Camping is a fantastic way to get out into the wild, have an adventure, and get away from the hustle and bustle of normal daily life. One of the most attractive things about going camping is solitude and relaxation. That said, what if you’re surrounded by many other people with the exact same idea? Not quite so peaceful and relaxing anymore, is it?
Taking a kayak to go camping vastly opens up your options in terms of where you can pitch your tent and explore. A kayak means that you can choose any spot that you can only access by water – within reason, of course! Not only does a kayak open up the locations that oy can access, but also where you can go and see once you have found your perfect pitch. A kayak means that you can take everything that you might need for a day exploring, leave your tent, and explore some of the less-seen areas of where you’re staying.
Whilst a kayak that you’re taking camping doesn’t necessarily have to be a high-performance boat that’s rated for class III white waters, it should have a number of points that ensure that your trip is as comfortable and as well facilitated as it can be.
In this guide, we’ve compiled a list of the points that we think you should be looking for in a camping kayak, why they are useful features to have, as well as the best camping kayaks out there for you to buy.
Intex Challenger K1 – Light Travelling Camping Kayak
The Intex Challenger K1 exhibits a number of the qualities that we would highly advise you look for in a good camping kayak. If you’re looking to travel solo and lightweight, we think you’d struggle to find a better option that the Challenger K1 from Intex.
The K1 is an inflatable kayak that’s extremely lightweight at just under 25 lbs. Once packed away into a bag, the Explorer K1 is very easy to carry around indeed. We think this kayak would be best if you’re planning on taking this kayak on your travels and using it whilst camping. It might not be the best option for traveling a long distance to get to your destination.
For storing your things, there’s an area at the front of the boat that’s protected by netting.
- 9 feet long
- Can carry up to 220 despite being extremely lightweight at less than 25 lbs
- Ideal for travelling light
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Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 12
The Aruba SS 12 from Sun Dolphin is a very versatile kayak. It’s able to excel in storage, comfort, as well as different water types.
The Aruba SS is a very comfortable place to be. It’s roomy, and in addition to the comfortable seat and position, it’s kitted out with guards for the sides of your legs to ensure that they are kept comfortable and supported.
At just 40 pounds, the Aruba SS is really very light considering that it’s 12 feet long. What makes this size to weight ratio so great is that you’re able to pull around a lot of kayak with relative ease – it’s not nearly as heavy and hard to move as some others in this length category.
- 12 feet long
- 40 lbs in weight
- 395 lbs load capacity
- Good storage options at both the front and rear of the boat
- Versatile – it’s great for calm waters as well as calmer rivers
- Portable – considering the length, it’s very easy to move around
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Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5
The Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 is the largest kayak on our list by a considerable amount at 14 feet 6 inches in length. With its narrow and long design, the Edge 14.5 is well-designed for touring. In terms of camping with a kayak, the Edge 14.5 is a great option if you’re planning on using the boat to get to your destination. In addition to being a touring kayak that’s great for moving easily over long distances, it’s got a great amount of storage for carrying all of your camping equipment.
In terms of storage there are two hatches – one at the front and one at the rear of the boat. These are perfect for storing items that you want to keep dry whilst on the way to your camping destination. As well as these there are two storage areas on top of the boat that have bungee cords that can be used to secure your items.
The handling of the boat is designed for long-distance touring, and moving at speed with ease. However, if you’re looking for a kayak that you can use in fast-moving waters or that you’re looking to make tight maneuvers in, the Riot Kayaks Edge is not ideal. The boat has soft chines meaning that whilst being easy to cruise around on, the soft curves on the bottom of the boat mean that it’s not designed for sharp or agile movements.
- 14’6” in length
- Touring kayak that’s great for using to get to your camping destination – not ideal for sharp/tight movements
- Plenty of storage space
- Can carry up to 325 pounds capacity
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Perception Kayak Pescador Pro
The Pescador Pro is a very versatile kayak – it’s well respected for a number of different types of kayaking. For camping, the Pescador Pro offers a number of good qualities.
At 12 feet long, the Pescador Pro is relatively in the middle in terms of length. It’s not a particularly short kayak, nor a particularly long one. The kayak is 32” in width, and so is a very stable boat too. As we mention in our Key Points to look for in a camping kayak, a good level of stability is important. The Pescador Pro can also carry up to 325 pounds of weight, which is more than enough for a person as well as a good amount of camping equipment.
Storage on the Pescador Pro is pretty standard yet good. There’s a dry storage hatch in front of the seat, and a larger bungee storage area behind the seat. The seating onboard the Pescador Pro is comfortable too, being composed of a mesh seat with an adjustable back. The fact that the seat is mesh is great for comfort – should it get wet it will be able to dry out very quickly, as opposed to a sponge seat, for example. The Pescador Pro also boasts adjustable footrests that help in getting into a comfortable position when on the boat.
- 12 feet long
- Versatile kayak – as well as being great for carrying a lot of equipment, the Pescador Pro is also a good kayak for fishing
- Large amount of wet and dry storage available
- Capacity of 375 pounds
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Old Town Vapor 10 – Sit Inside Kayak
The Old Town Vapor 10 is designed primarily for use as an anglers kayak. However, kayaks that are designed for angling often exhibit a good number of the points that we would look for. Like campers, anglers require a good amount of space onboard their kayak to store their extra equipment and clothing.
