Do you enjoy kayaking on the open water? Or, is it something you’ve always wanted to do for fun but you’ve never got round to it?
Kayaking can be a great recreational activity and stress reliever. There are so many options of different recreational kayaks available for different structures and features, it can sometimes be difficult knowing which to go for. The overload of choices is even more daunting if you’re a beginner.
Whether you’re looking for a kayak for yourself or one for the whole family, this post reviews the best recreational kayaks to help you choose the right recreational kayak for you to make the most of a fun trip.
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
The Pungo 120 is a highly-rated sit-in recreational kayak. This kayak is ideal for small to medium-sized paddlers measuring 12 inches in length and weighing 49 lbs.
The Pungo 120 offers dynamic on-water performance with its narrow shape offering it advanced maneuvering ability.
This sit-in kayak contains a renowned hull that delivers superior stability without compromising on performance. This is a great choice for a beginner as it enables security and easy paddling.
The Pungo 120 also offers superior comfort with its phase 3 airpro seat. This seat is fully adjustable enabling you to adjust it to your desired comfortable position.
The Pungo 120 is ergonomically designed to support the lower back for extended comfort throughout the day.
The back of the chair is also made from a breathable mesh material to enable airflow to keep you cool. The Pungo 120 also includes an adjustable footrest offering complete customizability which comes in handy especially after a couple of hours of paddling.
The Pungo 120 includes maximum storage features of a removable dry box, two cup holders, a customizable mounting platform that can be used for anything from a phone to a fishing rod.
There is also a rear hatch for extra secure storage. With so much space to work with, this is a great choice if you’re considering a longer trip.
- Sit-in kayak for easy maneuvering
- Ergonomic phase 3 air pro seat
- Adjustable footrest to accommodate paddlers
- Includes a removable dry box, 2 cup holders, and rear hatch storage for maximum storage
- Rear hatch for extra secure storage
- It doesn’t come with a drain plug
BEST KAYAK FOR BEGINNERS
The Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5 is a great choice for beginners or anyone looking for an affordable kayak that gives them everything they need to go about and enjoy the water.
This high-quality kayak is designed with beginners in mind as it is shorter in length measuring 11 ft. This feature enables excellent maneuverability as it allows paddlers to gain full control and steer effortlessly.
This is a great choice of kayak for coasting over waves and a nimble choice for cruising across rivers or lakes.
The Malibu 11.5 offers ultra comfort. This kayak is ergonomically designed for comfort even after prolonged use. It includes a molded-in seat with an adjustable backrest as well as molded foot and calf rests to enable all-day comfort.
It also includes added features for added convenience such as a paddle rest and cup holder to enable you to put everything down and take a breather.
The Malibu 11.5 also offers great storage solutions for such a shallow boat. It contains a splash-resistant dry hatch with a stackable design that enables easy storage.
Not only is it located in a convenient location, but it also makes for easy access to enable you to bring aboard baggage. This kayak has a capacity of 360 lbs making it ideal for taking out for the day as you have plenty of space and capacity to bring supplies with you.
- AirGo molded-in seat with seat and adjustable backrest, molded-in footwells and calf rests for added leg support for extra comfort
- Molded-in paddle rests and 3 cup holders for convenience
- Quick stash dry hatch and locking bar and retention bungees for storage security
- Measures 11 ft, 5 inches enabling easy maneuvering
- 360 lbs maximum load capacity to enable onboarding of extra supplies
- Paddles not included
BEST TANDEM KAYAK
The Ocean Kayak Malibu 2XL is a great choice for the whole family. This tandem kayak has two structured seating positions as well as an additional seating space ideal for a furry friend or a child.
This kayak’s versatility makes for a suitable choice for the whole family whether you’re thinking of going it alone or taking on extra people. This kayak is designed for comfort.
It includes two sit-on-top seat positions which firstly make it easy to get on and off the boat as well as providing a comfortable space to enjoy the day.
Ergonomically designed for comfort, the Malibu 2XL offers two comfortable seating positions designed with over-molded seats for slop prevention and overlapping footwells to allow for comfortable seating for whoever is in the middle position.
This kayak is longer in length than other recreational kayaks in order to accommodate the additional paddlers.
This boat is 12 ft long and 34 inches wide which enables easy maneuvering and easy paddling on open water. This kayak is best suited for calm and open water on the sea, river, or lake.
This kayak also offers additional benefits of a paddle holder and extra storage features. This is great for anyone thinking of using the kayak for long days out as it enables you to put everything down and take a breather or to stop for a bit of lunch.
- Sit-on-top - two seat positions and additional molded third seating position
- A pair of comfortable customizable seats with slip prevention
- Overlapping footwells to allow center seated paddlers to settle in and brace their feet comfortably
- 425 lbs maximum load capacity to enable extra gear
- Measures 12 ft long and 34 inches wide enabling easy maneuvering and paddle control
- Weighs 63 lbs
- Paddles not included
BEST INFLATABLE KAYAK
The Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Inflatable Kayak stands to be a great choice for anyone looking for a versatile and durable inflatable kayak.
