Best Recreational Kayaks-Buyer’s Guide

Recreational kayaks are a lot of fun to use in all types of water. Kayaking as a family is a great way to spend quality time together. Kayaking will give you a great workout without you even realizing it because you’re having so much fun. Best recreational kayaks come in a huge range of prices, sizes, styles and colors.

There are two main types of recreational kayaks: sit-in or sit-on-top. The sit-in kayaks can be a little more stable because they give you a lower center of gravity. However, some users feel a bit claustrophobic sitting inside the kayak. Larger users might also feel cramped in a sit-inside kayak. Sit-on-top kayaks can be less stable but are easier to get in and out of. Many people kayaking with kids like the sit-on-top kayaks so that the kids can get on and off the kayak easily by themselves.

How to choose the Best Recreational Kayak

When you are choosing a recreational kayak keep in mind where you are going to use it for most often. If you want to kayak as a way to work out then you should look for a sport kayak that will give you a better workout and be lighter and faster than kayaks built for multiple purposes. If you want to take your kids out kayaking or kayak just for fun then you should choose a kayak that has the comfort and stability to stand up to long hours of use in multiple types of water and weather conditions. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good multi-use kayak.


Sit-on-top kayaks tend to be more stable and they are easy to control. If you are just getting started with kayaking you may find this style much easier to get accustomed to. This style is excellent for fishing because it allows for maximum mobility of your arms and legs.


Sit-in kayaks tend to be quicker and more agile which is vital if youre paddling rapids or currents. This style tends to keep the rider more dry than a sit-on-top model but you should always dress prepared for a capsize.


If you plan to camp or make a day out of your kayak excursions youll need to have plenty of storage. A recreational kayak should have ample compartments for dry storage of gear, food and emergencies. Just remember that more cargo equals more weight, which can slow down your trip.

The next consideration to keep in mind is how you’re going to haul a kayak.


Dont forget that youll need to take your kayak to the water and that means hauling it in your vehicle. You may want to consider the weight of the unit if you will be handling it often. This includes loading and unloading it to your vehicle as well as carrying it to the water each time. If you don’t have a vehicle that can readily transport a kayak you may need to consider a trailer. There are actually some very inexpensive trailers available that can be pulled behind a car or truck. Just do some research and you’re sure to find something to fit your needs.

Reviews on best recreational kayak

Old Town Vapor 10 Kayak

The Old Town Vapor 10 is a fantastic kayak for family use on slow rivers or on calm lakes. It doesn’t have great stability in rougher waters but if you are going to be on a lake for the day or in a slow river this kayak will be comfortable for you to use all day. It has an extra-large cockpit area so that you can comfortably fit a child if you are taking a child and don’t want to a tandem kayak.

If you like to take your dog out kayaking with you it will also fit a small to medium sized dog as well as a person. The price of the Vapor 10 is very reasonable and it does have some features that usually only come with more expensive kayaks. One of the best features that it has is thigh and knee pads that will make long kayaking trips much more comfortable. It also has a foot brace system that helps to control and steer the kayak.

Because this is a sit-in kayak some people find that the lower center of gravity takes some getting used to. Even though the kayak is only 10 feet long, which isn’t very long, some people find it to be very heavy. It weighs about 47 pounds. So if you are going to be carrying a lot of gear and you have children in tow you might need to have an extra set of hands helping you to get this kayak in the water. The storage area in the cockpit is a good place to keep cell phones, keys, drinks and other items.

Pelican Matrix 100X Kayak

The Pelican Matrix 100X is a smart choice for intermediate kayakers or advanced beginners who want a kayak that is fast enough to test their skills.  This kayak is a 10 foot long very light kayak that can get up to some really nice speeds. It weighs less than 40 pounds so it’s easy for users of any size to lift it, load it, and launch it without any problems. The bright blue color is easy to see and really stands out. The Matrix 100X has a lot of extra features that kayaks made for beginners don’t have.

It has knee pads and a very nicely padded seat. It also has a storage compartment in the stern for larger items and a quick access storage hatch in the cockpit. It also has a cup holder and a small cockpit table. Kayakers who have this boat love it for the quickness and lightness, but beginners sometimes struggle with it. Because the kayak is so light it can drift a bit when the user is not paddling which can scare beginners a little.

If you are using the kayak on a lake or on a calm river then a little drift isn’t going to be too much of a concern. The cockpit of this kayak is not terribly large, so larger users might have a tougher time getting in and out of it. They may also feel a little cramped inside it. There are adjustable foot pegs to make it more comfortable for users of all sizes.

