The 15 Best Kayaks Of 2022 – Ultimate Round-Up Of Kayaks To Get This Year 

The weather’s getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and you can already hear the waters calling your name. It’s time to get yourself a new kayak, isn’t it? 

But where do you even begin your search? And how do you know which one’s the best ‘yak for you? 

That’s the tricky part. 

I mean, with such a massive range of kayaks available today – and all these different makes and models and dozens of brands – it can seem almost impossible to pick just one. 

So, I decided to help you. How? By putting together this all-in-one, best kayaks round-up! From recreational ‘yaks and tandems to touring and dog-friendly kayaks – I’ve covered all your options right here!

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In A Rush? The Winner After 45 Hours Of Research:

Winner

Wilderness Systems Aspire 105

Why is it better?

  • Performance-oriented hull design, suitable for both flatwater conditions and rivers 
  • Feels responsive, highly maneuverable, and easy to handle while offering stability 
  • Equipped with TruTrak adjustable, cockpit-operated skeg for better tracking performance
  • The spacious cockpit and above-average weight capacity make it suitable for a range of paddlers 
  • Fitted with Wilderness Systems’ adjustable Phase 3 AirPro seating system for excellent comfort and support during longer paddling sessions 
  • Offers multiple onboard storage solutions, including on-deck bungee rigging and a dry storage hatch
  • A suitable choice for beginners and intermediate-level kayakers alike 

A Quick Comparison of the Top Kayaks Of 2022

I’ll go into greater detail further down, covering each model in depth, including their technical specification, advantages, and disadvantages, as well as my own opinion on each of them. But, if you’re short on time  and just want to know the results of our comparison, here they are at a glace:

Best Recreational
Sea Eagle Razorlite 473rl Inflatable Kayak
Best Sit-In
Eddyline Skylark 12' Kayak
Best Pedal Powered
Perception Pescador Pilot 12
Best Sea
Wilderness Systems Tempest 165
Best Folding
Oru Kayak Coast XT
Best Budget Fishing
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
Best For The Money
Perception Joyride 10
Best Youth
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak
Best Waterwater
Dagger Rewind Kayak
Best Inflatable
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame
Best Tandem
Old Town Dirigo Tandem  Kayak
Best Touring
Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125
Best For Fishing
Ascend 133X Tournament Sit-On-Top Kayak
Best For Dogs
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Kayak
Best For Rivers & Lakes
Wilderness Systems Aspire 105
Product Title
Product Title
Sea Eagle Razorlite 473rl Inflatable Kayak
Eddyline Skylark 12' Kayak
Perception Pescador Pilot 12
Wilderness Systems Tempest 165
Oru Kayak Coast XT
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
Perception Joyride 10
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak
Dagger Rewind Kayak
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame
Old Town Dirigo Tandem Kayak
Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125
Ascend 133X Tournament Sit-On-Top Kayak
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Kayak
Wilderness Systems Aspire 105
Our Rating
Our Rating
9/10
9.1/10
8.9/10
9.2/10
9.1/10
9/10
9.3/10
9.1/10
9.1/10
9.4/10
9/10
9/10
9.3/10
9/10
9.05/10
Construction
Construction
1100 Decitex Reinforced PVC
Co-extruded ABS plastic
High-density polyethylene
Polyethylene
Double-layered polypropylene
High-density polyethylene
Polyethylene
High-density polyethylene
Polyethylene
PVC hull and aluminum frame 
Three-layer polyethylene
Rotomolded polyethylene
Rotomolded polyethylene
Single-layer polyethylene
High-density polyethylene
Dimensions
Dimensions
15.5 x 2.5 feet
12 x 2.1 feet
12.4 x 2.8 feet
16.5 x 1.7 feet
16.2 x 2.1 feet
10 x 2.6 feet
10 x 2.5 feet
6 x 2 feet
8.5 x 2.1 feet
10.4 x 2.7 feet
15.3 x 2.5 feet
12.7 x 2.1 feet
13 x 3 feet
12 x 2.8 feet
10.5 x 2.4 feet
Weight
Weight
38 pounds
41 pounds
95 pounds 
55 pounds
32 pounds
52 pounds
50 pounds
18 pounds
43 pounds
36 pounds
72 pounds
51 pounds
125 pounds
57 pounds
48 pounds
Max Capacity
Max Capacity
750 pounds
295 pounds
475 pounds
300 pounds
400 pounds
275 pounds
275 pounds
---
140 to 220-pound range
300 pounds
475 pounds 
300 pounds
550 pounds
425 pounds
400 pounds

Choosing The Best Kayak: Things You Must Consider First 

Choosing The Best Kayak

Kayaks are anything but cookie-cutter copies of one another. And with so many different options and sizes, choosing one can seem pretty daunting. 

