Ascend Kayak Review – Everything You Need To Know About The Ascend Kayaks Range & More

Since 2007, Ascend Kayaks has risen to become a leading budget-friendly kayak brand. Jam-packed with value, their extensive range makes kayaking accessible for all ages and skill levels. But does Ascend’s low price tag translate to low performance and quality? Or are their kayaks a diamond in the rough? Unwrap the real benefits and trade-offs in this tell-all review before embarking with an Ascend by your side!
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Sam OBrien

Founder, Kayaking & Paddle Boarding Expert

Sam is the founder and editor of WaterSportsWhiz. With over 20 years of experience across various water sports, he provides trusted reviews and expert advice to help others pursue their passion for getting out on the water. When not working, you can find him kayaking, paddle boarding, or planning his next water-based adventure with family and friends.

All kayakers have one thing in common – we all want quality gear. Well, not just gear; you want everything that’s on, under, or near you to be of the highest quality when you’re on the water – kayaks included.

What can I say? It’s the sense of security that matters the most.

Let’s talk about a high-quality kayak brand, then – Ascend. 

Ascend has quite a lineup of kayaks for a wide range of uses – and don’t worry, I’ll go over some of my favorites. Plus, they won’t burn a hole in your pocket. 

If that was enough to spark your interest in their kayaks, keep on scrolling through the rest of my Ascend kayak review for a detailed look at this brand!

We may receive a commission if you click a link on this page and then go on to purchase something, but at no extra cost to you. Learn more here.

In A Rush? The Winner After 40 Hours Of Research:

Ascend H12 Kayak

Ascend H12 Hybrid Sit-In Kayak
Image source; Ascend Kayaks

Our Rating: ★★★★★

Why is it better?

  • Hybrid hull design that ensures a blend of tracking performance, stability, and general ease of paddling 
  • The open cockpit design allows for flexibility and makes getting in and out easier 
  • The front storage compartment has a hard, floating hatch and bungee rigging
  • The rear storage area is covered with a mesh 
  • Has saddlebags with a built-in waterproof phone case on each side 
  • Features three 16-inch accessory rails for additional customization options 
  • Comes with two flush-mount rod holders 
  • The seating system is highly adjustable and can be removed

Who Are Ascend Kayaks?

Who Are Ascend Kayaks

Alright, so, what brand am I talking about here – and why should you care about their kayaks? 

It’s hard to imagine that you haven’t heard about Ascend – unless you’re new to the whole kayaking thing. For the sake of this being a complete Ascend kayak review, though, let’s start at the beginning. 

Ascend Kayaks first started rolling out of the factory back in 2010, and they’ve been a respected brand in the paddling community ever since – and for a good reason. 

So, who makes these kayaks?

Ascend is the brand’s name, yes – but they’re actually created by the White River Marine Group, the largest fishing and recreational boat builders (just thought I’d mention that here) in Lebanon, Missouri. 

I’ll go into greater detail a bit more down the line, but the point is that there’s a lot to admire here – and that’s always good news when talking about who’s manufacturing your ‘yaks. 

You heard of them, I’ve heard of them – now, let’s see what Ascend’s all about.

Is Ascend Kayak A Good Brand?

You saw their kayaks in sporting goods stores, and you probably read about them online – but is Ascend Kayak a good brand? 

Here’s your answer: 

Ascend’s one of only two kayak brands (with Hobie being the other one) that are certified by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). These kayaks meet – and usually exceed – the strict quality and safety standards established by the US Coast Guard and American Boat & Yacht Council.

That speaks volumes about the brand. 

If the US Coast Guard deems Ascend’s kayaks worthy of approval, then who are we to question their quality or on-the-water performance? 

Who Makes Ascend Kayaks?

The company that actually makes the kayaks, as I mentioned earlier, is the White Water Marine Group. They’ve been around for a while now – and their experience is very much evident in their product lineup.

For instance, did you know that the WRMG created the first ready-to-fish boat?

The company has a decades-long history – even though the Ascend brand launched in 2010. Their designs are all developed in-house, which is something the company takes great pride in: 

The Making of an Ascend Kayak

These kayaks are made for paddlers by paddlers – and that’s what makes them so good. 

