Kayaking has exploded in popularity in recent years. Even though it has always been popular and considered a fun thing to do, it has expanded massively and into many other hobbies.
Why would kayaking not be something that you would want to do? There are an endless list of reasons as to why kayaking is great – it’s fun, relaxing, can be exercising, and it gets you out into the open water and fresh air. It’s extremely versatile too – there are many areas of the sport that cater to many different types of people. These include fisherman, those that are looking for exercise, as well as those that are simply looking for another way to relax in the fresh air.
In this guide, we’re going to have a look at the different types of kayaks that are available, as well as some additional buying advice including what you should look at before you purchase your kayak and some reviews of the best kayaks that are available today.
What Is Considered A “Kayak?”
Kayaks, also known in the kayaking world as “yaks” refer to small boats that are made for use by one or two, or in some cases three people. They have many uses, including people that use them for pleasure and relaxation, people that use them for fishing, as well as those that use them for exercise.
What Are The Main Styles Of Kayak?
Although there are many different uses for kayaks, and designs that are intended to cater for these uses, there are two main types of kayak. These are sit on top kayaks, and sit inside kayaks. At this point, you may not think that there’s all that much difference between the two boat styles. However, both are very different, and both offer a multitude of different advantages and disadvantages.
Sit On Top Kayaks
As the name suggests, this style of kayak involves the paddler sitting on top of the boat, as opposed to inside it. They are very common in all kayaking disciplines and are the most common style of kayak due to the fact that they are very easy for all grades of users, and are very easy to embark and disembark from.
Advantages (of sit on top kayaks)
Their all-round usability is great – due to the shallow sides that sit on top kayaks have, they are very easy to get in and out of. Whilst you’re sitting on top, you are exposed to the sun (or rain as the case may be) and you feel like you are truly in the fresh air
Good Drainage – Sit on top kayaks are designed with drainage plugs all around the floor of the boat. This is so that they d not flood in the event that water is splashed into the boat. With sit on top kayaks, this can be quite a common occurrence since there are no sides – waves and paddle splash can easily enter the boat. You don’t need to worry about draining it out though! This will happen automatically
Versatile – sit on top kayaks are just as usable and ideal for the person that wants to go out and relax for a day, as they are for the person that wants to go out and spend the day fishing.
Disadvantages (of sit on top kayaks)
You Probably Won’t Stay Dry – due to the design of sit on top kayaks, you could have a bit of a challenge staying totally dry. This isn’t necessarily a disadvantage for everyone, but we’d imagine that some users don’t want to get wet on their kayaking experience. If you are one of those users, a sit-inside kayak may be more suited to your needs.
Sit Inside Kayaks
As you probably guessed, a sit-inside kayak refers to one in which the users sit “inside” the boat. Whilst this doesn’t mean that you’re totally enclosed, your legs are enclosed and sheltered by the boat, and your upper body and arms are free to move. Sit-inside kayaks aren’t quite as popular as sit on top kayaks are due to them not being as suitable for as many purposes. However, a lot of kayakers still prefer them, and in some cases, they are more suitable than their sit on top counterparts.
Advantages (of sit-inside kayaks)
You’ll Stay Warmer and Dryer – Since sit inside kayaks are designed so that your lower body is enclosed and sheltered, you will, of course, stay more warm and dry than you would on a sit on top kayaks. If you’re planning on heading out onto the water in cold or wet conditions, or conditions that the weather is generally not the best, a sit-inside kayak could provide you with a more sheltered option.
More Stable and Better In Demanding Conditions – since sit inside kayaks have a lower centre of gravity, they are far easier to turn sharply when needed, and to remain balanced when the water becomes choppy
Better In The Wind – since sit inside kayaks tend to be shorter in height than sit on top, they are more suited to being used when it’s windy as they won’t become unbalanced quite as quickly
Disadvantages (of sit-inside kayaks)
More difficult to get in and out of than sit on top kayaks
Not as well-drained – sit inside kayaks are more likely to sink if they begin to flood than sit on top kayaks are. Sit on top kayaks are designed to have water come in and then to be drained out – sit-inside kayaks aren’t at all.
