There’s nothing more joyful than a kayaking trip. It’s a great idea to spend your free time with family while getting some upper body workout.
But to turn that dream into a really fun memory, choosing the best recreational kayak is a must. Don’t fret if you’re a newbie in this field because I’m here to walk you through everything needed to know and make a choice.
Firstly, here are some highly-recommended kayak reviews that truly worth a look.
- Top 15 Best Inflatable Kayak | Buyers Guide
- Top 5 Best Kayaks for Kids
- Top 10 Best Fishing Kayaks under $1000
Top 7 Best Recreational Kayaks Reviews 2021
SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-Foot Sit-in Kayak
What I love the most in the Aruba 10 is despite affordability, it’s quite promising in both raw material quality and builds.
One signature feature of SUNDOLPHIN’s kayaks is the rugged UV stabilized high-density polyethylene. It not only leverages the boat’s durability but also efficiently prevents discoloring in the sunlight.
Polyethylene is also a lightweight kind of material, which is why this kayak is exceptionally maneuverable and easy to carry. It also allows you to turn quickly without flipping off.
Another thing that I found from 70% customer compliments of the Aruba 10 is its extraordinary strength.
With the simplistic dynamic design, the boat can carry a max load of 250 lbs. through various water environments, from strong currents to river and lake touring. But don’t fret, its flat bottom hull will keep your boat stable and wind resistant.
Since this kayak also easily mounts/dismounts, it’s also a good choice for newbie kayakers as well. The large open cockpit design with spacious, adjustable foot braces allows it to fit a wide age range of riders. For examples, adults, young adults, to beginner teenagers.
For those highlights, Aruba 10 deserves to be the best overall kayaks for recreation, don’t you think?
Ocean Kayak Frenzy One-Person Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak
(Best One-person Sit-On-Top Kayak)
If you’re planning on a family trip for nature-watching, fishing, or surfing, the Ocean Kayak Frenzy is a must in your wish list.
It features 9 feet long with 18” clip-in seat width and adjustable foot braces to be user-friendly for a wide age range, from kids to adults. Just ensure the max load shouldn’t exceed 325 lbs.
Riding on this sit-on-top kayak is very comfortable and manageable since it’s constructed with a shorter length and an aluminum-shaft paddle. In rough waters, it keeps the boat straight and also allows for quick turns with less fatigue.
I also find its open cockpit design plays a good role to keep the whole boat incredibly stable. Hence, one who already knows how to balance can come back to the kayak easily without tipping over.
If you’re a professional kayaker who wish to dive then this would be your ultimate soulmate since the back end of Ocean Frenzy can keep a SCUBA tank.
Regardless, are some other perks like accessory eyelets, self-bailing scupper holes, bow, and stern storage, drain plug and carry handles and removable bungees.
Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak
(Best 1-Person Kayak)
Out of some candidates for the best one-person kayak under $500, I settled on the Old Town Vapor 10 for some reasons.
First off, it’s manufactured by a renowned brand of the high-quality but budget-friendly kayak. Secondly, rarely an affordable recreational kayak provides such a large open cockpit, which is also my most favorite.
Measured by 48” x 19.5”, it’s big enough for big and tall riders to sit on or get out easily.
Also, the Old Town Vapor 10 is considered the best kayaks for dogs. With adjustable Comfort Flex padded seat and thigh/knee pads, you can keep a medium-sized dog sit in your lap with no fatigue.
And don’t worry, this boat keeps balance pretty well. Though crafted as a recreational kayak for rivers and flatwater lakes, it’s stable enough to challenge whitewater and choppy waters like a dream.
So, if you want something that offers a solid platform, easy maneuverability, and comfort, look no further.
Lifetime 10 Foot, Two Person Tandem Sit-on Kayak with Padded Backrests
(Best Fishing Kayak)
Not only a recreational kayak for tandem or solo use, but the Lifetime 10 (with a built-in rod holder and huge cargo storage) is also a good choice for fishing, especially beginners.
This cargo compartment is located at the bow end and spacious enough for fishing equipment, food, and drinks. The best thing is its added shock straps that you can fasten all of them securely.
Paddles are another great advantage. They feature adjustable symmetrical shape with 7 feet in length to fit different paddling styles. Crafted from high-quality aluminum with vinyl grip, they’re also lightweight and controllable to help you paddle with minimal fatigue.
And when fishing or just floating around, the mounted cradle helps to keep them safe.
For a basically small family of two adults and one kid to enjoy their weekend trips together, this is also a good choice. It’s because the boat is equipped with 3 seats, several footrest positions, and 500-pound weight capacity.
If you’re worrying about sinking then don’t. The boat is well-constructed enough to withstand a huge load while keeping the best stability.
SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot Sit-on top Kayak
(Best Sit-in Kayak For A Beginner)
The SUNDOLPHIN Bali SS 10 comes with many awesome beginners-focused features to ensure you two vital things: Safety and Easy Maneuverability.
The most mentionable is Fortiflex high-density polyethylene. It excels the hull strength to protect the boat from harsh impacts, such as debris and saltwater.
For beginners, this is a helpful feature since its lightness keep good tracking and easy control in the wind. Additionally, is the open cockpit. It helps with quick entry and exists so your boat will never tip over.
