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Best Kayaks Reviews [Top 8 Brands And Models Compared]

Many kayak lovers always wonder whether their kayak is good enough. They often ask, which is the best kayak brands or models out there. They also love comparing their kayaks with their friends. Well, it's human nature after all. Who wouldn't want to own the best of the best?

So, what makes a top rated kayak? The truth is, each model/brand has their own uniqueness and speciality. No kayak is perfect for everyone. The more important question is to ask yourself why you need a kayak for. Start by accessing your necessities.

Are you just looking for some fun during the summertime? Are you planning to become a professional? Or are you planning to go fishing with your kayak? It does take time, but understanding why you need them in the first place will always guarantee a good decision. 

Quick Answer On The Best Kayak Out There

For those who wants to jump straight to the final verdict, here is a quick recap on our thoughts on the best models in the market today.

best value

  • For small and large users
  • Speed and power
  • Comfortable and adjustable back seat
  • Multiple colours to choose from


  • Easy to fold, store and transport
  • Can be used  either for solo or tandem
  • It is puncture resistant
  • Comfortable and supportive

The 8 Best Kayak Brands

We all know that kayaks are quite diversified. They come in multiple models and each type has its own features and uses. Furthermore, there are dozens of brands and hundreds of models out there. 

Luckily, you don't have to waste too much time on this as we've already done that for you. We have analyzed the top rated kayak brands on the market and went through both their pluses and minuses.

These 8 brands have been in the market for ages and they specialise in different areas, depending on what you are looking for. You can click on the brands to find their recommended model. Alternatively, you could also find a table of comparison below to compare their features.

ImageBrandFeaturesOur Rating

Vibe Sea Ghost 130 Angler

Best Kayak Under $1000
Size: 156x33x15 inches

Weight: 80 lbs

Max Capacity: 550 lbs
More Details (Pros/Cons)

Advanced Elements Advanced Frame

Best Inflatable Kayak
Size: 180x32x18 inches

Weight: 56 lbs

Max Capacity: 550 lbs
More Details (Pros/Cons)

Sun Dolphin Aruba SS

Best Kayak For Beginners
Size: 120x30x13 inches

Weight: 40 lbs

Max Capacity: 250 lbs
More Details (Pros/Cons)

Lifetime Tandem Fishing Kayak

Best Kayak for Fishing
Size: 120x36x19 inches

Weight: 60 lbs

Max Capacity: 500 lbs
More Details (Pros/Cons)

Ocean Kayak Frenzy

Best Sit On Top Kayak
Size: 114x28x13 inches

Weight: 44 lbs

Max Capacity: 325 lbs
More Details (Pros/Cons)

Old Town Heron 9XT

Best Kayak Under $500
Size: 96x28x16 inches

Weight: 39 lbs

Max Capacity: 300 lbs
More Details (Pros/Cons)

Oru Kayak Beach LT

Best Foldable Kayak
Size: 144x33x29 inches

Weight: 26 lbs

Max Capacity: 300 lbs
More Details (Pros/Cons)

Malibu Kayaks X-Factor

Best Kayak for Big Guys
Size: 172x33x12 inches

Weight: 62 lbs

Max Capacity: 625 lbs
More Details (Pros/Cons)

Top 8 Kayak Reviews

1) Vibe Sea Ghost 130 Angler Kayak - Best Kayak under $1000

We just couldn't overlook Vibe Kayaks when hunting for quality kayaks on the market. This model is suitable for both beginners and experienced users. Professionals will love how well it maneuvers, as well as a few cool features that adds to its performance. It can certainly offer an experience of a lifetime.

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2) Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak - Best Inflatable Kayak

Although inflatable kayaks are not necessarily designed for professionals, this model from Advanced Elements brings in a top-notch performance. It's certainly appealing to more experienced users as well. Given its inflatable construction, it's obviously easy to store in a closet, but also easy to transport in a backpack.

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3) Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Foot Sit-in Kayak - Best Kayak for Beginners

Designed for the entire family and mostly for less experienced users, Sun Dolphin's kayak is excellent on both rivers and lakes. Given its profile, it shouldn't be used on rapid rivers though, as it's created for calmer water medium.

