Category Archives for "Kayaks"
When looking for a kayak, some of the factors you are probably considering are the performance characteristics of the kayak, your budget and the kayak’s portability (amongst other things of course – but these factors tend to be most important to most prospective paddlers). And whilst inflatable kayaks may fall a little short on the performance aspect as compared to their hard-shell kayak cousins, they are definitely miles ahead when it comes to price and portability (in fact an inflatable kayak can be considered to be the best kayak for beginners).
And with advancements in technology and construction materials, kayak manufacturers are making some durable and solid inflatable kayaks that are easy to carry and to store. But with so many kayak brands and different inflatable kayak models out there, how do you choose the best inflatable kayak for your money and for your needs?
Before you dive into purchasing your inflatable kayak we suggest you take a look at the following buying considerations in our mini inflatable kayak buying guide:
So once you’ve set your budget, let’s take a look at some of the best inflatable kayaks in the market today, all reviewed by our expert kayak review team!
Weighing in at around 24.6 pounds, the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is a lightweight one person inflatable kayak that truly deserves to make the list of best inflatable kayaks. For paddlers that prefer easy entry and exits, this kayak has a really big and comfortable cockpit. To allow for added safety when in use on a slow moving river or water, the Challenger K1 was manufactured out of durable welded material. When you factor in the fantastic price of this inflatable kayak, and how useful it is for both water sports or for fishing, there is no doubt that the Intex Challanger kayak provides some serious fun as well as practicality. For inexperienced paddlers, one of the greatest benefits of the kayak is its inflatable I-beam floor which allows for rigidity and stability during use.
If you have considered taking some of the your camping gear along with you on the kayak, then the Intex Challenger is well-suited for that as well, with the Intex Challenger K1 offering you a large cargo net in the front of the kayak where you can store away all of your camping gear. What we also like about the kayak is that the 84-inch aluminum oar comes standard as an included accessory, without prospective paddlers having to go out and buy the oar separately. When taking the Intex Challenger K1 out on the water, the immediate paddling impression is that the kayak is quite rugged and sturdy, but at the same time it is super comfortable to sit in, and quite easy to maneuver. Whilst paddling, the K1 always felt in complete control over its movement and speed. From a comfort perspective, the seat is adjustable and the inflatable backrest makes your experience a pretty comfortable one on extended kayaking trips. Also included in the box is a Hi-output manual hand air pump (with the kayak being super easy to both inflate and deflate as well), and of course the obligatory repair patch.
[pullquote_right]No further costs as the oar comes standard as an included accessory[/pullquote_right] [pullquote_right]Super lightweight even the kids can take it down to the water[/pullquote_right]
When travelling about, you really want to be able to have your inflatable kayak handy, and the Sevylor Quikpak K1 Inflatable kayak is definitely one of those kayaks designed with travellers in mind. With the Sevylor Quikpak K1, you can quickly inflate your kayak (takes less than 5 minutes) and be on the water in no time). But the main reason its such a hit with travellers, is that the kayak is as easy as “backpack, unpack, kayak.” Sevylor have designed an innovative backpack system that can carry everything that you need to get onto the water (all items contained within the backpack), and to top things off, the backpack actually folds out and becomes your kayak seat. How cool is that! Not only is the Quikpak K1 super portable, it is also pretty durable as well and is made from 21-gauge PVC construction, whilst the rugged taurpaulin botton allows the kayak to handle some choppy water as well. The K1 also comes with some nice features for the paddler as well, so you can really enjoy those longer kayaking trips. There’s a drinks holder and ample storage (including obligatory bungees) to keep plenty of gear, whilst paddling comfort is provided by the inflatable back rest and multi-position foot rests.
Obviously you may be anxious about taking an inflatable kayak out onto the water – but Sevylor have produced a rugged kayak that is reinforced to help avoid punctures and tears. If you do indeed manage to hit a snag and manage to puncture the kayak, the Sevylor K1’s multiple air chamber system allows for second chamber to remain inflated in the likelihood of the other being punctured. The kayak is obviously quite light, certainly lighter than many other hard shell kayaks, and taking it in and out of the water is made easier with the included carry handles. Overall the Sevylor Quikpak K1 is an inflatable kayak that is made for convenience. Carry it around with you as a backpack, reach a lake, unpack and inflate within 5 minutes and you’re on the water! No other kayak can offer such convenience and portability, and that’s why the K1 really is the best inflatable kayak for travel.
[pullquote_right]Inflates within 5 minutes to get you onto the water quickly[/pullquote_right] [pullquote_right]Ingenious design allows the kayak to fit into the backpack when folder up[/pullquote_right]
If you’re searching for an inflatable kayak that can rival some of the top hard-shell kayaks, then the Advanced Elements AE1012 inflatable kayak is an exceptional choice. A single seat inflatable kayak, the AE1012 is not exactly a true-blue inflatable kayak as we know them, rather it is a bit of a hybrid between an inflatable kayak and a folding frame kayak. It is designed with these built-in aluminum ribs within the bow and the stern of the kayak that allow the kayak to swiftly move through the water and the tracking of this kayak can thus match those of its hard-shell cousins. Another great feature of the AE1012 is that the stern acts like a skeg and further improves tracking performance. It’s no wonder that the Advanced Elements AE1012 is one of the best selling solo inflatable kayaks on the market today. From a performance perspective, paddling with the AE1012 is a breeze, and with the stern-cum-skeg the kayak is able to cut through the chop easily on the open ocean, but can also glide beautifully on calmer waters like lakes and rivers. The AE1012-R comes with plenty of storage space and also has an impressive weight capacity of 136kg (for inflatable kayaks of course)!
