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The Best Kayak

Last updated on September 11, 2019

We looked at the top 10 Kayaks and dug through the reviews from 60 of the most popular review sites including Outdoor Veteran, Waves Champ, Kayaker Guide, Kayak Base, Best Reviews Guide, Outside Pursuits and more. The result is a ranking of the best Kayaks.

The Best Kayak

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Our Picks For The Top Kayaks

Show Contents
Our Take
  Also Consider

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks

Vapor 10

Overall Take

Room for FidoThis dog-friendly kayak is more lightweight than other models, making it a cinch to carry from your truck to the riverbed.

  Best Overall

Ocean Kayak

Prowler 13 Angler Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak

Overall Take

Handy Waterproof HatchesStash your wallet, cell phone and car keys in this kayak's convenient waterproof hatches and head down the river for a day of fun.

  Also Great

Ocean Kayak

12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top

Overall Take

Family FunWith two seats, this durable kayak makes it possible to bring a friend along for an afternoon adventure.

  Best Value

Sevylor

Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak

Overall Take

Best for BeginnersIf you need to hike to get to the river, this kayak is your best bet, as it is inflatable and folds up and fits in your backpack.

Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, Simplemost analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
17

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the kayaks available to purchase.
10

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

60

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources.

14,423

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot.

The Best Overall

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak

Our Expert Score
9.5
6 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.4
123 user reviews
Our Take

This lightweight kayak is easy to move from point A to point B. t's got a spacious cockpit and plenty of interior storage space. If you want to bring your pet along, this option can also fit your dog without any trouble.


The Best Bang For Your Buck

Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak

Expert Summarized Score
9.2
7 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
7.9
97 user reviews
Our Take

Our Best Value pick stores as a backpack and inflates in moments, so you're river-ready in less than five minutes. It's a beginner-friendly kayak that has plenty of storage space when inflated. The extra storage compartments for hiking gear and food make a great bonus.

Our Findings

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak

Best Overall

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak, Sunrise (Sports)


List Price:
New From: 0 Out of Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

What We Liked: This lightweight kayak is easy to move from point A to point B. t’s got a spacious cockpit and plenty of interior storage space. If you want to bring your pet along, this option can also fit your dog without any trouble.

Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak

Best Value

Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak (Sports)


List Price: $299.99
New From: $496.48 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

What We Liked: Our Best Value pick stores as a backpack and inflates in moments, so you’re river-ready in less than five minutes. It’s a beginner-friendly kayak that has plenty of storage space when inflated. The extra storage compartments for hiking gear and food make a great bonus.

Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak

Also Consider

Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler One-Person Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak, Brown Camo, 13 Feet 4 Inches (Sports)


List Price: $852.89 USD
New From: $846.56 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

What We Liked: Ocean Kayak’s Prowler is a must-have boat for recreational kayakers and serious fishermen alike. It glides through the water in calm or rough conditions. You can safely store your gear inside waterproof hatches in the bow or stern. There’s even room to mount a transducer (fish finder) to help you land the catch of the day.

Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

Also Great

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak (Sunrise, 12-Feet) (Sports)


List Price: $699.99 USD
New From: $699.99 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

What We Liked: This family-friendly kayak can fit two adults and a child or dog for a fun outdoor adventure. You can also reconfigure it for solo trips. It’s light, easy to handle and rugged enough for almost any river conditions. Though some say that it’s slower and more expensive than other options, that extra cash buys you extra seats and a little more stability.

Our Kayak Buying Guide

Kayaking is a great all-around workout for anyone who loves spending time on the water. Since you have to stay upright and shift your body weight to make turns, kayaking can improve your balance and core strength. You’ll also get a back and arm workout from navigating with your paddles — and you’ll never have to set foot inside of a gym.

Many people think of whitewater rapids and intense trips down speeding rivers when they hear the word “kayak.” In reality, the sport is accessible to everyone, including recreational wave riders and fishermen.

There are two major categories of kayaks: sit-on-tops and sit-ins. Sit-on-tops, like the Ocean Kayak Malibu, are recreational kayaks that work well in lakes and calm rivers. They’re easy to get on, comfortable in warm weather and self-draining. Some sit-on-tops, like the Ocean Kayak Prowler, have features like rod holders for fishing.