Riot Escape 9 Kayak

If you are looking for a small and light kayak that is ideal for lake use the Riot Escape 9 is the perfect choice. It is made for lakes and shallow rivers. It’s just 9 feet long and it’s agile enough to get in and out of very small spaces. It also can turn on a dime. It weighs less than 40 pounds which makes it simple for anyone, even small users, to unload it and launch it anywhere.

The Riot Escape 9 has exceptional handling and is safe even for beginners to handle. This kayak is one of the most often used by kayak rental companies because it is versatile enough to accommodate kayakers of all skill levels. It is a sit-on-top kayak so it’s easy to get in and out of. It has a lot of nice built in features like molded foot rests, a cupholder and a dry hatch for storage of important items like keys and phones.

The cockpit area is not large, because of the small size of the kayak. So if you want to go kayaking with a friend or loved one you will need a tandem kayak or a second Escape 9. But after you see how much fun this kayak is you will probably not want to share it anyway. Experienced kayakers will find this is a fun kayak to take in rougher water but less skilled kayakers should stick to lakes with this one. The weight limit on the kayak is listed as 300 but any weight over about 180 makes the kayak sit very low.

Ocean Kayaks Malibu Two XL Angler Tandem Fishing Sit-On-Top Kayak

The Malibu Two XL Angler is specifically designed for kayak fishing. The unique tri-hull promotes stability when the boat is put into the water. Once in, the long center keel ensures a smooth, speedy ride. The kayak is virtually impossible to tip.

This makes it a great choice for moms and dads who want to introduce kayaking fishing to the young ones. Because it can be operated solo, both riders don’t need to be proficient in operating a kayak. Great for situations where one person wants to teach another.
The Malibu Two XL Angler includes two Comfort Plus Seats, two paddle keepers, carry handles, self-baiting scupper holes and more. The kayak is 13 feet and six inches long and comes with four Scotty rod mounts, two rod holder and molded-in seat wells. There are many tandem kayaks you can fish from, but the Malibu Two XL is one of the first kayaks designed specifically for kayak fishing.

Lifetime Sport Fisher Kayak with Paddles and Backrests (Olive Green, 10-Feet)

The Sport Fisher is all about letting you fish how you want to. The tunnel hull design is so stable you can even stand up to fish. Whether you want to fish solo or with up to two other people, you can easily adjust the seat layout to fit all riders comfortably. The high-and-dry ergonomic seats, with soft backrests, let your party stay on the water all day long. There are even multiple footrest positions, so everyone is comfortable no matter their size.

Built specifically for kayak fishing, the Sport Fisher includes four fishing pole holders, a rear storage hatch (6 inches), scupper holes and more. Transportation is simple, too, with molded front and rear carry handles. At 60 pounds, it’s easy to carry to and from the water, and mounts quickly to most SUVs and trucks.

The Sport Fisher is 10 feet long by 36 inches wide, with a maximum load capacity of 500 pounds. It’s olive green and constructed of body-molded polyethylene. Lifetime, known for a variety of plastic and metal products, offers a one year limited warranty.

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Twin Heron Angler Recreational Fishing Kayak, Tan

While tandam kayaks are great with a buddy, you don’t want to have to rely on another person to be around whenever you want to go kayaking. The Twin Heron features the unique Auto Trim Hull feature. When a solo rider sits in the stern seat, the Auto Trim Hull prevents the bow from popping up. Additionally, the front seat can be taken out completely, which means you can create space for your gear or even your dog.

The kayak is 13.6 feet long and 31.5 inches wide. It’s made from durable three layer polyethylene. Included are six Cannon mount receivers, two Cannon rod holders and two cup holders. With a maximum load of 500 pounds, there is plenty of room for gear and friends.

Intex Challenger K2 Kayak

Perfect for lakes and mild rivers, the Challenger K2 is an inflatable kayak which comfortably seats two. It’s an easily portable kayak which measures 30 inches wide by 15 inches high by 138 inches long when inflated. Included is everything you need to maintain an inflatable kayak, including a high-capacity pump, a repair patch kit and two 84 inch aluminum oars.

This is a sleek craft designed for two people who want to explore lakes and rivers while they fish. The Super-Tough vinyl construction ensures durability. The K2 is 30 inches wide by 15 inches high by 138 inches in length. It’s compact, but holds up to 350 pounds.The K2 comes with two 84 inch aluminum oars, a high-capacity pump and a repair kit. It’s colored with a highly visible, and stylish, gray/blue design. Overall, this is an affordable way to obtain both a quality kayak and all the necessary equipment.