The major reason most paddlers look at inflatable kayaks is due to their weight and exceptional portability, and the AE1012-R doesn’t disappoint. Weighing in at a paltry 16kg, this kayak is super lightweight and so easy to handle if taking it either from or to the water. And no messing about when it comes to assembly either, as the kayak is pre-assembled – so just inflate and go. The AE1012 is also made from durable materials and with its durable triple layer PVC tarpaulin hull you needn’t concern yourself with damaging the bottom of the kayak. What we really liked about this particular inflatable kayak is the core design against the risk of punctures. Basically the kayak has a multi-layer material design that protects the inner tubes from damage, so even if the top layers get damaged the inner tubes will still be inflated and are thus protected from rips and tears and try as we might, we just could not puncture it even when paddling over some rough river bed rocks. Another design pro is the use of dual main air chambers, so if one of the air chambers does in fact get punctured for whatever reason, the other chamber can still function and give you enough time to get back to shore. So if you are in the market for a top inflatable kayak that looks and paddles similar to a rigid hard-shell kayak, but you want the portability of an inflatable kayak, then you really can’t go past the Advanced Elements AE1012 inflatable kayak – we have no hesitation in recommending this kayak as the best sit-inside inflatable kayak on the market today!
[pullquote_right]Super tracking ability – with stern acting as a skeg[/pullquote_right] [pullquote_right]Super lightweight and portable[/pullquote_right]
Sometimes we want to take our dogs out on the lake with us whilst we are out on our kayak, and the Blue Wave Sports Nomad kayak is one of those kayaks that allows both you and your small pooch to paddle together. Featuring a max capacity of 230lbs, the Blue Wave is an exceptional inflatable kayak, and what we really liked about the package is that it pretty much includes everything you need to get going without forking over any more cash. The Nomad comes standard with the included Foot pump, an Aluminum oar and even a polyethylene carry bag for easy transport and storage. The kayak is so easy to inflate and deflate that it really is one of those kayaks that you will just pop into the trunk of the car and with portability obviously something that many prospective paddlers look for in a kayak, the Blue Wave does not disappoint. The kayak is also quite sturdy, with its 24 gauge PVC reinforced construction and anti-leak welding, you won’t have any issues with deflation whilst out paddling. We have reviewed the single seat Blue Wave Nomad inflatable kayak, but its bigger brother (the 2 seater version) is also an exceptional 2 seat inflatable kayak – so if you are looking for a larger inflatable kayak that can take 2 people – then take a look at that particular model.
From a comfort perspective, the adjustable and removable fabric seat and footrest make for a customisable trip, whilst tracking on the kayak is aided by two directional bottom fins. During our tests, it was evident that the Nomad was pretty stable out on the water. It certainly tracked well for an inflatable kayak, and it really did not feel like it was prone to rolling. The construction and design of the kayak consists of 3 Multi air chambers, 2 in the hull and 1 in the floor, and inflation of the air chambers is super quick due to the oversized pressure valve with its double locking air-tight seal as well. Overall – the Nomad is an affordable inflatable kayak that really is suitable for both you and your pooch to enjoy your next kayaking trip.
[pullquote_right]Super easy to inflate with it double locking air tight seals[/pullquote_right] [pullquote_right]Super lightweight and portable[/pullquote_right]
So you’ve decided to get a start in the adventurous world of kayaking, but with so many kayaks on the market the choices and styles may be too confusing. Well fear not as our intrepid team have reviewed all the best kayak brands to bring you our round-up of the best kayaks for beginners.
Obviously you don’t want to spend too much (and if you already know your max budget why not take a look at our review of the best inflatable kayaks) but you also want to get the best kayak for your budget that is also suited for beginner kayakers.[box_tip]For beginners looking for their first kayak, look for kayaks that have enhanced stability and are easy to paddle for a newbie. The last thing you want to do is purchase a kayak that is so difficult to navigate or is setup for professional kayakers and your initial kayaking experiences suffers because of the boat – and then you lose interest in the whole sport / past-time.[/box_tip]
Obviously there are many factors to consider when choosing your first kayak or when you are still a beginner. If you are a beginner, you need to consider which type of kayak you are after (read more on the different types of kayaks) as some kayaks are better suited to particular kayaking trips than others. The design and build material, and the form factor of the kayak, are also big determinants of the quality and overall ability of the kayak.
Beginner kayakers also need to consider that fine balance between kayak stability and kayak maneuverability, and we will stress it again –> as a beginner or newcomer to kayaking we would always go for stability over performance. Finally the seating capacity and storage capacity should also be considerations.
So when comparing kayaks for beginners, we recommend using this checklist to determine the right kayak for your usage purposes.
