kayaks

The 7 Best Kayaks for All Your Outdoor Adventures

Get out and enjoy local bodies of water.
By Rena Behar and Emily Belfiore
Updated April 02, 2021
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If you want to spend the spring and summer months exploring local bodies of water in your area, going out on a kayak is a great way to do so. 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.

What to Look for in a Kayak 

When shopping for a kayak of your own, there are a few key factors to consider. First, determine where you're going to be paddling 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 seven best kayaks you can buy online — which will make your purchase an easier experience and allow you to get out and enjoy the water sooner. 

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kayaks
Credit: Courtesy of Backcountry

Best Overall: Old Town Vapor 10XT Kayak

A perfect match for all kayaking skill sets, the Old Town Vapor 10XT Kayak is ready for any adventure you've got planned. Compatible with ponds, lakes, rivers, and mellow ocean riding, this basic and moderately priced kayak is designed to offer stability and legroom thanks to its wide, load-bearing construction. It's also equipped with a padded seat and adjustable foot braces to provide extra support and a solid platform for paddling. Plus, there's a waterproof hatch to keep your belongings close while you're out exploring. 

To buy: dickssportinggoods.com, $550

kayaks
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Budget: Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak

Paddlers are in good hands with the Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak. Made from tough, tear-proof vinyl, this durable model costs a fraction of similar options. It was already affordable at under $150, but thanks to an Amazon markdown, you can get it for just $91 now.  The customer-favorite inflatable kayak is built to last and offers a faster setup thanks to its easy-to-inflate design. Along with its sleek profile, it has a 220-pound weight capacity and an attachable fin that allows for a smooth, stable ride —  making it a great option for recreational touring. More than 12,000 shoppers gave it a five-star rating (plus over 5,000 glowing reviews), with many people praising its sturdiness, fast-inflating valves, and roomy interior (which can fit two people, or a furry friend, when you remove the seat). 

To buy: amazon.com, $91 (originally $147)

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak, Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Inflatable: Intex Excursion Pro Kayak Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Made from scratch-resistant, multi-layered PVC plastic, the two-person Intex Excursion Pro Kayak Inflatable Fishing Kayak is easy to set up thanks to its fast-inflating construction. As its name suggests, the top-rated kayak is intended for fishing, which means it offers optimal stability and tracking so you can enjoy a smooth ride and hours on the water. With a weight capacity of 400 pounds and a roomy interior, kayakers — whether they're fishing or not — can load up on all of their essentials without sacrificing space. It has more than 1,700 perfect ratings from shoppers who love that the kayak has a mount to hold their smartphone or GPS and that there are plenty of storage compartments. Plus, it comes with two paddles, a pump, a pressure gauge, and a carrying bag. 

To buy: $408, amazon.com

kayaks
Credit: Courtesy of Walmart

Best for Multiple People: Sea Eagle 370 Kayak

Grab a buddy — or two — and pile into the Sea Eagle 370 Kayak, a two-person inflatable kayak that's equal parts roomy and stable thanks to its 12.5-foot-long size. This canoe-style model is made from heavy-duty PVC plastic and has a weight capacity of 650 pounds plastic, guaranteeing a comfortable and sturdy ride for you and your fellow passengers. Some reviewers say it can actually fit three people, while others add that it's easy to inflate and deflate and offers great tracking. Another shopper called it a "perfect family kayak."

To buy: amazon.com, $385 

Pelican Sentinel kayak
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best for Fishing: Pelican Sentinel 100X Sit-on-Top Kayak

The best option for fishing, the Pelican Sentinel 100x Kayak is designed to keep you comfortable while casting a line. Its adjustable footbed, flush-mount rod holders, and spacious cockpit with cup holders will make sure you enjoy your outing 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, and its ability to tackle different bodies of water. Its nearly 10-foot length and hard-sided construction will make for a smooth and stable ride.

To buy: amazon.com, $470

Kayaks
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best for Kids: Lifetime Youth Wave 6-Foot Kayak

Wallet-friendly and lightweight, the Lifetime Youth Wave 6-Foot Kayak is specifically designed for pint-size paddlers ages 5 and up. At just 18 pounds and 6 feet in length, this hard-shell option 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 comes with a child-sized paddle and has a slope at the back for easy re-entry in the event of any unexpected immersions. Reviewers love that the model has toggles, which allows them to tie a rope to it to prevent it from drifting, and say that their children find the kayak easy to navigate. 

To buy: amazon.com, $190

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL Tandem Angler Kayak - 2021
Credit: Courtesy of Backcountry

Best for Rough Waters: Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL Tandem Angler Kayak

Rough riders need a durable and skillful kayak to get them through choppy, unpredictable waters, and the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL Tandem Angler Kayakis a great option. This virtually invincible, two-person kayak is made from tough polyethylene that can withstand intense currents and rocks, giving you the confidence to take on any high-speed adventure. It also has a stable, hard exterior, wobble-proof low seating,  and a large weight capacity of 500 pounds. 

To buy: backcountry.com, $1,150

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