Who knew that designing a quality kayak took such a simple formula, huh?

Where Are Ascend Kayaks Made?

Ascend Kayaks are made in Lebanon, a small city in the state of Missouri. White River Marine Group is based in Springfield, Missouri – even though the Ascend branch obviously has its own headquarters and production line. 

They’re a US-based company that manufactures their kayaks – well, locally. And that’s always a good sign.

If they’re so great, their pricing is probably a bit steep when compared to the competition, right? 

Well, you’d be surprised!

Are Ascend Kayaks Expensive?

Are Ascend Kayaks Expensive

Ascend kayaks are reasonably priced – there’s no reason to beat around the bush. 

The prices generally range from $399 for recreational kayaks and $779 for hybrids, with fishing kayaks priced somewhere in between. You’ll undoubtedly find something within your budget. 

And the best part’s that they have an exclusive No Haggle No Hassle pricing policy.

It basically means that their pricing is consistent across the US. That sounds like a small detail – but trust me, it’s not. 

Not only are Ascend kayaks reasonably priced, but they offer a fantastic value for money, too. It just makes sense to get an Ascend ‘yak if you’re looking for reliable performance on a budget.

Where To Buy Ascend Kayaks? 

So, while I’m here talking up the pricing, you’re probably wondering: 

But where can I actually buy their products? 

Heck, maybe you’re not ready to cash out right away and just want to take a look at their kayaks – and see what all the fuss is about. 


That part’s pretty simple, too – just head to the nearest Bass Pro Shop! This fishing and boating gear retailer carries Ascend kayaks – and they have stores all across the US.

Bass Pro Shop alone should have you covered in most parts of the US! Other than that, though, you can go straight to their website and buy a kayak from the comfort of your home.

What Sort Of Kayaks Does Ascend Make?

One more thing I’d like to discuss before diving into the actual Ascend kayak reviews is the type of kayaks Ascend makes. They have their own naming system that we should go over together, as I’m sure some of you may find it a bit confusing. 

Here’s what all those different letters mean at the end of the Ascend Kayak models

  • D – Deluxe: The D (Deluxe) sit-inside models are best suited for recreational use. They are usually great all-rounder ‘yaks that would work perfectly for beginners and advanced paddlers alike.
  • FS  – Fishing Models: The letters “FS” stand for “Free Standing.” That means that these kayaks are made for fishing – and, more specifically, those who like to stand on their ‘yak while doing it. These models come with high weight capacity, mounting points for a fish finder or trolling motor, are built with tunnel or pontoon hulls and equipped with standing platforms – making for a super stable kayak.
  • H – Hybrid Models: The Ascend hybrid models are usually all-around kayaks that’ll give you a good blend of stability and maneuverability compared to the actual fishing kayaks. They’re also known for their large, open cockpits. 
  • R – Recreational: Ascend’s recreational kayaks are just that – best suited for calm water and designed to ensure a respectable level of stability. They’re a great fit for beginners. 
  • T – Sit-On-Top Models: The “T” in the Ascend lineup refers to the sit-on-top kayaks that feature a tunnel hull and are designed to ensure top-of-the-line stability. These ‘yaks are created with fishing in mind. 
  • X – Extreme Models: Don’t let the word Extreme confuse you; these aren’t exactly ‘yaks you’d want to go whitewater kayaking in. The “X” essentially marks the kayaks that come with the Ascend Yak-Power system. 

Best Ascend Kayaks In 2022 – Top Picks Reviewed & Rated

1. Ascend D10 Kayak

Ascend D10 Sit-In Kayak
Image source; Ascend Kayaks
  • Best Ascend Kayak For Under $500
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★☆

Let’s start off with the Ascend D10 Sit-Kayak. Much like their other kayaks, the D10 features a rotomolded hull construction and is a short and sweet ‘yak. 

It’s relatively lightweight at 50 pounds but is still pretty stable and tracks near perfectly in most conditions. The open cockpit of this recreational ‘yak has its limitations – you can expect it to let water in more than your average sit-inside kayak. 