So let’s compare the best kayaks for beginners – and find out which kayak is the Editor’s Choice for overall best beginner kayak:
|Sun Dolphin Bali SS||10 foot||Sit On Top Kayak|
|Ocean Kayak Frenzy||9 foot||Sit On Top Kayak|
|Lifetime Tamarack 120||12 foot||Sit On Top Kayak|
|Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10||10 foot||Sit Inside Kayak|
The Sun Dolphin Bali is a 10 foot long kayak, made from a lightweight yet high density polyethylene material, and especially great to steer when taking the kayak out on any types of calm lakes and rivers. Being a sit on top kayak, the cockpit is open for ease of entry, which is especially good for beginner paddlers that want ease of access to the kayak if they manage to fall off, or simply want an easy to board kayak. Being a 10 foot kayak, there is plenty of space even for beginners to stretch out enjoy the natural beauty when out paddling. What we really loved about the Sun Dolphin Bali SS kayak is both the convenience of all its features, as well as the ease of control whilst on the water – something a beginner definitely would look for in their first kayak.
From a comfort perspective, the Bali SS has a large seating area, which comes with a padded seat, and taller paddlers can even stretch out the legs to full length whilst their thighs are protected by the protective thigh pad and their feet are held securely with the adjustable leg braces, which can be adjusted to fit your height. Storage is catered for with a large cargo space known as the Portable Accessory Carrier (PAC) that can holds any extra gear that you intend to take with you whilst paddling. Weighing in at only 44lbs, the Bali SS is easy to carry by hand or transport to a camping area for recreation, and something a beginner kayak will appreciate not having to carry a heavier kayak around. It also features a paddle holder for paddle accessibility and storage whilst not in use. Made form high quality and durable materials, the Sun Dolphin Bali SS is an affordable sit on style kayak that is well balanced and has plenty of water-proof storage areas including the PAC, other storage compartments and even a cup holder.
[pullquote_right]Well balanced sit on top kayak[/pullquote_right] [pullquote_right]Noted for its ease of control[/pullquote_right]
Ocean Kayaks makes some great kayaks, and the Ocean Kayak Frenzy sit on top kayak is no exception. Ocean Kayaks know that recreational kayakers want a kayak that is designed without compromising its comfort, convenience, and durability. In fact, you Ocean Kayaks is now a household brand known for producing a variety of comfortable, and particularly brightly colored kayaks, and the Frenzy kayak within their line-up is our choice for the best recreational kayak for beginners. In fact, measuring just 9 feet in length, the Ocean Kayak Frenzy feels like a Rolls-Royce on the water for beginners. It is extremely stable and so super easy to steer, and also quite comfortable as well considering the price. It comes with a 4-way adjustable padded seat that provides ample support when paddling for long periods, while the molded foot wells support the feet to prevent cramps. The Ocean Kayak Frenzy’s cockpit has an open design that allows an easy entry while its tri-form hull design gives the Frenzy more stability on the water.
Weighing in at only 43lbs, beginners will appreciate its light weight which makes for an easily transportable kayak and even younger kids or teens can carry the kayak to the water without too much effort. Carrying the kayak is super easy with all the handles, as the kayak comes with two side handles and additional carry handles located at the bow and stern area of the kayak. With so many handles, you can conveniently load the kayak it into the car or transport it down to the water! Storage is ample, with the Frenzy featuring two storage compartments – the main storage compartment at the stern and the other storage compartment at the bow. Both compartments come with bungees to hold your gear securely. Other user-friendly features of the kayak include self-draining scupper holes, a drain plug and the removable bungees. The Ocean Kayak Frenzy is truly a multi-purpose kayak that is your optimal choice if looking for a recreational kayak for beginners.
[pullquote_right]Beginners will appreciate its light weight[/pullquote_right] [pullquote_right]Fantastic recreational kayak[/pullquote_right]
If you are looking at getting started in kayaking, then you should definitely consider the Tamarack kayak from Lifetime. The Lifetime Tamarack polyethylene constructed kayak is small enough (12 foot in length) to be easily transported while its flat bottom ensures stability even in high currents or ocean tides. Being a sit on top kayak, it is convenient and provides ease of access for a single paddler, whilst it’s molded-in seat and additional padded back rest, along with the multiple molded-in feet holds, will allow paddlers of different heights to sit comfortably. From a storage perspective, the Tamarack has two storage compartments to hold extra stuff taken along on the trip while its two side handles and two extra bow and stern T-handles allow it to be carried easily into vehicles or to the riverside. Paddles can conveniently sit in the cradle made for them at each side of the Tamarack without obstructing the ride.
Furthermore, since the Tamarack was built for fishermen in mind, it features two fishing rod holders located at each side of the back rest, whilst a rotating fishing rod holder is placed within arm’s reach just in front of the paddler. Out on the water, the Lifetime Tamarack is known for its consistently true tracking, and really feels very stable on the water if you are simply going out for a recreational paddle, or even if you are doing some fishing. If you are looking for a comfortable and stable 12 foot kayak, that you can use for fishing as well, then the Lifetime Tamarack should definitely be on your list – as we consider it to be one of the best 12” fishing kayaks for beginners that is suitable for both beginners and advanced paddlers who wish to enjoy comfort, convenience, and stability out on the water.
[pullquote_right]Built for beginner fishermen in mind[/pullquote_right] [pullquote_right]Known for its consistently true tracking[/pullquote_right]
If you’re looking for a shift from the traditional style kayak that has some extra room for adults within what is still a compactly built polyethylene kayak, then the Vapor 10 from Old Town Canoes and Kayaks should definitely be on your list of options to consider. The Vapor 10, aptly named because it’s a 10 foot kayak, has been designed with a smooth riding experience in mind, and specifically designed for paddling on both surf and on calm waters. The Vapor 10 has a spacious and comfortable sitting area that molds snugly into your body shape while you enjoy extended time on the kayak. The Vapor 10, with its protective thigh pads, also includes foot braces to cater for taller adults allowing multiple positions to hold the feet in position. Even though the Vapor 10 provides a spacious seating area, it does not compromise on storage, as storage is covered by the large storage tankwell at the stern of the kayak where gear and other items can be kept. Transporting the kayak is easy, as the Vapor 10 has two built in side handles and a front and rear handle to easily transport the fairly light kayak (47lbs only).