But it doesn’t have to be – as long as you take the time to consider the following, that is. 

Type Of Kayak & Intended Use 

Not all ‘yaks are made equal. I’m sure you’re aware of that – but it doesn’t hurt to repeat it every once in a while. 

What makes things trickier is that paddlers aren’t “made” equal, either. Your needs, preferences, and expectations differ from mine – or any other paddler out there. 

And that means that choosing the right type of kayak requires a pretty lengthy discussion about where – and how – you plan to use it.  

For starters, based on where you sit in a kayak and whether the deck is open or closed, kayaks are generally classified as: 

  • Sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks that feature an open deck, with the paddler sitting on top, hence the name 
  • Sit-inside kayaks that feature a closed cockpit, with the paddler sitting inside (their lower body is “hidden” below the deck) 

Then, there’s the matter of deciding between a hard-shell and an inflatable kayak. 

Inflatable Kayak vs Hardshell Kayak | What Kayak to Choose

And let’s not forget that some kayaks are built for specialized uses. So, depending on what you need the kayak for, you should focus your attention on: 

  • Recreational kayaks 
  • Touring kayaks 
  • Whitewater kayaks 
  • Fishing kayaks 
  • Ocean kayaks / sea kayaks 

That list is long – but you get the idea. 

Oh, and if you aren’t paddling alone, you’ll have to choose between two one-person ‘yaks or a two-person tandem kayak. 

And, of course, we haven’t covered the ways to propel them… paddle or pedal kayaks? Or maybe you fancy one with a motor?

With all those options, it can be tough to zero in on the kayak that ticks all your boxes. But it’s worth taking the time to do so – because using the “right” kayak will make your paddling sessions a lot more enjoyable. 

Construction & Durability 

Obviously, the construction and materials used generally depend on the type of ‘yak you choose – so you can expect quite a bit of variety in that department. And, for better or for worse, each of these materials impacts the kayak’s durability, weight, and, ultimately, its price tag

By simply deciding between an inflatable and a hard-shell, you get to narrow down your options – in terms of construction, that is – quite a bit:  

Most commercially available hard-shell kayaks are made of plastic or composite materials, such as Carbon fiber and fiberglass. That said, wooden kayaks are available, too. On the other hand, inflatables are typically made of PVC – with Hypalon being the second most popular choice. 

Kayak’s Dimensions & Weight 

Now that you’ve considered the type of kayak you’ll be getting, it is time to think about the dimensions – mainly length, width, and weight. Not only does the size of your kayak affect how it handles on the water and how stable it feels, but how comfortable and portable it will be, too.

Here’s an example: 

A longer kayak will typically track better and be more efficient – but shorter ones tend to be more maneuverable. On a similar note, a wider beam makes for a more stable and roomier ‘yak, but it can feel unwieldy. 

As for the kayak’s weight, it will mostly affect its portability. 

Are you willing to carry 80 pounds of plastic around? Yeah, I didn’t think so. 

Obviously, a lightweight kayak will be much easier to load onto your car and carry to the water – especially if you’ll have to do it single-handedly. Then again, sometimes you don’t have much of a choice; certain types of kayaks are heavier by design. 

Kayak’s Weight Capacity 

Maximum load a kayak can hold

Weight capacity, in simplest terms, refers to the maximum load a kayak can hold and stay afloat. And while I hope you realize this by now, I’d like to point out that it doesn’t indicate the paddler’s maximum weight – nor does it mean that you should always load your boat to the max. 

In fact, when determining a suitable load capacity, it’s generally recommended that you consider your own weight and the total weight of your gear and supplies – and ensure that it falls at about 70% of the kayak’s specified limit. 

Know Your Weight Limits | Testing on the Jackson Coosa HD

Of course, you could get away with a lower load limit if you’re only getting a kayak for short trips on a nearby lake. But if you intend on going camping or fishing from your kayak, a higher weight capacity will be a must.