It won’t fill up to the brim as soon as you start paddling, though – well, not unless you go over its 300-pound limit. 

The seat is removable, and there are plenty of adjustments and a good amount of storage space – with bungee rigging and two descend-sized catch-all trays. 

It’s a great bang for your buck, that’s for sure. 

Technical Specs

  • Sit-inside hard-shell kayak
  • Rotomolded polyethylene construction
  • 9′ 10″ x 29″
  • Weighs 50 pounds
  • 300-pound weight capacity


  • Lightweight and short 
  • Features a removable seat
  • Quick Rest paddle holders 
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Great tracking capability
  • Multi-purpose mesh cover
  • Several storage options


  • The design isn’t as versatile in harsher conditions
  • The seat isn’t comfortable enough for extended trips 
  • Large cockpit opening lets water in 

The D10 isn’t perfect – but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything better to go in the water with at this price point. It has plenty of options packed into a low-budget sit-in kayak!

2. Ascend FS10 Kayak

Ascend FS10 Sit-In Kayak
Image source; Ascend Kayaks
  • Best All-Around Ascend Kayak For Under $600
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★☆

Next in line is the Ascend FS10. This rotomolded kayak has been designed to pretty much work on every type of water, but – there’s always a but: 

As with all designs that aim to be a jack of all trades, there are setbacks. Some might say that it does everything well but can’t do anything perfectly. I disagree, as this still is a heck of a ‘yak for the money. 

The design is performance-oriented, boasting a V-shape hull with a performance rocker and an extended keel. So, you’re in for excellent maneuverability. 

As for the cockpit, it’s roomy – and the storage space is generous, too. You’ll get weathertight storage on the multipurpose dash, a catch-all tray, bungee rigging, and a two-size drink holder. Oh, and all that’s backed by the 325-pound load limit – a pretty impressive weight capacity for such a small kayak. 

It also features two 10-inch accessory rails, two flush-mount rod holders, and port and starboard paddle keepers. 

The large cockpit opening is an invitation for excess water – but it’s something to expect from the design, and it’s not as big of an issue on the FS10. 

Technical Specs

  • Sit-inside hard-shell kayak
  • Rotomolded polyethylene construction
  • 10′ x 30″
  • Weighs 57 pounds
  • 325-pound weight capacity


  • A sporty, performance-oriented hull design
  • The seat is removable 
  • Has adjustable foot braces 
  • Very stable and maneuverable in almost all conditions
  • Several storage options and two rod holders 


  • Prone to cracking where the seat meets the hull 
  • The seat could be a bit more comfortable for longer journeys 

The FS10 kayak is a great bang for your buck and a versatile ‘yak for most conditions. I’m sure beginners and intermediate-level paddlers would love it.

3. Ascend H10 Hybrid Kayak

Image source; Ascend Kayaks
  • Best Ascend Hybrid Kayak Under $800
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★☆

Now, let’s enter the slightly pricier waters with Ascend’s H10 hybrid kayak. 

It has a rotomolded tunnel hull design that provides great stability at rest – and great tracking on the move. The stepped keel adds to the overall easy handling in the water.

Also, the 400-pound capacity is beyond impressive for a 10-foot kayak. And yes, you get some pretty neat storage solutions – including the molded-in wells with mesh covers and saddlebags with a built-in phone case. 

Oh, and it also features two rod holders and three 16-inch accessory rails for customization. I’m telling you – it’s a cool little kayak. 

There are still limitations, though. 

The open cockpit design, while spacious, lets in quite a bit of water. Expect to get wet – that’s all I’m saying. 

Technical Specs

  • Sit-inside hybrid hard-shell kayak
  • Rotomolded polyethylene construction
  • 10′ x 31″
  • Weighs 55 pounds
  • 400-pound weight capacity


  • Hybrid tunnel hull design with a stepped keel for stability
  • Removable and adjustable seat with six adjustment points 
  • Port and starboard saddlebags with a waterproof phone case 
  • Feels stable in most conditions
  • Open storage with mesh covers 


  • Not the most affordable option in Ascend’s lineup 
  • Some might find it a bit heavy to carry 
  • Takes on quite a bit of water 

Is the price boost worth it when you compare the H10 to the less expensive models? Well, it depends. It’s still a good price, but if you don’t need the standing capabilities and extra space, stick to the $600-and-under options. 