Obviously as a beginner kayaker, you want the best kayak for your money, without sacrificing on additional features. One of the things we loved with the Vapor 10 was its moulded cup holder and cockpit tray, and a paddle cradle where you can easily store and retrieve your paddle. One thing that we wanted to stress though, even though the Vapor 10 is only a 10 foot kayak, you really should not be deceived by its compact size, because the cockpit is super spacious and you really get the sense of freedom and not being restricted within this kayak. One of the main reasons we chose the Vapor 10 as the best beginner kayaks for adults is due to its renowned stability. Its V-shaped hull provides a steady balance and increased stability on the water, and try as we might we were not able to tip the kayak over. As a beginner kayaker – stability is obviously the first thing that you look for in a kayak, but the Vapor 10 also performs admirably when it comes to comfort, tracking, and maneuverability all in the single package.
[pullquote_right]Do not be deceived by its compact size – this is one spacious kayak[/pullquote_right] [pullquote_right]So stable – you just cant seem to tip this kayak over[/pullquote_right]
With so much information on the web, and with so many choices when it comes to buying a fishing kayak, its not difficult to feel overwhelmed with all the information when you are trying to work out which fishing kayak to buy. There are so many great fishing kayaks out there under $1000, but you obviously want the best fishing kayak for the money, and that’s why the Modern Kayaking team have reviewed a whole bunch of fishing and angling kayaks for this budget point to determine the best fishing kayak under $1000 (to quickly find out what the Editor’s Choice was –> click ).
Can’t quite stretch your budget to $1000 and looking for a cheaper fishing kayak? Then take a look at our series of reviews including a review of the Ocean Kayak Scrambler.
Vibe Kayaks are known to make innovative recreational kayaks, but what they really stand out for is their innovative fishing kayaks that are extremely affordable for the everyday fisherman. Vibe make a number of kayaks for every type of paddler, whether they are still novices are expert anglers, and the Vibe Sea Ghost 130 Angler Kayak is one exceptional kayak at a great price. If you are looking for all the fishing features you would expect on a more expensive kayak, but only have under $1000 to spend, you cannot go wrong with the Vibe Sea Ghost 130 Angler kayak. Featuring an extra wide hull for enhanced stability, standing up on the kayak is possible for even the heaviest of fishermen, whilst moving around on the kayak to grab some gear or reaching forward to access front hatches had no impact on the stability of the kayak. The Vibe Sea Ghost comes well specced with all these nifty features most fishermen now demand in a kayak, and it also provides plenty of storage space for everything you may need for your next fishing expedition.
From a features perspective, the Vibe Sea Ghost really excels in terms of storage capacity with its easy to reach 20 inch front storage hatch and its 8 inch rear hatch, and a massive rear tank well with adjustable bungees as well as a large sealed center console for additional storage (with even further accessory mounting points as well). Basically no issues for carrying all your fishing gear and then some. What we really like are those additional features that other kayak manufacturers charge extra for (in fact you would be hard pressed to find a kayak with all these features for the same price).
From the extra rod holders (2 capped flush mount fishing rod holders) to the foot controlled rudder system and even the tackle tray holders (2 of them that fit Plano 3600 tackle trays), the Vibe Sea Ghost is fully specced for a fishing expedition! Comfort wise, the kayak comes with the comfortable Vibe Hero seat and we also had no issues sitting in the kayak for those longer fishing trips. With its included toe-controlled rudder (normally an add-on with other kayak brands), the Vibe Sea Ghost tracks extremely well and is truly an exceptional kayak, and is suited both for novice anglers or even more experienced fisherman.
[pullquote_right]No issues standing up on this kayak and casting – the kayak is as stable as kayaks costing twice as much[/pullquote_right] [pullquote_right]An exceptional kayak that tracks extremely well and is laden with additional features[/pullquote_right]
Combining both performance and features in a fishing kayak that is priced under $1000 is no easy task, but the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angling Kayak is one of those kayaks that really contains all the features you would want in a fishing kayak, its priced well and is superb for taking out onto lakes or rivers for your next fishing trip. Featuring superb tracking and stability, the kayak can even handle swells with ease. Measuring just over 13 foot (13′ 4″ in fact), and with a width of 28 inches, the Prowler 13 weighs in at 56 lbs, and has a carrying capacity of 450 lbs – enough for plenty of fishing gear. The kayak doesn’t come with a rudder, but one can be attached at the stern if you wanted by using the optional rudder kit for improved tracking. We didn’t even use a rudder and tracking was great, but if it does become really windy or choppy on the water, you can add the rudder for enhanced maneuverability.