And if you plan on bringing another paddler – maybe even your kids or a pet – onboard your little ‘yak, you better make sure that it has the capacity to handle the extra weight. Tandems – kayaks built for two – will have a much higher load limit, by the way, going up to 600 pounds. 

Additional Features You Might Want 

Okay, now that I’ve covered the basics of how to choose a kayak, I would like to take a moment to talk about some additional features. They’re not must-haves per se – at least not for each and every paddler reading this – but they could contribute to a better experience. 

With that said, here are a few things you may want to add to your list of requirements: 

  • Storage Solutions – Bungee deck rigging, open storage areas at the bow or stern, and, preferably, a dry storage hatch; these are all things you’d want in a kayak. 
  • Rod Holders – Obviously, unless you’re buying a fishing kayak, you shouldn’t care about whether or not it features built-in rod holders. But if you are, then yes, rod holders will be a must. 
  • Kayak Seat – A good seat – one that’s well-padded, designed for ergonomic support, and highly adjustable – is always worth it, especially if you’ll be spending a lot of time in it. 
  • Skeg Or Rudder – Some kayaks track well by design; others need a bit more help in that department. So, check if it comes with a skeg (or rudder system), and if not, whether you can add one yourself. 

Best Kayaks Of 2022: Top 15 Picks Reviewed & Rated

Best Folding Kayak

Oru Kayak Coast XT

When it comes to convenience and portability, very few – if any – hard-shell kayaks can compete with inflatable and folding kayaks. And with that in mind, I’ll kick this off with Oru Kayak Coast XT – one of the best folding kayaks money can buy. 

Measuring 16.2 feet in length and with a width of 25 inches, Coast XT is long and sleek – just as you would expect from a sea-worthy kayak built for speed, covering long distances and choppy waters. 

What’s genuinely impressive is that Oru’s Coast XT weighs a mere 32 pounds but still boasts a 400-pound capacity. In addition to that, it boasts removable bulkheads that form below-the-deck storage compartments and bungee deck lines for storing the essentials. 

Unfortunately, Coast XT isn’t exactly affordable. But I guess that’s to be expected from a folding kayak of this quality – especially one that’s rated for 20,000 fold cycles. 

Technical Specs 

  • Double-layered polypropylene construction 
  • Measures 16.2 x 2.1 feet 
  • Weighs 32 pounds 
  • 400-pound capacity

Pros

  • Designed for speed, tracking, and long distances 
  • Suitable for open waters and up to Class III rapids 
  • Rated for up to 20,000 fold cycles 
  • Has UV-protection treatment 
  • Above-average capacity and great storage options 

Cons

  • One of the most expensive options here 
  • Not the best choice for beginner kayakers
  • Feels a bit too sensitive to stronger winds

If you plan on traveling with your ‘yak and need it to be portable, Oru Kayak’s Coast XT is a safe bet – but your options don’t end there. Check out my best folding kayak round-up for more!

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

Okay, moving to a slightly more specific scenario – fishing from a kayak. And with that said, what would I recommend to anglers on a budget? 

Well, my vote of confidence goes to Lifetime’s Tamarack Angler 100. 

This 10-foot hard-shell, constructed out of high-density polyethylene, boasts a 31-inch wide hull, coupled with the flat bottom and chine rails. Stability is pretty much guaranteed. Granted, it’s not a kayak you can stand up in – but that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. 

Oh, and it weighs 52 pounds, which is pretty reasonable – for a fishing kayak, anyway. 

I do feel that the 275-pound capacity is on the lower side for a fishing kayak – especially if you’re a bigger guy like me. But I’m glad to see that it features quite a few storage solutions – including two hatches and bungee rigging – and three rod holders. 

Technical Specs 

  • High-density polyethylene construction 
  • Measures 10 x 2.6 feet 
  • Weighs 52 pounds 
  • 275-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Flat bottom and wider beam ensure lots of stability 
  • Has a total of three rod holders 
  • Onboard storage includes two hatches and bungee rigging 
  • Not too heavy for a fishing kayak 

Cons

  • Not spacious enough for stand-up fishing 
  • The load limit is somewhat low for a fishing kayak 
  • It’s pretty basic-looking 

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is a pretty impressive choice – and one that shows that you don’t necessarily have to spend a literal fortune on fishing ‘yaks. That said, if you’d like to discover a few more options, check out my complete round-up of the top inexpensive fishing kayaks

Best Kayak For The Money

Perception Joyride 10

I already opened up the discussion about budget-friendly kayaks with my previous pick – that is, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 – I figured I could add one more to the easy-on-the-wallet list. But this time, I’d go with something a bit more “universal.” 

