak as it features high back support and a large open cockpit in which you have more than enough space for resting your feet.
Along with that, it includes adjustable foot braces as well as a shock cord storage deck in which you can fit essentials or kayaking equipment that is currently out of use. It comes in a number of different color variations with blue, green, orange, and pink being the most popular. We are talking about an easy to maneuver lightweight kayak that can hold just below 300 lbs. of weight.
An attractive recreational kayak that comes with a few innovative features, this is a great buy for any experienced or beginner kayaking enthusiast.
Still, it doesn’t include paddles and you can’t expect that it will perform that well on above Class III white waters. Taking everything into consideration, it is an excellent buy manufactured by a trusted brand.
What's to like about the SUN DOLPHIN Aruba 10-Foot Sit-In Kayak
There are quite a few things that make this product stand among the best sellers. Apart from being attractive and sturdy, it offers enough space and comfort for one person. Unlike some of its competitors, this kayak comes with adjustable foot braces and high back pads that come in handy during a long kayaking trip.
What's not to like about the SUN DOLPHIN Aruba 10-Foot Sit-In Kayak
Although the material this kayak is made of is quite resistant, it is nowhere near as good as carbon fiber or fiberglass. With this in mind, you should expect that dents or scratches are likely to happen after heavier use. Along with that, it doesn’t include paddles, which means you will have to get these separately.
Ocean Kayak Malibu
If you are a fan of sit-on-top kayaks and you respect an innovative design, the Ocean Malibu Two is just the right choice for you. While it does stand at a somewhat higher price, it is absolutely justified as the value it offers is hard to compete with.
Starting off with the innovative design, this sit-on-top comes in a yellow, and a sunrise color variation. Out of all these, the yellow variation is the most popular and that is for two reasons — first, your chances of getting noticed by fellow kayakers are much higher, and second, if you are out fishing, chances are you will not scare off your potential trophies.
It does include a few different configurations as this kayak can act as a solo, tandem, or a child/pet tandem kayak offering an ergonomic seat that can be adjusted into four different positions. Along with that, there are overlapping foot wells that allow you to sit and relax without having to worry about feeling exhausted after a few hours of paddling.
The fact that we are talking about a sit-on-top kayak makes maneuvering and the use of this kayak easier, as getting in and getting out is all a matter of lifting yourself using the molded-in handles or the skid plate.
A comfortable kayak that has 12 feet in length and 34 inches in width, it is a long-term investment, that comes with a lifetime hull warranty. Still, the paddles are not included and that can be quite irritating if you are a beginner and don’t know where to get adequate ones. Taking everything into consideration, we are talking about a product of immense quality, that is a must-buy if you are a professional or an experienced kayaking enthusiast.
What's to like about the Ocean Kayak Malibu
With so many good things about this product, it is hard to pick out a few. Still, the lifetime warranty on the hull and the fact that this kayak can withstand harsher conditions while remaining stable and attractive is quite cool. Along with that, maneuvering this sit-on-top kayak is quite simple which is not always the case with these types of kayaks.
What's not to like about the Ocean Kayak Malibu
The paddles are not included. Along with that, it is expensive for beginners or people who don’t have that big of a budget but also want to experience all the benefits of a high-quality sit-on-top kayak.
Without a buyer’s guide, you have no relevant points on which to base your purchasing decision. Buying a kayak can turn into a pricey investment if you decide to go for professional models but don’t know what you are looking for.
With this in mind, you don’t want to get fooled by the high or the low price that is not supported by the relevant quality. That is why we came up with a few critical features that you need to consider when buying a kayak.
When it comes to types, there are a few classifications of kayaks. First, there are sit-inside and sit-on-top kayaks.
While sit-inside kayaks are the traditional models that you will see in most of sports competitions, the sit-on-top kayaks are a better option if you are interested in having an adventurous paddle and you don’t mind getting yourself a little bit wet.
Along with that, the sit-on-top kayaks are more stable and have a better flip-resistance.
Apart from these two, there is a difference between the recreational kayaks that are cheap and inflatable and the sea kayaks which are usually constructed using fiberglass or carbon fiber.
While inflatable kayaks are made out of high-resistance PVC and strengthened with additional layers of nylon, your best bet is to look for kayaks that are made out of carbon fiber, fiberglass, or polyethylene.
The material plays a huge role in how long your kayak will last and if it will be able to withstand UV, salt, and other factors.
The weight of a kayak can play an important role if you are on your own and need to transport the kayak. Along with that, the heavier the kayak is, the more weight it will be able to hold. Our recommendation is to look for a kayak that has a weight anywhere between 27 and 52 lbs.
In the direct connection with weight and capacity is an essential factor in making sure that your kayak will be able to hold the recommended amount of people. While solo kayaks are quite common, tandem (2 or 3 people) kayaks are becoming more popular, and with these, you want to have a capacity that is above 500 lbs.
Price plays an important role as there are some products that stand at great quality and aren't as expensive. It all depends on the material the kayak is made of and the brand that has developed it.
Still, a general norm is that inflatable kayaks start at a lower price — often around $50/60 — an average sit-on-top kayak that is made to last and has a proper warranty can cost you anywhere between $500-$700 or more.
How to Paddle a Kayak
There is nothing hard about it, as learning the right technique depends on holding a narrow grip, with your right hand being in control, and the left hand being loose and adaptable.
There are a number of different paddling techniques, and it all depends if you are going for feathered paddles or not.
How to Choose a Kayak
Choosing a kayak doesn’t have to be a hard process and as long as you have the critical features in your mind, you will not make a mistake.
Consider weight, capacity, material, price, and type in order to find the kayak of your dreams — see our buyer’s guide.
How to Store a Kayak
Storing a kayak depends on the type that you have invested in. If we are talking about inflatable kayaks, storing them will be as simple as deflating and fitting them in their travel bag.
For kayaks that are made out of carbon fiber, fiberglass, or molded-plastic, storing is going to be a more delicate process. Store these in your garage and cover them with a dust-resistant blanket.
How to Roll a Kayak
Rolling a kayak is something a lot of beginners are interested in. While it looks fascinating, it is not that hard to learn.
Start off by practicing a traditional C-C roll in shallow water – along with the paddle with your kayak, and tuck your body and head forward. Once you have done that, turn it towards the paddle and don’t stop the natural roll motion.
In order to pull yourself upright, swing your paddle 90 degrees out, and don’t forget to keep your hands in a power position.
Perform a pivot using your opposite forearm and try to lift yourself with a hip snap. Press your head against your shoulder and cock back your wrists. Breathe in, and relax.
How to Transport Your Kayak
Once again it is all a matter of the kayak you own. If it is an inflatable one, a traveling bag will do the job.
For other types, you will have to do it with a pickup truck or by attaching your kayak to the roof of your car and driving to the desired spot.
Out of all the above offerings, our personal favorite is the Lifetime Tamarack Angler. While it is a fishing kayak, you can still use it for paddling and recreational purposes, and as it offers great stability and comfort, so spending your whole day on it will be pure enjoyment. Now, it is your turn to make the perfect decision according to your budget and personal needs.