From a storage perspective, the Prowler 13 has a large rear tankwell with deck bungees to keep everything secure. In the front of the yak cockpit is the 6″ Cam lock hatch where you can keep all of the smaller items that you want at your fingertips. The bow of the kayak features a large clickseal hatch compartment so all your storage needs are catered for. Fitted with 2 flush mount rod holders behind the seat, a moulded in seat well and the Comfort Plus Seat Back, longer fishing trips are not a problem in terms of comfort. The fact is that you could get a far sexier yak, and definitely find a more expensive fishing kayak out there, but what sets the Prowler 13 fishing kayak apart from its competitors is that the so-called Ocean Kayak P13 is not truly great at any one thing, but it does almost everything else quite well indeed. For an all-rounder fishing kayak that is both rugged and affordable, you can’t go past an Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 sit on top kayak.
[pullquote_right]One of the most popular fishing kayaks on the market today[/pullquote_right] [pullquote_right]Great features and a stellar price make this an exceptional buy[/pullquote_right]
There’s no doubt that the name of this kayak is a mouthful, and the marketing chaps at Brooklyn Kayak Company need to sharpen their game when it comes to marketing what is considered as one of the best tandem fishing kayaks under $1000. When you want to go fishing with your buddy out in the lake or river, you obviously want the best tandem fishing kayak for your money that combines ample storage for all your fishing gear, easy accessibility for the 2 paddlers, and of course stability. That’s where the BKC UH-TK181 12.5 foot sit on top tandem fishing kayak shines, and it really delivers in every regard and is our pick for the top tandem fishing kayak under 1000.
With a massive 7 Rod Holders, 4 flush mounted for stability and another 3 that are adjustable for convenience, you can see that the UH-TK181 is made for fishing, allowing you to get multiple line in the water at once. With a maximum capacity of 450lbs, and weighing in at 68lbs, the UH-TK181 is easily transportable by 2 paddlers, but you would probably be looking at a kayak cart if trying to haul it on your own. Talking about going solo, the UH-TK181 is also great if youre just fishing alone, and stability is not hampered by just having a single paddler in the kayak. What we really liked about BKC kayaks, is that all kayaks come standard with two high-quality aluminum paddles and two deluxe kayak seats with your purchase. So you can spend your extra money on extra fishing gear or whatever takes your fancy, as this tandem fishing kayak is complete for an all-in price of under $1000. Fantastic!
[pullquote_right]7 Rod holders allow you to get multple lines into the water at once[/pullquote_right] [pullquote_right]Kayak seats and paddles included with every purchase[/pullquote_right]
We have already undertaken an in-depth review of the Perception Pescador 12 Angling kayak (check here for our review) – and the Pescador 12 foot Angler kayak was really a standout yak that is considered to be one of their renowned performers as it’s a truly versatile sit-on-top fishing kayak. From a storage perspective, the Pescador 12 has a large storage hatch up front (18/20 inch) and the storage runs throughout the whole kayak. The 6 inch center hatch is convenient to store fishing gear or any other small items (i.e phones) that you may need within easy reach. The back storage can fit a 12×12 storage crate (or cooler), and because the kayak is so stable you are able to reach around and grab things from the cooler without affecting the stability of the boat.
Transporting the kayak around is made easier with some great grabs for both front and rear and the kayak weighs in at a mere 29kgs which is fairly lightweight for its size. As we mentioned in our in-depth review, what we really liked about the Pescador 12′ kayak was that it was stable on the water. In fact, to say that the Pescador 12′ Angler is extremely stable in the water would be an understatement. And of course stability on the water is exactly what you want when you go fishing. You are even able to swing your legs over the side and wade them in the water without rocking the boat or affecting the stability. The 2 flush mount rod holders go really deep to fit most rods and we could fit any rod that we tested the holders with. Being only 28 inches wide, the Perception Pescador 12 tracks really well through the water, and once again, we have to stress the stability of this kayak in the water. All in all a lightweight yak that is suitably priced.
[pullquote_right]Super stable in the water and you can even swing your legs over the side without affecting the stability[/pullquote_right] [pullquote_right]Lightweight fishing kayak that is suitably priced[/pullquote_right]
A common question we get over here at Modern Kayaking is – “what kayak is best suited for my needs?” As a beginner to kayaking or even an experienced kayaker, the answer is not really as simply as it may seem. There are a multitude of different models, different kayak types (even some inflatable kayaks), and even different sizing in the same model or range. Shopping online or even in-store can become a daunting task, so we’ve produced a high level buyer’s guide that will get you on your way to buying your first kayak, or upgrading to or selecting a more appropriate model.
Our buyer’s guide is even sure to help you find the best kayak for beginners.
To simplify the categorization and ranges of kayaks, we can narrow the types of kayaks to just 5 or 6 major categories, as below:
Most recreational sit inside kayaks have a semi-enclosed cockpit, and the cockpits are normally larger than the cockpits found in other types of kayaks. By having a larger cockpit, this allows kayakers easy access to get in and out of the kayak. For sit inside kayaks, the open cockpit allows the paddler to climb into the kayak and the kayaker will actually sit inside the hull of the kayak. The kayakers legs will literally be underneath the deck, and dependent on the design of the specific sit inside kayak, will allow the kayaker to brace their knees off the inside walls of the hull – which assists with stronger and more efficient paddle strokes.
