Don't Waste Your Money is supported by our readers. When you purchase an item through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The Best Kayak

Last updated on May 28, 2020

We looked at the top 17 Kayaks and dug through the reviews from 69 of the most popular review sites including Board and Kayak Life, Waves Champ, Kayaks Reviewed, BestReviews, Inflatables Master, Arbor Explorer and more. The result is a ranking of the best Kayaks.

The Best Kayak

Why Trust The DWYM Score?

DWYM is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to.Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top Kayaks

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall
  The Best Value

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Intex

Explorer K2 Kayak

Overall Take

Inflatable Two-Person KayakThis kayak is a great entry-level kayak that will be fun to use without breaking the bank.

Experts Included
DWYM Sports and Recreation Experts plus BestReviews, Waves Champ and 2 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Strong seam welds and reinforcements. Basic paddles and air pump included. Good stability during boarding and exiting."
Cons
"The carry handles tend to twist while carrying the kayak since they’re not made of rubbery material."

Driftsun Rover 120/220 Inflatable White-Water Action Cam Mount Kayak

Driftsun

Rover 120/220 Inflatable White-Water Kayak

Overall Take

Padded SeatsWith padded seats and high back support, this kayak allows you to remain comfortable while you paddle down the river.

Experts Included
DWYM Sports and Recreation Experts plus Inflatables Master, Arbor Explorer, Sea Kayak Explorer. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" A durable kayak and also lightweight. It stays in control in flat and rough water. Paddles are adjustable. It includes a travel bag."
Cons
"Expensive."

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

Lifetime

Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

Overall Take

Angler's PickIf you're searching for a kayak to take fishing, this model with its two fishing pole mounts is your best bet.

Experts Included
DWYM Sports and Recreation Experts plus BestReviews. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" Able to handle a little more weight than other Lifetime kayaks. Built with 2 holders for your fishing rods and 2 compartments for sealed storage. Comes with a seat back."

Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak

Sevylor

Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak

Overall Take

Easy-to-Carry Backpack SystemMade using a 21-gauge PVC construction, this rugged kayak is designed for use on lakes.

Experts Included
DWYM Sports and Recreation Experts plus Waves Champ, Kayaks Reviewed. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" The most appealing thing about this product is the fact that it is so flexible and user-friendly. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, this kayak will not fail at delivering exactly what you need from..."
Cons
"Almost all buyers have complained about the included paddles and have advised to not go out paddling with it. The plastic connectors of the paddles apparently broke fairly early and some users were left stranded on the lake without a..."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
24

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the kayaks available to purchase.
17

Products Analyzed

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

View All Product Rankings

69

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Board and Kayak Life, Waves Champ, Kayaks Reviewed, BestReviews, Inflatables Master.

19,691

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot and 6 others.

Our experts reviewed the top 17 Kayaks and also dug through the reviews from 69 of the most popular review sites including Board and Kayak Life, Waves Champ, Kayaks Reviewed, BestReviews, Inflatables Master, Arbor Explorer and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Kayaks.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Our Expert Score
8.1
4 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.6
2,140 user reviews
Our Take

This kayak is a fun and affordable way to get out on the water and experience kayaking. The construction includes reinforced seams for good durability and there are two paddles included along with a pump.

What other experts liked
Strong seam welds and reinforcements. Basic paddles and air pump included. Good stability during boarding and exiting.
- BestReviews
The best thing about the Intex Explorer K2 is the quality of details and features for an unbeatable price.
- Waves Champ
Seats are adjustable and can even be removed to give you more space.
- Kayak Help
While there are other kayaks that will offer better performance or durability, the Explorer K2 is really tough to beat in terms of the value you get for your money.
- Outventurist
What other experts didn't like
Not suitable for white water kayaking or other advanced uses. Paddles are not durable. Skeg has a tendency to break off.
- BestReviews
The carry handles tend to twist while carrying the kayak since they’re not made of rubbery material.
- Waves Champ
Paddlers may experience slow speed and difficulty keeping boat straight.
- Kayak Help
Paddles are somewhat flimsy.
- Outventurist

