Best Recreational Kayaks in 2020

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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Our rating:
Intex 68306EP Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak with Aluminum Oars
  • Brand New in box. The product ships with all relevant accessories

Best Recreational Kayaks – Comparison Table

Best Recreational Kayaks – Reviews

Our Pick
Intex 68306EP Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak with Aluminum Oars
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1. Intex Challenger K2 Kayak

The Intex Challenger K2 kayak is a sport series boat that is made of rugged vinyl. Dubbed as one of the best river kayaks, it is designed to be visible from afar with its bright green color, and made for two paddlers.

This color makes it suitable for sporting and fun water activities. It is easy to carry around because it is an inflatable kayak and that makes it lightweight.

Getting air in and out of the vinyl material is easy with the aid of the Boston valve it possesses.

As a sit-on kayak, its deck is made low with I-beam floor and its side chambers are made for high buoyancy and comfort. It has a comfortable seat (Inflatable and adjustable) with a backrest; a removable skeg that gives it amazing directional movement.

One would think since it is an inflatable kayak, there would be no room for storing valuables. However, there is. There also is a cargo net for extra storage. Its side chambers are also streamlined for easy paddling. It can carry as much as 400 pounds of weight and attains a size of 11.6ft x 2.6ft x 1.3ft when inflated. One more thing, it comes with a repair patch.

  • Length: 11.6ft
  • Width: 2.6ft
  • Weight: 39.6lb
  • Capacity: 400lb
Pros
  • Cheap kayak option
  • Bright green coloration for visibility
  • Two persons capacity fit
  • 400LBS maximum weight capacity
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Easy to move around
Cons
  • Make-shift foot brace, not the regular one
  • Unsuitable for use in water with sharp rocks
  • Sensitive boat skin material

Dagger Zydeco 9 Kayak - 2020
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3. Dagger Kayak Zydeco 9.0 – 2020

In a bid to improve the versatility of their product, Dagger has made tremendous changes in their design, and this is evident in the Zydeco 9.0. With its improved maneuverability and acceleration, it stands as one of the best recreational kayaks in the market right now.

This shouldn’t be a surprise since its length is just 9’11’’ (276 cm) and width, 28.5’’ (72 cm). Its cockpit is 38.5’’ x 21.75’’, suitable for ample comfort.
There is no worry about how much weight it can hold. Compared to its cockpit size, 220LBS is a good fit. Its lightweight makes it one of the easiest kayaks to handle on and off water.

Its seating system is of ConTour CFS-R. ConTour Knee and Thigh Pad for paddlers comfort. Foot Braces in the extra-large size—no worries about if your feet will fit in the braces they have.

  • Length – 9ft 11”
  • Total width – 28.5″
  • Weight – 37lbs
  • Capacity – 220lbs
Pros
  • Relatively cheap for its quality
  • Suitable for all levels of paddlers
  • Easy on and off water handling
Cons
  • No hatch for storing valuables
  • One person fit

Ocean Kayak Caper Classic One-Person Recreational Sit-On-Top Kayak, Sunrise, 11 Feet
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4. Ocean Kayak Caper Classic

The first noticeable thing about the Ocean Kayak Caper Classic is its huge hatch, an enormous storage area for all of your valuables you wish to keep things stowed away and not get soaked with water. It is a sit-on kayak that measures at 11ft length and weighs 47 pounds. Its relatively short length and light weight makes it a sturdy and easily maneuverable kayak.

It is made of polyethylene, which gives you good stability. It can hold weights of up to 325 pounds.

This Kayak’s hull is Tri-Form and holds a reputation for its tracking, stability and maneuverability. It cuts through water with ease and is very well suited for fishing expeditions due to its sturdiness and large hatch.

It has a sturdy footrest for power transfer, padded seats with backrest for comfort and handles that are padded for carrying it.