Enter Perception’s Joyride 10 – a 10-foot recreational kayak suitable for paddlers of all ages and skill levels.  It’s best suited to casual paddling – as it’s a real a joy to ride in lakes and ponds, canals and slow-moving rivers, and even calmer coastal waters, living up to its name. 

The 2.5-foot beam offers a good blend of maneuverability and stability, while the padded seating system adds comfort. As for storage, you have bungee rigging and an easy-to-access hatch, but I feel that the 275-pound load limit could’ve been just a tad bit higher. 

Oh, and I have to mention that it has a phone slot – also known as the Selfie Slot – meaning you can take some great shots of your time on the water. 

Technical Specs 

  • Polyethylene construction 
  • Measures 10 x 2.5 feet 
  • Weighs 50 pounds 
  • 275-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Suitable for paddlers of all ages – and skill levels 
  • Onboard storage includes an easy-to-access hatch 
  • A Selfie Slot for your smartphone 
  • Has two recesses for aftermarket accessories 
  • Pretty stable with decent enough tracking 

Cons

  • The 275-pound load limit could be slightly higher 
  • Doesn’t feature a drain plug 
  • It’d be nice if it came with a paddle 

Perception’s Joyride 10 is – in my humble opinion – one of the best kayaks that are easy on your wallet. That said, you find here a few more budget-friendly recommendations.

Best Youth Kayak

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak

Okay, it’s now time to shift our focus to the youth-friendly section of the market – and see which kayak stands out as the best choice for your little ones. 

With that said, I’d like to introduce you to Lifetime’s Youth Wave Kayak – an easy-to-use, cheap, sit-on-top ‘yak built for kids aged five and up. 

It’s lightweight and tiny – seriously, it measures only 6 feet in length and weighs 18 pounds – and that means that getting it to and from the water won’t be an issue. 

Most importantly, though, it’s built for stability, with a pontoon-style hull and reverse chines. 

Oh, and it features a swim-up deck in case your little paddler wants to go for a swim! 

While my back hurts at the mere sight of the molded-in seat with no padding, it’s safe to say that kids probably won’t mind. If you’re hoping to upgrade it – straight away or in the near future – you will find here some great Lifetime Kayak accessories and enhancements.. 

Technical Specs 

  • High-density polyethylene construction 
  • Measures 6 x 2 feet 
  • Weighs 18 pounds 

Pros

  • Wide, pontoon-style hull with reverse chines for stability 
  • Has a swim-up deck for quick re-entry from the water
  • Comes with a kids-sized paddle  
  • Lightweight and easy to carry to the water 
  • A relatively cheap option for kids ages five and up 

Cons

  • Lacks a padded kayak seat 
  • Stripped of any extra features and accessories 

You’re buying your child their first solo kayak – how exciting, right? And while I can’t recommend the Lifetime Youth Wave enough, I’ve outlined a few more child-friendly kayak options in this guide.

Best Whitewater Kayak

Dagger Rewind Kayak

Conquering whitewater rapids in a tiny plastic boat isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I am sure you are aware of that. But if you’re looking to get your heart pumping and want an adrenaline rush – well, there’s no better ‘yak for you than the Dagger Rewind. 

I could just tell you that Dagger’s Rewind Medium was crowned “Best Whitewater Boat” in 2019 by the Paddling Magazine Industry Awards – and leave it at that. But I won’t. 

So, here’s what makes this 8.5-footer such a fantastic playboat: 

The low-volume stern and aggressive rocker up front give this ‘yak its dynamic playfulness and responsiveness, the “slicey” tail adds the fun factor, while the 2.1-foot width promises quite a bit of initial stability. 

These are all things you want in a ‘yak designed to conquer up to Class V rapids. 

Oh, and the Contour Ergo outfitting is a plus, too – ensuring the right balance of comfort and that “connected” feeling you should have with your ‘yak. 