One of the key differentiators between a sit-inside kayak and a sit-on-top kayak is that if water enters a sit-inside kayak it will stay inside the kayak (that’s why it’s always important to carry a pump for sit-inside type kayaks). Most kayakers will actually purchase a skirt to fit around the cockpit that will serve the dual purpose of protecting the kayaker from the elements and ensuring water doesn’t enter the boat. The skirt is basically designed to cover up the cockpit opening of a sit-inside kayak, and is usually work around the paddler’s waist or is attached to the kayak itself. Most skirts would have some form of tightening device to allow the paddler to sit completely inside the kayak and stretch the skirt around the cockpit rim basically forming a water tight enclosure for the inside of the hull. An oft overlooked benefit of the skirt and sit inside kayaks is that they are great for colder weather paddling as the body heat is also trapped in the hull and specifically where you have chillier waters, a sit inside kayak could be beneficial.
Another key design feature of sit inside kayaks is the bulk head, which is designed to keep water from entering the boat should you roll and it also serves as a dry storage area. So let’s also just dispel a few myths whilst we are talking about rolling or flipping your kayak. Rolling your kayak is way harder to do than you may think. Most new buyers may be apprehensive for this exact reason, the so-called “flipping factor” of sit inside kayaks, but in reality it is not easy to roll your kayak over. And you will not get stuck inside it if the kayak were to actually flip over, as the paddler will simply pop out of the kayak and float back to the surface.
Sit inside kayaks are a popular choice amongst recreational kayakers, and many new buyers may initially opt for this type of kayak.[box_success]Recommended for: new buyers and recreational kayakers[/box_success]
As the name suggests, kayakers actually sit ON TOP of the kayak as opposed to inside it. As opposed to the sit-inside kayak features, one of the key differentiators of the sit on top kayak is that if water gets inside the kayak it can actually drain out. One of the key features of the sit-on-top kayak is the tankwell area, which makes this type of kayak popular with anglers as they can access their fishing gear easily.
Most sit on top kayaks also have various hatches for dry storage purposes. One of the major benefits of sit on top kayaks is their stability, and they tend to be more stable than the other kayak types, and extremely easy to get in and out of. Most fishing kayaks tend to be of the sit-on-top kayak variety due to these benefits.
However, it is really much harder to stay dry if paddling a sit on top kayaks, especially if not on calmer lakes and water bodies.
For paddling in more turbulent waters, for each wave or splash the paddler may get increasingly wetter as there is really nothing to protect the paddler from the splashes. There is not a defined cockpit as such, and the deck area really is where the paddler would be sitting, so nothing really protects the paddler from splashes onto the paddler’s torso and legs. Obviously, sit on top kayaks are more popular in sunnier climates and more tropical areas, as splashes onto the body are probably actually welcomed for some relief and cooling off. Mounting and dismounting onto your kayak from within the water is also usually a lot easier with a sit on top kayak, as it is fairly easy to climb back into the kayak from the water.
[box_success]Recommended for: new buyers and recreational paddlers in warmer climates[/box_success]
Whitewater kayaks are fairly similar to recreational sit-inside kayaks, however the cockpit on the whitewater kayak is much smaller than that of the sit-inside kayak. By having a smaller cockpit, it allows for more control of the kayak. Whitewater kayaks tend to be much shorter in design and tend to have rounder hull designs which allows for more manoeuvrability amongst the rapids. Obviously whitewater kayaking is not really appropriate for a complete novice so it is suggested to get some kayak training for rapids.
Sea or ocean kayaks are once again similar to sit-inside kayaks but are much longer and thinner which contributes to a quicker and more efficient paddling experience. The benefits of the sea kayak can definitely be seen on long distance kayak trips. Sea kayak designs are made such that you can roll the kayak more frequently, whilst the extra length ensures extra storage space for extra gear.
The modern sea kayak comes in a variety of designs and materials as well as differing sizes as there are a multitude of intended uses for sea kayaks. They are suitable for all waters including open water and exposed crossings. What you will find with the sea kayak is that the kayaks have a distinct bias towards straight tracking, and with a very efficient hull form they are exceptional when used for long distance kayaking and kayaking more exposed crossings. The sea kayaks benefits are achieved through a reduced rocker and relatively longer waterline length than other kayak categories.
Obviously with the benefits comes some compromises and the sea kayak compromise is that they are not that manoeuvrable. A noticeable feature for most sea kayaks is that they may come with rudders or skegs which allow for enhanced straight line tracking. Obviously, sea kayaks need to deal with pounding waves, and most feature upturned bow or stern profiles that allow them to “shred” the waves and allow the kayakers to get into calmer waters quicker.
From a storage perspective, sea kayaks usually have two or more bulkheads that provide watertight below-deck storage options, specifically for storing things like PFDs and other rescue situation items. Kayakers going on longer expeditions will also appreciate the enhanced storage options for storing provisions and camping gear if required.
When deciding on a sea kayak, take into account the width and length of the kayak, its hull design and your intended usage of the kayak. Other factors to consider are the cargo capacity and the size of the cockpit, especially if you are planning on going on longer expeditions.[box_success]Recommended for: long distance paddling[/box_success]
Kayak / canoe hybrids combine the best features of both a canoe and a kayak in one. The hybrid looks more like a canoe but the reality is it paddles more like a kayak. Most hybrid kayaks have wide open cockpits which allows for multiple options for storage and are especially favour3ed by anglers and kayak campers. Hybrid kayaks tend to be the most stable of all the kayak types and are designed such that the kayaker can actually stand in them – quite beneficial for fishing. The most notable feature of the hybrid kayaks are the seats, probably again the most comfortable amongst the kayak categories.
