Best Kayak Ratings And Reviews: An Updated Guide For Buyers In 2021!
Over The Years I Have Paddled Many Kayaks, Here Are My Kayak Reviews of The Best Ones
The amount of choice available when purchasing a kayak can make for a few difficult decisions, this is why it is important to limit your search to the top kayak brands. The brands we will look at on this list offer the best features in terms of performance, durability, usefulness and have the best kayak reviews. We will then look at the best models of the year, so that buying a kayak can be a breeze.
It’s important to note that the best kayak for one person won’t necessarily be the best for you so we aim to provide the best options for various scenarios, We consider the quality of the kayak against the price to give the best value kayaks
In this article you will find the following Kayak Reviews as we found them to be the best kayaks on the market:
Considerations To Make When Buying a Top Kayak
There’s a lot to consider when buying a kayak. First you need to ask yourself if you’re a serious paddler or you will just be paddling for fun.
If you just want to hit the water and have some fun, then recreational kayaks are for you. They’re more affordable and are a great choice for calm waters.
If you’re here for some serious kayaking, like paddling for longer periods, then touring kayaks are your best choice, they’re designed for challenging conditions, offer better tracking and maneuverability, but they cost more due to better materials and their overall size.
So if you’ve figured out what type of paddler you are you can ove on with choosing the best kayak for you, but there are more things to consider.
The Different Types of Kayaks
Kayaks can either be sit in, or sit on top.
A sit in kayak has an enclosed cockpit that you sit inside, this is a top choice for colder weather since you have better protection than a sit on top and generally get less wet, consider getting a spray skirt if you want to stay dry. Being sat inside the cock pit makes it harder to get out of though.
Sit on top kayaks have an open deck and are great if you want to dive off and have a swim or do some snorkeling, and they’re almost impossible to capsize so it offers some added safety.
Different Kayak Lengths And Widths
A kayak can be wide or narrow, short or long
The wider a kayak is the more stable it tends to be and they can carry more weight.
Narrow kayaks are usually easier to paddle, more agile, track straighter, move faster and offer better performance for the more advanced kayaker.
Shorter kayaks are lighter and easier to maneuver allowing for tighter turns.
Longer kayaks are usually more narrow too so they are faster, more agile, track straighter and generally perform better overall. They are also easier to paddle once up to speed and because they are so long there is more storage space for your gear allowing you to be out on the water for longer periods, it’s in the name ‘touring kayaks’
Other Types Of Kayaks
Tandem kayaks are made to hold two paddlers. They are a great idea when you want to paddle with a friend and you don’t want to buy two separate kayaks
Fishing kayaks are made specifically for anglers. They come equipped with lots of fishing specific features such as rod holders, cooler holders, and multiple compartments for tackle boxes.
Inflatable kayaks are the ultimate recreational kayaks that are great for spontaneous kayaking. Ever been on a road trip and ended up near a river or lake and wished you could go for a quick paddle? Well have an inflatable kayak in you trunk means it’s always there for those unexpected moments. They don’t perform as well as hardshell kayaks but you can still have a great time in them
Here’s some kayak terms you should know so you can better understand what makes a kayak when you go to buy one.
The front part of the kayak is called the bow and the back is called the stern.
The cockpit is where you sit, the deck is the top of the kayak and the hull is the bottom of the kayak. The beam is the widest part of the kayak, usually mid ship.
Primary stability is how stable or tippy the kayak feels when you first get in. secondary stability is how stable the kayak feels when it’s under way, especially on an edge during a turn.
An important consideration is hull design and an understanding of all designs will help you pick the perfect kayak for you.
hull design involves trade offs. That’s because changing the shape for a desired attribute can require trading off another attribute. A flat bottom hull is very stable but tends to be slower, a v bottom hull is fast but tends to be less stable, rounded v bottom hulls are a compromise between the two, quicker than a flat bottom and more stable than a v bottom.
The Best Kayak Ratings And Reviews For 2021
Our Top Kayak Choices Reviewed In Detail
A Great Kayak for recreational use | Frenzy Review
The kayak is about 9 feet in length and weighs 43 pounds, meaning the Frenzy is easy to transport and store and be quickly mounted to a car top or in the back of a pick-up.
This has some of the best recreational kayak reviews because of its reliability and comfort. The Frenzy has a very solid overall construction and a well-made hull. The construction details mean it will have excellent stability, tracking and maneuverability in the water. The shape of the hull can also create decent speeds through the water. Creature comforts include a stern tank that has a bungee top, cup holder, side handles and lots of tie-off points. The seat is 4-way adjustable and very comfortable.
