11 Best Kayaks

11 Best Kayaks: Your Ultimate Guide in 2019

How does one find the best kayak? The same way you find the best anything… internet research! Luckily the lion's share of the work has already been done for you.

No matter what kind of kayak you’re looking the for, the following guide to the best kayaks is sure to have what you’re looking for.

editor's choice

Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 100

Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 100 | 10 Foot | Angler Recreational Sit On Top Light Weight Fishing Kayak with Paddle + Adjustable Hero Comfort Seat (Caribbean Blue - Caribbean Blue Evolve Paddle)
  • Stellar customer reviews.
  • Highest quality build in its class.
  • Comfortable & spacious riding position.

best value

Intex Challenger K1

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
  • Absolute lowest price to get you in a kayak.
  • Inflatable build is lightweight and compact.
  • Sturdy, durable, and safe enough for all ages.

How to Find the Best Kayak For You

Just you and a low hanging sun over a watery skyline- there's really nothing better. One of the only ways to enjoy such an experience is in a kayak.

The great thing about kayaking is that, unlike surfing and open water swimming, there is virtually no learning curve. You just buy a kayak, get in it and off you go. From class 5 whitewater to serene lakes, kayaking can be as intense or as relaxing as you want it to be.

The best kayak for you is going to depend on what you plan to do with the kayak. Certain features that are essential for kayak anglers are totally unnecessary for someone looking to knife through choppy ocean waters or take their kid out for a spin every few months. There are tons and tons of kayaks out there so try to pinpoint exactly what you intend to use the kayak for to ensure the best purchase.

If you have no idea what kind of kayak experience you might enjoy don’t worry because we’ve listed kayaks for that too!

Here are the basic features you should consider before you purchase a kayak:

Sit-inside vs. Sit-on-top

Sit-inside

Site inside kayaks are generally superior boats: They’re more maneuverable, made for colder waters, and are more efficient to paddle. That said, you can still get amazing performance from sit-on-top kayaks.

Sit-on-top

Sit-on-tops are a great first boat because they are easy to get in and out of (even in deep water), you don’t have to learn how to perform a wet exit if you capsize, and they’re best for warm weather since you’re not inside the kayak.

Types of Kayaks

Recreational Kayaks

  • For flat and calm waters
  • Easy entering/exiting the kayak
  • Simple design & simple to use

Sea Kayaks

  • Long and sturdily built for multi-day trips
  • Track well in the water
  • Ample storage space

Fishing Kayaks

  • Generally sit-on-top for casting purposes
  • Bells and whistles like paddle holders
  • Sturdy enough to stand up for scouting and longer casting

Inflatable Kayaks

  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Incredibly affordable

11 Best Kayaks in 2019

And now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, here are the 11 best kayaks available in 2019. Each listing includes all of the critical information you’ll need to make the best purchase and get yourself on the water!

Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 | 9 Foot | Angler and Recreational Sit On Top Light Weight Fishing Kayak with Paddle and Seat (Caribbean Blue)

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 9’0
  • Weight: 46 lbs
  • Material: Rotomolded single-piece high-density polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 300 lbs
  • Accessories: 5 rod holders, 2 paddle parks, 3 sealed hatches, 5 carrying handles
  • Price: $$$

This kayak is a gem. It is by far the most capable fishing rig for the price, and it handles great even in choppy water. The skipjack has features like rod and paddle holders that make it super easy to switch between casting and paddling and it’s got sealable storage space.

Why Choose This Model?

You simply will not find a kayak with as many features for this price point -- it can’t be beaten on those metrics. Although Vibe does make some kayaks that are even more badass than the Skipjack you will pay for it. This is the absolute best fishing boat in the middle price range.


Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak (Paddle Included), Blue, 6'

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 6’0
  • Weight: 18 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 130 lbs
  • Accessories: Swim-up deck, footrests, molded finger handles
  • Price: $

Ultra stable, impact resistant design is perfect for those unruly kids that have no fear and who might be a bit careless carrying it over rocks or through the garage. At just six feet, the Lifetime Youth Wave is the smallest kayak on our list; perfect as a birthday gift for your son or daughter.