  • Length – 11ft
  • Width – 31″
  • Weight – 47lb
  • Capacity – 325lb
Pros
  • Great features for the price
  • Versatile and sturdy for different water conditions
  • Great tracking and maneuverability
  • Large hatch for storage
Cons
  • If you want to go fast, it won’t be the fastest recreational kayak you could buy

Riot Kayaks Boogie 50 Whitewater Surf Kayak, Red, 7'8'
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5. Riot Kayaks Boogie 50 Whitewater

Thinking of going into rough waters? This right here is the best recreational kayak just for that. With its length at 7.8″ and width at 24″, it is a high-performance kayak, suitable for carefree paddlers.

The cockpit area of the Boogie 50 is spacious, and houses adjustable footrest for the comfort of kayakers. It also has a power seat that allows no slip and also has a back rest.

The backrest is adjustable with the help of a lever by its side. It is light as it weighs just 35 pounds, making it suitable for a combination of surfing the waves and kayaking in calmer waters. Made of polyethylene, it has great quality and is very durable. It is safe to say it is one of the best kayak for intercoastal water travellers.

  • Length – 7ft 8″
  • Width – 24″
  • Weight – 35lb
  • Capacity – 200lbs
Pros
  • Suitable in a wide range of water conditions
  • Power seat suitable for surfing and prevents sliding
  • Comfort in the cockpit area due to long leg room
  • Good pricing
Cons
  • Mostly for seasoned kayakers

Wilderness Systems Aspire 105 | Sit Inside Recreational Kayak | Adjustable Skeg - Phase 3 Air Pro Seating | 10' 6'
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6. Wilderness Systems Aspire 105

This is a kayak best suited for beginners and intermediate kayakers. It is one of the sit-in recreation wilderness kayaks that a paddler could own, or rent. It has a skeg that helps to remain on course when in challenging waters. Its seat, as with other Wilderness Systems kayaks, are comfortable.

The Phase 3 AirPro seat is adjustable and encourages airflow through its mesh fabric. Its foot brace system is well suited to different persons with different leg lengths. At the hull, there is a skid plate that can also be replaced when worn.

It helps to prevent damage to the hull when the kayak is being dragged. Its dashboard holds small gears for easy access, while its hatch holds other valuables.

It is versatile and sturdy, suitable for different waters due to its 10’6″ length and 29″ width. It weighs 48LBS and can take a weight of about 400LBS. These features make its customers believe it is the best river kayak.

  • Length – 10.6ft
  • Width – 29″
  • Weight – 48lb
  • Capacity – 400lbs
Pros
  • Suitable for beginners and intermediate paddlers
  • Comes with lightweight durable paddle
  • Great price with great features
Cons
  • Can take only one kayaker
  • May feel too light for pro paddlers

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak
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7. Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

This Kayak is made of single layer polyethylene. It is 12’ long, 34″ wide and can hold weights of up to 425lbs. It is designed to carry two adults and either a small child or a pet.

That makes it suitable for a family recreation on water. It has no hatches and that makes it unsuitable for hobbies such as fishing. It has two padded comfort seats with backrests.

The kayak has side carry handles for ease of hoisting it off the ground. The length of the kayak provides ample leg room as well as foot brace for the paddlers.

  • Length – 12ft
  • Width – 34″
  • Weight – 57lb
  • Capacity – 425lb
Pros
  • Suitable for family relaxation and adventure
  • Stable and versatile
  • Lightweight and quality material
Cons
  • Relatively cheap
  • No hatch for storage

Our rating:

2. Pungo 125 Recreational Kayak

From the stables of Wilderness Systems, the Pungo 125 Kayak is the definition of style and agility. Its size is 12.6 foot in length and cockpit size of 57.5 x 22.5 inches, a reason it is suitable for every paddler. The Pungo 125 hull is perfectly engineered for stability, and that is without giving up its high level performance. Despite recreational kayaks being generally slow due to their width, this kayak has amazing speed compared to its peers.