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4) Lifetime Tandem Fishing Kayak with Paddles - Best Kayak for Fishing

best kayak brands

If you're up for a unique fishing experience, Lifetime's flagship is by far the most suitable kayak. It's an asymmetrical model coming with a full package – two paddles, two backrests, paddle clips, 3 fishing pole holders and a storage hatch.  Apart from the olive green color, this kayak is also available in a camouflage design too.

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5) Ocean Kayak Frenzy Recreational Kayak - Best 1 Person Sit on Top Kayak

Ocean Kayak is certainly a front runner in terms of kayaks, especially when it comes to sit on top kayaks. This model comes in a bright orange color, so it's easy to be seen on water. It's designed for one person only, yet it makes a great choice for families as well. Its user friendly construction makes it suitable for kids.

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6) Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron 9XT - Best Kayak under $500

This model is probably the best from Old Town Canoes & Kayaks. Apart from the black cherry color, it's also available in cloud, lemongrass and sunrise designs. The kayak can be used on any kind of water – mild lakes or rapid rivers. It's a versatile unit designed for more or less experienced users, but with a series of professional features and even a few bells and whistles.

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7) Oru Kayak Beach LT Kayak - Best Foldable Kayak

With numerous innovations in this industry, we find Oru Kayak to be one of the top 5 kayaks models out there. Over the years, this company focused on improving kayaks and clearing all the potential drawbacks they might have. Take this model, for example – it's foldable, so it's much easier to store, transport and carry.

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8) Malibu Kayaks X-Factor Sit on Top Kayak - Best Kayak for Big Guys

Available in lime and white, the X-Factor kayak makes Malibu Kayaks one of the best for large users. This model is a sit on top kayak. It can take up to 625 pounds, which means you can carry enough gear to go around the world with it. Although designed for recreational uses, this kayak comes with some professional features than even experts will find appealing.

Read More

Disclosing the Main Types of Kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks are ideal for amateurs, as well as kids and families. They have a great stability and they're easy to maneuver. Kids love kayaking as well but there are certain things you have to watch out for. 

Given the open profile of this kayak, there are no risks of getting trapped. You can find sit-on-top kayaks in a few different kayak brands too – tandem, solo or three person kayaks. Click here to check out our best 2 person kayaks.

Touring kayaks are mostly recommended to calm waters, whether you want one for a river or the sea. Their touring profile brings in plenty of storage space as well. They're usually available in two types – tandem and single.

Whitewater kayaks are easy to recognize due to their length – much shorter than other varieties. They are known for the exquisite control, so they can easily surf waves as well. They're ideal to both newbies willing to learn and more experienced users looking for a good adventure.

Often referred to as canoes, open Canadian kayaks come in more varieties and with a single paddle. They are long and large, so they're great for families.

Sure, they're not as popular as other kayaks, yet they make a good choice for sheltered waters, such as lakes or rivers. Check out our list of best kayak for rivers.

Sea kayaks are not too wide, so their main role is to be fast and allow cutting through waves. Storage is quite decent due to their length.

Unlike other kayaks, the sea kayak models can be enhanced with plenty of accessories, like fish finders.

Inflatable kayaks are not to be overlooked either if you're after storage and transportation. An inflatable kayak can be folded and fit into a backpack. We have wrote an article on the best inflatable kayaks so be sure to check them out.

What to Look for When Buying a Kayak

The overall size is by far the most important consideration when checking out the best deals on kayaks.

In terms of length, longer kayaks have some benefits – they are obviously more stable and can carry a higher load.

Maneuverability shouldn't be a problem either. Shorter kayaks are easier to transport though, but they're also cheaper and lighter. They make turning a breeze.

The width is mostly responsible for the maneuverability. You'll have to choose between stability (wide kayaks) and handling (narrow kayaks).

You can't have both, so we recommend making this decision based on your experience.

Often overlooked by newbies, the symmetry is an important consideration. Symmetrical kayaks come with the same shape for both the front and the back. They're easier to maneuver and turn, so they're more suitable for rapid streams.