The Frenzy has been getting excellent reviews by everyone from beginners to advanced kayakers, making it among our top kayaks.
Who The frenzy is For
The Frenzy Sit-On-Top Kayak packs many great features into a compact shape, earning excellent reviews from those who have purchased this kayak. It offers great stability and tracking and is perfect for all users
This is a top kayak for beginners to get start kayaking but advanced paddlers will enjoy using this on flat water too. It’s lots of fun and easy to handle, it really is a great kayak
how we rate the Frenzy kayak
This kayak is very durable, after lots of knocks and drops there is ever only a few scratches but no cracks or leaking
The tracking is great on this kayak, you can easily take long paddle strokes and continue in a smooth straight line
Absolutely great stability with this kayak, it is wide enough to almost be impossible to flip (trust on this without trying it for yourself!)
Value For Money
Great value for money, you can buy more expensive kayaks that won’t last as long as this one or don’t track as well
- Offers great tracking and stability making it easy to paddle in straight lines.
- This a very durable kayak able to take hard knocks without damaging the hull.
- Overall a great value for money kayak
- This kayak will be a snug fit for bigger people
A top kayak for versatility | Dirigo 106 Review
The kayak is meant to accommodate a wide range of users, from recreational paddlers to fishermen. This is evident in the high-volume cockpit which is a hybrid sit-in and open top design. The kayak is very comfortable and excels in moderate lakes or rivers. The large storage well in the back of the kayak lets you pack food, gear, fishing supplies or camera equipment out of the cockpit.
If you plan to paddle one weekend then fish the next, this is the kayak for you. Its quality construction and versatility has earned this kayak excellent reviews.
Who The dirigo 106 Kayak is For
Old Town is a trusted name in kayaks and the Dirigo 106 is an excellent way to get the quality and attention to detail that the company offers.
This is a well rounded sit in kayak that is suitable for beginners and advanced kayakers. It is also suitable for anglers as it offers so much storage space
how we rate the dirigo 106 kayak
It is made from a strong single layer of Polyethylene making this a tough yet fairly light kayak
This tracks well for a recreational kayak, it easy enough to keep in a straight line whilst paddling
A very stable kayak, if your nervous about falling in then this kayak will ease those nerves, even though it’s not as wide as other recreational kayaks
Value For Money
A very stable kayak, if your nervous about falling in then this kayak will ease those nerves, even though it’s not as wide as other recreational kayaks
- This kayak has a nice big open cockpit providing plenty of space to move around and enough room for your dog!
- It’s really stable and easy to paddle with tons of storage space
- This kayak is not suitable for whitewater as it can take on a lot of water being so open
A top kayak for all day touring | Riot edge 13 review
The Riot Kayaks Edge has a slim profile and an added rudder system, which makes for easier paddling and tracking. The long shape cuts through the water, even if it is choppy or uneven. The Edge can handle anything from a gentle pond to waves on a shoreline. As for extra features, the kayak has a custom-fitting seat, paddle hook, big bungee tie-down areas and over sized molded compartments so you can store food and gear for long trips.
If you’re planning on touring in the open water this is the perfect option. The kayak is well-made, easy to use and has earned excellent reviews.
It is a long boat but with the right kayak carrier roof rack you will have no problems with transportation
Who This yak is For
The Riot Kayaks Edge is a comfortable closed-top kayak that has expert-level features and performance. This kayak is meant to go for far distances and includes features that make for a comfortable, long-distance ride
This top kayak is most suited to serious paddlers who want to get out on the water for longer periods of time.
It’s really comfortable and offers loads of storage space, it will also be good for kayak camping
how we rate the edge 13 kayak
The High Density Polyethylene makes this kayak extremely durable and able to take a small beating
With the combination of the polyethylene material and the pilot rudder system this boat stays on course with ease
Designed to handle rough waters and we can contest that it does very well. A very stable kayak indeed
Value For Money
Compared to the other kayaks we reviewed, it is higher priced but you can spend a lot more for not necessarily any better of a kayak, overall its great value for your dollars
- This kayak offers plenty of storage for all your day gear
- It’s really comfortable and great for all day use
- Offers great tracking making this kayak glide across the water
- The narrow hull can be snug for size 13 feet and over
- Being low profile you may get a bit wet! Get a spray skirt for sea use
A top kayak for beginner paddlers | Aruba 10 Review
The Aruba kayak excels on gentle to moderate water. It gives good stability and tracking and feels very secure on the water. The cockpit has adjustable foot braces and a back supporting seat, and the hull has storage space and bungee tie-downs.
