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The Best Kayak

Last updated on June 26, 2023

We looked at the top 19 Kayaks and dug through the reviews from 69 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best Kayaks.

The Best Kayak

Our Review Process

Don't Waste Your Money 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.

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Our Picks For The Top Kayaks

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Top Pick

Pelican Recreational Compact Kayak, 9.5-Feet

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Recreational Compact Kayak, 9.5-Feet

Perfect for one, this kayak is compact and easy to transport. It's designed for recreational use and features a sit-on-top seat and a removable storage container. You can even get the kayak in Neptune white or black green and light khaki.

Overall Take

Easy to TransportThis kayak has a maximum weight capacity of 275 pounds.

 Runner Up

Perception Leak-Proof Pedal Kayak, 12-Feet


Leak-Proof Pedal Kayak, 12-Feet

Get your daily exercise while enjoying a peaceful ride down your favorite river with this kayak. The kayak's built-in buoyancy adds a layer of safety to your trip, while the adjustable seat allows for a comfortable fit. Other attractive features include two coolers, four fishing rod holders and multiple accessory rails.

Overall Take

Multiple Color OptionsYou'll find this kayak comes in a choice of colors, including grasshopper, sunset and moss camo.

 We Also Like

Intex Explorer K2 Adjustable Vinyl Kayak, 10-Feet


Explorer K2 Adjustable Vinyl Kayak, 10-Feet

This kayak is a fun 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.

Overall Take

Easy to UseThis kayak is a great entry-level model that is easy to use without breaking the bank.

" Strong seam welds and reinforcements. Basic paddles and air pump included. Good stability during boarding and exiting."
"The carry handles tend to twist while carrying the kayak since they’re not made of rubbery material."
 Strong Contender

Lifetime Tamarack Angler UV-Protected Kayak, 10-Feet


Tamarack Angler UV-Protected Kayak, 10-Feet

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.

Overall Take

With Pole MountsIf you're searching for a kayak to take fishing, this model with its two fishing pole mounts is your best bet.

" 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."

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.

MORE KAYAK REVIEWS: Best Inflatable Kayaks, Best Kayak Seat Cushions

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.

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the kayaks available to purchase.

Products Analyzed

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

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Expert Reviews Included

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


User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including

Our experts reviewed the top 19 Kayaks and also dug through the reviews from 69 of the most popular review sites including 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.

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The Best Bang For Your Buck

Intex Explorer K2 Adjustable Vinyl Kayak, 10-Feet

Key Takeawy

This kayak is a fun 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.

This Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is built for two, so it’s the perfect watercraft for not just solo paddles but also those occasions when you want to bring a friend or family member with you for a kayaking adventure.

Equipped with a high-output pump and three air chambers, you can pump up your inflatable kayak quickly and be on the water in no time. It’s lightweight and easy to assemble because you don’t want to be stranded on a shore with an instruction manual while adventure awaits. When it’s time to pack up and head back home, the kayak deflates quickly, too, and is easy to pack up.

A main advantage of an inflatable kayak? You can take it with you to harder-to-reach and more remote spots that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise access while hauling a heavy, cumbersome hard-shell kayak. That way, you can have a two-for-one adventure as you enjoy an easy hike to a secluded lake or river access point. Plus, an inflatable kayak is much easier to transport in your car and, since it’s inflatable, it won’t take up too much extra real estate in your garage, basement, balcony or wherever you store your gear. An accompanying carry bag makes it easy to store and transport the kayak.

This kayak from Intex is specifically designed for smaller bodies of water, like mild rivers and lakes. It comes in a zippy yellow color so you’ll be easy to spot on the water or in the case of an emergency.

The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak also comes packaged with a set of two paddles. It has a removable skeg (think: a little fin) which you can pop on before setting out into the water. This device is what helps you control the direction of your watercraft, and helps with maneuvering it through the water. Also included in your purchase is a repair patch in case your kayak gets snagged on a branch or rock, but the kayak is made with a puncture-resistant vinyl to help protect it from tears. 

With removable, adjustable seats that have backrests, you’ll be able to comfortably spend plenty of time on the water getting a great workout and taking in the surrounding sights.

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

What to Look For

  • 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.

More to Explore

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.

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