Technical Specs 

  • Polyethylene construction 
  • Measures 8.5 x 2.1 feet 
  • Weighs 43 pounds 
  • 140 to 220-pound capacity range 

Pros

  • Awarded the best whitewater boat of 2019
  • Features Dagger’s Contour Ergo outfitting 
  • The low-volume stern makes it playful and dynamic 
  • Has quite a bit of initial stability 

Cons

  • Not the best choice for kayakers on a budget 
  • Might be too heavy for longer portages 
  • The capacity is too low for bigger paddlers 

Dagger definitely knows a thing or two about making a fantastic whitewater kayak. So, besides the Rewind M, I highly recommend that you check out a few of their other whitewater kayaking models here. 

Best Inflatable Kayak

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame

Remember what I mentioned at the beginning of this round-up about the unmatched convenience of folding and inflatable kayaks? 

Well, if you’re in search of something portable, storage-friendly, and suitable for kayakers on the move, may I suggest Advanced Elements’ AdvancedFrame? 

This 10.4-foot kayak is, in a sense, a “hybrid” – a combination of inflatable air chambers and bow and stern aluminum ribs, topped off with three-layer PVC for puncture resistance. So, it’s tough – and, more importantly, it handles almost like a proper hard-shell kayak. 

And given the 36-pound weight, it’s easy to carry around, too. 

As for AdvancedFrame’s storage capacity, you’ve got some handy on-deck bungee rigging – and a 300-pound load limit at your disposal. 

While it’s not expensive per se, there are cheaper inflatable ‘yaks out there. That’s something to keep in mind here. 

Technical Specs 

  • PVC hull and aluminum frame 
  • Measures 10.4 x 2.7 feet 
  • Weighs 36 pounds
  • 300-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Combines multi-layer PVC with aluminum ribs 
  • Lightweight and easy to transport 
  • Storage options include on-deck bungee rigging 
  • Behaves almost like a hard-shell kayak 

Cons

  • The kayak’s price tag could be a deal-breaker for some 
  • Drying it off after use can be a bit tricky 

Advanced Elements’ AdvancedFrame pretty much redefined the concept of an inflatable kayak – but it’s far from your only option. I’ve got a few more inflatables worth considering outlined in this round-up.

Best Tandem Kayak

Old Town Dirigo 155 Tandem Kayak

Solo paddling trips are nice and all – but you know what they say: 

Some things are just better in two. 

And if, for you, kayaking is one of those things, getting a tandem kayak makes a lot more sense. 

So, I’d like to introduce you to Old Town’s Dirigo 155, a 15.3-foot sit-inside kayak that’s basically just a two-person version of Old Town’s Dirigo series. 

If you’re not a big fan of sit-in kayaks, I’d like to point out that Dirigo 155 feels pretty spacious. In fact, it’s got enough room for a third “jump” seat in the middle. 

Given that it’s made to accommodate two people, there are two things you can expect from this kayak: 

One, a higher load capacity; Dirigo 155 boasts a 475-pound limit. And two, higher overall weight – which, in this case, clocks in at 72 pounds. But the latter shouldn’t be a concern, given that you have your paddling buddy to help you carry it. 

Technical Specs 

  • Three-layer polyethylene construction 
  • Measures 15.3 x 2.5 feet 
  • Weighs 72 pounds 
  • 475-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Large cockpit openings for convenience 
  • There’s room for a third children’s seat 
  • Features a large rear hatch for dry storage 
  • Comfortable and adjustable outfitting 

Cons

  • It can feel relatively slow at times 
  • Can be fitted with a rudder (but doesn’t include one) 
  • Heavy, but can be managed by two people 

Old Town’s Dirigo 155 is a fantastic two-seater – especially with the addition of the middle “jump” seat. But if you wish to see what else is out there, check out my best tandem kayak round-up!

Best Touring Kayak

Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125 Kayak

A touring kayak must be good at two things – speed and reliable tracking performance. But even with such seemingly simple requirements, there are many kayaks that don’t get it quite right. 

And, well, that’s where Wilderness Systems’ Tsunami 125 comes in as the touring kayak to buy. 

Comfort was obviously a priority since the adjustable Phase 3 AirPro seat makes long paddling sessions a breeze. 

It’s a tad bit shorter than your average touring ‘yak, clocking in at 12.7 feet – but the 300-pound capacity and spacious cockpit more than make up for it. 

It is, in essence, a shorter version of the Tsunami 145.  

So, if you’re worried about its size or limited storage space for longer trips, know that you have other larger high end touring kayaks – with the same level of quality – to pick from in the same Wilderness Systems range.