For casual paddling and learning how to paddle, this is one of the greatest kayaks. The range of colors also means you can add a bit of character to your choice.
Who The Aruba 10 Kayak is For
If you want a kayak that delivers comfort and performance but doesn’t break the bank, the Sun Dolphin Aruba is the best option. Beginners and recreational paddlers both agree that the level of construction goes far beyond the asking price
This is a really great kayak for beginners, being easy to handle and stable it makes learning to kayak a breeze.
How we Rate The Aruba 10
The Aruba 10 is constructed from a UV-stabilized Fortiflex High Density Polyethylene ensuring high durability for a lifetime, it can dent if knocked hard so be wary of that
Tracks better than you’d expect for a recreational kayak of this size,
A super stable kayak even on choppy waters in windy conditions
Value For Money
The price is incredibly low for such a good kayak. If you’re buying your first kayak this a is a great option
- The low price makes this kayak excellent value for money, it’s a great first time kayak or as a second hobby kayak
- It’s very stable on choppy waters and great fun to paddle in
- The kayak can dent with hard knocks so be careful around rocks
A Top kayak for two people | Malibu Two Review
The kayak has two seats with the option of also working as a single-person kayak. The hull has an open sit-on-top design and allows for excellent paddling ergonomics. It is best used on gentle to moderate water, where the stability, tracking and movement is excellent. You can really get this thing flying with two people paddling in tandem.
Tandem kayaks are the best way to share your adventure with someone else or to learn how to kayak. This kayak is simple the best, as noted by its many 5-star reviews.
Who The Malibu two is For
If you want to paddle with a friend or take a dog kayaking the malibu two is a fantastic option, it offers great stability even with two people moving around and is really comfortable so you can spend longer on the water without feeling it!
how we rate the malibu two
A well built kayak with great materials makes it tough and very durable. It can easily last 10+ years
It tracks very well making it easy even for beginners to paddle in a straight line
A very stable kayak even in high winds, the stability makes it easy to get in and out of with no problem
Value For Money
A great priced kayak considering its for two people, buying two separate kayaks of this quality would cost you way more
- This big kayak is suitable for fishing
- It tracks really well and can easily be used solo
- The build quality is top notch and will last a lifetime
- The low design means you will get wet so use in warm weather or wear a dry suit
- It is heavy due to it’s size but fine if carrying in a pair
Some Info on the Best Kayak Brands
The following brands are the best kayak brands on the market. Know that if you buy a kayak from these top 5 kayak brands you will be getting one of the finest kayaks that will last for a long time.
Ocean Kayak is a brand that’s been getting a lot of attention lately. Ocean kayak make sit-on-top kayaks with a tri-form hull technology. This construction technique allows for added stability, better tracking and maneuverability. Because of this, Ocean Kayak are some of the most comfortable sit-on-top designs on the market. Apart from this, they are able to fill their kayaks with comfortable and innovative features while keeping costs relatively low.
Two Ocean Kayak models made their way into our top 5 because of their durable designs and excellent reviews making them one of the better kayak brands.
Riot Kayak is a company that caters to the higher-end market with a range of designs and construction techniques. Riot Kayak make excellent ocean kayaks meant to be taken for long distances and far away from the shore. Always looking to innovate, Riot Kayak use special materials and techniques to increase durability and longevity while reducing weight.
If you are an experienced kayaker and want a dependable kayak for any distance, look for Riot Kayak. The excellent reviews for their products show that like-minded people rate them among the very best.
Old Town Canoes and Kayaks is a well-respected company that makes a range of kayaks from beginner to expert. Old Town make some of the best recreational kayaks on the market by focusing on comfort, storage space and ease of use. Old Town also keep to traditional hull shapes and designs, so if you have been kayaking for a while you will feel right at home in an Old Town kayak.
Sun Dolphin is a company that packs a lot of features and reliability into an inexpensive package. For beginners or those on a budget, a Sun Dolphin kayak may be the best choice. Three Sun Dolphin kayaks are on this list because of high review scores on multiple models.
