Welcome to our ultimate guide (or what we certainly consider to be) to the best recreational kayaks that are on the market today. In this guide, we’re going to have a look at what recreational kayaks are and how they differ from other kayak types, as well as what to look out for in different types of recreational kayaks, as well as their advantages and disadvantages. Since the recreational kayak market is relatively broad, we’ve narrowed down to the best models right here, and included our review of each.
What Defines A Recreational Kayak?
A recreational kayak is most suited to the recreational paddler, funnily enough! A kayak that is used recreationally, is likely to be one that’s used on and off or occasionally by the owner. The kayak will most likely be used for leisurely paddles across a calm lake or river. Recreational kayaks are designed for slightly lighter use in non-demanding waters. If this is all that you expect to use them for, then they are sure to serve you well.
If you’re still unsure, if you’ve ever paddled a kayak at your local park or lake, it was most likely a recreational kayak. They tend to be made of plastic, be relatively simple, and will get along calmer water just fine.
What Would You Find On A Good Recreational Kayak?
Before we get into any finer details, in brief, a good recreational kayak should be one that is as easy and as fun to use as possible. Yes, that may seem obvious, but not all kayaks are designed with ease of use in mind! A good recreational kayak should also be well-balanced and suited to use on the most common water types.
The Best Recreational Kayak Reviews
Ocean Kayak Frenzy Recreational Kayak
The Ocean Kayak Frenzy is one of the most popular recreational sit on top kayaks, and for good reason too. On top of the Frenzy, there’s plenty of space for you, as well as anything that you might want to take out onto the water with you.
One of the main things that you want to be looking for when purchasing a recreational kayak is a lightweight construction, and good portability. The Ocean Kayak Frenzy offers just that – it weighs only 43 pounds, and is very easy to carry around. For a kayak that’s designed for recreational purposes, it’s very lightweight indeed. To add to the ease of portability, the Frenzy is only 9 feet in length – fitting it into the back of cars/vans certainly won’t be as much of s struggle as it would be with some of the larger variants available.
Despite the lightweight of the Ocean Kayak Frenzy, it is not at all impractical. It is able to carry up to 325 lbs worth of weight, which is more than enough for a person as well as a respectable amount of equipment/gear.
The Frenzy boasts a very comfortable and adjustable seat too even though you might only be using it recreationally, that doesn’t mean that you should compromise on comfort! The seat is well padded, and makes for a very comfortable place to be whilst you’re paddling.
Some Key Points
- Fantastic Durability – even though the kayak only weighs 43 lbs, it’s polyethylene construction is extremely durable and sure to last you for a good amount of time
- Great Stability
- Lightweight and easily portable at 43 lbs
- 9’ in length
- Good storage areas – the Frenzy has storage options at both the front and rear of the boat
- Aesthetically pleasing and well-reviewed
Driftsun Voyager – Inflatable Recreational Kayak For 2
If you happen to be in the market for an inflatable kayak that will be able to carry two people, then you’ve found just the one. The Driftsun Voyager is a high-quality kayak that’s great for recreational use.
The Driftsun Voyager 2 is an inflatable tandem kayak that’s ideal for navigating around calmer waters on. It’s ideal for waters such as ponds, lakes, and calm rivers. Even though this kayak is capable of handling some rougher waters, it will perform at its best whilst on calm water.
There’s no need to worry about punctures or deflation of Voyager, since it’s made from extremely durable 840D Nylon that is extremely difficult to damage, even with effort. Furthermore, the bottom of the boat is constructed from high-grade tarpaulin, increasing durability even further.
One of the main things that often lets inflatable boats down I their ability to track properly – in other words, to move through the water nicely and in a straight line. The Driftsun Voyager, however, is fitted with a fin/rudder at the rear of the boat to ensure that tracking is spot on – it does a great job of this.
Storage on-board the Voyager is ample. It’s got sheltered storage areas on both the front and on the back of the boat. These little areas are great for sliding items under that you want to keep out of the rain/spray from the water. The storage areas are by no means massive, but items that are here can be secured by bungee cords and they’re ideal areas for keeping articles.
The Voyager from Driftsun is an extremely respected and well-rated model.
Some Key Points
- Easy to move around – without doubt this is the most obvious positive point for the Driftsun Voyager. Being inflatable, this large kayak packs away into a small size that’s very easy to get into a car boot or a small storage area
- 10 feet in length once inflated
- Can carry up to 450 lbs
- Extremely durable – cannot be easily punctured
- Rain and water-sheltered storage areas at both the front and rear of the boat
Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 100 – Best Recreational Kayak For Fishing
There’s no doubt that the Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 100 is one of our favorite recreational kayaks. We’re not saying that it’s one of the finest available on the market with just cause though! Everything about the Yellowfin 100 suggests high build-quality.
A good place to start is the seat – after all, it’s where 100% of your time on-board the Yellowfin 100 will be spent. The seat on this kayak is very comfortable. It offers a great level of support, being made from mesh. In addition to great support, mesh offers other advantages including fantastic breathability and durability. Compared to sponge and fabric, it will not wear nearly as quickly since it’s not constantly being compressed – it instead flexes with any weight that’s put on it. The seat is also adjustable – it’s easy to get into a position that you’re comfortable in on this boat.
Even though the Yellowfin 100 is a recreational kayak, you may or may not have guessed from the name that the boat is in fact geared towards anglers too. It offers some great features that are sure to make the fishing experience easier and more enjoyable. For example, the boat has adjustable footrests, as well as rails for mounting equipment on and rod holders.
All of the features that this kayak has on offer wouldn’t be any use if it wasn’t lightweight though! Fortunately, the Yellowfin 100 is very lightweight at only 57 pounds in weight. It’s therefore very easy to both carry and paddle around. It’s also just 10 feet long, meaning that the kayak is very easy to handle and also not too difficult to store.