Technical Specs 

  • Rotomolded polyethylene construction
  • Measures 12.7 x 2.1 feet 
  • Weighs 51 pounds
  • 300-pound capacity

Pros

  • Spacious cockpit opening for easier entering 
  • Fitted with the super-comfortable AirPro Phase 3 seat
  • Hull’s design promises stability and excellent tracking  
  • Suitable for beginners and experienced kayakers 

Cons

  • The hatch is tricky to close while on the go 
  • Might not have enough legroom for taller paddlers
  • The Tsunami 145 might be a better option if you have a lot of camping gear, or regularly take multi-day trips
  • Lacks a rudder system 

The Tsunami 125 kayak is a great day-touring ‘yak with a design that’s focused on the paddler’s comfort. You’ll have a reliable kayak while out on the sea – but if you’d like to explore some other options, I highly recommend checking out this in-depth touring kayak round-up.

Best Kayak For Fishing

Ascend 133X Tournament Sit-On-Top Kayak with Yak-Power

I already talked about budget-friendly fishing kayaks – and now, it’s time to explore the high-end, tournament-level kayaks for serious anglers. That brings me to Ascend’s 133X, a sit-on-top ‘yak designed to deliver the perfect blend of performance, stability, and versatility. 

This 13-footer is a serious fish-catching machine, boasting a Catamaran-style hull and a 37-inch beam – a guarantee of exceptional stability. You’re also getting a spacious deck with a dedicated stand-up area, complete with a non-skid mat and a pull-up assist strap. 

So, yes, it’s suitable for stand-up fishing. 

Also, it has a ridiculous 550-pound capacity – especially for a single-seater – with open bow and stern storage areas, a hatch, molded-in tackle storage on both sides, and a tray right under the seat. 

Handy, right? 

And to add to it, you also get Ascend’s Yak-Power system, with a master controller, three power plugs, and a wiring harness. 

The 125-pound weight is my biggest concern. This thing is massive! 

Technical Specs 

  • Rotomolded construction 
  • Measures 13 x 3 feet  
  • Weighs 125 pounds 
  • 550-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Fitted with Ascend’s ‘Yak Power System
  • Exceptional stability and ultra-wide beam 
  • Above-average weight capacity for a single-seater  
  • Molded-in rod holders 
  • Ample storage space for all of your fishing gear
  • Features four 16-inch accessory rails 
  • Non-skid mat and pull-up assist strap

Cons

  • The kayak’s price may be too steep for some 
  • It weighs a massive 125 pounds 
  • Transporting and storing it may be an issue

The 133X is a fantastic example of what a high-end, tournament-ready kayak has to offer. The price is steep, though, so you’re excused for wanting to explore other options.

Best Kayak For Dogs

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Kayak

Now, I’d like to introduce the Ocean Kayak’s Malibu – a recreational sit-on-top kayak that comes with a 425-pound load limit and a two-person capacity. 

Why am I mentioning that at the beginning? 

Well, because it’s a kayak that supports both solo and tandem paddling – with the extra option of throwing in passenger number three, be it your child or dog. 

Cool, right? 

The versatile configuration and weight capacity already put it slightly above the competition – but I’m not done with the impressive stuff yet. 

Malibu also comes with Comfort Plus seats with four-way adjustability, promises stability (thanks to the wide, 34-inch beam), and has a spacious deck. 

All that makes it the perfect ‘yak for two people and their pup – which is already a guarantee of a good time.

Technical Specs 

  • Single-layer polyethylene construction 
  • Measures 12 x 2.8 feet 
  • Weighs 57 pounds 
  • 425-pound capacity

Pros

  • Suitable for solo and tandem paddling 
  • Enough room for a third passenger 
  • Four-way adjustable Comfort Plus seats
  • Extra-wide hull ensures excellent stability 
  • Not too heavy for a tandem kayak 

Cons

  • Doesn’t feature any dry storage options 
  • It can feel a bit slow and isn’t the most nimble ‘yak on the market

Ocean Kayak’s Malibu Two is one of the best all-around sit-on-top kayaks – and it’s dog-friendly and comfortable, too. Not convinced? Feel free to check out my complete dog-friendly kayak round-up; you’ll find more options there! 

Best Kayak For Rivers And Lakes

Wilderness Systems Aspire 105

I hate to be the guy comparing apples to oranges, but I have to tell you: 

Out of all the kayaks I’ve tested while putting together this list, Wilderness Systems’ Aspire 105 stood out as the overall best. 