Overall Product Rankings

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

1. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Overall Score: 9.8
Reviews Included: 7

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

3. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

Overall Score: 9.5
Reviews Included: 6

Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak

4. Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 5

Pakayak Bluefin Kayak, 14-Feet

6. Pakayak Bluefin Kayak, 14-Feet

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 1

Sea Eagle 370 Pro Inflatable Kayak, 12-Feet

8. Sea Eagle 370 Pro Inflatable Kayak, 12-Feet

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 1

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak

9. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 8

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

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

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 10

Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak

11. Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 9

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak Paddle

12. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak Paddle

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 5

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-Foot Sit-in Kayak

13. SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-Foot Sit-in Kayak

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 10

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

14. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 8

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

15. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Overall Score: 8.2
Reviews Included: 8

Sun Dolphin Excursion Sit-in Kayak, 10-Feet

16. Sun Dolphin Excursion Sit-in Kayak, 10-Feet

Overall Score: 8.2
Reviews Included: 2

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Sit-in Kayak

17. SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Sit-in Kayak

Overall Score: 7.5
Reviews Included: 5

Our Kayak Findings

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

What We Liked: This kayak is a fun and affordable way to get out on the water and experience kayaking. The construction includes reinforced seams for good durability and there are two paddles included along with a pump.

Driftsun Rover 120/220 Inflatable White-Water Action Cam Mount Kayak

What We Liked: Not only is this inflatable kayak made using an attractive orange and gray pattern, but it’s also designed for your ultimate comfort. The seats are padded, the back provides excellent support and there’s plenty of room for your feet. When it comes to the paddles, they are made out of a durable aluminum and are completely adjustable, so you get the perfect fit.

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

What We Liked: You’ll be reeling in the fish in no time when you go with this kayak. It’s designed with two fishing pole mounts and two storage compartments. There are also multiple footrest options, front and rear bungee straps and padded seats with an adjustable back.

Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak

What We Liked: You’ll be impressed with this inflatable kayak, as it fits neatly inside a backpack. Once inflated, the backpack portion turns into the kayak’s seat. The unit is designed with multiple air chambers, so that if one chamber becomes punctured, the kayak continues to operate normally.

Perception Kayaks Tribe 9.5 Sit On Top Large Rear Storage Kayak

What We Liked: Designed to be extremely functional, this kayak comes with a small middle storage compartment for your keys and wallet and a large rear compartment for a packed lunch, fishing supplies or a spare pair of shoes. There’s even a built-in drink holder so you always have a bottle of water at the ready.

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 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 have features like rod holders for fishing.

Sit-in kayaks 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. For those times when two is better than one, some kayaks have enough room for you and a friend to explore the water. In some models, 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. Some slim kayaks also come in a shades like a brown camo that’s perfect for blending in with the trees and plants around your fish. You don’t have to sacrifice storage in these sleek kayaks that usually have a front-hatch that 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 many collapsible kayaks as a backpack with two paddle slots on each side, and then set it up in a few minutes when you find that perfect spot on the river. Kayaks with rugged construction are 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.

DWYM 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 is a top choice. Kayakers who want a swift solo vessel should check out a lightweight, sit-in option. Fishing fanatics will benefit from a kayak that can store tackle boxes, bait wells and fishing rods.
  • If you plan on taking to the water every weekend, paying for a top-notch choice isn’t a big deal. However, if you’ll only use your kayak every once in a while, look for 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 and store them in a cool, dry place. Hard-shell kayaks 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 saltwater.

About The Author

Abby Stassen
Abby Stassen 

Abby Stassen is a professional content writer, copywriter and journalist. You can find her work on Salon, Entrepreneur, the Huffington Post, Verywell, the Chicago Tribune, the Orlando Weekly and more. She's also an award-winning comedy writer and Second City graduate with nine years of experience under her belt. She's a proud University of Michigan graduate, a cat owner, a crossword puzzle enthusiast and a huge ABBA fan.