Poorer Storage – since there is only a small opening in the middle on a sit-inside kayak, you are only able to carry items on one that can fit through this gap. With sit on top kayaks however, storage and transportation options are much more considerable.
Types of Kayak and The Best Of Each
Just as solo kayaking can be a great experience, so too can tandem kayaking/ Tandem kayaking brings all of the joys of solo kayaking, and adds another person! This, of course, is quite subjective – you may well enjoy the solitude of solo kayaking. However, if you like the idea of paddling around with another person, tandem kayaking is your option!
Some advantages of Tandem Kayaking
You can take a break – whilst you’re out on the water, kayaking can become tiring if you’re paddling for a long period of time. If you’re on a tandem kayak, you can simply take a break and keep moving along while the other person paddles. Whether this would be to the agreement of your fellow paddler, however, is another matter!
They can be quicker along the water – if there’s two of you paddling along the water in sync at the same time, you can get your tandem kayak up to quite a respectable speed in a relatively short time. Two people paddling is a lot more powerful than one.
More Storage – If you’re planning on taking a lot of equipment tout with you, tandem kayaks are ideal. A popular choice is for one person to take a tandem kayak and to load up the spare space with their equipment. You should be aware though, that a tandem kayak can become very heavy and difficult for one person to move around should it be close to its maximum rated weight capacity.
Ocean Kayak Malibu – All-Round Sit On Top Tandem
The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two is an exciting all round option that is suitable for many outdoor excursions and exercises. It’s a simple tandem kayak that’s got a great build quality and is very simple indeed.
It’s 12 feet long, and so is easy for two people to guide around the water with ease. It’s fitted with comfortable seats that can be adjusted in four different ways for the highest level of comfort. Even though it’s lightweight too at just 57 pounds, it can still carry up to 425 pounds in weight.
- 12 feet long, 425 lb weight rating
- Two comfortable, fully-adjustable seats
- 18.5” front seat and 20.25” rear seat
- Plenty of storage areas that are secured by bungee cords for larger items
- Can be used as a solo or tandem kayak
- Very easy for both riders to get in and out of
It’s common for people at first to have their reservations surrounding inflatable kayaks, however, we urge you to think otherwise. Inflatable kayaks are great in so many different areas and can allow you to get out onto the water very easily and very safely.
Unless you hadn’t already noticed, kayaks aren’t particularly small – storing and transporting a traditional hardshell kayak could pose quite a challenge for a lot of people. However, if you’ve got enough boot space and cupboard space, an inflatable option is great!
Inflatable kayaks allow you to have the same kayaking experience as you could in a hardshell kayak, but without the added storage and transportation problems. Some inflatable kayaks come in sizes that are so small and compact that they can even be fit into a rucksack.
Some Advantages Of Inflatable Kayaks
They Are Stable – Inflatable kayaks are often wider than hard-shell kayaks, and for which reason they are often more stable.
They Come In A Variety Of Types – Just like hard shell kayaks, inflatable kayaks come in a vast number of variations. These include fishing kayaks, stand-up kayak, as well as the classic tandem and solo options.
Cost-Effective – A lot of the time, an inflatable kayak will set you back less of your hard-earned cash than a hard shell will. For this reason, inflatable kayaks are easily affordable for most and are a great way to start off your kayaking journey.
Of course, inflatable kayaks do come with their disadvantages too – they are more likely to sink as a result of a puncture. In order to combat this, you should always be sure to look for an inflatable kayak that’s made up of multiple air chambers. This means that, in the event that one is punctured, the entire boat will still stay afloat until you get back onto land.
You should also always ensure that your inflatable kayak is completely dry before you pack it away after use. This ensures that no mold can grow as a result of dampness.
Sevylor Quikpak K1 – Solo Inflatable Kayak
It’s pretty hard indeed to find something not to love about the Sevylor Quikpak K1. It’s inflatable, and very compact indeed. It packs away into a rucksack system and is very easy to get inflated and out onto the water in a short space of time.
As well as being easy to carry around and set up, this Sevylor is extremely durable. Being made of heavy-duty PVC and tarpaulin, it’s very resistant to punctures and tears.
As we previously mentioned, it’s important to find a kayak with multiple air chambers. The Sevylor Quikpak K1 has exactly this.