Sit-in kayaks, like the Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak, are quick-moving boats that you sit inside of as you paddle. Since you can shift your weight to help you steer, they’re a little more efficient and easier to control than sit-on kayaks. Sit-in kayaks will also keep you warmer during chilly weather. However, you’ll have to make sure that your sit-in kayak has a drain or built-in pump to remove water.

Many kayaks are designed for just one rider. The Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak is a sit-in kayak that’s perfect for sportsmen or recreational riders. For those times when two is better than one, Ocean Kayak’s Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak has enough room for you and a friend to explore the water. There’s even a little extra room for your favorite mutt.  

Fishing kayaks are generally narrower, making it easier to maneuver into tight spaces when you’re on the hunt for your next big catch. The Ocean Kayak Prowler is a slim 28 inches. It also comes in a brown camo shade that’s perfect for blending in with the trees and plants around your fish. You don’t have to sacrifice storage in this kayak’s sleek shape: The Click Seal front hatch offers easy access to bow-to-stern internal storage.

Kayaking can be a great add-on to an outdoor hiking or camping adventure, but lugging a kayak around can limit your explorations. You can carry Sevylor’s Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak as a backpack with two paddle slots on each side, and then set it up in five minutes when you find that perfect spot on the river. The rugged construction is perfect for rigorous lakes, D-rings and bungee storage help you carry more gear for more fun.

There are still other considerations to make once you’ve decided what general type of kayak you’d like to buy. Our Tips & Advice will help you iron out the details so you can start paddling.

Simplemost Fun Fact

The first kayaks weren’t used for recreation — they were used to help their owners survive. The Inuit and Aleut people of Arctic North America started building their own kayaks to hunt in frigid coastal waters like the Arctic, North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans.

First, they’d create a wood or whalebone frame that was large enough to hold the kayaker and balanced enough to remain stable in unpredictable currents. They’d use their own arm lengths to determine the correct frame size. Then they’d stretch hearty animal skins, like stitched seal skins, over the frame. The kayak’s paddles were shaped from driftwood.

Today, most kayaks are made in factories in less than a week. We don’t rely on kayaks to feed ourselves anymore, but being on the water is a much-needed escape back to nature.

The Kayak Tips and Advice

  • What are you going to use your kayak for? If you’re interested in casual use for a lakeside vacation home or for your kids, a sit-on-top kayak like Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak is a top choice. Kayakers who want a swift solo vessel should check out a lightweight, sit-in option like the Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak. Fishing fanatics will benefit from a kayak that can store tackle boxes, bait wells and fishing rods, like the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak.
  • If you plan on taking to the water every weekend, paying for a top-notch choice like the Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak isn’t a big deal. However, if you’ll only use your kayak every once in a while, Sevylor’s Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak is an affordable option that doesn’t compromise on quality.
  • Kayaking isn’t only about your kayak. You’ll need additional safety equipment if you want to take on rivers, lakes and streams. A Coast Guard-approved life jacket, sun-shielding hats and sunscreen, neoprene footwear and swimwear are all essentials. Many beginner kayakers also choose to wear helmets.
  • You won’t get very far in your kayak if you don’t choose the right paddles. Your own height and your boat’s width will determine the length of your paddles, and paddle weight is also important. Lighter paddles made of carbon-fiber or fiberglass will reduce fatigue, but they’re pricier than plastic or nylon paddles. You can also choose from a variety of shaft shapes, and you can pick from two or four-piece shafts that break down for storage.
  • Make sure you have a safe place to store your kayak when it’s not in use. You can just roll up inflatable kayaks, like the Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak, and store them in a cool, dry place. Hard-shell kayaks, like the Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak, should preferably be stored indoors. However, if you have to keep your hard-shell kayak outside, find a place that limits your kayak’s exposure to sunlight, moisture and extreme temperatures.
  • Keep your kayak clean for optimal performance and a fresh look whenever you hit the water. You can use special kayak soap or mild soap and water to keep the inside and outside of your boat in tip-top shape. Make sure to give your entire kayak a thorough rinse if you’ve paddled through brackish water or frequently travel through salt water.

About The Author

Abby Stassen
Abby Stassen 

Abby Stassen has a bachelor's degree in English language & literature from the University of Michigan. She's been writing professionally for over a decade. Home is where the heart is, and it's also where Abby spends time hunting for the perfect appliances, decor and more. She also has a lush Floridian backyard that doubles as a test lab for garden products. Abby recommends home and garden products based on her rigorous online research and personal experiences with the products.