4. Ascend H12 Kayak

Ascend 12T Sit-On Kayak
Image source; Ascend Kayaks
  • Best Ascend Hybrid Kayak Under $900
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★

The Ascend H12 is a move up into the heavyweight champion category. It’s still a hybrid, so it’s trying to do everything at once – which can be a bad idea for obvious reasons. 

With that said, the H12 is a darn good kayak. 

The durability and stability are definitely there – which can be seen in its rotomolded construction and the 32-inch beam. In fact, you can even stand up on it – if the waters allow you to, of course – which is great news for anglers. 

There is plenty of storage for pretty much all the things you would want to bring on an outing: 

You get a bow storage compartment that’s protected by an adjustable mesh cover. And if that is not enough, you get the same under-gunnel saddlebags as you would on the H10 – yes, with the same integrated phone case. Most importantly, it has an impressive 450-pound weight capacity to back this all up.

I should warn you that it weighs 76 pounds, though. Taking it to and from the water won’t be as easy as you might’ve hoped. 

Technical Specs

  • Sit-inside hybrid hard-shell kayak 
  • Rotomolded polyethylene construction
  • 12′ x 32″
  • Weighs 76 pounds
  • 450-pound weight capacity


  • Hybrid tunnel hull design (stepped keel for stability)
  • Removable Seat (6 seat position adjustments)
  • Two flush-mounted rod holders
  • Portable mesh cover
  • Stable in most conditions, good tracking
  • Great legroom
  • Under-gunnel saddlebags (integrated waterproof phone case)  


  • The open-cockpit lets in water by design 
  • The seat tends to come out of its tracks 
  • One of the heaviest kayaks on the list 

The H12 is a step up in quality, comfort, and versatility when compared to the lower-priced models – and I can’t recommend it enough for bigger guys that need more space! 

5. Ascend 9R Kayak

Ascend 9R Sport Sit-On Kayak
Image source; Ascend Kayaks
  • Best Sit-On Sport Kayak Under $400
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★

I’m now going to take a step back from the hybrids and take a second to introduce you to the 9R – a recreational sit-on-top kayak that has a simple yet sturdy design and is made for a limited set of environments.

The price obviously reflects that – it’s one of the cheapest Ascend kayaks so far.

The 9R’s a stable and easily maneuverable kayak with a rotomolded construction that has some basic features built-in: 

There are molded-in side storage trays that’ll be more than enough for all of the essentials – and then some. You also get molded-in cupholders, which is a nice addition. But that’s about it. 

The 225-pound capacity might be a huge issue for heavier paddlers, though. If you’re not petite, just keep looking; this isn’t a kayak for you.

That said, if you manage to fit in it, know that it handles decently and will be comfortable enough for shorter outings. Simple and affordable – that’s what the 9R is about, really.

Technical Specs

  • Sit-on-top hard-shell kayak 
  • Rotomolded polyethylene construction
  • 9′ x 31″
  • Weighs 52 pounds
  • 225-pound weight capacity


  • A simple tunnel hull design 
  • Decent stability and maneuverability 
  • Molded-in cup holders and trays 
  • Molded-over rubber grip bow handle 
  • A rather affordable option 


  • Limited storage options and below-average weight limit
  • Not the comfiest seat in the world 
  • Doesn’t feature foot braces 
  • Mostly suitable for more petite paddlers 

The 9R does what it’s designed to, and it does it well. There are better sit-on-top kayaks in the price range, there’s no doubt about it, but if you’re looking for something simple, 9R is still a great choice to consider. 

Ascend Kayak 10T

Ascend 10T Sit-On Kayak
Image source; Ascend Kayaks
  • Best Ascend Sit-On Fishing Kayak Under $700
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★☆

The 10T is a sit-on-top fishing kayak that offers a comfortable and adjustable seating system – one of its biggest selling points – and durable, rotomolded construction. 