When asymmetrical, kayaks are more stable. Maneuvering them is easy, but turning around will be challenging.

Asymmetrical kayaks can be swedeform (more volume in the back) or fishform (more volume in the front).

The bottom shape is another aspect related to the stability of a kayak. If you're looking at the top 10 kayaks for beginners, chances are most of them come with a flat bottom. They are stable and excellent for calm waters.

However, the V shaped bottom comes with some extra benefits, especially for experienced users. For instance, the secondary stability is increased when the kayak is leaned.

The directional control is also superior, as the V shape literally cuts the water. But then, the initial stability when you don't move is sacrificed. From this point of view, touring kayak comes with a V shaped bottom.

It's imperative for beginners to double check the volume of a kayak too. The volume is basically the amount of space to be used.

Apart from the user, there should be space for other accessories and items, such as a backpack. Most manufacturers give the volume in liters or gallons.

Most of these factors look general to an amateur who's just getting ready to purchase the first kayak. We strongly recommend asking yourself a few questions before deciding.

  • How many people will use this kayak?
  • How much storage do you need for long trips?
  • What kind of paddling do you plan to do?
  • Do you have a place to store the kayak?
  • How do you plan to transport the kayak?

Some people want a kayak for some adventure, while others have more precise goals – fishing or touring. If you take long trips or overnight rides, you'll need plenty of storage for at least one backpack and a tent.

Family kayaking requires a big model too. Oh and by the way, if you are a woman looking for a kayak, you will love this article.

Considering you know what you require, then you will be able to make your decision on which type of kayak to go for. 

Kayaking Tips for Beginners

  1. Kayaks come in multiple styles, so choose the suitable one based on your experience and expectations. Consider the size too – shorter kayaks can be easily maneuvered, but longer versions can tackle longer distances.
  2. Always be safe and carry a life jacket or a personal flotation device, as unexpected situations may arise when least expected.
  3. Follow the rules correctly, but don't count on others to do it too. For example, kayaks have to keep a safe distance way from power boats. They should get 100 feet of clearance, but it doesn't happen all the time. It's better to be safe than sorry.
  4. Double check the weather forecast before going out. If you hear a thunder or you see a lightning, you should rush to the shore immediately.
  5. Pack your essential gear responsibly and always keep a dry bag on you for fragile things or electronics. Water shoes can be helpful if you get tipped out. Also, the water temperature is more important than the air temperature.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.What type of kayak are best for lakes?

Touring and recreation kayaks are ideal for flat waters including lakes. They are more stable and more comfortable to use. Getting a good kayak seat will definitely boost the overall comfort level.

2.Which kayak is the most stable?

In general, wide kayaks are the most stable of them all. Usually, sit on kayaks are considered as recreational and therefore stable.

3.Which kayak is better, sit in or sit on?

Sit in kayaks are ideal if you want to stay dry while paddling. Sit on kayaks are better if you want to push it to the limit.

4.Why do kayaks have scupper holes?

Scupper holes are used to allow the water to go back in the river or lake so it won’t accumulate inside a kayak.

5.Do kayaks have weight limits?

Yes, all kayaks have weight limits which depend on the size and the length of a unit. Usually, the weight limit is around 220 pounds.


As a short final conclusion, choosing the right kayak is a matter of personal needs and preferences.

Don't buy something that looks good or might feel useful, but something that matches your necessities in small details.

Once you know what you need, browsing for the best kayaks will be so much easier than trying to check out all the products out there.

We've already done the homework for you and selected the best in multiple categories.

It's worth analyzing both the pros and cons of a particular kayak. Get over the manufacturer's specifications and analyze both the positive parts and the potential drawbacks before making a final decision.

Douglas Keister

I am an adventure fanatic that loves nature and adventure sports like kayaking, camping and water sports. I have been doing this for almost 10 years now and have learned quite a few tricks. With my experience, I hope to provide you with the most reliable and accurate information for your next adventure.

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    Admin - September 22, 2018

    Thanks Corie.

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Stacy Trainer - October 7, 2018

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    Douglas - October 8, 2018

    Thanks Stacy.

Steav Smith - April 28, 2019

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