Apart from its efficiency, it has style. It is fitted with the patented Phase 3 AirPro seating system that affords paddlers with comfort and adjustable seat.

Regardless of what you need a Pungo125 kayak for, it meets it with little effort. It has SlideTrax, to hold fishing rods, and phones. There is also a removable dry box for storing your valuables. All of these are available on its dashboard.

Beneath the kayak, there is a skid plate that prevents the hull from damage and makes transport easier. There is a large storage on the stern where gears and other valuables can be kept in dry condition.

  • Length – 12.6ft
  • Width – 29.5”
  • Weight – 53lbs
  • Capacity – 425lbs
Pros
  • Suitable for beginners and long-timers
  • Thigh padding for leg comfort all day long
  • Customizable dashboard
  • Adjustable foothold system
Cons
  • It is costly
  • Takes on only one paddler

Best Recreational Kayaks – Buyers Guide

There are different types of kayaks, and even though the different kayaks are meant for different purposes and suited for different water types, they all have so many things in common and these same things.

Our focus in this article is on recreational kayaks. To avoid putting the proverbial square peg in a circular hole, here are some of the factors to consider when you decide to purchase a recreational kayak.

1. What water-type are you going to explore?

Water isn’t water, we all should know that. As a beginner, trying to get your first kayak or, maybe you have gotten your first and the experience you are getting is way below what you expected. The first thing you should consider is what type of water you would use your kayak on.

There are different types and water bodies you can kayak in. There are inland waters like small lakes, ponds and rivers. These water-bodies have something in common; they have slow current and are mostly gentle in their movement. Their activity level is mostly predictable and makes it safe for certain types of kayaks.

Other types of water-bodies such as large rivers, oceans, seas and canals have their own characteristics, and these are what make certain kayaks suited to them. Large rivers and lakes have stronger currents when compared to smaller lakes and rivers. Seas and Oceans can change in their calmness, depending on the weather.

These features of the different water-bodies pose a form of limitation to some recreational kayaks and are the best environments to use others. For instance, the Boogie 50 Whitewater is well suited from strong current waters while Intex Challenger stands no chance in the same environment.

2. Is your recreational kayak sit on or sit in?

Comfort is of utmost importance if one is to remain on water for a considerable length of time. The sit-type of choice depends largely on the weather and season, and sometimes on the paddler’s choice.

There are two types of recreational wilderness kayaks based on sit type. The sit-on kayaks, and the sit-in kayaks.

The sit-on kayaks are very well suited for warm weather conditions because they provide very little protection against splashing water.

During the cold time of the year, using a sit-on kayak is unwise as water splashes easily and compounds the coldness a paddler may feel. On the other hand, a sit-in recreational kayak is well suited for cold weather as it offers protection (to an extent) against weather elements.

The cockpit area can be covered to prevent water getting into the kayak, and at the lower body is kept warm.

3. Kayak weight and size

Recreational kayaks are built for speed. They are generally not bigger than 12 feet in length, and are usually more than 24 feet in width. This makes them wider than other kayaks, like the Touring kayaks. They are so built because they are expected to be used on slow current water-bodies. Kayaks with narrow builds are more suited to open waters.

In another lane, the weight of a kayak determines its price. This is because, the lighter a kayak is, the easier it is to control and the more gear you can carry. The weight of a kayak takes part of the overall weight it can carry.

Another thing is the durability of a kayak depends on the material used in producing it. Since, heavier materials traditionally last longer, to use lighter materials that last as long will cost more. Therefore, a kayak made of polyethylene plastic is inexpensive compared to one produced using lightweight fiberglass.

4. Your Budget

As we have said earlier, the weight of your kayak determines its price. Regardless of how good a kayak is from what you’ve seen and be told.

If your budget doesn’t meet it, you need to either get a loan to purchase it, or settle for the next best one. Since it is not a very wise financial decision to secure a loan to purchase a kayak that is beyond your budget (except for business purposes), it is better to settle for the latter.

