Best Recreational Kayaks

Here you have our list of the best recreational kayaks. This type of kayak is designed with the weekend paddler in mind – someone who takes a more casual approach to the sport. Recreational kayaks are built for use on calmer, slow-moving waters. If you want the best kayak for fun, then you should know that some kayaks are better than others. As such, we have compiled this recreational kayaks buyer’s guide – designed to give you valuable advice on how to find the most-suitable recreational kayak for you.

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In a hurry? This is our winner!

Our rating:
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
  • Nimble, durable kayak is made of durable welded material with eye catching graphics for added safety on the lake or slow moving river
  • Cockpit is designed for comfort and maximized space, and inflatable I beam floors add stability
  • Cargo net to store extra gear, and grab line on both ends of kayak; inflatable seat with backrest
  • Comes with 84 inch aluminum oar, repair patch and Hi output manual hand pump; Rugged vinyl construction
  • Measures 30 by 15 by 108 inches (W x H x D), with 27.2 pound weight and 220 pound maximum capacity

Best Recreational Kayaks – Comparison Table

Best Recreational Kayaks – Reviews

Our Pick
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Our rating:

1. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

The Intex Challenger K1 is the best-selling and our best-value recreational kayak. In fact, this inflatable kayak is one of the most popular kayaks on the market, and for very good reason.

Whilst there will be a few wobbles when climbing aboard, the Intex Challenger is stable and will not tip over. Well, unless you really rock the boat!

Whilst most inflatable kayaks are made with PVC material, the Intex Challenger is made with a welded vinyl construction. Now, even though this is a quality material, it is more susceptible to punctures and scrapes. Although this is only a concern if you are kayaking near sharp rocks in rough waters, which beginners should be avoiding.

Due to the inflatable nature of this kayak, the Intex Challenger is very comfortable. The kayak features a large cockpit that allows you to sit and feel comfy while having fun on the water.

Recreational kayaking is supposed to be easy. Thankfully, the Intex Challenger is easy to store and light enough to carry short distances, meaning you’ll be able to get to the water with ease. In fact, the kayak takes a mere 10 minutes to inflate and 2 minutes to deflate.

To sum up, if you want an affordable kayak for recreational kayaking, this is the one for you.

  • Length: 9’
  • Width: 30”
  • Weight: 7lb
  • Capacity: 220lb
Pros
  • Generally pretty stable for a fun kayak
  • Very comfortable
  • Quick to inflate and deflate
Cons
  • Material is susceptible to punctures and scrapes

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-Foot Sit-in Kayak
Our rating:

2. Sun Dolphin Aruba Kayak

An affordable option for those who want a traditionally-shaped kayak that is easy to manoeuvre.

The SunDolphin Aruba is a 10’ sit-in kayak that travels well and allows for easy manoeuvres. It is ideal for those who want a starter kayak before moving onto something more powerful.

Unlike the low-cost recreational inflatable kayaks, the Aruba is more of a tradition build that can withstand the knocks and bumps, thanks to a high-density polyethylene construction. Furthermore, SunDolphin offer a two year warranty which allows for protection, should the kayak somehow get damaged.

Recreational kayaking is all about fun on the water. That’s why you want a stable kayak that doesn’t require all of your attention to keep stable. With a flat bottom and width of 30inches, the Aruba is one of the most stable recreational kayaks for beginners. But don’t worry, the Aruba also has a narrow stern and bow, meaning it slices through the water and allows you to pick up speed and whizz past your friends.

Recreational kayaks must always be comfortable, as it’s not all about performance. The Aruba kayak features high back support and adjustable foot braces. The seat could have more padding, which would provide more comfort for longer sessions on the water, but nothing is perfect.

Overall, the Aruba kayak is an affordable option for those who a traditionally-shaped kayak that is easy to manoeuvre through the water.

  • Length – 10’
  • Width – 30”
  • Weight – 40lbs
  • Capacity – 250lbs
Pros
  • Easy manoeuvring
Cons
  • Seat could offer more padding, easy fix with an accessory

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Our rating:

3. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

The Intex Challenger K2 is our best recreational kayak for two people.

Similar to the Intex K1 above, the K2 is one of the best selling recreational kayaks. In fact, we believe the K2 is the best tandem recreational kayak.

The large, inflatable design of the K2 lends itself perfectly to fun on the water. It’s built like a raft, but has much better manoeuvrability through the water. It has a bright yellow color that screams “fun”. This color also allows parents to easily spot where their children are whilst out in the water.

The K2 has welded seams that keep the kayak inflated and allows for a 400lb weight capacity. Now, even though the kayak is strong, it is obviously more susceptible to scrapes from sharp rocks, but this should be avoided if you’re on recreational trips.

As you can imagine, the inflatable kayak is very comfortable and a joy to sit inside. The kayak features a large cockpit that allows you for two people to feel comfy while learning the ropes.

But don’t just think that this is a comfortable kayak that doesn’t perform on the water. This is not the case. In fact, the K2 has a removable skeg that keeps the kayak true to its desired path. With that said, the K2 is a recreational kayak for calm waters.

You would think that a 2-person recreational kayak would be bulky and hard to carry. In fact, the Explorer K2 deflates down to a small size that is easy to store and light enough to carry to and from the water. The kayak is portable, tracks well, and offers fantastic value for money.

  • Length – 10’ 3”
  • Total width – 3’
  • Weight – 35lbs
  • Capacity – 400lbs
Pros
  • Comfortable for 2 people
  • Handy removable skeg
Cons
  • Susceptible to being pierced from rocks etc

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle, 6 Feet, Green
Our rating:

4. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle, 6 Feet

The Lifetime Youth Wave is our best kids recreational kayaks

If you have kids, you may want a short recreational kayak for kids. In such case, the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is our choice. The kayak measures 6’ in length and it suitable for kids 5 years and older.

It will come as no surprise that this small size weighs just 18lbs. It is made even more portable thanks to the moulded finger handles located on either side of the vessel. It will be too hard for one child to carry, but two or three can carry it down the water’s edge. Obviously parents should be present. These handles also provide another way for child to gain more balance on the water.

It is safe to say that children will find it hard to stay stable when padding for the first time. That’s why stability is so important. The Youth Wave Kayak makes it easy to say upright when paddling thanks to the wide build and the addition of reverse chine.

Although very affordable, the kayak has a high-quality built that can be passed down from older to younger siblings. High-density polyethylene of HDPE and the addition of UV protection guarantee that the material will last for years. Overall, we love how the Lifetime youth Wave is stable, highly-portable, and offers great value.

  • Length – 6 ‘
  • Width – 18lb
  • Weight – 18lb
  • Capacity – 130lb
Pros
  • Lightweight for an inflatable kayak
Cons
  • Well made material designed to last