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 December 3, 2019

We looked at the top 13 Kayaks and dug through the reviews from 61 of the most popular review sites including Oh So Savvy Mom, Outdoor Veteran, Waves Champ, Kayaker Guide, Kayak Base, Best Reviews Guide 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.

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

Pakayak

Bluefin Kayak, 14-Feet

Overall Take

Packable Hardshell KayakThe Pakayak Bluefin Kayak, 14-Feet kayak includes smart designs without sacrificing on function and quality.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus . Along with user reviews from Amazon.

Sea Eagle

370 Pro Inflatable Kayak, 12-Feet

Overall Take

Inflatable Three-Person KayakThe Sea Eagle 370 Pro Inflatable Kayak, 12-Feet kayak is a really fun boat for two or three people and it packs down to take hardly any storage space.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus . Along with user reviews from Amazon.

Intex

Explorer K2 Kayak

Overall Take

Inflatable Two-Person KayakThe Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is a great entry-level kayak that will be fun to use without breaking the bank.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden 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."
  The Best Value

Intex

Challenger K1 Kayak

Overall Take

One-Person Inflatable KayakThe Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is a great one-person kayak that inflates quickly and has useful cargo attachments.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus BestReviews, Kayaker Guide, Fishing Kayaks Guide and 2 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" Works well for teens. Good quality and functional. feels sturdy in the water. A good price point for getting kids involved with kayaking."
Cons
"The fact that it is inflatable is also a bad thing especially for those that want to use it to fish. Being made of plastic can pose some issues with hooks."
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.
20

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the kayaks available to purchase.
13

Products Analyzed

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

View All Product Rankings

61

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Oh So Savvy Mom, Outdoor Veteran, Waves Champ, Kayaker Guide, Kayak Base.

15,035

User Opinions Analyzed

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

Our experts reviewed the top 13 Kayaks and also dug through the reviews from 61 of the most popular review sites including Oh So Savvy Mom, Outdoor Veteran, Waves Champ, Kayaker Guide, Kayak Base, Best Reviews Guide 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

Pakayak Bluefin Kayak, 14-Feet

Our Expert Score
0.0
0 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.6
15 user reviews
Our Take

The Pakayak Bluefin Kayak, 14-Feet is smartly designed to look and function like a typical hardshell kayak, but it breaks down and packs into a bag that can easily fit in your trunk. If that benefit isn't enough, a portion of proceeds are donated to causes protecting sea creatures and the kayak is made in the USA.

What other experts liked
What other experts didn't like

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Our Expert Score
8.0
5 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.6
2,072 user reviews
Our Take

We love how easily you can inflate and use the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak. If you're looking to get out on the water for some exercise or solitude, this kayak inflates quickly and offers useful cargo netting to hold your gear while you're using it.

What other experts liked
Works well for teens. Good quality and functional. feels sturdy in the water. A good price point for getting kids involved with kayaking.
- BestReviews
We were impressed with the storage space in the boat, a large area behind the seat can fit a small cooler, while the cargo net area at the front is perfect for stuff that you’ll want quick access to while you are on the water.
- Kayaker Guide
With 2 colors to choose from and eye catching graphics on its exterior, it’s easier for other folks and vessels to be able to spot you.
- Kayak Guru
This is where the Challenger K1 really shines; the excellent value it offers you for its price. If you’re on a budget or just not ready to invest several hundred dollars in a kayak, the K1 is going to be one of your most affordable options for getting out on...
- Outventurist
The Intex Challenger K1 is super lightweight coming in at only 27.2 pounds. At this weight, anyone can lift it, maneuver it and use it without any issues.
- Fishing Kayaks Guide
What other experts didn't like
Since it is inflatable it can lose air and it is not as sturdy as the molded plastic models.
- BestReviews
Rudder is removable which is excellent for when the kayak is stored. However, it has a tendency to come off relatively easily when the kayak is in use.
- Kayak Guru
The included paddle is somewhat flimsy.
- Outventurist
The fact that it is inflatable is also a bad thing especially for those that want to use it to fish. Being made of plastic can pose some issues with hooks.
- Fishing Kayaks Guide

Overall Product Rankings

1. Pakayak Bluefin Kayak, 14-Feet

Overall Score: 9.6
Reviews Included: 1

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

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 1

3. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 7

4. Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 9

5. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 8

6. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 8

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

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 10

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

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 2

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

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 10

11. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak Paddle

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 5

12. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 8

13. SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Sit-in Kayak

Overall Score: 7.5
Reviews Included: 5

Our Findings

Pakayak Bluefin Kayak, 14-Feet

Best Overall

Pakayak Kayak (Sunshine)


List Price: $1,795.00 USD
New From: $1,795.00 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

What We Liked: The Pakayak Bluefin Kayak, 14-Feet is smartly designed to look and function like a typical hardshell kayak, but it breaks down and packs into a bag that can easily fit in your trunk. If that benefit isn’t enough, a portion of proceeds are donated to causes protecting sea creatures and the kayak is made in the USA.

Sea Eagle 370 Pro Inflatable Kayak, 12-Feet

Best Inflatable

Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak Canoe Boat w/ Paddles (Sports)


List Price: $309.99 USD
New From: $309.99 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

What We Liked: We like how small this Sea Eagle 370 Pro Inflatable Kayak, 12-Feet kayak packs down. The roomy interior makes for a fun day on the water, while the foot pump makes it easy to inflate without hunching over a traditional hand pump. The included paddles mean you can take it out on the water right away without any additional purchases.

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Runner Up, Inflatable

What We Liked: The Intex Explorer K2 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.

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Great Value

What We Liked: We love how easily you can inflate and use the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak. If you’re looking to get out on the water for some exercise or solitude, this kayak inflates quickly and offers useful cargo netting to hold your gear while you’re using it.

Sun Dolphin Excursion Sit-in Kayak, 10-Feet

Best 10-Foot Kayak

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Excursion Sit-in Fishing Kayak (Sand, 10-Feet) (Sports)


List Price: $339.16 USD
New From: $339.16 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

What We Liked: The size of the Sun Dolphin Excursion Sit-in Kayak, 10-Feet is great for one person to take out on a lake or river for fishing or exercise. The lightweight kayak can be easily transported by one person and there are built-in fishing rod attachments.

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 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.