The Old Town Vapor 10 is a sit-inside kayak, meaning that it does suffer from less space on top of the boat than some of the other sit on top variants that we’ve reviewed. However, a sit-inside kayak does bring its advantages, including them being warmer and more sheltered.
At 10 feet long, the Vapor 10 isn’t too long. It’s a good length that’s in-between longer and shorter boats. If you’re not using this kayak to travel to your camping location, it could be the perfect boat. It’s stable and not too big, making it that bit more portable than some others that are longer.
In terms of storage, even though the Vapor 10 is a small sit inside boat, it’s still got a very respectable amount of storage capacity. There’s a storage area at the rear of the boat, as well as a bungee-securable storage area towards the front of the boat. If you are planning on doing a bit of fishing whilst on your camping trip, the Vapor 10 is ready to go with rod holders and paddle mounts for your ease.
One of the things that are most important in a camping kayak is that it’s a comfortable boat to sit in. The Vapor 10 features a comfortable seat, as well as adjustable footrests. It’s also got thigh rests to keep your legs from becoming sore from the hard side of the boat.
- 10’ in length
- 28.5” wide
- Not heavy at 49 pounds, but can support a load of up to 325 lbs
- Good storage options at the front and back of the boat
- One person, sit-inside kayak
- Comfortable – includes adjustable footrests and thigh supports for comfort
- Great for fishing, being kitted out with a cup holder, paddle rests and rod rests
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Ocean Kayaks Zest Two – Tandem Camping Kayak
The Ocean Kayaks Zest Two is by far, the largest kayak on our list of best-camping kayaks. It’s a tandem kayak, meaning it can support up to two people. At 16’4” long, this kayak is no joke.
The Zest Two is perfect for using to get to a camping trip, allow two passengers. It can support a massive 600 lbs of weight, despite only weighing 79 lbs itself. The Zest two is a great option if you’re going to be traveling a fair distance too – with its long and narrow design, it makes for a great touring kayak.
Even though the Zest Two is technically a tandem kayak (for two people), it can, in fact, hold up to three people, with the third passenger being a small child or pet.
Storage on the Zest Two is good as well. There’s a good-sized storage space with bungees at the rear of the boat which is great for packing those items that you’re not likely to need quick access to whilst you’re out on the kayak into. There’s another storage area with bungees at the front of the boat too.
- Just under 16’5” in length
- 30.5” wide
- 79 lbs in weight
- Long and narrow making it a great design for long-distance touring to your camping spot
- Can support up to 600 lbs
- Tandem kayak that can have up to three passengers at any one time
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What To Look For When Buying A Camping Kayak
A good amount of useable storage is one of the most obvious factors to look for in a kayak that you’re going to be using for camping trips. Obviously, going on a camping trip entails taking a lot more equipment and supplies than you might do on a normal kayaking trip. However, the amount of storage you’re going to need will depend on whether you’re going to be using the kayak to get to your camping destination or not.
If you’re planning on using your kayak to get to wherever you’re camping, a large amount of storage room is of course very important. There must be sufficient space to carry a tent, food, as well as the rest of your supplies. There are plenty of kayaks on the market that are able to provide this amount of space as well as handle such an amount of load capacity.
If you’re planning on only using you’re kayak once you’ve already pitched up at your campsite, storage might not be one of your main considerations.
Stability and Tracking
The stability of a kayak is a very important consideration to make. You should choose you kayak in accordance with the water types that you’re likely to be tackling. When going camping in an area that you might not know so well, having a kayak that’s versatile is particularly important – you don’t want to end up in water unexpectedly that your kayak is unable to handle.
The tracking of the kayak is important to ensure that the boat moves in the direction that you would like to. Good tracking is not only important for the boats direction though, the overall handling of the boat is massively influenced by the boats ability to track in a straight line.
How fast the kayak can travel could be very important in a camping scenario. When you’re traveling to your campsite, you’re going to want to get there as quickly as possible and as comfortably as possible.
If you’re traveling to your campsite over a long distance, speed is important. If you’re looking for a kayak that’s fast and efficient, you should ensure that the kayak is long and streamlined. However, a long narrow boat will not excel in the stability department – wider boats are more stable. It’s a smart idea to look for a good middle-ground – something that’s got the length to provide speed and the width to provide stability.
Taking a kayak camping is likely to be something that you’d do in your leisure/free time. Therefore, you’d, of course, want to do so in absolute comfort. Whilst 5 star luxury onboard a kayak isn’t exactly possible, there’s no need to be unnecessarily uncomfortable.
Good points to look for is a reasonably good level of back support, as well as a comfortable seat that can be adjusted in different ways to allow you to get seated as comfortably as possible. Seats come in different materials too -it’s wise to choose that based on the waters that you’re going to be traveling. For example, if you’re going to be hitting some white water whilst on your camping trip, a thick foam seat would not be a good idea as it’s very water-absorbent.
For a camping kayak, portability is very important. Given that you’re going to be pulling it in and out of the water more regularly than you might normally, you’re going to want something that’s easy enough to move around either by yourself or with your partner. Look for a boat that’s not too heavy and has good carry handles.