And it’s easy to see why: 

The Aspire 105 is a 10.5-footer created to suit paddlers of literally every skill level – from novice to seasoned expert. Even more so, it boasts an easy-access, broad cockpit opening, paired with Wilderness Systems’ signature Phase 3 AirPro seating system. 

And that, my friend, is a guarantee of comfort. 

It feels stable and versatile; it’s the kind of kayak that glides and cuts through the river – with the addition of the TruTrak adjustable skeg for tracking, should you decide to do some long-distance paddling. 

The equation is already looking good. But when you add the 400-pound capacity (yes, you read that right) and plenty of storage options, you get an obvious solution: 

It’s the perfect all-around kayak!

Technical Specs 

  • High-density polyethylene construction 
  • Measures 10.5 x 2.4 feet 
  • Weighs 48 pounds 
  • 400-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Suitable for paddlers of all experience levels
  • Great performance on rivers and flat waters 
  • Storage solutions include bungee rigging and a hatch 
  • Above-average load limit for a single-seater 
  • Stable, maneuverable, and tracks well 
  • Fitted with Phase 3 AirPro seats for comfort 

Cons

  • The hatch levers are susceptible to damage
  • No drain plugs (you’re stuck with manual draining) 
  • Carrying it on your shoulder can be a pain  

There are many great kayaks you can get for some river paddling – but the stability, comfort, and maneuverability of the Aspire 105 make it the best option. Well, in my humble opinion, at least.  

Best Recreational Kayak

Sea Eagle 473RL RazorLite Inflatable Kayak

The Sea Eagle 473RL RazorLite offers pretty much all you could ask for in a recreational kayak – and then some. 

The inflatable nature of the ‘yak means that transporting and storing it will be a breeze. You can simply fit the deflated kayak in your backpack, throw it in the trunk, and forget it’s there – until it’s time to go paddling. 

On a related note, it weighs a reasonable 45 pounds – and the best part is: 

It’s built for two, meaning you have its beyond-impressive, 750-pound capacity at your disposal. And there’s plenty of room for you, your paddling buddy, and everything you decide to bring with you on your outing. 

And while I did find it stable enough (the 2.5-foot beam contributes to that quite a bit), I’d like to point out that paddling it may take some getting used to – especially if you’ve never paddled an inflatable kayak before. 

But other than that, it’s a fantastic all-around ‘yak.  

Technical Specs 

  • 1100 Decitex Reinforced PVC construction
  • Measures 15.5 x 2.5 feet 
  • Weighs 38 pounds 
  • 750-pound capacity

Pros

  • Wider beam and inflatable construction ensure stability  
  • Drop-stitch floor adds rigidity and boosts performance 
  • Lightweight and portable for a tandem kayak 
  • Exceptional weight capacity and plenty of open storage 
  • Relatively quick inflation time

Cons

  • Can be a bit tricky to maneuver for beginners
  • Packing it up after use takes some getting used to 

Sea Eagle really tried to do it all with this one – great value for money, durable design, and great performance. And it’s a two-seater, as well! And the best part is – they managed to pull it off! 

Best Sit-In Kayak

Eddyline Skylark 12′ Kayak

I’ve shown you some sit-inside models so far – but what is the best sit-in kayak that you can get right now? 

Well, if you ask me, the Eddyline Skylark is the way to go. The beauty of the 12-foot Skylark is in its remarkable simplicity: 

One comfortable, padded seat, a pair of adjustable foot braces, bow and stern on-deck bungee rigging for the right amount of storage space (front and rear bulkheads for dry storage are a nice touch, too)  – and most importantly, great handling and performance.

Skylark isn’t a racer – nor was it designed to be. However, the sharp lines on the front and back maintain good tracking – and the whole thing is made of Co-Extruded ABS plastic that’s durable yet lightweight. 

Also, it’s a great-looking kayak – although that shiny paint job tends to get damaged with regular use.

To be quite honest, the price is a bit steep – especially for something that’s best described as an entry-level sit-in kayak. 