Regardless of what type of water body you will be paddling in, you will surely find kayaks that will meet your budget. However, do not trade quality for money.

Other things to look out for when you want to buy a recreational kayak include

Hatches: If you will need to store some things during your time on the water, you will need a kayak with a hatch. How big it should be depends on you.

Cockpit: the cockpit is the part of a sit-in kayak where you are secured while sitting. Your size will influence the size of the cockpit your kayak should have. A snugly fitting one makes you control the paddling well and a loosely fitting one makes you get in and out of it easily.

Seats: the more comfort your seat can provide, the better for you. Have it at the back of your mind that you will be spending some hours in that seat. Therefore, invest in a good one.

FAQ on Recreational Kayaks

What type of hull is good for my recreational Kayak?

The hull is the bottom part of the kayak; it is the part the kayak rests on. The type of hull a kayak has influences its speed, maneuverability and stability. There are four types of hull.

  1. Flat: It is suited to calm waters, and best for beginners, because it encourages easy maneuverability.
  2. V-shaped: At a point in the base, the hull is rounded to give it a shape like the letter V. suited for pro paddlers and gives good speed when travelling in a straight direction.
  3. Rounded: A rounded hull gives the kayak less stability and this makes it unsuitable for beginners. It increases speed and is suitable for open waters where the water activity can change rapidly.
  4. Pontoon: This type of hull provides the best stability, and it is most advisable for beginners to use this. It has great stability and is best for recreational kayaking.

What is the best paddle for a recreational kayak?

Picking the right paddle for your kayak is the next important thing to do after getting the right kayak for you. It is imperative that you choose a paddle that isn’t too heavy or that causes you discomfort when you hold it.

In short, go for a paddle with a blade made of fiberglass, with it’s shaft being made of Aluminum or Carbon fiber.

Will I fit into my hobby kayak?

Yes, you will. There are different types of kayaks. However, recreational kayaks will accommodate people of different sizes.

The cockpit area in recreational kayaks is usually made larger than the other types of kayaks. It is better if it fits you snugly as you will be able to manage the kayak easily. If you want it loose, it is okay as well, you will be able to get off and on the recreational kayak easily.

f you’re unsure of getting inside a cockpit, you can opt for a sit-on kayak. You don’t have to worry about fitting with them.

Does the length of a recreational Kayak matter?

Yes, it does. Although it depends on the type of kayak you are looking to own, and the type of water body you will use it. The length of a kayak determines how well it cuts through water. The length in relation to the width determines the wideness or narrowness, as it were, of the kayak.

Narrow kayaks are faster and are less stable in water, and this makes them more suitable for open waters like big rivers and seas. Wider kayaks, on the other hand, are more stable and cut through water less efficiently than narrow kayaks.

The length of a kayak also affects the maneuverability of the kayak. It is easier to manage a short kayak than it is to manage a longer one. A few inches difference might not be of importance but some feet definitely will.

What are the features to look for in getting the best recreational kayak for women?

There’s generally no limitations by gender when it comes to choosing the right kayak for you. It is however important to note that your choice should be influenced by the maneuverability, sit-type and comfort level of the kayak.

Your choice as a woman should be easy to maneuver, that means a short length, comfortable seat, comfortable paddle, and definitely a befitting hull.

Conclusion

A leisurely paddle, a fun race with friends, fishing, all on water, with a kayak is no endeavor to take lightly. Safety always comes first, and the best way to ensure safety on water, doing any of these enjoyable activities is to get a hold of a life jacket and one of the best recreational kayaks provided above.

While you are at it, don’t forget to consider the factors that help you make the right decision in choosing and purchasing the right kayak.

The more thorough you are when considering them, the better your chances of getting the best recreational kayak for yourself. Stick to waters that are familiar to you and enjoy your time paddling!