Why Choose This Model?

As a parent, keeping the kiddos safe while they recreate is of utmost importance. The Lifetime Youth Wave is a kayak made just for that reason. You can keep your peace of mind while you let them venture out a ways from the dock; or better yet, get yourself a kayak and paddle right along with them!


Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Sport Kayak Pro Package

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 10’8
  • Weight: 26 lbs
  • Material: Polykrylar
  • Maximum Capacity: 650 lbs
  • Accessories: Foot pump, carry bag, dual removable skegs, spray skirts,
  • Price: $$

The Sea Eagle is strong enough to hold 650 lbs worth of people, animals, gear or whatever else you want to put in it, it’s durable enough to withstand the clawing of dog paws, AND it fits into a storage bag weighing merely 26 lbs! This kayak does not quit.

Why Choose This Model?

Ever noticed how you have great conversations with people while on a walk, roadtrip, or other mode of transportation? The simple act of going somewhere sets our mind in motion and you’ll love the intimate bonding opportunity that comes with a two-person kayak. Perfect to take a friend, spouse, or loved one for a little spin.


Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 100 | 10 Foot | Angler Recreational Sit On Top Light Weight Fishing Kayak with Paddle + Adjustable Hero Comfort Seat (Caribbean Blue - Caribbean Blue Evolve Paddle)

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 10’0
  • Weight: 57 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 375 lbs
  • Accessories: 4 rod holders, 2 paddle holders, 2 sealed hatches, 2 tackle tray holders, bungee covered rear well, adjustable foot rests, 5 carrying handles
  • Price: $$$

This kayak has more bells and whistles than a Christmas symphony but you’ll be delightfully surprised at how reasonable the price is. You might have noticed that there a few Vibe Kayak models on this list and that is because they make an excellent kayak. You can’t go wrong with a Vibe.

Why Choose This Model?

Vibe Kayaks doesn’t mess around when it comes to serious fishing rigs. Roll up to the put in with a Vibe Yellowfin and everyone will know that you are a man (or woman) who does not mess around when it comes to reeling in the big ones. If you want to earn instant respect from other kayak anglers go with the Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin.


Advanced Elements AE1012-R AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 10’5
  • Weight: 36 lbs
  • Material: PVC Tarpaulin
  • Maximum Capacity: 300 lbs
  • Accessories: Pre-assembled, durable ripstop fabric, adjustable back support, skeg tracking fin
  • Price: $$$

The built in aluminum ribs that define the bow and stern are the hallmark of the AdvancedFrame. After seeing how well this kayak tracks in the water you won’t believe that it’s a blow up that fits into a two foot by one foot carrying case.

Why Choose This Model?

With kayaks, and most other things, you get what you pay for. If you have limited space for a kayak but you still want a serious piece of equipment that cuts through water like a bottlenose dolphin then the AdvancedFrame is for you. FYI, it also comes in a two-person if you want to bring the Mr. or Mrs. along.


Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle (2 Pack), Blue, 8'

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 8’0
  • Weight: 38 lbs
  • Material: High density polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 250 lbs
  • Accessories: Paddle included, molded paddle cradle, easy carry handle, 5-year warranty
  • Price: $$

The Lifetime Lotus is a simple, compact, sit-on-top kayak that is well suited for just about anything you can think of doing with a kayak (other than extreme whitewater of course). They also offer a hefty discount if you buy two of them.

Why Choose This Model?

This kayak is sturdy and simple yet tastefully designed with nothing superfluous. There isn’t anything fancy about it, but it’ll never let you down.


Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak (Yellow/Orange, 14.5-Feet)

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 14’6
  • Weight: 60 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 350 lbs
  • Accessories: Pilot rudder system, custom-fit seating, front and rear storage compartments, permanent rudder
  • Price: $$$$

It’s classified as a day touring kayak but the Riot Edge has enough storage for at least one overnight trip if not a few. This is the fastest and smoothest kayak that made our list. At more than fourteen feet, it’s the longest kayak on the list so you may need to get creative when transporting it.

