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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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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.

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

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.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus BestReviews, Outdoor Veteran, Kayaker Guide, TenBestProduct and 2 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Configuration works well for fishing. Includes well for storing items. Room for one person and a dog."
Cons
"A related problem: there also isn’t any shock cord on the bow or stern to tie down gear. The boat was already lacking in storage space, so that would have been a nice addition."

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.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus BestReviews, Fishing Kayaks Guide, Kayaker Guide, Outside Pursuits, Globo Turf and 3 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Kayak moves quickly and steadily through the water even in rough conditions. Offers both front and rear storage hatches."
Cons
"The seat is standard and is very comfortable, but once that 8th hour comes around, it can start to get a little bit uncomfortable."

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.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus BestReviews, Outdoor Veteran, Globo Turf, Best Reviews Guide, Cast and Spear and 5 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Seating area can accommodate two adults and a child or a dog. Easy to use - aimed at beginners and recreational users."
Cons
"It’s not very fast, and while that is a true of most sit-on-top boats, this is a particularly slow one. However, that weakness is balanced out by its incredible stability, which is a must for tandem boats that might be..."
  The 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.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus Outdoor Veteran, Waves Champ, Kayaker Guide, Kayak Base, Best Reviews Guide, Outside Pursuits and 1 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" The Quickpak K5 is easy to set up and can be inflated in as little as five minutes."
Cons
"The only thing I really need to point out is that you should not expect to ride like a pro at first but the more you acquire the skills needed for this sport, the better you’ll be able to handle..."
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.
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 including: Outdoor Veteran, Waves Champ, Kayaker Guide, Kayak Base, Best Reviews Guide.

14,423

User Opinions Analyzed

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

Our experts reviewed the top 10 Kayaks and also 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 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

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.

What other experts liked
Configuration works well for fishing. Includes well for storing items. Room for one person and a dog.
- BestReviews
The kayak only weighs 48 pounds and comes with grab handles at both ends, so it won’t be too difficult to take it off the top of your vehicle and get it in the water.
- Outdoor Veteran
June 26, 2017 | Full review
The light weight of the Vapor 10 was very nice, since it is only about ten pounds heavier than the backpack I use to go hiking with. I swear I was getting dirty looks from my friends about how easy...
- Kayaker Guide
It is lightweight, and you can easily place it on the top of your vehicle for transporting the kayak from one place to another.
- TenBestProduct
The Vapor 10’s spacious cockpit is designed for the best comfort you can get all while getting the most reassuring ride.
- Kayak Help
As far as comfort goes, the first thing to note on the Vapor is how large the cockpit is. Coming in at 48 inches by 20 inches, it’s absolutely huge. For many fishing enthusiasts, this is a major plus.You can...
- Kayak Best
What other experts didn't like
Doesn't work as well in rough waters. Will need to purchase cushion for hard plastic seat. Storage well is not waterproof.
- BestReviews
A related problem: there also isn’t any shock cord on the bow or stern to tie down gear. The boat was already lacking in storage space, so that would have been a nice addition.
- Outdoor Veteran
June 26, 2017 | Full review
The seat may have a back rest, but it it is not soft at all. It is constructed from solid plastic, which makes it a little hard. If you want to keep the seat in a folded style, you may...
- TenBestProduct
A drain plug is included for when you need to drain some water out of it, however, its location isn’t the best place for it to do its job efficiently. If the chance happens that you do take on water,...
- Kayak Help
Unfortunately, this kayak has no fishing rod holders.
- Kayak Best

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.

What other experts liked
The Quickpak K5 is easy to set up and can be inflated in as little as five minutes.
- Outdoor Veteran
The packaging of the Coleman K5 is a lot more beginner friendly than a lot of its rivals and that will help you maintain your kayak a lot easier.
- Waves Champ
It has lots of storage space when inflated.
- Kayaker Guide
Quick inflation and deflation thanks to the Double Lock Fast Valves and Mini Double Lock Fast Valves
- Kayak Base
There is a rear zippered storage compartment where you can pack food and misc gear plus the front of the kayak has plenty of room to lash down gear with the bungee cords.
- Outside Pursuits
Inflating and deflating is straightforward, and the valves use high-quality locking points.
- Kayak Help
What other experts didn't like
The paddle that comes with the boat is a flimsy three-piece. Get a two-piece if you’re primarily transporting it by car, and if using public transportation, pick up a three- or four-piece of higher quality than the one that ships with it.
- Outdoor Veteran
The only thing I really need to point out is that you should not expect to ride like a pro at first but the more you acquire the skills needed for this sport, the better you’ll be able to handle this kayak.
- Waves Champ
The main complaints are not with the kayak itself, but with the accessories. Owners reported that the included paddle is of very low quality, and in fact some reported that the paddle broke while they were on the water. A couple of owners complained that the paddle is too...
- Kayaker Guide
Stability issue on choppy waters. Please note that this kayak works great on most lakes, but for rapid water, this is not a good choice. If you use this one choppy water, you will see a poor stability.
- Kayak Base
The only real knock, is the included 2 piece aluminum paddle has been reported to break easily, so purchasing a better quality paddle might be a good idea.
- Outside Pursuits
Instructions can be confusing.
- Kayak Help

Overall Product Rankings

1. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 8

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

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 10

4. Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 9

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

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 10

6. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak Paddle

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 5

7. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 8

8. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Overall Score: 8.2
Reviews Included: 8

9. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Overall Score: 8.2
Reviews Included: 7

10. SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Sit-in Kayak

Overall Score: 7.5
Reviews Included: 5

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: $833.62 USD
New From: $833.62 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

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.

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 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.