Within each of the kayak categories, you will still get a multitude of different features and sizes and costs may vary widely even within a specific kayak category. Also, as mentioned before, any one of the different types of kayaks can be transformed into a fishing kayak, so although we listed it as its own category, it really is just some extra features on the base kayak category to which it pertains.
The team at Modern Kayaking will ensure we provide you with in-depth reviews of the latest and greatest kayaks for each of the various kayak types, and we will make sure that you select the best kayak that is geared towards your needs. We hope to see you on the water soon!
So following on in our series of the best value fishing kayaks (see our other posts on the best fishing kayaks under $1000), this in-depth review takes a look at a set of fishing kayaks that can be had for under $500. Obviously everybody is looking for the best bang for buck and finding a good fishing kayak within this budget range can be overwhelming with all the choices about. In fact, the market for fishing kayaks under 500 bucks is hotly contested by a number of the usual kayak brands – Emotion Kayaks, Sun Dolphin, Vibe and even an inflatable fishing kayak from Elkton make the list, so our team have diligently taken a look at most of these fishing kayak brands to bring you our roundup of the top fishing kayaks for under $500.
The Emotion Kayak Renegade XT is a great kayak for both paddling and fishing, and is really one of those user-friendly kayaks that provides exceptional value for the money. It’s an extremely stable kayak with a wide width of almost 36 inches, and can accommodate larger paddlers (325lbs capacity) with both comfort and stability. What’s nice about the width is that when fishing, you can stand up on the kayak without fear of toppling over.
The Renegade XT is a 10ft sit-on-top kayak that is geared towards fishing, coming standard with 2 rod holders and plenty of storage space for all your fishing gear. What we really liked about the Emotion Kayak Renegade XT is its portability – with the built in luggage handle in the front and the two handles built into the kayak mould at the stern and sides of the kayak which make transportation super easy. In fact, with its Lightweight 49 lb. design, the Renegade XT is super easy to transport to and from the waterfront pretty easily.
Obviously storage areas and space for fishing gear is critically important for any fishing kayak, and the Renegade XT does not disappoint in this area. For storage beneath the deck, the Solace Storage hatch provides added storage options, but the greatest feature of the Renegade XT is the large Rear Tankwell area with Cargo Net Lacing for Storage.
In fact the rear tankwell is fairly large allowing for storage of any fishing gear and baskets that you may wish to take along. For those looking for some company on those long fishing trips, the spacious rear tankwell is large enough for even a small dog to ride in and still have some space for all your fishing gear.
[pullquote_right]Plenty of storage space for all your fishing gear[/pullquote_right] [pullquote_right]Can accommodate larger paddlers (325lbs capacity) with ease[/pullquote_right]
From a comfort point of view, the Renegade XT comes with 4 Molded-In Freedom Footwells for Comfort and Secure Foot Bracing – catering for varying sized paddlers. The Renegade XT now also comes standard with the low back seat which provides extra comfort for those fishermen that are out on the river for any extended period of time.[box_success]
What an awesome little introductory fishing kayak from Sun Dolphin. Yes there is no doubt that the Sun Dolphin Journey kayak may be looked down upon by the kayak gear snobs, but for the price you will not get a better beginner kayak at such an affordable price. Sun Dolphin is known for making great entry level yaks – and the Journey 10 foot sit on top kayak is worth every cent (no matter what the gear snobs may tell you).
For a 10 foot kayak, it weighs in at 44lbs, and has enough room in the cockpit even with the adjustable front rod holder positioning. For its price, the Journey SS is easily one of the most affordable kayaks to start fishing with, but does suffer from some tracking issues. But seriously, pretty much all 10’ kayaks are tricky to track, but the benefit of a 10’ kayak is they are easy to transport.
Some users have suggested that the kayak feels tippy when being used and is not stable at all, but we certainly didn’t get that impression on our tests. Even trying to lean hard to one side or attempting to turn around in the kayak (as others have mentioned) to try and tip it had not much effect. The hull design provides maximum stability and performance. The Sun Journey comes with an adjustable padded seat for paddling comfort, and what we really liked was the swivel rod holder that is really conveniently located within the cockpit. It also includes 2 other flush mount rod holders if you are looking to use multiple fishing rods.
[pullquote_right]Great entry level fishing yak[/pullquote_right] [pullquote_right]Easily one of the most affordable kayaks to start fishing with[/pullquote_right]
The Sun Dolphin has movable foot rests so you can adjust to your desired length, whilst the central cockpit has a central storage area and as mentioned previously the adjustable front rod holder. The cockpit also has a side storage area (open) that allows you to store some of your fishing gear that you need close to hand. The large open cockpit also allows for the easiest of entry to the kayak, and we found getting in and out of the kayak fairly easy.
If you’re on the fence regarding the Sun Dolphin Journey SS (sure there are some really nasty reviews out there, as well as some glowing reviews as well), well just understand that it is a kayak aimed at the beginner market. The one thing we really did notice though about the storage areas (specifically the one in the front of the seat) is that it fills with water even after plugging the rear scuppers, and even with genuine Sun Dolphin plugs. We didn’t have enough time to test with other more expensive scupper plugs – so this is one thing you may need to consider. It’s a quick fix anyways for the storage area, as you can seal the storage area with some marine sealant for quite cheap, or just get a dry box instead. We suspect the issue is with the lid but it certainly did not detract from the overall experience.