With a common misconception of inflatable kayaks being less stable, this kayak blows all the myths out of the water.
With a high-end built-in aluminum ribbed frame, this kayak offers great stability as its structure defines the bow and stern of the boat to improve tracking and maneuverability.
This kayak is also made with a multiple-layer construction with three layers of material. This intricate construction provides puncture resistance and improves the durability of the boat.
This kayak is an ideal choice if you’re looking for something that is easy to store. This inflatable kayak enables easy assembly, disassembly, and storage. All that’s required to use the kayak is to unfold it, inflate, and attach the seats.
This kayak also offers an innovative design feature of an interchangeable deck. This customization deck enables the option for a single, double closed deck, or a standard open deck.
Whilst there are two seats available, with an open deck, there is extra space in the middle suitable for a furry friend or a child.
- Folded size 35 x 21 x 12 inches
- 550 maximum load capacity for extra gear
- Weighs 52 lbs
- High support, adjustable padded seats for extended comfort
- Three seat locations for solo or tandem paddling
- Open deck design enables easy accessibility
- Interchangeable deck - single, double or standard open deck
- Drop stitch technology for rigid high-pressure floors help to enhance rigidity and tracking performance
- You can’t access the storage area while seated
Recreation Kayaks Buying Guide
Types of kayaks
A sit-on kayak offers ease of access as the open deck makes it easy to board the kayak. This type of kayak tends to offer added stability due to its design. This type of kayak is brilliant for beginners, children, or a family.
Its design makes it stable, easy to use, and paddle which makes it ideal for casual use. This is a great choice to use on rivers and the sea for a gentle paddle.
The sit-on-top function provides peace of mind of knowing that there is no risk of getting trapped in an enclosed space. This feature also adds the benefit of extra storage under the seat and in the hull of the boat.
Sit-on kayaks are also considered to be more comfortable than sit-in kayaks as they are likely to come with cushioned and adjustable seats.
A sit-in kayak offers the most effective protection from weather and water as it limits exposure to the elements. They’re considered to be comfortable on a cold windy day.
With the cockpit lowered, sit-in kayaks tend to offer great dry storage solutions. This type of kayak is also great for moving fast and accurately maneuvering as it enables efficient paddling. This kayak is ideal for use on flat and calm water or wide rivers.
Inflatable kayaks are great storage solutions. Finding a foldable or inflatable kayak comes in handy for light and extreme expeditions as they tend to offer several functions and benefits.
This type of kayak is easy to store, load, and transport due to its lightweight. This type of kayak definitely comes in handy while traveling as being able to deflate and fold it up into a manageable size makes it easy to tuck away.
Whilst flexible, this type of kayak is surprisingly sturdy and versatile. A narrow inflatable kayak is ideal for use in shallow water or along the shore, while a wider inflatable kayak enables a bit more freedom to roam along flowing rivers.
Tandem kayaks are designed to accommodate two people at a time. This type of kayak is great if you’re looking to save money for two people to use one kayak rather than buying two single kayaks.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kayak material should I look for?
If you’re looking for a kayak for recreational use, ideally you’ll want to look for something that is light in weight. This makes the kayak easier to transport, carry, and load onto your car. This is an important factor to take into consideration especially if you’re planning to use the kayak alone.
Having a lighter kayak also enables you to carry more gear as the weight of the boat itself won’t be overbearing. This is something to consider if you’re considering adventuring for the day, especially if you’re thinking of taking a couple of supplies with you to last the day.
Here are a couple of lightweight materials to look out for in a recreational kayak:
Polyurethane plastic - This is a popular lightweight and inexpensive material. This material is also abrasive-resistant making it a great choice if you’re considering adventuring along rivers.
However, this material is prone to sun damage with UV rays causing degradation after extended exposure. To prevent sun damage, be sure to store the kayak in a cool and store-covered location.
ABS plastic - ABS is considered to be more expensive than polyurethane but possesses similar levels of durability. The increase in price aligns with the lighter weight of the material as well as the added benefit of it being UV resistant. This makes this material ideal for use in hotter weather conditions.
Composites - Composites such as fiberglass and carbon fiber provide the ultimate weight solution as they are considered to be ultra-lightweight. These materials offer superior performance at a comparable price.
They are also unaffected by sun damage making them the go-to material for use in hotter climates. However, this material isn’t as durable as polyurethane or ABS, crashing into jagged edges such as rocks may cause damage to a boat made from this material.
What size kayak should I look for?
Recreational usually 10 to 12 ft in length - makes for easy maneuvering. Length and width are critical factors when it comes to the performance of a kayak. A longer boat will stand to offer more speed, track more efficiently and carry more cargo.
On the other hand, shorter kayaks under 12 ft such as most recreational kayaks offer advanced maneuvering in tight waters.
So there you have it, the best recreational kayaks reviewed. The kayaks offer all of the ideal features needed for a great recreational kayak, whether you’re simply looking for a casual paddle or a more thrilling adventure.
These kayaks offer unique benefits geared toward a wide range of people. If these kayaks aren’t quite what you’re looking for, this review gives you all the information you need to take with you to help you find the perfect recreational kayak for you.