Sevylor USA is a company owned by Coleman that produces high-quality inflatable kayaks. If you’re in the market for an inflatable, Sevylor brings innovation and attention to detail to all of their products. Sevylor has a range of hull designs from open-top fishing kayaks, kayaks build for rapids and everything in between. The addition of molded panels increases durability, making for puncture-proof construction. Their inflatables are also renowned for fitting into a backpack and inflating in around 5 minutes.
More info on Kayak Types
Let’s do a quick run-down of the different types of kayaks. It is important to be familiar with these terms so you can make an informed decision on your purchase.
Sea And Ocean
Sea and ocean kayaks are top-of-the-line models that allow you to kayak for long distances on anything up to rough water. They are meant to be used on large lakes, by the shore or even for long-distance ocean kayaking. Generally, a sea kayak will have a long and narrow hull design, heavy weight, a rudder and lots of space for storage. They are also generally the most expensive kayaks because they are purpose built for experienced kayakers making long trips on the water and are made of sturdy materials.
A sit-on-top kayak is a kayak with an open cockpit design. A sit-on-top offers a great balance of performance and comfort and is a good option if you don’t want to sit in a traditional closed cockpit. Sit-on-top kayaks are generally short and wide so that they are very difficult to capsize and track well in the water. If you’re a beginner, a sit-on-top design might be the best option.
Recreational kayaks are generally less expensive than sea kayaks and are made to strike a balance between comfort and performance. A recreational kayak may not be the fastest or have the most features, but they are made to be very versatile. If you’re a beginner kayaker, or plan on using the kayak once or twice a season on many different kinds of water, a recreational kayak may be for you.
An inflatable kayak is the ultimate recreational kayak because it doesn’t take up space in storage and is easy to transport to the water. Modern materials and construction also means that inflatable kayaks are more durable than ever and many will offer a no-leak guarantee. Inflatable kayaks will often fit into a backpack or satchel and can be inflated in 5-10 minutes.
A tandem kayak can be a kayak of any hull design that accommodates two people, sometimes with the ability for a third person in the middle. A tandem kayak is perfect for a family as you can bring another person onto the water with you. Most tandem kayaks, while being designed for two people, can be used by a single person, so there is added versatility to the design.
Like a tandem kayak, a fishing kayak can include many different hull designs, but what sets it apart is the inclusion of fishing specific features. This can include rod holders, dry storage, towing, paddle holders and a place to mount your kayak fish finder. Fishing kayaks are often designed with a wide width so that they are hard to capsize.
Some Top Kayak Features To Look For
When making a decision about which kayak to purchase you need to ask yourself a few questions to narrow down your decisions.
Type Of Water
If you plan on taking your kayak on gentle water, a beginner-level sit-on top design will fit the bill. For longer distances on moderate water, you will want to look for a design that has a cockpit and drainplug so you can empty the kayak out. If you plan on taking the kayak onto a lake or out into the ocean, then an ocean kayak is necessary. The long length and sturdier materials will make for a smoother ride on choppy water.
Are you a beginner or advanced kayaker? If you are a beginner, you’ll want to purchase a simple kayak that is durable and well-constructed. Sun Dolphin make excellent kayaks for this demographic. You may also want to consider a tandem kayak may so you can bring an experienced kayaker with you. A sit-on-top is also a good choice as they are very difficult to capsize and don’t constrict you into a cockpit.
For a mid-level kayaker, a sit-in version is a good choice. This is also where you can think about specific features like a fishing kayak or ocean kayak. If you’re an advanced kayaker, you will want to look for a larger sea or ocean kayak, which is what a company like Riot Kayaks or Old Town excel at.
Price is a major factor to consider. Lower-end kayaks will often have less features and may be more difficult to maneuver. Cheaper kayaks will also generally use less durable materials to save on costs. Higher-end kayaks become more specific for a particular use, such as fishing or sea kayaking. It is important to pay attention to your budget and plan accordingly so you get the best value for your money.
What are you going to use the kayak for? If you want to fish in a lake, a fishing kayak will have features tailored for you. Do you have family members to bring along? Try a tandem kayak. Do you live in an apartment or small space with little storage? Look for an inflatable kayak.
Ask yourself questions like this to narrow down what will work for you. This way you can make a list of what you need and use it to guide your decision.
In this article, we looked at best kayak brands, types of kayaks and the top 10 models of 2021. We also looked at features to consider based on skill level or budget. Use this guide to make an informed decision about your purchase, knowing that the kayaks on this list have some of the hottest kayaks based on reviews.