Another great fishing kayak from Sun Dolphin, this time in sit-inside guise. In fact, your next fishing trip will never be as exciting as taking your kayak and cruising down the river or the lake in the Olive Green colored Sun Dolphin Excursion fishing kayak. The Sun Dolphin Excursion is made for calm waters as well as slow-moving rivers, so not really an appropriate kayak for rougher waters , but at this price, you really cant go past just how affordable this sit inside kayak really is.
Built from a high-density polyethylene material, the Excursion 10 fishing kayak has a low cockpit that allows the paddler to enter easily into the large sitting area. The Excursion 10 does come with a molded seat and a padded back rest (but we found that on longer trips your bottom may get sore, so purchasing a seat cushion would really assist in this regard). Being a sit-inside kayak, the remaining part of the rider’s body (from the thigh below) fits under the closed part of the kayak, and really gives you a sense of snugness and stability as you are fishing or paddling.
Just like most other fishing kayaks, the Excursion has aplenty of storage compartments that allow you to bring extra gear along with you on the trip. What we really likes about the Sun Dolphin Excursion was the hands-free electronics console, as well as the shock cord deck rigging.
The Excursion comes well specced for anglers, with ample fishing rod holders (2 at the rear and a swivel holder at the front of the boat). A note for those buying this kayak as a gift, it is especially great for beginners and easy to use and to carry – so would even be suitable for kids and teenagers looking for their first fishing kayak. In fact, due to its lightweight design, the kayak can be single-handedly carried in and out of a truck or other vehicle.
[pullquote_right]Affordable sit inside fishing kayak[/pullquote_right] [pullquote_right]Perfect for beginners or even children[/pullquote_right]
The Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-foot sit inside kayak is one of the best kayaks for short distance kayaking, and for fishing on rivers and slow moving waterways. Paddlers will benefit from the good sitting posture which will reduce cramps and aches on those longer fishing trips. The kayak has many user-friendly features for both novices and more experienced anglers, and for the price, its a kayak that really is quite exceptional. The Sun Dolphin Excursion 10 is suitable for both beginners and intermediate kayakers, and would also suit children and teenagers.[/box_success]
If you’re looking for a smaller fishing kayak that still has great manoeuvrability as well as stability, you cannot go past the Vibe Skipjack 90 fishing kayak. Measuring just 9 foot in length and weighing in at just 46 pounds, the small form factor allows for easy portability and due to its shorter length can actually fit into many SUVs with the back seats down.
The Vibe Skipjack 90 is a sit on top fishing kayak and has plenty of storage for your next fishing trip. With 2 sealed hatches and a rear storage area (tankwell) bungee tie down system, you can take all your gear with you and it doesn’t affect the stability of the kayak.
For fishing enthusiasts, the Skipjack 90 comes with 4 flush mount rod holders and an extra mounting point to mount even further fishing accessories.
Sitting in the kayak feels comfortable and certainly does not feel cramped with the 32” width, whilst the Vibe Skipjack comes fully equipped with the Vibe Deluxe seat and the Vibe Journey paddle as well (i.e. no need to go and purchase a separate paddle adding extra costs to your initial purchase)
[pullquote_right]Super easy to transport and with its shorter length (9 foot) can easily be transported in most SUVs.[/pullquote_right]
The Vibe Skipjack 90 is truly a great shorter length (9 foot) fishing kayak that comes with all the features you would want in a fishing kayak. Highly recommended!
There is no doubt that this is one of the most affordable two person fishing kayaks available on the market today, and we must admit that prior to testing it (in our hastily formed teams of 2) we had apprehensions of an inflatable kayak made for 2 people.
Rest assured, the Elkton Outdoors 10’ foot kayak was designed with us anglers in mind, and comes fully equipped to get you fishing in no time.
First thing we were worried about was how quickly we could inflate this kayak – all your buddies are out there on the lake and you are still struggling with blowing the thing up! With the Elkton inflatable kayak, we needn’t have worried, as the kayak inflates in only a couple of minutes from its compact storage size to a full size kayak.
In fact, once inflated, we were quite impressed with the sturdy design and how wide it actually felt (measuring 35in wide). One thing to remember is that you cannot rush the inflation of the kayak – as you may be tempted to use an electric pump. DON’T! Elkton actually warn you against using any type of electric pump to inflate the kayak due to their design. Basically the kayaks were designed to be pumped up with very little air pressure, and trying to fast track the inflation with an electric pump will only cause the bladders to burst – and you wouldn’t want that to happen and ruin your fishing day!
So the next concern you might have is probably something everyone is quietly chuckling to themselves – inflatable kayaks versus fishing hooks! Well lets dispel that little concern, as each Elkton inflatable kayak is built tough and built to last from 18-gauge PVC (18-Gauge rip resistant 1000D PVC) which is touted as HOOK and tear resistant. , a thick tarpaulin and a tough nylon cover for years of appropriate use. Or engineers designed our Fishing Kayak with adjustable seats for added comfort. With 2 vertical rod holders and 4 trolling rod holders, fisherman have the ability to set up their rods in a variety of combinations for the ultimate catch. We designed this boat to exceed fisherman’s expectations, so we included 6 mesh pockets for storing gear throughout the kayak.
[pullquote_right]Great inflatable fishing yak for beginners that is both affordable and durable as well[/pullquote_right]
So affordable, yet built to last, this yak is designed with high quality and durable components. Featuring adjustable seats for added comfort, and multiple rod holders, you can set this yak up in a number of different combinations to ensure you get that perfect catch.