For one person, this vessel is fantastic. As well as being light and easy to carry around, it’s got multiple footrest positions when it’s inflated, and a very comfortable seat. In terms of storage, there’s a storage area with a bungee cord that can be used to secure your belongings. There’s also a handy cup holder within reach of the seat.
- High-gauge tarpaulin and PVC construction to protect against punctures and tears
- 8’7″ in length
- Packs away into a rucksack
- Weight capacity of 400 lbs
- Can be set up extremely quickly – Sevylor say that this boat can be set up and ready to get out onto the water in only 5 minutes time
- Multiple air chambers – in the event that one air chamber was to suffer a puncture or tear, you’ll still be able to get back to land safely without your boat sinking
- Comfortable seating position
- Excellent availability of storage
Fishing Kayaks cater to a massive portion of the kayaking market, and for good reason too. Fishing is greatly enhanced by a kayak, and fishing from kayaks is becoming more and more popular all of the time.
There are some particular features that you should be sure to look for in a good fishing kayak. The main features that you should look for include, rod holders, H-rails on which you can mount equipment, rod holders, and plenty of good and accessible storage areas.
What do we think is the best kayak for fishing?
Mailbu Kayaks Stealth 12 – Sit On Top Fishing Kayak
In terms of an all-round fishing kayak, you simply cannot go wrong with the Mailbu Kayaks Stealth 12. In terms of features, this Malibu is kitted out. It comes with fantastic storage options for both your equipment and live bait, to the front, back, and middle of the boat respectively. The “bait tank” is in the middle of the boat, and will keep your live bait cool. If you’re not using live bait, you can use this area as a drink or food cooler too.
There are also four rod holders on the Stealth 12, all within easy reach of the seating area. The seat in the Stealth 12 is very comfortable, and adjustable.
- 14’4” in length
- Large Weight Capacity – the Stealth 12 can accommodate for up to 550 pounds of weight onboard
- Adjustable X-Seat that can be moved into one of four different positions
- Bait Tank to keep your live bait cool
Stand Up Kayaks
A good kayak that you can stand up on safely, in many situations, is a must. For example, if you’re out fishing and are reeling in a big fish, standing up can help get that catch in quicker. Even if you aren’t an angler, standing up on a kayak can be great as it gives you a better view of what’s ahead of you, and can allow you to stretch and move around a bit more if you’re out on a longer trip.
Hobie Mirage Outback – The Best Stand Up Kayak
Hobie is a very well-respected brand in the world of kayaking. It is known for its exceptionally high build-quality, and long-lasting products.
The Hobie Outback is a perfect example of what the Hobie name represents – quality and durability.
The Hobie Outback can be powered by your choice of pedaling or paddling – it’s fitted with one of the finest peddle systems on the market. In addition to this, the Outback has fantastic tracking thanks to the ST fins, and an extremely comfortable seat.
If you’re planning on fishing from the Mirage Outback, it has everything that you need for a day’s fishing. As well as four rod holders, there’s a large space for storage, and a transducer mount.
- Pedal or Paddle-Powered
- Adjustable, comfortable seat
- Fully equipped for fishing with 4 rod holders and ample storage
- ST Fins and very good tracking
- Covered storage area
- Extremely high build quality
Advantages of Pedal Kayaks
Pedal kayaks have become more and more common in recent years. Pedal and paddle powered boats have been around for a long time, of course. However, kayak manufacturers have begun to realise the potential for pedal systems to be installed into kayaks, and they have become very popular.
Why mind one want a pedal-powered kayak? Pedal-powered kayaks have a great number of uses and advantages that they can offer to a variety of different types of users. One of the main advantages of a pedal-powered kayak is that they allow you to keep your hands free and still move along the water. You might be thinking, what’s the point in that? If you’re a keen angler/fisherman, you will most certainly understand how useful this would be – having your hands free to use whilst fishing is an absolute essential.
