Best Kayak Brands

There are a surprising number of kayak brands out there, and the amount can be overwhelming to both newbies and pro paddlers.

A lot of thought should be put into deciding which kayak to buy, after all, they’re often a pricy purchase and you want to make sure you’re buying the right one for you. 

Many brands, though selling all types of kayak, often specialize in one particular type - like fishing for example. Deciding what you’re going to be using the kayak for and what you want it to do for you, will influence the brand you choose. 

To make things easier we’ve made this list of the best kayak brands you can buy. Covering everything from the best for beginners to the best brand for a particular type, this list has everything you need to decide what kind of kayak is the right one for you.

Best Brand Overall

Old Town Kayak

Created in 1903 Old Town Kayak is known by some as the “Cadillac” of canoes, and their kayaks are pretty great too.

Their products, originally made of wood, became a fast favorite at summer camps throughout the USA, and they’ve continually changed and improved the design of kayaks as the company has grown. 

Playing a huge role in the growth of kayaking and other water sports throughout the USA, they were one of the first to incorporate fiberglass into their designs in 1960, forever changing the way kayaks would look from then onwards. 

Since then the company has gone on to make everything from fishing kayaks to sport ones used in white water rafting. Their products have since won several awards for their designs and innovation, a marker of their prestige in the world of kayaking.

OLD TOWN KAYAK BRAND

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Part of their popular Dirigo series, this kayak features a breakthrough tandem design able to fit two adults and a third smaller passenger in the middle jump seat.

With easy to access storage included for your personal belongings you don’t want to leave on the shore, and thigh pads built-in, this kayak is perfect for a comfy and relaxing time with you and your family on the water. 

Pros

  • Built with high-quality materials and good craftsmanship
  • Lightweight and easy to transport

Cons

  • Some kayaks are unstable in rivers or the sea - this can be avoided by picking the right kayak for where you want to go

Best Brand For Beginners

Perception Kayaks

Widely regarded as the best brand of kayak for beginners, for over 40 years Perception Kayaks has introduced more people to paddling than any other kayak manufacturer. 

Designing and manufacturing all kayaks by hand, their products are known for their comfort, versatility, durability, and safety. Perception has a wide range of products to suit both children and adults, and has kayaks ranging from pedal to paddle ones.  

Their use of quality materials at an affordable price tag has made Perception Kayaks a popular brand among those who want to give kayaking a go for the first time.

PERCEPTION KAYAKS BRAND

Perception kayaks joyride 10 | sit inside kayak for adults and kids | recreational and multi-water kayak with selfie slot | 10' | salsa

A very stable sit-inside kayak suitable for beginners and experienced paddlers alike, this kayak comes in a variety of fun colors and has adjustable footrests to accommodate paddlers of any size.

It also features comfortable seating, easy-access storage, and a unique entertainment center that holds your phone and allows you to capture your best water moments while keeping your phone safe. 

Pros

  • Very affordable with most kayaks costing less than $900
  • Good for beginners but provide features that are useful to experienced paddlers

Cons

  • The plastic used has the look and feel of being cheap, but it’s very durable so this may not make a difference to you

Best For Fishing Brand 

Wilderness Systems

Whether fishing for a hobby or sport one of the best fishing brands out there right now is Wilderness Systems. Since 1986 the brand has focused on perfecting the fishing kayak to provide you with the best quality product possible. 

A mixture of fashionable and functional, Wilderness Systems kayaks have won several awards for the design and quality of their products. While most of their products are tailored to the more serious fisher, they still sell many kayaks for those who want to try out this hobby. 

WILDERNESS SYSTEMS BRAND

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This product shows the height of Wilderness Systems’ innovation with it being their first tri-powered kayak with paddle, power, and pedal capabilities.

Featuring S.M.A.R.T technology that combines Stability, Maneuverability, Acceleration, Responsiveness, and Tracking, this kayak provides the ultimate performance in multiple water environments. 

With a flat platform for standing and a built-in steering control system, you’ll be able to focus more of your energy on the actual fishing rather than paddling. 

Pros

  • Well-built, durable, and easy to steer kayaks 
  • Is one of the most fashionable brands of kayak

Cons

  • Quite expensive, though due to their quality they’re worth the price 

Best Inflatable Kayak Brand

Sea Eagle

For over 50 years Sea Eagle has been the brand of choice for inflatable kayaks. Known for its reliability, quality, and affordability, Sea Eagle is perfect for adventurers and families alike.