Why Choose This Model?

This is a serious kayak, and it certainly isn’t cheap, but the sorts of adventures that you can get yourself into with the Riot Edge are beyond any other kayak AND your wildest dreams. Embark on a epic aquatic journey with the Riot Edge.


Dagger Mamba Versatile Whitewater Kayak, Blaze, 8.6

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 8’6
  • Weight: 51 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 350 lbs
  • Accessories: Ratchet adjustable seat, adjustable foot braces, adjustable hip pads, variety of stylish colors
  • Price: $$$$

Eight and half feet of high tech river craft -- the Dagger Mamba is a formidable force against unruly rivers. Almost everything about the way you sit in the kayak is adjustable, making it possibly the most comfortable kayak available.

Why Choose This Model?

We had to include one kayak for the bold daredevils out there looking to get into whitewater kayaking. You’ll have to learn how to read rivers, you’ll have to learn how to roll, but if the idea of sliding off of a big rock into a raging river is something that you absolutely must do before you die then the Dagger Mamba is YOUR KAYAK. 


Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 9’
  • Weight: 23 lbs
  • Material: Puncture resistant vinyl
  • Maximum Capacity: 220 lbs
  • Accessories: 86 inch aluminum oar, high-output air pump
  • Price: $

Cheap enough to be crowned the best value option but strong enough to withstand the occasional rock rub, the Intex Challenger K1’s durable vinyl get’s the job done at a fire sale price.

Why Choose This Model?

Look, if you’ve never owned a kayak before and have no flipping idea if you’ll even like it then you’ve got a couple options: You could rent one and try out or you can get the Intex Explorer that is so cheap that it might even cost you less than renting. Avoid the hassle of renting and have the Intex Challenger delivered right to your doorstep.


Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 10’3
  • Weight: 31 lbs
  • Material: Puncture resistant vinyl
  • Maximum Capacity: 400 lbs
  • Accessories: Removable skeg, inflatable seats, two-person capacity, repair kit included, quick inflation valves
  • Price: $

Seats that are inflatable and adjustable for comfort, a removable skeg for surprisingly smooth tracking, AND it packs down small enough to fit in the backseat of your car. The Explorer K2 is perfect for smaller bodies of water like lakes and rivers.

Why Choose This Model?

The Explorer K2 offers many of the same benefits as the Challenger K1: It’s affordable, reliable, and compact. BUT for just a few bucks more than the Challenger K1, the Explorer K2 lets you bring a friend along for the ride.


SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Sit-in Kayak (Tangerine, 8-Feet)

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 8’
  • Weight: 27 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 260 lbs
  • Accessories: adjustable padded seat, dry storage compartment, spray deflector, paddle holder, and cup holder
  • Price: $$

The Sun Dolphin Aruba is a lot like it’s namesake island: small, bright, and fun for the whole family. To add to that, it’s versatile and lightweight which makes it great for all ages.

Why Choose This Model?

For specific settings like the ocean or fast rivers or specific activities like fishing or overnight trips there are better kayaks. But none of them are as easily adaptable as the Sun Dolphin Aruba. You could say that the only drawback to this kayak is that it’s TOO versatile.


Benefits of Owning an Amazing Kayak

There are so many good things that come from owning a kayak:

  • Kayaking is a great way to relax;
  • It’s a unique way to experience nature;
  • And you’ll develop upper body strength in the process.

People have been paddling around on open water for thousands of years. The fact that we’re still doing it is a testament to it’s value to us.

11 Best Kayaks: Your Ultimate Guide in 2019

Imagine yourself sitting in a brand new kayak.

The paddle feels good resting on your lap as you take note of your surroundings. The kayak begins to slow so you take a deep breath and head towards a little cove up ahead. You dip the paddle in the water and pull it towards you, feeling the smooth transfer of energy from your arm to the water and propel yourself forward.

There’s only one way to experience this: You’ve got to have a kayak.

Here’s to paddling away on open waters!

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