Pedal-powered kayaks are not only targeted at anglers though. They can be used by anyone that would like to use one. They can be particularly useful if you happen to be a bit more limited in terms of upper body strength. If you are unable to or find it difficult to paddle, a pedal-powered kayak would allow you to be able to get out on the water without straining your upper body whatsoever – a lot of pedal-powered kayaks come with built-in steering systems (like a rudder on a regular rowing boat) that allow you to steer in the direction that you’d like to go very easily whilst still pedaling.
Finally, you might like a pedal kayak simply as a change from paddling. For some people, paddling can become exhausting and boring. A pedal-powered kayak allows you to pedal along and be far more relaxed at the same time. The energy that’s required to move your kayak along will be far less strenuous on your legs than your arms. It’s far easier to pedal a kayak at a high speed than it is to paddle it at a high speed.
Disadvantages of Pedal Kayaks
Whilst pedal kayaks are great, they do of course have a couple of disadvantages for some users.
The cost of pedal-powered kayaks is arguably their largest downside. Due to the fact that pedal-powered kayaks have more components, take longer to build, and are more complex than regular/traditionally-styled kayaks, they are more expensive.
Pedal-powered kayaks are also usually heavier and require more maintenance to ensure that the pedal system is in good working order at all times.
Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 – The Best Pedal-Powered Kayak
The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12, truly is a kayak like no other available. Coming from Hobie, you can be sure that it’s of the highest quality.
The Pro Angler 12 features Hobie’s MirageDrive 180 system – an advanced and efficient pedaling system to keep you gliding along the surface of the water effortlessly. In addition to the fantastic pedal system that this boat is fitted with, the rudder is also very easy to use and is retractable – it can be removed whenever you like.
The Mirage Pro Angler has been primarily designed for fisherman that would like to keep their hands free and get on with the task in hand.
This kayak is great for use in a variety of water types. Even though it’s been designed as a fishing kayak, this doesn’t mean to say that you have to be a fisherman to get one – most certainly not! The Hobie Mirage Pro is one of the best and most comfortable pedal-driven kayaks that you could buy, with a fully adjustable seat that even comes complete with armrests! Not only can the back and bottom of the seat be adjusted, but the height can also be adjusted too, in order to allow you to get into your most comfortable pedaling and fishing position.
As well as being comfortable, the Mirage Pro Angler boasts a large amount of room for storing your equipment. With both wet and dry storage areas and a weight capacity of up to 500 pounds, you’ll have absolutely no problem finding a correct place for each of your things on this kayak.
If you are interested in this kayak as a fishing vessel as well as a pedal-powered vessel, it comes fully set up. The Mirage Pro Angler 12 comes equipped with a number of thoughtfully-placed rod holders, as well as space for a fishfinder.
We hope that you’ve found our comprehensive kayaking guide useful and that you’re a bit more “clued up” as to what kayak might best suit your needs. To round it all off, let’s take a quick look at some of the main points from each type of kayak that we’ve looked at.
Tandem Kayaks – Tandem Kayaks are great if you enjoy being out on the water with another person. They’re also great for a very relaxing experience, it’s easy to take a break and allow the other person to keep the boat moving along. You can also get up to a pretty good speed with less effort in a tandem kayak since there are two people. Tandem kayaks also usually have a large amount of storage space making them great for fishing and longer trips that require some more luggage than normal.
Inflatable Kayaks – Inflatable kayaks are the ideal option if you’d like to experience everything that kayaking has to offer, whilst not having to deal with some of the major downsides including their storage and transportation.
Fishing Kayaks – Fishing kayaks are funnily enough great for a particular use, fishing! They are purpose-built, and come equipped with everything that the keen angler could possibly need. They are fitted with rod holders, ample storage areas, and extra features such as bait storage areas and transducer mounts.
Stand Up Kayaks – Stand Up kayaks refer to those kayaks that have been designed so that they are very stable, and can be stood upon. A lot of anglers like to stand up whilst fishing – stand up kayaks are designed for this. A stand-up kayak is also great if you’d simply like something a bit different, or a boat that you’re able to stand up and stretch your legs on whilst on a long journey.
Pedal Kayaks– Pedal powered kayaks are fitted with pedal systems and are fantastic for those that would rather not paddle to keep their kayak moving. They are often used by anglers so that they can keep their hands free but are also great for users that would like to avoid straining their upper body by paddling.