It has a tunnel hull design, offering good maneuverability and secondary stability – keeping it staying stable on calm waters – which is pretty much all you need a fishing ‘yak to do. 

There are plenty of storage options, too: 

Aside from the molded-in cup holders, there’s a watertight deck plate with a tethered lid. It also has eight powder-coated steel D-rings for more secure storage. Oh, and let’s not forget the one 12-inch and two 16-inch accessory rails – and two flush-mount rod holders. 

Now, add the 325-pound weight capacity, and you’ve got a pretty decent setup here. 

Another thing I liked about the design was the non-skid cushioned platform. And yes, that means that the 10T is designed for stand-up fishing! 

All in all, you can expect a comfortable and safe fishing trip with the 10T. 

Technical Specs

  • Sit-on-top hard-shell kayak 
  • Rotomolded polyethylene construction
  • 10″ x 31″
  • Weighs 67 pounds
  • 325-pound weight capacity


  • Simple and durable design
  • Molded-in cup holders and other storage options
  • Two rod holders and accessory rails 
  • Has a non-skid deck mat 
  • A top-notch seating system 
  • A total of six scupper holes


  • Tends to take in quite a bit of water in harsher conditions 
  • Some might find it a bit heavy 
  • The set could get loose and slide out of the tracks

All fishing kayaks have limitations when it comes to rougher conditions – but for those standards, the Ascend 10T is a fantastic choice for the money.

7. Ascend Kayak 12T 

Ascend 12T Sit-On Kayak
Image source; Ascend Kayaks
  • Best Ascend Sit-On Fishing Kayak Under $800
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★☆

The 12T is very similar to the 10T – same design, same function – so why should you give more money for it? 

Well, the size is the obvious thing to consider here. 

The 12T is two feet longer – hence the name – and has better stability in worse conditions. It can also handle more weight, which is always a plus. 

It boasts the same enhanced seating system and non-skid cushioned flooring as the 10T. You’re in for a bit of comfort – and stand-up fishing, if you’re up for it. 

Now, what about storage? 

It features bow and stern open storage areas with bungee rigging, watertight deck plate storage – with a tethered lid – and a molded drink holder. Not enough for you? Well, that’s a bit strange – but the 12T has you covered with two 16-inch accessory rails and flush-mount rod holders. 

Oh, and it boasts a 350-pound capacity. If that doesn’t cover your needs – well, you’re bringing too much stuff, to be honest.

It does weigh almost 80 pounds, though; consider yourself warned. 

Technical Specs

  • Sit-on-top hard-shell kayak 
  • Rotomolded polyethylene construction
  • 12.8’ x 31″
  • Weighs 77 pounds
  • 350-pound weight capacity

Technical Specs 

  • Half-cut helmet design
  • Reinforced ABS outer shell
  • Polypropylene (EPP) liner  
  • Weighs 1.8 pounds
  • Three available sizes 


  • Simple but stable and maneuverable 
  • Front and rear wells with bungee rigging 
  • Has accessory rails and rod holders 
  • An adjustable and removable seating system 
  • Comfortable, non-skid deck mat for stand-up fishing


  • The 77-pound weight makes it a hassle to transport 
  • It can get a bit wobbly when standing up 
  • The seat slides out of the tracks 

The 12T tries hard to justify its steeper price point, and I think it does a pretty good job with it. You’ll get a great amount of storage space, reliable construction, and a general bang for your buck.

8. Ascend Kayak 128T 

Ascend 128T Sit-on-Top Kayak
Image source; Ascend Kayaks
  • Best Ascend Fishing Kayak Under $1000
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★

We’re almost at the end of this round-up – so I’d say it’s time to bring out the “big guns” in the fishing kayak range. 

Enter Ascend 128T – a well-built and durable sit-on-top kayak equipped with Ascend Yak-Power technology. That, in essence, means you also get a wiring harness, master controller, and three power plugs with your ‘yak. 

So, you can bring pretty much any gadget for a modern-day outing – including fish finders, GPS, phone chargers, and whatnot. 