Lifetime Manta Tandem Kayak with Paddles and Backrests (Yellow, 10-Feet)

The Lifetime Manta provides plenty of room for both fishing gear and fishing buddies. This hard shell, sit-on-top kayak has room for three people. Plus, there are plenty of built-in features including a paddle cradle, a mast receiver receptacle, a fishing pole holder and a forward cargo area. There are even bottle holders!

The Manta Tandem is made from sturdy High-Density Polyethylene Plastic (HDPE), so it can handle unexpected rocky encounters. The “High and Dry” seating keeps passengers up away from any water which might splash in, while the tunnel hull design means it’s practically impossible for the kayak to tip over.

The kayak has a weight capacity of 500 pounds, but out of the water it’s surprisingly light and easy to transport. It weighs only 66 pounds, and can be securely affixed to the top of a truck, SUV or minivan. This is a great choice for anyone looking to kayak (and fish) with friends.

BIC Sport Kalyma Inflatable Kayak

Easy to transport, durable and functional in a wide variety of waters, the Kalyma is a great family kayak. Aside from the traditional lakes and rivers, this kayak also handles fine in the ocean. Twelve feet long when inflated, the kayak comfortably seats two along with plenty of supplies. When deflated, the kayak only weighs 36.3 pounds and can easily fit into the trunk of your car, a suitcase or the included carry bag.

Customers note that a motorized inflator is the best way to go with this kayak, since a manual inflator might not fill up the three air chambers sufficiently for optimal operation. With a motorized inflator, however, you can inflate the kayak in about 10 to 15 minutes. It makes a great travel kayak.

AIRHEAD AHTK-2 Montana Performance 2 Person Kayak

With a length of 12 feet, the Montana Performance is one of the larger inflatable kayaks on the market. When inflated, its sturdy PVC construction holds up to 500 pounds and is safe even in moderate white water. When deflated, the Montana is only 36.3 pounds and fits into the trunk of a car or a kayak carry bag. It’s easily transportable by one adult.

The Montana Performance has three air chambers, and is easy to inflate and deflate with a motorized inflator. Many customers use this as a vacation kayak: It’s easy to transport, and you can quickly inflate it and be on whatever body of water you encounter.

Malibu Kayaks Pro 2 Tandem Recreation Package Sit-on-Top Kayak

Billed as the “ultimate two-seater kayak” the Pro 2 Tandem handles fine in lakes, rivers and oceans. Thirteen feet long, thirty-three inches wide and 11 inches deep, this kayak is spacious enough for two, but can also be comfortably paddled solo. In fact, customers enjoy using this kayak with their kids, since the kayak is easy to use as long as just one of the riders has some kayaking experience.
Dry seating and centered molded foot wells keep the occupants comfortable and in control. Each unit features a front dive well with a dive tank, eyelets, a bungee tank cord, hooks and more. The Pro 2 Tandem is designed for paddling, fishing and diving. Stainless steel hardware ensures it will see years and years of use. Additionally, Malibu Kayaks stands behind the Pro 2 with a limited lifetime warranty.

Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Kayak with Pro Package

Your fishing buddy doesn’t need to be a human. The Sea Eagle SE370 specifically mentions that it has room for your dog. The extra thick K-80 PolyKrylar hull is durable, even against your dog’s nails. Plus, even with your dog, there’s still plenty of room for gear. The SE370 is 12 feet long by two feet wide, and can hold up to 650 pounds.

The kayak stays steady, even in Class III whitewater, with nine-inch tubs, I-beam construction and high-frequency welded seams. In addition to the kayak, you’ll also receive inflatable spray skirts, inflatable front and rear seats, two oars, a foot pump and a carry bag. Deflated, the kayak fits easily into the carry bag and is a manageable 26 pounds.

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Dirigo Tandem Plus Recreational Double Kayak

This is a tandem version of Old Town’s popular Dirigo series of solo kayaks. Now your friends can join in on the fun! With the same time-tested, precision control of the solo model, the Dirigo Tandem Plus has easy access storage areas. Keep your phone, wallet and other valuables safe in the dashboard dry hatch. There are adjustable foot braces, thigh pads, paddle and cup holders, and more.

The Dirigio Tandem Plus is 15 feet and three inches long with a width of 29.5 inches. It’s easy to transport at a portable 72 pounds. The max load range is between 425 and 472 pounds. Old Town is a trusted name in kayaks; if you’re a fan of the solo Dirigo series, you’ll be a fan of the Tandem Plus model.

No matter if you fish with someone on a regular basis, or just once in a while, there are plenty of options available. Tandem kayaks can be inflatable or hard shell, small or quite large. No matter which you choose, they’re always a great way to enjoy the Great Outdoors with great company.

Best Recreational Kayaks-Buyer’s Guide
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