The 7 Best Kayaks to Buy in 2018

Hit the lake, pond, or ocean in one of these watercrafts

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Kayaking is one of those win-win activities. Not only is it a great workout (it tones everything from the core to the legs), but it’s also fun as well as wonderfully relaxing. Investing in a good kayak that’s stable and easy to steer will make the experience that much more enjoyable.

When purchasing a kayak, you’ll want to consider a few things, such as where you’ll be paddling (choppy ocean waters or a placid lake?) and whether you plan to use the watercraft for shorter outings or overnight adventures (if the later, look for a watercraft with plenty of storage). Make a splash in one of these top picks.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Manatee 10 Solo Kayak Package

Manatee 10 Solo Kayak Package
Courtesy of L.L. Bean

Explore lakes, rivers, ocean coastline, and more in an easy-to-maneuver and durable kayak, like the Manatee 10 Solo Kayak. Made from rotomolded polyethylene, this model is perfect for calm to slightly windy conditions. The 10-foot kayak features a roomy cockpit and adjustable backrest as well as a padded rim that allows you to comfortably rest your legs against the cockpit. The rear hatch comes equipped with a dry bag for storing food, clothes and other belongings that shouldn’t get wet. You can also secure objects that you want to keep close at hand (like sunscreen and a water bottle) in the bungees attached to the front and rear decks.

Reviewers love the size of the Manatee 10 Solo Kayak and say that it’s not too heavy (it clocks in at 42 pounds) or large to maneuver in and out of the water. People also say that the kayak is stable and durable, allowing them to feel safe while paddling about.

Best Sea Kayak: Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak

If you plan to head to the ocean, you’ll want a sea kayak that can handle wind and waves. One to try is the 60-pound Riot Kayaks Edge 1.5 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak. Bulkhead-sealed front and rear compartments keep belongings safe and dry when things get choppy, and a drain plug allows you to easily empty the boat of water. Whether you take it out for the day or use it for an overnight expedition, you’ll stay comfortable while paddling thanks to a custom-fit seating system and adjustable sliding foot braces.

People who own this Riot Kayaks watercraft say that it handles wind, currents, and waves without a problem. They also praise the spacious storage that is perfect for multi-day journeys.

Best Recreational: Sun Dolphin Aruba

Recreational kayaks are designed for protected, calmer waters. The Sun Dolphin Aruba, made from rugged high-density polyethylene, is perfect for rivers and lakes. A large open cockpit, adjustable seat with high back support and adjustable foot braces make for a comfortable paddle. The watercraft also features carrying handles and a water bottle holder and is available in multiple colors that will stand out against the water, like a poppy pink and a bright lime green.

Reviewers say that the Dolphin Aruba is sturdy and that the quality is great considering the price. It may not be the fastest kayak on the water, but if you’re looking for a beginner kayak or something to play around in on the weekends, this option could be for you.

Best Inflatable: Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Inflatable kayaks are perfect for people who live in apartments or don’t have a great deal of storage space in the garage. The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is made from puncture-resistant vinyl and features Boston valves for quick inflation and deflation. The kayak also comes with a manual hand pump, repair patch, inflatable seat, cargo net, and 84-inch aluminum oar.

People who own the Intex Challenger kayak say they like that there’s no worrying about needing to lift or carry a heavy kayak. In fact, you don’t need any assistance when toting the extremely lightweight watercraft to and from the lake. Multiple reviewers even agree that—considering how much fun they’ve had in the kayak and how little it cost them—this is one of the best purchases they’ve ever made.

Best Tandem: Old Town Twin Heron Tandem Kayak

Old Town Twin Heron Tandem Kayak
Courtesy of L.L. Bean

For even more fun on the water, partner up in a tandem kayak. One to try is the Old Town Twin Heron Tandem Kayak. The watercraft, which is best for calm to light winds, is 13’6’’ long and extremely durable thanks to three-layer polyethylene. Although it’s designed for two paddlers, it can also be used for solo outings, and the front seat is removable to make space for gear—or your dog!

One reviewer says that this Old Town tandem kayak is fast and easy to maneuver whether you have one or two paddlers. It’s also enjoyable to use, thanks to comfort flex seats and an easy-to-adjust foot brace system.

Best for Fishing: Sun Dolphin Journey

Gone fishin’? Then you’ll want a kayak that’s designed for anglers. The 10-foot Sun Dolphin Journey is a great place to start. The lightweight kayak has a stable sit-on-top design, which gives the user more room to move around while fishing than they’d have if they were sitting ​inside a cockpit. It’s also decked out with two flush mount rod holders and one swivel rod holder.

One reviewer says that they like the fact that they can drape their feet over the side of the Sun Dolphin Journey kayak while they fish, and people agree that paddling and fishing from this watercraft is an ideal way to spend a day. The kayak comes in two neutral colors—sand and olive.

Best for Kids: Lifetime Youth Kayak

Pint-sized paddlers will love having their own kayak to float around in. The 6-foot Lifetime Youth Kayak is perfect for kids ages 5 and up, and a wide stance limits rocking to keep them from falling out. At just 18 pounds, the kayak is light enough for tots to pull around while a swim-up deck allows them to easily get on the kayak when it’s in the water.

People say that their little ones are able to motor around in the Lifetime Youth Kayak easily. A kid-sized paddle is included with the kayak, and the polyethylene watercraft has built-in cradles to secure the paddle when it’s not being used.

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