The almost 13-foot length means that you get plenty of space, and the stability is decent, thanks to the wide 34-inch beam. Plus, you get multiple storage solutions, two fishing gear accessory rails, and four rod holders.

Oh, and the handling is as good, if not better, than any fishing kayak out there. 

The weight of this kayak is insane, though. The 128T clocks in at a hefty 96 pounds – portability isn’t its strongest suit. 

Technical Specs

  • Sit-on-top hard-shell kayak 
  • Rotomolded polyethylene construction
  • 12.8’ x 34″
  • Weighs 96 pounds
  • 450-pound weight capacity


  • Equipped with Ascend’s Yak-Power system
  • Excellent stability thanks to a wider beam
  • Open deck with multiple storage options for your fishing gear
  • Four rod holders and accessory mounting rails
  • Non-skid cushioned flooring for standing up
  • A total of eight scupper holes


  • It’s among the heaviest Ascend kayaks I’ve tested
  • One of the more expensive Ascend models 
  • The hardware might be prone to rust

The 128T is a great ‘yak that comes with Ascend’s Yak-Power tech, fantastic stability, handling, and a range of storage options. Should you spend your money on it? Yes – but you may want to check the final entry (just saying).

9. Ascend 133X Kayak 

Ascend 133X Yak-Power Sit-On Kayak
Image source; Ascend Kayaks
  • Best High-End Fishing Kayak
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★☆

Last but not least, we have Ascend’s 133X kayak – the definition of a high-end tournament ‘yak for anglers. The price might seem steep – but it’s well worth it. 

When I saw the 550-pound weight capacity, I initially expected it to be a tandem – because that’s the kind of load limit you’d expect from a two-person kayak. Instead, Ascend made a one-person ‘yak with enough room for everything you’d need: 

Open bow and stern storage areas, a central hatch, molded-in tackle and fishing rod storage on both sides, and a storage tray right under the seat. Plus, it has four 16-inch accessory rails and two flush-mount rod holders. 

Now, add the Catamaran-style hull into the equation. With the super-wide 37-inch beam and a dedicated stand-up deck area, with pull up assist strap – paired with non-skid, cushioned flooring – it boasts exceptional stability and allows for fishing standing up. 

You also have Ascend’s Yak-Power system, complete with the master controller, wiring harness, three power plugs – and a trolling-motor-ready bow mount. 

The downside? 

Well, the kayak weighs a massive 125 pounds, which is heavy – even for a fully rigged fishing ‘yak. Good luck managing it single-handedly or loading it onto a roof rack – might be wise to invest in a kayak trailer

Technical Specs 

  • Half-cut helmet design
  • Reinforced ABS outer shell
  • Polypropylene (EPP) liner  
  • Weighs 1.8 pounds
  • Three available sizes 


  • Equipped with Ascend’s Yak-Power system 
  • Ultra-wide, Catamaran-style hull design 
  • Exceptional stability 
  • Above-average capacity with multiple storage solutions
  • Rod holders and four 16-inch rails for accessories 
  • Dedicated non-skid, cushioned stand-up area


  • The price could be a bit too steep for some 
  • The 125-pound weight makes it hard to transport single-handedly

Given the extra-wide hull and impressive capacity, the Ascend 133X kayak is a top-of-the-line entry in the fishing domain. So, if you’re looking at some high-end options, there’s just no point in skipping this behemoth.

Ascend Kayak Review: Conclusion 

The Ascend lineup is a respectable one – and you should be covered no matter how advanced (or not advanced) you are as a paddler. 

But which one comes out on top? Which kayak should you spend your hard-earned money on? 

Well, as far as I’m concerned, the Ascend H12 hybrid offers the most options and is stable in a range of conditions. 

Sure, other Ascend kayaks might handle better or are designed with a specific activity in mind – fishing, for example – and you should check those out, too. But if I was forced to pick one, H12 would likely be my top choice. What about you?

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Sam OBrien

Sam is the founder and editor of WaterSportsWhiz. With over 20 years of experience across various water sports, he provides trusted reviews and expert advice to help others pursue their passion for getting out on the water. When not working, you can find him kayaking, paddle boarding, or planning his next water-based adventure with family and friends.

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