While supplies are another key-core element to make your adventure safe and sound, the Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10 provides enough storage for them. It includes one dry bag and one Portable Accessory Carrier with shock deck rigging to fasten your valuables in place.
Plus, are a water bottle holder and a cup holder.
All-in-all, this is a budget-friendly recreational kayak for lakes, rivers, or protected coastal waters – perfect for novice riders to learn the sport. But remember not to surpass its weight limit (of 250 lbs.).
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak
(Best Inflatable Kayak)
The idea of inflatable kayaks is relating to the demand for space saving, but sadly, 70% of them make huge sacrifices on quality.
If you’re looking for the best compromise of them, the Advanced Element, highlighting its 3-layers of PVC Tarpaulin Hull Material, will be a good choice.
This new kind of material, combining with rigid panels and aluminum frame, creates a maximum durable outer cover with advanced performance.
It slices through high waters like a knife. And if outfitted with bow and stern, the Advanced Elements Kayak can deliver the same excellent tracking as other hard-shell models. As a result, it’s hardly affected much by small waves or wind at all.
The setup might be its only gripe since compared to other inflatable kayaks, this is quite a time consuming with complicated instruction. But in general, it’s still acceptable since the whole installing time just takes you less than 10 minutes.
From my experience, I find this Advanced Elements Kayak has played its best of both worlds. If you think an inflatable kayak will lower the on-water capability of your boat, this will change your mind.
Lifetime 10 Foot, Two Person Tandem Fishing Kayak with Paddles
(Best 3-Person Kayak)
Furnished with a plate for random storage, dry stockpiling compartment, bungee line straps, and 6 inches of back capacity, the Lifetime 10 Tandem is a perfect inflatable kayak for all outdoor aficionados.
It’s constructed with a combination wise of high-density polyethylene frame and scupper openings for extreme stability.
As a result, the boat is less affected by the additional water in the cockpit territory that you can stand up and fish without tipping over.
There’re also many additional accessories available in this set to serve for your fishing hobby. For examples, the 4 angling rod shaft holders, stun string straps, jingle plate, and scupper openings for seepage.
Though featured 3 seats, the Lifetime Tandem 10 will be most comfortable for 1 or 2 fishers with their gear. That’s why there are only 2 backrests.
In turns, the boat gives you multiple foot braces to find the most comfortable leg position. It’s also formed a side-saddle focus seat that you can go fishing all day with no fatigue or back pain.
In general, with the fantastic fisherman arranged outline and a wide range of amenities attached to this boat, it’s perfect for family fishing trips. If you want to make a huge catch without breaking the bank, pick this.
The Ultimate Guide To Choosing Best Recreational Kayaks
Type of Kayak
Commonly, there are two types of recreational kayaks:
- Sit-on-top kayak
- Sit-in kayak
To figure out which is your most suitable choice, it’s essential to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each:
Recreational activities usually require to bring gears and equipment with you. For example, if it’s a fishing trip, lures, tackle box, fishing rods, and cooler are some essentials. Not mention to your food and drinks.
For that reason, cargo space should be taken into consideration.
If you travel alone, just bring enough stuff, don’t cram your kayak since this will slow down the boat’s speed immensely.
Conversely, going on a trip with a group of friends allows you to carry more stuff since you can distribute the load among all paddlers.
Three things I usually keep in mind when choosing a kayak’s cargo are:
- How much space does it provide?
- Is it well-organized to keep my stuff in place?
- Is it an open compartment or closure one?
Some kayaks also offer extra-large open cockpit so that you can place your gear inside or bring a friend or dog along.
Weight is the very first thing you need to look at when determining how portable of a kayak. It should be lightweight enough that you can lift up and mount on your car or take down when arriving.
If it’s inflatable, the portability is even better. But ensure that the inflating/deflating process doesn’t take your entire life to wait. Ideally, it should be under 10 minutes to get everything done.
For a solid kayak, consider buying either a roof rack or sports trailer for your car to carry the boat.
Seem a bit costlier and less convenient, huh?
But many people still love choosing solid kayaks for their toughness and speed. So, while considering the best way to transport your kayak, keep in mind your requirements on a boat as well.
To find out the most suitable weight capacity range for you, consider two things:
- Your Bodyweight
- How much stuff you’re going to carry along
For example, if you’re a 200-pound person and the total weight of must-carry gear to afford a fishing trip is 100 pounds, a kayak with a weight capacity of 320-350 pounds is ideal.
To avoid feeling fatigued after a long day kayaking, a high-quality padded comfy seat is a must. A backrest is even better.
What if your desired boat doesn’t provide a comfortable seat? Don’t fret, if it’s removable, just replace for a new, comfier seat.
Conversely, if it’s solid, some extra padded foam is ideal to add to your seat.
Whichever you go, let measure the seat carefully to avoid wasting money on an unfitted replacement or padded foam.
I think my detailed easy-to-read buying guide has helped you figure out which features to consider when choosing the best recreational kayak.
Just remember to evaluate your budget before making a choice.
Also, hopefully, my 7 suggested options meet your demand. Thanks for reading!