Technical Specs 

  • Co-extruded ABS plastic construction 
  • Measures 12 x 2.1 feet 
  • Weighs 41 pounds 
  • 295-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Decent enough capacity for a one-person kayak
  • Front and rear bulkheads create dry storage space
  • Has front and rear bungee rigging 
  • Fitted with a comfortable, padded seat
  • Great tracking and handling with decent speed 
  • Easy to get in and out of 
  • Relatively lightweight for its size 

Cons

  • Some may find it too expensive for an entry-level kayak 
  • The finish gets scratched up pretty easily

The Eddyline Skylark gives you everything you might want – and need – from a one-person sit-in ‘yak. The beautiful design and high-quality build simply invite you to hop in – and start exploring the waters. 

Best Pedal Kayak

Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Kayak

Manual propulsion – as in, paddling – is nice and all. If you hope to take a break from all the hard work that goes into propelling a kayak, though, a pedal drive system will be your best friend. 

And that brings me to Perception’s Pescador Pilot – a 12.4-foot sit-on-top kayak that’s fitted with the Pilot Drive pedal system. 

Granted, not everyone needs this pricey addition. It depends on what you need the kayak for – and whether or not you’d like to do things the old-fashioned way. 

Besides making it expensive, it also adds to the weight; with the pedal drive installed, it clocks in at a hefty 95 pounds. I have to point out that it’s pretty nimble for its size, though. 

Oh, and it boasts a whopping 475-pound capacity, coupled with ample open storage space with bungee rigging and a mesh-covered bow area. Plus, it comes equipped with four molded-in fishing rod holders and gear tracks. 

Technical Specs 

  • High-density polyethylene construction 
  • Measures 12.4 x 2.8 feet 
  • Weighs 95 pounds 
  • 475-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Four molded-in rod holders and a fish finder console
  • Fitted with a removable forward-reverse pedal system
  • Foldable shallow-water propeller
  • Has a 360-degree hand-controlled rudder
  • Large front and back open storage areas 

Cons

  • Weighs almost 100 pounds when fully rigged  
  • Doesn’t feature hatches for water-tight storage 
  • No instructions for the drive system’s installation

Perception’s Pescador Pilot 12 is technically a bang-for-your-buck pedal powered kayak – great for kayak fishing and cleverly designed with a removable pedal system. But I’m well aware that it still might not fit everyone’s budget. 

Best Sea Kayak

Wilderness Systems Tempest 165

The Tempest 165 is another fantastic addition to my little round-up here, coming from the same, trustworthy brand – and equipped with everything you would expect from a Wilderness Systems kayak. 

One thing you’re already familiar with is the Phase 3 AirPro adjustable seat. Comfort is – as you can probably tell – a priority for Wilderness Systems. And this sea-worthy kayak is no exception. 

The kayak’s handling is pretty impressive, although I wouldn’t recommend this one to a beginner paddler. But if you do know what you’re doing, the Tempest 165 offers incredible speed, tracking performance, and exceptional maneuverability. 

On that note, it also comes equipped with Wilderness Systems’ TruTrak skeg system, promising a bit more directional control. 

Storage options don’t lag behind, either. The 300-pound capacity, coupled with multiple bungee tie-downs and dome hatches, gives you plenty of storage space without compromising comfort. 

 Technical Specs 

  • Polyethylene construction
  • Measures 16.5 x 1.7 feet
  • Weighs 55 pounds
  • 300-pound capacity

Pros

  • Designed for exceptional speed and maneuverability 
  • Water-tight storage options and bungee rigging
  • Features a retractable TruTrak skeg for better tracking
  • The Phase 3 AirPro seat offers all the comfort you could want
  • Has a recessed compass mount at the bow

Cons

  • It’s a bit too much to handle for beginner paddlers
  • Some may find the price a bit too steep 

With the right experience and skills, Wilderness Systems’ Tempest 165 is a true performer in the open waters, offering amazing speed and tracking, coupled with versatility. You may want to look at other sea-worthy kayak options, though. 

Best Kayaks Of 2022: Final Thoughts 

It feels virtually impossible to finish off this round-up with just one final recommendation. I mean, I’ve reviewed recreational, folding, inflatables, whitewater, tandem kayaks – and everything in between. 

It doesn’t make much sense – nor does it seem fair – to compare these in an attempt to highlight just one as the best of the bunch. You know, the whole “apple versus oranges” thing.

But I’ve given it some thought, and Wilderness Systems Aspire 105 stands out as a solid overall choice. 

Although, of course, that depends on what you want in – and expect from – a kayak. And that’s a call only you can make.