The 5 Best Kayaks for All Your Outdoor Adventures

It’s not too late to get out and enjoy local bodies of water.
By Rena Behar
September 15, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
  • Best Overall:
    Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-Foot Sit-in Kayak
    $800
    SHOP IT
    Amazon
  • Best Budget-Friendly:
    Lifetime Youth Wave 6-Foot Kayak
    $127
    ( $160 save 21%)
    SHOP IT
    Amazon
  • Best Fishing Kayak:
    Old Town Canoe Trip 10 Deluxe Angler
    $550
    SHOP IT
    Dicks
  • Highest Weight Capacity:
    Vibe Yellowfin 100 Kayak
    $700
    SHOP IT
    Dicks
  • Most Spacious:
    Perception Pescador Pro 12 Kayak
    $879
    SHOP IT
    Amazon

Even when it starts to get a little too chilly to go swimming, you can still take advantage of local bodies of water in your area by going out on a kayak. A good kayak allows you to relax, enjoy your favorite canals and lakes, and get some physical activity into your day all while snugly ensconced in a life jacket.

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

When shopping for a kayak of your own, there are a few key factors to consider. Determine where you’re going to be paddling first, since rougher waters will require a different style of boat. Then assess what you’re planning to bring in the kayak with you, whether that’s another person, a pet, or gear. Do you need a single seat or tandem? How much storage space do you want? What kind of weight limit do you need? How heavy a kayak can you carry?

Once you’ve established your personal requirements, which will narrow down your options, check your contenders for their statistics and how they apply to your preferences; plus, it’s never a bad idea to consider what online reviewers are saying. In addition to a sufficient weight capacity, for example, you’ll also want to make sure you can get an equal weight distribution onboard your kayak to avoid leaning forward or tilting back.

For the best on-water experience, look for discussion of “tracking” in user reviews, which refers to how well the kayak will hold its course in the water. Bonus features like adjustable seat backs and footrests, paddle rests, and drains to remove any water that splashes in can also be considerable improvements. And, as with any good outfitter, you want to make sure you’ve got the proper accessories. The best kayaks should come with at least seats and a paddle. 

And though water sports equipment can get expensive, purchasing a kayak doesn’t have to break the bank. Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly vessel, the best inflatable kayak, or options for fishing, you’ll find what you need, below. 

Keep reading to discover the 5 best kayaks you can actually buy online — which will make your purchase an easier experience and allow you to get out and enjoy the water sooner. 

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

This 10-foot kayak offers a large cockpit and padded seat back for your paddling comfort. Reviewers praised the quality they got for the value (though its price may have gone up due to increased demand this summer), and its 40-pound weight is on the lower end for a hardshell, making it easier to transport. It also has plenty of storage space — perhaps even enough to bring a furry friend along, with their “boat cat.” 

To buy: amazon.com, $800

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

The best budget-friendly kayak, this lightweight hard-shell option is specifically designed for pint-size paddlers ages 5 and up. At just 18 pounds and 6 feet in length, it has a 130-pound carrying capacity that means petite adults might be able to hop aboard as well, especially if they’re looking for a more affordable and easy-to-maneuver option. The highly rated kayak even has a slope at the back for easy reentry in the event of any unexpected immersions.

To buy: amazon.com, $127 (originally $160)

Credit: Courtesy of Dicks

Another 10-footer, the Trip 10 kayak is designed to keep you comfortable while casting a line. A foot-brace system, flush-mount rod holders, and an in-cockpit tray with cup holders will make sure you enjoy your outing no matter whether or not the fish are biting. Reviewers praise its stability, meaning you won’t have to worry about any potential toppling while trying to reel in the big one.

To buy: dickssportinggoods.com. $550

Credit: Courtesy of Dicks

Contrary to its name, the Yellowfin comes in four different vibrant color schemes. It’s designed to be the “ultimate throw and go” kayak, according to the brand, with four carrying handles and a lightweight design weighing in at 57 pounds. And though it’s easy to maneuver, this option can handle a high 375-pound weight capacity.  The durable plastic design has multiple storage areas, four rod holders, and two tackle tray holders for fishing gear or whatever else you choose to stow away.

To buy: dickssportinggoods.com, $700

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

At a slightly longer 12 feet, the Pescador Pro 12 kayak is the most spacious option and suits taller riders who want to take it easy on smooth waters. A removable seat can join you around the campfire at the end of the day, while copious storage and gear spots — like two rod holders and a spot for your fish-finder — help make sure fisherfolk won’t leave empty-handed.

To buy: amazon.com, $879

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