Several of their products have been used in expeditions globally like making the descent of the upper Yangtze River in China or used to travel through the many canals in Europe. 

With a huge lineup of products to suit any need from fishing to adventuring to a leisurely paddle on a lake, you’ll be sure to find exactly what you need at Sea Eagle. 

SEA EAGLE BRAND

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Perfect for whitewater rafting as well as open-water and surf, you won’t believe how much this inflatable kayak can handle. This small one-person kayak only takes five minutes to inflate so you’ll be out on the water in no time. 

With a removable high-pressure drop stitch floor and improved tracking on open water compared to previous models, all the features on the 300x are designed to make paddling in rough waters as easy as possible. 

Pros

  • Very strong and durable so able to cope in rough waters 
  • Majority of models inflate quickly to get you out on the water as fast as possible

Cons

  • Stability can be an issue in their kayaks, though for an experienced paddler this shouldn’t be much of a problem

Best Sit-On-Top Kayak Brand

Lifetime Kayaks

Known for making some of the most stable sit-on-top kayaks on the market, Lifetime kayaks use quality materials like polyethylene plastic to make them both strong and lightweight. Suitable for all ages and skill levels, these kayaks are a great choice for recreational or fishing use.

With many features designed for added comfort and conveniences like cup holders, paddle cradles, and rod holders, it’s no wonder these affordable yet functional kayaks are a favorite amongst paddlers. 

LIFETIME KAYAK BRAND

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A good choice for beginners, the Lotus 80 is a very stable kayak that’s also lightweight and durable. Great for use on lakes and rivers, this kayak will allow you to go out and enjoy the peacefulness of nature.

With an adjustable backrest of added comfort and even a free paddle included there’s a lot to love about this product. 

Pros

  • A good starter kayak for anyone who whats to try out this hobby
  • Produce some of the lightest sit-on-top kayaks on the market

Cons

  • Some of their kayaks only have two scupper holes that allow water to drain away (most kayaks have four), so while water is still able to be drained it might take a little longer

Best Pedal Kayak Brand

Ocean Kayak

Started in 1971 in California, Ocean Kayak has gone on to become one of the best-known brands in the game. They were one of the first to make kayaks out of polyethylene, making tougher more durable kayaks at a price more people could afford. 

They’ve since gone on to make all types of kayaks, from sit-on-top to tandem. But it’s their pedal kayaks that they’re often most well known for.

Usually faster than paddle kayaks, easy to steer, and with a lightweight but strong body, these kayaks are perfect for beginners but also suitable for those who just want a calm pedal around a lake or down a river. 

OCEAN KAYAK BRAND

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A good choice for beginners, the Lotus 80 is a very stable kayak that’s also lightweight and durable. Great for use on lakes and rivers, this kayak will allow you to go out and enjoy the peacefulness of nature.

With an adjustable backrest of added comfort and even a free paddle included there’s a lot to love about this product. 

Pros

  • A good starter kayak for anyone who what's to try out this hobby
  • Produce some of the lightest sit-on-top kayaks on the market

Cons

  • Some of their kayaks only have two scupper holes that allow water to drain away (most kayaks have four), so while water is still able to be drained it might take a little longer

Best Kayak Brands Buying Guide

Whether buying your first kayak or just adding to your collection, there are things you need to consider to make sure that your purchase is right for you.

Best kayak brands group of kayaks

One of the most important things is to do your research and decide what you want your kayak to do for you. If you want to go out onto rough waters then buying one more suitable for a calm lake won’t be any good to you.

If you want to go out fishing then you may think any old kayak will do, but the benefits of buying a specific fishing one mean they usually come with extra features designed to help you in this hobby.

Though it may seem daunting, with this list and the right research you’ll be able to get the perfect one to suit your needs. 

Another very important aspect is the safety of the kayak. Though going out on a beautiful lake may seem like a calming way to spend an afternoon, going out onto the water always comes with risks.

Most established kayak brands will adhere to national - and most of the time international - safety standards. While buying from smaller “indie” brands is a nice idea, there’s no guarantee that they’ll do the same.

If you are going to buy from a smaller brand or are getting a kayak second-hand, make sure to carefully examine it before you buy. 

Best Kayak Brands - FAQ's

Which Kayaks Are The Most Stable? 

Those with pontoon hulls are the most stable. These are the types used on recreational kayaks like the sit-on-top because of their excellent stability.

What’s The Fastest Type Of Kayak?

Touring kayaks are all around the fastest. Their long, sleek hulls allow them to easily build and maintain speed. On flat water, through the sprint kayak is faster.

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