In terms of when it’s out on the water, the Yellowfin 100 is a great performer. For a recreational kayak, the tracking abilities of the boat are very impressive. It’s also very stable, and unlike a lot of other recreational kayaks, will handle some choppier waters relatively well. This good handling coupled with short length means that the boat is great for manoeuvring around tighter spaces when needed.
Some Key Points
- High build-quality
- 10’ in length
- Lightweight at 57 lbs, yet can support up to 375 lbs of weight
- Rotomolded from polyethylene
- Good storage options – large bungee-secured area, as well as watertight hatch near the seat
- Great for fishing – the kayak is fitted out with rod holders and gear rails for fishing ease
- Lifetime warranty, one year warranty on extras
Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 – Sit Inside Recreational Kayak
The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 is a bit different from the rest of the recreational kayaks in this guide since it’s a sit-inside boat. Sit inside boats definitely offer some advantages over sit on top kayaks, and these are well noticeable in the Aruba 10.
Whether you are a highly experienced kayaker or are someone that’s new to the sport, the Aruba 10 could make for a fantastic investment. It’s very modestly-priced and offers a number of great features. The fact that it’s a sit-inside boat also means that you’re more likely to stay dry, say if you were to take it on some waters that water is more likely to enter the boat. It’s a great boat if you’re looking to find out what a paddling a sit-inside boat is like before moving onto something that’s perhaps more expensive.
What features does the Aruba 10 have on offer? To start with, the overall handling of the boat is fantastic. It tracks very well, being great at cutting through the water in a straight line without veering off to one side – a common fault on cost-effective boats. Storage is reasonably good on the boat too, with an area behind the seat. It should be noted though that although the area isn’t particularly large, it’s got enough space to hold the essentials for the day.
Some Key Points
- Lightweight and easy to carry – 10 feet long and just 40 lbs
- Solo kayak
- Constructed from Fortiflex Polyethylene – very durable
- Can support up to 250 lbs of load capacity
- Fitted with adjusting footrests and a good level of back support
Ocean Kayak Caper
The Ocean Kayak Caper is a sit on top recreational kayak. It’s great for recreational users, as well as the occasional fisherman. If you’re looking for a boat that offers easy usability and good storage at a reasonable price, the Ocean Kayak Caper is a fantastic choice.
The Caper has a great level of versatility due to its Tri-Form hull. It can be used in calm water where it’s likely to perform best, as well as in choppier waters such as rivers. Being 11 feet in length, it’s not the shortest kayak on the market, but it’s also a longshot from being the longest. It’s a good size for moving around in smaller areas of water.
The Caper is great if you are in the market for a boat that can handle a variety of water types, whilst offering a relaxing recreational experience. Furthermore, although not specifically designed for fishing, the Ocean Kayak Caper is well-suited to anglers too. It’s got rod holders within reach of the seat, as well as both wet and dry storage areas located at the rear and front of the boat respectively.
Some Key Points
- 11 feet long & 31 inches wide
- Tri Form hull making the boat versatile and suited to a number of different water types
- Not heavy at only 47 pounds
- Can carry up to 325 lbs
- Adjustable Comfort Plus seat
- Ample storage options at the front and back of the boat
Some Additional Points on Recreational Kayaks To Consider
Styles Of Recreational Kayak – Sit On Top vs Sit Inside
As you may or may not already be aware, kayaks come in two different style – sit on top and sit inside. For the most part, the majority of recreationally styled kayaks will come as a sit on top mode, however, there are still some sit inside options available too.
Sit On Top kayaks are the more popular of the two, mainly due to their easy-to-use design and practicality. A sit on top kayak does not require you to clamber inside. When on the boat, you are able to move the lower half of your body around freely, and generally speaking, this allows for more comfort compared to a sit-inside variant.
Sit on top kayaks are also self-draining. This means that if you get caught in extremely heavy rainfall, or your boat starts to flood as a result of water coming in over the sides, the boat will drain this water straight back out as opposed to filling up and sinking.
For ease of use, practicality, and comfort, recreational kayaks are more popular in sit on top styling.
Sit Inside Kayaks are slightly different. Once inside, the lower have of your body is covered by the front of the boat. This is the one major difference between the two kayak types – in a sit inside your body is enclosed, and on a sit on top you are out in the open and more free to move around. However, it’s definitely not all bad when it comes to sit inside kayaks. Sit inside kayaks tend to cater to the higher, more advanced end of the market. This is because they can be used in harsher and rougher waters, since they tend to be more stable and allow extras such as spray skirts to be fitted.
Structure – What Are The Best Recreational Kayaks Made From?
Recreational kayaks can come in a variety of different materials. Although, since this side of the market is more catered towards occasional users and is not as expensive, it’s not as common to find a boat that’s made from an expensive material such as a composite.
Polyethylene – Polyethylene is the most heavily used and most cost-effective material that kayaks are made from. A lot of recreational kayaks are made from this very material. It does have many advantages in terms of its cost-effectiveness, however, it is pretty heavy and not the best for portability. It also doesn’t react particularly well with sunlight. However, since your recreational kayak isn’t going to be getting used all of the time, as long as it’s stored out of direct sunlight, it’s still sure to last you for a long time.
ABS – ABS stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. It’s a polymer material that’s more expensive than polyethylene. It is more hard-wearing and is a better performer than the likes of polyethylene, but it is also considerably more expensive.
Composite – Composite boats are by far the most expensive kind of kayak that’s on the market. For this reason, they do not tend to feature as much, if at all, in the recreational side of the market. Composite kayaks are made from materials such as carbon fiber and fiberglass. As a result, they are very lightweight. But, they are extremely expensive as a result.